Friday, October 31, 2008

Court Date!

Praise Jesus! We have a court date. We are so excited to share the news that we have been assigned a court date in Ethiopia. It is scheduled for December 17th. We are praying it will all be official by Christmas!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Little Joys

One thing that I'm very thankful for during this wait is my precious family and all of the fun to be had with them during the coming months. Fortunately, during these next and hopefully LAST few months of waiting, we will be hopping. We look forward to celebrating my Dad's 70th birthday, Ryan and I will both celebrate our 35th birthdays, we have Thanksgiving and Christmas to look forward to, and then there is our schooling. We're trying to work very hard so that we can take some time off when our brother gets home.

My kiddos- they made these signs on a day when we were still waiting for our referral and they asked me to take their photo with them so we could send it to him when we were able to send him a package. They say, "We Love Baby Bro."

I thought I would take a minute to post a few photos of our current school highlights. We just completing our history unit on the Middle Ages. We took a field trip to the Carolina Renaissance Festival in Charlotte on Tuesday.

Abby at the Renaissance Festival with Mother Goose.

We saw dozens of costumed interpreters it was so fun!

Elizabeth and Isaac with their festival souveniers.

We are in a wonderful co-op of 14 other families who use the same curriculum we do. This curriculum includes our History, Literature, Fine Arts, Church History and Bible, as well as Writing. Everyone in our co-op is studying the same thing at the same time, from the oldest to the youngest. In the last 10 weeks we've covered the Vikings, the development of the Early Church, the Feudal System, the Crusades, Marco Polo, the Printing Press and lots of other concepts. It has been so interesting. We had our unit celebration last night which was a medieval feast. Good times! Although I have to say after feasting last night, that I now appreciate the fork in a new way (they didn't use them in the middle ages!) We're looking forward to moving on to the Renaissance and Shakespeare for the next 9 weeks!

The whole Campbell clan at the co-op feast. All of us girls are in gowns thanks to Grandma's fabulous sewing abilities.

Not only did Grandma sew gowns for our family, but she sewed for two other girls as well. All of the dresses in this photo were made by my mom except for the purple and silver one on the left side. Thanks Mom!

Here are the "king and queen" seated at the high table.

Here are most all of the kids as well as the King and Queen. Notice the variety of costumes.

Here are the students from the lower grammar class I teach.

And here is a shot I took of my 3 youngest ones this morning as they were watching cartoons and relaxing after a busy week. Notice the chocolate Poptart icing on Lily's forehead. Ah, the breakfast of champions!

Friday, October 17, 2008

What next?

Since our referral the number one question we have had is, "So, when do you get to get him?" Boy, do we wish we knew the answer to that question. Here is the process we will go through from this point. First, we wait to be assigned a court date. Then, we wait for the court date to actually arrive. That is an extremely important piece of the puzzle, because we must pass court to proceed. We have seen many court dates pass flawlessly on the first attempt. We have seen at least that many not pass. They can fall through for a variety of reasons including, but not limited to: power outages, missing forms, judges who don't make it in to work that day, someone not showing up, Ethiopian holidays, etc. We have seen people have at least 6 court dates before passing. Once we pass court, we wait for an embassy date, this is usually only 3-4 weeks.

That embassy date is when we actually have to be in the country. We will travel over there for about a week, meet our son, explore Ethiopian culture, attend our embassy appointment, tour a few of the government orphanages, and finalize everything. Needless to say, we can't wait. Ryan was talking last night about how badly he wanted to get on a plane and go get him. To which I responded, "Yeah, me too. I'd just rather not do 40 to life for kidnapping!"

So, that still doesn't tell you when we'll get him. We really don't know. You see, there used to be a "typical" timeframe for each of these steps. But, the bottom line is, it seems there is nothing typical in the world of Ethiopian adoption right now. The Ethiopian courts are flooded and they have just passed some new regulations that seem to be slowing everything down. While it's very frustrating to me as a spoiled American citizen. I respect the fact that Ethiopia is interested in protecting their children and in making sure that all of the adoptions are done in an ethical fashion- even if it means I wait a little longer (that is harder to believe than it is to say most days).

We have seen people make it from this point in as little as 6 weeks, as long as 6 month, and an average of about 3 months. We're praying for a Christmas miracle, but realistically, we're prepared for a January or February travel date and we're really hoping we don't get the longest wait yet badge!

We are now praying for so many of our blog friends as they are currently facing some of these extended waits. Our agency had about 10 families that were scheduled for court dates in these last few days who are now facing postponements until mid-November because of some of the issues I mentioned. One of these families saw their son's face in a photo for the first time in March and has now been postponed again- can you imagine!

So, I'll close by saying this- and I quote my blog friend Grace, "International adoption is NOT for sissies." I really have to refrain from ranting and raving every time someone comments to me on how this adoption must be so much easier than having to go through pregnancy and delivery. Let me just say, I carried and birthed 4 babies- one of whom was born 10 days early weighing 10lbs. and 6 oz. and I would say that was a cakewalk compared to this adoption journey. I have no regrets, God has taught me in ways I could never have imagined and he has sheltered me in his wing. There have been days when his Word was the only thing I could cling to, and it's not over yet! But, I feel confident in the end, I'll be able to proclaim that It Was Worth It!

Monday, October 13, 2008

A God of Details

I wanted to take a moment to share a few of the details about how we arrived at this point of our journey. I have shared pieces of it along the way, but I think it's a story that I have to share again. So here goes my best attempt.

Almost 2 years ago, Ryan and I inherited some money, unexpectedly. It was the estate of a widow who was a neighbor of my mother's and she wanted a young couple in ministry to have the money. At that point, we began to pray about how God would have us to use that money. We were living in a charming brick house that was built in 1950. We call it our "Leave it to Beaver" house. We loved it and with the money we could have paid it off, sent our kids to college, and traveled frequently- all things we wanted for our family. But, the house had issues. For one, it had a list of weekend projects longer than my arm- not practical for our family of 6 in ministry. Two, it was really not close enough to our church for us to build relationships within that community. Finally, it was small. There was enough room for our family, but adding another child to our family or regular entertaining were really not practical.

We prayed a lot about what to do about the house. We really felt certain that God wanted us to sell that house and find a larger home that we could entertain other families in and where we could be open to growing our family if He saw fit. We felt very strongly that he was telling us that he wanted to do ministry through a larger home. We decided to wait until the following spring, put our house on the market, and go from there. Very soon after that, we were talking with some neighbors who had just redone a huge historic home next door to us and they asked us if we would be interested in that house. They were even willing to purchase our home as part of the deal, which they would then flip. It was very appealing. So, we looked at it. It was gorgeous and had a lot of character. We were interested, but we had some real concerns about taking on a 100 year old home. We decided that since we had never looked at houses in that price range, we better look at what else was available before we committed. This all happened months before we were planning to purchase.

So, that week, we went looking. After an afternoon of seeing what was out there, we made one last stop. And there it was. The house had been on the market for a whole year and the seller had just dropped the price $60,000 dollars- to exactly what we were planning to pay for a house. It had everything we were looking for. A great space for entertaining, the perfect yard, a bonus room for schooling, another bedroom and bedrooms that were large enough for 2 children each. Our realtor insisted that with the price change we didn't have any time to waste. So, we put a contract on the house. It was October 10th, 2007. It was a year to the day that the house had been listed on the market. It was also the day that in a hospital in the Northern part of Ethiopia, our son was being born.

It was several more months before we committed to adopting. We wrestled with the whole thing. We had always had so many reasons why it wasn't the right time. We didn't have the space, we didn't have the resources, we didn't have the time. God had so obviously obliterated every one of those barriers. We faced the topic of adoption everywhere we went during those next few months. Every radio program, magazine article, random conversations, they all seemed to turn to adoption. Finally, Abby our 10 year old put it like this. "Dad, God is telling us to adopt a baby and you're being disobedient." That did it. The next day we started the process and here we stand, amazed again at God's faithfulness and his overwhelming love for us.

Many folks believe in coincidences. I don't believe the October 10th's of our life are coincidences. I would say instead, "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

Friday, October 10, 2008

A Few Details

Wow! What a fun and crazy whirlwind the last 30 hours have been! I know some of you want to know how it all went down- so here goes my best effort at making sense of it all. Ryan's daddy is an excellent painter, so Wednesday night Ryan's parents came in from KY so that we could get the room painting/furniture swapping done before the holidays kicked in. So, yesterday (Thursday) we tore the house apart, had furniture stuffed in every corner of my bedroom and we were happily completing home improvement projects.
I had a dentist appointment yesterday afternoon, so I ran out to take care of that and make a quick Walmart run. I had just entered Walmart and before I could put anything in my cart, I ran into my good friend Eileen Mestas. Those of you in Gladney land may know Eileen from her blog, Job's Daughters. She and her husband brought home 3 children from Ethiopia last November and they were really the ones who kick-started us on this journey. So we were standing in the craft aisle discussing our referral timeline when my cell phone rang. Eileen said, "Wouldn't that be funny if that was Natalie calling with your referral?" Well, it wasn't, it was Ryan asking me to get something else for Isaac's room. So, I hung up and Eileen and I went back to gabbing. About 3 minutes later, the phone rang again and the caller ID listed my mother-in-law's cellphone. I told Eileen I'd see her later and began to walk away as I answered the phone.
My mother-in-law said, in a very excited voice, "Christy, Ryan's on the phone with the lady, it's the referral, he said to come home!"
So, I scream over my shoulder to Eileen "It's the referral, it's the referral!" She comes running back toward me grabs me and hugs me and then I dash out the door to home.
Now, let me just say that was one long trip home. I alternated between laughing, sobbing, singing, and praying. I arrived home to all four of my children jumping up and down in the front yard and waving for me to hurry. We called Natalie back and quickly were able to get the photos and see our precious son. He has a sweet precious face that we just can't wait to kiss and hold.
The remainder of the night was nuts- both sets of grandparents in and out, phone ringing, e-mails pouring in- lots of love and support and enthusiasm! Today we bought lots of sweet clothes which we think will be the right size when we are able to travel in a few months. We justified the really cute ones because these were all birthday presents, of course!
I have known all along that adoption happens because some sadness and adversity come first. That became very real to us as we heard the story of our son and his birth mother last night. Ryan and I have both wept repeatedly as we have begun to process the realities of this precious gift.
Because of Ethiopian regulations I can't share lots of information or any photos on my blog until we pass court. There are parts of his story that we may not share for years. But I can say this. He is a year old today and has 6 cute little teeth. He is very healthy and seems to have been loved and well cared for to this point. He is precious, and after reading all of the documents, we are confident that he is the right child for our family. We don't know what we will call him yet, we are processing some of our name choices with the name given by his birthmom, which is also beautiful.
Here is how you can pray for us at this time: please pray for a smooth process as we proceed through the court date so that we can quickly go get our little guy, pray for our son's health as he spends these last few months in foster care, please pray especially for his birth mom and for our interactions with her as we travel to Ethiopia. Our hearts are very burdened for her and we strongly desire to encourage and minister to her in whatever way we can through this process. Thanks so much for your prayers and support! We promise to "keep you posted."

Thursday, October 9, 2008


We got "THE CALL" today. I promise to post details after my hands quit trembling. For now I will say that he is beautiful. We will be having a birthday party as he is turning a year old tomorrow! There is a lot to process- but we are thrilled!

Friday, October 3, 2008

As I have mentioned in previous posts, we are house people. One of our favorite places to shop is Pottery Barn. We love the look of so many of their items and we have had great experiences. Their fabrics wash well, their furniture is extremely sturdy, and even their candles seem to burn longer and smell stronger than many of the other brands we've tried. Every time we go to the mall, we stop into either Pottery Barn of PBKids to shop the clearance racks (that's the only way we shop Pottery Barn)! Here's the other thing I love about Pottery Barn- the customer service. They always bend over backwards to help us. They will run back and forth to the stockroom a dozen times to find all of the things we need, they call other stores to locate those "last" items for us, and they will help us figure out how to best mix and match things to fit our needs. It's great. But, here's the catch. We often have to wait for that help. We know when we go in there, it may be an hour or so before we come out. That's because while we're waiting, someone else is getting the excellent service we're waiting for.

The other place we shop alot- Walmart. Not because we love it, in fact I dread Walmart. However, I'm there almost weekly. It's convenient, it's cheap, they have almost everything I could want in 17 different varieties. Then when I've found it all, I can even check myself out. Which is great because, well, have you ever dealt with the customer service folks at Walmart? Enough said, try getting them to call Tallahassee for a dust ruffle- good luck!

Okay, you ask, now what does all of this have to do with adoption? I'm getting there.

I have to say this week has been better than last, except for Wednesday. Wednesday was hard. I cried a lot Wednesday. My husband says he set me up for failure- I'm not so sure that's true-here's what happened. Tuesday afternoon Ryan called and suggested I just e-mail our caseworker, Natalie. He thought maybe just getting some assurance that we were still on their radar screen might help us feel encouraged. So, against my better judgement, I did. Wednesday, by about 3:00 when I hadn't heard from Natalie and I was having a frantic day otherwise, I started crying. I got angry, I was thinking about how we had waited way too long and paid way too much money for their services to not be getting a response. I was throwing a temper tantrum.

Phone rings. Natalie. Tears. Embarassing. The conversation went something like this:

Natalie (in her sweet, kind voice): Hi Christy, I got your e-mail.

Me: (with slightly quivering voice) Yeah, we're struggling a little bit right now.

Natalie: I know this wait is so hard, I think it's just all the unknowns. I can't tell you anything about how much longer you'll wait. But I wanted to let you know that you're not forgotten and our in-country staff is doing everything they can to get referrals ready. (Long pause)

Me: (with very quivering voice) Yeah, I heard the courts re-opened this week.

Natalie: Yeah, they re-opened Monday. (Long pause)

Me: That's good, now some folks should be getting court dates.

Natalie: Yeah. (LONG PAUSE)

Me: (barely able to talk) Thanks for calling Natalie.

Natalie: You're welcome. Well, do you have any other questions for me?

Me: (choking) No, thanks for calling Natalie.

CLICK as I hang up the phone and begin my audible sobbing.


So, I compose myself enough to go to church and teach my 20 first graders about the story of Abraham and his descendants and that God always keeps his promises.

That night, I got home from church and decided to read a few blogs before heading to bed and I came across the story of the Carpenters. I've been following their blog for months. She's a Cincinnati girl like me. Their son was found abandoned- umbilical cord and placenta still attached in a patch of grass. He'd been left for the hyenas, but fortunately, a woman grazing her cattle found him. They decided they wanted to go to his village and see that patch of grass and meet that woman and get every ounce of information they could about their son.

Gladney, our agency, arranged it all. They tracked down the woman, arranged travel companions and gathered all of the resources they needed for the trip. I'm thinking that beats calling Tallahassee for a dust ruffle. In that moment, watching their video- I realized, I want a Walmart timeline when God wants to give me a Pottery Barn experience. I even said to my husband, this is just like Pottery Barn! You may have to wait forever, but when it's your turn, they really take care of you.

Then I thought, how many times in my life have I settled for Walmart when God wanted to give me Pottery Barn? Too many I'm sure. While this continues to be hard, I continue to have many moments where I thank God that he has made me wait. I thank him that this has been hard. I thank him that he's given me this time of resting in his word- feeling like it's the only certain thing in my life right now. I thank him that this will not last forever. I thank him that as long as I live this will be a time that I recall seeing his faithfulness every day in very powerful ways. And, I thank him that someday it's going to be my turn at the counter!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Little things

Right now, I am trying very hard to find joy in the little things. I have found that there are lots of things to be grateful for, when I'm actively looking for them. Here is something that brought me joy this morning. Thought some of you might enjoy it too. I can't figure out how to get my playlist to stop when you open the clip, so you'll have to pause the playlist at the bottom to hear the clip. If anyone can advise me about how to make this work, leave me a comment. Have a great day!