Thursday, December 31, 2009

In His Time

Dear Adoptive Bloggers,
A year ago right now, Ryan and I were spending every spare moment planning fundraising events, applying for grants and dreaming about our future children. I told people often that I was confident that if God put this desire in our hearts, He would see it through. Funds were raised as we needed them and we felt that this adoption was such an amazing way to glorify our Father. After we got our referral, we literally ran out of time and money. We humbled ourselves more then we could have imagined, scraped the bottom of the barrel and begged to borrow money to bring our boys home. After so many tears and sleepless nights, it happened. I was so confident last year at this time that we'd have the resources we needed. I was totally and completely wrong and that is the beauty of what God does. He provided everything we needed in His terms. I know how all of you waiting parents are feeling, all the uncertainty of adoption and the longing of your hearts. Hold fast that He will care for you and your babies in His own majestic way.
On another note, as a nurse practioner and adoptive mom, I feel obligated to tell you parents a few other "lessons" learned:
*Giardia rarely goes totally away without first initiating a TOTALLY lactose free diet. The gut needs time to recover after the therapy and many physicians may not know or recognize what a difference this makes.
*Ringworm is the norm but on black skin it rarely appears as a "ring." Most of the time, it is in bald spots on the scalp. Take lots of antifungal cream for everyone and be prepared to take oral treatment-point this out to your doc too because they may not know to recognize it.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Complete

Entitled Complete because Christmas Eve, as we were snowed in just the 6 of us, I rocked Zeke while listening to Etienne, Blake and Molly whispering to each other in the next room, and that is the word that overwhelmed me. Ezekiel fell asleep with a smile on his face, Etienne asked over and over about Baby Jesus and Molly and Blake prayed for children at Home of Hope. What else could I possibly need? Wow. I can't put words into the gratitude I feel for the miracle of my family.
A year ago, we were planning our BBQ fundraiser and just getting our dossier complete and only beginning to imagine what our future new family members would be like. Three months ago, I was praying that I could find the strength to survive the day, that Zeke wouldn't cringe when I touched him and that Etienne would just hold still enough to for me to catch my breath. God has worked so many miracles in our family and I wish I could put the faith and joy that I feel in my heart into anyone else who may doubt that their Creator loves them.
I know that much of our country was snowed in, church services were cancelled, family gatherings delayed, but this snow allowed us reflect on the simplicity of what Christmas really is. We don't need to open a lot of presents with a crowd of loved ones, we don't need to sing carols and light candles; we need only recall the true miracle of the King born into a stall on a cold night to save the world.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Just another parasite....

We are thankful to have official results from Zeke's labs last week. He does not have tuberculosis and he does not have HIV. Praise God! We don't yet have all the Hepatitis results and we continue to have several severely stinky diapers a day. He has taken the last expensive round of anti-parasitic treatment, but it could take a few weeks for his gut to recover and he has moved on to a lactose free diet. The parasite has resulted in these stats since Zeke's arrival:
-2100 baby wipes (thanks, Andy and Katie for the cases we didn't think we'd ever use up!)
-570 diapers
-40 days of Flagyl treatment
-mastering of some first English words including "yucky" and "stinky"
-a personal relationship with the HyVee pharmacist. At this point, I know him better than my neighbors.
A parasite is nothing the Ezekiel can't beat. God moves mountains everyday and a parasite is just a little mole hill.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My Little Hero

Mr Zeke was more than a trooper today. After reviewing all of Zeke's symptoms with the ID physician at Children's Omaha, she felt strongly that besides treating the giardia, we needed to retest him for a number of other diseases. This includes tuberculosis, HIV and the Hepatitis series. It isn't uncommon to test "false negative" when a child is nutritionally compromised, and then test positive after being in a healthier environment. In other words, this infectious disease doc may it pretty clear that she was "suspicious" of what was going on besides his parasite. We also have one more med to try orally ($45 with insurance!!!) before he needs IV therapy, so we are glad for that. I told the physician that this was nothing compared to all the mountains God had already moved for Ezekiel (and I didn't cry either!). So Zeke had 9 sticks before the lab could obtain enough blood. He visited radiology for awhile too and had a few other exams inbetween. The below pic is after he got his reward of french fries. We know that our Savior can move mountains, we've been blessed to witness His power in Zeke and Etienne's little lives, so we know that with faith, grace and prayers, Zeke's little body will test healthy soon. But my heart still needs reassurance.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

ID (as in infectious disease, not login)

Mr Ezekiel has earned himself a visit to the infectious disease clinic at Children's Hospital this week and I have to say, it can't come soon enough. There are times when he slips back into his old, orphanage behavior of screaming and screaming, but we are often wondering if some of his screaming is related to his crazy distended belly, his stinky diapers and constant dripping nose. The little guy has run the course of anti-giardia meds several times. Bless his heart, he is now putting himself in the timeout corner when he screams, says "peeze" and "dank eeww" better then all his siblings and a form of "sorry," after he throws a fit. Melts my heart every time. Although I still feel overwhelmed and frustrated, that I hide in my closet to cry; I am ever so grateful for these little blessings from our screamer.

Monday, December 7, 2009

So many firsts!

The last week has been eventful for the newest Higgins' boys. Here are some more "Firsts:"
1. Etienne got his first haircut (including a wash and blowdry), a very handsome 'fro for only $4!! Plus, Mama was educated, lists of supplies were made and hair pics were purchased.
2. Zeke slept a full 8 hrs without yelling, crying or even "bbbaaa"ing.
3. Both boys tasted snow on their tongues and on their little faces
4. Etienne and Blake are sleeping together in the Big Boy Room and loving it.
Wow. We've come such a long way in such little time! I am still frequently overcome with emotions as their mother and as God's blessed child. Today at Target, Molly saw a baby swing and she commented that it made her sad that her little brothers never got to have baby swings or cute onesies. I cried and I cry as I write it. Although I am sad for all the babies that don't get that special swingtime or cozy snugglie, and heartbroken that I missed E and Z's first years; I know that God is loving each of those orphans as He loves each of us. It is a season of gratitude.

Monday, November 30, 2009

More children coming home!

We are overjoyed that this week there are 4 families in Kigali adopting their children from Home of Hope (E & Zeke's former place of residence) and an additional 5 families that anticipate travel before the end of the year!!
"Relgion that our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: that we look after orphans and widows in their time of distress." -James 1:27
Maybe you aren't called to adopt a child into your home, but please consider this commandment of our Father. You can support the fatherless through prayer, financial support, Operation Christmas Child (http://www.samaritanspurse.org/), or mission work. There are 143 MILLION ORPHANS worldwide. I wish that I could put into each of your brains the vissions of Etienne and Zeke's old life; that you could hear yourself the sound of the children playing alone in HOH, or see the rows and rows of tiny cribs. November is National Adoption Month and our family will always be called to spread James 1:27.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Etienne's 1st (3rd) Birthday

Today we celebrated Etienne. We had several varying dates for his birthdate, and we chose November 24. He chose some monkey themed plates, so mama made a monkey cake. It was just family and we all know he had no idea why he was the center of attention, but he enjoyed the spotlight. For the first time, Etienne was able to say "Mine!" to a toy, and we were happy for him to have something that was his for the first time in his life.
I found myself emotional today as I rocked Etienne, thinking of the first 2 birthdays of his life. My tears were that no one knew it was his day, no one kissed him or made him feel extra special on those days, or any other day.
Etienne got a big wheel motorcyle and much of his excitement was over assembling it with his daddy. He also loved his cell phone and his toy crane. Not too mention the 2 slices of cake!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Its not just for wrestlers anymore...more honesty!

So last week Molly got this cute little circular mark on her cheek. It got bigger and brighter and then I realized (gasp!), she had ringworm. All moms know this is almost as devestating as if your kid was the one in class with lice. Molly's teacher insisted that she didn't get in at school, so I, having too much nurse practitioner access, began to do some digging. Turns out most African kids are carriers of ringworm (also known as athlete's foot or jock itch), they just don't display it. Or if they do, it is in the form of bald spots. Have you all seen Zeke's head?! We looked closer and our little man does indeed appear to be the responsible party, in true Zeke style. Now the whole crew is being treated, everything is disinfected and we aren't contagious anymore. And Zeke got his first haircut! Blake saw him and said, "He looks like Grandpa!" We had to share the lookalikes.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

So much...

"His anger is but for a moment, and His favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but JOY comes with the morning." -Psalm 30:5
We are a happy family of 6!!!!!! God totally knows what He is doing. If we had come home happy and adjusted, if we had slept from the beginning, if Zeke had not screamed for 4 weeks, I don't think that Ryan and I would feel the depths of love that we feel for our boys. I am not sure that we would see how truly miraculous adoption is if we hadn't struggled.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Getting real...

So I have been forthcoming with the reality of transition and adjusting in adoption. The truth is, although when I met Etienne and Zeke I KNEW they were mine, the instant bond and unconditional love wasn't entirely there and what I felt wasn't what I thought I'd feel. I was trying to force feelings that can't be forced. This has been a source of confusion and constant prayer. And something people just don't talk about. Yesterday, in the middle of the mall playground, I fell in love, head over heels, unconditional, move the earth kind of love. With Zeke and E. I was watching Blake chase Zeke and Etienne, all 3 of them laughing and I couldn't get over how beautiful and perfect they each were; totally a rose colored glasses, mommy view! I was taking pictures, crying and laughing and realizing that it finally happened. I love all my children with the same, constant, unconditional love. Ryan and I always tell our kids that only God loves them more than we do. All four.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

"Mommy, can I have the moon?"

This would be the question Etienne asked us tonight in the car. Lots of giggles from his family and Zeke just laughed cause the gang was. Happy sounds. More updating tomorrow with pics.

"Mommy, can I have the moon?"

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Rwanda Photos

Hard to choose pics to load onto the blog. The blue gate above is the entrance to the orphanage. Courtney, Heidi and I were given wraps to wear our babies- I confess that I am horrible at getting Zeke in, otherwise I'd opt to wear him to Hy-Vee every time, as it is very comfortable!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Etienne and Ezkiel make strides everyday, and sometimes I need to take a step back and look at the Big Picture. Just cause our nights are rough and we have lots of temper tantrums and daily battles, I tend to forget. My little guys are smiling, tolerate long sleves, eat everything, repeat words back, know their family members, wear shoes, identify McDonalds (to mama's dismay); they are an AMAZING gift from God. I deliver babies for a living, I am blessed to witness the miracle of birth but I think it is only a shadow of the beauty and awe and grace that goes into Adoption. We are humbled by our Creator's plan for our family.
A year ago we were taking adoptive parenting classes and I remember practicing my responses to inappropriate questions for in the grocery store line. Well we have officially lived those moments now. More than questions, I am bothered by the staring. I hope they stare because they are amazed that the boys are finally here, but many times I feel like they are a novelty to others. People we know, when meeting E and Z, stare and make comments like, "Look, he's eating popcorn!" Duh. He's a kid. This has been harder for me than I thought. I am also frequently asked if they are brothers, and I know it isn't meant as offensive, but as an adoptive family, Ryan and I both find this question stupid. Yes, all three of my sons are brothers.
I love dinner time, when Etienne and Blake sit on the bench together. They jabber, in English and in French, giggle and smile at each other. Rancher is on standby for clean up duty. I look at them and everything is right.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I think he likes me!

I came home from work yesterday, and Zeke came up to me, said "hi," AND smiled!!! It was the first time since we met that I thought he may like me. Going back to work a little bit has been good for the boys and especially for me. Reader discretion advised: the following story contains graphic, gross parenting details. So last night Ryan and I ventured to a "Kids Eat Free" night just the six of us (we have a spread sheet of kids eat free restaurants). We arrived back home a little late and Etienne really had to go, so we hurried to the bathroom by the laundry room; while there, stripped for bathtime. I also took Zeke's clothes off, leaving the diaper. Then on the way upstairs to the tub, the diaper FELL OFF. While he was pooing. Right at that moment of pooing, my hubby was convienently taking the recycling bin out. Pulling the diaper back on was a lost cause, so I lifted Zeke by his feet as he continued to poo. I flipped him upside down to keep the poo from going on the carpet. At that moment Ranger (our helpful doggy) began eating the poo. Blake and Etienne found that to be hilariously funny, even falling back down the stairs from laughter. I carried Zeke upside down to the bathroom and by the time he was in the tub, the poo was gone. Can dogs get giardia?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Transition from "Survival" to "Adjusting"

I feel like I can say that we are making steps out of the surival mode that has been the last few weeks of our lives. Zeke and Etienne are, for the most part, sleeping through the night as long as they share the crib! It is still a LONG battle for naps and going to bed, but we are physically feeling better going into it every night because we're more rested.
Etienne absorbs more English every day. An example of some of his vocab: collage (don't ask, Molly taught him), ready, please, potty, thank you, water, all done.
Zeke will begin his screaming and now as soon as we remind him "No screaming in our family," he usually subsides without us physically restraining him. Yippee!!
Molly continues to be glad to go get a break from the chaos at school, but is always equally excited to see her siblings. First grade is "mostly good, but wears me out," she says.
Blake is always attempting to find the balance between big brother and regulator, not easy for anyone. On good days when Etienne is taking a nap, Blake will check often on him, wanting him to wake up and play again.
Holding off on any preschool for any boy in this family right now. Maybe after the holidays....

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Baby Steps

Two possible solutions to Zeke's screaming:
1. Pile the food in. See photo on right. If I continuously stuff Zeke-y (as his siblings call him) with food (and of course its nutritious), then he yells less!
2. Invite company over. He seems to like to make his mama look like a liar regarding the yelling. So, company, come on over.
Sleeping update:
Finally occurred to us that maybe Etienne is lonely in a bed.Friday night we put him in the crib with Zeke and-poof!-he slept all night! Yippee!!
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I will attempt to take a picture of Blake and Etienne in one of the moments that they clearly belong together. These moments include in the backrow of the minivan, singing and grooving, usually to Michael W. Smith or Jack Johnson or sitting at the kithen bench together eating and giggling. He has just filled his spot perfectly.
We got to spend some time with our Kansas friends this weekend and I've included my dear friend Jen, who kept Zeke fed for about 3 hrs on Saturday. All my boys love Jen.
Saturday night was social bathtime for the Higgins kids with Langdon, Kevin and Carrie's little boy. We didn't mean to put 5 in the tub, but they just kept coming.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Not Crying

Zeke is getting the swaddling thing. I have a wonderful cousin who knows her stuff suggest that holding him as tight as we physically can might help if he is overstimulated, and it has. We are still hearing a lot of screaming, and are swaddling much of the day, but it isn't constant and that is a blessing!
Yesterday we were able to attend church (THANK YOU GOD!) and there is a Burundi refugee population there. For those of you unfamiliar, Burundi is just south of Rwanda and they share much. Etienne was able to meet some of the families and could understand everything they were saying to and about him!
This is Zeke today checking out Sesame Street. Haven't had the tv on much, but this seems to be a winner for everyone.

Friday, September 25, 2009

He Did It

"Small miracles" is what Molly said tonight, regarding our evening. Zeke didn't cry after dinner! He even played a little bit. And the best part was that after his bath, he briefly leaned against me. I got excited and tried to make eye contact, which blew it. But still! Small miracles. I swaddled him every time he yelled today, which was probably about 85% of our day, but it seems to keep him from hurting himself or me. I am thankful that my mom to Blake for a scream break and Etienne took a good nap. Maybe it is the swaddling, maybe it is consistancy, but probably it is just a God thing.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Zeke II

Good news first: Etienne continues to echo any English Blake speaks, loves Sesame Street and is healthy. He's actually lost 3lbs (related to malnutrition and protein). Blake is a great teacher, Molly is nurturing and we are thankful every moment for how amazing the 2 of them are. Prayer Request: Zeke continues to spend his waking hours screaming. He has moments when he will forget for a second to scream (like if I throw a ball) but then he picks up screaming again. We are looking for a crib cover because today I thought he finally wore himself out, so I went to the bathroom. He climbed/fell out of the crib and started to fall halfway down the stairs. It is horrible and it is wearing on the whole family. Out of desperation, I decided tonight to treat him like a newborn and I swaddled him with a giant afgan to get him to calm down. All we can do right now is pray over him and continue to attempt all the bonding/nurturing tactics. I have put in a request for a behavioral/developmental clinic, but haven't heard back yet. I think that the most difficult aspect is that there are moments when I question every decision that we've made thus far. Ryan reminds me that this was God's decision and His plan.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Zeke

In the days since we've been home, Zeke has become increasingly distant and fearful. It started out a few days ago that he yelled whenever we weren't holding him but has progressed to yelling all the time, including while we hold him. He won't look us in the eyes and tonight when I tried to lotion him after his bath he yelled louder and attempted to climb away from me; eventually trying to claw at my eyes. I prayed over him this whole time and we continue to try to feed him bottles, rock, sing, make him look us in the eyes, but he needs more than parents can give. I have also given him tylenol and motrin today, hoping that maybe something physical is wrong and we have a doctor appt in the morning. We know that we are so blessed by our friends who continue to pray for us and we need it now more than ever.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Transition Prayers

Yes, 2 posts in one day. I am giving a thank you to all the encouragement that I received today; God knew I was (am) struggling and sent me phone calls, emails and replies. While we were waiting for our referral, I remember feeling an unconditional love for Etienne and Zeke before I even knew them; it was just the same as when I was pregnant and felt love for my unborn child. I can't remember the first days of motherhood very well but I do know that I am sure I felt unsure and overwhelmed, just like now. The balance of providing nurturing and bonding but also discipline is killing me. I am the mother of structure and with no tolerance for tantrums. I read all the books and took the classes; heard how all my parenting has to go out the window with adoptive children, but I am really struggling to just go with that. Ryan, on the other hand, is amazing and constantly reminding me that Etienne and Zeke never had anyone to come back in the room over and over and over again, never had anyone care what their behavior was. So I am praying that I can let my old parenting go and just love.

First days Home

This is our third morning home and Ryan is off to school. I'll be honest with you, I feel I owe it to the future adoptive moms reading this. Coming home is the most wonderful and terrifying feeling at the same time. We were blessed with a warm welcome from our family and friends; the boys both have been eager to meet their family, experience carpet, grass and car seats. The reality is that Zeke won't fall asleep and as soon as we step away from the crib, he climbs out and falls. Etienne continues his screaming, but the length and volume of screams are less then they were. I am overwhelmed with what their basis for "normal" was; and how every little detail of our lives is throwing them each a curve ball. Right now we are praying that we remember this is God's plan for us and His strength will help Zeke to sleep and Etienne to chill.
Blake is loving being a big brother and having Etienne as his audience and partner. They enjoy making boy sounds together as loud as they can, and crashing cars together.
Molly is our True North, reminding us constantly of everything good and right. She is so eager to return to school today and share her stories! I am really going to miss she and Ryan today so much.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

One More Mountain

After a good day, we lost the wind in our sails. We were informed that it looks very unlikely that the Embassy will grant us our visa interviews tomorrow because they only do interviews in the morning and our kid's medical records won't be sent until 1pm. We can't leave the country without the visa interview. As a group, we prayed and requested that God soften the Embassy and grant us one more little miracle. We are asking that you all do the same for our families. This is so frightening and discouraging for all of us, but we know that a week ago God was delivering us from impossible scenarios at the Embassy in Rwanda.
Our guide, T, took us to authentic everything. I am so glad that we've had the Limmers and Himes on the journey with us because not only are they great Christians, they are also a lot of fun! We were able to visit the orphanage that Courtney and Scott's first son, Noah, was adopted from. There were a number of older children and it is really humbling to be Molly's parents and watch her in this environment. She is compassionate and empathetic while being levelheaded. Ryan and I think God may use her in this environment someday. Blake just loved shaking each kid's hand.
Dinner was at an Ethiopian restaurant with live music and dancing. The kids LOVED it. Now picture, just like on the travel channel, a large dish in the middle of the table with various colored pastes and everyone eating with their hands. That was us. Wouldn't you know Blake loved, loved, loved the food. Typical for him to like food from a country known for it's starvation...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bumps in the Road

Warning: this update isn’t as positive or encouraging as K-LOVE.

I haven’t updated the blog in a few days for a number of reasons; primarily because of discouragement. We arrived Sunday evening into Addis Ababa, Ethiopia after a long 2hr flight with 5 crying babies only to learn that Ethiopia doesn’t allow Rwandan orphans into the country and they weren’t going to issue the children’s visas. Once again, it took A LOT of prayers and waiting to get the visas issued (the “chief” said the only reason he didn’t send our children back on the next flight was because they were babies). Hence my lack of blogging Sunday.

Ethiopia is as you picture it: unexplainably poor, crowded, filthy, smelly and overwhelming. Unless you have been here, you have never seen such devastating poverty. Our guest house is cool: everyone has their own bed or crib. Ryan and I are sleeping Lucy and Desi style!

Funny side story: Yesterday at Etienne’s physical when they weighed him, has was leaning on the wall and the girl wrote down 13kg. Ryan and I KNEW that he was way bigger. So we reweighed him ourselves at 17kg (37.5lbs) and told the physician. She said “No, that isn’t right, there is no way a 2 yr old can weigh that much,” attempted to pick him up and then reweighed him herself. Yup!

It has taken much prayer for me to remember that none of this was ultimately Ryan or my doing: Etienne and Zeke are our children and we’re here because it is God’s plan. The last few days have tested our faith more than anything else throughout the adoption process.

To the families waiting, I feel that I owe it to you to warn you – you have many battles to fight and you need to come prepared. The process for Rwandan children is in no way smooth or clear. Today we learned that the children’s immunization cards are in Kinyarwanda, and no one here can or will translate it. Two trips to the Embassy, some sweet talking and prayers later; we have a pediatrician signing it for us. Without the angel, we’d be stuck in Ethiopia until we could find a translator.

Second funny side story: Yesterday the 3 families were waiting for our ride and we noticed a man yelling at us. He kept repeating, “I am a terrorist, follow me so I can kill you,” as he smiled and stood at least 50 feet away. This went on for about 10 minutes, we just laughed, so he walked away smiling.

Another blessing is that Etienne is walking a little more and throwing a few less screaming sessions. He also seems to be eating a little less-like maybe he is already recognizing we’ll keep giving him what he needs.

This morning, we were told we had three appointments; those doubled and we didn’t return until late afternoon-part of this is because nothing Rwandan is routine and nothing in a van with 5 kids is either.

All the challenges and pain we have faced has reminded all of us-the Himes and Limmers too-that God is doing something so much bigger than paperwork, visas, money or red tape. We are just praying to constantly remember that God will see us through. We have 5 beautiful kids (actually 7 ‘cause Molly and Blake are AWESOME) to demonstrate His grace.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Last Day in Rwanda

Today was devoted to seeing and experiencing more of Rwandan life before we have to depart for Addis tomorrow. We enjoyed driving out to a lake/park area and having a PB and Jelly picnic we the Himes and Limmers, the other adoptive families and good friends (we've done everything together thus far!) The scenery feels as though is hasn't ever changed. Ryan and I were talking about how seeing dirt huts and barefoot children on the side of the road didn't feel sad at all, just that life is different but no less whole. Nyanga, our guide, invited us to her son's birthday party tonight in her mother's home. Her mom wanted to cook for us and it turned out to be one of the most enjoyable evenings and definately the best food we've had! All of us (17) were welcomed into a warm family gathering with tons of kids and food. The children grabbed Molly and Blake for tag and soccer, and both kids had a blast. When it was time to eat, the kids ate off of two giant dishes on the floor. With their hands, just like on the travel channel! We'll have pics, of course. During dinner, Molly told me that she felt like the Little Mermaid-interpret how you may. And every time I checked on Blake, another little Rwandan was rubbing his mop of hair. I know that the two of them will probably remember this night for a long time. We worked today on not carrying Etienne everywhere because he is SO heavy. Didn't go so well. I find it so hard because I know that in his little life, he hasn't ever received much TLC and that right now we have to focus on bonding and trust. HOWEVER, despite what the experts say, we can already see him getting a tiny bit naughty about the whole thing and want to be consistent with rules for all 4 kids. Wish us luck! We didn't sleep much last night because Zeke woke up frequently, but tonight they both went down like pros. Yippee! Tomorrow we say goodbye to the orphanage and then head to Addis. We're told that the temps there are much cooler-looking forward to that.

Friday, September 11, 2009

TGIF

Today was supposed to be a pleasant visit to the US Consulate office to process our visas. We arrived at 10a and did not leave until after 4p. In between that time we ran (literally, down a street with our babies) twice to the passport office, did a whole lot of begging, bargaining and praying, and were blessed by some miracles in the shape of Rwandan passport workers. At the end of the day, Etienne has a new birthday (11/24), Moses has his second passport in a day, and all 5 kids have their visa papers for next week. Whew! I won't go into any more details other than to say that the US needs to reconstruct the whole international adoption process and I am very grateful for the generosity of Rwandans. The kids were (are) awesome and behaved so well in a borinig office all day. We are learning that Etienne needs a lot of TLC and is so, so physically strong. And Zeke said his first English word today-No! Isn't that typical of an 18 month old?! Sleep update: Much better last night and tonight the newest Higgins boys are already asleep. I did have to physically hold Etienne again, but it took a lot less time for him to calm down. It has only been a couple days, no worries. Molly had ice cream twice today and Blake had a PB and honey sandwich custom made, so their bellies are full. Just another Friday for the Higgins'

Thursday, September 10, 2009

passports and such

Today we had to go get the boys passports-with all the kids. Picture a crowded room with no AC and lots of kids. We waited and waited; they called our number and as soon as we got to the window they informed us that all the kids pictures needed to be in front of a white wall, not a white curtain! Really! So our driver raised us, literally, like the Fast and the Furious, to some hallway with a girl and a camera. Poof! Less then 5 minutes and all 5 kids had new pictures taken. We hopped (sorta) back in our van and our guide told us she'd meet us after developing the pics. By the time we'd unloaded back at the passport office, she came speeding up on the back of a motorcycle with the finished pics! No kidding, it was like a movie! Today was long, and no child here wanted to nap, which made it longer. We were able to drive outside Kigali today to see the countryside. It is breathtaking and timeless, but difficult to look at the scenary without being haunted by the stories and pictures of the genocide. We have noticed so many people with major, major physical scars (machetes were the primary weapon of the genocide) and I can't imagine their emotional scars. Tomorrow, file our I600s and receive the passports. Note to future Rwandan adoptive parents, eating out is never, ever less then a 2 hr affair. Bring your crayons, race cars and patience.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

6 in the bed....

...and the little one said, roll over, roll over. We are all sleeping together tonight and as I type this I can see Etienne's bright eyes watching me from his daddy's arms. Blake has met his match! Etienne and Zeke both began smiling and showing us their true colors today-it couldn't have been bettter. Blake and Etienne rolled cars across the table, back and forth tonight and Molly taught Zeke how to kiss. She also rubbed his back as he fell asleep.
We were able to get our travel letters today from the ministry and tomorrow we'll get their passports.
I don't think we'll be able to put all 4 kids to bed at the same time...reading stories was insane, with all kids talking and pointing at pictures in 3 different languages (French, English and baby jabber).
Also, Zeke refuses anything but baby food and Etienne literally eats whatever we hand him!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Just the 6 of Us

The internet speed isn't fast enough to cover all the details of today....Ryan and I headed to the HOH first thing this morning and I was allowed down into the dorms. As soon as Zeke saw me, I got a smile and a grab! Etienne was another story. He was still eating his meal (being forced mouthfuls, really) when I arrived and soon all 38 kids in his room were surrounding me, calling me "Mama, Mama," while Etienne cried. I couldn't even carry him out of the building, but when he saw Ryan he clung to him and fell asleep. Quickly, I found a way to his heart: through his tummy! We LOVED pizza and we cut him off after 2 pieces. Also found the word potty, and he did go. By the end of the day, I was able to hold all three boys on my lap while Molly danced for them. Tomorrow will be the day we bring them back forever with us. Leaving them tonigth was again emotional; this time for the Zeke and Blake. Etienne is like a celebrity when he arrives. All the kids cheer his name! He also found cars and he and Bkake played cars together on the floor. Zeke snuggled up on Molly. We are a family.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Our Boys

Today was the day we’d been anticipating and praying for. After two full days of travel, some flight delays and some lost luggage, we arrived safely here in Kigali. The city and the people are welcoming and friendly, and after dropping off our belongings, we headed to the orphanage. House of Hope is located around an incredibly steep and curvy hill, with high walls and blue gates. Beyond the gates, the orphanage has lush green gardens, is clean and open. A few of the Sisters and Nganja, our guide, brought out our boys. I knew Zeke instantly and when they handed him to me, he initially cried, but then wrapped himself around me. Etienne when right into Ryan’s arms and pressed his cheek to Ryan’s. Blake and Molly gave lots of hugs and Blake demonstrated how to jump (he’s been saying for months that he is going to teach his brothers how to jump high!). We were able to snuggle the boys and play for awhile, and when either Ryan or I tried to pump either of them down, they would cry immediately to be held. It was our dream come true! Etienne looks exactly like his picture, very serious and his eyelashes are beautiful. Zeke has a sweet, round babyface and is very snuggly. When it was time for us to say goodbye, he cried and cried and reached for me. Of course, this was heartbreaking but also encouraging that maybe he just knows we are his family. Tomorrow we will be able to spend the day with the boys again. Goodnight and thanks for the prayers. Pray that my luggage arrives tomorrow!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

2 Days Until Blastoff!!!

Our bedroom has been taken over by everything 4 kids and 2 parents need to survive in a developing country for a week. We are happy to learn that we'll go from the airport to the orphanage to our babies! And we'll be updating the blog from the hotel to keep all of our loved withs informed with pictures and experiences. Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Nothing without Him

Ryan and I were again feeling stressed and anxious about finances surrounding the travel and logistics of Africa next week (!!!). Until the travel costs were here, we had been blessed to pay each cost with our fundraisers, extra shifts or umpiring. Although I can say we did the fundraising, you donated money, I shopped on a budget, Ryan worked later, the truth is God did it. He has orchestrated Etienne and Zeke's creation, their life as orphans and their place in our families.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Almost home

Like cold water to a weary soul, is good news from a distant land. - Proverbs 25:25 We are over the freaking out of purchasing our plane tickets and now filled with joy that we see Etienne and Zeke in less than 2 weeks!!! Our flight leaves KC on Sept 5 and arrive in Kigali on the 7th. Ryan, Molly, Blake and I are going through hand-me-downs, assembling a bunkbed (for Blake and Etienne), trying to remember how to put the crib back together again, and counting our blessings. It is a very surreal, happy time. One of my good friends told me that I was acting like I was 9 months pregnant. I took that as a compliment! Yesterday I realized that neither Etienne or Zeke have probably worn shoes much, if ever. And I have no idea how big they really are, so I thought I'd search for crocs because they'd have more flexibilty with guessing a good fit.: We came to the realization that God has something HUGE going on for two little boys in Africa and for our family! The truck being broke and the lacking funds for travel were Satan trying one last ditch effort to throw a wrench into the miracle of Etienne and Zeke's homecoming.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Ugh.

To you who broke into our vehicle, in our driveway of our home, take heart. It is only stuff. We don't need stuff. We only need our God who created us and provides use with what we need, when we need it. "May you put your unfailing love rest on us, oh Lord, even as we put our hope in You" -Psalm 33:22

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Travel Date and Prayers

Good news! Two weeks from today- Sept 3-we will depart to Rwanda to bring Etienne and Ezekiel home for good. We have felt God's hand in this entire journey-from the moment we received an application from the adoption agency (that we never even requested!?!) to all the success of pizza sales, BBQ parties, and Mission Threads. We're seeking your prayers now because at this moment we don't have all the funds to pay the air fare to Rwanda and I am swallowing my pride-I know that is the devil trying to seperate me from my creator and His plans- and seeking prayer support this morning. As my friend Lisa reminded me in prayer today, God can provide water in the desert. Ryan and I know that God has a plan for Etienne and Ezekiel and we can't lose sight of those little boys that are our children, and most importantly, His children.s

Monday, August 17, 2009

Tees

This is the last week to buy a t-shirt. We are hoping to sell the rest of the tees this week with plans to (tentatively) travel the last week of August. Tees arrived and I plan to ship them out in the next few days. If you live in KC or Omaha we would prefer to deliver them to you. THanks for the continued prayers. We bought diapers for the boys. This involved me surrveying other parents in the store to guess the size that would possibly fit them both. 4? Maybe. I really hope I am right because no ones wants a leaky diaper on an 8hr flight!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Officially Ours

WE PASSED COURT!! Etienne and Daniel are now Higgins kids. Etienne is now Etienne Samual Higgins and Daniel is now Ezekiel Daniel Higgins!!!!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Yellow fever and such

With the happy news that travel is only a few weeks away, we are again getting that "butterfly" feeling. Our family will soon be united for real! Molly and Blake are planning (Molly working on where everyone will sit in the car, Blake planning on "getting my brothers to chase you Molly!") Last week our church family and Basehor friends gave us a family shower and now we are equited with lots of supplies to take to the orphanage. I found out that Etienne is not yet potty trained, so we'll be getting doing diapers for both boys! Tee sales are still going, and we are working toward a goal of 10K. Yellow fever vaccines aren't cheap!We will probably need to close sales next week. Please forward this to your friends and their friends too. People are asking so here is the answer: Etienne will be Etienne Samual Higgins and Daniel will be Ezekiel Daniel Higgins. Hoping today we'll receive the final court ruling and travel times coming soon!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Surprise!!

Today we received news that our court appointment happened this morning! This was the next step we were waiting for-but we were waiting for simply a court date. This was a surprise to our agency too that it happened so fast. Yippee! How often does anything go fast in this journey?! The court date meant that a lawyer presented our family to a Rwandan judge, demonstrating that the Ministry, the agency and the orphanage believe that Etienne and Daniel should be Higgins kids. We should receive word by next week of a (favorable) ruling. Then travel is 2-3 weeks after. "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." - 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

48 hrs and 5 sales.....

There are still 95 t-shirts left. Whew! Other than t-shirt stuff, I have been working on figuring out the details of what we need to prepare for Etienne and Daniel's arrival. 1. Car seats- "check" as Blake would say. Thanks to Ella and Emma, our favorite twins, we are set on item #1. 2. Crib-check. Just have to remember how to assemble it. Without directions. 3. High chair- check. Probably needs hosed down. 4. Clothes-check. Blake isn't passing down anything because he is a shrimpo, but many good friends have rubbermaid boxes full. 5. Diapers??!? We are awaiting word whether Etienne is potty trained. Can't tell in the big belly pic if there is a diaper or not! 6. House-check! Hopefully, moving in next week. God is good! Anyone hangin' in Basehor next weekend, you're invited to a moving party. Free food.

Monday, July 27, 2009

See the T?!

On the left sidebar is the back of our t-shirt. We've ordered 100 to start with. Hopefully, by the time you read this, there will be a button to order one (or 10 or 20)!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Another week closer

A little closer to being a party of six. Update #1: 100 t-shirts have been bought buy us to resell to all of you! They are in print and hopefully be week's end we'll have figured out how to have a button on the blog to buy them. The family that runs www.missionthreads.com is another adoptive family that helps people like us become whole. I don't know how God will use Ryan and I or our kids to help other families adopt, but I think it will always be a mission for us beyond getting our boys home. Update #2: No court date yet. We updated our home study this week so that it specifically states that we'll take two non-related children. $200 later, it is in the mail and thankfully did not need to be authenticated. Whew! Our coordinator promises that this won't be a hold up. Update #3: It's a little emotionally fragile here. I find that I try NOT to think too much about Etienne and Daniel because I am so overwhelmed. I say specific prayers and then don't think about the details of their lives right now. All the parents out there know the feeling of ache that you have when your family isn't together. That is how we feel. But also a peace of knowing that God is seeing this whole amazing miracle through.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Miryango!

Miryango is family is kinyarwanda, the language our boys hear most. This weekend we put together photo albums to send to Etienne and Daniel. Amazingly, we are hearing from Americans who remember our little buddies from volunteering at the orphanage or are currently working there. The report is that each is smiley and affectionate-which makes this mama even more anxious to snuggle them!
This week you'll see a new gadget on the blog- a spot to order "Rwanda Adoption Project" t-shirts. One final (hopefully HUGE) fundraiser. Please forward this to anyone you know who may be interested in a retro,fashion tee for a good cause!
We can't post pics of Etienne and Daniel until they are legally a Higgins, but if you'd like to put a face to a name, just email me. I am more than happy to show them off!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Our Boys

"Then Christ will make a home in your heart as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down in God's love, and keep you strong. And you may have the power to understand, as God's people should, how wide, how long, how high and how deep His love is." -Ephesians 3:17-18 I have a few more details to share about Etienne and Daniel today. First, and most important, we have accepted our referral and the travel coordinator has already begun to get the ball rolling for the final phase of the process! The emotions I am feeling are surreal- overwhelming awe at the depth of love that we feel for our sons and gratitude to our Lord that He sees us through. I am touched by the joy that others are feeling with us. At moments, I want to cry that Etienne and Daniel aren't with us right now. We are grateful that a volunteer at the orphanage will be delivering hugs and kisses to our boys on Saturday from their mommy and daddy. The other questions: No they aren't biological siblings (we all know how much biology matters!!!). Ryan and I feel that Etienne knows his name- he will be 3 in October, so Etienne he is. This name is Stephen in French and pronounced (a-tee-en). Daniel we are not decided yet, may move Daniel as a middle name. TBA. We are beginning our last (hopefully!) fundraiser in the next week- selling "Rwanda Adoption Project" fashion tees through this blog. We will also be adding a link to donate frequent flyer miles. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Today!

My heart is overflowing with joy and gratitude! We are the proud family of Etienne, our 33 month old son, and Daniel, our 17 1/2 month old son. They are perfect and beautiful and ours. God is so good. We are all 4 speechless and it is surreal. More to follow....we've got good news to spread!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Huh?!

Here's one for all you OCD-anxiously awaiting-adoptive moms: Call at 9am this morning, area code 703, awaa! Just our case manager, saying, "This isn't a referral, but it is about your referral. Would you be disapointed depending on which gender of your children is older?" HUH? You know I said no and attempted to pry further with no luck. I did get told that it would be "within reason" to continue to carry my cell phone in my pocket at all times. Sigh. It is a little funny to the average outsider and I fear my new co-workers may think I am a wack job.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

No Noticias

No news. In Spanish, cause I speak it a lot these days. I feel a little sad only because it is more time that our children aren't with their family. This weekend I am asking all of our great prayerful friends to pray for that the Limmer and Himes families, also waiting for referral. I am blessed by both Courtney and Heidi, yesterday getting frequent texts during the day, saying "You call and see what's going on, I'm chicken!" God put the desire to adopt in our hearts, He will see us through.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Maybe this week

Yesterday our friends, the Limmers, received word from awaa, asking did they mind if they received a 12 1/2 month old rather than a child under 12 months? Of course, we all know their response! They are at the same stage of waiting as we are, as well as one other family; and we've all been told we'll receive our referrals together. Well, the Limmers were also told that they'd most likely have a referral by the end of the week! We're praying it will happen with for all 3 of our families this week- and it is emotional to think that these referrals will mean that 5 orphans will have a forever family. "My soul waits for the Lord, more than watchmen wait for morning, more than watchmen wait for morning." -Psalms 130:6

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Omaha-who?

Week 1 of our move to Omaha is behind us, even though we haven't really moved yet. Molly says we can't totally move to we get our new brother and sister, so I'm cool with that. It was important to me that we bring them home to Basehor and somehow, we'll still do that. Also, since our house hasn't sold, we can't buy a home in Nebraska yet. So...we just pray that we will want what God wants for us, not what we want.
We are grateful that my new job is really a dream come true. I get to practice as a midwife with a compassionate, enthusiastic, happy group of people. It also helps that my boss adopted internationally, so that's an added bonus.
I remember when we started the adoption last summer, I saw some t-shirts that read "Yes, I am still waiting," and at the time didn't appreciate the truth to that. I am glad that people care so much to ask, but I would like to just refer them to the blog. Sigh. Yes, I am still waiting.

Here's a picture of the Old Market, so all my friends who haven't been to Omaha can see that its actually more then cornfields.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Here's the scoop

My email to Ryan Hanlon generated a quick response. The story goes thus far: Rwanda has recently placed a new framework regarding out-of-country adoptions. After America World matches each family with their children, they have to send the match back to the Ministry for Approval. Prior to our dossier (and the other 2 that are at the same stage as us), it wasn't neccessary to send the match back to the Ministry before giving the families the referral. In other words, there is a new hoop to jump through and our 3 families are the first to jump. Sigh.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Butterflies

All week my husband, a few friends and family members have had butterflies thinking that this is the week----and I have finally had a little relief from them! This morning I woke up to a dream that the four of us were getting ready to meet our new family members for the first time and a little girl was wrapping herself around my skirt. It was so sweet and comforting. Thank you to Ryan's folks and our awesome sister-in-law, Lora, for the hard work, sweat and occasional gross-out (who donates thongs?!) at our garage sale. We made $1300! That is a plane ticket! Courtney, Heidi and I have been "chatting" all week on facebook and have made a pact to call each other when we get a referral. They are the other 2 mamas waiting for a referral this week too. I love my new friends and sisters.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Revelation

This week I asked for a burning bush. Well, last night our buddy Cody took my kiddos to a movies and I got some time alone to go running. As I was jogging, I realized that it isn't like I am Job! My family, home and belongings haven't been taken from me. Being a mother, wife, midwife, nurse, none of that defines who I ultimately am. All that matters is that I am God's child and He totally provides everything in His perfect plan. He is providing for my whole family- the ones in Kansas and the ones in Kigali and we are His. By the time I returned home, I was back to my old self and feel joyful. My heart is happy with what only God can fill. This is definately a burning bush that I needed.
PS. We're having an AWESOME garage sale at 15615 Ballentine, OP,KS 66007 with all the profits to bring the Higgins' kids home.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Update

My heart leapt as my blackberry sang "Gimme Your Eyes," the ring tone for America World! It was indeed Ryan, our case manager. Calling not with a referral, but to say that the orphanage wanted an additional letter stating that we do want 2 children, not just 1. And it needed to be notorized but not authenticated. Huh? In our dossier there are 2 seperate letters, both notorized and authenticated, stating we want 2 children. Once again, the answer was that Rwanda hasn't ever had a family request 2 kids at once until now. Agh! I was at KU library, being analyzed by a test taking counselor (btw, she stated, "your skills are good, I think you need medicated.") when this call came. So there was a notary within the building. I called my dear friend Vicky, met up with her and we had the document notarized and faxed within a few hours of the call. My Ryan and I overanalyzed this phone call because Ryan Hanlon also called my Ryan to ask if we really wanted siblings or we didn't care. What does that mean? Do they have siblings? Are they close to a referral? Are we back at square one? Where the heck did the first 2 letters with our request go?! As Adrianne would say, "sigh."

Monday, June 15, 2009

Burning Bush

The title of this blog is a shout out to my husband. Almost exactly 7 years ago we started praying what we called our "burning bush" prayer. We were a young married couple awaiting our assignment for the Peace Corp. We'd be assigned and reassigned several times because of Sept 11th and the unknown safety of the world at that time. We were starting to get frustrated with our life being in limbo and not knowing when we'd leave the US and where we'd go. After a few months of praying for any kind of burning bush, we found out we were pregnant with Molly. What a shock! That bush was on fire. Now I am requesting another burning bush. I am so grateful for all the faithful and loving prayer warriors that our in the Higgins' world and I know that so many are praying each day. I am requesting a burning bush this week. I will take it in any form-a referral of our Rwandan babies, a sold home, a mortgage for new home, a test date for getting boards over with. Even an old fashioned talking, burning (yet not burning) bush. Thanks, friends.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Walk the Walk

I owe everyone an apology. I blog about our faith in our Lord's perfect timing. Most of the time, I feel like my family is living and walking in faith. But this last week, I fell off the wagon. I found myself doubting myself, our plans, our decisions and God's timing. Each day as I participated in VBS at church, we sang, read, played and acted out the story of Moses leading the people through the desert for 40 years, not knowing where they were going. The theme was "Fear not!" Yet all week, I fought tears, insomnia and doubt. Unknowns for our family right now are numerous: the adoption (when?how?who?), selling our home, relocating, new career. I attempted my CNM boards and faced grippling anxiety to the point I couldn't function. Later, Blake said "Mama, fear not! God was with you!" Yeah for VBS! Hebrews 11:1 "faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Read all of Hebrews 11 for encouragement. I am sorry that I doubted God's plan and God's timing because I know that the details in the Higgins' world right now will all play out perfectly. And I know that. I just let the world get the best of me. People may tell us we're crazy to try to adopt, sell our home, start new jobs. For a moment, I believed them. That moment is passed.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Something free!!?!

Well, T-Mobile just made my day! Our plan was adjusted so that we can make internationals calls from Africa and it didn't cost a thing to add that option! Granted, it is $1.99/minute from Rwanda and $2.99/minute from Ethiopia, but at least we now have the capabilities do make that call!
We also had fun with a gift card to Old Navy this week (BTW all mens stuff is 1/2off) looking for appropriate "Africa" travel gear- you know, skirts below the knee, light weight guys pants. The conservative stuff. Not so easy to find but still fun to think we're getting so close...
Also got a helpful email from a fellow adoptive family that took their biological children with them (ages 4 and 7); besides providing encouragement they also had great suggestions for the journey and NO regrets at all that they took their whole family. This reiterated what Ryan and I feel- the four of us are a team and we do this as a family. Plus, I really think that if we have a toddler that is anxious about leaving his/her familiar home of the orphanage, that Molly and Blake (esp Moll's she is a little mama!) will be a comfort to their new siblings and help with the bonding.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

29

That's the number of days since we received word of ministry approval and started awaiting referral. A lot has happened in those 29 days- I completed my master's, Molly graduated from kindergarten, Blake decided to sleep under his bed rather in it in, Ryan committed to 4 weeks of work related travel this summer, we started packing our house up. Basically, keep on keeping on! Our prayer daily is that our other children may know laughter every day, have someone to snuggle them when they are sad and feel safe and loved until we can get to them. Also, I am requesting prayers also for the ACNM examine that I will be taking in the next few weeks- so much at stake.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Really?!?

Ryan H, our case manager, sent us an email this morning. Basically, "we'll have you a referral in the next couple of weeks." Really? That's what we keep hearing. I guess at least we're being checked in on, not forgotten. I remind myself that families adopting from China wait over 2 years, but my head and heart aren't on the same page. Really?! Agh.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Give me your junk

Mark your calendar- June 18, 19 & 20 we are having a garage sale! Ryan's mom, Paula, sent us an encouraging email yesterday morning after visiting some other blogs and seeing photos of other recently adopted kids. She was feeling inspired and decided that she'd like to help us have another fundraiser and its that garage sale time of year. So, email me if you have stuff you'd like me to take off your hands (or out of your attic/garage/basement!) and I will come in my grocery getter and pick it up! Today is 3 weeks since the Ministry sent our letter of approval. It felt like a kinda sad day. To those of you reading it wondering why should I be sad, I know. Sigh. I have so much to be thankful for but there is a part of me that is already a mom to the kids I haven't met. And every mom out there knows the feeling of being a little bit less when you aren't with your kids. Just not quite whole. I am, of course, just praying each morning that today will be the day that we will remember forever. I know that God didn't promise that anything that would be easy; He did promise that He will give us the strength to get through this. "the Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy!" -Psalms 126:3 This past week there were awaa families in Rwanda bringing their children home. We are thanking God for their smooth process and safe travels!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

New Friends

Blogging has been such a blessing for numerous reasons- one of the biggest being that it has allowed me to befriend other adoptive mothers who facing many of the same challenges and emotions as our family. Saturday I was blessed to have lunch with Adrianne, another adoptive mom who is also waiting to receive word from Rwanda regarding getting her baby. She was in town for the weekend all the way from Richmond, VA, so we met for lunch at KCI. Nothing like a little airport food to start a friendship off right! I am sure that the two of us were quite a sight- eating subpar mexican in a dimly lit airport venue, crying and laughing like old pals. I guess I feel like I've found an old friend not to mention someone that completely understands what waiting for your child feels like. We were able to swap stories and now have a face to put with the prayers we've been saying for one another. It's a really cool bond and I look forward to our families continuing to support each other in the years to come. I took a picture of us with my hip new blackberry. Here we are chillin' at the KCI. Just think, next summer our families can hang at the awaa africa reunion together!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

2 weeks

That's how long it's been since our dossier was approved and forwarded onto the orphanage director. Every day I wake up wondering if today will be the day and although he won't admit it, I know my other half is getting excited too. Today I completed an application for an interest free loan specifically for adoption costs. So much money and I don't even really flinch like I used to when I fill these things out! I know we have debt, but we are so accustomed to living as poor grad students that now school is over and we're earning money, we'll still have to be paying this off yet our lifestyle won't take a hit. We'll just keep eating ramon, playing outside and going to the library. We are so happy to do this and I love that we don't need "stuff" to be entertained or content. So, no word. As I keep saying, "You'll know when we know!" I am praying that we have some word before the end of the week so that Ryan can figure out his summer work plans.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Too heavy for Friday morning

This morning as I was putting pigtails in her hair, Molly said she wondered if people in Africa would think she looked funny because she is white. This being 7:30am, I wasn't prepared for a response and quickly said something along the lines of she'll look different, but pretty. Then Molly said, "I guess that is how my brother and sister might feel too when they move here." Oh my goodness, I wasn't ready for that! So we talked about how our family will look different from lots of other families and I asked her what she would tell her siblings. She thought a moment, then said "That you are perfect and your family doesn't care how you look." We talked a little more and she decided that families are just the people who love you no matter what. I was really moved by the conversation (couldn't let on because she's quick to remind me that "if grown ups cry it makes kids worry") and I knew it was a glimpse of many conversations to come on the subject of race. After school, we were at a park full of Head Start classes and Molly and Blake were the minority. I watched as they packed 15 kids on a merry-go-round, all squeezing together and speaking no less then 3 languages; I prayed that all my kids will always be able to squeeze in without feeling out of place whereever they may be.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mom of 4

"For we, through the Spirit, wait for the hope of rightousness by faith." -Galations 5:5 It has gotten slightly easier to wait knowing that we are so close to finding out if we have 2 sons or a son and a daughter. Yesterday a loved one asked, "how does it feel to be mother of four?" and I can't keep the happiness off my face despite the fact that I am tearing up at everything. It was wonderful to share the news of our approval letter with our church family and feel their geniune excitement. I'm thinking a lot about the my Molly and Blake-man, how I am so blessed and overjoyed to be their mom and praying that they will adjust with happiness to their new family members. Their lives are going to be changing big time too and as their mom I just want the whole transition to be smooth and natural. I'm thinking about my kids that don't even know yet how much their family here loves them. Also thinking of all the orphans that are still waiting for a home and it has become very personal to me to pray for orphans. I think that even after my kids are all home with me, that this may a lifelong project for the Higgins' family. It kinda gets in your blood. Our prayers now continue to be to receive our referral and travel before July!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

10 Feet Off the Ground

Wow! We are overwhelmed with all of the excitement everyone is sharing with us knowing that we are so close to the end of "paper chase!" To all the other adoptive families who are sending us encouragement and prayers- we are feeling it all with you and you'll be there soon. I decided today that I still needed to be doing something toward the adoption. So I am having a garage sale! I decorated our garage with the beautiful Rwanda photos that we had from our fundraiser dinner and made signs about the adoption. It's something, right?! I also became "a little stalker-esque" as Ryan said and found Don Cheadle's mom's address. He is from KC and he starred in Hotel Rwanda, so I just thought I had nothing to lose.:) I know you're all laughing, but you're also thinking, that girl is creative!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Good News!!

God is so good! This has been a rollercoaster of emotions this week. Today Ryan Hanlon, our awaa case manager, called to say that the Ministry has approved us, that our paperwork will be reviewed tomorrow by the orphanage director!!!! He said, "Unfortunately, this means a more waiting, sometimes a month." That's nothing! Thank you for all the prayers you are sending our way, we can feel them and I am sure our kiddos in Rwanda can too. "do not be anxious about anything,, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." -Phillipians 4:6

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Blessings in Waiting

Dear Friends, As we mark another week off the calendar in waiting, I have prayed for God to change my perception of this time. Here are some of the positives that I can see: 1. Waiting allows my family to reflect on how God is our ultimate provider. Molly and Blake often comment on "when are we getting our brother and sister?" They are learning (and we're getting reinforcement!) that God gives us what we need, when we need it. 2. I got a minivan to put everyone in! 3. I reflect on what it must be like to be an orphan. For those little ones out there waiting for a family, our time waiting is nothing in comparison. I pray more for them. 4. We're given more time to get everything else in our lives more in order including but not limited to alphabetizing spices, career changes and moving. 5. As we wait, we are given opportunity to share with people we meet along the way God's grace through adoption. Spread a little adoption bug. 6. I will be finished with grad school and no more studying by the time I get my kids! To be continued...

Monday, April 27, 2009

About last night...

It is great that I stayed up all night...sometime before my shift was over we had a comment on our blog regarding the legitimacy of adopting from Rwanda. It said something like "don't you know that you can only adopt privately in Rwanda?" Luckily, I think I removed the comment before naysayers (sp?) had a chance to spread rumors. I cleared the air with our awesome social worker, Ryan, later today. He reassured me that America World has succeeeded in adoptions (We know who you all are!!) from Rwanda. April is a month of mourning for the genocide of 1994, so government offices tend to move a little slower. This picture is the road to Kibuye, now a memorial walk.
We also know that there is another America World family also requesting 2 kids from Rwanda and they are at the same stage of waiting as we are. This is exciting to know they are with us along the journey.
Thank you, thank you for your words of encouragement and prayers. We are so grateful and blessed.

To all the others waiting

I am sitting at work in the middle of the night and there aren't any patients. This gives me time to do a lot of praying and thinking. (I should be studying too!) I am so comforted to read the blogs of the other families waiting for their babies to come home. Can you imagine what this journey would be like without the internet?!? I am thinking and praying for the other mamas and daddies waiting for their children and giving thanks to them for sharing their stories with us. Today God placed this scripture to me: "For evildoers will be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land."Psa 37:9 Lately I have been a pity party. No referral, broken cars, running out of money, worrying about jobs and selling our house. But in the big picture of life, that doesn't matter! Someone reminded me that worry is just allowing the Satan to wiggle his way inbetween my Creator and me. God's plan and timing are perfect. My prayer request remains that the 4 of us here in Basehor can remember and feel that daily! My other request is that we get our referrral. ASAP! God is bigger then time and waiting and money and any obstacle that is between our children coming home to us!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Me in My Minivan

Yes, it is happened. I am officially driving a Honda Odessey- for those of you who don't know- that is a minivan. It doesn't come in lime green or burnt orange (believe me, I tried). Now you may ask how does an automobile have to do with an adoption. When people ask me where I am going to put all my kids, now I have the room. As Ryan just informed me, techniqually we could adopt four kids and they'd all be in a safety belt.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Positive PR

We are always amazed and encouraged by the support and kindness of strangers. A parent of one of Ryan's students wrote a great article about our adoption journey for the Johnson County Sun, a local newspaper. You can find it at http://www.sunpublications.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1872:open-arms-couple-hopes-to-add-to-family-through-international-adoption&catid=44:community&Itemid=112 These little God things-unexpected blesssings- are encouragement and a reminder that we are blessed to live in a place where the kindness and support of others. I know that this season of uncertainty will soon by behind us. I just wish it would go a little faster!!!!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Peace Of Mind

"You will keep in perfect peace the mind that is dependent on God, for it is trusting in Him" -Isaiah 26:3 No news, no news. I am trying to update this weekly because I am aware that we have many people thinking and supporting us. Easter was actually more emotional than we anticipated it would be and now I have more appreciation for all adoptive families who are out there waiting for word. I kept thinking about if our other children we having Easter whereever they were- Ryan reminded me that they were probably getting to eat more candy then Molly and Blake because I wasn't there. :) We have some amazing Christian friends that daily bring us encouragement and laughter. One said this week, "Not long from now you and Ryan will look back and see that you lost your car because you needed a bigger vehicle for all those kids sooner then you thought; you didn't sell your house quickly because you had time before your new job and you couldn't be homeless!" Peace of mind is easy to talk about and read about but really, truly having it takes a lot more work & prayer. This is a crazy time for us with a lot going on, so peace of mind that His Timing is perfect is a big deal!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

We have put our hope in the living God- 1Timothy 4:10

We've had some disapointments this week. A little from God's Grace Adoption Ministry declined us for receiving any kind grant from their organization. My initial reaction was "wow, that means there are families adopting who are in even more debt then us," my second reaction was that I know God will provide the means to adopting and I can't wait to see how He does it. Secondly, on my last day of integration, driving home from Topeka, my Trooper quit in the middle of the highway. Literally and I am not exaggerating. After getting it towed, we were informed that the engine is totally burnt out and to replace it would be $3500-$4000. Ouch! Ryan and I are reminded that God wants us that understand that we don't need anything except our relationship with Him. So we are counting our blessings!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

More FAQ- Domestic vs International

Someone posted a question about getting state funding. Everyone, regardless of whether they adopt locally, nationally or internationally, gets a $10K tax refund when the adoption is finalized. It is true that if you adopt through foster care or handicapped kids, the costs may be less. There are also additional grants for children with disabilities. However, if you want a healthy, white newborn domestically, these costs are soaring and often cost more then internationally adopting. Also, private adoptions may sometimes be cheaper; if you are interested in private adoptions these are often an open adoption. Open adoptions mean that the birth mother or family is a part of your child's life too. For many families this is a perfect for them. For us, we felt strongly that we did not want an open adoption- that is just a personal preference. Since we have biological children, we studied up on how to make the transition of new siblings easier. Sticking with birth order is very important as well, so that meant no older kids for us. I will try to keep up on our FAQ stuff since we don't have our referral day yet!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

FAQ

Since we don't have much news on the home front regarding our own personal adoption adventure, Ryan suggested we start a "frequent asked question" blog. Maybe some of you are thinking adoption might be in your future or maybe you can support else. Here's one for you" WHY IS ADOPTION SO EXPENSIVE? It is true, adopting a child should be free. Unfortunately an international adoption is quite a complicated legal process. During your adoption process, you (and the agency you are adopting through) will be working with a myriad of entities. These include foreign governments, the USCIS department, county and state authorities, as well as the federal level state department (not to mention the numerous notaries you will need, police checks, medical reports and social services evaluations). There are many people who spend a lot of time working to adequately prepare the legal procedures for the adoption process, and it ultimately ends up costing quite a bit of money. When you receive our information packet, you are provided a complete breakdown of the costs involved. We include estimates for every cost you will encounter. Although most of the money you pay to other entities, not to us, we still include them in our estimate so that you can know realistically all the costs you will be responsible for during the adoption.- awaa.org Also, we have learned that international adoptions are oftentimes less expensive then domestic adoptions. If you are interested in an foster care, older children or a child with special needs, US adoptions are less expensive and quicker.