Monday, November 30, 2009

A good start to today...continued!

Gracie took a great nap today nestled close with daddy. We headed to the Minister's office to get our travel letter around 1:30 this afternoon. We were able to meet the Minister as well as Miss Veronique. They both were so gracious and I am so glad that we were able to spend a little time with them. These women both worked on our adoption on the Rwandan government side. While waiting for our travel letter to be completed, we got a special surprise. I am not sure how it all happened but Kaylee was playing with Grace and Ryan was playing with Grace and then it happened...

We spent the next little while playing with her and enjoying her smile. She is starting to come out of her shell. She even laughed a little. She is starting to vocalize as well. It is really amazing to see her bond with us.

Tomorrow we go to the Embassy to for another appointment then off for some Rwanda heritage learning. Can't wait to see how she progresses tomorrow!

A good start to today~


Happy Monday to all!

We have our Grace and hopefully won't have to take her back to the orphanage. We are going to the Minister's office in a little bit to get our travel letter that will assure this.

She had a rough start this morning not wanting to come to us. Ryan has become her safe haven and we are so thankful for this. They are sitting now reading "your big backyard" magazines. She really likes to turn the pages.

Grace at a good breakfast and we are all feeling great. Not alot of sleep happening but that is expected. Kay, Denise and I were up from 11pm - 3am. We had fun giggling, watching soccer on tv and trying so desperately to fall back asleep.

Here is a pic of Gracie from this morning...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Wow~

What a day today has been! We started the day bright and early and headed to the DC Dulles airport. We flew for what seemed to be forever! Stopped in Rome for fuel, another long flight to Ethiopia, then another flight to Uganda then on to Kigali! We arrived here about 3 hours later then expected.

Our POA met us at the airport and told us that we were going right to the orphanage! We stopped at the hotel just so the luggage could be dropped off. Then off we went to the orphanage. We got to see a small part of Kigali as we drove. There were lots of wedding taking place today!

We arrived at the orphanage and within minutes they were bringing out our children. We have traveled with the Spores and the Bowers. First, little Cooper Spore was brought in, then Sonya Bower, then Gracie Smith. The first 2 kiddos did well but when the sister tried to hand me Gracie she started to cry...then Sonya started to cry. I fully expected her not to want to come to me and for tears to flow. After about 20 minutes or so, I was able to hold her. She was very shy and kept an eye on all of us. She didn't want to go to Ryan or the kids for a little why but she eventually warmed up. We even got to see her teeth! She does have them. After about 45 minutes, she started to show just a bit of personality. She went to Ryan and he held her for awhile. We walked around with her, holding her hand.

The kids are of course all excited and just want to touch her. She does have a belly on her! I will have so much more to write as the days go on but wanted to give you just a brief update!

Pics aren't loading so I will try to get it figured out!


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Washington DC

We are in Washington DC. We had a great day of travel and landed here at 5:30pm. While in the plane on the runway we could see the Washington Monument as well as the Capitol building. Then while on the highway we could see the Jefferson Memorial. We will count this as our DC tour!

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner in the Hyatt lobby bar. Crab-cake sandwiches, a burger and pizza were our holiday menu. There was also a koi pond in the lobby so we are being culturally diverse.

We are all so excited about tomorrow. We take off from DC at 9:30am on Friday. We arrive in Kigali at 8:30am on Saturday. About 24 hours of travel await us! The kids did great today and I hope they continue to do great tomorrow.

Thanks again for all of the prayers! Please pray for little Gracie. Her little world is about to be turned upside down!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Ready

We got the call around noon yesterday that we are going this week to Rwanda. After a flurry of activity over the last day, we are ready to go! I sit here and think about what has happened over the last 36 hours and I am just amazed.

To each of you who have helped us in this last mad dash, thank you. Thank you for loving us. Thank you for loving our children. Thank you for meals so I didn't have to worry about cooking. Thanks for folding laundry. Thank you for washing sippy cups and tiny silverware. Thank you for opening packages, boxes, unwrapping things. Thank you for helping me just think through stuff. Thank you for painting our daughters room. Thank you for getting her furniture ready. Thank you for making her a room that she will grow up in. Thank you for praying with us. Thank you for praying for us. Thank you for the phone calls and emails of support. Thank you for the generous donations for the orphanage. Thank you for the donations for our family. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You all know who you are and I just can't thank you enough. The last 36 hours we have been slathered in God's love and it just feels so good. I am not good at asking for help and I am so glad that I did. Thank you for the memories. Thank you for the love.

We leave at 8am on Thanksgiving to fly to Washington DC. We stay the night in DC then on Friday morning we board a plane for Rome. We then fly to Ethiopia and then to our final destination of Kigali. We should have Gracie in our arms on Saturday afternoon (Saturday morning in the states). Wow.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Big Update!

We are leaving for Rwanda on Thursday (like in 2 days!)! AHHHHHH! I can't believe it!

Flights were available. We are available. We are on our way.

Only a few more days till we have Gracie in our arms!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Introducing....

We are proud to introduce our daughter, Grace Elina Smith. Grace was born on April 25, 2007. She is 2 1/2 years old. Her given Rwandan name is Elina which means bright light. We gave her the name of Grace. We know that we are covered in God's grace in our lives and wanted to honor Him in her name. We are all thrilled that we are so close to having Grace join our family. We still do not know much about her background and how she came to the orphanage. We are hoping to receive that information soon. Thank you for continuing on our journey with us.



K & C - first picture with their little sister

W... (totally skipping V)

We passed court today! We are officially a family of 5! Wow, what a feeling. We leave in about 2 1/2 weeks to pick up our Gracie!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

U....Unbelievable

It is 7am Rwanda time as I write this. In just a few short hours, a judge will decide if we will legally be the parents of Grace. It is truly unbelievable to think that we will soon be a family of 5. It is amazing to think that just over 13 months ago, our life took a turn and we started this adoption journey. It is exciting that in approximately 3 weeks we will meet our Gracie for the first time.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

T...Tasks

Tasks that are complete or in the process...

1) Gracie's room is painted! Dear friends, Andrea, Denise & Jordan, helped to paint her room the perfect shade of Pink Ribbon Pink. It is just pink enough...

2) Another dear friend, Kylie, is taking on the task of decorating Gracie's room. I cannot wait to see what she does. She is so talented and creative!

3) We have our travel tickets on hold for Dec 11-25.

4) I keep adding to my to-do list....

Friday, November 20, 2009

S....So

So, lots of things going on this week!

1) Our court date is Monday! We should know when we wake up if we are legally Gracie's parents! Then we will be able to show her picture :)

2) We have travel tickets on hold for December 11. Ryan is working hard on the travel part but it is hard to plan when we don't know the dates of when we will need to be there! We were told that we would receive tentative travel dates today.

3) Originally it was thought that our Ethiopian consulate appointment could only be on one day. The consulate only has so many appointments on this one day. However, we found out that families with children from Rwanda can go any day at any time! They call them "drop-in" appointments! This will make figuring out our travel so much easier! We will have an appointment made for us but it could be at any time.

4) Friends are coming to help me paint Gracie's room tomorrow! Can't wait to get her room started! I almost have it ready to paint.

5) We are all just so excited to have Gracie home!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

R....Ryan

I want to use today's letter of the day as a shout out to my husband, Ryan.

We have been together for 17 years (we were high school sweethearts, gag, I know) and married for 11 1/2 years. We have changed some in the time that we have been together: physically, emotionally, spiritually. I do think that we are changing for the better in each way! We are complete opposites in some ways and very alike in others.

Through this adoption process, Ryan has been in the background. He has let me take charge and run the show. There were lots of checklists to be done and this was right up my alley, him not so much. I chatted alot on our blog and shocked him with alot of the things that I talked about. I am what you would call "not so good with words" usually.

So I just want to say thanks, babe, thanks for taking this ride with me!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Q....Quickly

Q is a great letter for today! Since 9am this morning, things have been moving very QUICKLY! We received word that our Act of Adoption is done and that our court date is next week (probably/hopefully Monday) and we can plan to travel in 2-3 weeks. Wow. I just can't believe it! Gracie will definitely be home before Christmas!

We have been so busy with other activities/events/obligations the last few weeks that I just haven't had time to get things ready. We do have some winter clothes ready for Gracie thanks to our awesome lifegroup but other than that...not much. So, my friend Ellen helped me to make lists of all that needs to be done! This helped a ton so now I have a plan. I like plans. I have recruited some friends to help with painting Gracie's room on Saturday as well. We need to paint, arrange furniture, and get her room ready!

I need to start packing for the 4 of us to go, laundry, donations for the orphanage, sort through donations that I already have, etc. etc. etc! I am glad that next week is a holiday week so that we can get some more of this stuff done!

Thank you also to Amy for shopping in Cali! There are no summer clothes to be found here in our state so she is finding clothes for Gracie to wear while in Africa! This is another huge relief!

So glad that this part is moving....QUICKLY!


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

P....Prayers

What a week it has been since we found out who our child is! We have been blessed with little Gracie and can't wait until we are all together.

Emails have started coming in over the last few days and the excitement is starting to build even more. We have formally accepted our referral as of today. We signed those documents and shipped them off to our agency! Then this afternoon, we received our first travel email. We should receive our tentative travel dates this week sometime. We could travel in just a few weeks if it is His will. I am of course really hoping that it is!

I would like to ask for prayers during these next few weeks. Prayers for my patience as people in America and Africa do what they need to do so that we can bring Gracie home. Prayers for our family as we grow from a family of 4 to a family of 5. Prayers for our Gracie as she joins our family, how different her world will be soon. Prayers for her biological family as they have given her the greatest gift they can. Prayers for others who are thinking about adoption. It is truly a magnificent way to show His love.


Monday, November 16, 2009

O....Oh my goodness!

Late this evening (early morning in Kigali), we received Gracie's medical information! Gracie seems to be healthy and tested negative on all the things they tested her for. So now we can proceed with accepting our referral formally. Thank so much to our POA who is working so hard to get these adoptions complete!

Our next step is the court date. Our POA will stand for us in court and the judge will decide if we will be able to become Gracie's legal family. The Dorband's POA went to court today and ended up passing court today! God is definitely working in Kigali!

We really are praying for a November court date! The Rwandan courts close for December. So in order for us to be home in 2009 we need to have a court date in the next 2 weeks. Also, once we pass court, we will be able to show our little Gracie to everyone!

Hoping to have some more exciting news soon!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

N....Nesting

My favorite new past time is nesting! We (Kaylee and I) are in full nesting mode. I think it is definitely a girl thing! One of the first things Kaylee said after finding out who Gracie is was "what color are we going to paint her room?" So I have spent this week figuring out what her room will look like. Gracie's room will (of course) be pink! We are settling on a little not to dark pink. Her bedding is on it's way as well!

Kaylee and I have had fun looking at clothes, pajamas, and little shoes! We have had fun looking at toys, testing them out, and figuring out what else she will need! It has been a couple of years since we had a toddler in this house and I have forgotten! So this week I will stroll the toddler isles at my favorite store and see what else she will need.

We have had a great week full of congratulations, tears, hugs, and just gazing at our sweet little Gracie. We are praying for a November court date and for the end of process to go smoothly and quickly. We would love to have Gracie home for Christmas!




Saturday, November 14, 2009

M....Marvelous

He is marvelous..He is wonderful...He is everything. We are thankful....oh, so thankful.

Friday, November 13, 2009

L....Love


Love, we are in love with our little Grace. We talk about her all the time, we can't quit thinking about her, we can't wait until we can have her. We are in love.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

K....Kaylee


Kaylee is our first born daughter. She is 8 years old going on 30. Kay is very much a type-A personality. She likes order, rules, schedules and structure and does not do well in the gray area. She is much like her mother and much like her father.


Kay enjoys piano and gymnastics. She is a great student and loves to read. She is my helper whenever I need it and for the most part is nice to her brother.


Kaylee had wanted a little sister from the beginning. Though, at one point she did say that she wanted a brother because then maybe Cannon would quit wrestling her and wrestle him.


Kaylee will be a great big sister to Grace. She can teach her about being a girly girl, play games with her, play baby dolls. Oh, what fun they will have!



Wednesday, November 11, 2009

J...Just In Case

You wanted to know.... Here are the kids responses to us telling them about their new little sister.


Kaylee was so excited. She really wanted a little sister! On the way home, her thoughts started going crazy. She asked "What color are we going to paint her room?" then followed with "we have so much to do!" This is a girl after my own heart :). Getting excited for all the little details that we need to do before we bring Gracie home.



Cannon was excited too. He seemed to take after his father with a quiet excitement. He did gaze at little Gracie's picture for awhile. He did say on the way home "I wanted a brother so that we could wrestle." I then reminded him that he will need to be strong and protect Gracie. He will be her big brother. On the couch yesterday, we were looking at Gracie's picture. I told Cannon, "You both have brown eyes, you match!" He then followed with "and we have the same color hair!" So, I think he is definitely coming around to having a little sister.



We are all just so excited that we know who our child is. Her face is stuck in my head and I just can't get it out. I think of her by name now and look at her sweet picture multiple (MULTIPLE) times a day! And as Kaylee said, we have so much to do!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I...Introducing

We received our referral yesterday. I had been up since 7am Florida time looking at the computer every few minutes. We had gone to breakfast and came back around 9:45 to get the rest of our belongings then head to the shuttle to the airport. We have been in Boca Raton, Florida for a long weekend. God ended our trip with an email that I have been dreaming about for quite sometime. I actually dreamt about it yesterday too, but my dream was that we didn’t receive the referral email.


So coming back to our room, I open my email one last time. I start taking care of a few things while waiting for it to load. My phone rings. Heidi, another adoptive mom, calls. I tell Ryan to “ANSWER IT!”. He does and says “It’s Heidi.” I had a wave of emotion come over me because I know the reason she would be calling would be because the referrals had started to come. I had asked for someone in our group to call me because we would be traveling most of the day on Monday. (Thank you so much Heidi for calling!!!)


I run to my computer and look. Sure enough, at 9:13 am (4:13pm Kigali time), the Minister sent us our “Adoptee Matching File.” I immediately open the email, see the letter from the minister, continuing to scroll down to see a picture. A beautiful picture of a sweet little girl. She is dressed in a white flowy dress and sandals that are too small for her feet. Her hair is cut short, real short. Her eyes are beautiful. A deep brown that have a shine. She has full lips and sweet little cheeks. I say to Ryan “How old is she, what is her name?” We scroll back up to the letter from the Minister. Ryan finds her given name. Emotions over take me at this point and I am so excited that I can barely stand it. Even as I type this my heart rate is accelerating and I am getting all excited again.


Her name is Grace (Rwandan Name) Smith. We will call her Gracie (Ryan says that he will call her Grace but I have a feeling he will end up caving and calling her Gracie too). She seems to be around 3 years old. The file with her details didn’t come through. I am hoping to have that information soon. Ryan has spent some time trying to figure out how old she is. She was pictured in front of a brick wall. He thinks the bricks are 2.5 inches tall and she is about 11 bricks which would be 36 inches. He then went online to look at growth charts and says that according to the charts she could be around 2 years old or up to 4 years old based on age and percentiles.


We are both overjoyed with our new daughter. Ryan is quietly showing his excitement and I am bouncing off the walls, dancing, clapping, smiling from ear to ear. This is one of the moments we have been waiting for for almost 13 months. This is the moment were we become parents of 3 children. This is the moment when God has completed our family (for the time being).


We are not allowed to post her picture until she is legally ours, which will hopefully be in a few weeks. Here is a picture that I took yesterday. I took a walk by myself down the beach. I prayed, watched the waves crash, and was in just awe of His creation. I wrote all of our names in the sand....here is HER name.



*this picture was taken on the beach at Boca Raton...before we knew who she was.

Monday, November 9, 2009

H....Holy Spirit



I am reading the book "Forgotten God" by Francis Chan. I am a huge fan of Franny (as I like to call him) and in so many ways, he has helped change my life (meaning he confronted me with God's will for my life, click here to read that post, and God does the rest). His new book is about the Holy Spirit. How we as Americans forget about him.

My most memorable account with the Holy Spirit was in the summer of 2008. I had a physical burning in my hear, in my chest. This burning, I believe, was the spirit telling me to adopt. That it was part of God's plan for our family to adopt. This burning was so strong, so intense, so God filled. Only after I talked to Ryan, and after we decided to adopt, did it stop. It was amazing....

Here is a passage (pg 49) from the book that I think will speak to everyone. Wherever you are in your life this is applicable. It is about praying to God and trust. It is about what we think we deserve and what God's will is for us.

There is a huge difference between believing what God has promised and praying for things you'd like to be true. I encourage you to pray confidently for what God has promised. Don't put your hope in what others promise or what you have been told you'll "get" if you are a "good Christian" (e.g. a good job, financial success, the perfect spouse, healthy children, a big house, etc.). And ultimately, you need to stake your faith in God alone, not in the gifts (good as they may be) that he gives. It really comes down to trust. Do you trust God that when he says no or "not in this way" to you, you still believe and that he is doing what is best?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

G....Grace

This last week has been an interesting one for me. Lots of promises from people in another country that didn't come through. I expected this to happen, though I wanted the opposite to happen. Thanks to my ever loving hubby and to God for not letting me fall apart (again). I had been in a mood the last few weeks and had finally started to come out of it. God's grace has been on me as I didn't let myself get too excited for what could or could not happen. God's grace showered me as the day came and went and nothing happened. God's grace is on me today as I prepare for another week of what ifs and promises that may or may not happen. God's grace will get me through no matter what...

Saturday, November 7, 2009

F...Friends

One thing that our adoption process has done, is widened and deepened our circle of friends.
Our church friends (aka church family) have been with us every step of the way. They have supported us emotionally, spiritually and financially. They have come beside us to walk with us through this journey. I love to see how much they love our child. I love to have conversation regarding our process. I love that the adoption process has created relationships that may not have otherwise blossomed just because it is difficult to know everyone in a congregation of 1000. I love to (hopefully) be planting a seed for other children to come home. We are thankful for each one of our church family!

Another very important group of friends, is our core group of friends. My girlfriends and their families, have been another tremendous source of love. These women have been there every day to hear my excitement, frustration, and will be with me for the preparation once we know who our child is. I appreciate these friends more than they will every know!

Our lifegroup is also a group of people that provided much needed support and prayer. Each week we meet and each week they love on us and our child. I think that they are as anxious to get our child home as we are!

The last group of friends that have become every so dear to me, is my blog world friends. Families who are in this process with us. Families who we hopefully will travel with in the coming weeks. We are experiencing a life changing event together. We will always be connected by this adoption journey!

To each of our friends, thank you! Thank you for supporting us. Thank you for praying with us and for us. Thank you for loving us. Thank you for loving our child.

Friday, November 6, 2009

New News

Ok, so here is the up-t0-date information that we have regarding our referral. It will not be coming today (obviously..it is 9pm). We were told by our agency that we will receive an email directly from the minister (instead of it going to our social worker then us like previous thought). We can expect to receive our referral "very soon." "Very Soon" in Rwanda means early next week, the next week or maybe longer. Soooo....

We are still hoping for this next week though so that we can make sure to get a court date before the courts close on December 5th. From another family's POA, the Minister is doing what she can to ensure that this happens. However, I am not believing anything until it happens!

I will be over the moon to have our child home this year. If it needs to be in 2010 for His Glory, then so be it. I will cope.

E.....Expecting

The word on the blog street is that the referrals for 12 families will come Friday (today) or early next week. I know better than to expect this to happen. If you refer to the post from yesterday, Ryan has reminded me of how many times I have heard of something going to happen and then it doesn’t.


Because from my head to my toes I am an optimist, I hope that we receive our referral in the time frame we have heard. Hope to post some good news soon!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

D....

As we were driving to the airport today, I asked Ryan to help me come up with a “d” subject. Some of his suggestions were “delusional”, “disconnected from reality”, and ”“disillusioned.” And for those of you who know my husband, this will not surprise you. Ryan calls himself a realist. I call him a pessimist.


Ryan helps me to keep realistic expectations. When I get all excited about some blog buzz, he not so sweetly brings me back down to earth. There have been so many times throughout this adoption process that things have not gone as planned. So many times where someone would say something would be done by a certain time and then it isn’t done when they said it would be. Ryan expects this. I am crushed by this.


We are getting so close to having our child home from Rwanda. We are getting so close to seeing their little face and knowing who they are. We are totally devoted to this child and are dependent on God to see us through the rest of this journey.


We did get confirmation that the courts will close in Rwanda on December 5th and will stay closed through December. Please join our family in prayer that our referral comes in the next few days, that a court date is set for before December 5th, and that God continues to guide us with his strength and love.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

C....Cannon

There are lots of C words that I could talk about today...Christian, Calling, Crazy, Christ. However, there is one C word that popped into my head immediately. That would be Cannon.

Cannon is our (soon to be) middle child. He is very sweet, loving, energetic, and ALL BOY! He is very funny and alot of the time the rest of us look at each other and say "where did he come from?" He does not have the same personality as Ryan, myself or Kay. He comes up with the craziest things and is very, very imaginative.

Here is a picture of Cannon when he got my camera. He said he wanted to take some pictures of himself. These pictures totally capture his personality.

When asked if he wants a brother or sister, he will always say: I want a brother so that we can wrestle. Cannon is 5, almost 6. I love this boy. Daily, He melts my heart and also makes me want to pull out my hair! But that's the life with boys!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

B.... Beloved

Recently someone said to me that they didn't see how a mother could love her adoptive child as much as a biological child. To say the least, I was blown away by this statement.

You see, I have loved our child since we began this journey. It is a love that has grown stronger and deeper each day that passes. I feel no different towards Kaylee and Cannon then I do towards our Rwandan child. There are no walls that divide my love. My heart overflows with love for each of my children. My heart aches to know our Rwandan child. My heart yearns to be with them.

Here is a question I would pose to people that think the above statement is true, if you have multiple biological children, do you love any of them more or less than the other?

In my opinion, love does not know how a child came to your family. Love doesn't know skin color. Love doesn't know blood family from God's family. I don't think that God's love is biased...he loves us, his adoptive children, as much as he loves Jesus, his only biological son.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A....Anticipation

The definition of anticipation:

an⋅tic⋅i⋅pa⋅tion
  /ænˌtɪsəˈpeɪʃən/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [an-tis-uh-pey-shuhn] –noun
1. the act of anticipating or the state of being anticipated.
2. realization in advance; foretaste.
3. expectation or hope.
4. previous notion; slight previous impression.
5. intuition, foreknowledge, or prescience.


There is some unofficial information that something might just happen this week. I am not counting on it....but there is a sense of anticipation (#3) stirring within me. Trying to suppress it.

Sunday, November 1, 2009




Well, November is National Blogging month (I have recently learned). Bloggers are to blog every day for the month of November. I think I will try it! I love blogging and enjoy reading other people's blogs. It is definitely therapy....cheap therapy! In order to have something to blog about every day, I think that I will blog the alphabet. Meaning, tomorrow, I will blog with a subject that starts with "A" then the next day "B", and so on and so on. This will be fun. And I need a little bit of fun! Ryan keeps asking me why I am moody (even though he really knows why) so this will be a good way to keep my spirits up every day! So tomorrow it will start....the letter A. Hmmm...