OK-SO I KNOW EVERYONE IS DYING TO HEAR ABOUT OUR "CALL" (especially those on our AGCI listserve) :-) This will be long-sorry in advance, but I want it to be something she can read someday, so I want to keep the details.
I was at home on Monday morning and had taken 3 of the kids to Vacation Bible School (VBS). Jacob, our oldest, was home getting ready to leave for camp the next day and I am so glad we got the call while he was still home! Logan was playing and the phone rang as I was doing some chores around the house at exactly 11:15 am. I saw that it was AGCI on the caller ID and my heart skipped a beat and it seemed that time stood still for a couple seconds. I answered, knowing that it could be regarding some issues with a date being wrong on our homestudy (they are fixing this), as I had talked to them a few times the previous week about this and although I thought it was resolved, I knew that I wasn't about to let myself get my hopes up. However, I was almost 100% sure that we were #1 on the list and when Julie our caseworker said hello, and asked how I was and if I had some time to talk-I KNEW!! I could feel my adrenalin starting up and my heart beating faster as she said those coveted words, "Well, I have a little girl here that I would like to talk to you about." I don't even know what I said, except, "You do?-OK"! She started talking a little bit and I asked if it would be ok to conference call my husband in. She said yes and dialed him at work. I was listening to her as she introduced herself to Adam and it was weird thinking that I knew his world was about to be rocked-I knew it was coming!
After we were both on and she told us that Kiersten, our original caseworker who had just left Sunday for Ethiopia/Rwanda and was so mad the week before because after going through this with us, SHE wanted to be the one to tell us about our referral-AND THEY KNEW the week before that we would be getting her, but were waiting on a couple more clarifications on her lab tests to be answered before calling us with her referral-so Kiersten missed it! However, it is OK, I love Julie too and she was great!
She began by going over the baby's medical concerns-before telling us anything else, even her age. She said that she had been very sick and they thought it was Sepsis (a really bad infection throughout your blood that can be caused by many different things-Ecoli, Group B Strep, etc). They had treated her for it as well as yeast in her mouth. She was so sick, she didn't want to suck at first, but is doing great now and eating well, the report said. She was malnourished and dehydrated when she came into care. She had been at Hannah's Hope, the orphanage that All God's Children uses, since July 1st (about 3 weeks now) and was doing well, gaining weight and eating great.
After what seemed like tons of info-which I got about 1/2 of what I was probably actually told-even though I tried to write everything down, I finally, half way through the conversation asked her what her Birthday was.
At this point, she said that her BD is June 11th. This is the point that I started to break down as my breath caught in my throat-because this is Adam and my wedding anniversary. All I kept thinking during this time was two things-a song, "Swept Away" by Geoff Moore -here is the link to the song http://tinyurl.com/35vu3nj It just kept playing through my head which is weird cause I have only heard it a couple times (I found out today that it is a song he wrote for his adopted child and I love the song now).
The other thing that kept resonating over and over was "God is SO good!" I just kept thinking how good He truly is. You see, our baby girl is only 5-1/2 weeks old. Now as a side note, years ago when we first looked into adoption, we really didn't want to do international because we thought that most of the babies that you get home were older-toddlers, older kids, etc....which there is nothing wrong with. We just really wanted the baby stage. But when we looked into it this time and saw that Ethiopia allows infants that are pretty young, we decided to go for it since we love the baby stage and didn't want to miss a lot of it. So, I kept praying some that we could get a young infant.
Well, at the same time, I told everyone that I was pretty sure we would get an older baby, as I just couldn't get my hopes up that God would give us a newborn. So, I just told myself that it would probably be older and I prayed that above all, God would give us the child that was meant for our family. So, when I heard 5 weeks and born on our anniversary, I just figured this was a small gift from God and confirmation that this was it-you don't need to worry!
I tried to compose myself to hear what else she had to say and she went over a couple other things-but I can't really tell you what. :-) A lot was going through my mind like all that this, almost year and a half, has brought us to get to this point-the fundraising, paperwork, money, everything, came down to this-meeting our baby!
I then asked how she was brought in. This is where it got really hard. She said that she was abandoned at about 6 days old and left at a church under their fence (gate). (In Ethiopia most residences are surrounded by large and tall fences. So, someone slid her underneath). This is the point that I lost all control and started sobbing. I couldn't breathe. I felt time stop once again and I tried to take it all in. I hadn't even seen her picture yet and Adam was still at work listening and trying to leave to drive home. I know he heard me loose it over the phone and tried to answer what she was asking.
It just hit me that as a mom with a mother's heart, how can you leave your baby, and yet we are SO thankful that she left her there and not out in a field where the animals could get her, which happens to so many babies that are abandoned. We don't even know if the mom is still alive, with how sick the baby was, chances are the mom was fairly sick too. If the mom had died-which is really common in childbirth, a family member or another person could have brought her there too. I can handle that easier than thinking about it as a mom and the mom leaving her-that hurts my heart.
I take peace in what another adoptive family shared with me-and that is, "This is God's plan for this baby-the plan was for her to be in your family, so in order for that to happen, someone had to abandon her." I know this is true and God is in control, but it still is such a mixture of emotions to try and decipher. We are elated one second, but then as I think about how someone had to bring her there, and walk away, it kills us. I want to know how she was found, what she was wearing, how long she was there-did she cry and I am sure she was hungry given her size....etc...but these are things that this side of heaven we will never know!
Jacob called three of our good friends that live within 2 minutes of us to try and find someone to pick up the other kids from VBS. It kind of ended up being good as these 3 friends were such rocks to us during this entire journey and really supported us-they all ended up getting to our house within about 2-5 minutes after Jacob called them to see what the emergency was :-) while I was still on the phone with AGCI. They took pictures and video for us, which was great, AND picked up our kids.
So, by the time Adam got home, and started getting the laptop set up, the kids were all there and we were ready to see our baby! I could hardly breathe as I waited for the pictures to pop up. I can't even describe what it was like to know that you were about to see your baby, the one God hand picked for your family, who is across the world but will soon be in your family. I kept thinking about all we had done to get to this point and I just couldn't believe that we were FINALLY here! It was so surreal-like some sort of weird out of body experience! It seemed that time stood still. It just seemed forever while Adam was downloading the picture. Looking back at it though, before I even knew Adam had hit open, there she was-that is the moment when all my fears, worries, work and this whole roller coaster came to a sudden halt as we looked at the most beautiful, tiny and perfect little face!
I then was SO overcome with emotion, that I couldn't catch my breath, I was crying so hard that I couldn't talk, breath, and as dumb as it might sound, I felt as if I was going to fall to my knees because I was so overcome! I leaned on Cassidy who was in front of me instead. All that kept going through my mind once again was, "GOD IS SO GOOD!" He certainly is!! It is just a feeling that is so hard to pinpoint how to express it. I was in awe when all of my kids were born, but also exhausted and although I cried a little at times, there was never anything like this-the emotional build up was amazing and the enormous gratefulness to God that He would give us this tiny, perfect baby- ah, I just don't have the right words! I felt something similar after delivering our twins prematurely and being whisked by them in the NICU and after not getting to see them all day, being wheeled down in a wheelchair to see them for the first time-funny thing is, they were the exact sizes that Abby is-so we can picture how tiny she actually is.
Anyways, I couldn't stop staring at her picture and the kids though she was so cute and since they sent us 4 pictures of her, we kept flipping back and forth just starring! It was true and utter JOY and thanksgiving!
Abby has quite a story....after she was found abandoned at about 6 days old at the church-(they give her a birth date as they will have NO way to know the exact date-maybe she still had her umbilical cord, etc...we don't and won't know). We are also not sure if a person from the church found her, or the police, but regardless, it was the police that brought her to Bethzetha-the government run orphanage. She was VERY sick with the sepsis so they started her on antibiotics as well as something to cure the yeast infection that was in her mouth. She stayed here for about 2-1/2 weeks of her life when she was then placed at Hannah's Hope Orphanage on July 1st.
When she got to Hannah's hope, she only weighed 4.7lbs! She was so tiny, not to mention what her weight would have been arriving at Bethzetha or even at birth! In the next 2 1/2 weeks she flourished and as of this weeks update, was already 6lbs 4 oz! That is an amazing testimony to the care she is getting at Hannah's Hope! She is obviously a fighter and God was watching over her.
She came with the name "Seble" which they think that the police gave her-it is pronounced "Seb-lah". It means Harvest-which we think is great.
We will be naming her: Abigail (changed it later) Seble Alaine Stutzman
We printed all of our paperwork out that came with the e-mail referral and started right in. We immediately contacted and submitted all the paperwork to the International Pediatrician. We didn't want to waste anytime. We then drove up to All Gods Children to pick-up our Referral Packet rather than waste 1-2 days in having them mail it. We wanted to get started! We then had to stop at Costco to pick-up our order of pictures - we didn't waste anytime in this area either. :-)
Once we got home, we had family and friends over to show them her picture and ended up having a BBQ. It ended up being a GREAT day!! Unfortunately, I had to work the next day and so the next evening after work, we had to finish our first packet of questions before our phone call on Wednesday with AGCI. Wednesday, we got a glowing report from the International Pediatrician and notarized our paperwork. Thursday, I drove up again to deliver our acceptance of the referral to AGCI only to realize there was one more page we needed notarized. Back home to meet Adam and then back up to AGCI. We had all our paperwork in and out of our hands Thursday evening.
We are so thrilled with her progress and are now awaiting our court dates.....so what's next people keep asking-here is what we know:
Our file is being sent to Ethiopia to accept her referral and get our court dates. In about 2-3 weeks they should call us with our court dates. Now the courts are closing the 2nd week in Aug. until end of September because it is their rainy season and roads flood bad. We do know that we won't get a court date before that as they said this week that they are scheduling no more. So, we are hoping and praying that we will get our court date in October right after courts open.
We know that there are some being given out Oct 6th (birth family court),and Oct. 18th-(adoptive family court)-we are so hoping to get in on these-but we need you to pray for this as it is unlikely-but this is when I hope our first travel happens. We need 2 court dates (one for birth family and one for us) There are only 2 a month, so if we don't get in on these, it will be November before we travel the FIRST time-so she should be about 4-5 months old when we meet her for the first time.
She will still have to have a "birth-family" court appointment even though she was abandoned. Someone will come from either the police dept. or the church and represent her and say, "YES, she was abandoned." As in any of the 1st 2 court dates, there is a 50/50% of passing the first time-so this is another prayer request-we NEED to pass both the first time if there is any chance of getting her home by Christmas-which is our goal!
After we both pass those 2 court dates, it will be 6-8 weeks until they will give us our embassy date (during this time, they are getting her a visa and passport), and then we go back to pick her up-so this is close-we SO want her home by Christmas! So, she should be about 6-7 months old when we pick her up.
People have been asking if it is harder now that we know who she is and have a picture of her or if it was harder to not know. I have to say that for those of you in this process, at least for us, it is way easier to have a face to this whole thing then it is to wonder who our daughter is. I would rather be on this side, than still not knowing, even though we have to wait through court closure-I would rather know. But it WILL be a long wait all the same-we want her home!
Please pray for us for the THREE following things:
1.Seble's health-she needs to eat well and keep gaining and stay healthy-she will be more prone to infection with her background and size.
2.Her birth mom and birth family-can't even imagine the pain they are going through-and we want them to find Jesus most of all!
3. That we will get those 2 October court dates and get her home by Christmas!
We love you all and are thrilled that you are on this road with us-thanks for praying and rejoicing in our news! Adam and Amber
Here is our video of our call pictures-enjoy! (Go to bottom of our blog and turn off our blog music before starting video)
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