Say Again?!?!

Since the first week of February we have been anxiously awaiting a court date when we will travel to Ethiopia for the first time. Our bags are semi-packed, including 4 cans of disease-carrying mosquito repellant. We’ve each been to three different doctors for a total of seven different vaccinations. The family books we prepared for Malachi are completed and packed. The passports are up to date, and the travel agent is awaiting our call for an OK to book flights. Once we get the court date, we could have anywhere between 3 days and 3 weeks notice to leave the country.

Waiting for a court date is by far the most excruciating part of the process yet. And it’s taking way longer than we originally anticipated. So to avoid boring you with an emotional rant about the pain of waiting that would leave you wondering if I’ve lost my marbles, I’ll turn my attention toward a little friendly foot-in-mouth prevention education.

7 Things Not to Say to an Adoptive Family

Most people are well meaning in their comments. They’re coming from a place of genuine concern or curiosity. But sometimes, uneducated remarks are simply inappropriate or downright offensive. Parents can easily discern the intent, then smile, nod, and politely respond. However, comments like this can be much more hurtful for children when made in front of them. So for the sake of adoptive families everywhere, let’s get smart about how we talk about adoption. If it sounds like I’m angry, I promise this list is more of a kind imploring to avoid this line of remarks and to put the needs of the child in front of our own curiosities.

  1. “Is he yours?”

Yes. He’s mine. Are you asking if he is my biological child? Oh! In that case, no. (as if it wasn’t obvious :))

  1. “Are you going to have any more of your own children?”

I’ll hold back a snarl. All of our children are “our own,” thanks.

  1. Where did you get your child?

Children are not commodities. Instead try asking, “Where was your child born?” Or “I’d love to hear the story of your adoption journey.”

  1. “How much did he cost?”

I know it sounds crazy and seems obvious, but adoptive families claim this question is asked way too often.

  1. “You are so lucky.”

Think about this from the child’s perspective. They have often faced more tragedy in their early years of life than most people will in a lifetime. That’s not lucky.

  1. “You’re so cute! I’m going to take you home with me.”

That’s ok to say to a child who is securely attached, but not to children who could likely be struggling with fear of separation or abandonment. A common complaint among adoptive parents is that their biological children are ignored in public and the adopted child is showered with attention. So if you’re going to say that Malachi is cute, don’t forget to mention that all of my children are cute – the bio one too!

  1. “Do you know what happened to his real parents? “

Well, of course, we ARE his “real” parents. And also, Malachi’s story is his to tell and his alone. We’ll try to keep the details of his story close to the vest until we’re ready to share it all with him and he is ready to share it with you. One day Malachi will grow up to be a man, and his life story will be his to share. His story will be all he has when he comes to us, so we will protect it carefully. We want our friends and family to be involved in his life from here forward. Love him sincerely. Remind him of the grace of Jesus, the goodness of God, and the beauty of redemption. Just leave the conversations about where he started for the intimacy of our family. We, like many other adoptive families, truly appreciate your patience and understanding in that.

That’s all for now. Hoping and praying the next post comes to you via in-flight wifi. See you soon, Africa. We’re coming for you Malachi!


Waiting for Malachi

We’ve decided to name our little dude Malachi. His middle name will remain his Ethiopian name.

We’re starting to think about school since he’ll most likely start K-4 in the fall after joining our family this summer (fingers crossed)! It’s a tricky decision considering he won’t know a lick of English. We’re also getting his room ready – another tough task since we have very little knowledge about what life will look like practically and logistically with his medical needs. We’ll certainly have to adjust after he gets home. No big deal. We’ll do whatever we need to.

This weekend Maddox was hammering away on Malachi’s new bed with his plastic hammer.

Working on Malachi's Room

Working on Malachi’s Room

He was so proud of Malachi’s bed you would have thought it was his own. It’s crazy to think that Maddox will likely have no memories of welcoming Malachi into our family. Maddox is excited to have a big brother nonetheless. He talks about Malachi often. He mostly wants to show all of our visitors “Malachi’s room.” He was a little bit shocked when he found some of his toys in Malachi’s room. He said, “This is my stuffed animal.” I said, “Well, you and Malachi are going to share toys.” He replied with his typical nonchalant, “Yeah.”

Maddox has seen several videos of Malachi and is very matter-of-fact about his new brother. It’s as if Maddox has no notion that brothers typically come to us as babies and typically have matching skin to their families. I suppose that when you’re two and a half, anything can be normal.

Every once in a while, he’ll ask “Where’s Malachi.” I say, “He’s in Ethiopia.” He says, “Yeah, we’re going to go pick him up tomorrow.” I wish Maddox. I wish.

Our file is going through a deep ocean of bureaucracy, and we’ll just leave it at that. You’d need a PhD to understand all of the government layers we’re navigating through, and I’d need one to explain it. From DC to Addis, back to DC, to Clearwater, to DC, back to Addis. Can someone give me a flow chart please!

From my calculations which are totally able – and likely – to change at any moment, we have at least 14 weeks left until our first trip to Ethiopia to meet Malachi. That is of course barring a miracle which would be no surprise with our adoption journey track record.

The post-referral adoption process is not for the faint of heart. We have a real child waiting for us in a real place 7,771 miles away, and we’re powerless to get to him. So I suppose we should continue trusting the God who has orchestrated every moment of Malchi’s life. And… obsessively stalk our case with my homemade flow chart, of course 😉

More to come!

Referral Accepted

News alert. Apart from deciding we wanted to adopt, this is by far the most life-changing event in our journey so far. It’s really about to happen, and everything is about to change.

This week, we officially accepted the referral of a 4-year-old boy with special medical needs. This sweet boy, who we’ve met only in pictures and videos, is already radically transforming our lives, teaching us to pursue a life foreknown by God and completely unforeseen by us.

Instead of continuing to wait in line for a child with hundreds of other families, we have jumped out of line to choose a child waiting for a family. And after a lot of back and forth with our agency, the orphanage, social workers in Ethiopia, and God of course, we’re certain this is the path we’ve been called to take.

The news is so fresh, and we’re still processing all that has to happen – like choose a name, convert Maddox’s old nursery into a room for an older brother, get the 4-year-old essentials (just toys and clothes, right? – not sure), educate ourselves on the ins and outs of caring for a child with his condition, complete another big round of paperwork, renew passports, get immunizations, learn a little Amharic, figure out the school situation, and I’ll spare you from the rest of our mile-long to-do list. There’s a lot to check off.

If all goes according to plan, we’ll be traveling to Ethiopia in early 2015 for a court date, and then 6-8 weeks later, this sweet boy will come home with us forever. It’s surreal. A new chapter begins now.

Today, we will feast with happy hearts. We have more to be thankful for than we ever imagined we would have. We have been abundantly blessed by this sweet life. Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours.

(Many personal details have been spared to protect this child from the very real threat of trafficking while we wait for finalization. We promise photos after court!)