Visiting Lalibela

Visiting Lalibela

Thursday, March 25, 2010


We just got home from our wonderful trip- we're exhausted but had a great time. Mike has been very busy here- he's an amazing man- and has almost everything in place for our new business..

I explained to Gavin that in one week he would legally be Gavin Dawit Sweeney, as far as our government was concerned (his adoption finalization). He said, "Mommy, I don't want my name to be Legally. I want it to be Gavin.."

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Heading home

The kids and I will be heading home tomorrow afternoon, after several FUN days with cousins in Minnesota. We are so thankful for the relationships they all have and the friendship of my sister and husband. I am blessed.

Mike flew home from Inidanapolis for a crisis with EnerCrest, the company he worked for..the crisis is over, EnerCrest is done and he is now one day away from starting our own business in North Dakota. WHEW!!! God never ceases to amaze us with HIS timing of things. I am so thankful to have a husband who wants to provide so well for his family, who works so hard for us all to grow our family and who is respected by those who work for him.

Last night, we met with the Korson Family for dinner and it was so much fun!! We had met their kids at the Transition Home last June and have been in communication since then. It was so fun to reconnect with them and for Gavin to see 3 more kids in a wonderful loving family. I echo Almaz's prayer, "God you are so, so good!!!" Almaz (Talia) also knew the kids we are hoping to adopt. She had some great stories fo them for us and is so happy they will have a family. Thank you Korsons for the fun evening- your family is beautiful! We can't wait to see you again!

Please pray for travels tomorrow. I'm leaving tomorrow afternoon to get at least 4 hours down the road, so as to not travel 10-11 hours on Thursday without Mike. Right now, the interstate is closed at Fargo because of flooding. I'm praying it will be open tomorrow and we can buzz right through.

We'll post pictures this weekend from our fabulous Bench reunion in Indianapolis. It was one of the best times we've ever had and so good for Gavin. Thanks, Bancrofts, if you are reading this. You taught us so much about hospitality. The trip was GREAT!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Up and Down days

We are having a blast in Indianapolis, as Gavin has reunited with some of his friends from Benchi Maji. It is so fun to see these boys reconnect and play, as if they'd never been apart, even though this time they're speaking English!!! We are so thankful for the hospitality of the Bancrofts for putting this on- what an amazing host!!

We met with an Ethiopian pastor today for several hours for some question/answer time about Ethiopian culture. I learned a ton and now have a better understanding of some of the things that Gavin does- like getting totally embarrassed when Mike and I kiss (apparently, parents don't show affection like that in Ethiopia). What was most interesting, though, was his thoughts on attachement--In the adoption world, there is much thought and planning going into bonding- people will tell you that your child is not attaching if they run up to too many strangers...well, in Ethiopia, children are TAUGHT to run up to other adults and allow them to hug them..So, I'm hoping by sharing this, other adoptive parents will be able to enjoy their children and not worry so much about attachment right off..

On the rough side--we heard from our friend in Williston that Nick had run away two nights ago. WE are so thankful that he was found and especially for our friend Shelley..

Then, about an hour from Indianapolis, Mike got a call about a MAJOR problem with his work in Williston. He had to fly home very early this morning and won't be able to be with us for the rest of the trip. We miss him terribly, but know that this will benefit the entire family in the future.

Monday, March 15, 2010


This next week, we will be able to reunite Gavin with some of his friends from his village in Ethiopia. We are CRAZY excited for this trip to happen, as these boys all shared the same journey and haven't seen each other, except for SKYPE, since they all came home to their forever families. He has been looking forward to this trip since it was planned. Thank you Bancroft Family for putting this together for all of these neat kids.

Now on the new adoption front-We meet with Gavin's adoption attorney today to go over the paperwork to finalize his adoption. We should be able to finalize at the end of the month...then, we will start our homestudy visits and hope to complete our homestudy quickly. I have collected almost all of our dossier paperwork, so that will be ready to go, when we have the homestudy completed.

We are requesting a sibling group of 4 children. We are praying that our homestudy will approve us for them, since we KNOW them and already feel like they are a part of the family. We have such peace about this decision and are excited to move forward. We look forward to the day when our agency can tell these children, "YOU HAVE A FAMILY. YOU ARE NOT FORGOTTEN!! THEY KNOW YOU BY NAME AND PRAY FOR YOU ALL THE TIME." and then to see their faces on that first trip to Ethiopia...


Facebook: "There are 100k children waiting to be adopted in the US. There are 300k churches. One family in one out of every three churches adopting a domestic child would eradicate that number. Read that again, because it should shock you just how easy it would be to have these children in homes."

I just copied this from Facebook-- CHURCH, it's time to get involved...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Just Love Coffee Roasters

Just Love Coffee Roasters

You can now help us fund our adoption by purchasing GREAT fair trade coffees from around the world. Just click on the link above to access our store. These are great gifts to purchase for friends, your office or for home. Everyone that we've given them to loves the coffee. For every bag you purchase, we get a portion of the proceedds towards bringing our kids home!! Thank you ahead of time.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Change in Ethiopia adoptions

Today, the government in Ethiopia put in place some major changes to their adoption procedures. With Gavin, we traveled to pick him up after he was already legally our son. Our agency, AW, represented us in court.

As of today, BOTH adoptive parents must appear in Ethiopian courts and state their desire to adopt the referred child. Then, after passing court, the parent (s) return 10-12 weeks later to bring their child(ren) home.

So, it looks like Mike and I will get an anniversary trip this year after all. Please pray about this change for many families:

1. This will raise the cost of adoption significantly, as parents must pay to fly to Ethiopia twice.

2. This will allow parents to meet their kids before court-which is good- and then leave them for 10-12 weeks-- this is the hard part on both families and children.

3. This will simplify the readoption process, as the children will be issued an IR--3 visa and will be US citizens immediately upon landing on US soil. This will save us several thousands in readoption expenses.

SO- this policy is probably a good thing, even though it means a little more work on our part. Please pray for us, that everything else will be done in a timely manner, so we can weather these delays and still bring the children home quickly.

Thank you.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Birthday boy

Tomorrow (March 9th) is Gavin's birthday. We don't really know when his BIRTH day is, because record keeping of such things does not exist in rural Ethiopia. However, it was one year ago tomorrow, that he was taken to the orphanage in his village by his uncle. So, it really is a birthday- March 9 represents the first day of his new life!!

We celebrated yesterday, thinking Mike would be in Denver on Tuesday (thanks, Great Lake Airlines for having a plane that didn't work and keeping my husband at home!). It was his first birthday party, first time to blow out candles, first time to blow party horns, first time for his own scavenger hunt (thanks Janika for the cool clues) and first time to have anyone sing, "Happy Birthday" to him! It was a blast~we are so glad to help him celebrate all of the things he has gone through and accomplished this past year.

Friday, March 5, 2010


Just got word that Gavin's court report has been sent to the state DHS office in Bismark. This means that we can hopefully finalize his adoption in the next few weeks and actually start our homestudy visits with the social worker for our next adoption.

Gavin is so very excited about his first birthday party on Sunday. We are blessed to have an older couple from our church, who love adoption and my kids, to come share cake with us. This same surrogate grandma will be at his readoption hearing and has even offered to travel with me when I go to pick up our other kids (we have NO idea who will be going, yet). If Mike and I travel, she wants to stay with our stateside, even though this move has been an interesting one, having people in our lives like "Grandma Bert" make it GOOD...Again, I am very thankful.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Today I received the most wonderful phone call from one of Mike's college buddies. He called to say that his wife was pregnant!!! YEA!! We are so very excited for you!

The other reason he called was to say that they wanted to pitch in with our adoption expenses...WHAT? They are just starting their family, yet want to help us grow our's too.

I am humbled and thankful.

Friends who have just brought children home from Ethiopia have given us a donation--
that's amazing, as I know they have several more payments ahead for themselves, as they are now in the post adoption stage.

I'm blown away.

My sister and brother-in-law are helping with upfront costs- WOW! (Actually, their comittment was the confirmation we needed to initiate the process)

As you can see, God is using other people to meet us on this adoption journey. We are extremely thankful..I know our children will be too, when we tell them how many people helped bring them home.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Older child adoption

My friend, Kristi, just described seeing all of the older orphans on the streets in Addis Ababa. They are in country right now and are seeing what we saw 9 months ago. The reality is this: If a child is over the legal age to be in an orphange (12), they end up on the streets with the 400,000+ other children who are orphaned and can't be in an orphanage, with no hopes of having a Mom and a Dad. My triplets are almost 12 and I can't imagine them living on the streets if something happened to really brings it home.

Alot of people are concerned with older child adoption, concerned with bonding, concerned with behaviors, etc. Our experience (granted, Gavin is only 6), is just the opposite. He bonded immediately to us. His behaviors have usually been similar to my other kids. He wants to be good, he is such a sweet hearted boy. Whenever he misbehaves (granted these incidents are SO minor) he cries, saying, "I didn't mean to do it." You see, he fights his flesh every day, just like we do. BUT he is so sweet and WANTS to behave all the time!!

This next time around, the children we hope to adopt are older than Gavin. They are beautiful, inside and out, as we know because Mike and the kids met them 9 months ago. We know, because when families come back from Ethiopia, they write things about them specifically, not using their names, but using descriptors of them that lets us konw that they really KNEW them. They all say the same thing.."They are KIND. They are beautiful on the inside and out."

Being an older orphaned child is tough. Being an orphaned older child in a sibling group is tougher...I'm sure they think all the time that no one will come for them. They see the babies being adopted around them (bonding is supposedly easier and who doesn't love a baby). I'm sure they wonder..why not me?

I love how Heidi Weimer says,"My life is not my own." I've learned so much this past year how that saying is true. My life should be for the glory of God and there is nothing more glorious to HIM than to give an orphan a hope, a hope for a future and for LOVE. We may not love perfectly, but we can still LOVE. That's what these kids need. That's what we all need.

We appreciate all of your prayers as we continue on this journey. We're getting this done very quickly this time, but there are still some hold-ups. We need to finalize Gavin's adoption here before we can complete our homestudy. We hope to do that next week. We need to complete our homestudy before we can let those kids know that they have a family who is doing everything we can to come get them...We look forward to that day!!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Our friends

Our good friends, Dale and Kristi Hall are in Ethiopia RIGHT NOW. They met their daughters today and will get to bring them with them tomorrow. It's so exciting to follow their trip and see these two precious little girls be united with their forever family.

We LOVE watching kids get placed with their families. It is a thrill every time. Way to go Dale, Kristi, Ethan and Maria~~ You are a blessing to us!