Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Psalm 82:3

What if there are children who will suffer somehow because I failed to obey God?
What if my cowardice costs even one child somewhere in the world his or her life?
(excerpt from The Hole in Our Gospel)

Monday, January 23, 2012

The kid who stole my heart...

After coming home from Ethiopia last spring I said that I felt like I left part of my heart behind.

THEN, I didn't know why I felt that way. NOW, I do.

Meet Habtamu

(you'll have to ask him how he pronounces it - we speak AmEnglish, remember?)

We are still waiting on one letter before our process can progress any further (say that 10 times fast!). Please pray that a certain letter shows up sooner than later! We're waiting on a piece of paper...while Habtamu is waiting for us to come and bring him home. His birthday is in May, and I know there are at least 6 of us who want him home so he can celebrate his birthday WITH his new family.

PS) We have less than a week to go for our matching grant. Money needs to be received on or before January 30th! Yikes. See the progress meter at the top? If you can help us, here's how:

Make checks payable to:
Life Song for Orphans
P.O. Box 40
Gridley, IL 61744

*On the memo of your check,
please note Hendren Family # 2317

Friday, January 20, 2012

Wishing I were that ball

I think the title of the post speaks for itself.

Kyle is home safe and sound. Slept a LOT since his very late arrival Wed. night. I think I would too if I were up for 51 hours with only short naps totaling 4 hours. He wasn't even grumpy or anything! What a trooper he was.

Dad-to-be will post something soon. He had to go back to work today (sadly, his job doesn't stop just because he is trying to adopt a little boy, dang it!) and who knows how long it'll be before he gets caught up.

Here's a little known fact. One year ago TODAY this blog started. I can honestly tell you that I never dreamed it would turn into an adoption story...but then again, we stopped family planning 13 years ago. Happy first birthday, :o) Goofy, I know...but today is a special day for our family :o)

And happy birthday to Hailey - 11 years today.
Love to you, from Dad.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Final update from Ethiopia

Kyle's update arrived during my car-pool I missed getting to e-mail him right back. Figures!

Anyhow, his day of swimming, zoo and lunch went fine. The mom that's "stuck" there was with him, and the two older boys ended up not going with them after all. Guess they had check-ups scheduled. Kyle said "he" told him he knew how to swim, so Kyle watched him jump in the 6 foot end, then immediately jumped in himself for the rescue. Guess we'll be in swim lessons sooner than later! They spent about 90 minutes swimming, and had a good time.

Kyle said communication is a little challenging, but having things to do helped. (I'm thinking that the non-verbal was what mattered. I mean, when was the last time someone took this little guy out for lunch, to the zoo, swimming and played countless Go Fish games?)

The letter he was hoping to get figured out before he left wasn't done yet. It wasn't the "easier" one, but it will come - eventually. Start praying, my friends. The longer it takes to get just delays our date to bringing him home...where he is so wanted! I think Chelsea was about to cry this morning when I told her dad was coming home without "him". She knew this, but after knowing her dad was there with him, she said she felt very sad knowing "he" had to stay behind. She's so like her mother (which is kinda scary!). I know I said I wanted to go with Kyle this time, but I wonder if I'd be on the flight with him right now...or staying behind because I couldn't will myself to leave.

Other parts of his update were incredibly tender, but those part won't be posted here. Sorry...gotta keep some special memories between just the two of us. However, if you want sweet memories of your own...I've got the BEST advice. Call an adoption agency, tell them you want to love a child who needs a family, and make your own memories!

Kyle's headed to the airport as I type this, and won't be back home until late tomorrow night. It'll probably take a couple days for him to "sleep it off" enough to post more about his trip, so this is likely the last "update" for a little while.

Thank you for your continued prayers (particularly the one about the 1 letter we need).

Monday, January 16, 2012

Another update - and more "bonding"

Received this e-mail this morning from Kyle:

We moved rooms so now I don't have internet access. I am using the front desk computer. Today we had court at 930. Waited till about 1030 or 11 for my turn. 6 questions and done. ("court" usually takes only 15 minutes anyhow). Did not pass court because of the MOWA letter (that would be the 1 paperwork thing I mentioned yesterday). Our agency guide talked with the orphanage director (where "he" used to be) while I was at court. He picked me up after court and said they would have the letter later today. Then, if I understood him correctly, 9 days later he could get a court date to present the letter. Either way, it is good and we should have the letter soon.

After court went to Kaldi's again for lunch. We hung out at the Guest House today. Played soccer, watched an action movie - some ninja kids movie. I journaled. We had a coffee ceremony in the lobby, played some more soccer and are now chilling. Most families are leaving tonight. One lady, Corinne, is here long term with her 10 month old boy until she can get some paperwork from Nairobi. We are going to take two other older kids tomorrow to the zoo and then to the Sheraton for swimming and playing on a playground. She is just looking to get out. She has to find her own things to do. She has been here a week now (how frustrating that has to be!)

"He" likes action movies and I hear the care center plays some more PG13'ish movies. Tango and Cash were on TV this afternoon, Murder at 1600 (wesley snipes), now a Pierce Brosnan movie. Weather is cool here, cloudy and 70's. Not sure about dinner plans tonight.

I got his paperwork from court. Lists his mom and dad's names and his brothers and sisters names. Does not say how they died, just fatal illness. Says where they were buried. Also has the petition of the aunt and uncle that gave him to the orphanage. Says birthday is 2003 (maybe he's Chelsea's age after all?). Paperwork could be wrong. He will stay with me again tonight. I'll try to attach a couple of pics here. I will take some pics at the zoo and swimming and try to send tomorrow before I leave. Not much else to report.

We are getting along okay. Not too deep of conversations. Lots of Go Fish and memory games have been played! He knows basic English but does not understand when I ask him other questions about life, care center, orphanage, or family.

Yea! They are still "bonding"...and "he" hasn't asked to go back to the care center. That has to be a good sign, right? And, those pictures he sent are foreign to me...can't figure out how to open them, much less post them, dang it.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Together - dad and his son-to-be :o)

Here they are, together! The big day finally arrived when dad met his son-to-be. As I type this they are having a sleep over at the Guest House. I guess someone asked "him" if he wanted to go with his new dad for the day/night and he said "Yes". So, they hopped in the van and headed out...together :o)

Until it's "official", I can't post "his" picture on our blog, but I will post them creatively. So, they've been darkened (or lightened) as to follow the rules...but still give you a peek. I still can't believe Kyle's in Africa WITH "him"!

(ignore the dates on the camera...I was in a hurry to take the pics and didn't bother trying to set a date)

What have they been doing? Learning to play Tetras & Go Fish, eating salt water taffy, eating at Caldi's (which is the Ethiopian version of Starbucks - only with a full menu), watching short DVD's on the portable DVD player, playing soccer and tossing wrappers out the 2nd story window (guess when the world is your garbage can, it's hard to break that habit). We also packed a Color Wonder notebook and he's seemingly enjoying his new artwork. Kyle said they are doing surprisingly well communicating. Apparently he knows a lot more English than he was expecting and the best part is that we all got to hear it this morning! I can't imagine a better way to wake up. Thank you God for fixing that "stupid laptop" long enough for us to talk as a family of 7!

"He" read the girls' letters all by himself, and answered their questions on Skype. It was wonderful to hear his voice. Kyle only had to help with a couple of the words - man, is this kid smart, or what?! The best thing he said today was "I love you" with a BIG smile...after I told him I loved him. The kids all blew him kisses and Corey is surprisingly even more excited about having a new brother than I thought. It's all he's talked about today and said "I know the girls wish they could share a room with him, but I get to - ha". He then went on to talk about all the stuff he's planning to show and teach "him" when he comes home...all of which include some kind of electronic device.

The boring details would be that the flight was fine, but apparently a family congregated in the aisle where Kyle's seat was...thus hitting his chair and talking most of the flight, so he never slept. He said he's been up for 28 hours...and ready for bed. Hope "he" is tired, too! The airport was uneventful, thank goodness, his driver was there waiting for him and they went to the guest house for a few minutes, then to the care center to meet "him". Kyle said it was nice, but very crowded, and they were only there 15 minutes before leaving together.

Court is in the morning. There is 1 paperwork issue (over there, not here) and we hope it can be resolved before then. Please pray that it is...

Not sure how many more updates I'll get, or if this is it. Totally depends on the "stupid laptop". I told Kyle to play, play and play, and if it works, it works. If not, we'll get all caught up next week when he comes home.

PS) "He" comes home in 3-4 months. While we were on Skype today I asked "him" if he knew we would be coming back later to bring him home and he looked at his dad and said "three...four months". Kyle told him it was January, and then "he" held up fingers and named the months - all 12 of them - in English. So, apparently he understands we will be back...and when. And apparently he's smarter than we are, because we couldn't name the months in Amharic!

I think today would be the day this wait officially starts bugging me! So close, yet it seems so far away, you know?

Friday, January 13, 2012

And He's Off !

Kyle is on his way to DC as I type this. Here he is politely allowing me to take his picture after the curb-side goodbye (thanks sweetie for letting me step out of the vehicle for a quick photo even though you probably thought it was completely unnecessary :o) Tomorrow morning he leaves for Ethiopia to meet his future son. How crazy must a guy be to do this...all by himself? VERY. Very crazy in love with God to trust Him completely that this child was meant to be his son. I love that about this man of mine, you know. Even though "on paper" something doesn't seem rational - he can see past the paper and into something much deeper and more meaningful...and take a risk that's worth taking.

PS) Last night we joked at how much less he had to transport than I did in May. Remember that photo? He still can't believe I hauled 150 lbs. of luggage and a carry-on all by myself and lived to tell about it.

Before he headed out today the kids had a group hug with dad. A couple of them are still jealous they aren't going. Mom's helpful response??? "Join the club, baby!"

Miranda surprised us today by getting ready for school early so she could finish her letter to her brother. She needed help spelling his name and the word "adopting", otherwise she wrote what she wanted all by her cute little self.

Translation (sorry it's blurry):
To: Habtamu
I am so glad you will come home and we are adopting you.
Mom and Dad pick me in China!

Miranda Joy Zhu Dan

Until this morning I wondered how much she really understands about where she came from and what adoption means. Apparently she understands more than I realized.

Chelsea had a secret note for her dad to pass along to her brother. It was sealed in an envelope with very clear instructions for dad to ONLY open it when her brother was with him. What dad doesn't know yet is that she has questions she wants answers to. Questions like "What is your favorite color?" and "Are you a righty or a lefty?" and "If you could have any stuffed animal in the world, what would it be?" Something tells me there is a shopping trip in my future for a fuzzy something-or-other.

Kyle sent me a text just after he boarded his plane this morning. He said he'd met a Lutheran Pastor from Tooele who had lived in Botswana for two years as a child. I'm thinking that's a pretty good way to start your journey...

Hopefully there will be photos and updates from Sunday - Tuesday. Our deal is that he will e-mail me what he can and I'll post it to the blog (just like he did for me :o). Feel free to leave comments here for him, as those will automatically go to his e-mail - and he'll know you're thinking of him and praying for him and his new little man.

Thank you for your prayers - We know there are many of you helping in that capacity this weekend, and we couldn't be more grateful.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Round 1 - getting ready to go...& a P.S.

The P.S. comes first on this post, since I just added this part:

Mom: "Hey Corey, whatcha doin'? Homework I hope!"
Corey: "Yep, I'm doing it."

(Mom comes upstairs to SEE for herself and finds something brown taped to his door. Great. She's admittedly annoyed, again, as her 12 year old has seemingly found yet another way to procrastinate)

(As mom approaches door, her patience is thin, as homework for this particular child is an issue. She thinks he's goofing off again, now making signs instead of doing homework - which he is! Mom takes a deep breath and gets ready to open the door...She's about ready to say something "not so nice"...and then mom reads this)

Mom: "I love your sign. What made you do that?"
Corey: "Just something I wanted to do yesterday and didn't get around to it. Going to do homework now."
Mom: "Awesome". ("Thank you God, for shutting my mouth this time")

Lesson: Before you bark at your kid (even your ADD kid who hates doing homework), make sure he's not processing some important life-changing event in his own special way :o)

Now, for the post of the day:

T-9 days...

Converter/Adaptor - check. Skype camera - check. Battery for laptop - check. Neck pillow - check. Cash in larger, crisp bills - check. Immunizations current - check. Tickets - check. Guest House accommodations - almost check. Transportation - almost check. Camera - Check. Basic Amharic phrases - not even close!

Started Kyle's "staging area" today. We're officially gathering things for his upcoming trip and making plans for how he will spend his days there. We're hoping he'll get to keep "him" with him at the Guest House so the two of them can spend some time bonding and going places together. We hear there is an arcade somewhere. Who knew? Jared is totally jealous now too (join the club, my son) and wishes he could go both trips. In fact, Corey jumped in last night and even said he'd like to go hang out with his future roommate. Oh well, our time will come. In the meantime, our best bet will be for Skype to work and me and the kids here to stay up really late or get up really early to "chat" with Kyle and his buddy! I really hope he doesn't have power issues...the kids REALLY want to "talk" to their soon-to-be brother!

That's it for today...going to be a busy week, but once Kyle has more details, I'm sure he'll fill us all in :o) All we know for sure is he leaves for D.C Friday the 13th, goes to court on the 16th and leaves Ethiopia on the 17th, arriving home on the 18th. If all goes "normal", trip #2 should happen in April - and we'll be a family of 7. Yikes!