Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Monday, September 26, 2011

Turning His Mourning into Dancing!

Marshet is a happy, funny boy. But last night, there was something different about him. He had JOY that I hadn't seen before. Has it been there and I have missed it? Maybe. But I watched him through a different lens, and something changed. I think I added one more notch to our attachment ladder. Not sure how or why dancing did that, but it most definitely did... and I'll take those wonderful notches anywhere and anyway I can get them!!!

I'm also not totally convinced that the Gladney Care Centers aren't running a Night Club as well-- because really, where does one get those dance moves?!?!?!?


Monday, September 19, 2011

"A Hungry Child Can't Wait: Ask 5 for 5"

Guest Blogger: Sarah Lenssen from #Ask5for5

Family photos by Mike Fiechtner Photography

Thank you "Homeward Bound" and nearly 150 other bloggers from around the world for allowing me to share a story with you today, during Social Media Week.

A hungry child in East Africa can't wait. Her hunger consumes her while we decide if we'll respond and save her life. In Somalia, children are stumbling along for days, even weeks, on dangerous roads and with empty stomachs in search of food and water. Their crops failed for the third year in a row. All their animals died. They lost everything. Thousands are dying along the road before they find help in refugee camps.

At my house, when my three children are hungry, they wait minutes for food, maybe an hour if dinner is approaching. Children affected by the food crisis in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia aren't so lucky. Did you know that the worst drought in 60 years is ravaging whole countries right now, as you read this? Famine, a term not used lightly, has been declared in Somalia. This is the world's first famine in 20 years.12.4 million people are in need of emergency assistance and over 29,000 children have died in the last three months alone. A child is dying every 5 minutes. It it estimated that 750,000 people could die before this famine is over. Take a moment and let that settle in.

The media plays a major role in disasters. They have the power to draw the attention of society to respond--or not. Unfortunately, this horrific disaster has become merely a footnote in most national media outlets. News of the U.S. national debt squabble and the latest celebrity's baby bump dominate headlines. That is why I am thrilled that nearly 150 bloggers from all over the world are joining together today to use the power of social media to make their own headlines; to share the urgent need of the almost forgotten with their blog readers. Humans have the capacity to care deeply for those who are suffering, but in a situation like this when the numbers are too huge to grasp and the people so far away, we often feel like the little we can do will be a drop in the ocean, and don't do anything at all.

When news of the famine first hit the news in late July, I selfishly avoided it. I didn't want to read about it or hear about it because I knew I would feel overwhelmed and uncomfortable. I wanted to protect myself. I knew I would need to do something if I knew what was really happening. You see, this food crisis is personal. I have a 4-year-old son and a 1 yr-old daughter who were adopted from Ethiopia and born in regions now affected by the drought. If my children still lived in their home villages, they would be two of the 12.4 million. My children: extremely hungry and malnourished? Gulp. I think any one of us would do anything we could for our hungry child. But would you do something for another mother's hungry child?

My friend and World Vision staffer, Jon Warren, was recently in Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya--the largest refugee camp in the world with over 400,000 people. He told me the story of Isnino Siyat, 22, a mother who walked for 10 days and nights with her husband, 1 yr-old-baby, Suleiman, and 4 yr.-old son Adan Hussein, fleeing the drought in Somalia. When she arrived at Dadaab, she built the family a shelter with borrowed materials while carrying her baby on her back. Even her dress is borrowed. As she sat in the shelter on her second night in camp she told Jon, "I left because of hunger. It is a very horrible drought which finished both our livestock and our farm." The family lost their 5 cows and 10 goats one by one over 3 months, as grazing lands dried up. "We don't have enough food now...our food is finished. I am really worried about the future of my children and myself if the situation continues."

Will you help a child like Baby Suleiman? Ask5for5 is a dream built upon the belief that you will.

That something I knew I would need to do became a campaign called #Ask5for5 to raise awareness and funds for famine and drought victims. The concept is simple, give $5 and ask five of your friends to give $5, and then they each ask five of their friends to give $5 and so on--in nine generations of 5x5x5...we could raise $2.4 Million! In one month, over 750 people have donated over $25,000! I set up a fundraiser at See Your Impact and 100% of the funds will go to World Vision, an organization that has been fighting hunger in the Horn of Africa for decades and will continue long after this famine has ended. Donations can multiply up to 5 times in impact by government grants to
help provide emergency food, clean water, agricultural support,
healthcare, and other vital assistance to children and families suffering in the Horn.

I need you to help me save lives. It's so so simple; here's what you need to do:

  1. Donate $5 or more on this page (http://seeyourimpact.org/members/ask5for5)

  2. Send an email to your friends and ask them to join us.

  3. Share #Ask5for5 on Facebook and Twitter!

I'm looking for another 100 bloggers to share this post on their blogs throughout Social Media Week. Email me at ask5for5@gmail.com if you're interested in participating this week.

A hungry child doesn't wait. She doesn't wait for us to finish the other things on our to-do list, or get to it next month when we might have a little more money to give. She doesn't wait for us to decide if she's important enough to deserve a response. She will only wait as long as her weakened little body will hold on...please respond now and help save her life. Ask 5 for 5.

Thank you on behalf of all of those who will be helped--you are saving lives and changing history.

p.s. Please don't move on to the next website before you donate and email your friends right now. It only takes 5 minutes and just $5, and if you're life is busy like mine, you probably won't get back to it later. Let's not be a generation that ignores hundreds of thousands of starving people, instead let's leave a legacy of compassion. You have the opportunity to save a life today!

Friday, September 16, 2011

One full week of school... and everything else, under our belt!

It's Friday!! We are ALL exhausted, but we survived the week!!! This summer was pretty mellow, especially August, as we were hunkering down as a new family of 5. So..... the first full week of school took us from mellow (schedule-wise) to insane!!! 2nd Grade, pre-K, swim lessons for little ones started, swim team started up again for Jake, 1st Scout meeting (they are only once/month-- of course it had to start this week!!) This week also brought Marshet's 5th birthday!!! And.... 2 doctor appointments and an evening/night at the ER with Grace--(bad asthma attack due to a cold), and a dentist, ENT, and chiropractic appointment, and meeting for church for me. GOOD GRIEF!! Thankfully, next week is looking pretty quiet. :)

Birthday boy-- Lightening McQueen FAN!!!!

1st day of 2nd grade

2nd grader's fan club!!!
1st day of Pre-K!!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

So much to say.... but I only have the energy for pictures!!

I didn't want to be "that blogger" that dropped out of the blogging world once our adoption was "completed". I have wanted to blog so many times, but then... I don't. I'll be honest. It's been HARD! We had about a week of a honeymoon period, and then life picked right back up! Everything was textbook behavior-- from all 3 kiddos, but it still didn't make it any easier. We've been trying to set some serious boundaries around here, with a lot of resistance at times, well... most of the time!! :) I don't think sweet M had really ever been told "no". And I think his adorable little smile got him almost everything he ever wanted! So, yes, add that to the list of the hundreds of ways his little world has been totally turned upside down.... and I truly understand the reasons behind all of his behaviors. That doesn't mean that Mike hasn't come home from work and found the kids playing and me, hiding from the children, in the garage, while crying. :) It's been HARD. But..... we are coming out of the funk and are having incredible moments, hours, and even days!!!!! Starting school has done wonders for EVERYONE!!!! Structure and routine= more successful days. Everyone has said, "It will get better." It's hard to believe that when you're in the middle of huge fits and meltdowns, but it's true. It's better. And, it keeps getting better. He is one, cute, AMAZINGLY special little boy!!!!

My sweet friend took our pictures last night!! :)

Monday, August 15, 2011

stomach issues, but not giardia???

I don't really want this to be a graphic post, but.... trying to figure out what's going on! Marshet has been having "loose stool" issues since Mike took placement of him in Ethiopia- and probably long before. All stool test results came back negative. So, no parasite, giardia, etc.... But, obviously something is going on. Has anyone else struggled with this, and/or found some answers? He eats TONS and is SUPER skinny!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

1st days home!

Who would have thought these first few days would have been this joyful?!? What an amazing, care-free, FUNNY, darling boy he is! He has jumped into our family with two feet and is ready for anything. :) I know we will be dealing with "stuff" as the days, weeks, months, years..... pass by. But in this little moment, I'm soaking in the smiles, hugs, and a few sweet kisses on the cheek. :) He has gone from calling me momma, to "mommy-yeah" (obviously, not the correct spelling), but my Ethiopian friend told me it means "my mommy". I'll take him claiming me. :)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Monday, July 25, 2011

Papa and his boy!

Mike arrived in Ethiopia on Saturday night, and by Sunday afternoon he had Marshet!!! The first moments were a little rough, but Mike said he quickly warmed up and was soon calling him Papa and talking a mile a minute in Amharic!! :) They've been playing together ever since.... outside at the guesthouse, playing cars and blocks inside, and I think they're heading to the pool together tomorrow. :) They have a King size bed, but sometime in the night, Marshet wiggles and squirms until he's snuggled right up next to his papa!!! The updates have been melting my heart. It's hard not being there, but I know we made the right decision for me to stay home with our other two kiddos. Plus, the bonding that Mike and Marshet are getting is truly priceless.

their first meeting! (Mike is thrilled, but Marshet looks a little scared)

a little play time to break the ice
picked out his own outfit for his Embassy appointment. He said, "Bat-a-man!!"

post-Embassy lunch out.

Mike said he's a good eater. LOVES his veggies!!!

Playtime at the guest house with his buddy.

Friday, July 1, 2011

cleared for take-off!!

FINALLY!!! This has been a crazy journey, but we have officially been cleared through embassy and it looks like we might be traveling at the end of July to bring our son HOME!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

2 Years!

Two years ago today, we started the adoption process to bring home our son! Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think our boy would still be in Ethiopia..... but we'll continue to fight this battle until he is home!

We have this sweet face to keep our spirits up!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

And we still wait....

We should be really good at this by now, but... it's still hard. Especially when we are SO CLOSE to the end! I thought it was near, but then it slipped away again. I thought court and getting our MOWA letter would be the trickiest part, but it looks like getting cleared through Embassy is proving itself tough. After Hillary Clinton left Ethiopia, and the Embassy opened back up, our "new" documents were going to be submitted today (instead of Monday like we had thought), and I truly thought we'd have our Embassy date by the end of the week. But... they now want a new document, which really doesn't exist, so I'm praying, praying, praying, that a good 'ol "clarifying things" conversation will be had very soon and we will get the green light. Because really, if an explanation of the "issue" doesn't work, I'm not sure what Plan B would be.

Until then........

(after re-reading this post, I realized that I used the words "I thought...." a lot. There's my problem. Assuming things during an adoption!!! I should know better by now!!!)

Thursday, June 2, 2011


I received an email today from our case worker, and the subject line said, "submitted"!!! We were officially submitted to embassy today!!! 4 weeks wasn't too long, but considering there was a typo on the original court decree-- that had to be fixed, and then the embassy decided that they needed new information on all court decrees from this point on.... we got a bit delayed. But, we're on the final stretch of bringing Marshet home!!!!!! I'm praying that our file is totally complete and that the embassy will pass us straight through..... and he'll be coming home SOON!!!!

The next decision to be made is who's traveling next. The original plan.... even before we started the adoption process (2 years ago this June 21st!!!!), was that Mike, Jacob, and I would travel. Then the two travel rule happened. We decided that I would travel for court, and then the three of us would pick him up. After 24 hours of flying.... we're all dragging our feet about bringing Jacob-- even he is. :) And.... for me, the transition home after the first trip was tough. Jake was fine, but Grace seemed to really struggle once I got home. She was really clingy and needy, and seemed even stressed out when I left her room after tucking her in, etc.... I got a lot of, "don't leave me". So..... is it really the best idea to leave again, and this time come home with her new brother?!?! Or.... do I stay home, keep the house and family routine as intact as possible, and be fresh and excited to welcome Mike and Marshet home?!? Ughhh... tough decision. I know the pick up trip can be a quick one, and we won't be really touring around-- and I already did that a month ago. But, will I feel like I missed out on something big if I don't go this time? I've been praying about it a ton, and I know we need to decide soon. But, in all honesty, we are all just ready to have Marshet home and to start the summer and our life together as a family of 5!

All I know is that I'm packing this weekend, because no matter what we decide on the travel bit.... I want to be ready to hop on a plane at a moments notice to bring home our boy!!!

Monday, May 2, 2011


our newest addition.... Marshet!!!!! :) Just got word we passed court!!!!!!!!!!

our referral photo!! :)

Took these pics last week while visiting him! He's soooo sweet and happy!!!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Day 1 in Ethiopia!

Day 1- April 24, 2011- Easter

We are staying at BJoe guest house. We were under the impression that we were the only Gladney family in country this week. We got in late Saturday night, and were told that there were 2 moms (with their kiddos) staying there as well.!! We got to meet them in the morning. One mom, Meggan, is with Gladney. She has her 3 year old son with her, that they adopted from Ethiopia 2 years ago, and she is adopting a 6 and 8 yr. old girl. The other mom, Danielle, has her 3 year old son—home from Ethiopia 2 years ago as well, and her baby boy that she’s waiting for his embassy appointment. She is with CHI. So, it’s been a nice surprise to have other moms here!! My dad is a trooper!! He’s not a big “world” traveler, so this has been quite the experience for him. We hit the ground running on day 1. Since we thought we were going to be the only family around, and we knew that Easter was such a big holiday here, we were just going to go to church and then maybe spend some of the day at the Hilton, by the pool. Assumed a lot of places would be closed, and staff and drivers would want to be with their families that day. Well, Sunday morning plans changed because we were invited to join the other gals that are staying here to go celebrate Easter at Kebetesehey orphanage. They had a goat they were going to be eating and we stopped on the way and picked up cakes. 4 hours at the orphanage was an incredible experience. I will say that it’s a tough orphanage to visit—there is GREAT need--- and there also doesn’t seem to be an active “sponsorship” program going on there, that I know a lot us thought we were a part of! But, the kids were sweet, and beautiful, and loved having visitors. I spent a lot of time upstairs with the babies. There were just too many to hold! There were only 3 or 4 nannies there, so all the babies are fed by having the bottles propped up and every baby I picked up was soaking wet! Maybe there is a diaper shortage, but we were told that the babies only get changed twice in a 24 hr. period!! I’m really hoping that’s NOT the norm... but afraid it might be!

After eating (injera and doro wat- with goat instead of chicken- so probably not doro wat, but it had the red sauce and egg), we had cake and soda and then it was time to go. We stopped by Ketchene for a few minutes to deliver a pair of shoes to a girl and for a quick bathroom stop.  We were now on our way to Alex’s house for a coffee ceremony. (Alex volunteers at Kebebtesehey and works with some of the special needs kids. I think he’s paid a bit through Gladney—but don’t quote me on that. ) He lives out in Korah. It’s a bit more in the countryside and it’s beautiful….. beyond the view of the steaming dump. We spent a few hours at his home with his extended family. It was a beautiful way to spend Easter!

By this time, we were pretty wiped out!! So, we headed back to BJoe’s and ordered dinner in and then hit the sack! Day 1 was amazing. Nothing like hitting the ground running!

Friday, April 29, 2011

MOWA letter

We got our letter!!!!!! MOWA wrote our opinion on Friday!! Thank you Jesus!!!! We still haven't passed court-- M's guardian will be at court on Monday. Hopefully we will have word then!!!!!!

wooooo hoooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

And we're off!!!

I had plans to post before now, but it's been a bit crazy here!!! But, I leave tomorrow!! I'm excited, and a bit nervous. This is my first BIG trip without Mike! But, I'm so happy that my dad is going with me. :) I arrive Saturday night-- just in time for Easter festivities on Sunday!! And then Monday is the day that I get to meet our boy!!! I'm excited, but I also know it will be hard to see him, but not really interact with him much since he doesn't know that I'm mom. But, either way, I GET TO SEE MY BOY IN 4 DAYS!!!!!!

I'm off to finish the last Hague Training quiz, because yes, Mike and I like to wait until the 11th hour to get things done!! And, it's not like we haven't had time to watch the videos!!!! :)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Court Date!!!!

Yesterday, we received our call and our court date is April 26th!!!!!!!! Wow! That's quick. But, oh so excited to meet the little guy and be one step closer to bringing him home!! I'll miss Easter and Grace's birthday while I'm gone, but, those can be celebrated early. :)

Lots to do in a short amount of time, because no, I haven't been planning ahead!! :)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Orphan Ministry LAUNCH!!

Today was such an exciting day! We have been planning for quite awhile, and today we officially launched our Orphan's Ministry- Passion117- at church. The service was incredible! The worship songs, videos, sermon, etc... all focused on orphan care. We showed Eric Ludy's Depraved Indifference video. Such an incredible video!!! We are in the middle of a sermon series on The Parables, and this week's- The Parable of the Good Samaritan- fit perfectly! "Go and do likewise" was our call today. So many of us are like the priest and the Levite- crossing the road to avoid the needy; turning a blind eye to the suffering. But, Jesus calls us to be a neighbor. Instead of spending our time trying to define who our neighbor is, we just need to be a neighbor to whoever is in need- whether they are next door or across the world.

"So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?" And he said, "He who showed mercy on him." Then Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise." Luke 10:36-37

Link to the sermon (AMAZING!): The Parable of the Good Samaritan

After the sermon, my husband went up and spoke about our journey through adoption. It was quite emotional! At the end, he said that he's blessed that God has given so many woman compassion for children- the orphan. But, Orphan Ministry is not just for women! The men need to rise up and lead as well.

Here is a video of him speaking. (I had to split it into two parts- it's 15 min. and youtube only allows 10 min. videos. )

Mike's talk- part 1
Mike's talk- part 2

The service ended with a presentation of the World Orphans church to church partnership program. I had spent a lot of time researching MANY "orphan care" organizations. There are so many wonderful programs already established. I just really fell led towards World Orphans and the work they do and our church leaders liked them too. We are hoping to partner with a church in Ethiopia. Our church body received pledge cards today and in the next week or so, we will see if we have enough monthly pledges to go forward with a church partnership with World Orphans.

Overall, today's church service was absolutely incredible! It's easy to get absorbed into the incredible adoption community, go to the conferences, read the blogs and stories of the amazing work so many are doing, etc. But, to be able to present this model to our church-- so many really hearing about it for the first time, being moved, etc.... was the biggest blessing ever. What a HUGE God we serve!!

Some of the info that was out today......

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hurry home, little man!

Today was 3 months since we got our referral. We're ready for our sweet boy to come HOME!!

And... while we're waiting, we're enjoying a snow day at home.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sunshine to a cloudy day!!

I just heard Francesca Battistelli's new song, "This is the Stuff". It's impossible to be in a bad mood when you listen to it. And then tonight, as soon as I started to play the song on my computer for the first time, Grace came running from the other room and just started dancing!!!

(lame blogger wouldn't let me upload the video!) (or lame me for not really knowing how to!)


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Dedicated to Amy Bottomly!

I was recently and not so subtly informed that I've been a blogging slacker!! :) And... I agree! No real excuse.... just haven't had a lot to say. Still waiting for a court date. Tomorrow will be 2 months since our referral.... and that officially puts us in the "window" of getting a court date. (we were told it's a 2-3 month wait from referral to hearing of a court date.) I think my dad is getting antsier than I am, though. He's traveling with me on the first trip!!

But.... since my sweet friend Amy told me I didn't have anything new for her to read... here's a recap of life lately:

-Jake: He's almost 7 1/2 and becoming quite the boy! I'm LOVING this age. Just fun and special to really see him blossom as he gets older. He's having an awesome year in school (thanks to an amazing teacher who "gets" him and doesn't try to force him to fit into "the box". He doesn't fit-- believe me, I've tried!!) I could devote an entire blog to this issue, but I won't. :) Jake's my awesome, quirky, loving, freakishly smart little guy who's going to be an AMAZING big brother!

-Grace: Oh this girl! I'm either head over heels, in love and in awe of this funny, spunky, smart, crazy girl, OR.... I'm hyperventilating in a corner over her STRONG and stubborn streak! Currently, she is using Jesus to try to get her way: "Jesus told me that he doesn't want me to take a shower this morning." "Jesus just told me that he wants me to stay in the bathroom with you" (after I had asked her to leave so I could have some privacy--pipe dream, I know!!) And... like her brother, she is very excited for "new brother" to come home! She prays for him every night!

-New brother "M"- I wish I could share his name. It's a cool one. We had never heard it before. But, this little guy.... he's something special. The updates on him are just wonderful. He seems to capture the attention of people when they visit. He has a sparkle about him that stands out. His eyes twinkle in all of the pictures! I just can't wait to meet this little one. He was truly God's gift to us.

-Orphan Ministry!!! Woo Hoo!! I've been excited to share this news... though all the details aren't totally ready yet. After LOTS of talking, sharing, emailing videos, blog articles, links to awesome organizations, etc..... I think my pastor's finally just go sick of hearing from me and I got the green light!! (well, honestly, they're all on board and super excited). But, on March 6th, our church is devoting the entire church service to launch our Orphan Ministry!! More details to share soon, but we are partnering with an organization and getting connected in Ethiopia, and we will play a big role in the Foster Care community as well. But there is LOTS of work to do to get ready for March 6th!

So, there you go. Was that enough of an update, Amy? (and any others that actually still follow this lame blog!!) :)

And, I was going to post a few pictures, but I guess I really haven't taken pictures since Christmas!! (the month of January is going to be pretty bare in the family scrapbook!) I guess I'm bringing the camera to swimming lessons and basketball practice this week!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Connecting the Dots....

It's no secret that our journey to get our referral was long and exhausting! There were some big heart breaks during the last few months of waiting that made me, at times, seriously doubt that our journey would end with a new son home with us. In August, after 10 months of waiting, I started asking more questions about our wait. (I really did not want to be THAT family, but I think we are! :) ) Well, at the beginning of August we found out that we had already lost 5 matches, but they were already working on #6. And then September came and I was starting to feel like we were getting "close" to this 6 match being ready. But, near the end of September we get the call that our 6th match fell through, BUT they have, yet again, matched up with another boy. (Seriously, I was just about at the end of my rope-- why us?? Yes, quite the pity party). And then in October, I think, we get another call--UGH!-- at this point I was not enjoying the emails that said, "can we schedule a time for a phone call"! This particular phone call was to let us know that they had more background on match #7 and his birth date would put him and Grace under a year apart, and would we be OK with this?? Seriously--- like we would say NO?!?!? But, really, when we started the process, we were requesting a 4-5 year old boy because Jacob had just turned 6 when we got on the waitlist. We were hoping that the boys would be a year apart. But after waiting a year, Jacob turned a year older, but our referral parameters didn't change. So, we find out that our boy was brought to an orphanage in mid-September, and a week later, he was at the Gladney Care Center being matched with us!!! I started thinking..... we lost our 6th match in September. Our boy turned 4 in September. We would have never been matched with him if he wasn't already 4. Yes. God had this all worked out this entire time. He's the most PERFECT little boy for us! And, as I like to say... "I always wanted twins! At least this way I don't have to go through the baby and toddler stage with twins!" Win-win!

Even through my wavering faith and strength through this whole process, God had ever detail worked out. Deep down, I knew that. I was just having a terrible time being patient in finding out the details. :)

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