Friday, December 26, 2008

More Christmas Day Pictures

More Christmas Day Pictures

Notice that Maraya had a little too much festivities

Christmas Day

Our Christmas was a little different this year. Generally we all get up, open stockings while Daddy wakes up and comes down stairs. Then we all open presents, one at a time. We eat breakfast and Daddy plays with the kids (or with the kid's toys) until company starts to arrive - all the while I am making a big Christmas meal - I so love to do that.

Well, Oregon is having the worst snow it has seen in 30 years. Due to road conditions, company could not come over - so dinner will be delayed until the weekend. We spent the day together as a family, opened presents, ate breakfast, played with toys, baked a "Happy Birthday Jesus" cake, played games, etc - just us - it was nice.

After breakfast, Bill used his new family devotional Bible to read about the meaning of Christmas to all of us. Something hit me in a new way as he read it - besides the actual story of Jesus. In the Bible they track the heritage of the men - but not the women - Joseph was in the blood line of David - not Mary. However, Jesus was not born of Joseph. God does not look at a blood line as important, as many of us do. It is the spirit that is important to him - family has a very different meaning - it is a group of people connected by the heart, not by blood. The most important baby born to this world was, infact, adopted. Now, I knew that before, but I hadn't put together the heritage - of Joseph vs Mary - it has so much more of an impact on me, now that I have that understanding.

Another miracle revealed

It just dawned on me the other day that God answered my specific prayer - 4 1/2 years later.

If you read previous posts, you will remember that I had cancer while pregnant with Jackson. Well, that very nearly cost us our adoption of Zoe. Infact, we sent off our initial paperwork in May of 2004. I received a phone call, while away on business, that we could not continue the adoption due to my cancer status and would need to wait at least one more year before we could begin again. Ugh! My heart sank - but if any of you know me, I do not take no very well - there is generally always a way to do something. I talked with Bill and we began to pray about a little boy from Africa, as I continued to also pursue our adoption for Zoe. The doctor was able to write a very specific letter tha allowed us to continue with our China adoption.

Now - what dawned on me is - Zoe was born - likely - in the month of May in 2004, Carter, was born the following month in June of 2004. We prayed hard for both of these babies - one was being born as we prayed, and joined us a little more than a year later. The other one was getting ready to be born and would join us four and a half years later. I prayed for these children long before we were married, long before I knew what country they would come from and continued to pray for Carter - even after Zoe was home - not knowing when we would start that adoption. (a previous post explains how God told me about Maraya)

More snow pictures

Our First Snow

It was our first snow of the year, and Carter and Maraya's first snow of their life.

Madelyn was so excited! Maddy, Jack and Zoe were jumping up and down - Carter and Maraya followed suit - although I don't think they really understood why - they just saw the others so excited - they felt they should be too.

I took Maraya to the window, pointed and asked her "Snow in Ethiopia?" She looked at me with the strangest look, held out her pointer finger and waved it back and forth as she said "Noooo!"

They had a great time, all of them. They took turns pulling each other on the sled, throwing snow and just running around.

One Month Update

Well, Carter and Maraya have been home just over a month now and things are going great.

As an adoptive parent of older children there are quite a few things you miss out on - first steps, first words, etc. However, there is so much joy in watching them as they rediscover joy through their new family. Watching them get on an escalator or elevator is still so fun to watch! Everytime they use and understand a new English word - you can see so much pride and accomplishment in their eyes!

When we first met them, they called me "Mom" because that is what they were taught to do by their nannies. The last three weeks - they call me "Mom" because that is now how they think of me - and it is such a wonderful feeling.

It was about 2-3 weeks ago that I was taking Maraya to the doctor, the rest of the kids stayed home with Bill. Carter cried as I left because he wanted to be with me - that was the first time he cried for me - the bonding and attachment are very strong - what a wonderful miracle.

All five kids are playing and getting along very well - aside from the typical sibling stuff - some things are just universal.

Please don't misunderstand - of course there are some issues that come up - there always are, and should be expected. We did deal with terrible lice, I was sick for three weeks (not related to Ethiopia), and language is somewhat of an issue. However, these children have been taken from the only country, food, language, people, smells, etc that they have ever known - in my opinion, they are all adjusting amazingly well - they are doing far better than I would if I were in their situation.

Here are some pictures.

Monday, November 24, 2008

November 17th - The Day We Meet the Kids

So it is Monday morning we had coffee at their equivalent to Starbucks. Everyone loved the coffee - I opted for strawberry juice - SO GOOD!

A few of us, myself included were not feeling our best - I think it was just the anxiety, emotions, lack of sleep and the altitude that was getting to us.

After coffee - we had an orientation meeting to help us better understand what to expect on the trip. Then we headed upstairs to lunch, we waited for another couple to arrive that had their flight delayed. The next stop - to meet our children. Later that evening we went to a traditional Ethiopian restaurant and watched traditional Ethiopian dancing.

Here are some pictures.

Our Journey

We left Portland, Oregon at about 9:30 am on the 15th. We thought we had a straight flight to Washington DC, Dulles - but that got changed. We had to fly to Chicago first - no big deal - it was to be a stop only, and not a plane change.

Once we were on the airplane - we were told that we would have to have a plane change in Chicago.

When we finally did arrive to DC, we only had 45 min until it was time to board the plane for Ethiopia.

Due to all the changes, our luggage did not make it to Ethiopia on Sunday night with us. The luggage did show up on Tuesday morning.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Day We Left for Ethiopia

Early morning on the 15th of November, we took 8 18 gallon totes and 2 25 gallon totes, plus one piece of luggage each for my Mom and I.

When we got to the airport - a wonderful man helped us with all the luggage - we were so thankful for this.

No excess baggage fees were waived, but we did have one piece of luggage that was over weight - they waived that fee for us.

Here are some pictures of that day.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Today is the day

Well here it is November 15th. I leave in about an hour and a half. Bags are packed, 10 rubbermaid totes with donations are packed, kids and husband are asleep - all is well.

Yesterday we had quite a scare, Duni, our family coordinator, called me in the morning saying "I have an urgent situation with your paperwork" - I gasped - immediate mama mode took over. She said that last week everything was fine according to the consulate, but today, they were missing our addendum - without it they will not release the kids to me.

After several phone calls to different government agencies, all is fine and the proper paperwork was wired to Ethiopia by noon.

I really feel that we all need to fight for these children, it seems - to me - that the enemy does not want these babies home, even to the very last minute he is fighting to keep them from their families - those that are in process - Pray, Pray, Pray for your kids, for the paperwork, for the government agencies - both Ethiopian and US, Pray for the adoption agencies and the employees, the care takers, etc. I truly believe that this is a spiritual war. Do not loose faith or hope - in all things praise God - that is what I had to remind myself yesterday while we were running around getting yet another document notarized.

This will probably be my last post until we get settled in Ethiopia.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Donation Update - 40 hours and counting

I have to say that I am beside myself with the out pouring generosity toward these children. You are all angels!!

Here is the donation list so far:

264 cans of formula - more than 175 pounds
36 cans of tuna
baby bottles
baby blankets
baby cereal
jump ropes
rainbow parachute
baby food
MANY cans of protein drink mix
Plus six more boxes coming from my Mom's elementary school in Tillamook.

Here are the pictures - enjoy.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Six days and counting

Well, Yesterday was a long and exciting day. It was shopping day. So far I have 40 cans of formula, 32 cans of tuna, 36 bottles of pediasure, a few jars of babyfood and two big bags of protein drink mix. I have more coming from other places - once we have it all in one location - I will take a picture and post it. I have had to hold back money from the donations to help pay for the totes and the baggage fee.

After talking with a United International person yeterday, I found out that the baggage fees are going to be $180 for each extra bag - Yikes! Our church gave me $1200 to help cover this - Praise God - still needing $420. If I can raise more to go toward that $420, I will spend more of what I have held aside and get more donations to pack and take with us. If you want to donate, my paypal account is

We are getting so excited. Last night at dinner we were all talking about what it was going to be like to have two new people in the house and two new faces around the table - oh - it will be so amazing, challenging, fun, confusing - and so many other marvelous things.

We also found out that one of our good friends will be joining us in Ethiopia to bring home their other daughter - so excited to have a familiar and loved face with us. Also, so glad that our kids know each other - hoping that will help them keep up their language some.

Well that is it for now - so much to do - so little time. Thank you so much to all of you who have helped or will be helping with Project Impact, painting my daughters room, helping me pack, childcare - oh the list goes on and on. You are so loved and we are so blessed to have you in our lives.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

What are We Missing?

I was on my way to get groceries this morning - without the kids - a rare occurance - when I heard this song - Give me your eyes. I am sure that I have heard it before - but I hadn't listened to the words.

You see I know that God gives everyone a passion - we each just need to figure out what that passion is. I am sure if you are reading this blog you have caught on to what my passion is. However, don't misunderstand me. Not everyone has the same passion - if we all had the same one then not all of God's work would be done. It takes all of us with many different passions, skills and talents. It does however, mean that we should not be limited to just our passion - we are after all brother and sisters and need to help and support each other and each other's passions.

So this song made me ask myself the question - what am I missing - not seeing. I don't want to miss a single opportunity that God has for me - whether it has to do with orphans or something else. So my prayer is this - Lord, give me your eyes so that I can see all that you want me to see and your heart and to love the way you love.

Here is the chorus to the song that spoke to me today.

Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the broken-hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me your heart for the ones forgotten
Give me your eyes so I can see

And the blessings keep coming

Currently the situation in Ethiopia is making it very difficult to obtain formula for infants. Not just because the cost is insanely high - but is it difficult to even acquire. In our adoption group alone - there have been two deaths of baby girls before their parents could come and get them. This should never happen. Additionally, older children do not get the much needed protein in their diet.

Earlier in October, some dear friends hosted an auction called Project Impact to help with the future costs of formula, food, electricity, etc, of the orphanages and transition house that our adoption agency supports. However, because the cost is not so much the issue in getting formula, families are taking as much formula as they can over with them as donations, when they travel to pick up their children.

Currently I have been sent more than $800 to buy formula to take with me. I am so honored to do this. I am hoping to get some funds donated to help pay for the cost of excess baggage. The excess baggage will cost somewhere between $130 and $180 per bag - depending on whether I need to pay the domestic airline fee or the international airline fee. I am hoping to have 6-8 extra bags between my Mom and I. I will take as many as the airline allows and as many as it takes to get the formula and other donations over there.

Additionally, God was able to orchestrate a donation from Gymboree for new clothes for 350 children! This is wonderful - so many people take clothes for babies - but not for the older children - the clothes will be for children ages 2 and up. I will need to find a way to get this to Ethiopia as well. All donations need to be taken with someone as baggage, as shipping it there will have an expense in tax about 4 times the value of the goods being shipped. We are trying to be as financially efficient as possible.

I want to thank all of you who are donating! You are touching little lives across the world! I will continue to post as I have more info on this.

What the Lord spoke to me about adoption

One night I was woke up around 2ish - completely unable to sleep, but I had all of this information repeating through my mind. You see I had been struggling with the lack of participation in various adoption and orphan care seminars that I had recently hosted. I believe God gave me these words to keep the fire in me going - because, to be honest, I was burning out.

I will warn you - it is preachy - but this is what God said to me and I know it is meant for someone to read and/or hear.

So here it is:

James 1:27 NLT
Pure and lasting religion in the sight of God our Father means that we must care for orphans.

To care for orphans:

What is the definition of care?
to watch over; be responsible for
protection; charge
to make provision or look out
To be concerned or interested
To provide needed assistance or watchful supervision
Watchful oversight; charge or supervision
Close attention
An object or source of worry, attention
feel concern or interest

You see, God is not here in the flesh to hold, feed, burp these babies, help the children with their math and grammar. If we are the hands and feet of God, then we must do these things for these children. These are God's children - the fatherless - if he were here in the flesh to hold and nurture these kids, he would - but he isn't and that is why he has asked us to care for them.

Here is an example.

If you and your spouse needed to go away and couldn't bring your children - wouldn't you ask someone to care for them - not just anyone - but someone you trust?

If I asked my friends and relatives to care for my children until I send for them - that does not mean to write a check and pay for a nanny or babysitter - No - it means to care for them personally - to take care of them.

Likewise, God has asked us, someone he trusts - Yes, God trusts us and he has told us to care for his children until he sends for them. That means until they go to be with him. - what an honor! To care for them when they are sick or scared, to celebrate their victories with them, guide them through their trials, give them support as they become adult children of God.

This is so much more than writing a check to support an orphanage somewhere - that is essentially a nanny or a babysitter. Now don't get me wrong - I am not saying not to give financially. There are millions of children who will never be adopted for many reasons - country policy, illness, mother still alive, etc. Indeed, we need to support them and support the ones that will someday be adopted, but need food and shelter until their family can come and get them. We need to financially support them, pray for them, go to them and minister to and hold them - be the hands and feet of God. But those that the world says are eligible for adoption - we must care for them in the way in which we would expect a friend to care for our current children - in the way in which God would care for them.

Here is another example:

If you have adult children and under age children and you and your spouse were to pass away - wouldn't your adult children care for those younger children - bring them into their own home, raising and guiding them in the same way you would have done?

God is not here in the flesh to do all of those things mentioned before - but not only are we the hands and feet of God, we are his adult children and we must take care of our younger brothers and sisters - What a disappointment to our Father if we don't.

Ephesians 6:1-3 NIV Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2"Honor your father and mother"—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3"that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth." - I believe these verses apply to not only young children and earthly parents, but to us as adult children to our heavenly Father. Do I do everything the Bible says? I am sure that I don't - but I want to know what I need to do so I can obey - just as any child wants to please their parents.

Luke 10:2 NIV The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.

A dear friend of mine presented this verse to me in a way that really struck me, and then God added to it - here it is.

If you look into your neighborhood, church and the world you will see pockets of harvest ready - but if you look at an orphanage, at street children - you will see fields ready and waiting to be harvested.

Corn that is not harvested will rot, whither and die as the bugs, worms and birds destroy it.

In the same way children who are not cared for and taught about the Lord - will also be destroyed. Their spirit will whither and die, their bodies will follow suit as the enemy attacks through illness, starvation, abuse, drugs, prostitution, worthlessness and death.

Why are the workers so few if the Lord instructs us to take care of these children? It is not meant for just a few of His adult children to obey his words. The few cannot do the work of the many.

Something to consider.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Adopting from Ethiopia - a double blessing

We began talking about adopting from Ethiopia in 2006. We knew we wanted a little boy, but something in me told me we should consider two children. After much discussion, Bill and I agreed that we would be open to a sibling group - we began the official process in September of 2007. It took me three months to put all of our paperwork together. We sent off our dossier on January 2nd. On August 19th of 2008 we received a referral for two beautiful children, a boy 4 years old and a girl 6 years old. His Ethiopian name is Meheretu - this means "The Lord's Mercy". Her Ethiopian name is Yenenesh - this means "You are mine". These are beautiful names that their birth parents chose for a reason - we will be keeping these names as their middle names. We want them to know that their birth parents loved them very much and those names are special. Likewise, we love them very much and want to give them a name special from us. Meheretu will be Carter Meheretu Gamble - Possibly Carter Jace Meheretu Gamble. I really like Jace for two reasons - 1st - It means the Lord is my salvation, 2nd - I like CJ as a nick name.

Yenenesh has a bit of a story with her name. It was August of 2007 - You see, before we settled on being open to two children, I had a dream. Now mind you, I generally dream about crazy things that make no sense at all, so when I have a dream that I can understand, I pay attention to it.

So picture this - An African woman is leading me into a room in an orphanage, and the dream starts up with her speaking to me mid sentence. She says "and this is your daughter, her name is Maraya and she is five years old." Well, I had never heard of that name before, so I googled it first thing in the morning - It means The Lord is my Teacher. From that moment on I knew God was telling us that we had a boy and girl waiting for us. Here is the kicker - It was one year later in Aug of 2008 that we received the referral for a four year old boy and a six year old girl - When I had the dream in Aug of 2007 - She was five years old - just like the woman in my dream told me.

Her name will be Maraya Yenenesh Gamble, Possibly Maraya Grace Yenenesh Gamble.

We were expecting to have our court sometime the end of Oct 2008 or beginning of Nov 2008, but we were so blessed - we received a phone call this week that we passed court and they asked if we could travel early. We were not scheduled to travel until 11/29, but we are now leaving 11/15!

Our Journey to Zoe

Well, after going through all the surgeries and getting back to a normal schedule, we decided to begin the adoption process.

Here is a link to the blog I did for our adoption of Zoe.

You can go back to the first entry entitled Introduction.

Although adoption was always something I knew I would do - (the subject was even a topic while dating - if they weren't on board - they weren't for me) It was after this adoption that I really began to understand the need that these forgotten and discarded children have - children all over the world and in our own backyard. Our church asked me to oversee an adoption ministry, which I do now - it is called Orphan Aid and Adoption. I meet privately with couples to help them understand the adoption process, how to make it more affordable and help guide them to reputable agencies based on their desires.

I also do bigger seminars and conferences on both adoption and orphan aid to help all those children who will never be adopted.

How Jackson Riley Gamble became our Miracle Baby

It was October of 2001, Madelyn would have her 1st birthday in a month. Bill and I started to talk about beginning the adoption process for our second child. Knowing it could take a while we wanted to plan the the time between our 1st and 2nd child to be 2-3 years. We decided on an agency, but thought it best not to begin any paperwork until the first of the year, as the holidays are always so busy.

Well in November of 2001, I was having "that feeling" and asked Bill to buy a pregnancy test - (I don't know why it is that he always bought the tests). It was negative - not a disappointment, but it was a surprise.

We traveled to North Dakota to visit my family - I still was not well. In December, I asked Bill to buy another test - he thought I was nuts. This one was so positive - it changed before I stopped peeing on the stick - and I did it in the afternoon.

Since I already knew the answer, I let him go in and check on it. Sure enough - we were having a baby! By the time I finally got into the doctor, we found out that we were pregnany all the way back in October - Before Maddy was even a year old.

It was during this pregnancy that we found out that Jackson was very sick, one of his kidneys were not operating and had not developed properly and there was a problem with his other one as well. We had ultrasounds 2-4 times a week everyweek.

Additionally during one of my visits we found out that I had cervical cancer - not something you want to hear, but certainly not when you are pregnant.

I was able to carry him to term. He was born July 16, 2002. He had a kidney removal surgery at nine weeks. He has since had 3 more surgeries and is doing great. I had to have a hysterectomy to cure my illness. But all is well now.

Praise God that we had Jackson when we did, had we not - he would never have come into this world.