The place God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Food Drop

We have just over two weeks left during which the Canadian Government will match dollar for dollar, all financial aid donated by Canadians.

Don't let this time run inspired, encouraged, and act.

Friday, August 26, 2011


Can I just say this:
WE LOVE FRIDAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Let's recap...
  • We get our referral on a Thursday and accept on a Friday
  • We have our court date on a Friday
  • We receive our MOWA letter on a Friday
  • We receive Makeda's birth certificate on a Friday
  • We receive Makeda's passport on a Friday
  • We receive our DHL tracking number on a Friday
  • We receive update photos on a Friday

Whoa!!! Back the truck up...what did you say, Ashleigh?!

Oh yeah, that's right! We received our DHL tracking number this afternoon - our (ah hem, Makeda's!) documents are on their way to (the High Commission in) Nairobi to be processed for her Facilitation Visa people!!! Once they are back in Addis, on a Monday (don't know which Monday so hold your horses on that one,) the diplomatic pouch will be opened. In it, her Facilitation Visa will be. Then we will get a call and I will go pick our beautiful baby girl up as fast as humanly possible. I'm not kidding. The second we can get a flight, I'll be out of here.

And the icing on the cake??? Said update photos arrived part in parcel with the tracking number. Oh man...what a beautifully amazing wee (!) girl we have. She's holding the items we left for her. The doll I made...the "M" blanket sewn with her only, in mind...the cloth cube with photos of her biggest fans - us - on all four sides.

What A Joy!!!!

I know I'm biased. Very. Biased.

But isn't she amazing.

And we continue to pray ever more fervently for that Visa!!!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Keeping It Surreal

I find it difficult to write about the stage we're in. So close, yet I still find it hard to believe - daily, I find it hard to believe - that I won't wake up from a dream at any given second.

That in itself could sound unbelievable but after 3 1/2 years of waiting and hoping and praying, and yet still not holding her in my arms, it truly is very hard to come to grips with the fact that half a world away, lying in a tiny red crib, likely sucking on her thumb is a little girl who boasts our last name.

It's hard to fathom the fact that the carseat sitting in it's box in our garage was purchased (by yours truly) for a specific person: whose clothes are upstairs, whose bottles are eagerly awaiting her use (is it technically okay to personify a bottle?), whose blankets will all be used very soon, for whom I have "buy wipes!" on my shopping list and also for whom I purchased organic baby cereal the other day.

Reminders that this actually is happening include reading and re-reading her birth certificate and then clicking on her passport icon on my screen to stare at the most recent photo of our child.

At any given moment in the day, I can be seen running my hands over top of the reminder given to me just before leaving for court - and which I wear each day.

When I flip it over - to make sure I am in fact not dreaming - I see her name and know, find simple but concrete reassurance that this is all happening. We are nearly as close as a family can get to completing their adoption without actually having her on a hip or in a sling. I can envision our first skin-to-skin moment realistically enough that my eyes well with tears because of the sheer and overwhelming joy that moment will contain.

We have a six year old obsessed with the time of day. And, at any given moment he will ask what time it is, followed thereafter by the question of how long until our next...activity/meal/departure/arrival, and the list continues. Frequently however, the question "what time is it?" is followed by "what time does that make it in Ethiopia?"...and then "so what do you think Makeda is doing now?".

That makes it real.

As we pick berries - oh the berries! - the comments revolving around how much we need to pick for Makeda and how much Makeda will love all the berries and how old does Makeda need to be until she can have these berries - they are incessant. And I love them. My patience never thins with questions and comments like these.

I love the faith and confidence these boys have. Never waning. Knowing, not all the details but, enough to know the twinkle in our eye becomes brighter and more hopeful with each passing day. The(ir) prayers more bold at bedtime, the talk more prevalent.

It's imminent.

Her arrival is just around the corner.

So here we wait...for a DHL tracking number as our documents make their way to the High Commission in Nairobi for processing...or perhaps simply an email telling us they are there.

Who knows. Who cares. We are so close!

And yet I still find it all so surreal.

(Please pray for the most speedy, lighting fast, visa in the history of visas. Thanks.)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Dear Family and Friends,

As we prepare for the arrival of our daughter, we have learned that while decorating the nursery and stocking up on baby essentials is important, even more important is the emotional health of our baby. In her short life, Makeda will have gone through more changes and life altering experiences than most adults could handle. Imagine how much harder the changes will be for her. While she may not consciously remember the events, she will still experience immense loss, including feelings of grief and trauma. She's already experienced the loss of a birthmother and will soon experience the loss of familiar and comforting caretakers as well as the sights, smells, and language of her birth country. Her world will turn upside down. She will struggle with feeling safe and secure and she may lack the ability to trust that we will meet her needs.

We have prepared to meet her emotional needs so that she does learn that we will always take care of her and we will always keep her safe. We need your support. In order to form a strong and healthy attachment we will allow Makeda to regress so that she has the opportunity to go through all of the emotional stages with us despite her chronological age. Although it may appear that we are spoiling her, we have been advised that it is best that we meet every need quickly and consistently. Until she has learned that we are her parents, we will need to be her primary caretakers at all times. It is essential that we always hold her, feed her, and do all of the nurturing. You may wonder how long this will take, but the timeline is different for every child. We will follow Makeda's lead and trust our instincts as her parents rather than worry about what society expects.

We have all been waiting anxiously for our daughter to arrive but she has not been waiting for us. She may show her grief and confusion in many ways and we are prepared to help her through it and prove that we are a forever family and this truly is her last stop. We trust that as our family and friends you will help us to do what is best for Makeda, and we thank you in advance for your support and understanding.


Ashleigh and Ben

-adapted from

Friday, August 19, 2011

We Have A PASSPORT Baby!!!!!!!

As I was in the shower a few minutes ago I could a "thud thud thud" just outside my bathroom door. I knew what it was: the sound of little feet jumping and dancing around our room, to the tunes coming through the speakers on our computer. They were dancing in just that. Praise.

We got it. (And we've nearly got HER.)

Today we received Makeda's passport.

She's beautiful.

Those sweet little ears stick out more than I remember from our meetings just over a month ago. Those curls - more abundant than nearly five weeks ago. Oh, they are perfect.

She is perfect.

And she is one giant, nearly final step away from coming home.

WE'VE GOT A PASSPORT!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

LONO: Check

Part of the adoption process and bringing your child home, includes a Letter Of No Objection from the adoptive family's province. Different provincial authorities process this letter at different stages of the process. In BC, the Letter Of No Objection is issued after a court decision has been made in the country from which the family is adopting.

The immigration step (and therefore bringing the child home) is not possible until (in this case) Nairobi has received the Letter Of No Objection.

And, I am happy to say we just received our LONO just a few moments ago!!!!

{apparently our garden is finally yielding veggies...
in the way of man sized zucchini and the sweetest cherry tomatoes}

Come on passport...puhhhhhhlease!!!!!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

One Month Since

It's been a month since we first met Makeda.

Makeda. Makeda. Makeda.

Okay, that felt good.

It's still very surreal. Not being able to hold her or really touch her made it even more so. (By the way, if your child grabs your husband's finger and won't let go at length, and none of the nannies or director oppose it, then it's okay not to retract your hand right?! That was rhetorical.)

Yesterday's inbox nugget followed by a desire to dig through all the old boxes and sort 'thrift' from 'keep' last night and then set aside 'to bring' really made it all begin to sink in. Walking past the room with a bed half covered in 'to bring' toys, clothes, blankets, It's becoming apparently, very, perfectly real.

The purchase of the car seat a few days earlier, didn't really do it for me though, surprisingly. (That's not to say I don't love it...I do!) I think the anticipation and excitement is all so mental now. I'm still guarded. What did get me was the soothers. I purchased her bottles too, yet it was the pacifiers that stirred my heart. I don't know why. She may not even use them. For some reason though they brought a smile to my lips.

With each step drawing us closer - promising a return to a most incredible country to which we are now forever connected - the layers of protection, which we have had to build are beginning to peel away. And the joy and adrenaline and praise which accompanies this is truly humbling.

And so, coupled with the recollection of our whereabouts exactly a month ago was this morning's view - and this is almost too much for a girl to handle.

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Birth Certificate

I prayed specifically and boldly last night for something. I needed some tangible information that progress is being made.

I checked my email this morning, nearly cringing as I clicked into the hotmail account.


So, I scanned a few other sites I frequent daily and was about to head up for a shower. I thought I'd hit the weather site as, though it is August it's looking and feeling like September, but I would really like to wear something other than pants. Accidentally (really, it was) my hand automatically hit the lower left tab which is my email.

And there it was.

Her birth certificate.

Her father's name: Ben. (Okay, not quite that simple...but you get the picture.)

Her mother's name:'s the part where I actually can't tell you what it says (though we all really do know) because every time I get to that line the tears blur my vision. I'm gonna go with Ashleigh though.

We are the official, official parents to one small Ethiopian born princess.


{i was holding out...this is another photo of a photo we were allowed to take while at the orphanage.
isn't she amazing.
we feel so blessed to have these from her baby-hood}

Thursday, August 11, 2011

There Was A Shower

Planned weeks ago, the cherry on top of our email Friday night was a shower to celebrate our referral and the (soon to be) imminent arrival of our daughter.

Our. Daughter.

{can you see it?
that's the injera and wat as part of the incredible spread.
and you can't beat the setting or the view huh?!}
{i love feet jammies...definitely something i've been missing as our boys have grown older}

It would have been a blessing regardless. Many friends who've prayed for us for years, some who traveled just for this special party made it incredible.

{i could stare at this photo all day.
when i think of the hours of love and attention and prayer that went into these items:
the blanket, smocks, dress, bell cubes, hand knit wool sweater and longies
...[i can't wait to pull those up over cloth diapers!]...
i can do nothing but grin}

But the email made it all that much sweeter. And what a night we had. And what incredibly generous friends we have.

{taking a break from helping to gift open...}

It couldn't have been a more perfect group, more thoughtful group, more supportive group.

Now we need to bring her home and continue to shower her with love in abundance. Come on final stages...let's journey through this in prayerfully powerful, record breaking time.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Stuck Somewhere In The Middle

I'm stuck in the middle of a "how do I top that last post" thought, with "I have to post something, there are a million things running through my mind" and then there's a little "I don't want to post just to blab and post but I feel like maybe there are details I'm leaving out" and some "I am praying like a madwoman for a(nother) super speedy visa with our name on it but don't want to seem ungrateful for the most incredible grace-filled journey thus far" thrown in.

Oye. It's all enough to make my head spin.

And all the questions - the wondering about timing, the fleeting concerns about details I've missed or overlooked to ensure everything can go as smoothly on our end as possible, and incessant praying for fast fast fast visa processing - they won't change the outcome, will they.

I should have learned by now, His timing is perfect.

A couple items we cannot wait to see invade our inbox at any given day include a certain birth certificate, a court order document, a passport, and then the ever-anticipated call announcing our visa. (Visa call = get on a plane as soon as possible. Oh - and don't forget to breathe.) Each of those steps will proceed the other. They don't all come at once and seem to vary in timing from one family to the next. Please pray for lightening speed. We need her home to add a little meat to her bones, a little extra touch to her skin, and more joyous shrieking within our four walls.

I mean it.

In the meantime, there was one fantastic shower held on our behalf on Saturday. The date had been arranged well ahead of time, regardless of court or MOWA outcome. But celebrate we did on Saturday!!! What a way to rejoice in the elation of our Friday night email.

The details that went into the shower were perfect...tags around the veranda each holding an important piece of information about Ethiopia, injera and wat as part of the incredible spread on the nibblies table, more handmade, homemade, and consigned gifts than one girl could have ever asked for. (These were at my my opinion these are the best...and keeping the carbon footprint to a minimum...well, why not!?) A few very special items our daughter will love when she is older and can appreciate the story behind.

So now we continue to wait. The week's been awesome. A friend and her babe are here visiting from far away and that too made Friday night most memorable. She was here when we made the decision to adopt so having her here when we completed this step was pretty much epic. (Some of us handle excitement more vocally than others - this was pretty intense...I love it!)

Common Visa.

Oh - and I think I'm buying her carseat tomorrow. Whoa.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Beautiful

"Sacred literature in both Israel and Ethiopia describes Queen Makeda's visit to the king of Israel. "The Queen of Sheba heard of Solomon's fame...and she came to test him with hard questions," reads 1 Kings, chapter 10, in the Hebrew Bible. "She arrived in Jerusalem with a very large retinue, with camels bearing spices, a great quantity of gold, and precious stones."

"This Queen of the South was very beautiful in face, and her stature was superb," says the ancient Ethiopian holy text Kebra Nagast [The Glory of Kings]. "Her understanding and intelligence which God had given her were of such high character that she went to Jerusalem to hear the wisdom of Solomon." Makeda, known to the outside world as the Queen of Sheba, married Solomon, and they had a son: Menelik, founder of the Ethiopia kingship (thus, through the twentieth century, Ethiopian kinds claimed Davidic descent".
there's no me without you: pg 10-11

When we started our adoption journey many years ago we read Melissa Faye Greene's incredible book, "There's No Me Without You". We learned and we found beauty in a country we were only beginning to know. Several pages, words, stories, statistics - they impacted us and imprinted on our hearts certain pieces to commit to memory.

One was the name of a little girl. Her name held depth and grace and beauty in our eyes, like no other had. It captured us and we held it close for over three years.

HIV-positive and AIDS-afflicted orphans lined up politely to greet Haregewoin. The touch of their parents had survived in the children's beautiful and elaborate names. As each lisped his or her name, Haregewoin fleetingly pictured the mother and father, even the poorest of the poor, inclining their heads above a newborn and conspiring to bestow and extravagant and abitious name on the baby. Most nonbiblical Ethiopian names have meanings; but the names of these HIV-positive orphans seemed exceptionally poignant.
She met Tidenek (You Are Amazing), and Bizunesh (You Will Become Much), and Asegdom (He Who Makes Others Kneel Before Him). She shook hands with Mekonnen (Dignitary) and Zerabruk (Descendant of Holiness). Makeda (The Beautiful) had been the name of the Queen of Sheba, and here came a little Solomon, as well.
there's no me without you: pg 216

Our desire for our daughter, who will inevitably draw more attention than many children (not only because of her incredible beauty inside and out) because of the colour of her skin. We wanted to chose a name that could honour her country of birth but also be gentle on the tongue. Ethiopians, as do many cultures, allow the names of their children to roll of their tongue with elegance. We, however, often botch the names with hard sounding 'r's and other mis-pronounciations. And, while meanings have never been hugely important to us in the past, this time felt a bit different.

Our daughter, born Mihret is stunning.

What is more stunning and heart-breaking is the meaning behind her birth name: Mercy.

I was speechless and my heart ached when I searched and found it's meaning. Think about it: true mercy - the sacrifice offered by these life-giving, birth mothers as they seek a more full life for their children. And, in naming them they do their best to maybe emanate all they feel and all they wish, hope, dream, ache and pray for their child.

We decided early on that we would likely give our daughter a new first name and keep her birth name as her middle name.

And so Makeda Mihret
will be our daily grace-given reminder of
The Beautiful Mercy

...a theme which has run throughout our adoption journey time and again.

We thought the day was over. The ship had sailed. That somehow, The Plan was for us not to likely become family soon. More waiting would occur before the joy we have been anticipating for months, years now. But prayer never ceased. We know that.

And yet tonight, well after the end of the last day of court until possibly late September, we received an email around 7:30pm. That's 10:30pm in Ontario. And, because I am still picking myself up off the floor I will share that 7:30pm here and 10:30pm in Ontario means 5:30am Saturday in Ethiopia.

While our baby girl slept, we received our life changing news.

Her story like that of all orphans is tragic. And through that tragedy we have been blessed to take one step closer to being five under one roof. We will never take the sacrifice, the mercy for granted.

It has all been too beautifully entwined to ever take for granted.

We now await the end of the final step of this journey.

The final step - did you just read that in as much disbelief as I just wrote it?


We await (ultimately, with a few other details along the way) for Makeda's passport and the call to tell us we can go at any time to pick our baby girl up and never put her back down again.

Timelines aren't set in stone. (That's a lesson we've all learned well, haven't we?!) And, while typically our immigration route of choice has taken 8-12 weeks, in recent months it has been as short as 4 weeks. So, we'll ask you again to continue to pray her home.

We have a daughter.

{referral photo}

A wee, wonderful, beautiful baby girl.

{referral photo taken around 3+ mths}

Isn't she amazing?

{photo of a photo we were allowed to take while visiting the orphanage.
makeda with her favourite toy...her zebra.
taken around 7mths - just before we met her}


It's not looking like we've received MOWA approval at this time. It's nearly 10am in Ontario and I am quite sure we would have received our email informing us.

We have heard reports here and there that it may still be possible to pass during summer closures so please continue to lift up giant prayers on behalf of this.

We continue to be hopeful this will happen.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

This Little Boy

I unofficially met this little boy when we returned to the orphanage for our second trip with the donations. I'm not certain I was allowed to take his photo but no one of "authority" said anything otherwise and I was snapping here and there with encouragement, so I just went with it.

I could have sat and stared for hours with him. Gazing into his eyes, I'm am without a doubt certain that I would have learned infinite lessons in our silence together.

To me, he epitomizes the children - his peers and cohort - in the orphanage.

So young, so innocent. Yet, far far too experienced in life.

His eyes, if you look at them - in them - they are rich, aren't they?! They tell stories we will likely never know...he may never share the words to accurately describe all they yield.

I look at him and wonder if his family (if they are still alive) have survived the draught, famine, crisis. I wonder if he remembers his mother's face - if he ever knew her. Does he have her smile, her hands, her joy or sorrow? Does he remember her smell and touch? (These are not things a child should have to try and remember.) What will he do when he "grows up"? Does he have much farther to go until he's "grown up" or, has the majority of that been done in what I guess to be these first three years of his wee existence.

That thought in itself will buckle your knees if you allow it.

I haven't mentioned the Crisis yet, in this space. Not for lack of realization or awareness of it's intensity or reality, but because I can honestly say I don't know what to say. Numb by the true depth of the devastation, I simultaneously realize and accept that it is required for us to all do something.

So tragic. Such destitution. In a country wrought with beauty...the country is suffering. (That doesn't actual touch the tip of the iceberg of the description of this current situation, does it?!)

{indigenous acacia trees
they are stunning...and grow by the hundreds in this part of addis,
just outside the limits of the airport's air/ground space where our friend lives}

Standing idly by doesn't do it. Thinking it's too far gone or there's "too much" to do isn't acceptable. I'm encouraged to see the government matching monetarily and relief organizations are stepping up.

Each little bit accrues. We can all do our part - little or large - to make at least some small difference.

Because doing nothing isn't okay.

Look at this little boys' eyes again. Deep. Look deeply into them.

We can't do nothing.