“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

Psalm 37:4

Friday, July 5, 2013

3 years...and Marra

Today marks 3 years as a family for me and Eden.  3 amazingly blessed years.  For previous milestones like this, I have posted meaningful photos or a cute video to mark our time together.  My heart is very heavy to do something different this time.  To take the focus off of us and hopefully pay some of our blessings forward.
Eden and I like to say “ADOPTION ROCKS!”  And, oh, how it does.  I love to immerse myself in other families’ adoption stories – they all “rock” but, in some cases, there are those who stand out as true “rock stars”.  One  family who has always held that distinction for me is the Olssons.  I have become friends over the past couple of years with wife & mom Amy through an Ethiopia adoptive mom Facebook group.  I observed with admiration throughout their adoption of baby girl Marra Frehiwet – their tireless efforts to get through the red tape that was even more tedious than usual, and we all celebrated when Amy and her husband, Sten, finally had their precious girl home.  When I saw Marra’s photo for the first time, I must admit the first thought that went through my head was “Wow, she is even more beautiful (gasp!) than Eden!” J 
Shortly before I left for Ethiopia to bring Eden home, a friend pointed out to me, “Once you are a parent, you will never live another day without fear.”  How right he was – the fear is always there, but it kind of stayed in the back of my mind.  Until Sunday, May 18th when I logged onto Facebook and read the unfathomable news that the Olssons had lost their beautiful 2-year-old Marra in a tragic accident – an accident that could have happened to any of us parents.   It just hit way too close to home and rocked me to my core.  Since the accident, the Olssons have continued to demonstrate their rock star status in how they have stayed focused on God for their faith and strength. 
On a positive note, they were already in the process of adopting another Ethiopian daughter (Mihret, 9) when this tragedy occurred.  And just a couple of weeks ago, they were able to share the news that they learned she has a 12-year-old brother, Samuel, so they are now in the process of adopting him, too!  Through such grief and joy at the same time, it has been so amazing to see how God is working through the memory of Marra Freh and this beautiful family.
So, here’s where you come in.  To bring these 2 children home is going to require a large sum of money.  To honor me and Eden on our 3rd anniversary as a family, would you please consider making a donation to the Olsson family?  Whether it be $5 or $50, I can speak from experience that every dollar means a lot.  And please say a prayer for healing, peace and growth for this awesome family.
To learn more about the Olssons’ story and make a donation, here is their blog.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Once Upon A Time...

To celebrate our 3-year ‘referralversary’, I am sharing a special bonding moment  between me and Eden that happened totally by accident on my part several months ago.  One evening Eden was challenging bedtime as toddlers often do, asking to read one more book, get one more drink of water, etc.  Finally I said, “No more, lights out.  Mommy will tell you one more story in the dark then it’s time to go to sleep.”  At that moment, I had no idea what story I would tell, just something made up about princesses or the like.  Then out of my mouth, I blurted, “Once upon a time, there was a girl named Gina…” And I proceeded to tell her our story off the top of my head in a simplified manner a child would understand.  Every single night since then, when I turn out the lights, Eden has said, “Read me Gina”.  I know that God planted  these words on my tongue to share with my sweet girl night after night: 

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Gina.  Gina was lonely, and every night she would pray, “God, please bring me a baby I could love forever, and we could be a family.”  And one day, God answered Gina’s prayers and said, “Gina!  I found your baby!  She’s in Ethiopia!!”  Gina was sooo excited to know she was finally going to get to be a mommy and couldn’t wait to meet her baby girl.  As soon as she could, she got on a great big airplane with Aunt Angie, and they flew and flew and flew all the way to Africa.  When they reached Ethiopia, a white van pulled up next to Gina, and in the back seat was a teeny tiny baby wrapped in a pink blanket.  And Gina said, “Oh my goodness!  Is that MY baby??”  And they said, “Yes!  This is baby Eden!”  Gina was sooo excited to finally hold her baby girl, and they hugged, and they kissed, and they laughed, and they smiled.  Then they spent a beautiful week in Ethiopia becoming a family.  Some of Eden’s friends were there, too – there was Bristol and Jack and Christian and Chloe.

Then it was time for Gina and Eden and Angie to get on the great big airplane, and they flew and flew and flew all the way to Nashville.  When they got to the airport, all their friends and family were there to greet them and meet baby Eden for the first time.  After they gave hugs and kisses to everyone, Gina and Eden got in their car, drove to their house, and from then on, they lived happily ever after.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


July 5th will rank right up there with Christmas for me and Eden - the day we became a forever family! I put this video together to celebrate my special girl and our first incredible year together.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


So this is my first (and hopefully not last!) post since Eden was placed in my arms – 8 wonderful months ago. A week hasn’t passed that I haven’t felt guilty about not updating my blog, but today of all days, I was determined to make it happen. One year ago today, my cell phone FINALLY rang with “Children’s Hope” on the Caller ID. I was crying before I even answered the phone, knowing my whole world was about to change. Shortly after being told I was going to be mother to a beautiful Ethiopian baby girl, I received an email and viewed her sweet face for the first time. What a day of celebration! I’m choosing today to (finally!) share with you some excerpts of the journal I kept when I traveled to Ethiopia 3-1/2 months later to bring my girl home:

We have arrived safely in Ethiopia. As my country celebrates its independence, I’m about to lose mine. The 16-hour flight was a rollercoaster of emotions, much like the past 2-1/2 years have been. A friend of mine had recently shared how when she went into labor, and the doctor said it was time, she screamed, “No! You can’t! I’m not ready!” And I had a similar feeling today mid-flight. Am I really ready for this? Is any mom really ready?! Can I be a good mom to Eden and give her all the love and care she deserves? The unanswered questions go on and on – I guess that’s a part of motherhood.

And I found myself immersed in my iPod listening to a random shuffle of songs that have shaped my life. It was funny how, as I listened, I could put my thoughts of Eden into almost any lyric. Johnny Lee’s “Lookin’ For Love” (I spent a lifetime lookin’ for you…) and Elvis’ version of “Let It Be Me” (I bless the day I found you…) just to name a couple.

Then, just 15 minutes or so outside of Addis Ababa, my random shuffle of 462 songs chose “Bless The Broken Road”, mine and Eden’s theme song, and the tears fell uncontrollably. It was a reminder that all of this is God’s work – the amazing gift He chose especially for me.

And now I lay me down to sleep (if I can sleep!), praying that Eden will feel the love I have for her and soon realize what I already do.

I woke up this morning at 7AM with the realization I would be meeting Eden in just a couple of hours. They said they would pick us up at 9AM to take us to the CHI transition home. We ate a yummy oatmeal breakfast then I headed back to our room to prepare for our pick-up. Shortly before 9AM, I heard the honks of the van signaling their arrival, and I raced down the stairs, more than ready to take that ride. When I got to the bottom of the stairs, I stopped in my tracks. Was that a pink blanket being carried by the young woman in the back seat?! Oh my gosh, could that be Eden?! There was shouting and a bit of hysteria between me, Angie and the Lankfords who had planned to help photograph and videotape the big moment. As we scrambled to distribute and turn on all the cameras, I walked into view of my beautiful girl. As her nanny passed her to me, I was surprised how lightweight she was – so much smaller than I had envisioned (which is certainly fine with me!). She didn’t cry – we just stared at each other – and she gripped my finger. It wasn’t long before she put her head on my shoulder and fell asleep. I couldn’t believe it – I suppose it was just overwhelming for her. By lunchtime, she was smiling from ear to ear and melting my heart. I had always figured I would cry my eyes out when I was finally united with my daughter, but the moment I had dreamed about for so long happened so quickly that it just felt natural and like it was always meant to be. It was a day of so many firsts – first bottle, first poopy diaper, first kisses – lots of kisses! My daughter is even more beautiful in person, and I have spent the day thanking God for the honor of being her mother.

We’re seeing a pattern where Eden does not want to be left alone, not even put down. She cries uncontrollably when I change her diaper or change her clothes, and tonight our first bath time was a disaster and ended not long before it began. Tsegay mentioned to me that she likes to be held and cries when she is not. I certainly don’t mind holding her as much as possible, and I just pray that in time she will develop a trust that I am not going to leave her.

Having Angie here has been a priceless gift. I can’t imagine spending these first few days alone. She has gone into full mommy mode, gently guiding and making suggestions along the way. Not to mention she has been the toter of all bags, official photographer, food server when I’m busy feeding Eden, and pretty much any other hat I need her to wear. I know it’s not easy for her – it would be much easier to care for Eden herself instead of watching this first-time mom blunder through. And she left her own family for a week to help me start mine. I will forever be grateful for the sacrifice and devotion she has made to this journey.

Knowing what a big help Angie has been, I am overwhelmed about doing this on my own. I know I can, but boy, it isn’t going to be easy. I just pray that Eden will be patient with her mommy as she learns the role.

It was overall another good day. When we stopped by the CHI transition home where Eden had lived the past 6 months, several of the workers greeted her – they affectionately call her “Tizu” – showering her with hugs and kisses. They all obviously love the children very much. At one point, one of them reached out to hold her then Eden began crying and reaching out to me. Everyone broke into applause yelling “Mama!!” recognizing it was a good sign that Eden is already distinguishing me as her mom. I feel her trust in me is increasing, but we’ve got a long way to go. One day at a time!


Friday, July 2, 2010

How Could You Know?

As you lay sleeping far away as still as you could be...

How could you know the joy today this photo brings to me?

A few short days and you'll be mine

And "I" will soon be "we"

How could you know the love I feel?

It's something you can't see.

So have sweet dreams, my precious babe

Sleep well and tenderly.

Some say that you're the lucky one

How could you know it's me?

-Kris Laughlin

Monday, June 28, 2010


I received word today that I will leave THIS SATURDAY to finally bring my sweet girl home forever! To think that a week from now, I will be seeing her and holding her and touching her and kissing her and smelling her and ... well, you get the picture. :) Please pray that this huge transition for both of us will go as smoothly as possible.

I received this new photo today - I finally got a SMILE! Maybe she knows her mama is on her way. Here's hoping there are lots of smiles to come and perhaps the next photo I post will be one of us smiling TOGETHER.

Thank you, God, for sending me this beautiful blessing! Your timing is perfect indeed.

Friday, June 25, 2010


This is by far the most difficult blog post I have made so far, but perhaps the most important. To all of you already experienced in the adoption world, this is Adoption 101. This post is for my amazing friends and family who are celebrating this wonderful time with me and have never been this close to adoption.

Let me start by saying there is nothing I would love more than to see all of your faces as I get off the plane with Eden. And I would love to bring her by my workplace soon after we’re home and pass her around to all of those who have anticipated Eden’s arrival with such excitement and support. But when I started this process, I quickly learned this is not what’s best for Eden, and of course, she is top priority. Think about it – she hasn’t been with her mom for the first 10 months of her life. She will not recognize me as her mom, and in her own way, she will surely grieve leaving the only home and ‘family’ she has known. It’s going to be overwhelming for her as she enters a new and much bigger world. Just as a newborn bonds with her mother, Eden and I will have to go through an intimate bonding cycle where I consistently show her that I, as her mom, will meet her needs when she is hungry, needs her diaper changed, or simply wants to be held. She is going to need time to transfer the trust she has for her current caretakers to me.

So am I saying I don’t need you when we get home? ABSOLUTELY NOT! I most definitely will need your support more than ever, but instead of asking you to watch Eden so I can accomplish a particular task, I would instead be grateful for help in the form of providing a meal, running an errand, or perhaps mowing my yard. There is no doubt I am going to be overwhelmed, but I feel so blessed to have so many people rooting for me. Staying low-key for awhile will hopefully pay off in the long run as Eden is slowly introduced to her multitude of fans!

Above is the latest pic of my sweet girl – it won’t be long now before we are face to face!