life as we know it

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him. 1 Samuel 1:27.


Monday, April 25, 2011

Melkam Fasika

Easter was quiet around here. Nick was working and I spent some quiet time this Sunday reflecting on life as it is. The Easter bunny came in the evening and my special Easter bunny left me gifts that remind me there is hope. Christ is risen. There is nothing more in this world to doubt.

*mute the music on the right sidebar of our blog before watching the video

Thursday, April 14, 2011


The weather in Colorado is incredibly unpredictable. This morning, we woke up to snow. A little on the ground here in Loveland and some more coming down. I got in my car about 5:50 a.m. and headed towards the canyon for my commute to work. As I got further from home, the snow was coming down harder and harder. Literally, you could not see in front of you. It felt like I was in a blizzard. I saw the plows, pulled over, because they couldn't see either. They couldn't have kept up with the falling snow anyway. A school bus pulled over. It was the closest I have been to turning around myself and heading home to call in and say I couldn't make it up the canyon. The deciding factor to keep going? The fact that even if I turned around, I would have to drive it in anyway to get back home. So I kept going. Some areas I passed had only six or so inches; some, had much more. This evening as I left work about 12 hours later, you know what? The sun was shining, the roads were not only clear but also DRY and there was no evidence on the ground that the snow had ever fallen in the canyon earlier that morning. It's well known that Colorado weather is unpredictable. I think that is why so many people like it. Oh, you don't like the weather right now? Wait five minutes.

Nick and I are still early in our adoption process, and although things are unpredictable, we don't expect them to be yet. We are doing paperwork, going to trainings and preparing as much as possible. None of that seems to make it REAL. Well, things have changed. Things are REAL, and we have a very hard, very emotional decision we have to make that will ultimately affect our future. We're not in a place to share details yet, and we don't even have all of them ourselves. We would ask, however, for prayer. Lots and lots of prayer. Prayer for clarity and discernment and peace with an answer. For security and trust, despite all the unknowns and how in the worlds. What we do know (which is less than what we don't), is that our lives are actively changing. It is real.

Kebeb Tsehay

Kebeb Tsehay is the orphanage I spend the majority of my time in when I'm in Ethiopia. I consider Kebeb Tsehay almost like a second home. I have SO many memories here, good, bad and everything in between. There have been some BIG changes here in the last few years, as evident by the completely changed landscape of buildings. When I was there the first time, the open space began as a "playground," with broken swings and lone slides. When I left after two months, the playground had been torn out, there were a few decent sized holes and eucalyptus logs sticking up from the ground. I had no idea the magnitude of the building these sticks would become. This new building is large. Like, larger than life large. I did a double take just to recognize the orphanage when I walked up. 

It was so eerie walking through the old buildings. The rooms that used to be filled with laughter (and tears) are quiet and still now. There is dust from renovations everywhere and broken ceramic tile pieces scattered on the ground. It felt like if you went back to visit an old house and it had been completely changed. The children I work with in the orphanage have very little in their lives that is stable. Very little that they can feel comfortable with. This now includes their changed surroundings. I'm not sure they'll have memories of that room. Of course they spent a lot of time there since they rarely left the room, let alone the building, but maybe because their pasts have been so disjointed and confusing to their little minds. I'm not really sure who is more affected by the loss of the old buildings; me or them. They will be remodeled and filled again with the sounds of too many children, and I know I will see it all again, but it won't be the same. I'm learning that with every trip, things will change. Children will come and go through orphanages, workers will turnover and there will always, always be more things to work on. Just because each trip is different doesn't mean each trip isn't just as worth it.

Playground at Kebeb Tsehay

More playground

Construction begins. This dirt wasn't pretty in the rainy season!

A few eucalyptus sticks and a big hole are how it all began

And here it is now...!

Crazy this came from sticks in the mud.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Empowered to Connect

Nick and I spent Friday and Saturday in Denver (south Denver, really) at a conference called Empowered to Connect led by Dr. Karyn Purvis along with Michael and Amy Monroe. If you're in the adoption community, it's likely you've heard of Karyn's work and her book, The Connected Child. Gladney introduced me to Karyn prior to my first trip to Ethiopia to learn about some of her theories and beliefs regarding the child development of "children from the hard places." Often times, arguably all times, children who are in foster care and adopted fall into the category of "children from hard places." She changed my mentality regarding children who are adopted at birth, explaining that a birth-mother who is under stress during pregnancy can literally change the neurochemistry of the child's brain in utero. I would find it hard to believe that mother's who are trying to make the decision of whether or not they want to place their child up for adoption aren't under an increased amount of stress. Often, these babies (domestically or internationally) have been exposed to different or increased amounts of certain neurotransmitters and toxins in utero and/or the mothers did not have access to proper prenatal care. 

We come from medical backgrounds so when Dr. Purvis spoke about her work being completely research based we certainly felt like we could grab a hold of  the theories with more confidence. She has been working with high need kids for something like 40 years now, but she has been doing research in the field at TCU for 12 years. She comes to conclusions through her research and makes the joke (In a great Texas accent), "it's all just stuff your grandmother could have told ya." Grandma, however, couldn't have told me what happens in the brain of a kiddo from a "hard place" by watching it on PET scans, CT scans, MRI's and by monitoring hormone levels throughout different behaviors and activities. For us, those kinds of tests and scientific conclusions in concert with the obvious results we could see in videos and from stories of parents using her techniques is enough to let us trust that we will be able to help our child by using this style.

Although Nick and I don't have any children yet, we are feeling so encouraged by Karyn Purvis's theories and having the education at this point in our process. We've heard so many stories about how parents wished they had heard Karyn talk or been exposed to these strategies prior to adopting. We absolutely know this is going to be a hard journey. We understand the healing process our child, no matter how old, will take time and we are looking forward to going on that journey with our child. Michael Monroe said it like this, "The most meaningful connections we have made with our children have been when we take them by the hand and run side by side toward their hard past."

Coincidentally, the Welcome Child Ministry, which is related to adoption and foster care at our church, is doing the book study called Empowered to Connect that relates to The Connected Child. We reviewed chapters 3 and 4 today and although we are unable to relate personal anecdotes related to our own child, we have had experiences in the orphanages in Ethiopia and have a lot more knowledge from the course this weekend that we were able to contribute to the conversation. I would highly, highly recommend checking Karyn Purvis out; especially if you have a kiddo from a "hard place". She is doing some amazing things to help aid healing in children who have experienced losses and trauma in their lives.

We can promise you this: we likely won't be raising our adopted child like most children are raised. We don't believe that means we'll let our child "run wild," but it does mean we will do everything in our power, move heaven and earth, to help our child heal, process, connect and trust. We don't have all the answers, obviously, but we are getting the education we need to make what we believe will be the best choices for our child. If you have any questions we invite you to read The Connected Child for yourself to try and catch a glimpse of where we are coming from. We won't mind answering questions related to our parenting style, but we sure hope you won't judge us when our tactics may differ from the norm. Apparently your grandmother can tell you it's going to work!