Saturday, April 10, 2010


Nicks parent came to visit the week before Easter. It was the first time the girls met his dad. Even though they had never met their Grandad, they were very excited to meet him and warmed up instantly to him. It was as if they already knew him. We had sent pictures of our parents to the girls while they were in Ethiopia. It is so interesting how much they knew from those pictures. When we met them, they knew who we were and who their brothers and sister were. They could even point to each one and say their names.
I now know how much those pictures were treasured. Hermela talks about how happy she was when she got them and how she held them close and kissed them and slept with them at night. We even know now that their birth mom saw those pictures when she went to visit them for the last time and that she cried and thanked God for her daughters' new family. It is a heart wrenching scene to picture a mother in such a difficult situation. I cannot imagine her pain. I think of her often and pray that she may at least have felt relief and comfort knowing that her daughters would indeed have a family and a future.

We've started getting lots of stories of how life was in Ethiopia. Our girls have been through things that no one should have to go through. Hermela talks about going days between eating and of going to church with her mother to pray for injera and money to buy food. We know that they were in pretty rough living conditions and went to bed scarred and hungry more often than not. They talk about when it rained, how bugs would come into their home and how sad they were when they were brought to the care center. We also get stories of how they would lay in bed with their mom and older brother (another thing we learned) two at the head of the bed and two at the foot, playing games together before they went to sleep. Amidst the suffering, there were times of joy and we are lucky enough to see that side of them most of the time.

They girls are amazingly resilient and loving and seem to be settling in. I sence that Hermela still feels uncertain about the permanency of her new life. Who can blame her? Nothing in her life has been consistent. Not even her most basic needs like mealtime were ever predictable. So we find that she is constantly questioning where we are going, what are we doing next, when does daddy work, who is coming.... She has had to live her life on "high alert", so change in routine is hard for her. This was heightened by all of the changes that having house guests, a holiday, no school and no routine brings. We were on spring break while Nick's parents were here, so in addition to all of the excitement that grandparents bring, we also had none of our regular activities going on. It was very evident by the end of the week (which culminated with our Easter celebration) that it was just all too much. It is completely overwhelming for them to have so much going on. People coming. People going. Gifts. Sweets. Later bedtimes. All of this increased, especially Hermela's, anxiety. Although she seemed to enjoy every bit of the festivities, the stress was visible in her behavior. All I can say is I'm glad we didn't bring them home at Christmas time. We are back on track this week with a whole week of school completed and the monotony of each day setting back in. My kids-all of them-thrive on routine, little to no TV time, lots of outside play and strict bedtimes. It just works the best around here.

I'm glad we had this week of excitement, because it gave us some insight into some of their inner struggles that we hadn't really picked up on before. I'm glad that they feel safe enough to talk to us about what their lives were like before and what they have been through. It helps us to be more sensitive to them and their behavior and to know how to better help them adjust.

I think all that we are going through is really to be expected with older child adoption. They had a life before this one. One where fairy tales don't exist and dreams don't come true. On a side note, Caleb lost two teeth recently, so the "tooth fairy" was coming. Well, this spawned a three hour "I can't sleep fest" from Hermela. I finally realized that she was very concerned with who was coming. If you think about it, it is quite ridiculous to think that this mysterious flying creature is going to sneak into your house at night, while you're sleeping, take the tooth that you've laid under your pillow and leave you a treat. She has no concept for this sort of thing. I reassured her that the tooth fairy was just for fun and that she was safe. It doesn't help that she also has two loose teeth and was probably fretting about the fairy flying into her room. So, we did not celebrate Easter with the Easter bunny. How do explaining the giant bunny hopping into your house, stealing the eggs and hiding them? Like I said, I'm glad they didn't come home at Christmas time.

Easter was a lot of fun for the girls. They absolutely love to dress up, thrive on wearing tights, love to go to church and thoroughly enjoy a good piece of chocolate. We got to do all of these things in one day! What more could you ask for? We'll, I asked for one family photo with everyone all dressed up, looking in the same direction with a smile on their face. It only took about 30 tries (and my mother in law balancing an Easter egg on my father in law's head while dancing and making silly faces:). So don't let the fairly good picture of all my sweet litttle children fool you. Our life is crazy most of the time. We rarely really have it all together. My house stays clean for about 20 minutes after I've cleaned it unless the kids are asleep. There is usually someone crying, almost always dirty dishes in the sink, the laundry is NEVER done, and sometimes we eat cereal for dinner.

I've read a couple of other people's blog post lately in which they show piles of laundry and sinks full of dishes and it is comforting to realize that although we all usually post the "happy" pictures that highlight what we do best, we are all a big mess, falling short everyday, destined to fail without the help of our Saviour. So, I pray hard everyday that I will focus on what is important-loving the Lord, my husband and our children, and loving and serving others the best that I can and praying for the rest of it.


  1. This is one of my favorite post of yours! You are truly our family through Christ.. he has put us together and I am so grateful! I can't wait to spend many holidays and celebrations in the years to come.. as we teach our children the TRUE meaning of the holidays:) I'm truly in love with all your children.. they hold such a special place in my heart!

  2. I love this post. It makes me feel better knowing you all eat cereal for dinner sometimes. I just wrote in a post about learning to let dishes and laundry go. Glad I am not alone in that. We are coming to FL June 12-19. Hopefully we can see you then.

  3. What a special post. It's as if your family was always the 7 of you. I've loved all of the family visits lately and thankful for the opportunity to love on the kids.
    Love, Aunt Debbie

  4. Hi Jessica,
    Thanks for this glimpse into your family. We're definitely still in "survival mode" here, and you are a bit further down the road than we are. I know that the challenges don't go away, they just change (whether with biological or adopted children)! But God is good. Thanks again for sharing.
    :) Susan

  5. Hi Jessica and Nick! Your family is so beautiful. Thinking of you lots. Hope to see you soon. Love, Heidi A

  6. Thanks for commenting on my sister's blog and for taking pictures of the girls! She has treasured each of those.

    You have a beautiful family. I enjoyed reading about what you are learning with your girls. I hope to keep following your blog to see how the story unfolds for these girls. It really is heartbreaking to hear a little of what they have gone through in their young lives.


  7. Brooke van der RietMay 21, 2010 at 7:49 AM

    I was so touched by this post in many ways. My heart broken for what your girls have gone through, my heart encouraged and inspired to hear how they are connecting and learning and handling so many challenges and new things, and reminded of things to beware of when my girls come home. Our life is quite quite crazy and although I know I will have to slow down and simplify this was great confirmation of how necessary it will be for them to have routine, expectations met, some shelter from the harsh western culture. Thank you for sharing your heart and experiences!