Manny on Babies

My niece and nephew are here staying at my parents with us. My four year old nephew Manny was laying in his bed and wanted me to come in and kiss him goodnight. So I went in and snuggled with him for a minute and this was the conversation:
Manny: Auntie Rachael when are you going to get a baby in your tummy?
Me: Someday. But first we're going to get a baby from Africa.
Manny: Then you will put him in your tummy?
Me: No, then there will be a different baby in my tummy.
Manny: Well how will the baby get there?
(Here's me thinking, "oh no.")
Me: God puts the baby there.
Manny: Well how does God put it there?
Me: (still not sure what to say, I'm not the mom...so I say,) I don't know.
(to which Manny asked the same question again and I said the same answer of 'I don't
Manny: How does the baby get out?
Me: (still in my not sure what to say stage....) I don't know (to which Manny asked
the same question again and I said the same answer of 'I don't know').
Manny: I think it just slips right out!

I gave him a big kiss on the cheek and said, "I think you might be right!" And we did our little routine of eskimo and butterfly kisses and ended with his new saying, "You're my best friend," and off to sleep my Manny baby went. At least I have a few years before my kids ask the same questions and I'm then obligated to answer! :) For now, I'll be the auntie and leave that up to my sister! :) haha.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! We hope you are enjoying the holiday season with your family and loved ones! Jon & I drove about 11 hours to Pennsylvania to be with my family this year. It's always a loud and crazy bunch when we're together. We have 1 nephew and 3 nieces all under the age of four. Unwrapping presents was a great whirlwind of wrapping paper for about 30 minutes. My favorite gift was from Jon. He got me "The Faces of Layla" book which is a book of pictures of the orphanage where our baby will be. Wow. It has pictures of Ethiopia and all the kids and the orphanage. It made my heart melt. I want to be there so bad picking up our little guy. We got a couple soft toys from my niece and nephew for the baby, and the perfect blanket from my other sister. It's the exact one I wanted to get. It's SUPER soft and an adorable baby blue. Her girls both have them in pink and purple. One of the gifts we got the kiddos were t-shirts we made. They were very excited about them and Manny & Aderyn wore one of theirs today. One said, "Some cousins arrive by stork, mine by 747." And the other one said, "Waiting for our Cousin From Ethiopia." Here are some pictures of the shirts! From left to right: Manny, Aderyn, Natalie, Jane, & Baby Oren


Baby Gifts!

Merry Christmas Eve! We are finally here in PA! Yippee! It's nice to be home and visiting with my family whom we haven't seen since we moved in August. I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my niece and nephew tomorrow! I already got to smother my two other nieces all day yesterday! This will be a fun Christmas with four little ones under the age of four!

We celebrated Christmas with Jon's family on Sunday before we left. Both of our parents are always more than generous on Christmas. We were very excited with two specific gifts from Jon's mom! She got us our first two big baby gifts! We got our pack n' play and high chair! I LOVE them! You should've seen us trying to put this pack n' play together. I was so excited I took it right out of the box and we started assembling it. It took four of us to get it together. Haha. Here are pictures of the ones we got.


A Gift for Ethiopia

This past Monday I sent a letter home to the families of my students telling them about our adoption! My students were so excited! They came in asking all about the baby, and one little girl kept saying, "I just can't wait for your baby to come home!" They all offered me their suggestions for names too, which were quite funny. I got the most encouraging and thoughtful card from the parents of one of my boys. It's definitely going into our "Words of Love" project we've been compiling. I wish people could truly see how much it means to us to hear from people about our adoption. It's such a blessing! Then, this past Friday we had a half day of school before the Christmas break. We had a big school Christmas party and one of my students gave me the most thoughtful gift. Even cooler was the fact that they got this gift BEFORE they knew about our adoption. Wow! Here's a picture of the gift....


This time around... our hearts are in Ethiopia

Christmas is my favorite time of year! We have been enjoying all the sights and sounds of Christmas... well, probably more so me, than Jon, as I blast the Christmas music that Jon is already sick of hearing! And of course, everyday I rush to the mailbox to see who sent Christmas cards! I especially love the ones with pictures! I love watching Christmas movies and lighting all my smelly pine tree candles. This year is a little different though with our hearts already in Ethiopia. It's truly the strangest feeling this year.... a longing I can't explain. We've only been on the waiting list for 10 days... 10 out of A LOT more days, but still, it feels different to be approaching the holiday with our eyes set on our babe somewhere in Ethiopia. I keep thinking...wow, Lord willing, our son will be here for Christmas next year! So exciting! In light of that, you've gotta watch this video by third day. It's just a few minutes long, but I cried through the whole thing.


DO Treat Prospective Adoptive Parents the Same as Expected Parents

Adopting a child is as exciting for soon-t0-be parents as being pregnant. Yet because adoption is not as common as a pregnancy and many people have unexpressed (or expressed!) biases about adoption due to their unfamiliarity with it, family, friends, and co-workers may feel reluctant to talk about an impending adoption. Biased comments, and even more so, silence, is very painful for the adoptive parents. It would be as if you were pregnant, and no one cared to share your joy. Adoptive parents feel the same way expectant parents do- overjoyed, overwhelmed, nervous, impatient, and, most of all, excited. Adoptive parents long for others to discuss the adoption with the same sense of excitement and levity that one brings to a discussion about pregnancy and childbirth.
For us, adoption is not a "second best" option. This baby will be every bit a part of our family as a biological child. The bottom line is that a child is being brought into a family- our family- a small miracle no matter how it occurs.


Babies R' Us, Dreams, and My Manny Baby

Tonight was a fun, relaxing night! Jon and I went out to eat and headed off to Babies R' Us to check out a few things for Baby Oren's Christmas list! How fun! Jon is adorable about all this. He's very interested in all the gadgets, but yet making funny cracks about all the baby gear. When we would watch my niece Natalie when she was her teeny tiny 6 pound self, Jon was amazed at all the gear she required to simply go to the mall. I'm sure we were quite a funny sight tonight, walking around the store not really sure what we were doing or the differences between certain products. Most of the women in the aisle's were obviously pregnant, so it was funny to watch two of them look at my belly to see if I too, was having a baby. I wanted to shout with joy, yes I am having a baby...We're Adopting!!! :) So we picked out our high chair and pack n' play for Baby Oren's list, but will hold off on other big baby items till we find out who our son is. Some of the things will require us having a better idea of his age and size, but we knew we'd need those two things regardless.

So it's been two days of waiting! (Haha). I have been exhausted the last two days due to lack of sleep! When we found out about officially being on the wait list Wednesday night, I was SO excited I couldn't fall asleep. A million wonderful thoughts were going through my head. I usually don't remember many of my dreams, but the last two nights, once I do finally fall asleep, I have been dreaming A LOT about our baby! I have been dreaming about the moment we walk in and meet our son, I've been dreaming about what his adorable face looks like (although I forget the face as soon as I wake up), and I dream about him being here at home with us!

Wednesday night, after hearing about our dossier being sent to Ethiopia, I was thinking about the time I first met my nephew Manny. What a sweet memory!
It seemed liked FOREVER since my sister and her husband left for Guatemala to bring Manny back home. We couldn't wait for their arrival day! I will never, ever forget the moment I first laid eyes on him...it seems like yesterday! Our whole family, and my sister's husband's family, were standing in the airport, waiting right outside the long corridor of the plane. We anxiously waited for them to walk through the doorway. Every time we heard someone coming we got really excited. They ended being one of the last ones off. But then they came through the door and that precious baby boy was sitting there so sweetly with his mommy, snuggled up in the baby sling she was wearing. I will never forget the look on his little face. He had the cutest little hat on with a white and blue striped shirt and the most adorable smirky smile...and man, that smile. I still see that little smirky smile, even at his now, four years of age. I remember the first time I held him. He was so snuggly and content, smiling at everyone who held him. I didn't want to let him go! There were many tears and oohs, and aahhs, and shouts of congratulations and excitement. It gives me goosebumps to think about. We always wanted to adopt...even before Jon and I met, even before Manny ever came home. I met my nephew, held him in my arms, and knew, we would be next!


We Are Officially on the Waiting List!

Wow! What a day! I literally just posted that our I-171H came in the mail, and about 30 seconds later I checked my email and got a very special message saying our dossier was sent to Ethiopia today via Fed Ex and we are officially on the waiting list for baby Oren! Wow! I can't tell you how anxious I have been to hear this news! I can't tell you how many times I've driven home from work with tears in my eyes, just hoping today would be the day we got the news that we're on the list! Even though it's been only 2 months, 2 weeks, and 6 days since we started this process it feels like it's been a lot longer (and we have much longer to go!). The past two months we have been on psycho mode doing homestudy visits, doctor visits, filling out forms, getting fingerprinted, getting references, putting our life story on paper, having a home visit, getting our water tested, writing a will, filling out financial sheets, getting lab work done, and signing our name about a hundred times, and writing some very large checks! That entire packet of stuff called the dossier is now on its way to Ethiopia! We are another step closer to bringing our son home! WHAT A DAY THIS HAS BEEN!!!

Our I-171H!!!

Our I-171H came today!!! WAHOO!!! So I've been stalking our mail everyday waiting for the I-171H, even though I don't really know what it is. But what I'm gathering is that it's a big deal! And it arrived today! (At least I think that's what this is. haha). It says I-171H in the bottom corner with a letter that states "USCIS would like to congratulate you on your I-600A application for advance processing of orphan petition approval and completing the first step in the adoption immigration process" (etc., etc.,). It also said our application has been forwarded to the American Consulate at Addis Ababa Ethiopia (1-2 children) Via the National Visa Center. So anyway, I'm going to post this and email our agency to see what I need to do with this form. If any of you know what it is and what it means, etc. I'd love to hear from you! :)


Shoes for Ethiopians!

Tommy Tom Tom's Shoes! (I stole this from another blogger friend). I never heard of these shoes before, but I think they are way cute. But here is one reason to really love Tom's shoes. They are giving shoes to ETHIOPIA right now. For every pair of shoes you purchase, Tom's gives away a pair to a person in need....... and right now, a person in need in ETHIOPIA! The baby/kid shoes are especially cute! Check out the video and buy a pair for someone on your Christmas list!