Adoption Update: One Year Later

Our Anna Rakeb has been home with us now for a little over a year.  In some ways, it feels like she’s always been here.

Many people considering the adoption process wonder if they could love a child that was not born to them.  I wondered the same thing — everyone does!  But I am here to tell you that, yes, most definitely, you will learn to love this child just like any other child that comes into your family!

adoption quote

Some people shy away from adoption because they think that their biological children might have a hard time with it.  Maybe they will feel slighted, or loved a little less, they imagine.

I can’t speak for every family, but even though our four boys went into this adoption with a little fear and trepidation, now that we are one year in, we can say that it has been a blessing for each one of us!

When the boys talk about their futures, most of them now include the snippet… “and I’m going to adopt…” which just makes me smile at the ripple effects 🙂

So, if God is opening your eyes to the needs of the fatherless in this country or around the world, say YES with a heart of faith, knowing that it will be a wonderful experience for each one in your family to love another with the love that God has given you.

Recently I asked the boys a few questions about their experiences with having a little sister join the family through adoption.  Thought you might enjoy a little sneak peek into their minds.

adoption quote 2

Mom:  Did you know what adoption was before we adopted?

Boys: No

Getting a kid

Yes – taking kids into your family that the parents gave them up or died

Yes – God adopting us into His family

 

Mom:  Did you have any fears?

Excited that she was from a different country

That she would be ugly

No

That she would be all pink

 

Mom:  What did you think it would be like to have a sister?

All pink & stuff

Pink princesses and barbies; if I can prevent that, then she would be more normal – like you, mom

 

Mom:  How has Anna changed our family?

Everybody crowds around her

Made it a little more cute and happy

We had to buy more girly stuff

She steals all our stuff

 

Mom:  Do you love her?

Yes (while sitting on the rocking chair with her)

Yes!  Of course

Yup!

 

Mom:  How has adoption changed you, your view of people of different races or cultures?

Makes me appreciate other cultures more

 

Mom:  Do you want to adopt someday?

Possibly

If I have all of one (gender), then I’ll adopt the other

 

Mom:  What does adoption teach you about God?

That we were chosen into God’s family

That God loves everyone

That God adopts us into his family

 

Mom:  What do you remember about God’s provision for the money to adopt Anna?

We had a $2000 fee and people gave us money.

Glad

That He loves us

People are watching after us and helping

one year in

Christmas Past & Christmas Present

Last year our 15-month-old spent Christmas in an Ethiopian orphanage.  She didn’t even know we were pursuing her adoption.

4onemore.com

But a few months later, we travelled to Addis Ababa and adopted her as our daughter!  What a whirlwind trip!

4onemore.com

This year we will enjoy Christmas through the eyes of our newly adopted 2-year-old!  What fun 🙂

What a Difference a Family Makes!

Anna Rakeb has been home for two months!

She is growing, gaining weight, trying new foods, learning new words, and being loved and adored by her four brothers and mom and dad.

God has rescued her from so much already and we can’t wait to see the story He will continue to write for her life.

Thanks to all who have had a part in bringing Anna home to us, her forever family.  Adoption is spiritual warfare and it is not easy, but each prayer, encouragement, and financial gift made a difference in our daughter’s life.

before & after FAMILY

Ethiopia Adoption: Introducing our Anna Rakeb

Many, many thanks to our friends and family who have supported us in this journey through encouragement, prayers, financial gifts, and many other ways.

Many of you have been following the progress of our puzzle fundraiser on Facebook this week.  We have been humbled by the amazing response and it is with thankful hearts that we announce that this final trip is fully funded!  God is good, and He has used many of you to bless our family.  Thank you.

And if we have learned anything from this adoption, it is that God fully provides for what He calls you to.  He does “far more abundantly than all that we ask or think!”

adoption fundraiser puzzle

This weekend hubby and our oldest son embark on one final trip to Ethiopia to bring our Anna home!  I can’t think of a more fitting weekend than Easter for this adoption to become reality.  New life and hope all wrapped up in a long-anticipated gotcha day!

Anna Rakeb’s story is one of rescue and God’s grace and mercy.  When she was found, the police named her Rakeb, which is Amharic for Rahab.  If you know the biblical story of Rahab, her faith in Jehovah God was demonstrated by hiding Israelite spies before her home city of Jericho was destroyed. Her faith was seen, and God hid her as the walls of the city came down.  What’s more, is that Rahab was grafted into the line of Christ and finds her place in the great faith chapter of the Bible, Hebrews 11.  We love this name!

Anna comes from the Hebrew word for “grace”.  We pray that our Anna would come to personally know God’s grace and mercy in her life as she gets older.

We are so happy to finally be bringing her home!

Until I can post gotcha day and airport pictures, enjoy this video from our original trip in February when we first met her.

Adoption Puzzle Fundraiser Update

Hello friends!  We are so humbled and thankful for your generosity as we launched our last adoption fundraiser this week!

We purchased a 252 piece puzzle of our daughter, Anna Rakeb, and for each $10 donation toward our adoption at Pure Charity, we are putting the puzzle together piece by piece.

ethiopia adoption puzzle fundraiser

ethiopia adoption puzzle fundraiser

To make this a very special keepsake for Anna, we are writing the names of every donor on the back of the puzzle pieces.  Then, when the puzzle is finished, we will display it in a double sided glass frame, so we can still see the names on the back.

ethiopia adoption puzzle fundraiser

ethiopia adoption puzzle fundraiser

And today, just 5 days in, we are at 48%!  Will you help tip us over 50%?  These funds are tax deductible through our Pure Charity site and go directly to our adoption agency for our final travel costs to bring Anna home.  Really, we will probably be traveling in the next few weeks.

So… here’s what our puzzle looks like tonight!  Thank you so much for your support!  Keep it coming, and feel free to share far and wide.  Adoption truly does take a community.

ethiopia adoption puzzle fundraiser

 

Our family is thrilled to be Making Room 4 One More.  Will you be part of our story too?

 

{In case you missed our Ethiopia Court Trip recap, you can start here}

{Did you ever see the face that inspired us to start our own Ethiopian adoption journey?  It’s here.}

Help Bring Anna Home: Ethiopia Adoption Puzzle Fundraiser

ethiopia adoption puzzle fundraiser 4onemore.com

Good news!  We are within days of receiving our travel itinerary to bring our Anna home. We just officially applied for her visa through the U.S. Embassy.

The Lord has blessed in so many ways, supplying through yard sales, gifts, and grants. As we anticipate our last trip, we’ve been in communication with an adoption foundation to fund the last trip; however, we are not guaranteed we will receive funding from them.

The adoption process reminds us how much we need community to finish this journey.  We have had so many friends and family members come alongside us many times along the way.  We just need to pay for the last trip to Ethiopia and our Anna will be home!  Could you help us?

We have purchased a 252 piece puzzle featuring a picture of our sweet girl!  For every $10 donated through our Pure Charity site (which is tax deductible, by the way), we will write your name on the back of a puzzle piece as a memory of your contribution.  Using a double sided glass frame, we will be able to see all the names on the back of the puzzle as a remembrance of those who had a part in her adoption.

As the puzzle comes together, we will enjoy showing you the progress and finally our sweet girl’s picture! (a real picture of her face this time!)

ethiopia adoption trip 4onemore.com

God has an amazing story that He has already been writing for our Anna Rakeb.  Will you be part of that story in helping with the final costs to bring her home?

Feel free to share!  We so look forward to sharing with her the many people who had a part in her adoption.

{Are you new to our story?  We were recently in Ethiopia to legally adopt our daughter.  You can read about that trip here.}

snapshots of Ethiopia – Trip 1 Day 5 Court!

{Here’s Day 1, 2, 3 & 4}

The purpose of this trip to Ethiopia was to, of course, finally meet our sweet girl.  But this trip is called the “Court Trip” because we officially and legally in Ethiopia went before a judge and adopted her!  She is our daughter now, even though we are home and she is still in the foster home.  We are waiting for “Gotcha Day!”  (So many biblical parallels to our faith in this picture.)

Right after breakfast on Tuesday, February 24th, our driver and lawyer drove us on those crazy streets of Addis Ababa to the Federal Court Building for our appointment.

ethiopia adoption court trip 4onemore.com

ethiopia adoption court trip 4onemore.comethiopia adoption court trip 4onemore.comethiopia adoption court trip 4onemore.comethiopia adoption court trip 4onemore.comethiopia adoption court trip 4onemore.com

About nine other couples were there at court too.  Most of them were from the US, but others were from Italy, Spain, and Switzerland.

One by one, each family was called into the judge’s chamber.  We were overdressed in our business casual clothes.  He asked us ten easy questions as he went down a checklist.  Then, he said that the court approved our adoption!

On the drive back to the guesthouse for lunch, we saw an interesting sight and had to take a few pictures as best we could out of the car window.  Very colorful.  Can you tell what these are??

ethiopia adoption court trip 4onemore.com

ethiopia adoption court trip 4onemore.comethiopia adoption court trip 4onemore.com

Why, they’re “corpse boxes” of course!  We had a hard time asking our driver and lawyer what these were called.  We said “coffin”, “casket”, “for dead bodies”, and they still didn’t know what we were talking about!  I guess it didn’t seem odd to them that they were for sale along a busy street.  And so colorful!  Finally, it clicked and they said, “Oh, corpse boxes!”

We visited our daughter (yes, she was now legally our daughter!) again in the afternoon.  One of the nannies made coffee for us as the foster home.

ethiopia adoption court trip 4onemore.comethiopia adoption court trip 4onemore.com

Two more days of visiting and bonding with our daughter before we had to be on our way home.  Trying to soak in every minute with her.

 

snapshots of Ethiopia — First Trip Day 4

Just showing off my photos from our 4th day in Ethiopia!  Maybe by the time I’m done this little series, it will be time to go pick up our girl.  Then I will show you her face!

ethiopia adoption trip 4onemore.com

So, with two days to prepare for our trip to Africa, we left our house in PA on Thursday morning, February 19th, with a direct flight to Addis on Friday morning.

Day 1, 2, and 3 are here.

Day 4 was Monday, February 23rd, and once again we were looking forward to getting caught up with sleep.  We were surprised when, once again like Sunday morning, the live singing started over the loud speaker in the town and woke us up starting around 1 a.m.  It continued throughout the morning.  When we asked the guesthouse staff why there was singing on a Monday, we learned it was a holy day for the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.  We said — does this mean there will be no singing tomorrow morning?!  We were assured not!  Whew!

ethiopia adoption trip day 4 @ 4onemore.com

Peering out of our guest home windows on the second floor, we could also see a man in the streets with a curved horn, stopping at every side road and path, also “singing”.  We learned he was the town crier, and he was announcing a funeral that would happen that afternoon.

ethiopia adoption trip day 4 @ 4onemore.com

Today’s visit was the best ever — complete with belly laugh!  And the best fun?  No toys or stuffed animals or even bubbles could compare with the game of emptying out mommy’s purse and filling it up again.  Hey, whatever works.

After our morning visit with our girl, we headed out to do some shopping!  Our driver went with us and helped with the language barrier and also with the bargaining.

ethiopia adoption trip day 4 @ 4onemore.com

I really wanted to get some items for our daughter to have from her birth country.  I hope I bought enough keepsakes to give her one each year on her “gotcha day” (the day when she will leave the orphanage!).  Then, when she has a home of her own, she will have some special items from Ethiopia.

ethiopia adoption trip day 4 @ 4onemore.com

 

Day 5 would be the whole reason for this trip — Court!

 

snapshots of Ethiopia – First Trip Day 3

{In case you missed it, here is Day 1 & Day 2}

We were excited to be finally going to bed early on Saturday night, since we had been up for over 30 hours.  It had been an emotional day as well — meeting our sweet girl for the very first time!

So, at 1 a.m. on Sunday morning, we were awakened by singing from a church.  It was being played on speakers all morning long.  We somehow managed to snooze but were awakened every hour with more singing.

ethiopian adoption trip day three @ 4onemore.com

At breakfast, we asked the ladies at the guesthouse where the singing was coming from.  They told us it was from the Ethiopian Orthodox Church on the hill.  Since it was Sunday, John asked if we could visit an Orthodox Church.  He really wanted to observe their worship service.  Instead, our driver took us to the big “tourist church.”  It was the Holy Trinity Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

But I can’t complain — it was a really neat outing!

ethiopian adoption trip day three @ 4onemore.com

ethiopian adoption trip day three @ 4onemore.com

ethiopian adoption trip day three @ 4onemore.com

ethiopian adoption trip day three @ 4onemore.com

Don’t forget that the Queen of Sheba, who visited King Solomon, was from Ethiopia.  Ethiopian rulers have traced their lineage to the Solomonic dynasty through Sheba.

ethiopian adoption trip day three @ 4onemore.com

Ethiopia has an amazing history, as the oldest independent country in Africa and one of the oldest in the world.  Except for a few years from 1936-1942, when Italy invaded, it has remained free from colonization and outside control.  Emperor Haile Selassie fled Ethiopia during this time, and is buried in the Holy Trinity Church.

IMG_5842

We visited with our girl for as much as we could.  She started opening up little by little.  She is tiny!  We think she is about 18 months old (we don’t know her exact birthdate so this is the best estimate).  However, she was wearing size 12 month clothing.  Oh, so sweet and little!

ethiopia adoption trip day three @ 4onemore.com

We ventured out for dinner on Sunday night to the Yod Abyssinia Cultural Restaurant.  We tried traditional Ethiopian food.  John had lamb and I had chicken with injera.

ethiopia adoption trip day three @ 4onemore.com

What is injera?  Wikipedia answers:

Injera is a sourdough-risen flatbread with a unique, slightly spongy texture. Traditionally made out of teff flour, it is a national dish in Ethiopia and Eritrea.

ethiopia adoption trip day three @ 4onemore.com

How was the food?  One word in capital letters:  SPICY!  Makes our American food seem really bland in comparison.

The crazy part of this trip was that we did not have internet access from the time we arrived until probably Monday.  Even at that point, internet connection was still spotty at times.  We felt very disconnected from our boys back home!   It’s amazing how much we have come to rely on technology for fast communication.  When you don’t have it, you miss it.