One year ago today, in a little court room in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Zeke officially became our son!!
The day before, we met him for the first time
After a few short days in Ethiopia together, we said goodbye to him and came home for the longest wait of our lives…until late September when we could finally go back to bring Zeke home forever.
Today we celebrated as a family with a hike to the beach. Zeke walked in the sand and water for the first time….and…..LOVED it!! (I’ve been so nervous that he’d hate the beach!)
We’re so thankful to be a FAMILY!!
Though every day has not been easy…every day has been full of grace. This little guy has come a LONG way–and we LOVE HIM!!!
I had a really good, full, fun, happy day yesterday.
I was thankful to spend the day with my family, and with my parents who just got back from a year in CA!!
This year, more than any other–I thought about all the different emotions mothers all over the world were feeling yesterday. Yesterday I was happy and thankful and felt more blessed than I deserve. But not all Mother’s Days have been that way for me. Some have been very hard– depending on your situation, Mother’s Day could mean many different things. Throughout the day yesterday I thought of:
Those women who are expecting their first child and celebrated their first Mother’s Day–My Sister in Law and my cousin are both expecting their first babies–it’s EXCITING!!
Those women who became mom’s for the first time this year–some have spent years praying for a child, and God has given them their hearts’ desire.
Those mothers who added another child to their nest this year–either through birth or the gift of adoption. All special!!
Those children who received a mom this year–some after years of waiting. For them, the wait is over (thank you Lord!)
Those who have prayed and prayed for a child, only to spend another Mother’s Day with empty arms.
Those who lost a child this year.
Those who lost a mother this year– like my own mom, who said goodbye to her mother only a few weeks ago.
Those who are getting ready to say “goodbye” to a child–from graduation, marriage, or a move.
Those who have a broken relationship with their mothers–who desperately wish to run home to their mom.
Those mothers who have a lost, wandering, straying child-who desperately want their child to come home.
Those who have a child in their home that is very difficult to love.
Those children who have prayed and prayed for a mother, but still wait–starting to wonder if they’ll always be alone.
And there are so many other experiences and situations that could cause pain.
Here are some pictures of our day yesterday–but instead of posting the most perfect ones (there aren’t really any!) here are more real ones. Let’s be honest, for every good picture we get, there are about 10 bad ones. Kind of like the emotions women feel on Mother’s Day–for every happy one, there are many lonely, hurting, desperate ones.
One Mother I thought of most yesterday, was the one who gave birth to my youngest son. I wish I could meet her. I wish I could tell her thank you. I wish she could see her son now. I don’t know much about her, but I do know that she was either very sick or very poor or most likely both, when she said goodbye to her son. She didn’t leave him in the hands of a caring mother, social worker, or nurse. She left him to die. NOT because she didn’t love him, but because she was hopeless and helpless. I pray that one day she will know that God stayed by her little one. He never left. He had a plan–one of healing and redemption. He has brought beauty from ashes. If you are feeling empty, lonely, hurt–I pray that you will find healing in the One who is in the business of healing, restoring, redeeming, rescuing. You are loved.
We’ve had a great 2 months as a family! We’ve celebrated lots of firsts with Zeke and made some great memories. Zeke is learning so much–new words and things everyday. It really has been amazing to see him grow! What an incredible transformation. He has had some great days, but also some struggles–they seem to have come out more the longer he’s been home. We are so proud of him, and proud of our bio kids who have selflessly loved him through some tough times. Here are some (lots) of pictures of what we’ve been up to!
Christmas at my parents’ house–18 stockings for 18 very special grandkids. What a blessing! 3 celebrated their first Christmas this year, all joining our family through the gift of adoption.
Zeke with cousin Zinnia, Auntie Laura and Uncle David
We’ve had the best winter in Michigan this year with tons of snow!! We all LOVE it, and all the activities we get to do. Zeke loves to look at the snow from inside–and he has been a trooper the times that we’ve bundled him up and ventured outside.
One night, after a long day, I was in the middle of a huge project (cleaning out a child’s closet!) and asked Ed to do our Bible time with the kids by himself so I could finish up. When I was done I came out and captured this. Ed is such a good dad!! Our children and I are so blessed by him. One of our biggest struggles with Zeke is his resistance to Ed at times, mainly when I’m around. Ed is unbelievably patient and relentless with Zeke–never giving up, gently loving him no matter what. It reminds me of how God loves all of us–relentlessly, unashamedly, unwavering, even (especially) when we resist. I am so excited to see Zeke and Ed’s relationship grow.
Zeke’s dedication at church–a special time for our family. We shared his story, and praised God for His care over Zeke from the moment he was born. We gave testimony to God’s grace and faithfulness–thanking Him for bringing Zeke to us, and for adopting us into His family.
A huge milestone for Zeke! Swimming with Daddy! (He was scared to death of water when we got him!!)
What a long post! My computer crashed a few months ago… so I packed a lot into this post.
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My older kids have been asking for several days if we could go sledding at the huge dunes nearby our house. It’s been so cold that I’ve had to say no because I’ve been worried about Zeke getting frozen!! We have been getting SO much snow and today the sun broke through, so we took a break from school and headed to the dunes.
Watching his big brothers fly down the hill. “These guys are CRAZY.”
Oh. His cheeks. CHEEKS!! They are irresistible. Especially when they’re all smashed by his fleece snowsuit.
The last few weeks, I’ve been reflecting a lot on God’s provision for us in the last year. It came in many forms, including a new job for Ed, precious friendships for me, and a closer walk with the Lord as we endured the longest wait of our lives!! One of the clearest ways we saw God provide is in the finances needed for our adoption of Zeke. Some of the funds came from our hard work and savings. Much of it came from financial gifts we received from a few close family members, friends, and fellow church members who heard of our adoption and wanted to join with us in making it happen. We have been overwhelmed time and time again by the generosity of these people who love God and want to be a part of His work. In fact, it’s almost tempting to say that “without these people, our adoption would not have happened.” BUT, we don’t really believe that. You see, we truly believe that our adoption did not rest in the hands of these people who gave. If they had not given, we believe with all our hearts that God would’ve provided. A different way. Through someone, or something else. This was His idea, and He would’ve carried out His plan, I am sure of it. I also believe that the people who chose to give to us have been richly blessed because of their generosity. You see, if they hadn’t have given, we still would’ve adopted Zeke, but they would’ve missed out on the blessing. I am in no way trying to minimize the importance of these peoples’ gifts to us (far from it!!!). God has just pressed upon my heart to use them as an example to myself and others. God’s work is going on, right now, all over the world!! With or Without us!!! We can be a part of it, or we can chose to watch it go by, missing the blessing He gives to those who obey His call. Have you ever hear of anyone who regretted giving to someone in need? Thank you, Lord, for the example of those who saw a need and did what they could to meet it. Thank you for choosing to use your people to carry your love to a hurting world. May we say YES when we hear You calling.
WOW! I can’t believe it has been over a month since I last posted. I could make lots of different excuses for why I haven’t blogged. Mainly, though, it boils down to 1.) I haven’t had/or made the time! and 2.) I haven’t felt like there was anything that noteworthy to blog about!
Today seems like a great day to post though, because it’s been 6 weeks since Zeke joined our family, and TODAY he started to WALK!!! YAAAAY!! What an exciting moment it was for us. Honestly, I was more excited to see him take his first steps than I ever remember being with my other children. I cried!! I was just so happy for him….there he stood, the center of everyone’s attention, with a FAMILY cheering him on. Video cameras rolling and all. His FAMILY celebrated with him and hugged him when he did it. It was so special!!
So, the last 6 weeks have been pretty uneventful, really. We are doing really well!! We’ve spent a lot of time together, home, just being a family. We’ve had a lot of laughs and some tears too. Our house is FULL! It’s also crazy, messy, unorganized and loud! Many times I have felt completely overwhelmed with the business of life and the amount of things I need to do. But…it’s OK! We are so thankful!!
So far the transition has been easier than we thought it would be, but not painless. Every adoption carries with it an element of loss, grief and brokenness. There is unexplained sadness and hurt. We knew this before Zeke joined our family, and we are prepared to love him through it all, with the grace of God. He places the lonely in families, and He creates beauty from ashes. We are so blessed to have a front row seat to the amazing transformation He is doing in Zeke’s life. Zeke is transforming into a smiley, giggly, happy, healthy, cuddly toddler. He brings so much joy to all of our lives.
The only person Zeke feels completely comfortable with is MOM. Which is amazing to think about! On Sept. 23, when I went to pick him up at his Care Center, he was completely scared of me! He clung to his nannies when I took him away. He cried and cried as we left. But within just a few hours he began to open up to me and I became all he had. I am so humbled and blessed to be his mommy.
He is really getting used to Dad and his siblings now, but that has taken some time. More time than I thought it would. Sometimes it is exhausting being his #1 person!! He really has come a long way, though, and each week has gotten better.
Some highlights of the last 6 weeks:
-Taking the kids to the zoo: A great break from school, fun showing Zeke all the animals!
-Dr’s visits, blood tests, stool samples….and a completely CLEAN bill of health for Zeke. Praise the Lord!!
-At the Dr’s office a little girl was staring at Zeke curiously when Big Sister Eve said, “You can pet him if you want.” (Um, no, Eve!)
-Soccer!! The 3 oldest kids played and we LOVED to watch. What a trooper Zeke is! Even when the weather got cold and he had to wear the big fleece one piece suit, he did so with a smile! Well….he tolerated it, at least.
-Zeke’s first time at the beach! in Early October the weather was warm enough for the kids and I to show Zeke the beach. He was so funny! Very unsure of putting his toes in the sand, but he got used to it. When we put his toes in the water though, he screamed with terror!! Oh boy! He’s got 7 months to gear up for beach season.
-We went out to Culver’s with friends and everyone watched in complete shock as Zeke spit out his ice cream! He doesn’t like it! We found one thing Zeke won’t eat!
-First time in the bike buggy! Eve is so happy to have a partner to ride with. They held hands the entire bike ride. Beautiful.
The past 6 weeks have flown by, in a way. But in some ways it seems like Zeke has been here forever. He really fits so well into our family. He is an easygoing, sweet little guy! He’s the easiest 18 month old I’ve ever had, I think!! Hmmmmm wonder what that will mean for his 2’s and 3’s? I’ve got LOTS of helpers, so we’ll be ready!
We are so thankful! I have heard each of my bio kids say several times in the last 6 weeks, “I’m so glad we have him!!!” ” We can’t imagine life without him.” “What if we would’ve said no?”
We are better because he is in our family.