Visiting Lalibela

Visiting Lalibela

Friday, May 28, 2010


We just received an update on all of the kids. Their smiles tell me that they know they have a family- they are just beautiful! We were allowed to ask 5 questions with regards to their personalities and development and learned a lot about their English abilities--we'll be spending a lot of time on English this fall!!! We also got tracings of their foot size which is priceless! A's foot is the same size as Layne's, Z's is the same size as Gavin's and the older two have feet about the same size as Elli and Janika. Mike and I will be able to buy them shoes to take with us--HUGE PRAISE- Shoes save lives in Ethiopia, as cuts on the feet and sores from poor fitting shoes can easily turn into infection and infections can be deadly. Also, parasites in the soil easily come up through a child's feet and wreak havoc in their bodies. Now, our kids will be safe from both of these possibilities.

We have a conference call next Tuesday to learn more about the new way the courts are handling things. Hopefully, we'll get a court date in late June, early July. We're so ready to bring them home!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Dry hands

We just got back from a trip to Rapid City to have our fingerprinting done. It is a 5.5 hour drive each way. This morning, as I was having mine done, the lady kept saying, over and over that they might be rejected because my hands were too dry. She asked me if I had my hands in water alot...."um, yes, I have 5 kids." I"ve been putting tons of lotion on for the past two weeks to prevent this kind of thing from happening.

We're praying that my fingerprints are accepted and I won't have to make the trek back to Rapid for a redo. Prayers are appreciated...

Monday, May 24, 2010

Inter-racial adoption

Mike and I are heading to Bismarck for the day, for an interracial adoption training. We get to share our stories of both Layne's and Gavin's adoption. It's so funny, though, as I don't feel like I have a mixed race family. I just feel like I have two kids with big brown eyes and black curly hair. I have two kids who bring great joy to our family and vice versa. Love is not a color.

We would appreciate prayers today as we do encourage others to adopt a child of mixed or of another race. I keep remembering Mike's words, when we were in Ethiopia last year, "They're just like any other kid. They want to play and have fun, feel loved and safe."
If you can provide that to a child, please don't let race hold you back. As Gavin said, "It really doesn't matter." (I'm sure he sometimes looks at me and thinks, WOW her skin is white).

Friday, May 21, 2010

DTE today!

We are officially DTE that means our Dossier to Ethiopia! We will be able to track our paperwork as it makes its way to Ethiopia. Once there, our agency can ask for a court date for us. Several families just got court dates for the first week of June!! WOW- so fast this time around. We're so excited for everyone to see their pictures and get to know them!!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

An open letter to those questioning our decisions

This is an open letter to all who wonder how adopting affects my other children, those who have expressed their concern for our other children and those who may be considering adopting but are worried how it will affect your current children.

My big kids have been through the adoption process twice. The first time, we brought Layne home as a foster baby and then last year, when we brought Gavin home. Both of these additions have changed our family dynamic, both additions have meant less one on one time with Mom and Dad, both have been hard at first (think screaming baby for 6 full months- not her fault, nervous system on FIRE and severe painful reflux and for Gavin NO ENLGISH LANGUAGE SKILLS). Despite these short term difficulties, all three of my bio kids (I won't call them my own kids, because all of my kids are my own) encouraged us to adopt our next four kids. They prayed for them, prayed for us, for OUR hearts to be softened, prayed for the process once we started down it and now pray for their brothers and sisters to be home soon.

They ALL made the choice not to play traveling basketball, seeing the huge amount of money WASTED each week, when it could be going towards bringing more orphans into our home or being spent on sponsoring a child in Ethiopia, a child who was receiving one good square meal per week and now receives three per day. It was their choice - not our's and I'm so proud of the choice they made (with their genetics, they're probably not going to be professoinal basketball players anyway).

My big kids tell others ALL THE TIME about Ethiopia and adoption in general. They would love to see other children find families. They all plan to adopt when they're older. If you spend one hour with them, you'd know that they love their little brother and sister DEEPLY and wouldn't trade them for any other experience. You would see, what I see everyday, three pre-teens who care about each other, love to read stories to a 5 and 6 year old, love to give bedtime hugs and kisses and hang out with two pretty cool little ones. You would see kids who really know what is important in life, not cell phones and text messaging, but making relationships and caring about those around them. You would see two girls who LOVE learning what it means to be a keeper at home. One who loves to cook and the other who loves to nurture. You would see a handsome pre-teen boy who has an excellent work ethic, who knows how to pitch in and will make an incredible husband some day. My future daughters-in-laws and sons-in-law will all get a gift-- great spouses who know how to love deeply, care for others and have tons of fun.

Layne and Gavin are also supportive of our decision to adopt again. Even though Gavin is terrified of the thought of travleing to ET (he will be staying here both trips), he is the one who can most eloquently and passionately state, "Mommy, it's not good for them to be in an orphanage." He knows the life he was rescued from. He knows the safety and love he feels here. He wants that for other children too. Layne just loves having a big family. My girl loves well. She loves completely and can't wait to shower that love on more siblings.

I'm not nieve to think that it will be easy to add four more children into our home. We pray daily that we won't face some of the obstacles that other adoptive parents have faced with their children. My heart aches for them and their situations. We pray for them continually. BUT, God chose us for this path, so if there are obstacles, we know without a doubt, that HE will provide the strength we need to face any obstacle. HE will be the grace we need to get through tough days. He is the ONE who loves the orphan, more than I ever could...I truly believe He weeps over the orphan CRISIS all the time, children sitting in orphanages, with no hope and no future.

We have seen God carry us through some pretty tough times in the past, times that we thought we couldn't make it through, but with HIS help, we always have. If you're considering adopting and FEAR is what is keeping you from going through with it, STOP IT. If you are fearful for our decision to adopt STOP IT. There is no safer place than to be doing what God has called you to do. It might not be easy, but our lives aren't supposed to be easy, on this side of eternity. What better message could you be sending your children, that you are willing to take risks for the sake of a child, a child loved by the CREATOR, who deserves to be loved, even if that child never decides to love you in return?

Everyone always worries about bonding and attachment with adopted children. We have learned, and I've written this before, that love is an action. You love by doing for and caring for the child. You might not automatically "feel" love for the child, but you care for them as if you did. I think the child probably feels the same way towards the parent. I believe Gavin is just now feeling like I'm his MOMMY. He's always known that I was his mom, but now I'm his Mommy- quite a difference. Sometimes it only takes a short time to feel like a family, sometimes it may take a year and sometimes it might not ever feel completely right. Can't the same be said for biological families? It's not a good enough reason for us to step away from what we feel called to do.

When you see our children's faces, you will understand why we are doing what we're doing. They are children of the King of Kings and should feel like the Princes and Princesses they are, not like some forgotten rags.

Monday, May 17, 2010


Yesterday's garage sale was incredible. The weather was fantastic, the turnout was great and the results were truly amazing. We had donation after donation come in for the sale. I had an army of homeschool Moms and church friends here helping for the past two days. Thank you, Stephanie, Mary, Adrianna, Entire Larsen crew, Karen, Jodi and Grandma Bert (who sold caramel rolls and sloppy joes during the garage sale). Your encouragement, while marking prices, helping shoppers, laughing at the chaos was priceless!! Mike's guys all came by Saturday morning, to move furniture and help in any way they could. We are humbled, beyond humbled. This community has shown so much love to us and to our family-- what an amazing testimony.

SO- the grand total for the day was just over $3800!! That amount will pay for our plane tickets for court AND most, if not all, of our expenses for the week. Again, we make enough money to raise these beautiful children, it's just the upfront costs that are pricey, especially after doing this one year ago.

Finally, Brenda and Greg, my sister and brother-in-law have been a constant source of encouragement for us. They have come alongside us in every possible way and their love is so appreciated. We can't wait for our new kids to feel the love from all of you that you continually show us. It will be fun for them to read these blog posts and see how many people helped to bring them home as quickly as possible.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

fingerprinting appointment

We keep moving forward with this adoption and it gets more and more exciting. We get to get our fingerprints done on May 26, so hopefully, we'll have our USCIS approval shortly after that!!

We had an AMAZING team of helpers getting ready for the garage sale today. People that I didn't even know came to love on us by unloading boxes, pricing items, setting things up- all to support our adoption. We have an amazing church- truly living their lives in service to others. Thank you God for moving us to Williston. You knew before we did, what a neat community this was.

Garage sale is tomorrow-

Thursday, May 13, 2010


I just saw a great t-shirt that another adoptive family is selling. The t-shirt reads, "Love is not a color" I love that saying~~ love is definitely not a color, nor should color define who can be loved.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Dossier sent in!!

We just sent off our dossier (the bundle of paperwork needed for intercountry adoption). It will get to America World by Friday, get translated and sent to Ethiopia. Once there, they can request a court date for us!! We're really hoping for an early July court date.

Loving homeschooling my kids today- I am blessed!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Blown AWAY

Mike and I don't like to ask for help. We were both raised to be VERY independent, so when we faced funding an adoption at the same time as starting a new business, in a new community, it was hard for us to let people know that we had a need. Well, our good friends, The Larsens, opened the door for us, encouraging us to have a garage sale to fundraise for our adoption expenses. I wrote an email to the church, explaining that we were having this garage sale and to put it mildly, we are blown away!!

We have had a steady stream of cars, over the past two weeks, bringing items over for our sale. We have been met with so many smiles, and encouraging words in addition to things. We've also been given really nice clothes for our kids to wear, in addition to the ones donate for the sale. Kael has a completely new wardrobe, the girls have many,many new clothes and we have new clothes for the new kids. I'm amazed, at God's continued provision and how HE has used the wonderful people of Williston to complete this plan.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

My kids got up early this morning to make me some delicious wheat free pancakes, clean up the house and work on laundry! They've all been working diligently on Mother's Day cards all week and yesterday, Kael said to me, "You know how some kids don't like to hang out with their parents? I don't understand that because I think you're pretty cool, Mom."

I can remember feeling that way about my Mom. It's been almost 6 years since she went to be with Jesus. It's been six years of missing her, but also 6 years of being SO THANKFUL that my Mom was Jeri Belle.

When one of my kids is sick, like Layne has been this week, I remember all of the times I was sick, when I was little and how compassionately my Mom cared for me. She was also my advocate- making sure I got the best medical care possible, in our small Wyoming town, and sometimes taking me outside our small town if needed.

My Mom was a great teacher- she was ever so patient..even during long hours of ripping out seams on 4-H sewing projects, practicing demonstrations, running me to sports practices and teaching me how to appreciate the beauty in the mountains around us. She loved new life and would take us for a drive every spring to see all the new babies and flowers blooming.

My Mom offered the most incredible support when our triplets were born, staying with me for the 4 months of bedrest. She would lovingly help me dress each morning, not making eye contact, as she knew I was mortified to have to have help getting clothes up over my enormous baby filled belly. She came back after the babies were born and tirelessly got up every 3 hours to help feed them, burp them and put them back to bed. She never complained, even though her body ached with rheumatoid arthritis and she stuggled to breathe most days.

My Mom was BOLD- I found a book of memories she had been keeping and she talked about riding BULLS in high school. I knew she had rodeoed, but had no idea she rode BULLS--WOW-- pretty cool, Mom. My Mom loved to fish, not by herself but with other people. I think she saw how much personal time this afforded her with the lucky fishing buddy (lesson learned; take those quiet moments with your kids whenever possible).

My Mom loved my kids and they loved her. She always stopped by just to spend time with them, read to them or just give a smile. She set the bar pretty high for me to follow..

I am so thankful for the Mom I had. I am so thankful that three of my kids got to have her as a grandma.. I love being a Mom- it is truly the best job I could have and I'm so excited to be the Mom of 9! At the same time, my heart breaks for mothers around the world, who are unable to care for their children, or for children who have lost their mothers. It was tough enough in my 30's, when I was married and had my own family. I can't imagine if I were a child, my father had also died and I was now in charge of my younger siblings, or if my parents died, and I was being raised by family who really couldn't affored to feed me in addition to their children.
(These are some pretty common scenarios in many, many countries)

On this Mother's Day, my prayer is that more children will gain mothers, mothers like mine, who made me feel loved all the time, mothers who will go to the ends of the earth for their child, mothers who will step out in faith to say to a child, "You are worth it."

Do you have a great Mom? If so, you can be a great Mom to a child who is motherless... We would love to hear stories about your Moms. Leave us some comments!

Friday, May 7, 2010

a long day

Everything has been moving so fast with this adoption, I was forgetting that there could be bumps in the road. We hit one today, but it was only minor. Having collected all of my dossier documents, Janika and I headed out early this morning to Bismark (4 hour drive). We showed up at the Secretary of State's office to find out that two of our documents had been notarized incorrectly...ughh. I have to say, though, Char at the SOS office is the NICEST government employee I have EVER met. She talked me through how to get it remidied and back to her by tomorrow. SO, we got back into the car and drove the 4 hours back, just in time to collect the two new improved documents in Williston.

Even though it was somewhat of a wasted trip adoption wise, my time with Janika was priceless. She is so great to have in the car- great conversationalist and FUNNY. We had a wonderful time and the date time was well worth it. I don't often get that one on one with my kids and love getting to know them that much more when the opportunity arises. I am so thankful for each and every one of them and for their hearts towards their new siblings.

We are coming kids!! We can't wait to all be together!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

New blog button

Our cyber friend, Becky Burk, is desinging blog buttons to raise funds for their next adoption. The neat thing about these buttons is it benefits two families: Becky's as she and her husband paperchase for a sweet child from the Congo and our family, as families add our blog button to their blog. The more people out there reading our blog, the more prayer warriors we have praying for our family. We know all things are possible through prayer and the more prayer warriors we have, the better!! SO, if you have a blog and want to encourage others to read our story and see how God has blessed us through the miracle of adoption, grab our button and put it on your blog!! Maybe it will result in one more child finding a forever family-- maybe more than one child will find homes!!! That is the real reason we blog- to encourage others to walk down this road called adoption. We want to be a voice for those 147 million orphans who are aching for family.

Happy blogging!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Exciting few days

Before we get on to the news of the past few days, please notice the new blog button at left. We started sponsoring a boy at Kind Hearts, which is just outside Addis, a few months ago. This sponsorship is unlike any we've ever seen and we are blessed to be a part of it. Click on the button to find out how you can impact the life of a child. Mike and I will be able to meet our sponsor child when we travel this summer- so excited about that opportunity.

We officially accepted our referral. Since then, we have been inundated with emails from families who have met our kids in Ethiopia. Their words could be carbon copies of each other. They all say how kind, beautiful and amazing our kids are. We feel honored to be able to bring them home. They should be getting a letter from us and a picture explaining to them who their new family is and seeing how many of us there are!!

We are sending in our application to the Dept. of Homeland Security today. It's the last piece needed to request a court date. We would appreciate prayers for a speedy turnaround.

I've been asked about pictures. Yes, we have many pictures of the kids, including the ones Mike and my big 3 took when they met them last June. I can't post those pictures, though, until we pass court. This helps maintain confidentiality--and we fully understand. Believe me, when we're able to put pictures up, we will put up a ton--

God is good- all the time!!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Williston- have you seen the news?

This post is totally unrelated to adoption, but have you seen the news about Williston? We had no idea when we moved here in October, that Williston would turn into the hotspot for employment in the United States. The New York Times and Denver Post have done stories on Williston, describing the work opportunities here and total lack of housing. Men are literally living in their trucks in the Wal-mart parking lot. Friends from church are LIVING in a hotel..actually I've heard there are over 5000 men living in hotels in the region. There is a waiting list of over 200 people on every apartment in's crazy, but so good. With the economy in the dirt, it's so nice to see so many HARD working men, putting in LONG, LONG hours in sometimes unbelievable conditions, to provide for their families.

We are so thankful to have found a house when Mike was asked to move here. This house was really the only house available at the time for a family of our size, with two dogs and we were able to close within 2 months. The housing prices here were much cheaper than in Sheridan, which we were thankful for.

I said this wasn't adoption related, but it is. The house we bought has 6 bedrooms, lots of space and a big fenced in back yard. You see, God knew we would be bringing home more kids and knew we needed the space. He was opening doors to this adoption long before we even had another adoption on our radar.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Accepting Referral

Tomorrow, Mike and I will be sending in our referral acceptance!! This is all moving so fast, since we didn't officially start the process until March. We are so thankful, though, since this means our kids will be able to come home so much quicker than expected. This Mama's heart is happy! It also means this Mama will be busy.

We will be checking all of our dossier paperwork, as soon as I'm done typing this. As soon as our Homestudy arrives in the mail, I will be hopping in the car to drive to Bismark, to get everything certified. Our dossier can possibly get sent off as early as Friday. Then, it will get translated for approximately 2 weeks and sent off to Addis Ababa. Once it arrives there, our agency will request a court date for us. There is a possiblity that Mike and I could travel in July to testify in court about our intent to adopt them.

Once we are able to share their pictures, everyone will see why we so desperately want to be their parents. These children are beautiful, both inside and out. They will be wonderful additions to our family and the entire Stateside Sweeney Clan is very excited to have them here.

Thank you all for your prayers as we continue to move forward on the adoption express. It is a crazy, wild ride. We wouldn't have it any other way.