Saturday, July 11, 2015

Ethiopia Trip One, Day 3: Bradley and Adama

Day three began at the orphanage with our little man.

 We were downstairs in the play area today. 
 I think by this day, he was starting to recognize us as the people who only play with him. We got more smiles today. 
 But he was also so, so sleepy. 
 And it wasn't too long before his eyelids were getting heavy. 
 Eyes open one more time...
 And then he was down for the count. 
 I could have stayed right there ALL DAY. 
 Those cheeks though...
 Resting with his dad. 
And right when you thought it couldn't get any cuter... 
This. 

We do not have as many pictures from this day because we were playing and coloring with other children, too. These precious babies are all so sweet. Before we left, I was allowed to give Bradley his bottle and put him down for a nap. One of the sweetest moments of the entire week. Ask me to see the video. I'll gladly share it with you. 

After about two hours with Bradley, we headed out of Addis to Adama, about a one hour drive through the Ethiopian countryside. While in Adama, we visited a school that was started by Woudneh. It serves children from difficult backgrounds, and it is an amazing place. 

 West Sands School 
 We got a tour from one of the administrators. 
 The common area used for what we would call electives or specials. 
 The youngest class. 
Every time I visit a school abroad, I cannot help but compare it to my experience as a junior high teacher. The gap is wide, my friends, and we should all be compelled to do something about it. 
 Practicing English words. 
 We were introduced to each class and had the opportunity to offer words of encouragement to all of the students. 
 Then it was time for recess! 
 It was awesome. 
There is also a great video of us dancing. 
I'd post it, but I don't want you to be jealous of my moves. 
 Then it was off to the park to feed monkeys! 
 They come right up to you for bananas. 
Do you see the baby on her belly?
 Baby is hanging on! 
 Once we brought out the bananas, they swarmed! 
 It was awesome, and I was only mildly sacred! 
 Quick refreshment break. Lots of great conversation with Woudneh, learning about Ethiopia and adoption and all kinds of awesome stuff. 
 Two of God's greatest gifts in my life and absolute CHAMPS this week. 
 Photo op with my love. 
 And then a quick stop at the gas station. 
 Dinner on a BEAUTIFUL lake. 
 Seriously. Gorgeous. 
And the perfect spot for a coffee ceremony. 

OK, I leave to go back to Ethiopia in two hours, so I'm signing off for a while! Follow the next phase of the journey on Instagram! I'll be back with the rest of trip one and ALL of trip two soon! 

Love, 
Baylor 

A Letter to Our Friends and Family

Dearest friends and family, 

I cannot believe that we are finally at the place where this letter is necessary. We are so close to bringing Bradley home, and we have been and continue to be so humbled by God’s grace in our lives through each of you and the critical role you have played in getting to this place. You have prayed for us, loved us, sacrificed your time and resources for us, and we could never find enough words to tell you how deeply grateful we are for each of you. 

The Lord has blessed us with an unusually adoption-savvy family and circle of friends, and that is such a gift for us and for our boy. As we approach bringing him home (HOME!), we want to explain a little bit about how we are hoping to handle his transition from an orphanage in Ethiopia to a family in Birmingham. This will be an enormous change for him, and while we are so excited, we are also starting to feel the weight of responsibility that comes with being parents, particularly being parents to an adopted child. 

While we are not sharing our son’s story up until the time he was matched with us, we can tell you that the orphanage he will leave this week has been his home for a long time. For that reason, we are going to have to be extremely intentional in our first weeks and months at home. Bradley will not just be learning that we are his mom and dad; he will be learning what a mom and a dad actually are. We will be his first consistent caregivers. Because of that, our parenting will have to look different for a while. For the first few months home, Adam and I will need to be the only ones who hold, feed, bathe and change Bradley. We need to teach him that we are his people and that we will always be there. As he becomes ready, we are going to start widening our net, allowing others to hold him, etc. 

We are making this decision after countless hours of education and research. It pains me to write this because I want each of you to hold him and kiss him and love him right away, but we have to do what is best for him. We still want you to come visit. Please come visit! We want to see you and be in the know about what is going on with you and your families.  We cherish each of you and the role you have played in our adoption story. You have helped us grow our family, and there is just no way to thank you enough for that. 

With love, 


Adam and Baylor 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

CLEARED!

Oh, what a twenty four hours we have had! I am COMPLETELY wiped out. And I am getting on a plane in less than 48 hours. Let me back up.

I told you that we received notice from our case manager that our adoption was being filed with the U.S. Embassy on Wednesday. Well, Ethiopia is 8 hours ahead of us, so that meant that we would very likely be receiving our clearance notification sometime during the wee hours of Thursday morning. Based on the experiences of adoptive friends of mine, I was expecting to hear something between one and five this morning.

Sooooooo, needless to say, I was not anticipating a night of blissful sleep when I laid my weary head on my pillow last night. Sure enough, I was wide awake until two this morning. I read for a while, counted my breaths for a while (made it all the way into the 600s once!), tossed back and forth for awhile and checked my email approximately every three minutes.

Nothing.

Sometime after 2, I drifted off and then snapped awake at 3. Checked my email.

Nothing.

Dozed on and off till 5, checking my email every few minutes. When 5 rolled around, I was too awake to even think about falling back asleep.

Still nothing. So disheartened.

I will tell you this, though. During those silent hours, I prayed harder than I ever have before in my entire life. I was pleading with God to work a miracle. To PLEASE move this mountain so that our boy could be with his mom and dad on his very first birthday.

Around 5:15, I left our bedroom and went to sit on the couch, switching between chatting with another adoptive mom who was waiting on the same email and refreshing my own.

And then suddenly...

Click on that picture to make it BIG and beautiful! 

There it was. The email that we had really been waiting for all along. Our case had CLEARED. We had permission from the United States to go get our boy and bring him home. I responded right away to schedule our interview appointment. We heard back quickly, and... 

I leave in two days to go get my son. 

Did you catch that?

Itineraries are being finalized and bags are being packed. 

All praise and honor and glory be to God alone. He has done this great thing. 

Oh, and that sweet son of mine? He will be sitting right here with me, in this house, on his very first birthday.  

Love, 
Baylor 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Big News and BIG Prayers

Well....

While at lunch today, I received the most glorious message from our case manager.


We are being submitted to Embassy this week!

{cue the running around like a crazy woman}

You might be asking yourself, "What does this mean?"

In order to bring Bradley home, we have "clear" the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia. This is a final approval of sorts. It is literally the LAST thing that happens before we can go get him. And our case is being submitted this week. This is a HUMONGOUS answer to our prayers. We have been missing that boy every second since we left him, and now we are SO CLOSE to being reunited.

So, you know I have to ask you to pray with us about this. Please join us TONIGHT at 8 CST to pray over this next step in our journey toward having Bradley home with us of good.

Please pray that:

-Our case would be submitted on time and without incident.

-Our case would clear IMMEDIATELY (like within 24 hours)

-We can book our plane tickets right away

-Bradley comes home on or before his first birthday, July 19

These are big prayers, friends. In order for us to be at our Embassy interview next week, we have to clear right away. Please pray to Jesus that this will happen. If it does, our little man will have his first birthday at home with his mom and dad. I think he has earned it.

As always, if you can pray with us tonight, please leave a comment below, on Facebook or via email. We would love to be able to thank God for you.

With deep love and great joy,
Baylor



Friday, July 3, 2015

Ethiopia Trip One, Day Two: Church and More Bradley

Our second full day in Ethiopia started out with church. AMAZING.

 We arrived one hour before the actual service started so that we could attend the prayer meeting. It was so beautiful. I have no idea what was being said, but I saw men and women truly crying out to God. 
 And it was so incredible to be able to pray for our boy in a church in his home country. 
An added bonus was that this particular Sunday was Holy Communion. 
What a gift to experience this reminder of God's sacrifice that allowed my adoption into His family while we were there to adopt our own son. 
Beautiful. 

After church, we went to Woudneh's house for lunch. {Woudneh is our agency's in-country director.} It was delicious, and we were able to enjoy time with another adoptive who was in Ethiopia for court, as well. Then it was back to the hotel to change and off to see our boy. 

 Day two with our precious fella! 
 Hanging on to his daddy. 
 Smiling for mommy. 
 And here is my favorite picture of the two of us. 
 Look at that sweet face! 
 Checking out that great big world out there. 
 My two greatest loves. 
 Seriously, though. 
Look at these two guys! 
 Bradley is attaching so well to his dad. 
 Bradley and Bea! 
I love how much she loves him! 
 And half of this picture is missing. 
Do you know why? 
Because I am holding the son of one of my dearest friends. 
That's right! My boy and her boy LIVE IN THE SAME ROOM. 
And now they will grow up knowing each other. 
 Party time with Bea! 
 Look at these two studs! 
 I think they are going to be best buds. 
 Just checking each other out. 
 And getting some sweet little smiles. 
 This might be my favorite picture in the history of photography. 
 We made a little photo album of our family for Bradley. 
 And he loved it! 
 Especially the pictures of Daisy. 
 He just kept grinning and giggling. 
 And then he tried to eat it. 
Delicious. 
I just love this little boy with my whole heart. 

More to come soon about the rest of our week! 

With love, 
Baylor 

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