9 days


We leave for Ethiopia in 9 days.  I’m not nearly ready to go.  I’m working extra these next two weeks prior to and after our trip to make up for my time off, so there’s not near enough time to collect orphanage donations, clean the house, finish the laundry, decorate my little girl’s room, buy what we’ll need in Africa, etc. prior to our departure.  Our lives are full of other necessities, too, visiting friends at a nearby church camp, completing paperwork and charts, writing letters for my patients, sports physical forms, having Lulu’s hair braided.  I’m trying to focus on one task at a time.  Today, I’m painting Lulu’s shelves and tackling the laundry.  It would be lovely if my kids would nap all afternoon, but I already hear my girl lifting her head.

I want to be intentional about my time with my two before there are three.  I want Lulu and Teme to feel secure in their bond with us prior to leaving them (twice) for a week and bringing home their big brother.  This morning we played outside and read books and danced in the kitchen to my collection of African children’s music.  I still managed to do the dishes and cook two meals for them, and the laundry is still spinning.  This afternoon, I’m hoping to let the kids swim in our kiddie pool and maybe take a walk after Matt comes home.

After we pass court for M, there will be so much more urgency in getting our home ready for him.  We’ll need appropriate clothes and toys, more little cups and little bowls, another little toddler bed.  I’ve got to finish all that I can now before things become so much more complicated.



While Waiting

So, here’s my list of stuff to accomplish while waiting for #3

1. Prepare Lulu’s big girl room.  I’m not ready for her to transition out of her crib, but it’s almost time.

2. Go to cool big city for fingerprints and do fun stuff.  Stop for Ethiopian food afterwards with the kids.

3. Take the kids to the zoo.

4. Go to a play.

5. Read books on adoption book list.

6. Read a book just because I want to read a book.

7. Clean the refrigerator.  Lament the fact that it will be filthy again within weeks.

8. Touch up paint in my boys’ room.

9. Take the kids to play in the fountains at JV park.

10. Find an attorney to complete our readoptions; find the money to pay for it.

11. Find a new home for the photo albums currently living in Lulu’s room.

12. Make a tomato basil tart and pistachio torte.

13. Have a long conversation with a friend on the back porch.

14. Remove clothes from the kids’ closets that no longer fit.

15. Sell all my extra stuff in a garage sale.  Convince friends to help.

16. Get Lulu’s hair cut for the first time.

17. Refinish the deck.

18. Take more videos of my kids.

19.  Have Lulu’s hair professionally braided.

20.  Buy clothes for my big boy.

21.  Spend a weekend in our hometown.

Entering Waiting Phase I

So, our paperwork arrived promptly in Virginia yesterday.  Our family coordinator says all is in order, so it will be authenticated next week and we will be DTE on 6/29.  My sweet little boy is still not ready to be referred to us.  They are gathering up required documentation, completing medical exams, etc., so it will be awhile before we are submitted to court.  This does give us time to get our I-171H completed.  I’m planning for a fun day when we get fingerprinted in the fabulous city with a stop at an Ethiopian restaurant.  I might be able to convince Matt to let us stay overnight.  Lulu loved it the last time.  So, I hope to have a referral within 4 weeks, but it is looking less and less likely for us to have court before closures in August.  This is hard for me.  We need time, time to get Lulu’s new room ready, time to continue to bond with Teme (who has only been home 6 months), time to declutter the closets and make room for another little boy.  At the same time, court after closures will put us in Ethiopia in the fall again and leave me off work in the fall again.  I’ve been off two Decembers in a row (peak pediatric season), and I think it would be best if I could work through our busy season this year, at the very least to give my partners a break.  Never mind the fact that I want my little boy home now.  I’ve been waiting for him already almost 2 1/2 years.  It is time to wait. The only way I can bear waiting is to keep busy.  I’ll post a list of projects and activities I hope to accomplish before #3 is home soon.

A Gift in Faith

My husband is a man of faith. Generally speaking, he believes God.  Last year for Mother’s Day, he bought me a blue topaz necklace and earrings, Lulu’s birthstone.  For Christmas this year, he bought me a sapphire necklace, Teme’s birthstone.  This year for Mother’s Day he bought me two sets of earrings, one opal and one yellow topaz.  We don’t actually know when M’s birthday is yet.  It’s sometime between October and December, but we just aren’t sure.  His documents have three different dates in three different months.  I’m hoping that information will be clarified some when his orphan investigation is completed.  We don’t even know if M will ever be ours, but my husband is believing in faith that I’ll be able to confidently wear one pair of these earrings soon.

So, here are the choices.  Any guesses?  Matt is rooting for October, but I’m rooting for November.

We had a nice day today.  I had to work this morning, so I visited 5 newborns at the hospital and wished each of their mothers well.  I caught the end of our church’s service, chatted with a few friends.  Matt made lunch and I worked on some Bible study while the kids napped.  After they woke up, we went to the park, ate a PB&J picnic, and let the kids run silly for two hours.  We arrived home in time to read a few stories, snuggle the kids up in their jammies, and put them to bed.

News Junkie

So, I feel silly writing this because I am not officially even in the adoption process at this moment, but I still have “adoption brain.”  This little boy consumes me, my little M, who still lives in Ethiopia, who I hope one day to adopt.  Anyone in the adoption world knows that as you move through the process you become a news junkie.  Every little piece of information provides a little high, a little hope, and the longer I go between hits, the more desperate I feel.  I’ve waited on little M since October of 2009, and my last bit of news was on April 13th.  That particular bit of news gave me hope that I might have more news within a week or so.  It’s been almost a month, so I am way overdue for my fix.  I don’t want to behave like a junkie, so I don’t email my adoption consultant incessantly or leave hundreds of messages on her phone, but I check my email constantly, desperate to receive a message, a “no news yet but we’re still working on it,” a note to let me know that my little M hasn’t been forgotten.  With no news, I become increasingly hopeless, withdrawn.  I leave dirty dishes on my counters, don’t bother cleaning the floor under my toddlers’ chairs, nap when I should be swiffering or reading or planning some sort of super-mom creative activity for my kids.  I read other adoption blogs, hoping that another family’s news might somehow cause our own case to move forward.  I am unmotivated, lazy, and overwhelmed with wondering how my oldest child is doing, potentially at the expense of my younger two children.  I’m crazy to want M home now.  If he were here now, we’d have two 2-year-olds and a 20-month-old, so much more than I think that I can handle, but still, I want him home.  I want to rock him and kiss him.  I want to feed him milk and chicken and bananas and strawberries instead of the rice and water he eats now.  I want to introduce his sister and his brother and see them wrestle and play.  I want him to ride a tricycle in my back yard and slide down our big slide into the grass.  I want him to have a family.

So again, this comes to trust.  Do I trust God to take care of my child when I cannot.  Do I trust him to work out the details of this boy’s homecoming even when I have no news.  Can I stay sober and wait with confident expectation for God to bring my little boy home?


Photo credit to Christina Pittman Bowles, who stood in line in the crazy heat much longer than I did and consequently has much better pictures.

Yes, friends, I spent my 7th wedding anniversary on a date with four boys from Dublin (and 56,000 other people).  My dear friend, Marlana, and I bought tickets to this concert months ago (after I’d asked my dear husband for permission to be away on our anniversary).  My sweet husband took care of Lulu for the weekend for me.  The entire event was a much-needed and very welcome respite from my paper pregnancy stress.  U2 has always been on my “must-see” concert list, and this turned out to be a fantastic show.  U2 has an enormous catalog, so I had no idea what to expect, but they played most of my favorites.  We arrived early (although not as early as some) with our GA admission tickets hoping to end up close to the stage.  We ended up in the third row of the mass of people, stage right with a life-sized view of the band.  One of the side bridges passed back and forth over us through the entire show, so we got a good view of all four gentlemen entertaining us (and their rather silly costumes (my favorite:  laser jacket with Target mic)).  They played for two-and-a-half hours on a very warm night.  Here’s one fan’s assessment:

“Do you know what the best thing about U2 is? Even if you don’t listen to them every day, even if you have never been to their show, even if you aren’t sure about Bono evangelizing about politics or amnesty or space stations or whatever it is he is fighting for—you still know every word to every song. You still listen in amazement to The Edge and his brilliance with a guitar, you recognize Bono’s lilt and cadence like it’s a family member’s voice, you feel something stir inside of you that is both emotional, yet insanely energizing, and you can’t believe it is happening right in front of you. From the get-go, you know that you are experiencing something frantic, beautiful and altering.”  –Johanna Roy

This band works hard.  The show was at once exhilarating, intimate, socially conscious, ridiculous, and cathartic.  Bono left me feeling as though he sang only to me, and at the same time, I left the show feeling the enormity of the world, feeling as though I am a part of something greater, and feeling personally responsible to declare the year of Jubilee.  I returned home refreshed, pleasantly exhausted, but ready to continue on towards my higher calling.

The Set List:

Even Better Than The Real Thing

The Fly

Mysterious Ways

Until The End Of The World

I Will Follow

Get On Your Boots

I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For / Many Rivers To Cross

Stay (Faraway, So Close!)

Beautiful Day / Space Oddity (snippet)


Pride (In The Name Of Love)

Miss Sarajevo


City Of Blinding Lights


I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight /Discothèque (snippet) /Life DuringWartime (snippet) /Psycho Killer (snippet)

Sunday Bloody Sunday


Walk On

One/Hallelujah (snippet)

Where The Streets Have No Name

Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me

With Or Without You

Moment of Surrender


I’m having a crummy couple of weeks.  My adoption of my little boy is on hold.  We’ve been told that it is almost impossible.  I am sick with a nasty head cold, and I have been working much more than usual to make up for days off from our recent travel.  It’s illness season, so the clinic has been busy, and my throbbing head has left me inefficient and struggling to keep up.  I have been grieving since our court date.  Some days are better than others.  Sometimes I have hope that things will work out, but mostly I am angry and irritated to have another obstacle in the path to my little boy.  In moments like this one, I have to consider my faith.  I’ve been in this place before.  God is either everything he says that he is, or he isn’t worth my attention.  I have to go back to basics and remember that my faith is in God and no one else.

1.God is sovereign.
“The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”  Psalm 24:1
2.God is omnipotent.
“He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.”  Job 9:10

3.God is good.
“The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.  The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.”  Psalm 145:8-9
4.God loves me, and God loves M.
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” 1 John 3:1
5.God has good plans for me and for M.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give             you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11
6.God has no limitations.
“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.”  Isaiah 40:28-29
7.Jesus sacrificed himself to save me.
“This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.”  1 John 4:10
8.God wants to adopt me.
“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.”  Ephesians 1:4-5
9.God’s grace is sufficient.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 2:9
10.I am called to worship and obey.
“And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”  Micah 6:8
There is so much more I could say.  This is enough for today.


Matt and I headed to a Switchfoot concert here at home the week after we got back from New York.  I must say, I love this band.  They are very cool.

Maybe it’s because I’m a physician, but this song, “Mess of Me,” really appeals to me.  It’s all about taking responsibility for your own stuff.  Do you have any idea how often people come to me looking for pills when really, they’re the mess.  They’re responsible.  In my case, usually I’m faced with a child who is an absolute mess because his parents are a mess.  There’s no drug for that.  Sometimes you have to suck it up, admit your mistakes, and change.  Seriously, I wish more of the parents I deal with would just act like grown ups.

I’m also in love with the imagery of Switchfoot.  I appreciate a band whose lyrics put pictures into my head.  One of my favorite songs is “Redemption,” from The Beautiful Letdown.  The best part:  “I’ve got my hand/ at Redemption’s side/ whose scars are bigger than/ these doubts of mine/ I fit all of these monstrosities inside/ and come alive.”  In my line of work, I see some crazy stuff, most of which I can’t really talk about at all because of confidentiality and things.  It wears me out.  So I can just see myself, stuffing all these ugly things into the bleeding side of my Savior.  That is cathartic.  He can absolutely handle it.  He takes all of my monstrosities and everyone else’s.  He’s big enough.

So I’m totally stuck on this one too.  I can’t help it.


Realizing that we are soon to become parents, Matt and I decided to take a little vacation.  We tossed around several locations and finally settled on New York City.  The flights were surprisingly reasonable.  I have always wanted to visit New York.  I’m a city girl, so I imagined that I would love it.  I was right.

On my birthday, we flew to New York.  We had lunch and frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity and spent some time exploring Fifth Avenue and Times Square.  We saw La Cage aux Folles that evening.  Our seats were fantastic.  I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a live show so close (and it was Broadway!).  Douglas Hodge, who plays Albin in the production, was absolutely wonderful, completely energetic, over-the-top, and still very endearing.  The next morning we visited the Museum of Natural History and Felini’s Basement (fantastic bargains).  The TKTS line was quite long that day, so we opted to just pick a show and buy tickets from the box office.  We ended up seeing The Addams Family.  It was a much larger theater, and our seats weren’t nearly as good.  The show was still entertaining.  I was most impressed by the visuals.  I also loved Kevin Chamberlain (dear Uncle Fester).  The following morning, we hit all the major tourist attractions.  We got up early to miss the lines at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.  We had lunch at a cafe in Little Italy and wandered the streets through Chinatown and Soho.  In the afternoon, we visited the Museum of Modern Art and saw a Matisse Exhibit.  MoMA is very cool, and I enjoyed several of the exhibitions there.  In the afternoon, we met my cousin, LaRae, who I haven’t seen since I was about 15 years old.  We met up with her, her husband Wade, and her son Gage in Central Park.  It was so nice to catch up with her.  We finished the day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  I loved the bamboo garden on the roof which overlooks Central Park.  LaRae recommended we eat at La Trottoria for dinner which turned out to be amazing.  On our last day, we spent the morning shopping around Rockefeller Center.  We took the subway to Rucker Park in Harlem for the World Basketball Festival.  We watched the French team scrimmage in preparation for the real game against the United States at Madison Square Garden.  Afterwards, we walked through Central Park to the Guggenheim.  The Guggenheim was my absolute favorite of the museums.  It is an architectural wonder to start with, but I loved the exhibits.  My favorite was a group of paintings by an Ethiopian woman.  Matt enjoyed the Kandinsky.  After dinner, we went up the Empire State Building to enjoy the lights at night.

All in all, I loved New York.  I love the busy-ness of it, the creativity.  We seemed to walk past street performers or musicians practically everywhere we went.  I love being able to walk anywhere I want to go.  I love having Whole Foods just down the street.  I love that in one day I can have dim sum, gnocchi, and a hot dog if I wish.  I love hearing all sorts of languages all around me.  I admit that the practicality of living in Manhattan is lacking.  I can hardly imagine climbing on and off the subway with groceries and a baby, and everything is so much more expensive.  Still, I do love it, and I would love to visit again.