I have inherited Your testimonies forever,
For they are the joy of my heart.
I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes
Forever, even to the end.
Psalm 119: 111, 112

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

One Year Together

One year ago today we sat before a beautiful, Ethiopian judge in a small, modest courtroom in Addis Ababa. She peered at the picture of our sons before her. We watched her face light up with a sweet smile and she said to us, “They look so happy”. I remember watching my surroundings become foggy as my eyes welled with tears. I knew it was a mixture of emotions ranging from simple physical exhaustion to mental weariness to complete elation. We had already been asked on penalty of perjury if we had spent time with our boys; if we liked them; if we knew that this process would make them our sons forever… irrevocably; and if we still wanted to adopt these two little boys and make them Gregersens forever. It was as simple as responding, “Yes. Yes. Yes…” Just like that, our family grew by two more children!

Today I recall the knowledge that our day in court was simply a mere glimpse and “notch” on the stick in what had already been set in place – and time – by God Almighty. Simon Getinet and Elijah Bizuneh had been planned and destined for our family since before they were formed in their dear birth mama’s womb. The same Father God that adopted me when I was yet a wretch gave me the privilege of living the gospel through earthly adoption. Oh, how I pray that He is glorified through our family!

There is yet much healing to take place and thankfully I’ve met with peace knowing that the healing is not mine to accomplish. It’s all about God and his saving work. What is the gospel? It’s the truth! Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life and then gave that life as ransom for us, the true sinners. He died the death of a criminal; suffering beyond belief and spilling righteous blood on my behalf. And that wasn’t the end of the story! He stepped out of the tomb, alive and exalted, in a glorified heavenly body! He did this for us so we can be with Him forever, with His Father in heaven. Amazing grace and mercy! How sweet indeed.

Healing is a process; longer for some than others, but it comes. In God’s timing, it comes. It may not always look like what we want it to look like, but when He reveals it… Wow. It is way more beautiful and timely than we could ever imagine. Healing here has been a journey. It is happening in spurts. In seasons. In mysterious moments and words. In joy and humor. And always in love. The love I feel for my youngest sons runs so deep… The only way to explain it is to assure all you mamas out there that the love is truly the same as if my two youngest grew in my womb.  There are times I forget that we “look different”. I don’t know that I even notice looks or comments anymore. I’m just not there right now. What I notice are the times when Rhyan, our 15 yr old daughter sits with 5 yr old Eli to work on a puzzle, and when Ty, our 12 yr old takes Simon, our 7 yr old, out to the backyard to work on his catching or play whiffle ball. I see the sparkle in everyone’s eyes when we crack jokes at the dinner table and even our two littles get it! I find rest and hope in the hugs, kisses, “I love you”s, thumbs up, brother handshakes, piggy back rides up the stairs…

The truth is that one year ago today, my boys met face-to-face with the gospel. They were adopted by a daddy and mommy who loved them simply because we love. Not because they did anything to earn our love. There was no “work” or “task” for them to accomplish. They didn’t ask us to adopt them. It was all our choice. They had absolutely nothing to do with it! They didn’t even know us. We reached out to them and drew them near. We brought them into the fold, just as our Good Shepherd brought us in. We chose to bring them into our family, just like God chose to make us His own, by no striving or asking of our own.

So, now we reflect on what that means for our family. When God saved me, He set me apart. I’m no better than anyone else. I’m still a sinner, BUT I’m now clothed in His righteousness and others should know that by my fruit. I’ve been filled with the power and comfort of the Holy Spirit and in Him I leave behind the darkness, death and misery of a life without Jesus. And our sons? They’ve been set apart too! They’ve been drawn into the Gregersen Family. They’ve been called out to leave behind the loneliness, grief, despair, and emptiness of life as orphans. The past is gone! A new life has begun! Just as God calls us to the light and beauty of a new life in Him, I believe we can expect the same transformation from our children – all in God’s timing. The old must pass away and the new life as Americans and Gregersens brings beauty, joy, and glory to their Savior, Jesus Christ.

In no way do we wish to forget or dishonor the birth country of our boys. We love Ethiopia and the people who call it home.  It’s funny that as the one year anniversary of us meeting our boys has come upon us, our little Eli has finally begun to talk about Ethiopia and ask questions about his birth father. He literally NEVER vocalized anything before 5 days ago. Ever. Every day since June 6th (the day in 2013 we learned we were cleared to travel to meet the boys!) he has asked about going on an airplane together again, and why his birth father is sad, and how come there isn’t fun stuff in Ethiopia. There it is. More healing! He is releasing the ties he has to his birth country in what I believe is a healthy and honest way. We love talking to him and Simon about our adoption. We love telling them how blessed we are to be chosen as their mom and dad and family. We love knowing that their birth father gave us his blessing and gratitude and that we can tell our boys how much we love him too. And to reassure them that they don’t have to cut off the love they have for their birth parents is healing for all of us. They can enjoy the gift that God gave them of having two earthly moms and dads!

We continue to pray that through adoption our children get to relive the gospel each day. In their hearts and minds, they need to be aware of the fact that they are new creations. They don’t have to live as if they are in the pit anymore. And truthfully, we won’t accept that as an excuse for behaviors that reflect lost souls. They are lost no more. God’s children – all of us – can rest assured that He strengthens and equips us to live the life He calls us to.

Thank you for praying for us. Thank you for partnering with us in so many ways throughout the past year. Thank you that even when you may not have agreed or understood why or when or how, you were still there. Thank you for still being there. We are humbled at the knowledge of the friends and family God has brought into our lives and the ways He has made you all a part of our story. He writes every story, and we are honored to have all of you written in our book, and to be in each of your story books in that immense, amazing library in His heavenly mansion. J Yes, I believe there is one of those in heaven! And that gets a resounding, “AMEN!”

Grace and Peace to You Always,

Friday, January 24, 2014

Every single THAT is so worth all of THIS

Simon saw an automatic ice dispenser in the Dulles airport on our way home from Ethiopia. There may have been an invisible shove from his inner core that made his little body fly backwards in stupor when his new daddy placed that cup under the dispenser and pushed that lever. Then he slowly crept close and looked up the shoot in wonder. "What - in this little world I have known - was THAT!?"

I watched this event unravel as I was still reeling from our trans-Atlantic flight. My mind was already getting a preview of what our family would experience over the next few months as we would transition to a family of 6. A family God was already very aware of and familiar with. A family we had all been praying for and one in which God would teach me through experience about sacrifice, humility, service, unconditional love, and trust. He would teach me more about Him.

I watched my baby who was still merely 4 years old cry from fear and stress until his nose bled. Bless the dear man who gave up his seat on our tiny commuter flight from DC to Charlotte so I could sit in front of Eli and Paul in an attempt to offer warmth and help to my little boy who still wanted nothing to do with me. All he could relate to was the need for a father who wouldn't abandon him, and his trust in that at the time was nil. I watched my sweet and amazing 15 year old daughter sit with her new 7 year old brother stepping in as a pseudo-second mama, yet desperately trying to keep her weary eyes pried open for the last two legs of our trip home.

The first leg was from Addis through Rome and over the deep, wide ocean to America. On that day of our lives, my new sons stared in awe as the flight attendants placed trays of food in front of their hungry little faces. Simon ate his food as if it would sprout wings and fly off his tray. I finally realized I needed to slow him down. After I recovered from another moment of "this is reality" shock.

The mood certainly took a turn for the different as we set off on our last legs home. The final flight from Charlotte to Phoenix was the roughest. By this time, not a one of us could give a darn about food. We had to race from one gate to the next and barely made it on the tail end of the boarding line. Our seats were all over the place. Again, we were blessed by a kind woman who allowed  me to sit across the aisle from Rhyan and Simon and in front of Paul and Eli. It was all Paul and I could do to keep our baby in his seat and remain buckled. Mere exhaustion was our right hand man. Each one of my family members passed out. Finally.

I had quiet. I had "me time". I was numb. Though there were a small handful of smiles and kind words nearby, I had already noticed the cold shoulders and the critical stares. I am choosing to believe that I remember it as worse than it really was. After all, I was saying to myself, "What have you done?" I can't help but wonder, though, what some of the cartoon bubbles over the other passengers' heads read... "Control your kid, woman." "Don't bring foreigners to our country." ??  Part of me was sad. I felt an icy, self-centered climate that I hadn't noticed on our flight in Africa. The people on Ethiopian Airlines smiled, talked, played with the children, listened to music. The Americans... read their iPads and pulled out their laptops. They disengaged all they could from anything other than self. Yes, I'm generalizing, but I can't help but remember feeling a peculiar sadness as I contemplated what our society has become in America. We live in a nation of ME, MYSELF, and I. So counter-gospel. So scary.

Our boys have now been home for 19 weeks. Yes, I still count. :) It's like the birth of a new baby! You state their ages in months until after their second birthday! Yesterday, I sat with all three of my sons at the Social Security office in downtown Phoenix for nearly two and a half hours. It was one of the many administrative chores that come with adoption, that make one feel like their children are merely numbers in a country where there are so many different views on parenting, family, faith, morals, religion... A middle-aged man and a woman sat in the aisle across from us. They must have known that I have learned to tune things out. You mommies know what I mean! They must have thought I would tune them out as I heard the man say, "I love children, but geez. How and why would anyone want to do that." My little guys were watching Learning with Leapfrog on my cell phone. Quietly. My twelve year old was keeping guard. Basically, being the big brother on-call. I looked straight at the man who turned his gaze my direction. I smiled. He didn't smile back, but instead chose to avert his gaze elsewhere. He had absolutely no clue about anything. He had no idea about the hours and tears poured out as we parented our children; teaching each of them what it means to live godly lives - and for Simon and Eli - what it looks like to live in America and with a family. Then I smiled to myself thinking that I knew exactly "how and why". GOD. If you don't get the gospel, you truly don't get "how and why". My heart broke for that man.

uHear, O Lord, when I cry aloud;
be gracious to me and answer me!
You have said, v“Seek4 my face.”
My heart says to you,
“Your face, Lord, do I seek.”5
wHide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger,
O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
xO God of my salvation!
10 For ymy father and my mother have forsaken me,
but the Lord will ztake me in.

Psalm 27:7-10

That is exactly why adoptive families can walk through the "how and why" each day. We all know, this is no walk in the park. Though the boys have bonded beautifully, and my baby who wanted nothing from me for the first month home is now my kissy face, mama's boy, we still have rough patches of learning to trust each other and giving in to what God is teaching us about trusting Him.

See, my boys have experienced being forsaken by their father and mother. It wasn't something they asked for, and I don't believe for a moment that it was something their biological parents asked for or wanted. It just is what this world dealt them. All of them. But, the good news is that Jesus would never forsake them.

Whose voice and face do we SEEK; long for when we are mere infants? Mom. I wanted so badly for my sons to have that immediate desire for me as Mom from the moment we brought them home. I thought that if the attachment and love was immediate, it would make life in transition so much easier. Of course it may have. But even a birth mom who holds her newborn in her arms from day 1, finds life with her new little human hard. Why is that? Because as humans, we fail. Every. Single. Time. We are not perfect, and inevitably, human will fail human. Hence, our need for Jesus. Exactly why we need to SEEK His face. His grace is the only sufficiency we need for life, and He is the mother and father who will NEVER forsake us.

As I learn each day to let go of the need to be the perfect and only mom to my boys, I grow closer to them each day. I know in my heart of hearts that God is the parent who has and will save them. The awesome thing is, this reality is true for ALL my children; not just my two youngest. God wants my kids... and ME, to desire His arms. To look to Him for everything. To know that He will never forsake us. To remember that this life and this world is temporary and the eternal is close at hand. This is the truth, and when I remember that serving His kingdom and making disciples for Him should always be number one on my radar, the pressure to be the perfect mom fades. After all, it's a pressure that comes from this world, not God's.

From our coming-home day through now, there have been beautiful breakthroughs of God's love and faithfulness. Watching Ty greet his new brothers with gifts and hugs and huge smiles was priceless. Seeing the tears in my mom's eyes as she embraced her new grandsons and the pride in my dad's smile when he met them for the first time made my heart skip a beat. Listening to Eli ask for "Sitoo" (Sister) when she isn't with us is...well, so stinkin' sweet.

We've gone from THAT to THIS!

"That" was touching, grabbing, and pushing absolutely everything every button, every switch and lever, every dial and knob within reach; impulsively. OH the frustration and exhaustion! "This" is both boys knowing that light switches are simply for lights to be on or off, and knowing that water refills at the frig are by permission only.

"That" was not being in public for fear we may be dragged to the nearest prison cell as we attempted to train our youngest children. "This" was sitting in a crowded restaurant and the woman in the next booth leaning over to tell us how well-behaved our children are.

"That" was 5:30 a.m. wake up calls complete with busting through closed doors and opening shutters before Mom and Dad's eyes are opened. "This" is knocks on doors for permission to enter and staying in bedrooms until 8:00 a.m.

"That" was gated off entrances to our kitchen since little boys didn't know how to keep hands off and stood at the gates chanting for "dapo" (bread), "moos" (banana) and "chai" (tea). "This" is needing to be called to wash up for meal time. AND communicating in complete English sentences!

"That" was "embee" (no) with accompanied shoulder shrugs and screaming, kicking tantrums. "This" is "Okay Mom" and smiles and "I love you"s galore.

We had to experience THAT to get to THIS. It has and still is leading us into a new life. A better life! Jesus knows exactly how it feels. He gives us the privilege of a new and better life through Him. If our family's contribution to spreading the gospel in this lifetime is through our adoption journey, Amen and Alleluia! Every single THAT is so worth all of THIS!

Friday, November 8, 2013

And He Smiled

Simon:  "America. Food yummy!"  big smile

Me:  "Yes, it is!" big smile

Simon:  "Ethiopia. Food yummy!"  big smile

Me:  "Yes, it is!"  big smile

Simon:  "Mom. Eli, Simon, Ethiopia hungry. Dejene money. Food. Little bit Simon, Eli." smile

Me:  "Really, Simon?"  smile

Simon:  "Yes. Ethiopia Mommy (picture pantomime of a dead person here).  Simon sleep. Stand up, change (picture pantomime of a little boy putting clothes on here). Look mommy... (picture pantomime of dead person and a small shake of the little 6 yr old head) No more."

Me:  No words. (picture a small nod of the head and tears forming)

Simon:  "Simon waa waa"  smile

Me:  No words. (head still nods slightly, still tears come)

Simon:  "Dejene - More Mommy!" big smile (picture my 6 yr old pointing at me with an actual look of joy on his little face that has held so much pain and grief...)

Me:  "I love you, Simon." (tears falling)

Dejene is the name of our boys' birth father. Can you make this all out? He went out to get money somehow, to feed his family. He also grieved with his children while he watched his bride fade away from an awful disease that is now so treatable and preventable. My sons slept next to their birth mother when she passed from here into the arms of Jesus, and my 6 yr old remembers all of it. He spilled his guts to tell me what happened to his birth mother and to acknowledge that his birth father wanted him to have a new mommy. And he smiled.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Our New Normal

Remember when we cleared US Embassy and were preparing for our Gotcha Day in Ethiopia? Remember how I said that this adoption journey was far from over and how we were really ready to begin Volume 2 of a many volume set? Yes siree! Volume 2 is well into chapter 1!

Rooftop at the guest home

Our time in Ethiopia was short; four days total. That includes airport time. We were excited to know that we were in country for the Ethiopian New Year and thus had some much needed quiet time (As quiet as it gets with 6 and 4 year old boys running a-muck!) at the Guest Home. We are so in love with the staff at the GH and were happy to sit and talk and spend time with them. We watched special TV programs and found ourselves learning traditional, celebratory Ethiopian songs and traditions of the holiday. Overall, we found ourselves more in love with the country and the people. Rhyan, 15 years old, is convinced she will go back some day. She says she may live there, but who knows. She has had a vision of ministering to deaf children, especially orphans in Ethiopia. I don't doubt that God will equip her if this is her calling.

US Embassy in Addis Ababa

If one were to ask me what my "favorite part" of our trip was (other than taking my boys out of the foster home and into our arms forever), I would answer without a second thought - meeting and spending time with our sons' biological father. We weren't sure it would happen, and we weren't sure it was the best thing to do just before we brought the boys to the other side of the world, but oooohhh am I glad we did. It wasn't easy, mind you. Our hearts raced at the thoughts that crept through our minds. What if he changed his mind? What if it left us all with sorrow and grief? What if the boys didn't want to come with us? What if...? But what if God was blessing us with the gift of more family ties? He is a sweet, gentle, kind soul who taught his boys about Jesus and loves them with a love so deep and true. He explained to them again that he wants them to have a good life away from poverty and disease. He held them and kissed them, and so gently reassured them and us of his gratitude and love. I weep when I think of him - my brother in Christ and the man who gave us his blessing to raise his children as our own. My heart breaks for him and his loss; so much he has had to endure.

Traditional New Year's Bread

Preparing for coffee ceremony

Simon and Rhyan

The Gregersen's with our sweet friend, Eshetu.

So now...

Our boys are home! We brought them to America via Addis Ababa, Rome, Washington D.C., Charlotte, NC, and into sunny and hot Phoenix, Arizona on September 14, 2013. No words can thoroughly tell the depth of emotion, joy, exhaustion, reality, weakness, and strength God has blessed us with in the last five weeks. Suffice it to say, we serve an awesome God who never ceases to amaze me and remind me of his sovereignty and overflowing grace and mercy. Though, I must say, I am still wondering how we could be so blessed as to be chosen for this incredibly difficult and wonderful adventure. Dear friends of mine shared some incredibly strong words and prayer with me this weekend and it was all so confirming of what has been on my heart lately. I am steadfast in the realization and acceptance that our boys were meant to be ours from the beginning of time and that God destined them to be Gregersens... and that He has really amazing, beautiful plans for their lives as they grow closer to Him each day. And that I am simply walking in obedience to my Daddy God. What was illuminated for me these last couple days, though, is something I've been pushing into the background of my daily struggles and stumbles. God has something amazing and beautiful for ME too! Not just in the future, but right now, and if I don't stop long enough in the given moments of each day to gaze at the wonder of my two youngest children being HERE. Home. Well... I am missing it. I don't want to miss anymore of the joy that God has for me right now. He has planted the seed of true love in my heart for two little "strangers" that are suddenly my sons. I love them the way I love the children that were planted in my womb. If that isn't God, I just don't know what is.

Now, let me tell you that I also have a much deeper understanding of the fact that love is a command; an action word. Something we do and choose. It isn't just a fluttery feeling in the tummy and it sometimes isn't even "like". I can tell you honestly that there are times - many right now - when I don't like what God has given me. But when I stop to realize why I don't like it, I am utterly ashamed. It's because I am a selfish, lazy, covetous, sinner. and I am reminded that even in these dreadful weaknesses, God loves me more than I can fathom. Sheesh. How does it get more convicting than that? "I don't want to give up the 8:00 a.m. wake up time in exchange for the 5:30 one! I don't want to give up the walks alone with worship music and sermons piped through ear buds! I don't want to give up date nights and girl talk at the coffee shop!" Whine, whine, whine! Whether I want to or not, it's done.. And the more I take my sin to God, leave it at His feet, and ask Him to forgive my sorry self... the more filled with joy I am to sit in the time that God is giving me with my little guys - and entire family anew. I am learning to take deep breaths and raise my littles as I raised my two olders years ago. It's all flooding back, and though there are differences because of circumstances, there are also many similarities. We are training and raising up our sons the way God has called us to. To know Jesus. To praise and worship Him. To pray always. To lean on Him for peace and wisdom. When Eli listens to the radio in the car, his tiny toddler voice says to me, "Mom, Jesus!" with a squinty grin each time. Simon tears up and reverently says the name of Jesus when he watches worship videos and sees images of the cross and our Savior. Oh my heart. It literally makes me want to fall on my face.

Finally home after three airplanes and over 22 hours in flight.

Do I long for the days when they know English and they sleep past 5:30 a.m.? Yes! Do I pray for the time when I can go to the bathroom without locking the door? Yes! Do I wonder when Simon and Eli will be confident in our love for them and know that we will never leave them or forsake them? Yes! God will get us there; in His timing, just like He planned and set into motion everything that has led to this day and time. As I write this I realize that they haven't used their Ethiopian names in... uhhmmm...a long time! Woohoooo! Progress in the right direction. :-)

The new and improved GFource!

Elijah and Simon GREGERSEN!

Here is a thought I'll leave you with. Our Simon is very strong-willed and tests us to the very end. He is smart as a whip and understands more than he wants to admit. Funny how God changed things up for us! It was our baby, Eli who we thought would be the most challenging! Anyway, almost daily there is an "opportunity" for me to tell Simon to look at my eyes. I have to sometimes take his little chin and direct his focus to me and say, "Look at Mommy when Mommy is talking to you." Uhm. Yeah. How often does our Father God do that to us? Probably all the time 'cause I don't know about you, but I am constantly looking away at all the distractions of life and all the self-thought-up answers and directions I think I'm supposed to follow. God is taking me by the chin and saying, "Look at me! I AM talking to you! I have the answers! I will lead you! I AM here!" 

Thank You, Lord, for being there for all of us and reminding us that You will never leave or forsake us. Thank You for the gift of two new Gregersens and all we will learn and experience in our New Normal. Amen

(As I was waiting for photos to load, both boys got out of bed, asked for water, and proceeded to read books in the top bunk. It's 10:00! If I could be guaranteed they'd sleep in, ok. But truth is, sleeping in for them is 6:00 a.m. Darn...)

Monday, September 2, 2013

We Cleared! Now We Raise...

We cleared!!! What does that mean? It means the US Embassy has given our sons "permission" to leave Ethiopia and immigrate to America. Our exit interview will take place next week and we'll bring our babies home. Finally!!! The wait has been hard at times, but through the anxious moments and the pleas for God to move on their behalf, He has given us peace and strength to rest in Him. What happens now? We pray for peace and strength to continue to rest in God, because check out what happens now...

Paul and I transition not only FROM somewhat frequent date-nights, sleeping in on weekends, and mommy coffee dates, but also 


parenting two introverted home-bodies who are quite independent and somewhat “spoiled”, in the double-digit ages of their young yet not "baby" lives, have been attached and nurtured from Day 1, with no scars of physical or emotional abuse, neglect, disease, parental loss, malnutrition, group living in an institution...


parenting two little ones who have experienced all of the story of orphan life. They've been in the pit of despair and destruction and we are barely at the top of that pit holding onto their little hands and looking in their little faces as we speak life over them and let them know they are done living in the filth, dank, darkness of that pit. We have to hold on for dear life and pull them out because what they know in their short life times has been yucky. They have truly known extreme poverty, disease, loss of all they love - parents, home, family, warmth, food. They've been institutionalized, even at the same ages that our oldest were learning how to swim, watching Sesame Street and Veggie Tales in their jammies with their favorite blankies, and snacking on cookies and milk with Mom and Dad. Have they ever really attached to anyone? What did love look like for them? Who has nurtured and cared for them? UGH

What will this look like?

I am not the perfect parent! I’m not really even very good at this. It’s all about God’s will and learning to do things His way and in His strength. Learning that I should never get the glory for what He has done and will do in our family and for our boys. It's not really Paul and I holding onto their sweet hands and pulling for dear life to rescue our sons from that pit. It's really God holding onto OUR hands and reminding us that He already did the rescuing. This is what it HAS to look like.

We all have much to prepare for. For anyone who has thought or said to me or Paul, "You are amazing." "What a beautiful thing you are doing." "Those boys are so lucky." Or any other statements that allude to exactly where you know I'm going here...

Please don’t think that I have it all together! That I’m full of grace and love and I am “super-mom”. You know, that thought that passes through some peoples’ minds when they know an adoptive mom and they say to themselves, “I wish I could be a parent like her and do all that she does!” No way. Don’t let that be the way you think of me! Remember, this adoption stuff was all God’s idea. I’m seriously weak and imperfect and need God ALL THE TIME. There is no way I went ahead of Him in this - thinking I was such a great parent and because of that I should have more kids. You don’t see me at home when I yell at my kids because their lessons aren’t complete when I think they should be, or when I can’t seem to take five minutes away from my email or phone to give my eyes, ears, and heart to one of my children who need or just WANT my attention. It hurts my heart just knowing how imperfect I am. But, then again, if I thought I was “all that”, then how would I ever come to the full understanding that I NEED my God. I need to lean on Him for everything. Life is not easy. If it were, we would forget to turn to Him, even for the simple ability to breathe in deep.

Adoptive mommies are learning how to parent wounded and broken children. That is a whole different ballgame, folks. I think about all the hurts my two youngest have experienced: poverty, mal-nourishment, disease, loss of loved ones, lack of education and fun, abandonment… Friends -  this all means parenting by an entirely new set of rules. It means dealing with all sorts of possibilities – rejection, anger, violence, disobedience and rebellion, lies, stealing, illness. And the list goes on. I will be; I MUST be a different mommy to these boys than I have been to our two oldest. It’s a very daunting calling when I haven’t even mastered how to be a “good” parent to them.

How can you as our friends be involved and helpful? 

1. Remember we are imperfect! We are no different from you. We just had a different calling - or maybe the same, if you have adopted. My guess is that here is when we stop 'looking amazing' (if we ever did). When our family of six is together at home, this journey will not be over! On the contrary, the second volume of a many volume set will have just begun! All children make all parents realize the need for a God who loves and disciplines us unconditionally. 

2. You can pray for us. Pray for a smooth transition with as little anger and sadness as possible. Pray for strength and rest for all of us. Pray for soft hearts for Rhyan and Tyler as they learn to share every part of our emotions and energy. Pray for health and safety. Pray that the language barrier is overcome quickly. Pray that we don't lose friends and family who may not seem to accept or understand our schedule changes and needs, and focus on our two youngest, and to "equally" accept the boys as real family divinely created to be raised as Gregersens. Pray for peace and patience for each other.

3. Please be patient with us. Our family will look different and be different. It will take time to re-enter life as we've known it. Actually, life as we've known it will not be the same at all. We're taking a complete 180 degree turn! If you can be patient with us, at least friends and family as we've known it may still be there to share life with us!

4. Learn what it means to be the friend or family member of adoptive parents. And also what it's like for us as adoptive parents. There are so many books, helpful blogs, websites, etc. that are great resources. We haven't done this on our own! You have all been part of this journey in so many ways. As the body of Christ, you have partnered with us in God's plan of adoption! Below are just a few resources that might be helpful.

dear friends of waiting adoptive moms: some things to know (also, we’re sorry)

Love - the same but different

When I Look at My Daughter, I May Always Think About Adoption - See more at: http://www.adoptivefamiliescircle.com/blogs/post/thinking-about-adoption-and-my-daughters-birth-mother/#sthash.l41hICUJ.dpuf


Parenting the Hurt Child, Revised and Updated  -     
        By: Gregory C. Keck Ph.D., Regina M. Kupecky LSW

On a special note, we are still a bit short on funding for our final trip and remaining agency fees. Please see our "Your Bids Help Our Kids"
page and share, ShArE, SHARE!
Happy bidding!

~ Patty

Friday, August 9, 2013

A New Knowledge of Kinship

Never in my wildest imagination did I ever "think" this is what my life would look like today. We all say that, right; but, really. Who ever lives day-to-day in your homeland, the country of origin that God has chosen for you, in the time He has chosen for you - and realizes years before it happens that your own life will be so intertwined and connected with another family on the other side of the world? I mean, I guess one can have those college-kid aspirations of going abroad; working on a fishing vessel off the coast of Scandinavia, or being a tutor for a family in France. Maybe even "growing up" and knowing there is a mission waiting for you in an impoverished and God-hungry third world country. I don't mean to nullify or devalue these dreams and real callings and visions in any way. However, this adoption thing. Well, it just gets bigger and wilder every day, and I'm certainly not one of the few (because there are some) who grew up just knowing I would adopt one day. I had no idea this was coming!

We received the long-awaited email this past Monday. The one that I would wake up at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning for. Pretty much every day...night? Whatever. Picking up my phone and scrolling through my mailbox just praying that the email from across the Atlantic, and another continent - and 10 hours ago would be there. This mama wanted to see those words so badly! "Your adoption case has been submitted to the US Embassy in Ethiopia". Sweet, sweet words. What joy it was to see that! But, the ride isn't over yet. Only our oldest, Simon's, name was on the case title. As it turns out, our baby, Elijah, is still not submitted. The Embassy is still waiting on "medical" results before he can be submitted. What kind of results? I don't know. When will they be ready to submit his papers? I don't know. Will they process both of our sons at the same time, or wait until Eli's papers are complete and process them together? I don't know. When do we get scheduled for our visa interview? I don't know. When do we get to pick up our sons and bring them home? I DON'T KNOW! I don't know! Do you have any idea how that feels? I have children on the other side of the world and I can't put a band aid on their ow-ees. I can't cut a pb&j sandwich in quarters for them and make sure they have milk to go with their lunch. I can't watch them play catch with their daddy from the kitchen window. I can't wipe their tears, read them a story, kiss them goodnight... I can't even stop the attachment and love from growing each day so that the hurt of not having them here can go away, or at least ease off. There is no such thing. They are simply my kids and I'm supposed to be with them. Yet, as I continue to learn to release the heartache to God and trust in His perfect timing, He continues to help me see His plans and reasons for this amazing journey and family He has for us.

Here is what God brought me to today. Intense love and sorrow for a family in Ethiopia who I now understand are part of my family. My boys have been in an orphanage since December of 2011. Probably on or just days after Simon's birthday. Why? Because they, along with their father and sister, had to watch their mother be sick and die from a virus that she wasn't able to be treated for. They buried her in a protestant cemetery, and then my sons' father, knowing he was ill with the same virus, decided the best thing for his sons was to leave them in an orphanage; not even two months after his wife died; probably in his arms. The grief that brings me to is more than I can explain. Do I "know" these people? As of today, I feel that I do. God has brought them into my life. Into our family's life, and He truly has given me such a love for them, that not only do I grieve for my sons, who in their less than a dozen years of life put together have experienced more hurt and loss than most people would experience in their whole lives. But, I love their biological father. I love their biological mother and pray I see her in the sweet by and by. I love their extended family, all of whom have admitted to not having the means or ability to raise my little boys in a healthy and nurturing life. My heart hurts for each of them. Huge hurt.

I am seriously yearning for the opportunity to meet my sons' bio dad when we go back to Ethiopia to bring the boys home. Our desire is to meet as many of their kin as possible. We want to love on them, pray for them, share a meal with them, assure them that they made the best decision and that we love the boys and will take care of them always. That we are all kin now. That our hearts are overflowing with joy and awe at how God has written this story.

We still wait and rest in the Lord. Today was a day of new mercies, new beginnings, and another set of blinders completely removed and replaced with the heart of God. How much does He love us? What does that look like? It looks like this - my sons' first father walked into that orphanage and surrendered them there because he knew his days were numbered and he couldn't provide for them anymore. Even more, real love is this: my Savior, Jesus, stumbling down the Via de la Rosa on His way to the cross where He willingly opened His arms and surrendered His life for us, so that His Father in Heaven would be pleased and so His name would be exalted. See, here it is... "you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” Romans 8:15

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Patty's Adoption Travel Journal - Trip One

Monday, June 10, 2013

I don't even know where to begin this evening. My hand is trembling as I write. Jet lag stinks. Anxiety stinks. Sleep deprivation stinks. There are so many thoughts, emotions, words, ideas, prayers running through my mind and heart. Most importantly, through all the stink and rising above it, God has amazingly confirmed this journey for us... again. Praise Him on high!

Yesterday was a glorious day and a dark, lonely day all at the same time. It was glorious and joyful because we met our two youngest sons and realized the incredible gifts they are to us. It was a tough day because we experienced the lies, deceit, discouragement and ugliness of the enemy like never before.

The anticipation of waiting for our first meeting with the boys took so much physical and mental energy. Add that to being exhausted from flying and being sleep deprived and you end up with two very volatile and impressionable souls. Yes, I mean me and Paul! We were already tapped when we snuggled our little guys for the first time. AND THEN... All youthful mischief, energy, curiosity, excitement, and spunk poured out of our baby boy! He is truly a wild child! I say this with overflowing love and amazement at the spirit our youngest displays! Understand, however, that the reality we faced included a deeper knowledge of how our lives and family are changing... forever.

Visiting hours at the foster home are from 10 to 12 and again from 3 to 5. Sunday morning, following approximately 20 hours in flight and 4 or so hours of sleep in an unfamiliar country, I spent two hours literally chasing my four year old around as he climbed on every piece of furniture in sight, nearly pulled two sets of shelving down on top of himself and others, threw toys and other items around the small room, and brought the excited, confused, hysterically funny little boy to life - in rare form - right in front of Mommy's and Daddy's eyes! Wow. Did we say we were prepared for all of this?

God has already given us some vision about our two newest sons. Our agency is wonderful and they send us updates weekly with pictures of our children. As we gazed at our two pumpkins each week, we felt we were getting a picture of their personalities; "who" they are, and that God was truly preparing us for our boys. In our oldest of the two we saw a gentle, nurturing, compassionate little one who reminded us a lot of his big brother, Tyler. In our four-year-old, we saw mischief in those big, brown, beautiful eyes! We said out loud, "This little guy is going to give us a run for our money!" God was getting our hearts and our home ready for our boys!

So, why was the day laced with doom and gloom? Because the enemy was busy at work planting lies and accusations in our hearts and minds. Yuck. He is the prince of lies and he kept saying things to us like, "You're too old to start this all over again. You can't handle it. You'll never be able to communicate with these boys OR discipline them. Why should you give up your peaceful times alone? Your time with your two oldest children? Your date nights? Your ministry needs? Your coffee dates with friends? Your... (fill in the blank)!" Ugh.

A dark, thick cloud of concern and doubt crept over me. Until I realized just what in this world was going on. As I prayed and sought the Lord desperately, I began to ask Him if I had misunderstood this calling. I began to ask Him I had been disobedient, and if so, that He would shed light and let us know which way to turn. Should we go to the right or to the left? I reached out to close friends and family and asked for prayer; feeling that we needed our brothers and sisters to intercede and surround us with love. In the middle of the night, Paul and I woke up at the same time to the realization of what was going on. Satan was trying to snag our boys from us, and from Jesus! What a wicked creature. But God is bigger and better, and sovereign. He again spoke to us about His plans for our family. And it is always His plans that reign supreme.

A peace that truthfully surpasses any understanding washed over us. We received a profound email from our daughter and felt completely "schooled" in faith. We prayed and agreed that we loved our sons. They were coming home with us and no matter what challenges we face, we won't be alone. The answer was simple. Don't turn to the right OR the left! Stay on the straight and narrow path I have laid for you, and I will be with you. Aaahhhh... the peace of God and His promises.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - COURT DAY!

This is it. We've been reminded several times that this adoption is "irrevocable". No returns. No exchanges. Done deal! Well, let's get to it, already! :-)

What an amazing day. We saw our boys in the morning during visiting hours. We came back to the guest home for lunch, but for one reason or another, it's been difficult to eat a complete meal (all of which are amazingly delicious, generous, and prepared with much love!). Today, the reason was, we just wanted to get in front of that judge and say "YES!".

Eshetu, our precious driver and new friend, took the Bonds and us to the courthouse right after lunch, as our appointment was at 1:30. Ranell and I were pretty giddy heading over. There is something about "going to court" that encourages butterflies in the tummy. The room itself was pretty sterile and it filled quickly with many couples waiting for their "yes" moment in front of the judge. Our nervousness was loudly apparent as we made quirky comments and asked questions that we really should've known the answers to, such as, what orphanage our children came from. Eshetu laughed til the tears flowed when Paul said, "Should we know?" It's a good thing the question came up because that is how we are called in to see the judge; by our children's orphanage names! Aiyaiyai!

As promised, we were one of the first couples (the third) to enter the small room where the beautiful, young judge sat behind her desk, heaped with files and papers. Her voice was calm and peaceful and her smile genuine and kind. When she asked us if we enjoyed our time with the boys we answered with an imperative yes and she looked down on the papers on her desk; our file a mile thick spread out before her. Then she said, with a beaming smile on her face how delightful and fun they look in their pictures! I thought to myself, why, Yes. They already radiate the joy of the Lord!

Then it was done. It was finished. It was accomplished. The boys were legally declared ours! Hallelujah! God has done great things for us! How profound it was as we went straight to the foster home to tell our two youngest children they were officially Gregersens! I ponder now the words of Mary, the mother of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ...

"My soul magnifies Adonai,
and my spirit rejoices in God, my Savior,
Indeed His name is holy, and in
every generation
He has mercy on those who fear Him."
Luke 1:46,47,50

Loving that we shared this precious time with two special families; now special friends - Jeff and Liza Ford & David and Ranell Bond. Love you guys forever!