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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Rose By Any Other Name

Today is all about names. Oh how we've grappled with them since coming home last Christmas. Tomorrow is our scheduled re adoption court hearing, during which Jonas will receive his new name.


I wonder, as my son grows, how will he come to terms with the complexity of his owning many names? Reflective of so much of my young Jonas' life the changes of his name speak to all that he has gained and lost. While his names will never be able to completely define his person they do tell at least a part of his story.

For me, it's just one more instance of how adoption is never simple. Not for any of us involved.

Jonas was given the name Yonas A* Geremew by his birth mother. (I'm leaving out parts of his name on purpose) We treasure his given name because of it's significance and history. Each name was lovingly chosen for him by his first mother and has deep meaning. It is unique that he was given 3 names at birth. To this point I have not known any other Ethiopian with what we would consider a middle name.

In Ethiopia the custom is to name a child and for their second name - what we would call a last name- the father's first name is granted. So, for example, the son of a man named Fikadu might be Yonathan Fikadu. There are no real surnames in Ethiopia.

After the Ethiopian courts granted us custody of our prince they dropped all but his first name, Yonas. As is custom officials gave our son his father's first name. Then they tagged on our last name (I guess this was their effort to Americanize the name) We knew from the beginning that Yonas Dustin wasn't going to stay Jonas' legal name.

We were burdened to make the right decision in renaming Jonas. We wanted to honor his first mother and bestow upon him a place in this family as well. Because Jonas is the English translation of Yonas it's obvious how we came to that conclusion for his legal name though we often call him Yonas or his Ethiopian nickname, "Yoni".

A* will remain the same because it is the male version of his first mother's name, thus we value it deeply.

All the members of this family have middle names which begin with "L", so we determined that Jonas would have to have an "L" middle name too. Liben is an Amharic name meaning "Ethiopian King" which, of course, he is!

We made the tough decision to drop Geremew from his legal name and add Liben instead.
Honestly, I'm not entirely sure what is the "right" thing to do.

There is so much to consider when renaming. We wondered if we should we leave his first name intact. Could altering it to the English pronunciation be something he would grow to appreciate? We also worried that not having an "L" middle name might make him feel left out in some way. I think he will both mourn trading yet another piece of the history his first mother granted him by naming him Geremew and appreciate the common bond of our "L"-ness. I did imagine Jonas growing up with 5 names and wishing we had edited a little so he could be like every other kid.

Ultimately, four names seemed like plenty enough for a legal name. So, the child will be Jonas A* Liben (and our last name). I find great solace in the fact that my nephew has two middle names as well. Thus the two can commiserate when in each other's company.

We will teach Jonas that all the names he's been given are his possession regardless of what any piece of paper says. He is so much more than a name and can never be defined by one (or, in his case seven.)

I pray one day Yonas A* Geremew Dustin Jonas Liben will understand how painstakingly and thoughtfully we attempted to proceeded in choosing his legal name. Then, I pray he'll find grace and peace for all the decisions made which were out of his hands.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

On the Sovereignty of God

A father speaks at a conference giving his testimony about God's sovereignty and about suffering. It's WORTH your time. Follow the link and click on One Generation Shall Tell Your Works to Another-

John Knight (the father speaking) has a blog called The Works of God. You can read John Piper's letter here:

EACH- Equality for Adopted Children

I believe I highlighted this organization before, but it's been awhile. Besides, I've gotten a new blog badge for EACH. I'm a member of EACH because they are working to see that legislation passes which provides equality to children who are adopted abroad by US citizens.

One major push EACH is making is to remove the immigrant status of children adopted by US citizens. If their parents are citizens don't you think that ought to make them citizens? Me too! That's why I support the work EACH is doing. Won't you please sign up to become a member? And, let your friends and family know they, too, can join- EACH is not just for adoptive parents.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Must Read

Here's a super interesting artile from
This Month in HIV: An Update on the Amazing Story of the First Man to Be Cured of HIV - The Body

This Month in HIV also comes has podcast if you prefer to listen instead. Sweet!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I'm Telling 2. Will You? has interesting articles to read. This is one of many about the need for increased education to combat stigma related to HIV. I thought it would be a good one to highlight while encouraging you to consider joining the Tell 2 campaign which began with Erin and whose torch has been picked up by these folks on Facebook.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Dossier Almost Complete

Today I collected the last document we're responsible for chasing down to include in our dossier. There are two others I need, one being the all important Home Study, but they don't depend on me getting them here. Other folks have to do it. So, basically I'm done.

Can you believe that!? Less than two months from the date we were accepted into the program we're done* paper chasing. Praise the Lord!

Our Social Worker (SW) is waiting to schedule our last visit with her until most of the work related to our HS is complete. That's because the HS has to be finished and turned in to the courts within 14 days of her last HS visit with us. Our last meeting will be my one on one interview. I'm looking forward to it. As I've said before we LOVE our SW. She's just fabulous to work with.

As things stand now we're on track to finish up our dossier before the end of October. We are chugging right along down the potential timeline we initially received (give or take a month or two).

Seriously, WHEN does this ever happen in the world of international adoption? On time? Ahead of schedule?

This must be some alternate universe. Or something.

(Wait! Tell me I'm not dreaming this!!)

* In reference to adoption paperwork the term done is used VERY loosely.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

God's Balance Sheet

Dustin and I have entered into that space in the adoption process* where, I'll say it as candidly as I can, all hell has broken loose. Literally. I know those who have been through it know exactly what I'm talking about. Stuff just starts to seemingly fall apart. Usually all at once.

All of life's difficulties before this season of life feel kind of like the trial runs that stunt men make before the big feat. You know? The ones where they test out the projection of the ramp and the velocity of speed required to prevent their absolute destruction. Yes, there's danger involved but it's less intense knowing there's a safety net available, a pit of foam waiting for them at the end. It's not quite the real deal.

Dustin and I have learned to relate on some level to Paul's expression of being "hard pressed". Since December 2006 my husband and I have been in some of the most trying times of our entire existence.Since then the gloves have come off of our enemy. It's as if God decided we'd had enough test runs. If I were to list all the trials we've faced I'm pretty confident you'd agree it's been, and continues to be, intense for us. Each individual trial has felt like a debit from our reserves of strength, a transaction which has us feeling weary. Added together I've lately begun to feel bankrupt. Truly broken.

The other day I sat down before the Lord with a pen and paper in hand to list the major life events we've faced on a day when yet another immense trial had risen up before us. As I wrote my list I grieved over the losses, the suffering, the heartbreak, and the pain we have experienced. But, I couldn't deny the HUGE blessings we had also received, and while I didn't enjoy the trials on my list I knew that I'd never want to trade the victories for a smooth path marked by the absence of God's miraculous provision in our lives.

Lately, I've gotten really intentional about studying and living out James Chapter 1. James is no joke. He doesn't ease us into anything... he hits us with truth right away. BAM!

"CONSIDER it pure joy..."

Finally, finally, this week I decided to get to work on engaging FULLY in the act of considering. As I worked at "considering" God showed me so much. He recalled to my mind some parables. The parable of the sower and the different types of soil, particularly vs.8 came to mind. Other seeds fell on good soil, and yielded grain--some a hundred times as much as was sown, some sixty times as much, and some thirty. The parable of the talents also struck me as oddly being important to my work of "considering". (Hang with me here, I think this will make sense)

Our God is a God who loves increase. He's a God of fruitfulness. In my quiet time I was reminded that God, being eternal, has no end. Nor do His blessings and victories. Trials, while difficult, have and end! I desperately needed to be reminded of this truth as I faced another trial straw on top of my suffering donkey's back. I needed God to remind me that without trials I am immature and lacking all that He desires to give to me. So many times I have looked at God's blessings in my life as only those "good" and enjoyable things and called them fruit. It's been easy to talk about increase and fruitfulness when they came with interest on things that turned out "right". When I say "right" I mean things in this life that went the way I wanted them to or in a way that wasn't particularly painful to me.

It's been so much more difficult for the Lord to move me to include in my definition of fruitfulness and increase those blessings which come by walking through suffering with the Lord. It's been difficult to consider pure joy those things which likely will not be added to me this side of eternity. Things like death and the loss of loved ones, the injustice of corrupt people in the world, the suffering of innocents, abuse, illness, and on and on. It requires much faith for me to entrust these things to His care and to hold on until that Great Day.

What God reminded me of through Romans 8:28 is that we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. And again, that If God is for us, who can be against us? So if God is inspiring James to tell us to be joyful about our trials it's because we can KNOW that they truly are for our benefit. In God's economy everything is profit to His children who obey and trust Him. Blessings, victories AND even the trials we face equal a net positive to those who belong to Jesus Christ. This truth has made all the difference in the way I "consider" my trials. It somehow takes my focus off the current pain and difficulty and keeps me looking forward to the future!

James 1:12 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him

*I don't mean to say that things aren't going well with the process. Things are moving forward with the adoption and we are anxiously awaiting the day when A* comes home. I'm refering to the spiritual trials that often happen during an adoption.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Happy New Year! (Yes, really.)

It's the Ethiopian New Year today called Enkutatash. So if you feel like you need a do-over this year or you want a second chance to keep those New Year's resolutions consider this your excuse :-)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

She's done it again!

Heidi Weimer has a way with words! Her POST on expanding our children's capacity to love by pushing the boundaries of their comfort zone is a great reminder that when we step out in faith to serve the LORD we can't lose!

I love the the title of the documentary being made about this special family: We Have Room. Those words are so inspired to me! It can sometimes be tough to make the room in our hearts and our lives for orphaned children but once the work is done it's such a JOY to sit back and see what God will do to fill the spaces we've cleared for Him

Promo for "We Have Room" Documentary from David Watson on Vimeo.

My prayer is that God continues to expand our capacity as Christians to love beyond ourselves and our comfort zones in order that we may provide homes for MORE children. Of course, I never want us to extend ourselves beyond our ability to meet our children's needs as parents, but I KNOW that families can thrive well beyond the status quo and the "acceptable" number of children in this society!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

HIV Resource

A helpful and informative HIV resource titled Living With HIV by Riley Children's Hospital (I admit, I didn't have a clue where it was and just googled it) was forwarded to me by our HS Coordinator and I thought I'd share it here in case anyone could benefit.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

TB Testing for Adopted Children

The CDC has an outdated protocol for the admission of children who have been adopted abroad and are coming home to the US. Adoptive families are petitioning to remove the TB testing requirement. Please follow this link to learn why the sputum form of testing is a ridiculous requirement for children.

TB testing directly affects waiting children- like our son A*- and their ability to come home in a timely manner. You may have heard some news about adoptive families being stuck in country when a child's test result comes back positive and denied entry to the US until treatment has been given BUT read the article above. The risk of transmission by children is LESS THAN one percent. With children who already have compromised immune systems the minimum 7 week delay exposes them needlessly to the health risks associated with orphanage life and could be potentially deadly. A family with our agency recently had to return home WITHOUT their child because of TB related issues. Aside from the health risks of staying in an orphanage one day than is necessary and the emotional toll institutional care takes on children these delays also cause financial hardships on adoptive families. That's why it's so important to adoptive families that the TB testing requirement be removed.

If you agree that the testing creates needless delays in bringing children home please read and sign the petition at

Please help spread the word.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

HS visit 1

Our Home Study (HS) visit went well. It was just a quick visit with the Social Worker (SW). She talked with the girls and toured the house. The SW told us this HS will be quick and easy since she is already so familiar with our family. Next Wednesday Dustin meets with our SW for a one on one interview.

The SW remarked at how quickly Dustin and I have been able to turn in our paperwork. He and I are both astounded as well. Like I've said before this experience is completely different from last. Last time it seemed as if every single paper had to be fought for. I'm enjoying the ease of this second paper chase.

I would talk to you about our experience at the pediatrician's office and the "bubble"shots but I'm trying to mentally block the experience out for the rest of my life. It was decided at that time that we would administer flu shots to the children as well. What we ended up with were four kids SCREAMING. Some flailing. A male nurse frazzled and probably considering a life of solitude. And then there was me. I think they finally broke me. Like a wild animal tamed, I have given in to the public embarrassment.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Stress Case

I'm losing my mind. Literally. I've got so much going on right now it's making me senile. I've been busy all week. It's starting to catch up with me.

I know it's time to slow down, for instance, when say, I run around like a mad woman cleaning and tidying only stopping to just glance at my calendar in preparation for the next day's events. It would be a sign that I've got too many irons in the fire when I notice that today isn't Thursday at all. It's Wednesday. Still.

Silly me our SW doesn't come until tomorrow. That's the second time this week I've mixed up appointment days. At least the house is clean. Hopefully I can keep it that way until tomorrow at 4pm. That's when the SW really comes..... at least I think so, anyway.

Don't take my word for it though. I can't be trusted.

SW visit

Our physicals happened yesterday. It took over 2 hrs to complete them. I don't know what the deal was in that office but no one seemed in a hurry. It felt like eternity to me. Or maybe it was just the fact that our 4 kids were with us.... Ya, I'm pretty sure it was the kids.

Our Social Worker (SW) comes today for our first of 3 visits, our family visit. The other two visits will be individual visits, one with me and the other with Dustin.

We love our SW. She's really great. She's going to talk with the kids a bit this visit. The girls are very confrtable around her and Jonas has been very outgoing every time he's seen her.

I think the girls have a good understanding of the disease and will be able to talk with our SW in depth. Together they are able to name the ways HIV can be transmitted. They understand how it CANNOT be transmitted through tears, saliva, urine and fecies. They understand they always have to take precautions around blood but that the risk of getting HIV through a blood spill is low especially when those infected receive proper treatment so there is no need to panic if brother sustains an injury and is bleeding. They know that mom and dad will be the only ones to clean up blood in this house until they are much older. The girls also understand that they are more of a risk when they are sick to their brother than he will be to them with his HIV. They know about white blood cells and how they fight infection and understand that brother will have to take medicine to help fight off the virus that attacks his white "soldier" cells (as we call them) to keep his body able to fight off sickness.

It's amazing what young minds can comprehend. I think the SW will be pleasantly surprised by them. What I love most about our kids is their excitment about their new brother and their willingness to love. I feel so blessed that they are well prapared already. I know that will only continue to improve.