Mekonen is the Star!

Mekonen has become quite the star in my class of 1st and 2nd graders. Not a day goes by where one of the kids doesn't mention him. Today, one of the girls said, "Mrs. Oren, I don't want it to be summertime because then we won't see you everyday." To which I replied, "I will definitely miss you, but I can't wait for summer break." And that little girl said, "why?" Another girl, kind of annoyed that she didn't catch on says, "Because! She is going to get her baby!" It was so funny.

We had indoor recess today due to the rain and the kids were playing this little guessing game. I was supposed to put a name of a person or character on a sticky note attached their backs and they would go around asking each other questions about the person on their back and they had to guess who it was. Well, I put "Mekonen" on one of them and they just got the biggest kick out of that. It was pretty much mad chaos for a few minutes as they were laughing and screeching with excitement over the name I put. They all cheered when she finally guessed "Mekonen." Haha.

One of my little first grade boys, who is always drawing me pictures and writing me little notes came up to me and said, "Mrs. Oren. This is for the baby. Will you hang it on the wall in his bedroom?" Here's his drawing.... a teddy bear. So sweet.And today, on her handwriting page, one of the girls wrote "I love Mekonen." Looks like he's already captured the ladies. hehe.


Our Boy Is Growing!

Our Boy Is Growing!!

Yippee!! We came home from work today to an update report on Mekonen from our agency! At 3 months now he is 11 lbs. 2 oz. and 22.24 inches long! He's a peanut, but healthy and growing! Here's the chart we got (sorry it's a little fuzzy).

Here is what was written on his update form.

Mekonen Oren
Mekonen is doing very well. He can raise his head and turn towards the direction of objects and light. He turns his head, moves his arms and kicks legs independently of each other, and sucks his finger. He smiles when you play with him. He feeds well and sleep a lot.
Aww, just like his mama... sleeps a lot! :) I am glad he is gaining weight! When we first got our referral his medical form said he was 6 pounds on March 5th. Still a tiny little guy, but doing well! We got two new pictures of him today from another traveling family. Oh how I can't wait to hold this babe in my arms!


Adoption is Plan A

I don't have much to write by way of our adoption, except that I'm missing Mekonen. We got another picture of our boy today. He was sleeping in his little crib snuggled by a pink blanket! hehe. Oh baby, you make pink look good!

Jon was in Chicago this past week for the Gospel Coalition Conference where he listened to some of our favorite speakers: John Piper, Mark Driscoll, Tim Keller, and more! I wanted to go so badly, but couldn't due to work. We so desperately want to be in an environment where Jesus, the gospel, and calling people to repentence is the norm, the standard. I find myself frustrated with "the church." I sense a lack of urgency in "the church," a lack of connection to the Gospel, to JESUS. So much so, that one of our favorite pastors, who we listen to via podcasts, in every sermon brings JESUS and the GOSPEL smack in front of your face, right in the face of culture, right in the face of your sin, that at first, it almost seemed "wrong." After all, I have been a Christian since I was four years old when I understood that JESUS forgave my sins, so why haven't I heard so much about JESUS? I've heard a lot about GOD, a lot about what I need to be "doing," but honestly, not a lot about JESUS and what that means for my SIN as a believer.

Many churches see the gospel and JESUS as only for non-Christians who need salvation. That's where the Gospel stops in a lot of conservative, evangelical churches. Where did we get off the path? How have we gotten away from JESUS, the center of EVERYTHING! Pay attention to the sermons you hear in church. The application section of the sermon usually calls non-Christians to repent of their sin, and usually exhorts Christians to 'start doing good things', or 'keep doing good things.' It's been a long time since I have sat in church and heard the pastor vigorously, passionately, and directly, call me, a believer, a Christian, to repent of my sin. I despise that no one has done this. It has only further propelled me to try and "be perfect" instead of realizing my fallen state as a sinner and a human being who desperately needs to always repent, and always fall on the GRACE of Jesus. When repentence as a believer has not been a part of my teaching in the Christian church, I find myself struggling desperately with perfection, struggling to not beat myself up over my everyday mistakes and shortcomings. I view my sin as a complete bash on who I am as a person, how God views me, and how others view me. This is SO backwards and SO against everything the Bible teaches. Jesus did not die for us because of the good things we will do. He died for us simply because of His deep love for us. He has come to set me free, not just forgive my sins so I can go to heaven. It doesn't stop there. He is the cornerstone, the center, the very essence of all we do, think, and believe. There was nothing lovely, worthwhile, or good about me that caused Jesus to look on me with favor, and choose me. It was soley out of his love, goodness, and GRACE.

JESUS is what led us to adoption. JESUS is the very reason for the kind of life that we live. That is the reason it aggrivates me immensely when I see, hear, and witness Christians who do not understand adoption. How can you know the heart of JESUS and not get why we are doing what we are doing? It is incredibly painful to witness the subtle ways it is made known that adoption is thought to be "second best" to pregnancy. It's sad to say that there are some people who would view the expansion of our family with much more enthusiasm and excitement if that expansion were by way of pregnancy. This underlying thought is blaring, so easy to see, even when they try to hide it. And most of all, it's just utterly painful.

My mama defenses go up and I want nothing more than to hold Mekonen, take care of him, keep him safe, teach him about Jesus, and show him how much he is truly loved and cherished. I will do whatever it takes to protect him and make sure he knows he is OURS. I have never felt this insane, crazy, out-of-control protective love before, so watcht out...it's incredible. We pray daily for the GRACE needed to deal with the underlying subtleties that scream, "blood is always thicker..." Jesus, help us to be gracious. Help the hurt not to turn into bitterness and discouragement. For we know in all things YOU are leading us, and so, nothing else matters.


Quiet Thoughts

Our sweet baby boy, Mekonen Jack, has truly captured our hearts. I dream about him several times a week and think about him all day long at work. Most of the time, I am feeling super positive and excited about everything, but then there are days like today, where I feel sad. So sad that I'm watching my babe grow up in pictures. For some reason it really hit me this morning...that his little, tiny, 2 month self will soon be 3 months, then 4 months, then 5, then probably about 6 when he comes home. He will look and be so different in just those few short months. We got new pictures of Mekonen last week from a traveling family who returned home and it was the greatest boost to my day! Truthfully, I check snapfish about once a day to see if any new families have posted pictures. A new picture is usually just what I need! :)

It's really quiet at home right now. I'm supposed to be doing work for grad. school, and Jon is coaching baseball, but I am so distracted by this little man so far away in Ethiopia. Adoption is an amazing, but yet complex thing. Through much sorrow and sadness, comes another's joy and celebration. There are moments, when it's quiet like this, that I grieve in my heart for our son. That I feel the full weight of what he has experienced and lost in his short life already... the loss of being able to be raised by his birth family, in his birth country. But then there's the other side.. he is joining our family, forever, as our son, and what a crazy, insane amount of love we already have for him. Wow. The morning after we received our referral, I cried the whole way to work. The grief over our son's loss was so real, so heavy. And how do you deal with that, while, at the same time, you are rejoicing & celebrating, and would label the moment we saw his face as one of the happiest moments in our lives. Wow, talk about complex.

All I know, is that God is completely sovereign. That God values life and the blessing of children. That before the world began, he knew of all these things, he knew of Mekonen Jack who is forever ours. I can't sort out the complexities of adoption, but I can experience them as a gift from God and as a picture of how God has chosen to adopt us into His family.


Mekonen's Welcome Bag

Last week we sent Mekonen's welcome bag to AAI in Washington for our director to take to him when she flies to Ethiopia this week. How exciting! It was so fun to put together this little gift for him. We were told to send an outfit, a small toy, picture album with our pictures in it, and a dispoable camera for them to get pictures of him getting his bag. The key? It all had to fit in a gallon size ziploc bag! Whoa. We went shopping for this stuff on our date night the day after we got the referral call. Jon picked out a little blanket doggie toy which we washed in our regular laundry detergent/fabric softener and then slept with it for a week and a half. The agency suggested this so that it has our scent on it which he will then recognize when we come to get him. Awww, so sweet. I picked out two little outfits (we most likely won't get these back, and he probably will only wear them once as the laundry pile at the orphanage is massive to say the least). The picture album is one of the baby einstein one's where he can chew/play with it. We included 3 pictures of Jon and I, one of our dog Macy, and one of our nieces and nephew, labeled "Your Cousins!!" It came out very cute. :) So here it is!


And then this...Last night we went through our packet and signed our names 17 times officially accepting the referral of Baby Mekonen! It was shipped off to AAI this morning! Woo-hoo!!!
We also had to prepare a new Power of Attorney, get it notarized, physically bring it to the Secretary of State in Indianapolis, get the state seal, and FedEx it it to AAI. The Power of Attorney allows a specific man from AAI to represent Jon and I in court so we don't have to travel twice. The man we signed POA to has moved from Ethiopia to the United States. A new guy was hired and we had to prepare another POA that would allow him to represent our case. Phew. As far as I know, everything is all done for now.

Wow. I can't even believe we are at this point! Everyone said the waiting after referral was hardest, but so far, it has been easier! (although as we continue on, I might change my mind). It's easier now because I have a little face I see everyday when I get up, a little face I look at on my desk all day at work. I have a name to use when we pray, and a specific little person on my heart and mind all day long. What a joy!


What's In A Name?

With much excitement we officially announce the name of our son!

In case you can't read the piece of paper it says,
Mekonen- our son's given Ethiopian name. It is part of his life story and how he came to be ours. We have found two meanings of Mekonen.
1. noble, dignitary
2. the angel
Jack- named for my dad and Jon's grandpa.

It means so much to me to name our first born son after my dad. I would like to take the opportunity to share a bit about my amazing daddy! For those of you who know my dad, he is one of the most incredible men I have known, and will ever know, in my entire life. He loves Jesus more than life itself and forever I will remember him always singing, "I'd rather have Jesus than silver or gold, I'd rather have him than have riches untold. I'd rather have Jesus than anything, I'd rather be held by his nail pierced hands." My dad has an incredible story. I love hearing how Jesus saved my mom and dad. Their story is amazing, if you haven't heard it, you should ask them! My dad has experienced a lot in his life, our family, our spiritual lives, the life of the church, etc. Through it all, he has been faithful to Jesus, faithful to the Bible, faithful to his family. He works harder than anyone I know and has a peace deep in his heart. I commend my dad. In my 26 years he has shown me by his life who Jesus is. When God saw our destitute state, our depravity, our rebellion, he didn't sit far off, alone, distant, unengaged. No, he CAME. He came as the man Jesus and DIED for us. He fought for our hearts, pursued us, forgave our sins, rescued us. Amazing. Simply amazing. That is the picture I see of my dad. He sees his role as husband, dad, and spiritual leader as one who is like Jesus. Protector, defender, rescuer, healer, encourager, strong, and the list goes on and goes. When trouble has come into our lives, he never retreated, but rather pursued most vigorously.... our hearts and the hearts of those he was given to minister to. No matter what the outcome, my dad can stand and say "He has led well. He has been protector and defender." I honor my daddy because he loves like Jesus and through that, I have grown to understand how Jesus loves me. I pray and trust that my son, our first born son, will continue the godly heritage my dad has begun in our family. When he gets to a ripe old age, I pray my dad is encouraged by the legacy he himself started. He chose a different path. He chose to love Jesus. I hope that in that old age many years away, he can sit back, and watch from the corner of the room, the children he raised to love Jesus, and the grandchildren who followed, and the great grand children who followed. So Mekonen my dear son, you have a great heritage, a great legacy. Carry it well.

(This little post about my daddy wasn't intended to leave out Jon's grandpa. I just wanted to take the opportunity to publicly acknowledge my dad. Jon's grandpa and grandma tragically died in a plane crash before he was born. In just the recent years we have begun to hear the stories and life of his grandpa. They are incredible. This past summer at the Oren family reunion, I was blessed to hear so many stories about the man who is my husband's grandpa. The man who started a legacy on the Oren side of our son's family. So, I will have to let Jon tell you a little about him).

So...back to the naming process! Before we received our referral, we were undecided about a name. We had a list of names we liked, two or three we really liked, but nothing set in stone. We wanted to wait until we saw his face and heard his Ethiopian name. Without a doubt we said we would keep his Ethiopian name in some fashion, whether it be his first or middle. We decided to wait till we knew his name to see if we liked it, if it was easily pronounced, etc., for a first name. I can still remember when Merrily said, "His name is Mekonen." I just smiled. I loved it! This might sound strange to some people, but we sat on it, prayed about, and then decided! After all, God is concerned about all the affairs of our lives and the lives of our children, so why not the naming process? It was kind of stressful at first, deciding his name. I mean, this boy will have this name for life! It will be so much of who he is. Jon is very much a believer in a child's name having some kind of meaning and/or significance. We decided our baby's name on just those things! His heritage and his family! (And for all of you who don't like it, please don't tell me all the horrible things it reminds you of). haha.

Here's a fun little story from my four year old nephew Manny that my sister told me.
"mom... listen, mmmmmmmm, mekonen!, That starts with M like Manny! and we're both adopted! we rhyme!" "also mom, I think I will teach him to play baseball, but when we play baseball, I will only call him Jack." me: "why, manny?" "UGH, MOOOOMMM, b/c that's his baseball name." This was BEFORE we decided on Mekonen's name and before we announced it! Hehe.



Mekonen Oren
Healthy Baby Boy
2 months old
6 lbs. 20 inches long

I can’t believe I can FINALLY post the good news!!!!! WE HAVE A BABY BOY!!!! We have been FLYIN’ high since last Thursday when we received the very anticipated phone call from our agency. The phone call telling us of our very precious baby boy! His birth name is Mekonen (Meh-ko-nen) and we are for sure keeping it somewhere in his name. But, we haven’t officially decided yet if it will be his first or middle name. When we decide, we will let everyone know! ☺ We cannot post his picture until we pass court in Ethiopia, but I will tell you that he is the most beautiful, gorgeous baby boy ever! Trust me on this one… beautiful, soft brown skin, soft dark hair, and the biggest brown eyes you’ll ever see!

We have been waiting to post because we had to keep the referral a secret for almost an entire week! Talk about hard!!! Every day people kept asking us if we got a phone call. Our response was always, “No news to share yet!” Simply because we HAD news, we just couldn’t SHARE it yet. ;) We received the call at 7:39pm on Thursday, March 26th

To explain the events, I’ll share with you a letter I wrote to our baby that night.
Dear Mekonen,
I can’t even believe I am writing this! This evening we finally got to see your beautiful face and hear your wonderful name! Daddy and I were sitting on the couch and daddy was giving me a foot massage! We were watching a sermon video by one of our favorite pastors and then… my phone rang. Of course, I didn’t expect that it was AAI because it was past 7:30pm. I actually thought it was one of mommy’s best friends, Rachel or Georgia. I looked to see who was on the phone and across my screen I saw the numbers 4778. I knew those who were the last few numbers of AAI’s phone number, then before I could even process it, I saw those numbers… 360. The area code I’ve been waiting to see! I threw the covers off me, jumped off the couch, and picked up the phone. I ran to one of the kitchen drawers and grabbed a pen and pad of paper. Then, at 7:39pm a voice on the other line said the most treasured words, “Hi, this is Merrily. I have a baby to tell you about!” I couldn’t believe it! I just couldn’t believe this was actually happening! She told us your name was Mekonen. I love it! Daddy ran to get the video camera as Merrily told us all about you! She said you are a healthy baby boy and that your nutrition and development are all great. She said, “He’s a cute little guy and likes to be held and cries whenever the nannies put him down in his carriage.” She went on to give us some more information, which feels like a blur because I was so excited. Then she went on to say that they would email us all the info she was talking about, but that it might not be until tomorrow morning. I was kind of panicking inside when I heard that. I didn’t know if I could wait that long to see you! After we hung up the phone, your daddy and I hugged and cried together. I wish I could put it into words. We checked our email right away after we hung up the phone and it wasn’t there. We closed it and about 30 seconds later checked it a second time and it wasn’t there. I closed the email and checked again about a minute later! And…there it was! – An email with the subject line: Mekonen. We set up the video camera and with great excitement opened the email and your picture. You are so tiny and simply precious! I wanted to leap through the computer and hold you in my arms! You are about two months old and weigh 3.1 kg and are 52 cm long. That is 6.8 lbs and 20.47 inches. We are in love with you already! I don’t know how I am going to sleep tonight! I can’t wait to see more pictures of you and can’t wait to bring you home! This all seems like an amazing dream!

We love you like crazy!
Mommy & Daddy

So many are wondering… what took you so long to share the news! We were still waiting to hear back from our doctor about the medical report before we could officially announce our baby boy. It was almost a week later before we could share our news! On Wednesday night, April 1st, at 6:30pm we got the go ahead! “He’s a healthy baby boy! Congratulations!” As soon as we heard that, we started calling family and friends. Check it out! (sorry my voice is so loud in the videos and some are very close up of my face! haha). ☺
Telling Jon's Mom

Telling Rachael's Dad

Telling Rachael's Mom