Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pure Religion

James 1:27 
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

So maybe you're like me: you have a heart for orphans...for the fatherless.

Except you know that adoption is not your calling...maybe not right now...maybe not ever.  Maybe you are single and looking for that special someone to start a family with.  Maybe you have eight kids and are struggling to make ends meet.  Maybe you have two but you are maxed out!  Maybe you are too young.  But you are still looking to make a difference...but how?

Across the world from here, child after child is being relinquished from their parents.  They are being abandoned on street corners.  They are witnessing their parents die from horrible diseases or starvation.  They are scavenging the grounds of the dump trying to find scraps of food or clothing.  Children are raising children.  And somehow, by the grace of God, some of these children end up in an orphanages, or loving care centers like Hannah's Hope, which provides beyond exceptional care for these young ones.

Our little T is one of these children.

Hannah's Hope is considered a "Transitional Home", closer along the lines of a foster home than an orphanage.  The children there are under the custody of the government-run or government approved orphanages.  Hannah's Hope is run by our agency and considered the best care-wise for these children.  But a transitional home is only as good as the donations given by families like us!  By bringing donations with us on our trips to Ethiopia, it ensures that not only our daughter will receive excellent care, but all the children Hannah's Hope will care for after she comes home and joins her forever family!  Our little T wouldn't be getting the excellent care she is currently receiving if it wasn't for the generous donations of those who went before us...and we want to pay it forward!  It's not an obligation, but a privilege!

How does this relate to YOU?

If you are one of those people who is wondering how to make a difference in the life of a child (or many children), I would ask that you would consider donating.  Some of the needs (listed below) are as affordable as $1-2!  Some things that we would consider necessities, are not even available to purchase in Ethiopia (or would cost a fortune).  Your next trip to the dollar store could make such a big impact for these children.  We would be happy to transport them on both our trip in May and our trip to bring T home (hopefully in June).  And if God blesses us with more than we can take...we will happily pass it on to the next family traveling!

How can you get donations to us???

-Local families are welcome to drop things off at our doorstep, mail them to us, or depending on when or what I'd be happy to come pick up the donation(s)!
-Whatcom County residents, you can feel free to bring donations to either of our parents homes and we will find a way to get them here =)
-Those of you who don't live on Washington state can feel free to ask for our address to mail us donations, or even a gift card to go purchase items for Hannah's Hope.  You can also feel free to donate via paypal (on the right side bar) and specify that you want it to go towards Hannah's Hope donations and we would be happy to purchase some much needed items on your behalf.

What are the needs?

Infant Needs
***Diapers of all sizes (including preemie-sized)--cloth or disposable (Almaz has stated they have enough cloth diapers to share with the surrounding orphanges, which is GREAT! Please keep donating so we can continue to help them. Disposables are always a great need for when children are sick or when they first get to HH)
Plastic pants to cover cloth diapers
***Baby Wipes (Always needed.  Think of how many they go through a day, wow!)
***Organic Flaxseed Oil (Used for malnurished babies) 
***Organic Unground Flaxseed 
Infant and Children’s Vitamins 
Powdered Similac Formula (regular, vegetable– and ****soy-based*** --> cannot get in Ethiopia and many of the kids are lactose intolerant)
Avent Bottles (8 and 12 oz sizes)
Rice Cereal
Diaper Rash Cream (Desitin is preferred, A&D ointment or Butt Paste is also useful)
Baby Shampoo
Baby Oil
Lotions specifically for dry/ashy skin 
Age Appropriate Developmental Toys for infants and toddlers

Hydrocortisone cream
Neosporin (or generic Triple Antibiotic)
Clotrimazole cream
Infant and children's multi-vitamins

Shampoo, Conditioner, and Lotion for older kids - fortified for curly hair 
Hand Sanitizer 
Towels (blue or pink, regular size)
Kids and Adult's toothpaste (do NOT need toothbrushes however)
Kleenex Boxes
Braun Thermometer Covers 
Sidewalk Chalk
Twin Sheets (mainly flats in pink, purple, red, blue or green—solid or printed)
Blow-up balls/outside toys
Children's DVDs and CDs

Children's Clothing Needs - Must be New or Like New (please consider slim clothing)
*At this time, infant clothing is not needed*
Toddler Clothing and Shoes
Light Jackets or Sweaters for all ages
Shorts and Tanks for tall, skinny kids
Boys' Clothing - Age 6-10 - especially pants and pajamas
Girls' Clothing - Age 6-13 - especially pants and pajamas
Underwear for all ages
Shoes for all ages, but especially older boys and girls (age 4-13)
(The popular "Croc" is great for these kids as well as sneakers)

Needs for Special Mothers and Staff

Adult-sized slippers (They don’t wear shoes inside)
Crocs for Adults in sizes 7, 8, and 9 (Easily cleaned for special mother's)
Scrubs (White, size medium, for the special mothers caring for the children)
Good quality electric shaver
Rechargeable camping lanterns (for when electricity is out)

In addition to these needs, my dear friend Angela has started ROCK THE ORPHANAGE to provide rocking chairs to Hannah's Hope.  This all began after her first visit to HH and she realized that the limited seating HH already had was offered to the visiting adoptive families leaving the special mothers to sit on the floor!  (Ethiopian culture is very generous!)  But on top of that, they didn't have ONE rocking chair at the time to help soothe all these babies!  Because of Angela, there are now SEVEN (of the ten they are aiming to provide) rocking chairs at Hannah's Hope, and we are excited to help deliver one more!  By supporting Angela's cause, you can help pay for the rocking chairs, provide an amazing bonding opportunity for the children at HH, and give these amazing special mothers a BREAK from hard floors!

Thank you...from the bottom of our hearts.  I can't wait to see the smiles on their faces! =)


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Pretty In Pink

Can anyone guess what kind of project we have going on in our house right now?!?  =D


Monday, March 28, 2011


We OFFICIALLY have tickets TO AFRICA!!!!!!!  =D  

Tickets are bought, dates are marked on the calendar...countdown is on!  I can't believe we'll be meeting our daughter in 7 weeks and 4 days and ON her five month birthday!!!!!  Eeek!!!!  God is SO good!

Thank you Erica for hooking us up with amazing {well, for the season amazing} prices and flights and for all your hard work all the way from Ethiopia yourself!!!  We can't tell you how much we appreciate it!  You saved us so much time and stress and MONEY!

Is it too early to start packing?!?!?!  ;)


Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Moment Worth Celebrating

I had been planning a referral party since the moment we got put on the waitlist.  And yet, somehow, it still ended up being a thrown together, last minute event!  So is the story of my life!  I guess it just wouldn't be fitting to have anything related to to the adoption go according to MY plan, right?!?  ;)

Another thing that didn't go according to plan??  PICTURES!!!  I planned to take pictures NON-STOP...and yet somehow I ended up with four.  FOUR?!?!  I can't even believe it.  So for all my friends spread across the country who asked for photos since they missed it - I'm sorry!  I've got NADA!  Ugh.  Believe me, I'm more disappointed than you. B-E-L-I-E-V-E-M-E-!

But's how it "went down" =)

We got our referral on Monday.
Ran around getting the referral packet done on Tuesday.
Stared at pictures of our daughter Wednesday and Thursday.
Decided to go visit our family for the weekend so quickly did laundry and drove up Friday.
Got home Sunday evening and decided to throw a party for the following Sunday.
Spent Monday-Friday staring at pictures of our daughter.
Saturday I decided I should probably clean (still needed to do laundry and had YET to cook a meal since the referral).  AND made cookies.
Sunday was the party.

And JUST because I needed some added stress - FB kept changing the time on me!  I don't know how many times I fixed it, but every time someone would check it {whether from my computer or elsewhere} it would say a different time....I had everything from "12:00pm - 3:00pm" to "3:00pm - 9:00pm"! idea!  FB is a little crazy on their evites, FYI.

So Sunday morning we woke up {to our cell phone alarm, as always} and couldn't figure out WHAT was up with the clocks.  I decided my husband must have been on CRACK when he set them the week before when the power went got up, took a shower, cleaned, made know, the usual!  Half hour later, I go to check on my husband who is STILL in bed and get him up reminding him we are in NURSERY for the early service.  Yikes!  Once HE gets up....finally he realizes that its DAYLIGHT SAVINGS!!!  No WONDER our clocks don't match up.  Fortunately, I was going by my cell phone, which switches automatically at midnight.  Hmm....still wondering how I missed that though!!!  Well... definitely explains our tiredness {and now I feel EXTRA bad for making HUBS stay up extra late cleaning with me...OOPS!}!!!

We literally had to WAKE Monkey up from a dead sleep and carry him to the car.  I changed him/fed him/styled him IN NURSERY...hahaha!  But that was a really fun morning b/c I got to show off T's pictures at church!  Love love LOVE sharing her pictures with people!!!  LOVE IT!

After nursery we attended the second service and afterwards spent even MORE time showing off our daughter!  It was actually hard to leave church on time...but I kept getting texts on what time the party actually started so I knew I better head home or I would have people at my house before WE made it!  Thank goodness we left when we did.  I just had time to do some final tidy work.  My house was FAR from perfect....but really WHAT could they expect...we just had a baby!!! =)

I was a little nervous about how many people would end up being in my tiny little house at one time.  A couple parties in the past have felt a little over-crowded...and with the weather, I knew we couldn't explode into the backyard if needed.  We kept it as kind of an "open house" which worked out PERFECT!  People kind of came and went so we never had too many people at the same time!  And just as we would be saying goodbye to a group of friends, more would show up {with more food}.

Hubs and I provided hot dogs and burgers, all the toppings, and drinks {OH and a couple desserts...duh!}.  Everyone who stopped by brought some snacks!  We had salads, crackers, chips, dips, hummus, chilli....oh and I can't remember but a TON of food!  It was delicious and awesome!  But the company was even better!

And EVEN THOUGH I made sure to put "no gifts" there were some definite rule breakers in our midst! =P  But THANK YOU everyone for the thoughtful cards and gifts.  I was more worried that people were going to think I was trying to throw myself a shower when in all honesty I just wanted to SHOW T OFF!!!!

It was such an awesome party {if I do say so myself} and the only thing that would have made it truly better, is to have T there!!  Soon enough though.  Soon enough...


Huge thank you to all the amazing support yesterday!  Several of you purchased from our fundraisers - thank you SO much!!!  You kind of wonder after 19 months of fundraising if you've tapped out your resources, so to speak...but you guys BLOW ME AWAY.  No...GOD blows me away!  Thank you...sincerely.

And for all you who emailed, FBed, commented with your encouragement and excitement - THANK YOU!  We are so overjoyed to finally have a countdown to meeting our T....but having each and every one of you sharing in that excitement QUADRUPLES the joy!  I love YOU for loving our T right along with us!!!  I know I say this all the time...but I can't wait to share with her our journey to bring her home and each of you who helped, supported, and encouraged us on that journey!



Friday, March 25, 2011


I interrupt these regularly-scheduled blog posts to announce that....


While I was at Monkey's doctor's appointment today {asthma related issues} my phone kept beeping!  Even though there is a strick "no phones" rule in the office, I pulled it out to see what all the commotion was {I should have known}.  Several texts...

Brittany - "Call me if your free!!!!"

Ashley - "Did you get a court date too?!?!"

Stop right there!!!!  COURT DATE?!?!  Britt got her referral THREE DAYS before me and we turned in our referral packet ONE DAY after her!!!  That means we GOTTA get the call today, right?!?  Right.

I ran {drove} as fast as I could to pick up Monkey's prescriptions in a panic {partly because I had just noticed that my license expired on my birthday a few weeks ago...AHHH!} and then quickly home, hoping to be there when she called so that she wouldn't wake up my sleeping husband {long, busy night}.  I walked in the house and it was QUIET.  I had half expected the phone to be ringing as I unlocked the door!  I quickly went to check the call log and saw that HE HAD TALKED TO K while I was at the doctor's appointment!  Not only had he forgotten to call me {he was sleeping, I remind you} but he was sleeping NOW so I couldn't even talk to him!  Fortunately, there was a "court date follow up" email from K that gave me all the vital information.

We will be in our daughter's birth country by May 20th for a court date of May 23rd!!!!  This is SUCH a SPECIFIC answer to prayer....both in the fact that we got our court date...and the timeline!!!!  PRAISE GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!

Immediately I started crying and RAN to Monkey and started hugging and kissing him with TEARS streaming down my face.  He kept asking "what's wrong mama?" and I smiled my BIGGEST grin and said, "nothing's wrong baby...mama's crying because she's HAPPY!"  Then I told him he would get to go to grandma and grandpa's house so mama and daddy could go see baby sister in Africa!  THEN he got a smile on his face.

Ahhhh!!!  This is really happening!!!  Rejoice with us today!

To our Lil Miss - we're coming!!!!!!!



In all the referral excitement, I forgot to post our birthday celebrations.  Just as my genius husband predicted, T's referral came RIGHT in between our two birthdays {which happen to be only two weeks apart}.  It was the best and most perfect gift either of us could have ever asked for {which apparently to my husband means that he doesn't even need to buy me a gift ;)  It's okay though...couldn't even think of something I would want at this point.} and we are SO THANKFUL for God's timing in this!

So for my HUBBY'S BDAY, I started off by surprising him at work with cupcakes!  I'd like to say Monkey helped me make them, but really he was just going to town on the frosting so that I had to keep making more.  OR was that just because of how much frosting I was using??  Hmm...we'll never know!  It was a great surprise for him...I know he always loves seeing his Lil Man and showing Monkey off to all his co-workers.  {I mean, c'mon...he IS pretty adorable!!!}

Think Monkey enjoyed surprising daddy??

Monkey and I also surprised daddy with a birthday gift.  Being that our birthdays are so close to Christmas AND our anniversary, we often times just do one big gift for all four.  But I couldn't'll see why:

I know its a poor quality photo...but I loved his expression!  That man LOVES his boy!

Patiently Waiting for me to figure out my camera settings...

Babe, you are no "ordinary hero" to are an extraordinary hero!!!  

{Shameless plug - like this sweatshirt?  Order TODAY and 40% of the proceeds supports our adoption - just choose "Domesticated Diva" as the affiliate (drop down menu in checkout).  As an added bonus OH will give a $100 grant to the first affiliate that earns $100 or more in proceeds TODAY!!!  Double our efforts and place your order now - don't wait!!!}

For his birthday dinner, I made a huge old lasagna, which was meant to share with our friends!!  But because of the SNOW {crazy Seattle weather} they weren't able to make it.  Literally AS dinner was in the oven, my friend Trish called and asked if she could drop off some HH donations so I invited her and her husband {and new baby} over for dinner.  It was like it was mean to be....what a perfect evening!  We got to catch up with our friends, who we hadn't seen in MONTHS as well as meet their daughter {and she is BEAUTIFUL}!

{P.S. Even though we are ALWAYS collecting HH donations and would gladly take them off your hands, I won't promise to always have dinner ready when you arrive.  Sorry.  I think this was a one time deal...but if we need to plan a dinner date, let me know!}

For dessert I made a super duper wicked awesome ice cream cake!!  That was HUB'S only request for his birthday so I googled it and MADE. IT. HAPPEN.  =)  Cuz...YOU know...I'm cool like that ;)  We ALL thought it turned out pretty good though!  {Despite the layer shifting in the freezer.  I know, unforgivable, right?!?}

Lit up like a Christmas tree!

Blowing out the candles ~ Monkey giggling

Monkey giving new baby Katie kisses =)

For MY BDAY, it was only a week after T's referral...and after a super busy run-around week, both my boys ended up sick.  Instead of spending "MY" day taking care of them, I took off shopping ALL DAY with my mom.  Hey!  You wouldn't want to be stuck in a house full of sick whiny boys all day either, would you?!?  Don't judge!  =)

It ended up being an awesome day {even though I was very sad to be apart from the people I love most}.  I got to show off Baby T's photos to my mom IN PERSON for the first time.  We sat over coffee and cupcakes {yes, for breakfast} ooooing and awwwwing over ever little expression and studying T's features.  Then after caffeinating ourselves, it was off to do what we do best - SHOPPING!  We went to the outlet because: 1) I wanted to buy some things for my daughter and they have Carters, Oshkosh, Children's Place, AND Gymboree!!! and 2) I wanted to shop for MYSELF for Africa and they have Banana Republic, JCREW, Gap, plus a million other places I love!  To say shopping was a SUCCESS is an understatement!  We ROCKED that mall!  I ended up with several outfits for myself AND for Baby T.  But we didn't stop there!!!  We went out for dinner and then to Target, where I bought yet another outfit for T!  And YES my husband nervously eyed those bags when I toted them indoors, but thankfully my mama spoiled me with some a lot of it!  Yay for birthdays, right?!?

Monkey was missing mama by the time I got home...but I had a great day...and they had an okay one.  To be expected with sickies.

SINCE we weren't able to celebrate ON my actual birthday, my husband did the right thing and made plans for us once their health improved!  He spoiled me by taking me to one of my favorite restaurants {Buca di Beppo} for dinner {WITH Monkey...because that's a REAL birthday to me!} and then got me a movie, wine coolers {a rare treat!} and COLDSTONE CREAMERY CUPCAKES for dessert!!!  {See why the no gift thing wasn't such a big deal?!?}  Mmmmmm....I was in heaven!

Waiting for our food...

My handsome men!

Best salad EVER - I used to CRAVE this when I was pregnant, but of course...I couldn't even EAT it then because of the Gorgonzola cheese.  =(

Spicy and OH SO DELICIOUS!!!

Just YUM!
{PLEASE tell me I'm not the only person who takes pictures of their food!!!  Hahaha!}

Lil Man was fed up at this point...

Love this kid to pieces!

So yeah....a big, fat... us! =)

****On a completely separate note...please pray for THIS family...friend of a friend I met a couple times at mom's group who's 7 month old daughter just had a heart transplant surgery.  They have a long road ahead of them yet, but they see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I'm sure they could use some encouragement, so pop on over and leave them a note to smile at =)


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Special Delivery & OH-so-exciting!!!!!!!

Since I have a series of posts to do on post-referral stuff, these are going to be back-dated a bit.  But not only have I been receiving REQUESTS to get these out, but I want them for T's baby album someday.  But bear with me, I've got some potentially exciting news tagged on the end here! ;)

March 10, 2011

While mama was preparing dinner, Monkey got excited after hearing a knock on our front door!  We don't often have unexpected visitors, but we have been getting an awful lot of mail lately.  My suspicion was one was at the door.  Instead - a hefty package!  HOW EXCITING!  {I always love receiving packages, don't you?  It's always good fun!}

Seeing AGCI's address as the sender, I immediately got out the camera.  What could this be?!?  I might have forgotten if my friend hadn't recently told me she received HERS so I kinda knew what it was...but exciting nonetheless!

I tell ya, this is such a sweet gift to receive!  Such a small detail in the grand scheme of things, but shows how much our caseworkers care about each child and each family.  I truly was touched to receive this.

So what was inside???

A sweet stuffed animal for baby T, {But surprisingly, still not her first!  We received a stuffed bunny a few days after we got our referral from one of my husband's co-workers!} an AGCI calendar, {which I've been wanting} a journal to keep track of our spiritual growth through the final waiting process, our copies of the contracts, and our travel packet!

The travel packet was kind of exciting to read through - it had a run down of what each trip would be like and a rough itinerary.  It was exciting, overwhelming, and just a little cRaZy!!!  It's still a little hard to believe either of those trips will actually be happening - that we will actually go to AFRICA!  And can't come fast enough.  {Those are some crazy mama emotions going on right there!}

Well, then it was just back to dinner with Monkey's help!  I can't tell for sure if he liked it, can you?!?  ;)

Thank you AGCI {specifically Kiersten!} for the thoughtful package!  The little duckling is already propped up in T's nursery, the calendar hung up, the journal written in, and the travel packet read {and "already" may not sound too impressive there...except it all happened the day/evening I got it ;)  Promise!}.  Can't tell you how much we appreciate all the little things you do to make each step of this journey exciting and a moment to remember!

****And now for the "potentially exciting" news, as I once put it =)****

Okay, you already knew that!  But OH {Ordinary Hero} just announced TODAY that they are giving a $100 grant to the first affiliate family to earn $100 in proceeds TOMORROW through their store!!!  Now, that's PROCEEDS not SALES {meaning the 40% we make off their items, not the sale price}.  BUT!!!!!  I think we can totally do it, but we need YOUR HELP!!!  

**Make sure the credit goes to us by choosing "Domesticated Diva" as the affiliate in the drop down menu during checkout**

In all honesty, this whole fundraising thing has exhausted me.  I hate that we KEEP having to ask for your help.  But we're so close...and seeing T's face, we can't give up now!  So please, you can DOUBLE our efforts by supporting us by purchasing through OH tomorrow.  Would you please consider going to their store and purchasing something under our affiliate name {Domesticated Diva - names kept private for our protection} and spreading the word!  

I am SO THANKFUL to each and every one of you for supporting us through this journey.  Regardless of what you decide, we are CONFIDENT God will provide every penny.  That's why we can't just drop it.  We need to take advantage of every opportunity we have to get our sweetie home!!!  Join us!!!!

You can read more about our fundraising HERE.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011


This morning Monkey woke up a little earlier than usual - 8:00am!  I know...most of you are thinking we are insanely LUCKY that that is considered early for us...but if you knew our schedule, you might not be so jealous. But regardless...this morning we tried the whole cuddling-in-mama-and-daddy's-bed thing, but as most of you know...two year olds aren't big cuddle buddies {usually}.  So what ended up happening is he ran around the house playing while mama and daddy snuggled {with the door open so we could hear him, of course}.  It was wonderful really!  But after a while he came in and begged us to get up...something about breakfast...but I don't remember! =)  Well I got up and quickly put on some socks and a sweatshirt (brr...62 this morning in my house!) to go make Monkey some breakfast.  As I walked out into the living room I was surprised that he was nowhere in sight!  I looked around until I heard a rummaging sound in the kitchen.  Just because I wanted to see what he was up to, I didn't say a word as I peeked around the corner.  He was standing around the kitchen looking for something.  When he spotted me he asked, "where my baby go mama?"  I noticed my Africa fridge magnet was on the counter {which had the stepping stool by it}.  That magnet normally holds up T's picture, which was missing from the fridge.  Ahh...Monkey  must of took the magnet off to grab sister's picture to carry around and the photo fell down!  Aww....I love how even my two-year-old is smitten by Lil Miss T!!!

Well, we're nearing the last stretch of this adoption journey.  We've entered a new waiting phase as we anxiously await to hear about a court date so we can book our flights for our first trip to meet our daughter!  Some have asked if this part of the waiting is better or worse than the "waitlist waiting".  I guess my answer is that its both better and worse!  Overall, I think it is much easier having a name and a face that we are praying over, longing for...rather than just the idea of a little girl we could someday call our own.  But at the same time, there is a whole new level of longing that we've experienced now that we have seen her face.  And I must admit, it's a really odd feeling to NOT know what your three-month-old daughter's cry sounds like, or what her belly button looks like, or what size her hands and feet are in comparison to yours, or how much formula she is drinking every two hours.  She IS mine, but she doesn't feel like it.  I don't know what size clothes she wears.  I don't know how much she weighed when she was born.  I don't know how she prefers to be held, or what soothes her to sleep, or how she reacts to those strange white faces that keep visiting Hannah's Hope and snapping pictures of her.  =)  And THAT makes it harder.  But at the same time, it drives me.  In everything I do and with every breathe I take she is in my thoughts and prayers.  We have to get her home.  We are smitten by our girl and we dream of having her home.

{Today is the official launch of our new fundraisers with "Worthy of a Prize" and "Ordinary Hero".  Please check it out on our fundraising blog and see how YOU can help bring our angel home!}

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Day AFTER The Referral

The day you get THAT call is filled with so much excitement and pure JOY!  It is truly a wonderful feeling.  But even as we were continuing to float on cloud 9 that next day...things needed to be done, and FAST!  You see, in order to officially accept a referral, there is even MORE paperwork to fill out (I know, SHOCKING!  Paperwork?  In an adoption?!?)

In the email following THE CALL, our caseworker sent us ALL of T's paperwork that she reviewed with us over the phone, all of her pictures (5), the "Transition Plan" to begin working on, and a sweet congratulatory message =)  The rest of the "Referral Packet" would be overnighted to us.  We also forwarded all of the information we had to the International Pediatrician to review, but the earliest we could get a phone appointment was the next night.

Fortunately, a very kind friend sent us the "Transition Plan" paperwork ahead of time.  That is a 15 page packet that asks you questions about your plan on transitioning your new little one into your family, as well as transitioning your existing family for the new arrival.  It was helpful to compile our lists of resources to help with that transition in advance so that we could really put some thought into it, rather than rushing to get it back out the door to AGCI.  A lot of the questions were really a review of our required adoption education we did at the beginning of our journey...but it was great to test our knowledge =)  For the most part we had that portion of the paperwork complete...although there were some questions pertaining to T's story that we couldn't answer before knowing of her.  It took another 20 minutes or so to we got to spend the rest of the day squealing on the phone to everyone we know!

The next morning, I awoke with a huge GRIN on my face and whispered in my husband's ear, we have a daughter!!!  I heard him know what I'm talking about! =)  After I got up and made breakfast for Monkey I decided to give Brittany a call (who got her referral the Friday before us).  She knew we had received the call, but I was excited to share more of our story and talk about the "what comes next" stuff with someone who knows and gets it.  She told me that her referral packet had arrived at 10:30am the next morning!  I was shocked to know it arrived that soon and smiled when I saw it was already 10:00am!  I crossed my fingers and hoped ours would arrive that quickly as well.  We continued chatting and she walked me through what some of the paperwork entailed and AS I was on the phone with her, I got a knock on my door - it was the REFERRAL PACKET!!  Ahh!!!  You know you're talking to someone who GETS IT when the moment you think, I better get off the phone, she said "I'll let you go so you can get working on that paperwork!"  =D  Britt, you're the BEST!

I was so excited when I ripped open that package and saw a soft-cover binder with my daughter's picture, name and birth date on it!  Awww....the small things AGCI does to personalize this journey puts SUCH a smile on my face!  After opening the cover I saw the first page was a photocopy of all her referral photos, followed by all the referral documents we had received in the email from K.  Then there was document after document that needed to be notarized.  It all seemed a little all honesty...but not nearly as daunting as the dossier!  I don't think any amount of paperwork could compare to THAT!  Hahaha!!

We were scheduled to have our call with AGCI's family coordinator at 11:30am....but there was a miscommunication so it was rescheduled for later in the day.  After a quick lunch we decided to head to church to have our FABULOUS notary help us out with this paperwork!  Joyce was thrilled to help...and I don't know if this was TIMED...but all the pastors and staff ended up walking in from lunch right when we were there, all anxious to hand out hugs and get a glimpse at our baby!  Not like we had an issue with that!  ;)  After an entire day of emailing pictures to friends and family, it was a JOY to show her off in person (I can only imagine how amazing it will be to have her in my ARMS and showing her off)!!!!!

Monkey spent his time at the church being a complete goof - attemping to walk up and down the stairs (we have a one level he's a bit slow in this one =) and crawling underneath furniture.  At one point, Pastor Bob came out and played peek-a-boo with him. was the most PRECIOUS thing to see PB down on his hands and knees making my Lil Man GIGGLE away as he peeked and boo-ed around the to my EARS I tell ya....but I was a SECOND too late with the camera, shucks!!!

After about an hour of notarizing (and a mini meltdown on my part for putting the wrong date on a doc - remember the dossier?  That would have been a big NO-NO...but Toni, another caseworker at AGCI, assured me it would be fine since this was JUST for AGCI and not Ethiopia =) we headed home for our call with Mindy (AGCI's family coordinator).  She was so sweet to talk to and presented us with some really great information to help transition T into our family.  Again, most of it was review...but it was great to have a real person to bounce ideas off of and ask questions!

After that I think we talked to K with a few more questions (she has been SO great during this part of the process - I can't say enough great things about AGCI...they have been supportive in EVERY WAY!) and then attempted to get a hold of our social worker.  I left a couple several messages and shot her an email and then sat patiently like a crazy women waiting for a call back.  NOW - in all reality I think it was maybe an hour before she called us back...but knowing her signature on one document was a VERY important part of the official acceptance of this referral...I was kinda freaking out about taking care of it as soon as possible!  She was SO sweet on the phone and again, I could HEAR the smile on her face when she opened T's picture!  (Seriously, mama heart = SWELLING!)  And after seeing how tiny she was, she understood my urgency.  "She has to come home NOW" she said.  YES - yes, she does!!!  We had a short conversation about some specific plans of action and then she told us she would pop that in the mail first thing in the morning!  (Not soon enough for me....but it would do ;)

Hubby and Monkey had some MAJOR playtime...then, as my husband went back to work, I waited as patiently as possible for 8:30pm to roll around when our International Pediatrician would call us to go over T's medical history.  It seemed like a long afternoon...but I still had a lot of people to call!  I tried to keep that to Monkey's nap times and PLAY while he was awake (remember, the poor boy felt a little starved of attention from the day before).

When 8:30pm finally rolled around we were thrilled that our International Pediatrician really had nothing but AMAZING things to say about our little T!  He definitely addressed her malnourishment as an issue, but hearing that she loved her bottles he was really optimistic (as are we)!  He encouraged us that Hannah's Hope is the BEST place she can be and that their caregiver/children ratio is one of the BEST he's ever soon - how amazing is that?!?  So yes, we got a clear GO AHEAD from him!  He shot me an email with a quick review of our conversation and I typed it into a word document to email over to K early the next morning.

So on Wednesday I got a call in the morning from K, just as a follow-up about our International Pediatrician appointment....and Thursday she had received the last document from our social worker and everything was official!!!  From then on, every document we have received has had T's first name and our last name - it is truly a beautiful site! =)

Well...there's a glimpse into our hectic, blessed life!  It was truly amazing to get this INCREDIBLE gift between our two birthdays - what could be a better gift?!?

***Now to keep the "Congratulations" rolling...head on over to my friend Kari's blog and wish them a HUGE Congrats on the birth AND finalized adoption of their son Westyn!!!!!  Woohoo!!!!  We're SOO excited for you guys - and just in AWE that God brought these two life-changing events into our lives within two weeks of each other!  Can't wait to get our kiddos together and relish over God's blessings through our adoption journeys!  Praying for safe travels home and a smooth transition to a family of THREE!