{ We have a little puzzle and it's calling your names! }

It's been a crazy past month but after finding out the news that we are onto the next part of the adoption process (~insert lots of happy faces here!!~) we are very ready to take the puzzle a bit more seriously.  So, the kids and I brought it back out, adding the new names we have received over the past few days (thank you, friends!), and today, we started putting more of the puzzle together.  

Noah was my helper and today we got a huge amount of the puzzle done.  I think we are about a third to halfway through constructing it.  (Yay!)  It's really fun putting it together and even more fun writing down all the names.  It really makes me smile when I get to put the pens to work!  It's like a permanent way of preserving the "village" that helped bring baby girl home.  It's honestly, so fulfilling see the puzzle come together.   I truly love this project!

Here's a glimpse into how the last few days have went as we put your names and the puzzle pieces together... 

Once the puzzle started growing we had to transfer it to a big piece of foam core.  Now, there aren't names on all of these pieces (yet!), but I thought it would be nice to keep each family together, so as we construct, and as we receive more names, we are turning a section of the puzzle over and writing in the names.  
These pieces here need your names on them!
Kate is one of Maia's best friends.  She was so excited to add her name!

I really hope I haven't left anyone off who should be on.  Please let me know if so and I'll add you asap!

 We would really, really, really love to add every single one of you who are reading this blog (and my Facebook) to the puzzle because you all mean so much to us. You really do.  I absolutely cannot wait to see every single piece (500 in total!) filled with your names! We even have a special place already ready in the girls' room to hang the puzzle. We would LOVE to complete it sooner than later.  In hindsight, we could be traveling anytime within the next month to two months!  With the holidays, 4-8 weeks is honestly, nothing.  I know it will fly by.  Please occupy our time by making us finish this puzzle and most importantly, help us go to Ethiopia and bring our baby girl home.  We are SO close now.  Eeee!!  This is so exciting! xoxo


{ Noah, Maia and Finn's News! }

This past week we made a big decision.  After talking to other families from our agency, and lots of contemplation amongst ourselves, we are feeling the beautiful pull to take our kiddos alongside us to Ethiopia to meet baby girl, the sister they've waited so long for now!  It never dawned on us before to do such a thing. Never once did it even pass through our minds, I believe because of cost, because over the past 21 months of being in this process, all we have seen is dollar sign after dollar sign. Literally, we have. But, we are beginning to overlook the dollar signs and really put it all into perspective (thank you, Lord!).  The cost is really the only negative to bringing them with us because the experience completely outweighs that cost a thousand times over.  They would experience the culture with us, meet baby girl with us, see where she lives and how she has lived for the past year with us, not to mention the bonding experience it would be for our family throughout the entire process.  I just can’t see anything negative about it.  We feel this push is one from God above, as He’s laid this path out for us and continues to with little big things such as this.  Just watching it all played out so perfectly is amazing in itself.  Another thing not expected, but a beautiful one indeed.

But, yes, this will be very pricey, adding in potentially $2,000 per ticket….gulp.  It’s a lot.   But we are holding onto the faith we have that with you, we can make this happen. As we have seen throughout the process thus far, every single penny adds up.  The $9 our niece raised for us, that was a LOT in our eyes.  It truly made our hearts so full that she did that for us.  Just as last week at our Noonday fundraiser, one of Maia’s little friends used HER hard-working money to buy a bracelet so that her purchase would go towards bringing her dear friend’s baby sister home.  There’s nothing more powerful than these gifts, even in tiny steps. It’s all giving and it’s all graciously received and it all impacts our adoption greatly, most importantly, baby girl herself.

The kids decided to do a fundraiser which they will have a huge part in!  I’ll do the updates with messages and keep track of funding, but they are the ones in charge of this otherwise!  We are calling it, 

A “Piece of the Puzzle” Fundraiser!!  

With this we have purchased a 500-piece puzzle of the world:

Here's the details:

* every piece symbolizes someone helping bring baby girl home
* each piece is $10 minimum (please) 
* one name/person per piece 
* each name will be written on the back of the puzzle piece 
* as we receive names, the kids will write the names on the back and start constructing the puzzle (we will post updates with pictures as it's constructed!)
* once completed, the puzzle will be placed between two pieces of glass and hung in the girls’ room.  One day we will go through every single piece with baby girl and explain to her how each name is that of a loving person who was a part of her story helping bring her home with her forever family.

Will you help Noah, Maia and Finn bring home their sister?  

You can do this many different ways.  You can add a donation through our GoFundMe page, you can write us a check or you can give cash. (We will keep tally by adding it to the GoFundMe page and there you can see the progress being made.)

They would love to add each of your family members’ names to the puzzle!  Will you be a a part?  

Adopting any child is a walk into the unknown which we know we can only walk by faith. We trust through it all that we can't do this in any other way than with Him. Prayer can move mountains. Continue to pray for our journey, please. 

"Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved." Ephesians 1:5-6


{ 19 Months Later }

I have not done well with updating this blog which is disappointing to myself because I used to be on top of it every.single.day. Priorities, which have changed as the kids have gotten older, have really made it difficult for me to sit down and write anything at all like my to-do list, let alone be able to slow down my mind and sift through my words in order to write like I used to in my blog.  I do miss writing out my thoughts…it’s always been how I have survived the seasons of life.  Baby steps can change anything so I’m putting forth an effort to try and create this change. Lord knows, I need the outlet!

As most of you know, we are adopting a baby girl from Ethiopia.  She is now 18 months old and growing up quickly without a family.  We were matched with this little princess in March 2015, two days after my birthday.  It was one of the best birthday gifts ever and I am now praying we have her home by my next birthday.  Then I can officially say she is the best birthday gift ever.  

We started the process of adoption in February of 2014, a month before our baby girl was born, which is crazy awesome.  God put this on my heart while her momma was pregnant with her. God planned for her to be with us.  It deeply saddens me that her momma could not take care of her due to so many reasons, but sweetly warms my heart to know she will be placed in my arms to carry on the job her momma began.  I will forever and ever be so grateful for her birth mother and will never let baby girl know any different. She will always know where she came from and always know how special her momma was.  It’s all so bittersweet but part of our baby girl's life and we owe it to her birth momma to remind our daughter where she came from. How beautiful but how heartbreaking adoption is. The beauty is that God constructed this so to watch it unfold as He has planned is truly, truly amazing.

The year before we were matched was very hard.  We spent the summer working on our home study with a wonderful social worker here in Omaha who has, through the many visits and phone calls, became a friend.  It was a long process and we felt like we spent many a days throughout the summer working on that and other paperwork. Then waiting begun.  Months and months of waiting.  You just never knew when THE call would come.  You always prayed for the number on the phone to be the case worker’s number but it never was…not until we were least expecting it in March of 2015, when of course the kids were not in school and when we were all in the van together.  It seemed like a misfortune at first, but right away I realized how lucky they were to experience the moment with me.  While on the phone with our case worker I was trying to paint a picture with my hands what was going on.  The kids all realized quickly it was THE call.  I cried, which they didn’t “get”, but it was immediately that they started talking about “baby sister”.  (((sigh)))
Right after we spent the morning at this pottery place creating works of art we got the call!
This was the plate I made that day...quite appropriate.  It's missing baby girl, but I'll add her soon!
The boys and I painting pottery on the day we were matched with their sister! (Thank you, Jen, for taking this photo!)

Right away we had to finish up our dossier.  The dossier was a compilation of dozens of notarized government and non-government forms that we had to fill out tediously over several long weeks.  Some had to be sent off to certain government bureaus and then back to us, some we had to hand-take to our state’s attorney, some were reference letters, one was a “request to adopt” from us, some were social worker licenses, birth certificates, marriage certificates, finger prints, and the list goes on and on and on.  Every single one of them were signed in blue ink the same exact way (I couldn't leave out "Wallace" since my name is legally "Wallace-Camp", etc.), many were notarized, and most were originals. Almost every single one of them had fees tacked on. (Ugh. Another check to write.)  You just don’t realize until you actually have to do this process how time-consuming and very taxing it is.  When we were done, I believe we had almost 50 documents stapled together and sent off to Washington DC.  What craziness, but I have to tell you, I would do it again in a heart beat if it meant I could be a momma to another child needing to be loved.  This dossier was finalized end of April.  

Mailing off one of many forms in the process.
Then we waited and waited some more.  The wait, I have to tell you, I compare emotionally and mentally to my pregnancies.  None of my pregnancies were easy and I was at “high risk” because of our previous 3 miscarriages and the conclusion was I could not sustain a pregnancy well. So I had dozens of ultrasounds during all three pregnancies, many hormone supplements injections, but it was worth it, of course.  Finley’s pregnancy was the scariest as he was a candidate for fetal heart block and we had to have monthly echocardiograms on him, plus I had to give myself daily injections into my belly.  This adoption feels SO much like Finley’s pregnancy but 3 times as long.  My mind is always somewhere else, and while I don’t feel like I’m thinking about the adoption, my subconscious is and my heart definitely is.  And while no one sees or feels my pain, I feel pain all the time.  Pain for my baby girl and fear for the days to come.  I do know God has us covered, but I’m also human and I get scared.  I fear a loss, I fear setbacks, I fear rejection.  For baby girl, I fear health issues, I fear her loss and the emotions associated with it, I fear time fleeting in the orphanage and the physical, emotional and mental setbacks it can cause her.  While adoption is different, I can assure you, it’s not at all.  At least for me, it’s so similar.  I am God-fearing Christian woman who is nervous, who is scared, but who knows that the Lord has us under His wing and He will get us through this just like our 3 viable pregnancies.  

The next step of the adoption is being entered into the PAIR process, which is where we are now.  I know we have begun this as I spoke to an officer from the NBC yesterday! Hallelujah! But here’s a link to the PAIR process as it’s sort of hard to explain.  http://www.uscis.gov/adoption/country-information/adoption-information-ethiopia Basically it’s a Pre-Adoption Immigration Review and this approval will be a part of our dossier submitted to Ethiopia.  Next will be the courts “giving their opinion” on our case in Ethiopia with MoWA (Ministry of Women’s Affairs), then a finder interview (with either the police of Ethiopia and/or the man our baby girl was left with) and then will be OUR court date in Ethiopia and meeting our daughter face-to-face for the first time.
Receiving this signed from John Kerry himself was pretty exciting and photo-worthy, of course!
"Fed-Ex'ing" became a household term for us! The employees know me by name ;)  This was the last form sent off just earlier this week.
All of this can’t go quick enough.  Once you are matched with the little one you have prayed so diligently for, you just want to be with her.  You want her to physically be in your arms.  You want to be able to touch that hair and kiss those soft little lips.  It’s assurance in a pregnancy that you know you baby is with you every step safe in the womb, but with an adoption, safety and being “with you”  will never happen until it’s officially made legal.  And that can take forever.  What I am grateful for is that it will most likely be much, much shorter than a lot of other adoptions internationally.  So I can’t complain, but gosh, it’s still hard.  Government waits are lengthly and the red tape ridiculous.  Why, of why, do we not do background checks, required hours of parenting classes, medical checks, references, 1 year post placement meeting with social workers, etc. when birthing a baby?!  That’s been my question all along and still is.  I don’t have the answers, but I do feel, after going through all this now, that these two processes are completely backwards, or adoption is spot-on and birthing a baby is way too free and easy? I don’t know.  And I’m not about to argue that one, but what I do know is it’s HARD and LONG and EXPENSIVE (no insurance to cover adoption) and is a trying process that has really changed me on many levels.  And yes, even through all these challenges and all the ups and downs, I would definitely do it all again. You realize, no matter how your children become your children that it’s all worth it.  Every path is worth it.  Adoption is one extraordinary thing.


{ And so I'm back . . . and with a bit of life-changing news! }

It’s been a while, a long while -- 3-ish years -- actually, since I have blogged.  However, today I think is the beginning of a new blogging era for me. 

The kids have taken up so much of my time as they’ve gotten older and I have grown to be busier in my daily life because, well, that’s just what happens, but I decided I just have to make time for it again.  Time, in general, passes so quickly, but I feel like time has never felt so fleeting in my life until this past year when my baby turned 10.  Double-digits hit me like ages have never hit me before.  Before I know it he will be 18.  Sigh. As one of my favorite musicals says, “there’s no day but today”. 

It’s time to start back blogging.  And I’m not starting back lightly but with some huge enormous gigantic news.  I’ll let this kids tell you…

Yep.  We are adopting!

Um. . . “How did this happen?”, you are probably wondering? 

Well, as most of you know, my (only sibling) brother was adopted. Mom and dad adopted Chris when he was just a year old, and little me was 3-1/2.  It’s not a secret he’s adopted, but also isn’t a secret that I have never thought of him as anything but my brother.  Yes, annoying at times (aren't all brothers?) and when he became taller than me I was a little put off that my little brother was suddenly kind of like my big brother.  But Chris fit in very well from the start.  I still remember the day he was brought home.  His curly black locks of hair and adorable little overalls won me over.  Having a baby brother was the best thing in the world.  We have had ups and downs as any family does, but overall it’s been the best experience in my life because it’s been one the biggest lessons in my life.  A lesson of what family really is, overcoming uncertainty, dealing with and overcoming discrimination, but most of all, a great lesson in love. 

Adoption has been a part of me my entire life.  And I believe whole-heartedly that my entire life God has been preparing me for today. 

Back in the early 2000’s Neil and I started trying to have a family.  I thought this would be an easy task but it wasn’t.  We never dreamed we would be “those people” who couldn’t conceive.  We tried for a year and finally got pregnant.  I had morning sickness and even started looking a little pregnant, but at 12 weeks we found out that our baby wasn’t viable.  We lost that pregnancy shortly after.  In my 20-some years of life, nothing was more devastating or physically and emotionally painful than losing that baby.  I would never wish that experience on anyone.  But even thought it was an incredibly painful and discouraging experience, it, too, was preparing me.  Preparing me to love.

We went on to lose two more pregnancies over a period of two years and even thought I wasn’t as far along as the first time, it still took its toll.  After so many losses you lose more and more hope and you end up becoming pretty numb.  I had my faith but I’m not sure how much I actually really did “have” it.  It’s one thing to read the Bible and memorize scriptures but it’s another thing to have FAITH in those words and to truly believe it with all your being. 

I begged to God to give me a baby but I also yelled at God for not letting me carry one.  It was hard to see at that time why we went through all that, but now I know why.  Those three years were to prepare us. To mold us.  Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

We finally accepted we weren’t going to have biological children and decided adoption was the right thing for us.  We so direly craved our family!  And hallelujah, we were accepted into an agency!  That was so exciting!   But weeks after we were accepted into the agency, I found out I was pregnant.  Again.  And numbness took over.  Again.  I really believed I wasn’t going to carry this pregnancy either.

But. . . God had other plans!  We went to our appointment at our Reproductive Endocrinologist and saw, for this time in any pregnancy, a little beating heart.  “What?!  How could this be?” I thought.  But with my own eyes there it was.  “Pa-rump, pa-rump”.  Oh it was beautiful! And that beautiful little beating heart belonged to our first-born, Noah. 

Fast forward. In the next seven years we went on to have 3 babies: Noah, Maia, and Finley.  All of them were without dramatic situations, of course.  I mean no way could Neil and I have anything happen and it NOT be a whirlwind!  But, finally I have learned it has all been a part of the grand plan for us.  And I honestly couldn’t be happier, more humbled or feel more blessed because of the difficult pregnancies we have had.  God is truly so amazing and so, so good. 

Here we are (I mean, “I” am – at this point it’s just “I”) another four years later and feeling the itch to have more children.  I asked God, “why?!” over and over.  You see, two years ago I had a hysterectomy.  So I don’t have a uterus and obviously cannot bear any more children, because as my doctor advised, it would not be the wisest decision (I experienced a blood clot in my brain after Finley was born).  And as my days went on after feeling those “baby pangs” I ran into several people who had adopted either via Facebook or via preschool where a classmate of Finn’s has an adopted sister. 

Adoption was suddenly all around me (or maybe it was there all along but it just wasn’t time for me to “see” it yet?).  And the faith-driven dreamer side of me poured out all the little puzzle pieces of my life picking them apart, sorting them, and putting them all back together.  I thought, “ok this is starting to make sense”. There are suddenly all these people around me who could guide me.  God set this all up.  God is so much greater than me.  He guides my steps and I listen!

I brought it up to Neil.  He was not on board at first.  So I prayed, and prayed, and prayed.  Amazingly, in all this, when I wasn’t expecting, nor did I believe I needed it, He changed ME.  He made me truly dive into His word.  He made me see how love was and is the most important thing we all have freely in this world.  He made me understand that while there might be all sorts of worldly things that we want or even feel like we “need” (i.e., a new car, a finished basement, trees in our back yard, a 15- year anniversary trip, a nicer ring, a new camera lens, etc.), He always knows what we ultimately “need” the most.  And right now he is calling us.  His time is perfect.  All those other things can wait.  One day we can do things for us, and even if we can’t, I know in my heart I would never be disappointed.  Nothing in this world can create happiness or joy.  Only love can.  And love is never created from things.  Never, ever.  God changed ME while I wanted Him to help me change Neil. 

Eventually God did change Neil.  I was standing in the kitchen one day just getting things out of the pantry and he said, “let’s do it”.  I was like, “do what?”.  He said, “adopt”.  I said, “really?” and he said, “yup”. (If you know Neil, you know most of his conversations go like this.) After the shock wore off, I went upstairs so that the biggest smile ever could appear.  I mean, I couldn’t do that initially or I would not look nearly as calm and collected about it all. (hehe) 

Since that day, our conversations have gone from “which country?” to “which agency?” to “how soon?”.  Now that we have decided on a girl from Ethiopia, we absolutely cannot wait for her to get here. 

We know there will be a LOT of ups and downs (as all of life is and if you expect anything but, well, you’re living in a fantasy land), but we also know that with ups and downs you grow.  I never knew what growth really truly was until I started experiencing real pain and real trials. The kind of growth that comes only from God. I know with this adoption we will grow as people, parents and family. 

And we absolutely cannot wait to grow. . . again.

“Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is a mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life.” – James 1:12

“(Adoption) is a long, hard road, but what road is easy?  If you’re on an easy road, you might want to ask yourself why.” – Carlos Whittaker


Walls to Windows!

“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”

- Martin Luther King Jr.

I'm so very proud of how fast our construction workers have went.  They are working so hard and it's apparent with how much progress I see every time I drive by the house (2 or 3 times a day).  I think today I'm going to go by a bakery and buy them some treats.  They deserve it.

Friday before Maia's softball practice, we went by the house beforehand.  We hadn't walked through in a week and wow, it's amazing how different it is starting to look.  Spaces are looking more like rooms and so the house, well, it's beginning to look like a house!  

The first thing the kids wanted to do when we got to the house was run upstairs and see "their" rooms.  But they ran right past to mommy and daddy's area of the house to see the big room with the window . . . our closet!  Well, okay, maybe I should say "my" closet.  He he.  :)

This is Maia in her room.  She'll have the bedroom in the front of the house 
with the high peaked ceiling.

This is Noah's room.  He's thrilled to be getting the biggest room.

Noah looking out the window in his room.

Maia helping daddy do some measuring in the closet.

Maia with daddy in her bedroom.

Hi mom!

I love the little details of the building process.  It's strange to think they'll all soon be 
covered up for forever more.

Oh how I already love my porch.

And all of us with our house :)  Maia, below, is so very excited, he he.

And yesterday, look at the progress!  We have WINDOWS!!!!  They also did the curves above the garage and the porch.  Looks so pretty, I think!  I'm loving how it's progressing.  Wonder what today will hold?  I'll check back in soon!


Foto Flashback

Flashback in photos over the last month . . .

My children being "them" :)

Noah, 7
Finley, 19 months
Maia, 5

These were taken before school, prior to her preschool picture day.

Playing with Easter eggs she dyed at school
Such a normal face of my Maia's
As is this one ;)
And how you'll find Noah at least one time every day; playing legos.

The YUMMY cake pops my dear friend, Erin, sent me all the way from Winnipeg, homemade by Erin herself.  She has an amazing cake business called "sERINdipity".

Just a fun picture.  You know me.
Went to the zoo last week with Maia's preschool.  This is a fave from the day.  A beautiful moth in the butterfly house.  I didn't have my camera out much that morning because of my little animal named F-I-N-N :)
E, A, K and Maia
Her class
E, M and Maia
And Finn buddied up with C