Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Happiest Place on Earth

I am in a sort of Disney hangover depression! For 6 days we were CONSTANTLY entertained and going full speed ahead. All of a sudden we are home and exhausted and bored :-)

We had not planned to take a big vacation this year, but when our DaddyO found out that he had to go to a conference in Orlando, ON Disney property, the week after school got out, we decided it was too good to turn down. We didn't tell our kids though and they really thought we were doing nothing for the summer. We made them ride the bus to school on the last day and they were NOT happy. I had already told their teachers our plan so they knew that we would be a little later in picking them up that day (it was a half day and all you really had to do was show up, get your report card and leave). After they left we worked frantically to finish packing and load the car. We didn't quite finish so we decided to pick them up and bring them home and tell them the news here. We talked on the ride home about how we had some chores to do when we got home BEFORE we could do anything fun to kickoff summer. Of course, we were the worst parents ever making our kids do chores on the last day of school :-) When we got home we sat them all down and handed them an envelope which we told them held their list of "chores." They begrudgingly opened them and were surprised instead to find a letter from Mickey inviting them to spend a week with him at his home, Disney World!!! They were so surprised they didn't even act excited at first. They couldn't figure it out. It was a great moment as parents :-)

We drove and brought LOTS of food. I packed lunches and snacks for us each day and each child only bought ONE thing as a souvenir. It was the most economical Disney trip one could do and it didn't hamper our good time one bit. We had an absolute BLAST! As I wrote in my last post, I am so thankful that we had this time with our kids before things change and get a little "turned upside down" for a while. We made some great memories and are already talking about when we can go again with the whole family. The entire time we were there, we kept asking each other what we thought the other two would be liking/disliking etc. We felt incomplete :-( Below are some of our favorite pics...

Heading out...

Whitney waiting for the bus to take us to the Magic Kingdom shortly after arriving at the hotel. She is holding the picture she colored for Cinderella.
Walking down Main street for the first time. We didn't notice until we got the pics uploaded to the computer that the lady in white looks like she is about to sit on Whit's head. If you are FB friend of my hubby you read his comment...hilarious.

Whit told me that when she met Cinderella she wanted to give her a hug...she got her wish!


In line for the newest ride...Toy story. It was a favorite; in 4-D. It's at Hollywood Studios and is lots of fun for anyone heading there anytime soon.



Hayley is old enough to drive by herself (at least at Disney's speedway)...scary. Brent followed her in a car with Whitney and said we have some serious driver's Ed to do :-)


Ryan and I about to take off on Space Mountain. It was fun to finally be at an age to be able to ride the roller coasters. We bonded this week by riding roller coasters together. Our favorite was "Rockin Roller Coaster" at Hollywood studios...0 to 60 mph in 3 seconds...awesome!!!

The famous family pic in front of Mickey at the Magic Kingdom.

I hope you enjoyed. It was hard to say goodbye. Whitney told me with her sleepy eyes the night we left, "I don't want to leave Disney World. Can we go back right now?" She has asked me everyday since we got home when we are going back. She still doesn't understand time words like today, tomorrow etc. so she really has no understanding when I tell her that it will be a couple of years before we go back. I guess she will keep asking for another week or two...

Friday, May 28, 2010

They know about us!

Many of you have asked me if the kids know about us yet. Well, now they do! We were driving home from our work vacation (we got to tag along with daddy to a conference at Disney-tough job, I know) and I got on the computer to join a weekly "chat" session with anyone from our agency who wants to join in and our director, Sue. Sue, had just gotten there 12 hours earlier and had taken bags of goodies we sent for each child. In the goody bag was a photo album of us and where we live. Sue said that the kids were excited and happy. She also said they couldn't believe that our playset was in our yard. They have never seen anything like that before. She sent us pictures of them opening the bags and some with their expressions as they looked at the photo albums with an interpretor. Priceless! We were very excited and wanted to pass this info along...

Our court date is this Friday, June 4. I know we are about 1 day behind so I am not sure when we will find out whether we passed or not. If we do then "J" and "S" will officially be ours and I can post there pics for all to see! Please pray that we pass court this Friday and that our paperwork from the US immigration department comes back quickly. Even if we pass court Friday, if our paperwork is not complete we cannot travel to go get them. I don't want them to sit there any longer than necessary. They have already been through enough!

Stay tuned as I will be downloading pics when we get home of our family's last week together. We had a blast and it was such a blessing to have been able to have this time with our 3 current children before our life is turned upside down for a while.

Blessings...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Moment We Have Anticipated...

As I finished writing my last post this morning, I thought to myself how seemingly normal and uneventful the Rutland house had been this week. We have had so much going on that it was almost boring that there was nothing.

I am sure that with the title many of you thought we had some major adoption news to share, but in reality it was something entirely different. For those of you who haven't known us long, you have missed the many "adventures" we have been on in our family. Let me just say that we are no strangers to the ER. We have one boy currently and he LOVES sports. He is easily entertained by throwing a ball, any ball, against our house for HOURS. Tonight he challenged himself to see if he could hit a baseball from our neighbors house across the street (from our front yard) and hit it over our fence (in our backyard). We live on a corner so he was trying to hit at a diagonal. Let me just say he didn't make his goal and got far more than he bargained for. He hit the ball right into our downstairs bath which his sister had occupied for the moment.




I was on the phone and heard shattering glass that sounded a lot like an entire china cabinet had been knocked over and the contents crashed and shattered on the floor. I hung up on the person I was talking to and raced to see what had happened. I was met by my oldest daughter screaming with her pants around her ankles. She had just stood up when the ball shattered the glass which went flying all over her. The ball hit the floor, bounced and landed, you guessed it, right in the toilet. A hole in one; or maybe that is two? Anyway, my son had already taken off running and was planning to hop our fence and play dumb to the whole thing. The rest of us were doubled over laughing at the scene before us.

So I guess in true Rutland fashion, our "normal" life had lasted a few days to long. As my husband said a while later, "You just can't write stuff this good!" It is true, my friends, our life is much more fun than any movie could ever be. Adding two more will just make it even more interesting :-) I hope you all got a good laugh from this one.
Ryan: our sweet, lovable and funny BOY :-)

To finish the story....sister is FINE. She had a good laugh too. We knew that this day was coming. We are thankful that it was a small window :-) I wonder how many more we will be replacing over the years...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Updates and Inspiration

It is the last week of school and there is a lot going on. We are leaving in a few days to go to Disney (SHHH...it's a surprise). We are very excited and realize that this will be taking our last trip with just the 5 of us. Brent has a conference to attend down there and so we plan to "piggyback" off of that. It was too good of a deal to pass up and one that we had planned long before we found out our lives would be changing so soon.

On the adoption front, there is no new news. Just please pray that we pass court on June 4th and that our immigration paperwork comes back quickly. The Ethiopian side of the travel will probably be ready before the US side of things. We cannot travel until the kids are approved by the U.S. to come home. We have been told that the process has been running 80 days or so. I know God is bigger than the USCIS so we are praying for a quick turn around. We have learned a little about the orphanage where we believe our kids to be and I want them to come home A.S.A.P!!! It doesn't sound like a great place to be :-(

To close I wanted to share a couple of links to some "Gotcha Day" videos that I found very moving. The first is from my new friend Kristy J. Many of you may have already watched it, but I am including it for those who have not seen it yet. This was one of the first ones I saw before I knew what a "Gotcha Day" even was. For those of you new to the adoption world and particularly the adoption blog world, a "Gotcha Day" is the the day you meet or get your kid(s) for the first time. If you go to Kristy's blog you can read about how God used her to confirm to us that we were to adopt from Ethiopia. If you haven't already started reading her blog, you should. God has given her an amazing ministry of advocating for orphans by use of the blog. I feel privileged to call her a friend!

video





This is another video that I just viewed on someone elses blog. I thought it was a good one and so I am sharing...

video

I hope you were moved and inspired! There are 147 million orphans in the world today who need a family to love them. Is it you???

Friday, May 14, 2010

Happy Girl Hair...

My oldest daughter stayed with our neighbors last week during her brothers baseball game. When I picked her up I was informed she was out back in the "beauty shop" having her hair done. Our neighbor's oldest daughter is 20 from Haiti. Hayley talked her into braiding her hair. Fortunately, she has informed me that she is ready to do our new Ethopian daughter's hair when she gets here. I guess this was a practice run on the Rutland girls' hair :-)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

We have a court date!!!

Things seem to keep moving faster and faster! We found out yesterday that our court date is set for June 4th. The court date is the day that the Ethiopian government declares our kids to be ours. It is not uncommon to not pass court the first time due to additional requests of documents, etc. If we do not pass then we would be assigned another date and there is no way to tell what that date would be. If we do pass then we would most likely travel in the latter part of July.

Please pray for us right now. Pray that Brent and I will be able to get everything done that is on our plate right now as it is REALLY full. Also, please pray that things will go smoothly and that we would have peace to know that God is in control and knows all things. Everything that happens will be in His timing.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Fundraisers...

I have posted all the uplifting, encouraging stories about our adoption journey and now it is time for some business :-) Many have asked how much adoption costs. The answer is A LOT! We thought that we would have at least a year from start to finish, but as it turns out, it looks to only be 5 or 6 months. We have been very blessed that God has already provided for some of it and that we get a generous reimbursement from Brent's company, but we still have some more that we need to raise. I have two opportunities coming up that I am very excited about and I hope you will join us for one of them (or both) and help us bring our kiddos home.

First, my sweet pastor's wife, has offered to do a "spa party" fundraiser. She is a high ranking director in BeautiControl and has offered to pamper you ladies and give 100% of the profits of products purchased to our adoption! Woo Hoo Leigh Ann!!! We have next Monday, May 17th, blocked off all day for "pampering" :-) We are going to start at 10:00am and go all day (& evening) as needed. Each session will last about 30 minutes and she can do up to 4 ladies at a time. I know it is rather short notice, but it was the only day she and I could both do it before school gets out and I wanted to allow you to have a day while the kids were still in school. If this day doesn't work for you, let me know because we may plan another one in the summer. She is currently working on a schedule, but if you know of a good time just leave me a comment with that time and I will put you down on the schedule.

Now for the second opportunity...its garage sale time!!! We have a garage sale planned with another family on Saturday, June 26th at the Bethel World Outreach Church in McKay's Mill. We live literally across the street from this church so we contacted them and asked if we could use their parking lot for our sale. The pastor called me on Wednesday and not only offered me the use of the parking lot, he also offered the facilities and is going to help us take up donations. Now that is what I call the body of Christ working together. We are not even members there and they are rolling out the red carpet for us! Thank you Bethel!

We do need some help with the sale. We need donations first and foremost. We are also planning to have a bake sale and lemonade stand. If anyone likes to bake and would be willing to make a batch of cookies, brownies, lemon bars etc. we would be grateful. They just all need to be individually wrapped or bagged. We are also going to need tables and some volunteers, especially that morning to help us set up quickly. In addition to all of that, we would like to have some tents (the tailgating kind) to set up as it will be HOT!

If you are interested in participating or helping in either of these please let me know. I really don't like talking money. It is really hard to ask , but I felt at least this way you will be getting something in return. What women or mom couldn't use a 30 minute time out with some massaging and pampering? And who doesn't have some junk to get rid of???

Thanks in advance for your support. We are so blessed to have each of you in our lives!!!

More Good News

We have been on a roller coaster ride for the last week and a half! When we started our journey of adoption we thought it would take 1-2 years. I should have known that the Rutlands never take the boring route on anything.


As I stated in our last post, we put together our dossier in 24 hours. We have seen the hand of God at work in some amazing ways over this last week. First, in order for our dossier to come together that quick we have had to have some big obstacles overcome. Can I just tell you that when God is for you (and we know He is always for adoption), things happen that cannot be explained in any other way than by His Hand and His almighty power. Last Wednesday everyone who we needed to help us out was off work or in the place we needed them to be. We heard the phrase, "We don't normally do this, but..." more times than we could count! One of my favorite stories was about the lady from Texas who works at the Department of Family and Children Services. We met with our social worker on Monday to finalize our home study and she told us that it didn't look like we would be able to finsih the H.S. in time because she had forgotten that we needed the child abuse/neglect form filled out from Texas since we had lived there in the last five years. She said that it usually takes around 7 days to get back. Knowing that Texas has a reputation for being "difficult" and strict on everything, I felt completely defeated. I decided to call and I got Josephine on the phone. I explained our situation and asked her if we emailed the form or overnighted it, could she expidite our report. In a nutshell, she basically told me that she didn't know who I thought I was, but that she legally had 30 days to complete the report and that she could not help me because it would be unfair to all the 100's of others who also had requested this report. In the next breath, literally, she said, "This is what I am going to do for you. Get your forms notorized, scan them and email them to me and then overnight me the originals. I will go ahead and pull your info with the scanned copy. After I receive your originals I will email the results to your social worker and then mail you the originals." Are you serious? Her attitude changed in a matter of seconds. Now that is God's hand at work! We had the results in 24 hours exactly!




Pics above of ALL the paperwork we have had scattered all over our dining room for the last week. I was so proud of it when it all lined up across the table with no "gaps"! I had to take some pics of it. I had another set of paperwork on the other side that was going to our home study. It all looked so pretty lined up nice and neat!


The biggest story of all is the story of our dossier being submitted to court. Our director of our agency told us that she thought she could submit our case with scanned copies of our dossier. The plan was to finish everything we could minus our home study and send it over to be translated with a note that the scanned copy of the H.S. would follow via email later. There were things out of our control that we were waiting on in order to complete the home study. One form we needed came from an office in downtown Nashville that was affected by the flood. I am happy to say that God is bigger than all we can see and understand. Our case was submitted to court yesterday with our scanned copies. We got an email from our director with the word "wow" yesterday in the subject line and a short message saying we had indeed been submitted. There is still a possibility that it could get thrown out because of some things I do not want to write on our blog, but I am believing God on this one! We have seen Him work in too many miraculous ways this last week to not believe him.


We are now trying to "process" that we are about to become a family of 7! We are so excited to meet "S" and "J". We should know our court date in about 4 weeks. If all goes according to plan, it should be sometime is late June and if we pass the first time then we would travel in August to pick them up. This is the hard part...WAITING. I'm not good at it! For those of you wondering, I can't post any pics until after we pass court. I can tell you though that they are precious!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Choosing our Adoption Agency

In March we turned in our application to Celebrate Children International adoption agency. Just getting to that decision had been a long time coming with LOTS of prayer. We tend to always take the "adventurous" route to do things which sometimes means we move quickly. What many of you may or may not know is that LOTS of research goes into what appears to others to be "impulsive."
At the beginning of this journey, on the day we both said we were going to adopt, my husband shared with me about some money he had been "hoarding" to buy a new bow and arrow. He knew it wasn't something that I would agree that he needed so he felt the need to "save" the money for it and buy it without telling me. For a couple of months everytime he had any extra cash he threw it in his nightstand drawer. For some reason though he really felt that he wasn't supposed to buy the bow. Everytime he tried, things would come up and prevent him from doing so. The day that we both said yes to adoption, he told me about the money and said that he felt God was telling him to use it for our application fee to the agency. This was a sacrifice for him because he REALLY wanted that bow!


The bow Brent wanted to buy.



It took a few weeks of research and lots of praying before we narrowed down our search to about 3-4 agencies. We liked them all and felt like we were over thinking the decision. I mean is it really that big of a deal? A new friend told us to be very prayerful about this decision because it would ultimately lead us to the kids God had chosen for us so, yes, it is a big deal. We were blessed to be able to attend the "Adopted for Life" conference at the end of February in Louisville, KY. We were hoping that we would have some sort of revelation there and know what agency to go with. Sure enough on the first day, while visiting the booths, we met a lady who several people had given me the name of to contact for our home study. We asked her if she had any recommendations for an agency and she said she did. As it turned out it was one of the ones we had on our list. Have you ever had a moment where you felt that you are in God's presence and know that He is at work? This was one of those moments. We left and felt sure that God had used her to lead us to CCI.

When we returned home the next day, Brent went up and decided to count the money he had been saving. After all, we were going to use it for our app fee. Of the three to four agencies we had on our short list, only one had an application fee of $250. Guess how much money Brent had collected??? You guessed it....$250 exactly...not a penny more! The cool part of the story is that we didn't "need" the money to pay for our application fee. We had it in the bank. What is cool is that Brent listened when God told him to use that money he had saved to buy a bow and arrow and use it for this instead. Because Brent listened, we had confirmation that we had chosen correctly! What are the odds that after a few months of adding to (and occasionally spending) the money he had saved that it would total EXACTLY $250!




We have had so many moments like the ones above that I may never be able to journal it all. What I do know is that God is in this adoption! We have learned so much about what the Bible says about adoption and how God holds it very close to His heart. Without it we would not have the gospel. The prophesy that Christ would be from the house and line of David was only fulfilled through the adoption of Jesus into Joseph's family. As Christians, through the blood Christ shed on the cross, we are adopted into the family of God and are now "heirs according to the promise" (Galatians3:29).

In my next post I will share some other things that have happened just this week as we have frantically put together our dossier. There is no doubt God has been carrying us through as He has literally "parted the Red Sea"