Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sammy's 1st Day at South Bay

We survived Sammy's first day at South Bay. It was a little overwhelming for him, but he did awesome. I can only imagine what must have been going through his mind. He's probably never been exposed to music that loud or all of the lights, etc... Also, so many friends wanted to meet Sammy and welcome him. I felt like everyone did a good job giving him space and no one tried to pick him up (which was good), but just having 100+ people shake your hand and say hi to you is a little overwhelming when your fresh out of an orphanage. I kept him in my sling most of the day and he clung pretty tight to me or Andy, but there were no tears and there were occasional grins. Here's a few pics from the day:


Filipe & Andy with their boys

 My beautiful friend, Sanli, with her son, Trevor. 
Trevor and Sammy are almost exactly the same age!

 Andy introduced Sammy at the end of the service.

South Bay had another record breaking day with 448 people in attendance!

We took the boys to Baja Fresh and the playground tonight.
Notice how short Caedmon's hair is. He took the liberty of 
giving himself a haircut while I was out of town last week!

We met an Ethiopian family at the playground and they live in our apartment complex! I'm so excited to get to know them. Andy asked them, "Could you tell he is Ethiopian?" They said, "From a mile away!"

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Saga Home

Ahhhhh....SO GOOD to be home!

The trip home was exhausting...especially the first half. We boarded the airplane in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia right about Sammy's bedtime. Up to this point, Sammy had been super flexible and could fall asleep any where, so I just assumed that I would give him his bottle and then he would fall right asleep on the airplane. Not so much.

Sammy has never been on an airplane and so the setting was totally over-stimulating for him. He could not get himself calmed down. He just got more a more wound up...throwing things, banging on things, etc... Then the screaming started because he was over-tired but couldn't fall asleep. It was horrible. He screamed and screamed and screamed. I stood up and held him for a good portion of the flight. At one point he was screaming so loud that he started waking up other babies, so I went in the bathroom with him just so that he could scream in private! Finally, about 20 minutes later, one of the flight attendance knocked on the door to check on me.

This guy in front of me kept turning around every time Sammy would start coughing (he has a horrible croupy cough) or screaming. He would just stare at us and then started offering pieces of advice. I barely had enough patience to handle the situation with Sammy and I certainly didn't have enough to handle this dude. So I said back to him, "No. Just turn around." I didn't hear from him the rest of the flight. (I can't believe I was so rude!)

When we got to Dubai it was almost 1 AM. We had a voucher to stay at a hotel so we went through the process of going through passport control, being told I had to get a visa for Sammy, getting the visa, going back through passport control, catching a shuttle, checking in the hotel, and getting to our room. By the time I got Sammy to sleep it was 3 AM. I then took a shower, washed his bottles, and repacked the bags for the next day. By the time I laid down in was 3:45 AM and my wake up call was for 4:30 AM! Unfortunately, the wake up call never came, but (Praise the Lord!) I woke up and check my watch at 4:50 AM. Sammy and I were out the door at 5:10 AM--Sammy screaming at full volume, of course.

Sammy screamed all the way through security because I tried to put him in a rental stroller. He was not having it, but his screaming did get us a ticket to the front of the line. There's really no reasoning with a 1 year old that Mommy can't carry you going through security because we've got so many bags to get through. Once we got through security, I put him back in my sling and that quieted him down.

The Dubai airport is insane. It is huge and yet every square inch is PACKED with people. It's like the mall the day after Thanksgiving. They have these cool little carts (kinda like a small grocery cart) that I saw a bunch of people pushing around. I thought, "I need one of those carts." There was no cart to be found. I even stopped and asked an employee where I could get one and he said I couldn't because there were probably none left. Thanks, Captain Helpful.

Picture this. I am walking down the terminal with a 25 pound child in a sling with a backpack on my back, pulling a roller suitcase that has Sammy's diaper bag clipped to it. And I pass a dude that looks like he's in college pushing a cart with only his backpack inside. I was more than a little disgusted.

I had to find something for Sammy & I to eat b/c we had to leave the hotel at 5 AM and they didn't start serving breakfast until 5:30 AM. So I found a Starbucks where I got a drink, a muffin, and a croissant. So now add a Starbucks bag to the things I'm carrying.

By this time, Sammy is getting very squirmy in the sling and about to fall out. It was all I could do to walk to the terminal. I can only imagine the focused look of determination that must have been on my face. I was focusing on my breathing (just like when I was in labor...oh, this adoption has been so much like a biological birth it's crazy) and putting one foot in front of the other. Walking by all these losers with half empty carts. I find a clearing against the wall and sat down on the ground. You know the feeling when you try to carry all the groceries in from the car at once and you think your hands might fall off by the time you get to the front door. Yeah, I had that feeling.

No sooner had I sat down then the screaming started back up. (Don't forget, I'm running off of 45 minutes of sleep in a 24 hour time span.) I stood back up to bounce Sammy and try to console him, but nothing was working. He was exhausted too. He was absolutely inconsolable. He didn't want his bottle or a blankie or a stuffed animal or food or to be held or to be put down. He didn't want to be touched, but he wanted to be in my arms. He arched his back and slapped my hands away and pushed his feet against my torso.

Finally, a woman from some country in Africa said, "Let me give it a try." I gladly handed him over, but that didn't help either. I took him back. At this point I am thinking, "I am about to board a 16 hour flight. What if he does this the whole flight. I can't do this. I need to talk to Andy. I have to get in touch with Andy now." So I get my computer out of my suitcase and start booting it up while trying to console Sammy at the same time. I sent him the following email:
"things are horrible. cant write much. sammy is inconsolable and screaming constantly. over stimulated and over tired. wont sleep. i'm falling apart. please pray."

By this time, another European lady walked over to offer to help. By this point I was in tears as well. She held Sammy while I loaded everything up so I could go through the check point at my gate. Sling, Sammy, backpack, roller bag, diaper bag, Starbucks bag, drink, passports, and boarding passes.

Once I got to my gate, Sammy suddenly calmed down. I knew in my heart that Andy had just gotten my email and had started praying immediately on my behalf. I gave Sammy something to eat and got out my computer again to Skype with Andy. I called him and he had gotten my email and already sent out a prayer request via Twitter, Facebook and email. I sobbed on the phone with Andy as all the other passengers in the terminal looked on. It really comforted me to talk with Andy like that and to know that literally hundreds of people were praying for us.

We boarded the plane, I gave Sammy his bottle, and he was asleep before take off. He slept for the first 8 hours of the flight. When he woke up, he was back to his happy, playful self again! We had a few fits/screaming incidents, but compared to what we had been through, they were very manageable. I could literally feel people praying for us.

Sammy feel asleep again for about the last hour of the flight. He was NOT happy when he woke up and screamed during the deboarding process. I did not care, though. I was HOME! Customs was brutally slow, but Sammy did well. Luggage inspection didn't go quite as well, as something made Sammy upset and he screamed for the fifteen minutes it took to retrieve our bags. At one point I had to just lay Sammy on the floor and let him scream so I could load the bags on my cart. A flight attendant saw me and came over to pick up Sammy.

When I walk out there waiting for us was the entire South Bay staff! They were cheering and had balloons and signs and cameras. I was so relieved to be through with the trip that I just started to cry. It was SO good, kiss-the-ground good, singing "God Bless America" good, to be home!


When we got home, we unpacked a little, got something to eat, and just let Sammy explore his new house. It was all I could do to keep my eyes open. Andy gave the boys their first bath together and then it was bedtime. Andy left me giving Sammy his bottle on the couch while he put Caedmon in his room. When he came back, Sammy and I were both sound asleep on the couch. Andy said he thought he should check our pulses because we both looked dead. I had slept about 4 hours in the past 48 hours so I was very happy to see my bed.

Getting through the night was a little rough. We started Sammy off in a pack-n-play by our bed, but he woke up crying every hour or two. He spent most of the night in bed with us in one of 3 positions: on Andy's chest, with his back pressed against Andy and his arms and legs resting on me, or in an X with one arm and foot resting on me and the other on Andy. Bless his heart. I can only imagine the trauma that he is feeling. He has been through so much.

He's been happy overall today. We successfully switched him from formula to milk. We took him for his first tricycle ride, which he loved. And he's been mesmerized by all of the toys, etc. at our house.

Naptime has been rough again. He's actually laying on the couch beside me right now screaming. He won't let me hold him or touch him but he just keeps screaming. How do you console an inconsolable child? My heart aches for him.

It will just take time for him to get adjusted and comfortable with us. It's going to take Caedmon some time, too. Caedmon's got a crazy mixture of emotions going on. He's very excited and helpful and wanting to play "the big brother" role. But he's also been very emotional today, needing to have his milk warmed up like Sammy, tattling, and needing to also sit in my lap while I feed Sammy his bottle. This is a huge adjustment for all of us.

Not sure how much I'll be getting to my blog this next week or so. But I wanted to at least let you know how the trip went and thank you for your prayers. Please keep 'em coming as we adjust to our new normal!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Spirit of Adoption

One of the most special parts of this trip to Ethiopia was getting to know each of these amazing adoptive families that were in my travel group. I have been so blessed to hear their stories and watch them interact with their kids.

After spending the week with all of these families, I am realizing more and more that these children are normal kids with a wide range of personalities and needs. When adopting (or having a biological child, for that matter) you have no guarantee that you will get a happy, affectionate child. Some of the older kids didn't always want a lot to do with their parents. Some were picky eaters. Some cried and fussed a lot. Some were quiet and withdrawn. Almost all of the kids have some kind of sickness going on- some more severe than others. I know of three children that will require surgery upon arrival in the US and all three of those families requested healthy children.

I think I could have a tendency to romanticize adoption because we got Sammy, who happens to be one of the most cheerful, endearing children here. I don't say that boastfully. I have nothing to do with is solely his personality. But to romanticize adoption and to think that every child is immediately attached and endeared to his/her parents does not give an entirely accurate picture of what most families go through. All of these kids will eventually be well adjusted, healthy, loving children with a strong bond to their parents. But for many it will take some work, patience, and time. 

While I feel overwhelmingly blessed to have received a child like Sammy (I'm not saying that he is without fault), I don't think the spirit of adoption is hoping and praying that you get a kid without any problems. The spirit of adoption is about attributing value to a human life because they are made in the image of God. It's about saying, "You belong in a family. You deserve a mom and a dad and unconditional love and a chance to become all that God created you to be. You are welcome here just as you are-- even with all your sickness and moodiness and emotional baggage. You can bring it all to my house and we'll unpack it together. You now have a place to belong."

That is what Christ has done for us as He welcomes us with open arms into His family. He doesn't "window shop" at the orphanage picking out the kids with the sweetest smiles, most hearty laughs, and endearing personalities. If that's how it worked I fear many of us, myself included, would have been left behind. But he brings us into His family, junk and all, to be His sons and daughters. And He wants nothing more than for us to accept that as our true identity.

As I watched these amazing parents try everything they could think of to show love to their kids who were, at times, stand-offish and exceedingly moody, I couldn't help but think of the vast measures to which the Father has gone to show His love to us. Oh, that we could learn to accept the Father's love, and learn to love others as He does...not window shopping for those with the most favorable attributes, but attributing value to each person, simply because they are made in the image of God.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

And He Shall Be Called...

Choosing a name for your child seems like such a paramount decision. It is their main source of identity for the rest of their lives. There are so many factors involved…the meaning, if you like the name, if the name rhymes with any bad words, what the name sounds like being yelled across the playground, do the initials work, and on, and on, and on!

Choosing a name for an adopted child adds a whole new element because they’ve already been given a name. Every adoptive family that I have met has labored over this decision and Andy & I are no different.

For the longest time we thought we would keep Wondimu as his primary name that we call him. His name is really his only possession, the only thing to call his own. We also felt like it was a special connection to his birth family. In addition to that, Wondimu is almost two years old, so he knows his name. The name, Wondimu, means “brother” which we thought was really neat because Wondimu doesn’t have any biological siblings, but he now has a big brother.

However, after talking with Duni (America World’s in-country director) Andy & I had to reconsider our decision. Duni, who is Ethiopian, lived in the States for eleven years. She said that it’s very difficult/annoying to have a name that no one can pronounce or spell. She said, for an adopted child, it’s just one more thing that makes them different. One more thing that they have to explain about themselves.

To be certain, every family has to make their own decision about the name and there is no right or wrong way to go. There are many different schools of thought on this topic.

After much prayer and consideration, Andy & I finally decided on the name Samuel Wondimu Wood, and we will call him Sammy.

The name Samuel is significant to me for a couple of reasons:

1-    Like Samuel’s mom in the Bible, I longed to have a child but was unable to do so. I prayed and prayed for this child, just like Hannah. “I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given to the Lord.” 1 Samuel 1:27-28 Wondimu is my gift from God for whom I have longed and I am committed to raising him in a way that brings glory to the Lord.

2-    Samuel is one of the few people in the Bible who walked faithfully with the Lord from the time he was a young child until he died. He listened to God and courageously obeyed him. “The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground.” 1 Samuel 3:19 Wouldn’t that be amazing to be able to say about someone…to say about yourself?! “Stacie let none of the Lord’s words fall to the ground.” We pray that that would be true of Wondimu’s life. Our prayer for Wondimu is that, just like Samuel, he would walk with the Lord all of his life…from the time he is a young boy.

So, from here on out, I will refer to Wondimu as “Sammy” on this blog. At home I’ll probably still call him Wondimu or Wondy for a while. But we will eventually make that transition to calling him Sammy.

Samuel Wondimu Wood. We’re so happy that you are now apart of the “Wood family”!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

World Travels Update #2

The past two days have been quite full. When I arrived in Addis on
Tuesday, Robel picked me up at the airport and took me to a restaurant
where we met up with the rest of the families (I was the last one to
arrive). After lunch we went to the Transition Home for “Gotcha Day”!
There was a small ceremony as the staff formally handed us our
children and we read aloud a statement of commitment to care for our
children. (I cried when I read mine.)

We stayed at the Transition Home for about an hour/an hour and a half
before heading over to the older kids Transition Home. I’m not exactly
sure why we all went to that one. I think it was perhaps to allow some
of the older children being adopted to say goodbye to their friends
and nannies. It was nice to see, though. There are some really amazing
kids there who still don’t have families. Maybe someone reading this
post should pursue adopting one of them!

We were traveling in 3 different vans because there are so many
families. The van I was in broke down on our way back the Yebsabi
Guest House. It was no big deal and another van was there to pick us
up shortly. Wondimu was fascinated by the van ride…pointing at
everything, babbling, and making noises. But after a while I think it
was a little too much for him to take in. He laid his head down on my
chest and was so still and quiet that I thought he fell asleep. But he
was just taking it all in.

When we got to the Yebsabi Guest House Wondimu and I went upstairs to
begin unpacking. He just toddled around looking at everything. So
curious! He ate like a champ at dinner time (lasagna), which I was
thrilled about. After dinner I gave him a bath (which he loved), got
his PJ’s on him, and put him to sleep. It felt so good to have that
sweet boy sleeping in the same room with me.

Today was Embassy day and all the families here made it through
without any glitches! I was so relieved when that was over. I think I
was just really paranoid that something would be wrong with my
paperwork and Andy wouldn’t be here to resign and give his approval.
But, it was easy and smooth. Wondimu will be receiving his passport
and IR4 visa on Friday!

Some things have been slightly tricky since I’m traveling alone, but
overall it has been a breeze. For example, one thing I was concerned
about was what I would do with Wondimu when I showered. I was nervous
that if I showered while he was asleep he might wake up and freak out
because I wasn’t there. Today I just put him in the crib that the
guest house gave us with a book and a couple toys. I pulled it close
to the bathroom and he could see himself in the mirror. He just waved
to himself and played the whole time I was getting ready. No tears and
no trying to climb out. Whew!! The other families here have been
really helpful, too. Helping me carry things, helping me fill out my
paperwork, sharing various supplies…America World families are truly
top notch!

I’m having a wonderful time with Wondimu. He is so full of life and
joy! I want to cherish every moment I have with him here in Ethiopia
this week.

Here a few pics for your viewing pleasure!! 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Leg 1- From SFO to Dubai

The flight to Dubai was very smooth and uneventful. Read my Bible, worked on Picaboo scrapbooks, watched movies, and slept. I only cried for a minute when I finally got on the plane and found my seat.  Getting checked in was a little stressful because the airlines wouldn’t let me take my carry on because it was too heavy. They checked it all the way to Addis so I tried to go through it quickly to get out my toothbrush, a change of clothes, and a couple other essentials that I would need since I was spending the night in Dubai. I was so flustered when checking in that I forgot to ask for my voucher for my hotel in Dubai. I realized that I didn’t have it right before I boarded the plane and the agent was able to get it for me. Whew!

All of that “excitement” coupled with the fact that I just said goodbye to Caedmon for 9 days PLUS Andy was not traveling with me like we originally planned PLUS I’m about to bring home our adopted son (which, let’s be honest, is a little intimidating even in the midst of how wonderful it is)…it was just a little much to process so quickly. Thus, when I got to my seat and realized that they were playing a song by Norah Jones (a favorite for me & Andy), that just tipped me over the edge and the tears began to fall. But only briefly.

When I arrived in Dubai, I wanted to talk with the ticketing agent about reserving bulk head seating for my trip home with Wondimu. He was on break, so I just sat down and waited on him for a few minutes. While I was waiting an Ethiopian woman about mid-fifties or so came over to me. I realized that she needed help but did not speak any English. I went to the counter to ask if there were any employees who spoke Amharic, but they said the only one was on vacation. I pulled out my computer and tried to find a translation website so that I could at least communicate to her. But no luck. We waited for the ticketing agent about 20 minutes and during that time I could tell that she was so confused and anxious. I really wanted to help her.

Well, I wasn’t successful at pre-registering for the bulk head seating, but I was able to help this sweet lady. Here’s the extent of the words that we understood of each other:
·      San Francisco
·      Oakland
·      Addis Ababa
·      Ethiopia
·      I
·      Hotel
·      Ishi (Amharic for OK)

Somehow, during that 20 minutes that we were waiting and with that limited vocabulary, I was able to win her trust, explain to her that we were on the same flight in the morning and that we had reservations at the same hotel tonight. I helped her get her visa, took her through immigration, rode with her in the shuttle, and got her checked in at the hotel. She is staying in the room next to mine. (She actually invited me to stay in her room with her, but I knew my husband, father, and/or brother would kill me if I did that. So I declined, but told her I’d come by in the morning to get her.) Bless her heart, she didn’t even know how to lock the door to her hotel room. I seriously wonder if this was the first time she’s ever traveled. I also found out (via pictures) that she was in Oakland visiting her son-in-law, daughter, and grandson. I told her (via pictures) that I’m on my way to Ethiopia to bring home Wondimu and that my other son and my husband are in California.

At one point it was clear that she was thanking God for me. I heard that most precious, wonderful name of “Jesus” come out of her mouth and realized that we were sisters all along. I wonder if she had said a prayer asking Jesus to help her, and Jesus sent help in the form of an adoptive mom with a huge heart for the people of Ethiopia. Glad I didn’t miss the chance to be the answer to someone’s prayers!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Cutie Caedmon

Caedmon keeps me laughing with all of his funny antics. Here are a few candid shots of gotten the past couple weeks:
Caedmon is "Captain Underwear". He is really into making swords 
with his Uncle Fi. This sword is called his "Good Guy Sword".

One day Caedmon really wanted to go swimming but it was too cold outside. (I know, I know, too cold in August? That's California for ya.) So Andy suggested that he go swimming in the bath tub. When I walked in the bathroom, this is what I saw...complete with swim suit and floatie!

Caedmon loves pirates. 
I tried to teach him to say, "Arg, Matey, walk da plank." 
But instead he says, "Arg, Mavey, walk to plank." It's pretty darn cute!

Love that kid!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Dear Caedmon, 

In just a few days our world is about to change. We will welcome Wondimu into our family and you will suddenly become a big brother and I will become of mother of two! This is something that we have both longed for for quite some time. I know we are both ready for this, and so very excited!

But, before he comes, I just want to tell you how much I have treasured my time with you the past 4 years. I always thought that I wanted to have all of my kids really close together and I was so sad to watch you get older and older with no siblings on the way. But now I realize what an incredible gift God gave me to have you all to myself for nearly 4 years.

You have been my constant companion and my first consideration in every decision. I have been able to hold you as much as you want to be held (you are such a cuddler) and let you stay a baby longer without a younger one pushing you out of that position. Some people may say that's not good, but I say you will grow up soon enough. Soon enough.

I have had the great privilege of a front row seat to your every accomplishment in life. It amazes me to watch you grow and change and learn every day. If adults continued to learn at the same rate a child does between the ages of birth to 4 years old, we would all be geniuses. I'm so thankful that I've been apart of each discovery.

Bringing Wondimu into our family will be so good for you. You will have a playmate, someone to teach things to, someone to nurture, love, and protect. You will be a great big brother. Being a big brother will be good for you in other ways as will learn to share toys, to take turns, to not lose your temper when he messes up your things.

And, you will learn to share Mommy. This will be hard for you, I know. As much as we've tried to prepare for this moment, I know it will be hard for you to wrap your little mind around the fact that, just because I love Wondimu with all my heart does not mean that I love you any less. You see, with every new addition to our family, God makes our hearts grow. Our capacity to love grows. I don't have to divide my love between you and Wondimu, because God gives me the ability to love you with all my heart AND Wondimu with all my heart.

You are my precious. That never changes. If I took all the words for affection in the English language and put them together, that would still not scratch the surface of how I feel about you. And it blesses my heart to no end to see how much you love me.

Caedmon, you will be a great big brother. But you will always be my little boy.

I love you so,

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Update: Leaving for Ethiopia in FIVE DAYS

So we got another phone call from our adoption agency this morning saying that they really needed us to take the August 18th Embassy appointment if there was any way possible we could do that. To make a long story short, we decided that I could travel alone and Andy would stay here to be with Caedmon. Crazy, I know.

It's a mixed bag for me. In some ways I'm bummed that Andy won't get to travel with me and be apart of it all. Plus I know it's going to be a loooooong journey home with Wondimu all by myself. Moving up the travel date also makes this week completely insane.

But on the other hand, I am absolutely ecstatic that this time next week I will be with Wondimu! I will get full custody of him next Tuesday or Wednesday and he will be staying with me at the guest house the whole week. That makes me smile.

It also makes me smile to think that two weeks from today our family of four will all be together in one location! Forever. I can handle a couple weeks of chaos to get that awesome reward!


We got a phone call yesterday morning from our adoption agency letting us know that we have a confirmed Embassy appointment of September 1st! This means that we will be able to travel back to Ethiopia, get his passport and visa, and BRING HIM HOME!! Are tentative travel dates (we've not yet booked flights) are August 29 or 30 to September 4 or 5.

We actually were cleared for the August 18th Embassy appointment but because of conflicts here we are unable to travel next week. That makes me a little crazy knowing that I could be with Wondimu this time next week. But we are just THRILLED to have a confirmed date and that the end is in sight.

All of these longings are about to be fulfilled! Thank you, Jesus.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Sunday Rewind

This summer we have been looking at various aspects of the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) through our message series called "Life Apps". Who wouldn't want to download a little more love, joy, patience, etc...into their life? Yesterday, Andy preached an awesome sermon about "Goodness", or active benevolence as the word means in it's original language.

Andy pointed out how churches seem to be at one extreme or the other when it comes to goodness, benevolence, service, and good deeds. On one extreme there are churches who focus so much on good works, social justice, or community involvement that the message can easily become communicated that we earn forgiveness and salvation by doing good deeds. Doing more good than bad is the goal.

On the other extreme are churches who get so focused on teaching and Bible knowledge and sparsing Greek verbs and feeding the sheep that they forget there is a whole world out there in dire need of the goodness of God.

Andy was saying there is no reason that it has to be one without the other! We should allow the truth of the Gospel propel us into serving those around us. God has been good to us, and the natural outflow should be a desire to show goodness to others.

When we receive the goodness of God and notice the needs of the world, we should be compelled and motivated to do good.

Andy left us with a very simple challenge saying, "When it is in your power to act, do something!" It will look different in each person's circumstances. But when you notice a need, don't turn your head. Do something!

The leaders at South Bay noticed a need at our church recently. There is a single-mom in our church who is one of our most committed volunteers. She has 5 kids (the youngest of whom is 5 years old) and her husband passed away a little over five years ago. Tiana is such a hard worker and has an amazing attitude. She works the night shift to make ends meet, but that doesn't keep her from serving at church the next morning if there is an opportunity to serve.

God changed Tiana's life about a year and a half ago when she fully surrendered her life to Him. She said to me Sunday, "I'm not serving to get any type of reward. I'm serving because God changed my life. He gave me a second chance and I just want to serve Him now."

Watch this video to see a bit of goodness is action:

Tiana's van from Stacie Wood on Vimeo.

Friday, August 6, 2010

When the joy outweighs the cost

"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it."
Matthew 13:44-46

Some things are worth giving up anything and everything in order to gain...and there is no sorrow in the sacrifice because the reward is so great. That is what it is like to know Christ. And that is what adoption is like, too.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Updates from Ethiopia

I have received a few emails & Facebook messages today about Wondimu from adoptive families that are in Ethiopia right now! Every piece of information that I hear is so special and treasured to me. The wait is getting harder and harder for me, so to get these emails and pictures was awesome. It really comforted me to see him smiling and know that he is happy and being loved on so much.

I could be totally biased and reading into these messages so much, but it seems to me that Wondimu absolutely captures every person's heart that he interacts with. This child is not running low on affection--either the giving kind or receiving kind. Here are a few of the messages below:
  • I saw your baby boy today! He is precious and was hanging out with Yonas.    
  • Stacie, Yonas and Jobe [two of our adoption agency's employees] are BOTH in love with Wondimu. They picked him up, held him, and loved on him every day when I was there!! They even let me hold Wondimu a couple of times! ;-)
  • Hi! My name is S* and my son Z* and your son Wondimu are best friends! It was hard to take any pictures of my son without yours right there with him! They are so adorable together!! So I have a few photos of them together playing through the window in their room at the transition home. And I have video of them playing and squealing and laughing. It will melt your heart!  In the photo called Jealousy, Wondimu climbed in my lap and hugged me, and my Z* had a fit. You can see he has thrown himself over my legs! He did not like sharing his mommy! I hope that it is okay that I have pictures of your son! He won us over!! My sister is with me for this trip and she has played with Wondimu every day while I played with my son. He is a doll! Everyone loves him! He is always so happy and smiling!  I will be sure to hug on Wondimu a lot also! He has taken to my sister, so the 4 of us play together. Today we rolled a ball around on the floor. Wondimu does so good with Z*. Z* doesn't like to share that much, and Wondimu is so good to sacrifice so that Z* isnt upset! 
Is it just me, or does it seem like we hit the JACKPOT when God picked Wondimu to be apart of our family?!?! I'm sure every parent feels that way, but I just feel abundantly blessed that Wondimu is OUR son!

Here's a few pics that were emailed to me today:

Wondimu is the one on the inside of the window.
Stealing all the love!
The sweetest face in the whole wide world... all decked out for Christmas dinner!
This is Wondimu and Yonas. I believe Wondimu has bonded quite a bit with him and Jobe. We will need to get good pictures of them to be able to show to Wondimu when we bring him home!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Preparation continues...

One thing that many adoptive parents prepare for their child(ren) is a backpack of special items for them to enjoy on the trip home. The older the child, the more "sacred" these backpacks are to the child as these could quite easily be their very first possessions to call their own.

I was a little shocked by that when I saw it first hand. I shouldn't have been, I guess. Keeping possessions separated at an orphanage would be an impossible task. But, coming from a Western world-view where one of the first words is most children's vocabulary is "MINE", it was surprising to see.

In Wondimu's room, for instance, there are about 12 children. There is one large dresser which houses all the clothes for all of the kids. The first day we met Wondimu we dressed him in a new outfit we got for him. The next day we came back and saw a different child wearing those clothes. The other kid looked really cute, too.

All the toys are shared and they all fit in one medium sized tupperware. We noticed that a couple things we sent to Wondimu in a care package were apart of the pile of toys. We were happy to contribute.

The little toddler beds line the wall and so Andy & I asked which one was Wondimu's. The nannies pointed to one, so we began taking pictures of the bed and immediately felt some type of funny endearment and attachment to that bed. Well, when we came back the next day, Wondimu was fast asleep in a different bed!
The bed we thought was Wondimu's. Ha!

HE HAS NO CONCEPT OF POSSESSION...but neither did the early church, evidently, so he's in good company!

This week, Caedmon and I had fun buying some stuff for Wondimu and beginning the process of putting his backpack together. These are the items I plan to include in his backpack:
  • toy trucks/cars
  • books
  • plastic animals
  • balloons
  • bubbles
  • playdough
  • stuffed animal
  • photo album with pics from our first trip to Ethiopia as well as pictures of our family here in the States

Another big project this week has been organizing all of Wondimu's clothes (i.e. Caedmon's old clothes). We live in an apartment without very much storage space, so it's been a little tricky. We only have one dresser in the boys room and it is pretty full with Caedmon's clothes, so here's what I came up with for Wondimu.

You gotta work what ya got!

Still praying for the September 1st Embassy appointment so we can bring our precious son home to his forever family! Wondimu, we miss you every minute of every day.

Monday, August 2, 2010

A Garlic-filled (Yummy) Dinner

It's been a while since I've added any recipes, so you're getting three in one day! Let me know if you try any out.

A week or so ago I made a dinner that was really great but every dish had garlic and Parmesan. So, beware, you may be sweating garlic for days after eating this. If you are a garlic fan like me, give it a try:

20 Garlic Chicken (from KRAFT foods)

4 small boneless chicken breasts
20 cloves garlic, peeled
3/4 cup fat free, reduced sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup Light Caesar dressing
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1- Heat large, non-stick skillet on medium-high heat. Add chicken and garlic; cook 4 minutes, turning chicken after 2 minutes.

2- Stir in broth and dressing; cover with lid. Cook chicken 3-5 minutes on both sides or until done.

3- Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Cover. Remove from heat. Let stand for 1 minute.


This is a type of gluten-free grain that compliments a meal in place of rice, potatoes, or pasta. I made mine in the rice cooker with chicken broth and added a little minced garlic and a good bit a Parmesan cheese. Andy and I love this.

Green Beans

This is my favorite way to make green beans. Andy's step-mother, Denise, taught me how. The only problem is that there are not any real measurements. Here's how I do it.

1- Start with trimming the ends off of a bunch of fresh green beans and rinse them.

2- Put them in a large skillet with a lid. Add water and some garlic salt. Cover and boil them until they reach the tenderness you like. Maybe 10 minutes or so???

3- Drain the water.

4- Push the green beans to one side of the skillet and put a little olive oil (somewhere between 1-3 teaspoons) on the side of the skillet without the green beans. Saute some minced garlic in the oil.

5- Mix the oil and garlic with the green beans. Sprinkle some basil, garlic salt, and Parmesan on top. Serve immediately. So yummy!