Tuesday, December 6, 2011

First Christmas Tree with Black and White Memories...

I know, I know...I've been terrible.  I haven't updated anyone.  I guess I figure most people follow me on facebook and follow our family adventures there, and I get lazy.  But just for fun, I thought I'd post pictures from our first Christmas preparations as a family of 4.  It's so strange to think that this time last year we had seen their faces, but had never held them.  We had been dreaming about them for years, but had no idea what to expect when we finally met them.  And here we are a year later, putting up a tree together, in anticipation of my favorite holiday!  I decided to make it all black and white today.  At heart, I am a documentary photojournalist, but sometimes I forget my roots.  I love shooting weddings, and setting up beautiful, fine art portraits, but for this post, I got back to the good stuff.  I just took pics of the kids and Wes as they worked and played.  I love seeing the curiosity in their eyes, and the excitement of something new in the house.  Even Blue got in the action.  Such a great dog!  I hope you enjoy getting a glimpse into a few of our family moments!

Okay, so maybe it's not a real tree, and you've got to get the right size branches in the right spots, but it's still pretty when all is said and done! 

They are not really allowed to touch the tree or ornaments now that it's up, but for the first few minutes we let them explore.  

Alex loves to say, "Wooooowww!", now.  So cute!

I think Eliana had just pushed Alex's hand away from the tree, and I made her say she was sorry, and give him a hug.  

All our babies with Daddy.

There is no one they get more excited to see than Daddy!  Eliana is our little hugger.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Lately, Alexander & Eliana have been growing and growing.  They are talking up a storm.  I don't know what they are saying, but they are saying a lot.  They walk, and run, and LOVE to go through grass and fields.  They just turned 16 months old, and life is exciting and fun for them.  For us too!  Here are just a few shots from the other day.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Oh how they grow....

People are always commenting on how quickly Alex & Eliana are growing.  I look at them myself and think, "They look just like they did when we first held them!" 

It's difficult for me to see the changes when I am with them day in and day out.  But every once in awhile, I step back, and see what is really happening to my tiny babies....they are growing.  They aren't so tiny anymore, and when I look at these pictures we took yesterday, I realize that they are getting so much bigger. 

Both of them are walking (Eliana started 3 months after Alex...she's her own woman, and nobody get her to walk but herself!).  They eat like little piglets, no matter what we put on their plates.  They talk all the time, but we still don't know what they are saying.  They are quite good at signing, "Please, Thank you, Milk, Banana, and I love you."  And as you can see in the pictures below, they LOVE being outside, and they are quite the little dare devils.  Oh how I love our babies!

We continue to be quite amused by our little comedian.  She's a laugh a second.

First time on the slide, and she went for it over and over again.

Alex also loves the slide.  Isn't he nice and squeaky clean?

This is what happens when Mamma & Daddy don't catch them at the bottom of the slide.  Face plant.  That boys mouth is FULL of dirt.  I LOVE this picture!

They love walking through the grass, especially with Daddy.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A year ago we saw their faces...

A year ago yesterday, on September 9, 2010, we received the phone call of a lifetime. The phone call that everyone going through adoption waits for. The referral call. It was everything I hoped it would be and more. That is the day when we saw these beautiful faces.

Eliana Tizita

Alexander Mikiyas

I remember when I couldn't tell the difference between them.  I felt awful when I would go through their pictures (we got 7 pics for each of them that day), and I couldn't tell who was who.  When I look at them now, it is so obvious.  My how far we have come.

I never could have imagined the journey we had yet to endure once we received that call, but every little part of it was worth it.

A year later we are healthy and happy in our home here in Kentucky. We are blessed beyond measure.
Here are a few pics of them now.


Miss T.  "I pity the fool."
Alex the cutey.

I think they are SO cute at bath time.
They LOVE to comb their hair.
When she first got her ears pierced (yesterday).  She's so proud.
That little turtle chair used to be Wes's. 
Once they go on, they stay on.  She loves sunglasses.

Doctor Visit

"Cause I am livin' in a material world, and I am a material girl...or boy." Oh my they are so 80's!

When we first saw their pictures they weren't even 3 months old yet.  Today they are almost 15 months old.  Crazy!

And just for nostalgia's sake, here is our referral day video.  What an emotional day!

I can't even imagine the adventures and dramas yet to come, but for now I will cherish this baby time.  Mamma & Daddy love you, Alex & Eliana!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

So after all that has happened this past year, good and bad, I feel things stirring within me again. I feel the power and utter importance of the Gospel, and it's need to be taken to all the nations. I feel the need to do something, not just dream something.  I feel the need to take action, and not just talk about taking action.  When will we take ourselves beyond just talking about what we want to do for the Kingdom, and actually start doing them?  Oh Lord take us beyond ourselves.

The trailer below is just one sampling of what others around the world are sacrificing for their faith in Christ.  It is about the persecution of Christians around the world.  You'll even see Francis Chan in this trailer for a second.  My friend has been a part of writing the original score for it (from what I've heard so far, is beautiful!).  Check it out, and see what it stirs up within you.

"Love Costs Every Thing" Trailer from CIY Move on Vimeo.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Eliana's first steps....

It finally happened! Eliana took her first steps today! Woohoo! No matter how much we tried to coax her, she is a fully independent little girl, and she wanted to do it on her own time. So today, she took one step to get to the couch from the pillow on the floor, so a little while later, I took this video, and this time she didn't mind a little coaxing. Sorry about my screechy voice in the background. I was quite excited! Our babies are growing up so fast!!!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

4 months ago...

I can't believe we left Ethiopia exactly 4 months ago. That blows my mind. I feel like it was an eternity ago. And while we were there, it felt like an eternity (does 3 months count as an eternity?).

Well, time seems to have flown by, and here we are on August 11. In two days Alex & Eliana will be 14 months old. Wow.

They went from having no interaction at the orphanage, to being inseparable here in the States. They get into fun and trouble together all the time. Then they get themselves into predicaments that they can't get out of. Eliana seems to enjoy the "face to face" time with Alex. Alex doesn't seem to like it as much.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Brother/Sister Affection...

Okay, so I've been horrible with blogging since we've been back home.  Honestly, it's hard to know what to say at times.  You realize the journey is not quite as exciting to others once you are home with your children, and it kind of makes you feel a little sad.  Well, at the very least, I'll give you a little taste of what is happening with Alex & Eliana.  Here's a little video to whet your appetite.  :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A word about the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia....

So this is a big hot topic for me.  And over the last couple of months, I have received emails from several families asking about communication with the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa.  The biggest question I have gotten is, "Is it okay to contact the U.S. Embassy?"  Ummmm...here comes the answer....Are you ready?....a BIG.....RESOUNDING.....YES!!!  But let's talk about why this is such a common question.  I mean, you would think it would be obvious that American citizens can contact their own embassy.  Our tax dollars pay for these embassies, don't they?  

Here's the deal.  There are a lot of agencies that tell their clients not to contact the embassy while going through their adoption.  While I could speculate about the different reasons agencies tell their clients this, I'm not going to do that right now on a public forum. 

Most of you know that Wes and I ended up staying in Ethiopia for three months.  There are several reasons for that long stay, and many long stories to tell, but we are not quite ready to share that yet either.  It left us deeply wounded, and we are still trying to heal from much of that experience.  But at the end of that long 3 months was the U.S. Embassy.  In the end, we finally decided to contact the embassy ourselves, and we are SO thankful that we did.  We are SO thankful we spoke up.

Here is part of an email from the embassy in response to an email our agency sent to them.  The embassy cc'd us in the email, so we also received it. 

"We encourage the families to contact us with any questions they may have regarding their paperwork, the status of their cases or any other questions regarding their adoption. Our email address is posted on the U.S. government website www.adoption.state.gov.

If the agency and the embassy work together we may be able to help them to get home sooner than later. Our goal is to assist all of the adoptive families to the best of our capability in this very emotional journey."

There you have it from the horse's mouth.  It is VERY okay to contact the embassy.  Of course there is nothing you can do until your paperwork is submitted to the embassy, but once it is, if you email them, they usually respond within 24-48 hours.  Many parents just want to know the status of their case, and that's okay!  Many parents want to know when the soonest possible interview after clearance would be, and that's okay!  Many parents want to make sure that what their agency is telling them, lines up with what the embassy is telling them, and that's okay!  This is all okay, because your child/children come first, and it is okay to be eager to bring them home.  It's okay!  Did I mention that it's okay?  ;)

During our final week in Addis Ababa in April of 2011, we physically went to the embassy ourselves for the first time.  We were so nervous, because we had no appointment, and we had been told by certain individuals that it was not okay to go there.  But we were desperate, given the fact that a government shutdown was looking very possible, which would mean we could be stuck in Ethiopia for several more weeks until they reopened.  We were not okay with is.  We were going to do everything in our power to get our family home.  When we finished speaking with the wonderful man at the embassy, I asked him one more question before we walked out the door.  "Is it okay that we came to see you without an appointment?"  His response went like this:  "Yes, we encourage any American citizens to come see us with any questions they may have.  That is what we are here for."  I cannot tell you how relieved he made Wes and I feel, because we did not want to be trouble makers, and we did not want to be disrespectful of the process.  His words were like music to our ears.  

I hope this post helps and doesn't hurt.  I hope it encourages any adoptive parents who have questions to feel free to contact the U.S. embassy in any country they are adopting from.  I want to reiterate that there is not much the embassy can do for you until they have your paperwork in hand, but once they do, they will tell you what they can.  And if you aren't sure that they have your paperwork, just email them and ask them.  If they have your names and your child's name, and the agency you are with, they will be able to look you up in their system.  I would encourage you to be very respectful and understanding in any email you send to the embassy, though.   I know that probably goes without saying, but I'm saying it none-the-less!  :)  They work very hard there, and it is important to treat them accordingly. 

Here is the email for the American embassy in Addis Ababa.

And here is the U.S. government website on Ethiopia which also has their contact information.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Last of the Holiday Weekend...

Okay, so here is the last of the holiday weekend posts. Wes and I and A&E got to travel down to South Carolina, and spend a little time at my parents' house on the lake. My brother and his family were also there, and A&E had a blast with them. I never thought that my nephews would be so great with Alex & Eliana. They were awesome! Alex and Eliana LOVED their cousins. It was a sweet time. I look at these pictures, and I am constantly in awe of the fact that these are my children. Alex and Eliana are my son and daughter. And 3 months ago, we were in Ethiopia, just hoping that we would be coming home soon. It's amazing how much can change in so short a time.

This is the look she gave me after I told her not to pull on Bestemor's flowers.

Daddy & Son.

Adam, A&E, and Evan.

Corn hole.  My brother, Rune, could not beat Wes, no matter how hard he tried.

This and the next 3 pics demonstrate the many faces of Eliana.  The girl is a ham!

Handsome Evan.

Eliana LOVED being held by Evan.

Tyler was so good with Alex.

Entire family.  We are just missing my oldest brother and his family, who are currently in Ethiopia, waiting to complete the adoption of their twins.  We miss you guys!