four, soon to be five.

We’re busy little bees over here packing & organizing & sorting donations (WOW y’all are awesome – the kids and staff at the orphanages & TH are going to be so blessed by all these donations!  They are much needed!).

A couple of weeks ago, Elizabeth from Almond Leaf Studios took some photos for us to document our last time as a family of four.  Can’t believe we’ll be a family of FIVE soon!!! Check out some of the photos in her blog post.  Love my guys!

Elizabeth is a contributor for Inspire Weddings & Marriage, the magazine I’m a part of, and we just love her!  So grateful for these pictures.  Can’t wait for there to be a fifth in our family pics!

THREE DAYS!!!

 

COURT DATE!!!

In all the excitement, I totally forgot to post it here… but if you haven’t seen or heard, WE GOT A COURT DATE!!!!!!!!

Our agency called on Friday and let us know – we will be in court to make T legally our daughter on APRIL 10th!!  Friday was a blur of comparing flight options and figuring out our plans – but we got some great flights booked (thank you Jesus) and we leave on Monday the 7th!  One week!! We will be meeting our little girl for the first time on Tuesday, April 8th.  WOW.  We will also get to spend Jeff’s and T’s birthdays together in Ethiopia!  The boys are going with us and we’re all so excited.  

So we’re in a packing frenzy and trying to get everything sorted out – would love your prayers!  Here’s what you can pray for specifically as some have asked:

  • that the Lord would prepare us emotionally – Jeff and me, and T.  Just so many emotions and we’re excited, anxious, nervous… overwhelmed… also, T hasn’t been doing great lately, so just pray that our time together would give her the precious glimmer of hope that she needs! Pray for her health as well.
  • for safe flights and that the boys would do well on the long trip (I really think they will, but it can’t hurt to have extra prayers!)
  • for all of us to stay healthy the next few weeks and especially while we’re in country
  • for a sweet time of bonding while we’re there, and for the opportunities we’ll have to love on other kids/babies as well.
  • for her heart when we leave, that she’ll trust we are coming back – and that we’ll be able to return soon to pick her up and bring her home for good!

Thanks so much, dear friends!  Cannot believe that after nearly 7 months, the time has finally come! WE’RE GOING TO ETHIOPIA!

pieces of the pyles 3.26.14

No court date yet, but we expect to hear it any day!!!

I feel like I’ve read some REALLY good adoption blog posts lately.  Wanted to share a couple for anyone who’s interested…

THIS POST.  Written by my sweet friend Marissa – if you want to get a picture of what older child adoption will probably look like for us, read this.  Also, it’s just a really sweet reminder that even though we’re totally unqualified and unprepared (no matter how many books we read!) to parent this girl, we just need to LOVE her, do our best, and trust that only God can heal her and he is faithful.  Sister, you did an incredible job writing this!!

Why orphan care must be more than international adoption.  What we are learning, where our hearts are, and where we keep asking God to guide us in what he wants us to do about it. Good stuff, but not easy.  Here’s her follow-up post as well.

This short film had me in tears… it’s about a child in foster care, but so many of the themes are similar.  I know T (and we) will struggle with a lot of these issues.  It’s 12.5 mins long but very well done.

We went on a little family getaway weekend together a few weeks ago to a friend’s cabin – mountain cabin, fire, smores, hikes, happy family. It was really nice to get away and enjoy these little guys (and some date nights next to the fire after they went to bed)!  Can’t believe we’ll be a family of five before too long – as hard as it is to wait, we’re trying to make the most of our sweet time as a family of four.

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Fraternal twins, identical sleepers.

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If you’d like to get involved…

Hey friends!  We have been told to prepare for a court date that will likely be sometime in April (ahhh!!), so we’re starting to make packing lists and preparations!  When we go, we have the privilege of helping out by taking donations for the transition home (where T is living) and orphanages.  They count on donations from traveling families to help care for these children while they’re there, so we’d love to bless them in a big way!

If you’re interested in helping, here is a list of needed donations.  We’d love to collect as many as possible and take them with us on this coming trip and/or the next!  Thanks SO much for loving on these precious children and their caretakers from afar :)

Current Priority Transition Home Needs

  • Vitamin D drops
  • Coloring books
  • Crocs for children and nannies
  • Shoes and Clothing (gently used are ok) for children ages 3-14
  • Foam/Rubber (lightweight) soccer/playing balls for toddlers
  • Diaper cream, specifically with zinc oxide (Desitin or Boudreaux’s)

Orphanage and Transitional Home General Donation Needs

  • Clothing and shoes for children ages 8-14
  • Warm clothing-sweatshirts, long-sleeved shirts, etc.
  • Bath towels for children
  • Antibacterial hand gel (40oz containers available at Wal-Mart for $5 and personal containers)
  • Small sized diapers
  • Baby bottles and nipples
  • Vitamin D drops
  • Unscented baby wipes ***please note, unscented/sensitive skin wipes are the only type used***
  • Toothpaste and toothbrushes
  • Scrubs for nurses and nannies
  • Crocs for nurses and nannies
  • General first aid items
  • Powder-free gloves for nannies and TH doctor
  • DVD and VHS children’s videos-especially Christian videos and/or ones with singing/dancing
  • Crocs for nannies
  • Toiletry bags (small) for children’s personal hygiene items (one per child needed)
  • Puzzles for young children
  • Toy cars and trucks appropriate for toddler aged children
  • Iron drops
  • Diaper rash ointment (A+D preferred)
  • Paper towels
  • Children’s clothing (new or slightly used); Boys and Girls; sizes 0-8 years. Clothing needs include day clothes (especially pants), pajamas, underwear, and shoes.
  • Diapers for up to 30 pounds
  • Toys to stimulate babies such as colorful objects, rattles, etc. that are appropriate for babies up to 2 years
  • Unscented baby wipes ***please note, unscented/sensitive skin wipes are the only type used***
  • Powder formula with DHA/RHA
  •  A + D Original Ointment, Diaper Rash and All-Purpose Skincare Formula
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Candles
  • Children’s Notebooks
  • Enfamil or Similac Lactose free formula*

*the following Generic Brands with identical nutritional value to Enfamil & Similac are also acceptable: Parents Choice formula from Wal-Mart, Target’s generic Formula, Kirkland formula from Costco

-Soy based or other special formulas are also acceptable as long as they are one of the brands listed above.

Medications/Medical Donation Needs**

  • Multivitamins
  • Tri-vi-sol (o to 6 months)
  • Poly-vi-sol (6 months to 2 years)
  • Chewable multi-vitamin (2 years to 9 years)
  • Adult multivitamin (9 years plus)
  • Tylenol (acetaminophen) – Infants, Childrens, & Suppository
  • Syringes for giving medicines (5mL)
  • Plastic and Latex disposable gloves
  • Baby nose saline spray
  • Neosporin
  • Mouth and nose masks
  • Benadryl liquid/elixir
  • Permetherin for scabies
  • Lice kits
  • Toothbrushes, toothpaste and dental floss

**Please check the expiration date on all donation items as expired items will be discarded upon receipt and cannot be used.

6 months {really} waiting.

It’s hard to believe, but on the 11th we marked six moths-half a year-of waiting to meet our daughter since our referral. Before PAIR, many families were home with their kids by this point! BUT-this month we rejoice because we got our PAIR letter and are moving forward! We’re getting closer to traveling! We celebrated with an Ethiopian feast.

We can’t wait to hear our court date!

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PAIR LETTER!!!

It’s real!  It does exist! And WE HAVE IT!

On Tuesday, March 4th… our 8th wedding anniversary… we got the best gift – a call from our USCIS officer saying our PAIR letter had been issued!!! The BRI was on Feb. 28th, they cleared us the same day and mailed out our letter the next day, Saturday March 1st.  SO fast, I cannot believe it.

We have been on cloud nine!  We scrambled to certify our dossier documents (drove three hours to Raleigh yesterday, played at Marbles children’s museum while we waited on them to get certified, overnighted them to our agency, had lunch with a friend, & drove home!) so we can get our COURT DATE!

God is faithful – and we finally have our letter.  We’re getting so close to seeing sweet T’s face!

<<celebration dance>>

Thank you for all your prayers during this HARD wait since October.  We have truly felt them.

…come onnnnn, court date!

5 months {really} waiting

So, I totally forgot it was the 11th this time.  I was in the kitchen, chopping up veggies for the meal I’d planned for dinner, when I realized it was our 5 month date.  Turns out, I was already cooking an Ethiopian meal just because we’d been craving it!  Love how that happened.

We have certainly had our doubts and questions lately with why it’s taken so long.  Other families are starting to be submitted for PAIR, and some are moving very quickly (hallelujah!!) while others are getting stalled like us.  It doesn’t make sense.  But, we have felt so much more peace this month, even without much news.  We are so thankful for our friends who are praying for us.  Our discipleship group spent a while in prayer for us, and felt like God was telling them to pray for peace and patience – and we feel that. We’re so grateful.

Our BRI is on the 28th – it will happen while we sleep Thursday night/Friday morning.  We’d love your prayers for her birth relative’s travels for the interview, and that we’d quickly receive good news that we’re getting our PAIR letter and moving on to the next step!

We know God is faithful and he will bring our girl home at just the right time.  We rest in that!

{finally} an UPDATE! BRI!

The embassy received our file and have screened it!! They have given us a BRI (Birth Relative Interview – in Ethiopia; we don’t travel for this) for February 28.  We were bummed it is so far out (we requested the 11th and the birth relative was ready to travel that date), but Embassy is booked solid through the end of the month.  However, we’ve been stalled for so long we’re trying to just rejoice that things are moving again!  Our agency did request that they consider us if there is a cancellation, as we’ve been waiting in the process for so long at this point.  It’s not very likely that will happen, but it would be quite a pleasant surprise!

So, here’s the timeline of what we still need to happen:

  • the US embassy in ET to receive and begin processing our file
  • they will most likely schedule a BRI (Birth Relative Interview) *they also requested MORE documents.
  • they will approve our case and issue our PAIR letter
  • ET will receive our PAIR approval and and can issue our MOWCYA approval letter
  • {we will get the PAIR letter and get it state certified & mailed to Ethiopia, along with a few other updated dossier documents we have sitting here waiting}
  • WE WILL BE GIVEN A COURT DATE
  • Jeff & I will travel to Ethiopia to meet our daughter & pass court!!! We can officially share her name & PHOTOS then!
  • We will leave her there and come home to wait for her visa to be processed. I can’t even think about this.
  • All four of us will head back to ET/we will officially clear Embassy & get her visa, we’ll spend a little while there, and bring her HOME!!

We’ve heard rumors that ET court is closing until Feb 24th, which would be a big bummer as they’d be pretty backed up when they re-open (and hopefully we’ll be requesting a court date not too long after that!).  We’ll see.

Our emotions have been all over the place – we are fighting, but it’s getting harder and harder not to let ourselves get down.  Last weekend I went to a great women’s retreat where I heard Jen Hatmaker (love. her.), and it spoke right to me (and in the middle of her session, she showed a video of them picking up their two Ethiopian adopted children – from our same agency – so the video was at the SAME transition home our T is in right now! Oh, tears).  I have never felt my faith being tested this much.  I’ve decided that the enemy SERIOUSLY must not want this girl in our family, which just gives me more motivation to fight those feelings.  I’m more convinced than ever she’s supposed to be ours and that God must have a ridiculously amazing story for her life.

We got a ton of new pictures & videos from a sweet friend today (who’s visiting her daughter, one of T’s best friends) – if you’re local just ask if you want to see them, you know we love to share! ;)

I know Who goes before me
I know Who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side
The One who reigns forever
He is a Friend of mine
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

And nothing formed against me shall stand
You hold the whole world in your hands
I’m holding onto Your promises
You are faithful

snOMG 2014

Charlotte got its “shut down the city for an inch or two” snow day last week!  Rare and fun.  I love the south.  We had a great day with Jeff at home, and Aunt Ash, Grandma, & PopPops off work too – we all got to play in the snow, do some sledding, and enjoy a relaxed day.  Why school was out for 2 days, we’ll never know… but hey, it was fun while it lasted.  I love snow days with the boys – they were SO excited.  And it was so nice to be able to send them outside in the backyard together some while I sat next to my space heater & drank coffee too. :)

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update: still no update.

Also known as: we need your prayers.

Well, since I last updated we have just been waiting. USCIS had supposedly sent our file to the US Embassy in ET, and we were waiting for them to start processing our case. We still hadn’t heard anything from them as of last week, so we and our agency called & emailed demanding an update since things were stuck.
We finally heard back yesterday, but it was just more bad news. USCIS had indeed sent our file, but due to a computer glitch, the Embassy never received it. So it feels like the last few weeks were just wasted time. I know God’s timing is perfect and all, and I do trust that, but I won’t lie – it was incredibly discouraging and frustrating. It felt like getting kicked while we were down. We have been waiting since October for this PAIR process and we still aren’t near the finish line. They did re-send the file, and we’re waiting for confirmation that the Embassy has actually received it. We requested they put a high priority on it, but we will see. We’re hoping to hear that they’ve screened it by the end of the week – but friends, we need your prayers. We need things to get moving again.

If we can’t get things going by next week, we’ve been encouraged to start contacting congressmen/senators to help. Yep. That’s where we’re at. Craziness. Never would have imagined we’d get to that point. But we’ll do it. Whatever it takes to get our girl home. Pray for her too – she’s known she has a family since September but still no one has come – you can imagine what she’s thinking & feeling. We were able to send a care package & some letters/pictures with two traveling families who are going next week, so we’re hoping that will cheer her up and let her know we’re coming (and that means we’ll also get new pictures – which always lifts our spirits!).

We do have one (pretty big) positive update:  Ethiopia is NOT shutting down!  Whew!  The prime minister announced today that they have no intention of shutting down international adoption.  They want to continue to work to reform the system & eliminate bad practices (which it certainly needs, and we obviously support). Praise the Lord. We are very thankful that things will not shut down and are praying they can put in place positive changes for reform. The only hard part for us is that because everyone was so worried about it shutting down, tons of cases were submitted for PAIR at once to make sure they were in the system – which overwhelmed the staff with cases and has contributed to slowing things down in processing. We’re hoping they are able to process all the cases quickly and get these kids home with their families… especially our sweet T! :)

So yes, things have been hard lately – bad news after bad news. In all honesty we are struggling and sad – but holding on and leaning on the Lord and each other. We all know we learn & grow the most during hard times–and it’s true right now. God is stripping us down & revealing himself to us – and I really believe he’s preparing us for what’s in store. I can only imagine that the day we finally see her in person (which neither of us can really think about without getting emotional!) will be that much sweeter. She is worth the wait.
Hopefully our next update will finally be a good one! Thanks so much for your prayers, encouragement, & support! Can’t say that enough.