Sunday, March 12, 2017

A Few Questions Answered (maybe)

We have had so many people ask us lots of really great questions about the adoption. We have also been wanting to make a few videos about the adoption process. So here is the first video! We're excited for more to come!


Friday, January 13, 2017

The "Lucky" Misconception

The other day a friend said something that struck me, and I thought it would be an interesting and maybe challenging topic to write about.

One of our friends had asked us how old Zane was and after we told him, he said that's good. Maybe he will remember his life before you guys and be way more appreciative. I understood where he was coming from, and I know he wasn't trying to be offensive, but it just pained me when I heard this.

I know people don't mean anything negative by it, but I think there is a misunderstanding about adoption. Often I hear Zane is so lucky. Zane will be so grateful. 

I want to set the record straight.

We hope to raise Zane in a way where he will see the goodness and blessings that our family has received. He will be involved in community projects and world projects at a young age. Ethiopia will be a common subject, and we hope to find ways to give back to his village and his country. But please understand this. We (Jeffrey and I) are the lucky ones. We (Jeffrey and I) are so honored and blessed to be this little boy's parents.

You see as great of parents we hope to be, Zane has nothing to be grateful or appreciative about when it comes to his adoption. Like mentioned in my blog before, adoption was our first choice, but I guarantee you it was not Zane's. Many of you can easily see that this beautiful little boy is gaining a mommy and daddy, but please do not forget he is also losing so much. A few months ago, I was so wrecked with the idea of everything he is losing: his language, his culture, smells, sounds, taste, everything that is familiar (whether that be the best or not). There is nothing lucky about losing everything at such a young age. Zane's full story is not ours to tell you, so I won't, but know that it hasn't been a happy beginning for him. So you see, as beautiful and a blessing this adoption has been for us, those feelings may not be the same for Zane, and we are completely okay with that. 

On the note that maybe he will remember some things. My prayers have been that while he is in Ethiopia, God will instill things in him that only Ethiopia can give him. Jeffrey and I are hoping to do our very best, but we know we will fall short, so as we are waiting, our prayer is not that Zane remembers the traumatic or the painful, but that he develops a love for his people and his country. We pray that even though he may not recognize where certain characteristics and qualities come from as he gets older, we pray that he is beginning to develop into the strong, wonderful man that God has planned for him to be!

Zane will not be indebted to us in any way. We have loved him long before he was born. Sure we hope he is grateful just as we would hope for any child, but we don't feel his adoption should be a part of that. 

Saturday, December 31, 2016

OUR YEAR IN A JAR- 2016 Edition

One of my favorite traditions is our end of the year jar. It gives us such a great perspective on all wonderful things that has happened in the year. Without our jar, we have found that we really focus on the BIG stuff- whether that be good or bad. What I love about our jar, is it reminds us of little things that we often would not remember, but it brings us smiles and joy as we remember the sweet little moments that we have experienced throughout the year. We don't have a system of when we put things in, so some months have more than others. We simply keep the jar on our coffee table with a pen and paper all year long, and we fill it as things happen.

Our jar is filled with Adventures, Answered Prayers, Laughable Moments, Blessings, and Things We Don't Want to Forget. 

Okay so 2016!

Wow! What a year it has been. Like every year, it has been filled with good and not so good. Our hearts have been broken and hurt for many people nationally and around the world for various reasons. We have seen humanity at its worst and its best. We have celebrated some of the most exciting things of our lives, and we have been devastated by news of health and loss of those we love so dearly.  

So in no particular order, here are some of the highlights from the Woodson family jar.
1. Germany!
2. A cool surprise to get an autographed picture of my favorite drummer from Ms. Kathy.
4. We finally found a house! AND WE BOUGHT IT!
5. August 22, 2016- We saw our son, Zane, for the first time! REFERRAL DAY!
6. Thankful for new friendships that are developing
7. 1st Bahama Bucks. Delicious!
8. DC was an adventure! Haha!
9. Blessed to have a beautiful God-daughter from my best friend. 
10. We no longer have a lime green kitchen.
11. Bought our new neighbors a dozen donuts and introduced ourselves.
12. Had ice cream with Sumi on Grandparents day!
13. So blessed by all the love from friends and family through the trivia night and t-shirt fundraiser
14. Taking piano lessons to help with songwriting
15. Fun 4-wheeling in Vandalia for Jon's 30th

It has been far from perfect, and not ending exactly like we would want it to, but we are blessed and so very thankful for the great things that this year has brought! As we empty our 2016 jar, we are looking forward to new and exciting moments and adventures in 2017! We pray that 2017 will be a year full of jar worthy moments for you and your family.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Waiting on a Printer

We live in a world where our lives are so very dependent on the technology that we use.  I mean seriously! I can’t find my way home from anywhere; I don’t have a real alarm clock; I definitely don’t know the phone numbers of any of my friends; I have to google so many things every day! Maybe you are better than me, but functioning without technology can be rough. Many of us have become so dependent on it that we can’t imagine a life without the resources that are so easily accessible to us.

This week, I was having a rough time thinking about this sweet little boy of ours. Everyone knows the holidays make it difficult to be away from those you love. I have been playing Christmas music in my class all week, and every time I hear the song “All I Want for Christmas is You”, I can’t help but think how true that statement is in my life right now. Since Ethiopia is still in a State of Emergency, internet and cell phone use is still extremely limited. Zane’s nannies are saying they get access about an hour a day. CAN YOU IMAGINE? This has clearly been slowing everything down. Some of you are aware that we are currently waiting on two more documents (Zane’s birth certificate and a clearance form) before we can move on to the next step of the adoption process. We were so excited when our family coordinator told us that it looks like there could be a possibility that we could receive these papers this week. We have been slow to celebrate couldbes because we have learned that they usually don’t happen in this crazy process, but we were really hoping. When I received an email this week, I was pretty excited because I knew this was probably it.

As I began reading the letter, it all sounded pretty good. The workers at Zane’s home took him to the government office (Good...) They were able to locate his paperwork (AWESOME…) They went to print the document (YES!), but the printer was broken, so they were sent away and told to come back some other time (WHAT?!). It is so hard for Americans to fathom these kind of problems when it comes to third world countries. When I was in Africa, if something wasn't working, it wasn't working, and that's that. I am assuming that is how it went this week. So apparently the government building has a broken printer at the moment, and we will not be receiving Zane's birth certificate until it is fixed. 

So back to the technology talk. It seems like such an easy fix. It seems like they could simply buy a new printer, fix the one they have, or surely they have more than one right? Well... many places like this are limited on what they have available, and we truly have no idea how long this could take. Although Zane's birth certificate and paperwork are definitely our top priority, unfortunately, fixing the printer may not be someone else's. We are happy to know that his birth certificate is there, but it is almost more frustrating to know that we have access to it, and we can't have it!

So why am I typing this? Well... A lot of people have been asking me what is happening with the progress of the paperwork, and here is my current answer "We are currently waiting on them to fix a printer." It sounds absurd and crazy, but it is the reality of this adoption and where we are right now.

When I read the email that my son is currently not any closer to coming home because of a broken printer, I am not going to lie, I was frustrated and so very discouraged. A broken printer would typically appear to be such a small and easy fix, but has suddenly become a mountain of uncertainty.

Though there is uncertainty and frustration, I am thankful that I have such supportive and encouraging people in my life. God continues to show His faithfulness through the people He has put in my life for such a time as this. When I don't have it all together and I am a complete mess. I can be real and share my heartaches and pains. I am reminded that this is not forever and that I will bring my son home.

I don't know if you are waiting on something this Christmas season or if you are believing for some type of change in some area in your life, but if you are, I encourage you to keep believing. Maybe you have a broken printer in your life or maybe you feel like it is a room full of broken printers. I pray that whatever your current situation looks like, you will focus on what you are believing for in your life. It's okay to have a moment. It's okay to be a mess. But never lose sight of your dream, your longing, your purpose, your calling.

Although miles, time, governments, oceans, and even printers stand in our way, I have confidence that this is not forever and that Zane will be home with his daddy and me soon.

Hebrews 11:1 "Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see."

al Asia and took their sons (363).

Sunday, November 13, 2016

When You Saw Me

Oh how very sweet and exciting it was answer the phone call where we discovered who you were. We learned about your village, your past, your medical history, and more, but we were anxiously waiting to see your face. After we hung up the phone, we impatiently kept refreshing our email until suddenly THE EMAIL APPEARED. The email where we laid eyes on you for the first time. Oh how precious those first pictures were. Your beautiful dark brown skin was the first thing we noticed.  We laughed (in a loving way I promise) at your adorable pointy ears and your chubby cheeks. Your lips were pressed tightly together, and you didn't reveal any teeth although we knew you had them. Bright yellow crocs were pointed out quickly by daddy. He really likes shoes, and he is excited to shoe shop with you. You sat strongly on the little ledge on the landscaping at the Transition Home and looked so innocently at the camera. Tiny little hands clasped together as if they didn't know where else to go.  Daddy and I just stared and stared at you. Tiny overalls with an oversized stained shirt underneath was what you were wearing. We couldn't believe you were real. We couldn't believe you were ours. I seriously stayed up all night staring at you. My heart and mind were too excited to sleep. A mommy NEVER forgets the first time she sees her child.

Though the day I saw you is one of my favorite days in my entire life, I think I love the day you saw me even more. Daddy and I knew pictures of you were coming and a daddy of one of your friends actually sent us a video of you opening the package we sent to you. The Hotwheels and whistles seemed to be your favorite although you were also pretty pumped about your new toothbrush. When your nanny open our photo, she told you that we were your mommy and daddy and you just kind of looked at us. She pointed to us and said, "Mommy and Daddy". Your nanny then said, "Mommy" and you pointed to me and quietly whispered, "Mommy". She then said, "Daddy", and you quietly whispered, "Daddy". You were so quiet we could barely hear your little voice. Tears ran down our faces as your bright eyes took us in for the first time. It felt so much more real to us. You see we had known about you for quite some time and were learning all about you, but today, you discovered us. As you held our picture up to the camera and smiled proudly with your white teeth showing brightly, we laughed and cried. After staring at us for a few seconds, you kissed our photo (with a little prompting from your nanny) and our hearts stopped.  You quickly went back to your Hotwheels and didn't really want to tell the camera bye because you were so distracted by your other gifts. I don't know if you will remember this day, but this is a day I will never forget. Seeing our pictures in your hands just exploded our hearts.

Our love for you is growing every day. As we learn more about you, we feel so much closer to you, even though you are still so very far away. Even though the day I saw you for the first time and the day you saw me were on different days, I know my favorite day of all will be when we see each other for the first time in Ethiopia. We love you so very much, and we can't wait for you to be in photos with us instead of us just looking at photos of each other. Praying for your heart and mind as you are about to make this huge transition. We know this may be scary and unfamiliar, so we promise to do our very best to make you feel safe and loved.  Like I said, WE CAN'T WAIT for the next first!

I really wanted to post the picture of you kissing our photo, but daddy says we can't break the law. He's right. This is a picture of your nanny handing you our package.

Orphan Sunday

This Sunday, many churches around America advocate for orphans through a program called Orphan Sunday. This is the short video that many churches will be starting their morning services with this year.  CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO

Many of you know of the need, and today, I challenge you to be a part of the solution. Here are a few ways you can help with advocating for orphans.

1. Pray for orphans here in the United States and globally.
2. Find a foster/ adoptive family and figure out a way to love on them.
3. Begin researching foster care in your state.
4. Begin researching adoption and thinking about what that would look like for your family.
5. Consider being a respite family (you would have a child in your home for 1-5 days while a foster family is out of town, needs a break, or has an emergency)
5. Donate to organizations such as ShowHope that help adoptive families financially (They really do!) or organization that help with orphan care.
6. BE CREATIVE and think of your own way to be a part for advocating for these children that God's loves so deeply.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Update on Ethiopia

I wanted to write an update on what we currently know about the State of Emergency in Ethiopia.

The courts have opened which is wonderful news since that is where we are going on our first trip to Ethiopia. You may have also read on social media that we received pictures and updates of Zane! All of this may have sounded like things are back to normal, but unfortunately, they are not. The State of Emergency is set to be in place for six months.

We had a conference call with our adoption agency on Thursday, and they told us internet and cell phone use is still being limited greatly. Zane's home currently gets an hour or two of internet a day which does not allow them time to send all the emails and documents that they need to send. This also means that all of the paperwork we are currently waiting on is going much slower than usual (if that is somehow possible) due to limited time to access the internet and connect with people they need to connect with. They said to expect longer wait times between our court (first trip) and embassy(second trip) due to this as well.

They have to tell us that the US government is advising us not to travel unless it is an absolute emergency. Some families are now very nervous to travel and are trying to decide if they will travel when they get a court date or not. Jeffrey and I will be traveling. We are going to use wisdom, but we are also going to do everything we can to bring Zane home as quickly as possible. They told us if we are traveling, then we need to stay in Addis Ababa, the capital, and not go anywhere else. This is so unfortunate because we really wanted to travel and learn about Zane's homeland and culture. We wanted to see his village and speak to people from his region. We know miracles can happen, but at this time, we plan on staying in the capital while we are in country. The Department of State specifically mentions Zane's region as a place to avoid. I won't go into all the details, but if you want to read more, click here.

On the conference call, many families mentioned how their children are outside of Addis Ababa in orphanages which will make seeing their children difficult when they are in country. Many of them asked when their children will be moved to The Transition Home. They said that children are usually moved to The Transition Home after they pass court, so I don't know how he is there already, but I am so thankful that Zane is in The Transition Home in Addis Ababa, and he is receiving great care. This also means we will probably be able to see him much more often while we are in country since he is in the capital. I am so thankful that he is there!

There are two families traveling this coming week who have offered to take pictures for us, so we are very excited to get more photos of our boy! The photos we have now are not the best quality, so we are hoping these will be better! I will tell you he is growing! His cheeks may be the best thing ever! I can't wait to kiss them! In our recent update they told us his height, his weight, and his head size. He is small for his age, but we already knew that. They told us he is sleeping through the night, and he has a great appetite. They described him as a more calm and serious child, but they said he enjoys being around people. We finally have some picture of him smiling! Hoping to get more! I really wish I could post them and show you all!

Prayer request:
1. Please pray that our PAIR process moves quickly so we can receive a court date
2. Please pray for Zane's safety and his health. He is currently fighting a respiratory infection and an ear infection, and I really wish he was home for us to snuggle with him!
3. Please pray for Ethiopia during this time of unrest.