Friday, August 31, 2012

We Finally Decided!

For all of you who are anxiously waiting – we have finally chosen a name for our little girl! She will be named:

Annaliese Birtukan DeNeal
This first name means “devoted to God,” which we hope and pray she will be as she grows up in this family : )

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

School Meeting

This afternoon I had the opportunity to meet with the principal at the school that our little girl will be going to someday. We had a good discussion about what direction we should take and what services they can offer us to help her transition be as smooth as possible.

Please pray for Jonathan and I as we try to make the best decision for her…

No News is Not Good News

Unfortunately, we did not get any news today about our case being submitted to the U.S. Embassy. This is difficult; as it means that we have to wait until next Wednesday to see if it happens (our agency only has appointments on Wednesdays).

Honestly, this waiting is getting to be very hard.

Please pray for our little girl and that she understands we will be back as soon as possible. We received notification today that she has an upper respiratory tract and an ear infection : ( We wish we could be there to help her feel better.

Thank you for your continued thoughts, support, and prayers.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Childhood Memories

Okay, so I have to share a story about my mom that brings back fond memories. I keep thinking about it because I keep seeing college students out and about with their book bags…

When I was getting ready to go into Junior High (so I was about 13 years old), I begged and pleaded with my mom to let me get an EastPak book bag. At that time, Jansport and EastPak were very popular and “everyone else was getting one,” so I deserved one too : )

Money tended to be tight in our household, but my mom finally gave in. I forget exactly how much we paid, but it was around $40 – 50, which was a lot for a book bag. I will never forget my mom telling me that I could have it, BUT I was going to use it for a long time. She wanted to get her money’s worth for it.

Well, I used that book bag all through junior high and high school, which I thought was pretty good. When I began my first year of college, I decided it was time to get a new, more stylish bag. I got one, but literally within 2 – 3 days, the strap on my new bag broke, so I went back to the EastPak : ) That bag was so faithful, I used it all the way through graduate school!

At one point, I gave it to my brother-in-law to use, but something (I cannot remember what) came up and I had to get it back. Now, here we are nearly 17 years later and I am still using that silly bag. I took it as my carry-on for our first trip to Africa and plan to take it again on the 2nd : )

I definitely think my mom got her money’s worth out of it!!

As I sit here and think about that (now family joke) memory of my mom and the values that she taught me, I pray that I can provide my own daughter with those same life lessons and laughs.

Thanks, mom, for always being the best! I cannot wait to see the memories you provide for Birtukan : )

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

USCIS Paperwork

We received our updated I-171H today from U.S. Immigration! This is a form we have to have for trip #2, so it is a relief that it is here : )

Will keep you posted as we learn more.

Friday, August 17, 2012


We have not received any news yet about our embassy trip, but I thought I would check in and let everyone know what we were up to. We have been trying to acclimate ourselves back to work, getting some things we have been putting off done (like a root canal for Sarah!), and getting things ready for Birtukan.

I, for one, am having way too much fun clothes shopping. Who knew there were so many cute clothes for little girls?!?! I am trying to stick to clearance racks, but it is hard!! We will have one, well dressed little girl this fall : )

e have also been working on her room some more…

And getting other areas of the house more kid friendly…

We'll continue to keep you posted. Thanks for checking in!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

More Pictures

Here are a few pictures that we took as we spent our last day together…

What precious memories we made together – cannot wait to get her home for more : )

Back Home

Sorry for little activity on here the last few days of our trip – we have been busy!

After nearly 30 hours of travel, we made it back home to Illinois late last night. It felt so good to sleep in our own bed and see our “sweet kitties” but we are painfully aware that we are one family member short. It helps to know that she is well cared for, though, and we just continue to pray that USCIS and Embassy work closely and quickly to help us bring her home soon.

We do feel like we have a thousand things to do, though, while we wait for her. Hopefully that list will help to pass the time while we wait : )

Thank you, again, for your continued support and prayers. It means so much to us and our family.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Another Good One

Things continue to go well!

his morning we had an opportunity to go shopping. We found some neat things! According to our guides, the prices were fair, so we had to do very little bartering (thank goodness!).

We then went to lunch and then to the U.S. Embassy to get a document notarized, so we only had a couple of hours at the transition home. Birtukan, again, recognized us as soon as we got out of the van and seemed to enjoy her time with us : )

She now has her own sunglasses : )

She gets along very well with others and seems to be a "helper"

More new clothes : )
We will get to spend all day tomorrow at the transition home and then we will have to say goodbye and head back to IL. It will be a difficult day, but we will make the most of it and enjoy our time together as a family.Thanks, again, for checking in : )

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Pictures to Enjoy!

Now that we have passed court, we are allowed to post pictures of our beautiful little girl. Hope you enjoy!
It took a little while for her to warm up to us, but she really liked this baby doll

We gave her a new outfit and headband – she loved it!!

She and Jonathan read a book together – she repeated each animal’s name after he said it – and ether repeated or giggled at the animal sounds : )

She loves mommy’s sunglasses…

…especially when she gets to wear them!

She is a very active little girl – loves playing games with daddy : )

We Passed Court!!!

Ahhhh!!! We passed court today!!!! What a day to rejoice : )

This morning we had our court appointment with five other AWAA families. We were so nervous, but the judge was very kind and brought us all in as a group. She asked us several simple questions and then we were told we passed. We were literally in the room for no more than ten minutes.
What this means is that our little girl is now officially our daughter! Once the court gives their consent, it is final : )

Now, we will wait for our information to be submitted to Embassy so that our little girl can be issued a visa to return to the U.S. Please pray that this process (continues) to proceed smoothly and we can travel back for trip #2 very soon.
Thank you for all your prayers for this part of our journey.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Happy Birthday!

Oh, and by the way, today is Jonathan’s birthday! I have to admit that I keep forgetting with everything else going on, but what a special day for him to be called “daddy” by our little girl for the first time.

Happy birthday, Jonathan! I love you : )

Another Great Day

We spent almost the entire day at the transition home and she continues to enjoy her time with us – what a blessing! When we first arrived, she ran up to us and gave us hugs : ) We were so relieved for this response after leaving and coming back.

By the end of the first few hours, she stopped playing a game with us and kind of went to the side and sat. Jonathan noticed she began to cry softly. We went and sat close to her and I said, “come sit on mommy’s lap” with gestures, to which she quickly responded and sat quietly for at least 30 minutes. We never did figure out what made her sad, but we thank God she felt comfortable coming to us when it did! Hopefully this was a good bonding experience, as we snuggled together.

We then had to leave for lunch but came back for another few hours. This time we got out the blanket and sat together – we colored, we played with play-doh, and we worked on a puzzle. She also discovered our umbrella and played with that for quite some time : )

It was a really nice afternoon of laughing and smiling together. We also told her colors of crayons and she would repeat them, but also counted groups of crayons that were similar colors. She, on her own, said “1 – 2 – 3” when counting a group on her own. We learned that they do offer some schooling at the transition home and she seems to have been paying attention : )
Also, on her own at one point this afternoon, she referred to us as “mommy” and “daddy” for the first time – what a blessing!!!

We left around 4:30 with plans to return on Thursday. Please pray for our little girl as she does not see us the next 2 days (but sees other families). This, of course, may be confusing to her and we look forward to seeing her again in a couple of days!
For us, we have our court appointment tomorrow morning (please pray!) and then we travel up north to visit an orphanage. We will return to Addis on Wednesday evening.

We will continue to keep you posted as much as able, but we are unsure of the accommodations in the other city, so we may or may not have internet access.
Thanks for all the continued support and prayers : )

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Meetcha Day!!

We have had a wonderful day!

Jonathan and I both slept through the night and seem to be transitioning well to the time difference. That was a blessing in and of itself since today was such a big day.
After breakfast at the guesthouse we went to the International Evangelical Church in Addis. What a beautiful place to worship – there was such a variety of races, genders, and ages. It was like a small glimpse into heaven, where all nations and tongues will bow down together.
We then ate lunch at a good pizza place – who knew they had pizza in ET – and then, finally headed to the transition home!!!
There was only one other family who had not yet met their child so Jonathan and I were able to go first (they go in alphabetical order) and everyone else watched, videotaped, and took pictures for us : )
She was not so sure about us when she first came out. She gave us both hugs but then began to cry : ( Thank goodness we had been told upfront not to be alarmed if this happened, as it all must be so confusing and scary to her. We were not completely sure how to comfort her, but we were able to go to another area off to the side and give her time to warm up to us. We gave her a small baby doll, which she initially showed little interest in, but eventually decided to give a try (and then carried around with her the remainder of the time).
Probably within 15 minutes, she began to interact more with us – sitting down in a circle and pushing a small car back and forth to one another. We finally began to see her smile - what a joy : )
Eventually we gave her a new outfit and a headband to match and I helped her change into it. She was absolutely beaming in her new clothes and went around showing different people her headband. It was absolutely adorable! She has the most precious smile and laugh.
She also showed real interest in the following:
·        Playing a balloon toss

·        Other babies at the TH

·        Sarah’s sunglasses

·        Looking at books and repeating the words
By the end of our few hours together she gave us hugs and blew us kisses : ) I think it was successful!!!
Thank you, again, for all of your continued support and prayers. They are much felt and appreciated.
Tomorrow we head back to the TH for the entire day! Will keep you posted : )

Saturday, August 4, 2012

We Made It!!

Oh my goodness – we are in Ethiopia!! 

All of our travels went very smoothly today and we arrived in Addis on time and with all of our baggage : )  

We arrived at the guesthouse around 11:00 p.m. (Ethiopia time) and just finished organizing all of our stuff and getting ready for tomorrow. It is now a little after midnight (ET time) and we are feeling tired and ready for bed - hopefully this means we will transition to the time change easily.

Tomorrow is our "meetcha day" and it looks like our schedule will be something like this:

· 9:00 - breakfast
· 10:30 - meet driver and go to church
· Lunch
· Go to transition home and meet our little girl!!!
· Dinner
Thank you to everyone for your well wishes and prayers. We could not have asked for a smoother travel day. 

On a side note, when we were waiting for our first flight at O'Hare, we had a lady come up to us and say that she thought she knew of us and asked if we were adopting. Come to find out, she and her husband are from Cincinatti, OH, and are adopting as well (with a different agency). She said she has been following our blog off and on. It was neat to get to meet one another and spend some time together during the day.