In the last week so much has happened and God has shown up every time and amazed us more and more each time. Everything has been just falling into place so perfectly and with really cool stories every time.
Our flight: We had been looking for flights but wanted to wait until big brother's birth parent interview was complete just in case. The day before it was scheduled I found the perfect flight and there were 3 tickets left so I got nervous and faithfully booked it, while they were processing everything the guy told me, "you are very lucky because there are now just 2 seats left on this flight". We had to leave on a Sunday and arrive in Ethiopia by Monday at the latest and be home by the following Sunday and unless we wanted to pay a ton, it wasn't easy to find but what makes the flight even more perfect is that we have a 6 hour layover in Chicago so we will get to see my parents and anyone else who wants to come send us off. We will be in Ethiopia for 5 full days and 5 nights!
Support: Words cannot express our gratitude for all of our friends and family right now. Although this is a very exciting time, at times it is also stressful planning time off from work, fundraising, budgeting, making sure we are doing everything we need to and getting everything in order for our trip away from Jalen. Thanks to all of your prayers and support for us, every mountain is turning into a molehill. Jalen gets to have his grandparents here while we are gone. So many of you have jumped up to ask how you could help us raise money to get our upcoming fees and travel paid for and have came up with so many ideas for us. The pure joy of hearing how excited you are for us makes each day so much better! We have had donations made recently from 5 friends, 4 of which are adopting as well which means the world to us. There is just something so special about the adoption community. You get to know so many people and really become so close to some that you feel like family. You know so much about them and share a heart for orphans which is a very strong bond to have. There is also something very special about supporting other families financially when you are also trying to fundraise yourself. God provides and I pray that the donations we have gotten will be multiplied for the families who gave them.
God's Amazing Plan: On the topic of getting to know other families, there is a family who is very special to us and has been for about 2 years now! They live many miles away from us and are not adopting through our agency but they are adopting from Ethiopia and they have 2 precious babies waiting for them. They have been on this journey almost 1 year longer than we have and I have prayed for them because they have been so patient, waiting on a court date for so long. They saw their children's faces around the same time that our dossier arrived in Ethiopia...8 months ago!!!! When we got news of our court date, she was overjoyed for us and it brought tears to my eyes knowing how happy she was but for me it felt bittersweet because in my mind it just wasn't fair. I have been praying for her and her husband ever since even more than usual because I knew they were ready, it was their time to meet their children. Well, last night I got a message from her that they were given a court date and it will be around the same time as ours. I think I might have been just as excited as the day we found out our own court date! I can't give out too much info because they are keeping it private for now but just know our paths will cross in ETHIOPIA! We will get to meet in person and spend time together in ETHIOPIA, the country where our children are, the country that has brought us to know each other and we will be there together for the same purpose! Honestly, does it get any better? Just 1 month ago to the day I emailed her and said I wished we lived closer and could meet in person and although it would be a LONG shot, what if we met in Ethiopia someday...who knew that we would and so soon! I can only say God had a little something to do with this, ya think?
Birth parent interview: This happened last night while we slept and today we got word that it went well and we can officially go to our court date for our little guy. This is also very bittersweet for me because although I can't lie and say I wasn't excited and didn't have a sigh of relief when I was told the news, I also very much so am saddened. You start the adoption process because you see children grow up without families, without knowing what love is and it breaks your heart. We see our own child grow up knowing our love for him and it really breaks our hearts to think another child may not ever know that feeling. You start this thinking it is a good thing and happy and right in every way but then you learn more about your child and think about a parent getting the news that their child has been chosen and your heart just breaks for them. I pray wholeheartedly that our little boy's biological parent knows how much this child will be loved and taken care of. I pray that he knows we will do everything we can to preserve his culture and that we only want to be a blessing to our child and to his family in Ethiopia. I pray that he knows we will be bringing him back to visit and will pray for and keep his family close to our hearts.
Welcoming a Family Home: This weekend we will be welcoming home a family in our agency who is bringing their son home! We are very close to many families in our agency which is beyond amazing because this means our child and theirs will not be far from each other here and will get to have play dates and reunions with children they once lived with in Ethiopia. This weekend, the Castleberrys come home and we will be greeting them at the Tulsa airport. We also will get to have dinner and talk with another family before the arrival. This will be our first welcoming at an airport and I cannot wait to attend many more!
I will close with saying that in 19 days we will meet our son!!!!!