Friday, June 28, 2013

A day of mud, heart tugs and amazing resilent people

In this adoption we wanted not only to meet the birth country of our son but also to give back. On our trip we were able to partner with Project 61 who has several different programs for the 150,000 people that live in the slums of Addis Ababa.

Lunch with Stacy and the boys

Over 30 orphaned boys will sleep in this dorm
during the summer months they are away from school.

We met Stacy, her intern and her daughter as well several of the sponsored boys for lunch. It was pure joy to eat a meal with these boys and hear their stories.

Each of these boys have gone through immeasurable hunger and desolation but yet have such a friendly disposition and high goals for themselves. They all just started their summer break from their sponsored boarding school which gives them an opportunity to attend school when they had none before.

Then into Korah...

A street view in Korah

That day I was able to assist in a medical home visit. This is something I have always felt led to do. I always say "when I grow up I want to become a nurse, move to Africa and do medical missions while providing counseling skills. " We took some much needed food to the elderly woman and bandaged her open wounds. (OK, so I held the flashlight and watched). It was an honor to be a part of this and to help this woman. I wish I could describe in words how this impacted me and reminded me what life is really about. The sweet nurse I worked with had been in ET for several summers and went to nursing school with the intent to return to ET specifically for medical mission work. Each day she visits various homes checking on people and providing wound care and malnutrition.

While I was inside Gene and K kept all the children entertained. Here are a few from his crowd that clung to him ...



We then drove my by the trash dump where many of the people of Korah did and still do use as their source of food and income. They government has tried to cover part of it over and restrict the use but people still flock there every day. Some of the boys that we met used this trash dump as their grocery store for years because they had no family and no other way to survive.


Poverty is real. Poverty is everywhere. It does not define our worth or who we are but it does define how we live. Yes we have families in her states that also go hungry day after day, I work with some of those kids. But here in America we have the resources and the government programs to help fill in the gap. Ethiopia is trying and is an amazing country with an full history and wonderful people, but there is still a huge gap of poverty. A place where people do not choose to be in poverty but are victims of lack of education or healthcare or housing. I  hope reminds you that there is a world out there beyond our four walls. Weather overseas or abroad I hope you begin searching on how you can help.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

We Passed Court!!!!!!

We can now share with you our youngest son


We love him so very much and are so blessed to call him OUR SON!!!!!!

Monday, June 24, 2013


I have been struggling to write this post as I want to share with you the amazing way that God connects and creates families but I also want to respect our son's past as it his life to share.

Since learning that N has lost both his parents and has an Aunt that was part of his life we knew we had to arrange a way to meet her. We had the honor of meeting her in the city where she lives. We traveled two hours outside of Addis on the one paved road through amazing Ethiopian countryside. We saw the traditional round huts with thatched roofs as well as the more modern square huts. There were Hebesha (Ethiopian) farmers plowing the fields with oxen and young boys herding sheep and goat with bull whips. We saw many women and men walking down the road with packs on their backs and yellow water jugs in their arms. On the way we would drive by small towns that consisted of tin houses or the traditional houses and a few stores.

We arrived in Debra Brahan which was like a mini addis. It had one Main Street with all kinds of little shops in tin. Many people were walking and there were very few cars. We saw mostly donkey pulled carts similar to the carts you would see in China, only with donkeys to pull. Off the main road were dirt or stone streets that lead off to other buildings, houses or shops.

Our place to meet his aunt was at the Kids Care Orphanage Branch in Debra Brahan. We were told that N spent the first six months of his time in care here. While we waited for the aunt to arrive We met the incredible people who worked there and found out not only is it a small orphanage ( they have 11 children total) but also hosts a school, community outreach programs that include English and job skills as well as specific training programs. They partner with a Swiss humanitarian group and even had about 8 children that are sponsored because their family is not able to afford to send them to school.

Finally it was time, we set up the video camera and our guide introduced us. This lady is amazing. She was wearing the same scarf from the interview we had seen over two years ago. She thanked us for adopting N and then began to tell us some of his life story. Through our conversation it was apparent how much she loved him and how much she wanted him to have a family. There were tears on both sides and praises to each other and to God. About half way through the conversation she asked us to come to her home for a coffee ceremony and to meet her family. We were honored and accepted the request.

When the meeting was over and all our questions had been answered and blanks filled in as best as they could be, we left to go to her home.!!!!!!! This kinds woman kissed all of us telling us we are family now. She walked hand in hand with Kellsie and stopped on the way to buy a special bread for her. We then walked down a rock alleyway that was about a quarter mile down hill. She invited us into her home and we sat down, right away she had a neighbor begin on the coffee ceremony. W have had a phenomenal guide/translator Ami who helped us communicate. His Aunt brought out photos, many of them were of her family but we did catch one with N's mom in it (she was a beautiful and tall woman). We then met her two children at home and she served us injera with shiro wat and performed the coffee ceremony. Kellsie and her daughter were given a special type of celebration bread for little children. She kept thanking us over and over and telling us "family". She gave Kellsie an Ethiopian scarf and me a family coffee pot. I have never received such a more meaningful gift then that. She told me again "now we are family, praise God, I ask for a good family and he have one".

Gene and I were so moved by her sweet spirit and kind words. We felt like the blessed ones to have such an amazing experience and see such love for N. I can now tell him we know he was loved and is still loved. I am honored to be called his mom and he will forever have a family that is spread across two continents but share the same boy. We will always strive to honor his birth country and his birth family, taking a little piece of them with us back home, because we are now...


Friday, June 21, 2013

Our sweet little boy

I am in awe of the amazing match that God has done to give us this second son. Our N is one of the sweetest boys I have ever met. He has fallen in love with us overnight as much as we have with him.

So we met on Monday and had Love at First Sight. Then on Tuesday we had two visits, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. In the morning we played ball and did a few games on the computer, we met the doctor and just spent some time learning about one another.
That afternoon we came back for lunch and fed N pizza. We realized our boy has had more hungry nights then we can imagine and needs boundaries with food. Since then we have learned to limit his intake of food (2 pieces of pizza instead of 5) and give a snack to keep in his pocket at all times. He is so sweet and often times when we give him food he wants to feed it to us as well.

When it was time to go he began to show visible sadness. We promised him over and over we would come back. He cried for 30 minutes while we kept telling him "Mom and Dad love you. Mom and Dad will come back Tomorrow". i have to tell you, this was one of the hardest times in my life. My heart felt like it was breaking for him. All four of us were overtaken with his sadness and felt is grief. I am in awe that God allowed us to be his parents and create such a strong bond so quickly. Please pray for his heart as we only have 6 days left in country with him and I honestly don't know how we are going to say goodbye then.

With the pain also comes such happiness as well. You should have see the joy that this little boy's face when he saw us pull up the next day. He was jumping and clapping and as soon as the van doors opened, he jumped into our arms while we were still in the van. Be Still My Heart!!!!!!!!

Each day since then we are greeted with the same response. A jump into the van straight into our arms followed by a quick investigation of our bags and snacks. A reload of "pocket of gum" (pack of gum) and a "shockolate" (granola bar). Then onto a game of ball or "Sholder Dad" (riding on Genes shoulders). Or goodbyes are still hard and tearful, but they are getting better. Each day before we leave we give time warnings and then we each hold him in our hands and repeat either "later" or "tomorrow" and have him repeat it to us.

We still can't show his face but I have to share something with you!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Embracing Hope Ethiopia Visit

Today we took the morning to visit a mission group here in Addis. It is a great couple, Jerry and Christy Shannon and their children who has dedicated the past four years to helping the poorest of the poor women and children. Embracing Hope Ethiopia.

They have created an amazing program that provides opportunities for women who are faced with the choice of placing a child in an orphanage in order to help them live. I order to participate in the program, the single moms must make less than 350 birr month. To give you a realistic picture that is about $20 a month. The cost to rent a home in the slum is 300-350 birr a month for a room about the size of an average bathroom in the states. We are talking no electricity and no plumbing, just a dirt floor and tin walls and roof.

They are currently serving 116 women. This program provides two meals and two snacks a day to the kids, hygiene and access to medical care and education. On site, the children attend the Embracing Hope Ethiopia daycare/preschool program or if they are school age attend school. The mothers are given a grant which helps them begin a job within a month and then open a savings account for the mothers to place their earnings in.

With out this program many of these children would be in orphanages or worse as many o father children come malnourished and on the brink of death. Currently EHE turns away 5-10 mothers a day, about half of the qualify.

They are currently taking sponsors and ask for you to pray that they will continue to receive sponsors and for a good continued working relationship with the families.

If you want to check them out you can go to

We were also able to give them a big suitcase full of donations that included medical supplies, clothes, bottles and wipes from some of you. They were so grateful and said every bit helps.

We hope to post all the pictures when we come home but for now here are just a few.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Love at first sight

Today was amazing.

We arrived in Addis Ababa last night around 8pm just in time to celebrate the Ethiopia world soccer cup with 5 million other people. There was music and singing and all kinds of celebrating going on that went well into the a.m.

This morning we had a great breakfast at the Yebsabi guest house and met some of the other families with our agency. We love these families and will always treasure the time we have had together.

Then it was time to the Transition Home. Gene and I were so excited and could barely imagine this day had come. Kellsie was also excited and helped pack a bag full of things to do and off we went.

"N" was eagerly waiting to meet us as he was standing by the gate when we first entered, but then went to hide in the house when he saw the van. We got all set to go with the cameras and out he came. He had the sweetest smile and slowly walked down the stairs. Once he got to the bottom of the stairs he ran to us and gave Gene a huge hug then gave me one. Both he and Kellsie smiled and waived at eachother, too shy to hug :)

We went over to the famous TH couch and took some more pictures and talked. Our guide Ami helped to interpret for us and since N speaks very little English that helped! He liked seeing the pictures so much he took the camera and took pictures of us too! We showed him photo and video of the rest of the family and then he took us over to some play equipment to show off is skills. Let me tell you, that boy is flexible!!!

Over the next hour we spent such great time together, he loves gum and his new clothes. He put them all on including his hat and sunglasses and posed for us. There is so much packed in to the small hour we had with him. Our hearts are so full with love and we are amazed at how faithful God is and how perfect N is for our family.

This afternoon we had court and were able to give our consent but did not pass. There was a miscommunication over paperwork and two more papers are needed from his orphanage that we hope will be delivered this week.

Another couple, the Taylor's from Charleston, were able to take videos and pictures for us. Unfortunately since we did not pass court yet we can't show you his face but Here are a few that we can show you !

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Court date

I am sitting here in Saint Louis with Gene and K waiting to begin a 24 hour track to Ethiopia to meet our son!!!!!!!!!! It has been a whirlwind of events so I will try to journal them here.

Thursday morning was a normal day at work in the summer. Gene and I were still waiting to hear a court date and had been told it "could be" as early as the 20th of June but we do don't have our hopes up.

I went to a meeting with Debbie from Central Office and had just finished finished telling her about our adoption journey when my phone rang. I almost didn't check it but Debbie told me go ahead sure enough it was the travel coordinator from our adoption agency! She told me that Ethiopia had designed us a court date but that she wanted to call me to tell me in person because of the timing. She then told me the court date was JUNE 17th!!!!!!! I'm all like "Ok, June 17Th, that works, wait JUNE, that's in 4 days" ( Add in lots of jumping, screaming and more ahs). Then our family coordinator tells us that we need to be in Ethiopia by Saturday morning so we have to fly either TODAY or TOMORROW!

So for the next two hours I begin working with our travel agent to find flights. I went back to my work to tell everyone and then called in the troops. My parents swarmed in like a tactical team and we turned my office into "travel central". I had both my computer screens up, my iPad, the phone and my dads cell phone going all at the same time. Bless my sweet co-workers who sat and watched the chaos that in sued.

We made a plan to get children where they needed to go (S to West Plains to get her hair done for camp, K was with the YMCA camp in Camdenton and had to get picked up), checked all the various medications that were needed and create a list of the items still needed.

Our travel agent gave us our flight option but there were no flights for Friday, which meant we would have to fly THAT fact it meant we would have to leave for Saint Louis in 2 hours! After scurrying around we realized that was going to be impossible.

We called our family coordinator and spoke with her and the agency was willing to work with the court on our behalf and allow us to travel on the next available flight which left on Saturday.

We spent all evening and all day Friday packing and woke up at 5 am this morning to head out to STL. Our flight path is Saint Louis to Toronto, Canada then on to Frankfurt Germany before arriving in Addis Ababba, Ethiopia.

After 3 hours of driving, 16 hours worth of flights and combined 6 hours in layovers we will arrive in ET at 7pm (that's 10am Sunday Morning for everyone at home). Then Monday morning is the Big Day. We will get to meet N and see if we pass court to officially call him a Collins.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Collecting all donations

I wanted to give a shout out to the sweet Sandra Admire, from our FBC Sunday school class and my dear co-worker and good friend Rebecca Strubbe for their contribution to Ethiopia. They both gathered much needed items like germX, destine, vitamins and diapers and wipes for Ethiopia that we can not wait to begin to pas out. My fellow Counselor Lori Ranfeld came to the rescue again and brought me a box of toothbrushes and toothpaste that will be cleaning some mouths and hopefully helping to prevent cavities and infection.

We are still awaiting a court date and have been told to prepare to travel at a few days notice so If you would like to partner with us to bring needed supplies to mission groups and orphanages in Ethiopia just leave a comment on the bottom and I will come and collect them from you today or tomorrow!

Here is a list of some of the items we are collecting:

Vitamin D Drops
Flintstones Vitamins-Chewable
Lotrium for ring worm
Baby wipes- Unscented
Medical Gloves - Disposable Examination Gloves
Hand sanitizer
Tylenol -Infant and children's
Neosporine- generic or name brand
Lice kits
Childrens’ Clothing – Sizes 6 months to 3 T. Please, however no shorts nor tank tops.
Childrens’ Outerwear - Coats, Sweatshirts, Sweaters, Jackets. Sizes 6 months to 3 T.
Childrens’ Shoes – for Ages 9 months to 4 years old. No flip flops, please.

Monday, June 10, 2013

P-a-t-i-e-n-c-e...... You gotta wait for it.....

If you are familiar with kid stuff then you may be singing this song right now, and I need to make it my theme song. If not, then yes, at times I am a little quirky- don't hate:)

We are still waiting for our court date and have been told it should be assigned any day now. We had expected the e-mail today and so I kept refreshing my e-mail every minute or so (The IT guys at my work were probably rolling their eyes at me). By the Way, two other families received court dates of the 20th and they leave this weekend! So very excited for them and their new children. They have about 6 days to pack-crazy!!!!!

So By ten am I think I may have alerted some crazy signal with the amount of times i had refreshed my email and wore out expedia with my constant airline planning. I kept trying to create future itineraries that sounds like: well, if we leave on this day and take this plane then layover in this country then fly this airline, yada yada yada. Needless to say, I knew my mind was spiraling downwards towards defcon 5 aka psycho adoptive control freak mom. I had already eaten half a cinnamon roll, a quarter muffin, six starburst (I already ate all the chocolate last week) and two cups of coffee so there was only one sane thing left to do.....

I grabbed my Jesus Calling Devotion for the day. (shout out to my sweet friend Trisha Nail for buying it for me). To be quite honest as soon as I read it I laughed out loud and then groaned. It was so very true and God completely knew what I needed to hear. (He actually knows all the time, I just don't always like to admit it- for proof note paragraph above where I eat everything insight and then begin panicking- yes I realize I may have some control issues thank you very much, but I digress.

So, Curious as to what it said, well read yourself and have a little chuckle at my expense.

"Rest in me, my child. Give your mind a break from planning and trying to anticipate what will happen. Pray continually, asking My spirit to take charge of the details of this day.”

Did anyone else catch that - Give your mind a break from planning and trying to anticipate what will happen....Seriously!!!! What was I doing all morning- hello - planning and anticipating!

Ugh- seriously!!!

After that I had to take a little walk outside just me and my God (and because I did eat that cinnamon roll, I gotta work some of that off).

Now I feel much better and look forward to tomorrow reminded that God has this. (P.S. someone please hid the cinnamon rolls from me).

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Positive MOWCYA Letter !

This week we have been anxiously awaiting hearing the news of our MOWCYA paperwork court date. This was the date exactly one week ago that N's Aunt went to court to again confirm that he is an orphan and that she understands what adoption is/means and gives her consent and that the judge reviewed our paperwork and agreed that we can pursue adopting him.

Normally you hear from MOWCYA in a day or two but they were a little behind so each day passing has increased our anxiousness but we continue the mantra "In God's timing, in his way" over and over and over.

Well, today I had this in my inbox......

" I am happy to share that MOWCYA has written a positive
 recommendation letter for your family! We should receive
 a court date for your family in the next few days. I expect your court
date will be for sometime in mid-late June, so I’d encourage you to be
ready to travel in the next 2-3 weeks or so. "
Totally ecstatic over here !!!!!!!!!!!!!
(at this point I would love to post an excited picture of myself but at several epic failed attempts by my co workers and myself I reside to a simple Yea!)

So now we wait to hear when our court date will be and we start packing things like mad. Gene and I are still collecting donations so feel free to continue collecting (or check out my last blog posts for the list of items in need).


Thank you Lori Ranfeld, Mark Campbell, Linda Dudley, Karen Bowker for your donations to the many mission programs in ET!

We still are not able to share any more details about N but I can show you his first official outfit. Saria and I picked it out together, we couldn't resist!

Can I just say he is going to look so adorable!