Wednesday, October 27, 2010

shopping for greer

as we wait for our trip in december, more and more i am finding myself getting the itch... the itch to SHOP!!

every time i have a few free moments, i pop open my computer and begin browsing various baby websites on the internet, or i randomly stop by t@rget or b@bies-r-us because i can't help but think of all things i want need for greer. yes, we do still have quite a bit of things from baby P that we will use for the greer man, but truthfully, i am looking forward to getting some new things too!

as much as i always considered myself more of a girl's girl and dreamed of pink bows, cute baby leggings, and tutus, i admit that thinking of cute little sports jerseys and baseball caps make me just about as excited now. while i'm still clinging to my last bit of self-control and haven't actually purchased anything for greer yet...a few of these things may tip the balance soon and send me off the shopping deep end!!

look at all this cuteness:

*come on, what little guy doesn't need to wrangle his dreams in these adorable cowboy pjs from babyg@p??

*how about these adorable ash grey, tiny toms? not only are they precious, but for every pair purchased, one pair is donated to a child in need around the world. that just makes it all worth it!!
*i love mr. verdi the monkey, one of the most adorable blabla dolls. {ryan, if you're reading this...i use the word "doll" very loosely. he's more like a stuffed animal really, promise.} what boy wouldn't love this cute/manly little guy?

*there are so many great children's books about adoption, ethiopia, racial differences, etc. and i cannot wait to buy a slew of them to share with our little greer! these are just a few that i have my eye on...

*and since we'll hopefully be bringing our sweet boy home from africa to the chilly february weather in kentucky, i know he'll need lots of blankets. i love this one from b@bies-r-us, especially if we added his little name embroidered on it!
*and since my sweet guy will be "made in ethiopia", i love this little shirt that proudly states just that from lkdkids shop on etsy.

*and last but definitely not least...some red sox gear for our team's littlest fan!

ok, that's enough of my shopping wish list for now! i'm pretty sure i could go on and on but i'll spare you...for now :)

Monday, October 25, 2010

flights - check / excitement - check

i just got off the phone with our travel agent and have locked in our plane tickets for ethiopia! phew. very exciting and a relief. i was worried because we are traveling so close to christmas that flights would be unbearably expensive, but we are only paying about $150 more per ticket than what we had originally budgeted. also, if all goes well, ethiopian @ir is supposed to be running a sale on flights in february {$999 for a round trip from washington d.c.} so hopefully if our embassy appointment is in february, we can make up the ticket difference then by getting cheap flights. we are officially leaving louisville on december 16th in the evening, and will be arriving back on christmas eve around 6:30 p.m. we're a little sad to be missing ryan's company christmas party and our favorite family christmas eve party, but our little guy is TOTALLY worth it :)

also, just as a testimony to God's continued provision for us throughout this adoption, we are part of a new trend with ethiopian adoptions. i previously mentioned that when we would be assigned 2 different court dates - 1 for the birth family that we wouldn't attend and 1 for our family where we'd travel to ethiopia for our first trip. however, much to our surprise, when we got our call regarding our court date last week, we were told that instead of 2 separate court dates that we'd been assigned only one {december 21}. what does that mean exactly?? well, instead of having to wait to book plane tickets until after we were sure that we'd passed our first court date, we'll have them both at the same time! with the way flights are already booked up now, i doubt there would have been a way for us to get flights to ethiopia and back so close to christmas with only 2 weeks notice. this change is not only very convenient for booking our flights, but hopefully also reflects that ethiopia is continuing to streamline their adoption process while maintaining the integrity of their program.

so, when we go to ethiopia in december, our case will be heard twice on the 21st. the first time in the morning and the second time in the afternoon, looking something like this:

*1st court date/MOWA court date in the a.m.: the birth family or ethiopian official appears at court to finalize the relinquishment of their rights. MOWA {ministry of women's affairs} makes a favorable or unfavorable recommendation for the adoption to be finalized.

*2nd court date/adoptive family's court date in the p.m.: we will appear at court later that afternoon to verify that we have met nathanel and are ready to proceed with the adoption. if all goes well, this is when he will officially become legally adopted and a sweeney!!

i can't believe we'll be leaving on a jet plane in just 52 days!!! thanks for all your excitement, sweet words and encouragement. it's been so awesome to walk out this journey with friends {in
"real life" and blog land}.

*also, if there are any blog lurkers out there that are going to be in ethiopia around the same time as us, stop by and say hello!! who knows, maybe we can meet on the other side of the world :)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

a christmas trip to ethiopia!

merry christmas to us!!!

today has been a wonderful day...we received 11 pictures of our little nathanel and also got word of our court dates! what a blessing both are :)

first things first, the pictures are absolutely adorable. it looks like our little guy is very happy and healthy, and we can't wait to finally meet him in person. oh how i wish i could post the pictures on here but i can't :( however, i will say that i'm pretty sure that he has the cutest big brown eyes ever!! ryan was so jealous because lesley emailed the pictures to me and i got to see them way before him. i forwarded them to him as soon as i got them but his poor computer took so long to download the email because of the huge file sizes. sorry dear!

secondly, we are officially due in court in ethiopia on december 21st. wahoo!! what a wonderful way to celebrate the birth of our Savior! we are already beginning to look into flights and will most likely be leaving the US on december 17th and returning on december 23, just in time for christmas eve parties! we are excited to know that we will be traveling with 2 other families who are also from louisville and will be meeting up with 2 more families from other parts of the country but that are using our same agency. i can't believe we finally have a date! let the count down begin...

Monday, October 18, 2010

waiting for a court date...

so many people have been asking us lately what the next step is for our adoption. sorry i haven't done a great job of conveying that for any of you non-ethiopian adoption folks who might read.

basically, we are now {you guessed it}... WAITING again :) yes, if you haven't caught on by now, adoption is just a seemingly never-ending cycle of waiting. after waiting 3.5 months for our referral, now we are waiting to be assigned 2 court dates in ethiopia. we were told that our case was filed for court a week or so ago and that it would possibly take 3-4 weeks to find out our court dates. when we hear about court, we will be given 2 different dates.

the first court date is referred to as the MOWA {ministry of women's affairs...i believe} court date. we do not have to be present for this court date, but it will be where our little guy's mother will come and relinquish her rights. if all goes well at the first court date, usually around 2 weeks later we will have our second court date. this is the big one! the second court date is the one that ryan and i are now both required to attend. this will be when we will take our first trip to ethiopia to meet our little greer, get to love on him, and hopefully become his legal and official parents! from what we can tell from other families in our agency, we will probably arrive 3-4 days before our second court date and get to spend about 2-3 days visiting with greer in his orphanage. we will not be allowed to take him out of the orphanage at that time so that it is not super confusing for him when we have to leave the country again. we will get a chance to sightsee on the trip, soak up all the ethiopian culture possible, and possibly even meet greer's birth mother at court.

if all goes well and we pass both of our court dates, we will then leave ethiopia and come back home to wait some more. this time, we will be waiting for the ethiopian courts and the US embassy in ethiopia to coordinate their efforts on a passport and visa for our little guy. typically about 6 - 12 weeks later, we'll be back on a plane to ethiopia for our final trip to bring greer home. oh, i can't wait!!!! i get so excited every time i let myself think about going over to finally meet our little guy so just thinking about bringing him home once and for all sends me over the moon!

so, if you're interested in praying for us in this part of the process, here's how you can:
*please just pray for our little guy. pray that he stays healthy and that his heart is prepared to accept us as his forever mommy and daddy. he just turned 11 months old last week so with each passing day, we know that we are missing important milestones and want nothing more than to bring him home. in the meantime though, we want him to be happy, comfortable and well taken care of, which it seems he is, so we want that to continue!
*please pray for us to be assigned a court date SOON! it is our sincere hope that we can take our first trip before the end of 2010. with some recent changing circumstances in our life, this has become even more of a high priority for us. we really want to get word that we'll be going sooner than later to meet him, and to be able to bring him home soon too.
*also, pray for smooth processing of all our paperwork and for us to pass each court date the very first time. this is probably more rare than you would think, so please pray! we know that God is sovereign over all these things, but we still want to ask :)
*finally, pray for ryan and i as we continue to heal from the situation with R & P, and prepare our hearts and our home to parent sweet greer. we are experiencing quite a few unknowns right now with our jobs and some other circumstances, so we are seeking God's direction on all these things so that we can focus our attention on greer when it is time to bring him home.

thanks for praying alongside of us and for being concerned about our journey! we can't wait to see what the next few months have in store for us!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

smiling from ear to ear!

we've had several families from our wonderful agency, arise for children, in ethiopia the last week or so visiting their kiddos. one family in particular, lesley and thom, are there now visiting their second son who happens to be in the same orphanage as our little guy. before they left, lesley said that she would try to get some pictures of our sweet nathanel while she was there but couldn't make any promises. either way though, she promised to love on our sweet guy and tell him that his mom and dad were coming to meet him SOON.

today, i checked my email and i received this note from lesley:

Hey Lesli & Ryan!!
Just wanted to drop you a QUICK note to let you know that I got to snuggle with your sweet boy today!! When Thom was holding Y, Woudneh took me to go find Nathanel.....he was standing in his crib!! I asked the nannies if I could pick him up...they said "sure, but he has no diaper"....I DID NOT CARE!!! I picked up that sweet boy and got in a good long snuggle with him and told him his mom and dad were going to come get him soon!!! Because he is matched - they let us take a couple of pics....i'm going to try to get some more for you tomorrow too! I'll be sure to email you those pics as soon as we get back home.
He is petite but he looks great!! He smiled a lot and just kept staring at all of us. I showed him off and got some great time with him. The nannies are taking GREAT care of him!! Just wanted to let you know that I saw him and got pics!!!!!
Hope that news makes you smile a bit:)

oh my word. her email did more than make me smile!! it made me laugh, cry, and smile all at once! i am just imagining our sweet little man now hanging out and standing around in his crib with NO diaper on! ha. i guess he just needed a little airing out :) he looked small from his photos we got at the time of his referral but we weren't sure how recent they were taken, so i can't wait to get my eyes on some recent pictures of him!! i can see many trips to the photo kiosk at t@rget in my future!

thank you, thank you, THANK YOU, lesley for sending us an update and loving on our hope-to-be-soon SON! her email is just one of the many reasons that i love working with our agency. if you're considering adopting from ethiopia, china special-needs, or even costa rica, you should give the wonderful ladies at arise for children a call!! they have been a joy to work with, faithful prayer warriors for the families and children they serve, and are great at helping kids come home to families :)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

adoption is God's plan for us

ryan and i have known for several years now that adoption was God's plan for our family. although until this past year, i really don't think we really had a clue what an important role adoption and orphan care would have in our family. through navigating our first crazy and confusing year of fostering, and also beginning our international adoption from ethiopia, i think He's finally beginning to pull back the curtain a bit and reveal His plans for our future as an adoptive family and as advocates of orphans. and i must say, that we're liking what we see so far!!

with each step of this adoption process, there have been little confirmations from God that we are meant to be pursuing this adoption. it has been a real treat all along to see how He was revealing His plans to us! however, i think we've just recently gotten the HUGEST confirmation so far...

from the very beginning ryan and i both felt that finances were the biggest thing standing in our way of adopting. when we looked at all the fees that were due, plus the expenses of traveling to ethiopia twice, we had no clue how we would ever come up with all the money {short of robbing a bank!}. but, all along something that susan, the director of our adoption agency, said at our very first meeting with the arise has stuck with us. i believe she said something to the effect that they've never had a family that was unable to complete their adoption because of the money. when it was right, God always provided!! hearing that was a huge encouragement to us, and all along this journey we've tried to remember that. we know how our God has provided for us in other times of need, and knew that adoption would be no different if it was His will.

well, today i am so very excited to announce that i believe ryan and i can say with confidence that this adoption must be His will!! as you may know, our last day for fundraising through lifesong for orphans was last friday. we knew that our fundraising had been progressing pretty steadily, but just a few weeks ago, we were still about $3500 short of our original goal of $14,000. after reviewing our final fundraising update yesterday and adding in our $4000 matching grant, and a few other financial gifts made to us personally, we are so excited to report that during our grant period, we raised a total of: $16,640!!!!!!

we were absolutely blown away when we saw that! not only have we exceeded our original goal, but we are figuring that we have exactly what we need to complete our adoption and pay for all our travel expenses!! praise the Lord. y'all, this could not have been done without the Lord willing it to happen. we have had our socks blessed off! i cannot tell you how many generous strangers, friends, and family members have gone out of their way to support us, our little guy waiting in ethiopia, and God's plan A for our family.

if you're a part of this, seriously, we just want to say thank you!! we hope that one day we can try to repay you with the sweet smiles and wet kisses from our little guy :)

"Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act." -Psalm 37:4-5

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

i'm alive, but just not feeling very inspired or energetic enough to blog much. this past weekend was hard and draining. ryan and i are both still very much riding a roller-coaster of emotions when it comes to the boys. part of us is very ready to move on, yet i think we're both trying to hold on in other ways too. it's hard to be at our house right now. it just feels empty and too quiet. i know after awhile it will feel normal again {probably just in time to bring our sweet greer baby home} so i'm looking forward to then. in the meantime, we're trying to stay positive and continue reminding ourselves that the boys were never our children in the first place...just a blessing for a short time from the Lord. our prayer is still that God has big things in store for each boy, and that somehow we can remain a part of their lives if He sees fit!

without trying to overexpose my usually comedic and crazy husband, i will say that i think he has had a much harder time in the past few days than me. i'm not saying this to pretend that i'm the picture of having it all together, because that's definitely untrue. however, i do think it just highlights the differences in the way ryan and i each deal with grief. i'm pretty sure that i have been preparing myself gradually for this over the last several weeks. this can be confirmed by countless friends who have witnessed emotional breakdowns/tear-fests just at the mention of the court date. ryan, on the other hand, has been very supportive and optimistic these last few months. i think he knew what was coming but just hadn't really began to process it yet. because of this, we spent most of the weekend tucking away car seats, video games, strollers, baby toys, etc. so that they were "out of sight, out of mind". though i don't think that's really working yet...

with our eyes trying to focus more on the great things to come for our family, i think we've both been naturally drawn to think of our sweet little greer more and more. the busyness of having the boys around made it hard for us to think too much during our normal routine on our little guy waiting for us, but now that's definitely not the case. i find my mind drifting to him and wondering what he's doing in ethiopia more often throughout the day. i even have found myself looking at the time in addis ababa and wondering if he's taking a nap, having playtime, or maybe enjoying himself a snack. this has been a great change of pace. i have been much more intentional to pray for him, for his care and health, and for his little heart to be prepared to join our family.

i have also been thinking a lot about his birth momma. from what we know of her, she seems to be a very brave woman. she made a lot of sacrifices to give our son life and a chance to thrive, and for that i'll forever be grateful. the sense of loss we are feeling with the boys gives me a completely new perspective on her, and quite frankly, it breaks my heart. i know she has given us such a precious gift that brings us so much joy, but that's not without causing her intense and deep pain herself. i pray for her, and i also pray that we'll get the opportunity to look in her eyes and try for just a few minutes to express our gratitude for her ultimate gift of love and sacrifice.

thank you to all of you who have called, emailed and just checked in on us. i'm sorry if i haven't gotten back to you or picked up the phone. i promise i'm not avoiding you on purpose, just taking some time to myself and time with the Lord to sort through this stuff as much as i can. this verse posted by joy's hope has been ministering to me:

Friday, October 8, 2010

amos story

i'm feeling unlike blogging today, but i did still want to share this song/music video with you in case you haven't seen it before.

to give you a little background, the amazing musician behind this song is aaron ivey. for the last 2.5+ years, i have been reading his wife jamie's blog. in fact, i really believe that God used her blog {along with a few others} to really begin softening my heart towards transracial adoption. she's awesome and has some great insight on adoption, parenting hurting children, and life in general. anyways, aaron and jamie are now the parents of 4 kids - 1 biological, 1 adopted domestically, and 2 adopted from haiti. jamie and aaron spent a long time longing and waiting for their 2 kids, amos and story, to come home from haiti. in fact, story came home first, and then jamie and aaron had to fight to get sweet amos home after the earthquake earlier this year. this fabulous song is a product of their time spent waiting, praying and dreaming of having their kids home and their family complete. while i cannot even pretend to empathize with them in their LONG wait, i do love this song. it definitely brings my mind to our sweet little greer and i agree that i can't wait to get him here!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

court update

we went to court this morning for the boys case. after a 2.5 hour wait, the judge agreed to return the boys to their mother's custody. it was a pretty rough morning but ryan and i are doing alright all things considered. in a way, i'm just glad it's all over. well, except that we now have the daunting task of packing up and moving all the boys' things, and i'm pretty much dreading that.

we really appreciate all your prayers and support over the last several months. we're going to miss the boys a lot but we have a lot to be grateful for, and we're trying to focus on those things now.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

it's not too late...

if you're interested in supporting our adoption financially, and would like to get a tax-deduction in the's not too late!

our matching grant/fundraising period ends with lifesong this friday, october 8th. we have been blown away by the support of our family, friends, and strangers over the last several weeks but we still have a little ways to go. any help you can give will help bring us one step closer to getting our little greer into our arms!

if you'd like to donate online, go to our both hands project page here and click the donate button. you can also mail in a check to lifesong for orphans {address on the top right sidebar of my blog}, but just make sure to put "sweeney adoption #1376" in the memo line and to get it in the mail quick!!

thanks for all of your all's support throughout this process! we can't wait to get our finally fundraising total next week and update you all on God's provision for our family!!!


i was up early this morning putting R on the bus because ryan is out of town. i couldn't go back to sleep, so instead i turned to google reader and boy am i glad i did.

i just read this blog entry from missy @ it's almost naptime, and i really wanted to share. missy was one of the lucky ones who got to attend the together 4 adoption conference this past weekend, and i'm truly jealous. however, after reading her blog and hearing what the Lord was speaking into her heart during the conference, now i'm REALLY jealous!! if you are adopting, adopted, considering adoption or just curious, you should read her entry. it's about the theology of adoption and expresses so many of the things i think most christian families feel through this process: we adopt because we ourselves were adopted. maybe not physically but definitely spiritually. we were adopted by a loving, Heavenly Father who made a costly sacrifice to call us into His family, and who no longer looks at us like orphans but as His children. what a great reminder at the beginning of the day! i can't wait to hold greer in my arms and tell him all about my adoption story!!

Monday, October 4, 2010


{i still feel like i haven't come down from cloud 9 yet. i am just so thankful to finally have a picture of our sweet boy...heck, to even know, we're adding a little BOY to the family! yippee!!!}

when i think about the last year or so of my life - the journey navigating the unknowns of foster care, then deciding to adopt internationally, and just walking through daily life things, i just want to weep at God's provision, love, protection, and sovereignty over all things. i know that every day is not going to be rainbows and sunshines, but i am confident that i have a Creator that has promised to work all things together for my good, according to Romans 8. He has done so every step of the way so far and i'm so thankful i have a Savior and a Father whom all my hope and trust rests in alone.

we have a pretty tumultuous week ahead of us though. we are most likely looking at saying goodbye to R & P this thursday, and that is really hard. however, i don't know if it is a temporary thing or what, but i just have a sense of peace about everything right now. don't get me wrong, i'm heartbroken and i still don't feel like it is the right thing for the boys, but i'm trying to live with the assurance that the One who holds the plans for all of our futures, has exceedingly better things in the works for all of us than i could ever dream up.

i was talking with ryan about all this over the weekend, and i had a realization that i haven't really thought about before. while i don't really understand now why the boys were brought in our lives for a year and are going back, i realized that this last year could very well be the catalyst that God chose to send their lives in a better direction. them being in foster care, living with us, being exposed to the Gospel through our family, our church and living life alongside us may be the spark for R to come to know the Lord. we hope at the least that his time with us has been fruitful in introducing him to the Lord and allowing R to see God's character lived out. {don't get me wrong here...i'm not trying to toot my own horn or to say that ryan and i have done this perfectly. we definitely haven't! we've made plenty of mistakes in the last several months. BUT i do believe that the Lord has used those to teach all of us, ryan and i included, and i know He can redeem our most feeble efforts.}

although, i hope both boys have plenty of other godly people who rally around them and invest in them over the years, i know that we've done what God has called us to do for the time being and i hope that it effects their eternity. to think that this time last year, we didn't yet know these boys is unbelievable. without fostering, we would never have had the opportunity to pray over them, pour our lives into them, to laugh and cry with them, and to just be a family. even if they don't come back into our home in the future, at least R has heard the Good News and seen it lived out. at least sweet baby P is walking away with a foundation of love and many prayers prayed over him at night while we rocked. we just pray that one day, R will be able to share his experiences and hopefully his love for the Lord with his little brother P.

so, despite all the groaning and complaining i've done over the last 12 months about the painful task of fostering, it's days like today that i can't think of a better way to spend my time. it's hard, and i can't think of anyone who would disagree with me about that, but if you know and love the Lord, it is so worth it.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
-Romans 8:28

Friday, October 1, 2010


{ok, i realize that to those of you who know us in real life that this is old news, so sorry for the delay!!}


yep, that's right folks - on tuesday afternoon, ryan and i received our long-awaited referral for our kiddo from ethiopia!! a sweet, adorable and totally kissable, 10 month old little guy! we are completely thrilled and excited to finally know who we've been praying over for so many months now.

i know some of you are waiting for more details on our sweet little man, but unfortunately, i can't give a whole lot right now {including showing his cute pictures} because we are not yet legally his parents. however, here's what we can tell you...

-our little man's amharic {ethiopia's predominant language} first name is nathanel...pronounced "nat-ten-nell", and most likely called "natty" for a nickname. we are digging his first name, but have many nathans, nates, and natheniels in our lives so have decided to make nathanel his middle name. whenever we finally get to adopt our little guy, we'll be changing his legal name to:
Greer Nathanel Sweeney
we've been praying and thinking about this sweet guy for so long, and for some reason always just figured he'd be a little boy. we have had the name greer picked out for some time, but never could decide on a girl's name so i guess we had a gut feeling :) i'm hoping that if it's not too confusing that we could possibly keep his nickname of "natty" too.

-he is at a great orphanage outside of addis ababa that we've heard a lot of really great things about. it's a partner orphanage to where we'll be staying when we go for our two trips. most likely once we are getting closer to traveling to meet him for court, the orphanage will transfer him to addis ababa so that we can more easily visit with him and spend time getting acquainted with one another. knowing that he's well taken care of and loved makes the wait for him a little easier, but we still can't wait to get him in our arms forever!

-his 1st birthday is quickly approaching. ryan and i are hoping to have some type of little celebration in his honor even though he can't be with us. not sure what that will look like yet, but we're happy to take suggestions!! greer's birthday is also the day after my little brother stuart's birthday and is the day before my uncle chuck's birthday, who passed away 2 years ago from cancer. so, unfortunately for him, this means sharing a birthday {i know all about that!!} with some of our favorite relatives :) also, it looks like his birthday is a little over a month shy of christmas which stinks for presents sake, but i'm sure we'll shower him with gifts all year long so he probably won't mind!

-from all the medical exams and paperwork, he looks to be perfectly healthy. while we know that there are always unknowns, we're happy that so far he's gotten a clean bill of health. in one of his pictures, he is drinking a bottle so it was good to see that he was at least able to hold it up on his own. also, his paperwork says that he weighs about 15.6 lbs, which puts him a little on the small side but that's fine by us. i'm sure we'll be able to chunk him up a little bit once he joins our family!

overall, we're thrilled and still haven't come down from cloud 9!! the Lord obviously knew that our little greer was totally worth the wait and His timing is perfect once again.

"I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him."
-1 Samuel 1:27