Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Day He Stroked My Hair

Today was a special day. It's the eve of Kena's second birthday. He's been in my arms for 3 1/2 months. We've been through a lot of change and transition, and the road ahead is still long. It's a lifetime long. Today felt like a little glimpse into a lifetime ahead of love, affection, and oneness.

Today Kena stroked my hair. I held him on my left hip as I often do, and I realized that he was just gently stroking my hair. My other children have stroked my hair. It's a tender sign of affection that speaks a lot of love to me. It's a sign that he finds comfort with me. It's an answer to prayer.

In the past 3 1/2 months there have been many really sweet moments. There have also been really, really tough moments. I have been hit, bitten, have had food, toys, and all sorts of things thrown at me. My hair has been pulled. I have been slapped. I have lost sleep...so much sleep. I have dealt with fear of what the next issue will be. I have cried...a lot...like, so, so much. I have gained weight. I have lost any sense of  personal space and time. I have lost lots of independence. I have despaired.

Then he stroked my hair. He also squeezed my cheek close to his and held it there for a long time.

Lately, he has started hugging me tight. It's not a hug out of fear and desperation. I have experienced lots of those over the past few months, and I am thankful he clung to me in that fear. Now, however, he has started hugging me on his own initiative. It's so sweet and affectionate. He looks at me, and I am starting to see connection. It's hard to explain, but it's an answer to prayer.

A significant change I have made since Kena has been home has been that I try to wake up at or before 6:00 a.m. Kena (and the rest of my kids) usually wake at 7:00 a.m. or later. I have learned that I really need time in my house when it is quiet. I turn on as few lights as I need, pour a cup of coffee, read my Table Talk devotion and Bible reading, read a daily Psalm, pray, and then I either read another book or shop online. :)

I have recently been humbled by the fact that I needed to pray for MY bond with Kena as much as I needed to pray for his bond with me. Only the Lord can make us one. Only the Lord can take his desperation for security and my desire for affection and create a true bond.

He did that. Today. When Kena stroked my hair and pulled my cheek close.

Things are changing. Our exchanges are more real and more authentic. I know it will come in waves. He (and I) will have good days and bad days. I will lack patience. His desperation and insecurity will overcome him. But things are changing.

So on this eve of his 2nd birthday, I am encouraged. I have not been there for all of his days. The significance of this loss has overwhelmed me all day long. I have missed so much. These days now, though, I refuse to miss. I will cherish everyday the Lord gives me to be his Mommy. He had a first Mommy, and I am so thankful for her and her decision to see him into this life. I am thankful for all the other arms who held him until he found his way into our arms. Now we are his family forever. I will hold him on my hip, let him stroke my hair, and move into whatever the Lord has for us next.

 Goodnight, little one. Get ready for Friederichsen Family birthday donuts tomorrow!!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Gift of a Meal

It's been a day over three weeks since Kena has been in my arms forever and two and a half weeks since he was home with our entire family. There is so much to write about from the past three weeks.

Today I want to write about meals. Since we have been home, we have had TEN meals provided for our family. There are more to come. I asked my church and other friends to provide meals for us once we returned. I knew I needed meals for the simple reason that my family would need some kind of nourishment outside of PB&J or Mac and Cheese during our first month or two home. It was a request for the purpose of survival. Little did I know that this provision of meals would mean so, so much more.

There has been something  unexpectedly special that has been happening around the dinner table of the Friederichsen household over the past two weeks. Bonding. After loooong days of getting to know our new son and trying to navigate this new normal that seems to change everyday, family dinners around the table have been a true anchor. We have been face to face enjoying a meal together, and our family of six has bonded. Since I haven't had to worry about shopping or cooking, I have been able to sit down for dinner, still weary, but not weary from food prep. Sitting down for dinner has been a welcome break and a surprisingly life-giving time to connect with my people. It's the one time of the day that Kena will always sit in his high chair. We are all face to face. We have shared new laughter. We have discovered new facial expressions. Kena has LOVED trying new foods. I have also loved watching him devour some meals that had similar flavor profiles to his and our beloved Ethiopia. Dinners have been an unexpectedly special oasis in the middle of hard days.

If you have provided a meal, THANK YOU. Without you, I guarantee there would have been a lot of hot dogs and tator tots in front of the TV and much less meal time bonding over the past few weeks. You have ministered to me and our family in ways I never would have imagined we needed. I knew we needed physical nourishment, but these dinners over these past two weeks have been so incredibly nourishing for our family in deeper ways. A moment to sit down and be together. A family of six figuring this new thing out. We're getting to know Kena, and he is getting to know us. God is doing a work around our dining room table every evening around 5:30 p.m. Bonding. Becoming one.

From the bottom of my heart to those who have brought a meal and facilitated this great work of God in our family: Thank you.

Want in on the fun??? There are still spots available on our meal calendar here.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Made for this Day

I am sitting in an airplane in Dubai that feels every bit as hot as the 110 degree weather outside. Delayed for push back, we're just sitting here in our own personal Middle Eastern sauna. We just finished a 12 1/2 hour flight from JFK to Dubai. Thankfully, sleep did come here and there throughout the flight. I pray that those few hours of sleep and adrenaline (and the strength of our mighty God) will get me through the next few very significant hours. 

It's time to go get Kena. Although he doesn't know it, he is spending his final few hours in the care of an orphanage. In a matter of hours, he will be in my arms forever. I am still a stranger to him, but the fight begins. The fight for his heart. The fight for our bond. He doesn't know me, and I don't really know him. I have spent maybe six hours total with him over the span of three days. What size clothes does he really wear? I fear the clothes I brought will swallow him. What food will he eat? Hopefully Cheerios, applesauce, animals crackers and puffs...because that's what mama brought.

I have so many questions:
Will you sleep? Will you play? When will I see your smile? How will you do outside of the orphanage in the specific, loving arms of your mama? Although the institutional setting of a orphanage is not ideal, it's what you know. How will you face your new normal? I will hold you while you grieve this loss of the life you have always known. I will try not to take it personally when my love and affection is not sufficient to help your hurting heart. Only God can soothe and heal the loss you will endure. Adoption is beautiful, but adoption is born out of pain and loss. Be brave, little one. When my and Daddy's love is not enough, we will trust that the Lord will be sufficient for you (and us) in all of our many weaknesses.

Mama is coming, little one. Only the Lord is fully ready to make this happen, because he is the author of our stories. Lord, be near and hold us up when our hearts don't know what we need. We were made for this day. So here I come.

Friday, August 14, 2015

A Letter to Our Friends and Family...

Dear friends and family,

Warning: This is a long but important post. Grab a beverage and settle in.

It is almost time to return to Ethiopia to bring Kena home. We hope he will be home before the end of August. As we prepare to bring Kena home, we would like to share some of our thoughts on some parenting decisions we are making. We want to help you understand how you can help us begin our new life with Kena as a family of six.

In Kena's short life, he will have gone through many significant changes and life altering experiences. While he may not consciously remember the events, he will still experience immense loss when we bring him home, including feelings of grief and trauma. He will soon experience the loss of familiar and comforting nannies, as well as the sights, smells, and language of his orphanage in Ethiopia. He will likely struggle with feeling safe and secure, and he may lack the ability to trust that we will meet his needs. Kena has not experienced God's design for family while living in the orphanage, and his world is about to turn upside down.

Throughout our adoption process, we have read books, attended conferences, and listened to stories from other adoptive families. One thing we hear repeatedly is that parenting a child from a hard place is very different than parenting a child from birth. Children who come home through adoption have experienced interruptions in the typical attachment process. The loss of a biological mother and birth family at an early age is a major trauma on their little hearts. He has spent more of his life in institutional care than anywhere else. He is a 20 month old baby boy with wounds that God has entrusted to us to help heal. The good news is that we can now, as Kena’s parents and by God’s grace, rebuild attachment and help him heal from these emotional wounds.

Everything around Kena will be new and he will need to learn not just about his new environment but also about love and family. The best way for us to form a parent/child bond with him is to be the ones to hold, snuggle, instruct, soothe and feed him. For the first few months home, Donny and I will need to be the only ones who hold, feed, bathe, comfort, and change Kena. We need to teach him that we are his people, his parents, and that we will always be there to care for his needs. As our love and care of him repeats over time, he will be able to learn that his parents are safe to trust and to love deeply. We are, essentially, recreating the newborn/parent connection. Once Kena starts to establish this important bond, he will then be able to branch out to other healthy relationships.

It will help us immensely if adults limit with Kena what is typically considered normal, physical contact with a baby/toddler. This will (for a while) include things like holding, hugging, and kissing and just seeking any kind of real attachment relationship with him. Children from orphanage settings are prone to attach too easily to anyone and everyone - which hinders the important, primary relationship with parents. Waving, blowing kisses or giving high fives are absolutely appropriate and welcomed! We want Kena to know that the people with whom he interacts are our trusted friends and family, but we also need to differentiate that we will be the ones who are always there for him as his parents. Please don’t try to meet his needs. Please redirect him to us.

"A well-tended newborn is fed, cradled, and soothed when he cries from hunger or crankiness. This scene plays out hundreds of times in the first month of life alone. Through this exchange, the baby learns to trust that his needs will be met and that he can rely on people." (from The Connected Child).

We have been professionally advised that it is best that Donny and I solely meet every need--quickly and consistently. Until he has learned that WE are his parents, we will need to be his primary caretakers at all times. Although it may appear that we are spoiling or babying him, we are not. You may wonder how long this will take, but the timeline is different for every child. We will follow his lead and trust our instincts as his mom and dad. After meeting him a few weeks ago, we learned that he is apprehensive and hesitant and even fearful in new situations. This confirms even more that we need to really work on developing trust and consistency with him and trust the Lord to bind our hearts.   

For the first few weeks or even months, it will seem as if we are kind of cocooning our family in our home. It will be our time, as a family of 6, to huddle in together and start fresh. We need to teach Kena that he has a stable, calm and predictable environment to live in. Donny will be working from home more often the first few weeks Kena is home, so he can establish himself as “Dad” for Kena. As I stated above, we are starting from the beginning and establishing a connection similar to a newborn/parent. 

"Children who come from hard places don't overcome their history in six weeks; it can take years before new, improved life skills and attachment take permanent root for these children." –from The Connected Child

A brief note about his story – Kena’s life has been hard, but there are obvious strands of God’s love, protection and redemption in his past. We will protect his story, and we are choosing not to share the details of his life before he was matched with us. It is his story, and we are blessed to be a part of it. We will wait to share more with him when he is older, and we pray that the gift of his story in the future will be used to help him see God’s kind and protective hand in the midst of the brokenness that came so early in his life.

We cherish each of you and the role you have played in our adoption story. You have helped us grow our family, and there is just no way to thank you enough for that. We need you. Adoption is restoration, redemption, healing. It is work. It is a different kind of parenting as it's parenting on the front lines of children who come from very hard places. While we wanted to offer some boundaries on how we will approach our early months with Kena, please don’t fear making a mistake that might threaten our attachment with Kena. We will give lots of grace just as we hope you will give us grace as we enter into this new phase of our lives.

I will follow up soon with more about how you can practically help us through this transition. Please keep praying for us. We know the Lord has brought us to this point, and we need to continue to rely on his grace and power to parent Kena in a loving and secure way. Please pray he will bond to us. Thanks again for your love and care. We can’t wait to bring Kena home, and we thank the Lord for this gift of our new son.

With love and thanks,
Donny and Kim (and all of us) 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

My Heart on a Screen

As I type, we are flying at 39,000 ft with 3 hours to go until we land in Nairobi. I've only watched one movie because I can't keep my eyes off the interactive map that shows our flight progress. I have watched us leave London, pass Austria and Greece (along with many other European lands), fly over Crete and the Mediterranean Sea and then enter air space of a land I know so little about yet love so much - Africa. Maybe it's the homeschooler in me who loves watching us fly over all of these places we have studied and will study again this year. I think, though, that it's because I have a promised son in this land. We will fly over Ethiopia en route to Nairobi, and I just keep staring at that map. He's there somewhere. Our soon-to-be son. And so I stare. Because it's the closest I've ever been to him.

Our travel process has been fairly smooth. We left our house yesterday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. in a big, black suburban. A kind friend from church had a car service take us to JFK. The kids thought it was cool being picked up like the president or famous people. It was definitely nice to sit back and let someone else do the driving. As Donny and I took our final steps out of our house, he looked at me and said:  "Let's go get him." Mush. From that moment on, I have been fairly laser focused on one thing: adopting our son. It's time to do this.

Back to travel: Let me tell you - I have never driven with a native New Yorker before through lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. When you are super confident and know what you're doing, you can really get places. Let's just say I was a little white knuckled here or there, but he was great.

We got to JFK with lots of time to spare. Once we checked in and got through security, we got the kids McDonalds and took it to a restaurant where I could get a salad. I don't remember the last time I had a salad. It's been lots of frozen pizzas and breakfast for dinner around here while we've been packing/planning.

After dinner, I realized that I had forgotten lip balm, so the kids and I went into a "Hudson News" bookstore to see if they had lip balm. While in the store, I had my first New York star sighting. I saw Padma from Top Chef. I didn't have my camera with me, so I ran back to get it, and once she had checked out, I went up to her and asked if I could take a picture with her. She had her daughter with her, so she politely declined. I told her how we were flying to Ethiopia to adopt our little boy, and I thought it would be so fun that meeting her was part of our story. We introduced our daughters to each other which was so fun, and then she asked her daughter if she knew what adoption was. Her daughter didn't really respond. Padma said she would explain more about it to her later. She was very kind and gracious to me, her airport stalker, and Millie.

Once we finally boarded our plane, which was delayed, we sat on the tarmack for roughly an hour waiting to be cleared for take-off. Apparently the president was there earlier and had held up departures a bit. We settled into our flight, and we tried not to worry about whether we would make our layover in London.

The kids have been doing great. Will fell asleep during our wait on the tarmack before we even took off from JFK yesterday and slept the whole flight until I had to wake him to put on shoes and put his seat upright. The big kids watched a movie, we ate an unexpected meal around 10:30 pm, and we all fell asleep after about an hour and a half into the flight. I have no idea how long we slept, but I guess maybe 4ish hours.

Now we are on our final few hours before Nairobi. Thankfully, we made our connection, but it was close. We arrived at the gate about 10 minutes before the gates were scheduled to close. The kids have been awake this flight which I hope means they will sleep well tonight. The flight has lots of great on-demand movies and even some video games, so they have been well entertained. 

Overall, I don't know that it could have been smoother. I thank the Lord for his continued grace and provision for our family. We are ready to adopt our boy, and we couldn't be more thankful that we have our whole family here to do it together. Thanks for your continued prayers.

We fly to Ethiopia Saturday morning, will drive 3 hours to his orphanage, and then we will meet our boy for the first time. My heart is thrilled even writing those words. As the east coast wakes Saturday morning, we should have him in our arms. We will love on him with all that we can for three days and then head back to Addis Ababa to appear in court next Tuesday. We won't bring him home with us this trip. Once we adopt him, the U.S. Embassy takes 4-6 weeks to complete all they need to do to prepare him for immigration and citizenship. Then we will race back to get him and bring him home forever hopefully at the end of August or beginning of September.

As you sleep early Monday morning, we will be saying good-bye to him. Writing those words hurts my heart. Pray that our embassy process will be surprisingly swift. We can't wait to bring him home.

Thanks again for all of your love and support. I don't plan to blog much more while we are gone, although I may surprise myself. We'll post quick updates here and there on Facebook. An hour and 22 minutes left of flight time. I think I'll go stare at my map. We're coming for you, little one.

Quick pic of Millie and Will under their "tents" doing what they did most of the JFK-Nairobi flight: Movies and Video Games. 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

An update, and the winner of our giveaway is....

Rusty Harding!!!!

Sorry we are a few days late on this, but Millie was excited to draw this morning for our Adoption Fundraising Giveaway. Congrats, Rusty!!!

We are humbled and in awe to report that, by God's grace and the generosity of many, we met 100% our adoption fundraising goal!!! The generosity of our friends and family has been incredible. It really does take a village, and we will continue to need your love, prayers and support now and in the many days and months ahead once we bring our little guy home.

If you had a desire to give and didn't get to it yet, you can still give. There are other "extra" expenses that will come along the way, but it is so good to know we have met all of the absolutely necessary expenses to bring our guy home. 

In case you missed my post on Facebook, we received a court date and will travel to meet him next week! We will officially adopt him to be ours forever on July 28. I will try to post again before we leave, but I can't make any promises. Please pray for our travel over the next two weeks. We are taking our entire family with us, so we are praying that the Lord uses this time to begin molding us into a family of six.

We will not bring him home with us on this trip. Once we pass court, it will take a month to six weeks for him to go through US Embassy  approval to be issued the proper paperwork to come home. Please join us in praying that we can bring him home at the end of August or very beginning of September. Our prayer from the beginning has been that he would be home by Hunter's birthday on September 14. 

Thanks again for your incredible love and support of our family.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Final Countdown

In December, our kids received an XBOX 360 from their Aunt and Uncle. It came with a Kinect sensor that allows them to play the games using their whole body. One of our favorite games is Just Dance 4 where we get points for following the right dance moves. One of our favorite songs in the game is "The Final Countdown" by Europe where two guys dressed as wrestlers dance battle it out. It is very commonplace in our family to hear our four year old humming or singing "The Final Countdown," and that is pretty much awesome.

Well, in a manner of speaking, the final countdown has begun for our family. We received a call yesterday that the final letter needed for us to receive a court date has been submitted to the courts in Ethiopia. Yesterday we were told, "When the court docket comes out next week, your name will be on the list."

I had her repeat that part: "Our name will be on the list."

AAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!! It's finally here!!!! Hopefully this time next week we will know the date we will go to make our little guy a Friederichsen.

Can you hear it? "Da, dah, Da, dah, Daaaaa....it's the FINAL COUNTDOWN!!!!"

Hopefully more next week with news that we are packing our bags!!!! Until then, enjoy this little music video and just imagine our little family rocking it out, cause it's THE FINAL COUNTDOWN!!!!

Saturday, July 04, 2015

138 days - A Fundraising GIVEAWAY!!!!

First family picture with our little guy back in February.
It's been 138 days since we first saw his face (which is hidden under the heart until we officially adopt him).

138 Days - As of today, it has been 138 days since we saw our future son's face for the first time. Lord willing, there won't be too many more days that will pass before we meet him face to face.

Today I woke up to Facebook posts from families who are leaving for Ethiopia today having been given TWO DAYS NOTICE. Yes, they were called Thursday and are leaving for Ethiopia today. Some of these families are only two weeks ahead of us in the process. It's getting real, folks. Getting THE CALL to travel to go meet our soon-to-be son and officially adopt him could be very close.

We still have about $5000 to raise to be fully funded to travel to adopt him, bring him home, and complete our final adoption expenses. The grants we were hoping to receive to finish off our adoption expenses did not pan out. We are so thankful that we have received some generous donations in the past few weeks, but we are not finished yet!

In honor of our 138 days of knowing our little one's name and face, we are holding a fundraising giveaway!!! 
We are giving away a $138 Amazon gift card to one lucky winner!!!

You can enter our giveaway twice. Here's how to enter:
1. Click here to give a donation of ANY AMOUNT, large or small, to our adoption fund with Lifesong for Orphans. Any donation will enter you into our giveaway. Want to give $1 just to be entered? Great!!! We would love for you to be a part of our little guy's story.
If you would like to donate via check rather than paypal, let me know. I can send you the address of where to send a check.

2. Share this blog post/giveaway via Facebook or another social media outlet. Other adoption-minded individuals might be excited enter our giveaway to help us bring our little guy home. We would love your help to SPREAD THE WORD. If you share our giveaway, you can comment on this blog post or comment/message me personally on Facebook, and I will put your name in for a second entry.

Here's something fun to think about: Would you consider giving $138 in honor of our little man and our wait for him to this point? If that is too much or if you want to give more, that is totally fine. Just think - if 37 people gave $138, our needs would be met. Cool, right? OR - What if 138 people gave (even small amounts)? That would be awesome, too. I'll try to post a thermometer on our blog to track the status of the giveaway. This will be SO MUCH FUN to see how the Lord provides.

Giveaway ends on Monday, July 13. I will put all names in a bowl and have our kids draw for a winner on July 16 to celebrate five months since first seeing his face. My prayer is that when we draw for the giveaway that we will also be scrambling making travel plans. Only the Lord knows!!!

If you are a first time visitor to our blog and would like more details about our adoption journey and our financial provision/stewardship throughout the last three years, you are welcome to browse through our blog to learn more of our story. Here are a few specific links:
The Beginnings of our Adoption Process
138 Days Ago - Our Referral Call
June 2015 Update on the State of the Friederichsen Adoption Funds

Thanks for considering our family's needs. Above all, please pray that the time remaining to see him face to face will be short and that the Lord will prepare all of us to be together as a family forever.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Be Brave, Little One

Early in 2015, I decided that I wanted two words to define my year: Courage and Discipline. Throughout the year, I have waned in and out of faithfulness to those words and how God wanted to grow me in those areas.

Lately, however, I have been thinking a lot about courage and how brave Donny and I, our current kids, and our little boy waiting for us in Ethiopia will need to be to see this adoption process to completion and to begin life as a family of six.

His life has already held so much pain - too much that any one and a half year old should have to experience. His first pain came so early. He will need to be brave.

We are entering a phase of parenthood that is totally unknown. God has entrusted us to help be part of the process to heal his heart. We will need to be brave.

There will be much we won't understand. There will be much we won't know. We will all need to be brave.

We know our courage is not perfect, and our bravery will wane. I am thankful, however, that the One who we put our courage, faith, and trust in does not waver and does not wane. My bravery will fail. My God will not.

Psalm 121:1-5
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? 
2 My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. 
3 He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. 
4 Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. 
5 The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand. 

Be brave, little one. Someone is waiting for you. We are waiting to love you in the flesh. Until then, our Lord will watch over you. He is the truest Father you need. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

The State of the Friederichsen Adoption Funds

Now that we have accepted our referral and await our little guy's homecoming, we have been putting energy into funding the final part of our adoption which will cover the enormous expense of traveling to bring him home. 

We want to be totally transparent with how we, by God's grace and provision, have funded this adoption up to this point. Below you will find a summary of how the Lord has provided beyond measure for our every need to bring our little guy home.

Our adoption expenses over the past three years have come in three waves. When we began the adoption process in 2012, we used personal savings to cover our initial agency and home study expenses. During 2013, we received a matching grant, held an adoption auction and yard sale, and received charitable donations which covered our second major set of expenses - our international fees that we paid upon accepting the referral of our little man. Now we face the final and MOST EXCITING set of expenses - the ones to travel to GO GET OUR BOY!!!!

We are seeking donations, grants, and other ways to fund the remaining costs associated with our adoption.

To continue with our transparency, here's where we are financially:

As of today, we have personal savings ($4038.50) and some remaining grant money ($1410.41) which together total $5448.91.
Our agency estimates approximately $11,300 in travel related expenses. This will include two trips to Ethiopia, travel, lodging and food while in country, and funds needed to bring our little guy home.

We are currently praying for and seeking the remaining $5851.09 needed to completely fund our estimated travel costs.

We have applied for two more grants, been rejected for one of them already, and we are not sure when we will hear from the other grant agency. 

In the meantime, we wanted to remind you that we have an adoption fundraising account with Lifesong for Orphans in which individuals and families can partner with us to bring our little boy home by donating any amount of money to our adoption. You may donate by clicking 
click the "Donate Now" button on the top right corner of this page, or CLICK HERE . 

One of our greatest desires right now is to be rid of the financial concerns associated with completing our adoption so that we can give all of our energy to preparing to bring our soon-to-be-son home. Will you consider giving little or big to make that happen? Any amount will make a difference. If you have friends who are adoption-minded and might be interested in helping us bring our little guy home, feel free to share this post and need with them.

One more note of transparency: We are considering taking Hunter and Millie with us on our first trip to Ethiopia. Any funds given to Lifesong for Orphans on our behalf will only be used for necessary adoption expenses. We will make decisions about the financial feasibility of taking our kids with us once we see how the rest of our necessary funding comes in. I wanted to be upfront that your donations are only covering what is necessary and outlined by our adoption agency. We will figure out the kids' expenses as we go along if we decide to take them.

Many of you reading this have given to our adoption in the past, and we are so thankful. It was incredible to have grant money and past donations to 100% cover our HUGE referral fee. You helped us to be able to say "yes" to our little guy without having to worry about finances, and that was a HUGE gift to our family.

Now we seek the ability to freely say "yes" to booking those plane tickets when we get the phone call. Will you help send us? We are ready, and we will trust the Lord to provide for our every need. He has been so faithful through this long process, and we trust his faithfulness to bring us to the end when we will finally have our boy in our arms, forever a Friederichsen.

Feel free to contact me at kim (dot) friederichsen (at) gmail.com if you have any questions about our process. Again, you can donate RIGHT NOW by clicking the "Donate Now" button on the top right-hand corner of this blog post.

We hope with all of our hearts that one of our next blog posts is to tell you that we have gotten the call to go MEET OUR BOY!!! Until then, please continue to pray for our family and our little guy across the world. We long for the day we will be together - a family forever.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

After the "Yes" - What Now?

Thanks for following along in our adoption story. Most of you have been following since the beginning. Did you realize that we are coming up on three years of being in the adoption process? Donny and I had our first serious conversation about adopting on June 5, 2012, and we sent our application in to our agency on July 11, 2012. It's been a long journey, and it is not over yet - not by a long shot.

A lot has happened since accepting our referral at the end of February. There has been an investigation by the US Embassy and Immigration services to verify our little guy's orphan status. That went well. We had more fingerprints taken (no, they haven't changed since the last time we had our fingerprints taken - when will the madness end???!!). We received, authenticated and sent to Ethiopia the final letter from the US government needed for our dossier of paperwork that is three years in the making. Our dossier of paperwork was submitted to the Ethiopian court system, and our case was reviewed in a preliminary hearing in Ethiopia earlier this week. Needless to say, lots has happened in the past 3 months.

So what now??? Now is the most exciting and most nerve-wracking wait thus far. We are waiting for our phone to ring with a call from our case worker saying that we have been assigned a court date to travel to Ethiopia to meet our soon-to-be son. When will this happen? I have no clue. It could be weeks or as much as two months. I hope it's not more than two months, because the courts in Ethiopia close in mid-August for the "rainy season." This is a much-dreaded season where all cases waiting for court dates are put on hold for six weeks until it stops raining. There are quite a few families in our agency that are in a similar spot as we are, and we are ALL praying for court dates BEFORE the August rainy season closure.

Would you join us in praying for a court date in mid-July? That would be very fast according to the pace that current assignments are coming, but nothing is impossible for God. We will continue to trust his timing as we move forward in this process, but a mid-July court date would likely mean he would be home before the school year begins which would be incredible.

Thanks again for following our story. It's not over yet, and we ask for your prayers. Our hearts long to have him home. We are heading to IKEA tonight to get things for his room. I am an expectant mom in full nesting mode. The Lord continues to prepare our hearts for the arrival of our new son, we are preparing our home for him, and we pray we are united as soon as possible.

One of the last major steps in the process of bringing him home is raising the final funds necessary to complete our adoption process. Stay tuned...

Sunday, June 07, 2015

The Ugly Cry at Shop Rite (Referral Part Three)

We waited. And waited.

And what did I do while we waited? Paperwork. And more paperwork. 

Our dossier and homestudy were due for an update. We knew these updates would be needed soon, but we did not know our referral was coming so fast. The day after our referral, the kids and I went on a mad dash to get a host of paperwork produced  and notarized. We traveled to four different towns to get medical forms, proof of employment letters, police clearance forms, and more. I was not about to let anything slow down our ability to say "yes" to this sweet child once we received news of his revised medical measurements. 

Later that week, we met with our home study provider for our home study update. We met with her on a Friday and went straight from that meeting to get an updated set of fingerprints taken for our home study update. Fingerprints. I can't count how many times we have had our fingerprints taken. 

On our way home from fingerprints, we stopped by Shop Rite to get a movie at the Netflix kiosk. As is a common Friday night tradition in the Friederichsen home, we had promised the kids a pizza and movie night. We were all together, so I dashed out of the van to pick up the video. I was out of the car for less than 2 minutes. When I returned to the car, before I even opened the door, Donny was holding his phone up to the window.

An email. The email. His measurements were clear. We could say "yes." He was to be ours. 

And I started crying right there in the Shop Rite parking lot, looking through the window at Donny's phone, and I hadn't even opened the van door yet. The kids were watching me and asked why I was crying. I was wearing sunglasses, so I asked them how they knew I was crying. They said my face got all scrunched up, and they could just tell.

Basically, I was crying the ugly cry in the Shop Rite parking lot.

We still had not told the kids we had received a referral. Donny and I dashed home, pulled out the pictures, sat them on the sofa, and introduced them to their soon to be brother. It was so much fun. We took lots of pictures, and they were so excited.

But we weren't done yet. There were more papers to be signed. Now that we could accept his referral based on his new measurements, we had about 15 documents to sign and notarize to make it official. We headed to our local bank and spent the next hour (at closing) with a sweet bank representative who notarized every signature in our referral packet.

And we were done...for the moment. Ready to send off our papers saying that we intend to be his Mommy and Daddy, and we intend for him to be ours. We had received and were accepting the referral of this sweet little one. By God's grace, he would no longer be an orphan, and we would no longer be Friederichsen, family of 5.

So we celebrated. Pizza, popcorn, ice cream and a movie. And lots of tears and smiles.

The next morning I took our referral papers to the post office to be overnighted to our agency. Letting that packet of papers go was one of the most nerve-wracking things I have had to do in this process. And off the papers went. Done. And the hope of adoption was closer than ever. There is more waiting ahead, but we will do what it takes to bring our sweet little "soon-to-be Friederichsen" home. 

Pizza and Popcorn to celebrate!!!

Followed by ice cream!!!

Ready to send off all the papers required to say "yes" to our darling little boy.

Check it out, baby!!! We are coming for you!!!

Friday, May 29, 2015

I Haven't Even Seen Him... (Referral Part Two)

We got off the phone with our case worker still stunned that "the call" with our referral just happened. We had not requested his picture and referral packet yet, because we needed to digest what in the world was happening. Through tears, I said these words to my darling husband:

I haven’t even seen him, and I think I already love him.

Those words have stuck with me throughout the last few months. God, in his good will and timing, chose to bring this little one into our lives and us into his life. Love for him did not come because of how he looks or what his circumstances are. Love for him came because God ordained our and his circumstances so that we would be family. And so I loved him before I ever saw him.

Later that afternoon, we texted our case worker and asked her to go ahead and email us his documents. I could not wait through the night. We decided to wait until our big kids were in bed to sit down to look through his paperwork. We had not breathed a word of this to them. They had no idea we had received this life changing call. They were just enjoying the extra Xbox and movie time.

Donny and I sat down, took some pictures using my camera's timer holding Donny's iPad which held the long-awaited documents, prayed, and then went to open the email...

Nothing. The document would not open. "Anti-climactic" would be a huge understatement to describe that moment. We texted our case worker again, and she needed a few minutes to take care of her own family before she could try re-sending it. We waited, did some dishes, played some Candy Crush, and then it arrived.

And there he was. This sweet little face with a bit of a furrowed brow was staring at us, and all I could think is that I wanted him in my arms where I could stroke his face, relax his brow, stare in his eyes, soothe his cares, soothe his pain, and help him begin to heal from some of the intensity and brokenness of his very young life.

We read through his papers and medical reports. There were no major concerns except for one - his basic measurements seemed a little off, a little out of proportion. None of the other paperwork led us to believe that he had any major health problems, but the measurements did not make sense. We felt confident that this was likely a mistake or a typographical error, but we needed to have him checked out. We were ready to say "yes" to this little boy, but we were not approved for every type of special need. We needed to make sure that we were the right family for him and any needs he might have, so we requested that his measurements be retaken. Our agency was incredible and went through extra effort to fulfill this request, but we would have to wait to receive the results. 

And so we waited...

Donny and I getting ready to open the email that would show our soon-to-be son's face.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

There Is a Little Boy (Referral Part One)

So there's this boy on the other side of the world. He's not ours yet, but his picture is on our fridge. His name is frequently spoken. Our family is preparing for him. He is our soon-to-be son, and we could not be more excited.

Now, here's how it happened. Buckle up. This could be a long post (or series of posts).

One Monday in February I received a phone call from our agency case worker in Birmingham. I was expecting to hear from her, because I had emailed her asking some questions about our home study update. After a little small talk, Cyndi asked me if Donny was available to talk as well. She said she had tried to call him first but was unable to reach him and asked if I could get him.

My response to her: "OOOOOOOOOOOHH. You want to have THAT conversation. OOOOOOHH."

I told her that I would get in touch with Donny and we would get back with her.

This was it. A referral. Could it be? It can't be. But I think it is.

I called Donny. And I called him again. And again. And again. He was in a lunch meeting. Thankfully, his meeting was wrapping up, but I was definitely interrupting it, and I definitely didn't care. He told me he would be home in about 20 minutes. It definitely took longer than 20 minutes, but he finally got home. We sent the kids to either watch a movie or play XBox (I can't remember), and we went up to our bedroom. Cyndi (our case worker) called us, and we talked with her on speaker phone sitting in the floor of our bedroom.

Cyndi's words: "I want to talk to you about a little boy."

Done. It's a boy. IT'S A BOY!!!! A boy. A little boy. I remember just staring off while Cyndi filled us in on a little of his story. From that point on, I was spaced out and in shock. We had waited for this day for over two and a half years. Now that the day had come, I had no idea how to respond. No idea. Cyndi asked if we wanted to receive a picture of him and more information in a packet via email. Donny asked Cyndi if we could hold off on receiving the packet in order to have time and space to process what is happening before we saw pictures and received more detailed information. He said we would call her for the packet tomorrow. I quickly interjected: "Or maybe later this evening after our kids are in bed. Would that be ok?"

And so it happened. The call. "There is a little boy." Five words that forever changed our family, because that little boy, by God's grace and sovereign good will, will become ours - a Friederichsen.

Mid-phone call selfie with Donny's iPad to document "the call."
Notice my red eyes. Many tears were shed that day when we first heard of our soon-to-be son.

Here's a little real life look into our referral call.
Can't believe it!!! We're thrilled (and in shock). 
Our case worker had no idea we were taking these pics while she was talking.

More to come...

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

It's Been a Long Time

Where have we been? It's been a long time, hasn't it? Yes. it. has. I struggle with where to even begin this post. Have you noticed? It's been a YEAR AND A HALF since I last blogged. That's a long time, folks. You know what else has taken a long time? OUR ADOPTION. 

Where have we been? Teetering between despair and hope for the last year and a half. The last time I blogged was in July 2013. That was right before Ethiopian adoptions came to an unexpected standstill for over a year. Due to some restructuring in-country, adoptions came to a halt. And so we have been waiting. And orphans have been waiting. And we teeter between hope and despair.

Today we have hope. Over the last few months, movement with adoptions in Ethiopia has increased, and we are creeping surprisingly closer to the top of our agency's waiting list. If things keep moving at the current pace, we could have a referral before the summer. This could be it. Do you hear the hope?

Would you pray for us? Now that receiving a referral and being shown the face of our newest child seems more possible, I am trying not to freak out. There is hope, but now there is a little panic. We've been waiting so long that I am not sure how to handle the reality that this might actually, finally happen. Pray for us and for our hearts - that the Lord would prepare us to see our child(ren) on the day he has ordained - and that we will be ready to unabashedly say "yes" to this child(ren) who will become fully a Friederichsen. Adoption. It's beautiful. It's scary, but it's beautiful.

Where are we financially? Well, that is not easy to answer. Since the process to adopt in Ethiopia has become sooooo long, many of our fees have increased. The most significant fee is the referral fee if we are referred siblings. We are open to adopting siblings, but fee increases could prevent us from saying "yes" to a referral of siblings. To be able to say "yes" to a sibling referral, we will need to raise around $10,000 in addition to what we have already seen God so generously provide through grants and through many of you. This week I will begin writing new grant requests and seeing how God will provide for our every need in this process. We are saving like crazy and waiting to see how the Lord will provide. If you would like to come along side and help meet this need, you can make a tax-deductible donation to Lifesong for Orphans on our behalf through the link in the top right-hand corner of this blog. 100% of your gift would go to our adoption. 

Please pray for us. In some ways I feel nervous to begin to hope again and to begin to fund raise again, because I wonder if it really is going to happen. And there goes the teetering again. I will put my hope in "him who is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think." (Eph. 3:20) May I ask and hope boldly as we wait for him to finish this process he began in us 2 1/2 years ago. Thanks for walking this journey with us.