Monday, April 29, 2013

Earthquakes and Blizzards and Lost Luggage, Oh My!

We left home very early the morning of November 10th and took Ethan to Nana's house.  I knew I would miss him terribly, but not knowing how long we would be out of state and knowing our little girl was in NICU and had some healing to do, we knew it was best if he stayed with Nana. 

I barely even remember the 2 hour drive to the airport.   I do remember that we got turned around and missed our exit and I *may* have freaked out a bit thinking we would miss our flight. 

But we made it and as we were sitting at our gate, we were still working out the details of getting the payment to the agency.  As they started seating all the passengers for our flight to Minneapolis, I remember looking at Ben and saying, "This is really happening!"
Waiting at the gate.
Our first flight together!

Our flight took a little over an hour (I think) and as we landed and were aloud to turn our phones back on, Ben and I both see texts on our phones from a few different people saying things to the effect of, "Please tell me you got off the ground before the earthquake!"

I immediately called my mom to check on her and Ethan and learned that at the exact moment we were taking off, an earthquake occurred.  It was felt all around Kentucky and although Ethan felt it and it shook the house a little, everything was fine. 

We had just enough time to grab some lunch at the airport before our next flight was scheduled to take off.  As we walked by what was to be our gate, I noticed there was a lot of people already sitting there...hmmm..."There must be a flight leaving from there before ours."  I thought.


As we made our way back to the gate after lunch, we see a huge amount of people gathered and the flight attendant at the gate making announcements.  After talking to a few other passengers, we learned there was a huge blizzard that just hit North Dakota and the flight that was supposed to go to Bismarck earlier that day had made it just hundreds of feet from the runway to land and had to turn around because the whole thing was ice.  So now there were two planes full of people waiting to get to Bismarck. 

We began talking to people around us and telling them why we were going and before long we had a little support group willing to give up their seats if only one flight got to go.

It didn't take long for the flight attendant to announce that no flights would be getting into Bismarck today and we needed to go to the Delt.a service desk and make arrangements for a later flight or a hotel.

We literally ran to the service desk to be one of the first in line.  The man infront of us turned out to be a Catholic priest from Bismarck.  We made conversation and he told us a few different options we may have.  He said there was a train we could take part of the way, or get a rental car.  He had been stuck in Minneapolis many times over the past year apparently. 

When we got to the service desk, we told the attendants what was going on.  She looked at me and said, "Honey, get a rental car and GO!"  She said she would pull our luggage from our flight and we could pick it up at baggage claim.

At this point we were on the phone with our agency and trying to work something out.  While we were making our way to the rental car area she called ahead to try to find us something 4-wheel drive and Ben and I separated.  He rode the tram to the rental car area and I went down to baggage claim.

We had a terrible time trying to find a company that would rent us a car for a couple of reasons. #1 is that no one wanted to rent us a car knowing we were driving into the blizzard.  #2 The others didn't have any 4-wheel drive vehicles.  #3 Everyone wanted us to give them a credit card to rent and we don't have any credit cards.  I called our agency again and again they helped work it all out!  We got a vehicle and we were going to get to our girl!

Our Jeep Grand Cherokee...Ben got a little attached LOL!

I waited down in baggage claim and watched bag after bag come out to it's disappointed owner knowing they were not getting to their destination tonight.  After about an hour, I asked the desk if they could check into our luggage.  They said they were still looking for it...

Waiting for our luggage. 

In the mean time, we started chatting with different people waiting there as well.  One of which was named Jennifer.  Jennifer was from Bismarck and only a few blocks from the hospital we were heading to.  She talked to us about the city and we exchanged phone numbers.  She was such a blessing!

One of the great people we met in the airport!

Another airport worker who gave Ben a map heard our story and bought our daughter a little moose that said "Minnesota" on the antler.  He was a foster parent and shared stories of his "kids".

After 2 hours had passed, I had a bad feeling about our luggage.  I went to the desk again and they told me that they had no idea where our luggage was, but that when they found it, they would send it on to Bismarck...great...

At this point all we could do was laugh!  My biggest concern was that all our baby stuff was in that bag, but the hospital should have us covered until they find our luggage.  Then I realized that it was 70* when we left Lexington and the latest report I saw was saying the high was going to be 7* in Bismarck...and all our wintery clothes were in the "lost" luggage!  Brrrrr....

After hearing about our luggage, we headed out to pick up our rental car and made a few phone calls.  One of which was to the hospital to check on our girl.  The nurse kind of went a little crazy when I told her we were driving. "Girl!  You stay put!  The nurses aren't even leaving the hospital tonight it is so bad!  Don't you even try to drive that distance tonight!"  I assured her we were only driving about half the way because it was getting late and we just heard the Interstate was closed due to the blizzard right around the Minnesota/ North Dakota border.

And like that...we started driving the 6 hour drive!
While we made our way on the first part of our driving journey, I texted back and forth with a wonderful friend.  Little did I know she was working hard to bless us.  She got online and looked up hotels in the area of which we had decided to stop for the night.  She had posted on about our family and strangers from all over were giving a few dollars here and there and before we knew it, our wonderful friend called us and said not to worry about where we were spending the night.  She had called ahead and made our reservations and through the donations of friends and strangers we were getting to stay the night for free!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

There is PINK in my Dryer!

On Friday, November 9, I woke up at 4:00am with a stiff neck and I just couldn't sleep.  I did my daily Bible reading and decided to check my email. 

Lot's of junk email, as always, then I saw an email from our agency regarding a little girl born several states away three days ago that was in need of a family.  She was Native American and had a long list of possible "special needs" and health concerns.  The agency director said she would be in the office at 8:00am and if anyone was home study ready and interested could call her for more information. 

Ben was up preparing for a weekend hunting trip in the other room and I walked up to him and said, "Hey, you want to go to North Dakota this weekend?"  Half smiling, he said, "Whyyyyy?"  I told him about this little girl and that I wasn't even sure we would qualify, but if he was alright with me looking into it.  He was completely excited and told me to make the call.

At 7:59 that morning I called our agency, but I had to leave a message.  I waited ten minutes and called her again.  She answered the phone and said she was just about to call me back.  She gave me the placing agency director's name and number and a little more info on the baby.  She encouraged me to call and said she would help with any details we needed.  I called the placement agency right away and had to leave a message.  The next two hours I paced a lot.  I had a feeling I should be packing my bags.

Around 10:00am the placing agency director called me back and talked about the diagnosis. (I wont go into too many details on the blog because part of my daughter's story is HER story to share.  So sorry for being vague, but let's just say at this point, I believe God put my blinders on and nothing the director told me scared me at all.)  She emailed me a photo of this sweet baby girl waiting for a family in a NICU hundreds of miles away.

The first time I saw Ellie's sweet face!

I took one look at this sweet face and thought, "She is not what they say she is."  I asked the placement agency what next, how do we know if we have been chosen to be this little girl's family.  She paused for a second and said, "Well, at this point it is up to you..."  Due to the unique situation (again, sorry for not more specific details) this child was in need of immediate placement and if we chose to move forward, we would need to be on a plane tomorrow.

I had been trying to make all these calls from my bedroom, away from Ethan's little ears, but before I knew it he ran into the room and took one look at the laptop and said, "That is our baby!  When are you going to go get her?"  I told him that yes, this little baby was in need of a family and we might be it, but we were still talking about it.

I called Ben and told him what was going on.  He was working on transporting prisoners all over the state this day and was currently almost 3 hours away.  We prayed over the phone and he told me to start packing our suitcases and working out the details!

The next couple of hours were spent making phone calls, working out the details, booking plane tickets and packing our bags.  It was crazy!  I was on the phone with Ben and trying to figure out when he would be back in town.  We found out one document that needed to be updated and we needed to get to someplace to overnight our check with the total amount of the adoption expenses to the agency.  As soon as Ben got back into town, we drove 1 hour and a half away and did those two things.  We ate our last dinner as a family of three and stopped by a store to purchase some newborn baby girl clothes, bottles and basics.

We got home late and I nervously took the tags off the clothing and washed and dried them and stayed up wayyyy too late getting ready for the next day. 

I even instagrammed, "There is PINK in my dryer yall!"
After our bags were packed for the trip and Ethan's bag's were packed for an unknown amount of time at his Nana's I finally laid down and tried to sleep a little bit. It was really hard though, thinking I would be meeting my daughter the next day!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Our Circle Maker

Ethan has had a bit of a struggle going to children's church through the years.  It seemed every time he would start going really well, we would have a loss and he wouldn't want to be separated from us.  The first was right after we lost Shyla, then he started going back to the nursery at church well again about a year later.  Then we lost Jakin and he did the same thing.  After Samuel's failed adoption, Ethan finally had words to explain why he wanted to be with us during church.  He told us that he thought he was being punished if we forced him to be separated during church.  So we told him as long as he could sit still and listen well in big church, he could stay with us if that is what he really wanted to do.  We also encouraged him to try-out the nursery and/or kids church every couple of weeks.

Last Fall, our pastor was preaching a series on Mark Batterson's book, The Circle Maker.  The story of Honi and of bold specific prayer really encouraged us.  Little did I know how much it was impacted Ethan as well.

We had been hearing more and more about the changes in the process of South Korean adoptions.  After talking with our agency and advocacy groups, we learned it may be even harder for us now due to the fact we have a biological, non-Korean child in our home.  We did a lot of praying and searching. 

Secretly, my prayer the first week of November was that we would see our child's face. Specifically, I prayed for a daughter.  Which is selfish, but, I wanted to pray what I thought was a bold, specific prayer.

Ethan's Prayer

On Monday, November 5th, Ethan came to me and we had the following conversation:

"Mommy, I just went up in my bed and prayed."

"That's great Ethan!  What did you pray about?"

"I prayed for a baby."

"Oh, honey, we are all praying for a baby."

"No, Mom.  I prayed for a baby by Sunday or Monday."

I stopped loading the dishwasher and just looked at him.  I wasn't sure what to say.  I tried to explain that with God anything is possible.  And God could do it.  But, if He doesn't, we were going to love him and praise him anyway. 

Tuesday, November 6th, while talking about what we were thankful for, Ethan told me "A Baby."

The rest of the week was more of the same.  He told me that I better be packing our bags for the hospital.  He told me I needed to get the nursery ready and he even went through his stuffed animals and took some of them to the nursery "for the baby".

He so inspired me, that I pulled out the quilt top I made a year ago from my maternity shirts and I finished quilting it for our soon-to-be-baby.

He prayed every night and every meal for "Our Baby".  He constantly circled her in prayer.  He believed with all his heart we were going to have a baby by Sunday or Monday.
Friday morning I couldn't sleep.  I got up early and read my daily Bible reading and decided to check my email.....
To be continued....

Monday, April 22, 2013

Aaaannd....I'm back...

After taking several months off from blogging, declaring my blog private, and then regretting both, I've decided to blog publicly once again.  This is happening for many reasons, but mainly, we have been greatly blessed and greatly comforted.  We need to share the story of our great blessings and comfort others with the same comfort we have received.

For today, just a quick update, but I promise to tell more of or daughter's wonderful adoption story soon and make some changes and updates on the blog. 

Our daughter is now 5 and a half months old (say what!?!) and is doing amazing.  After a few different attempts at nicknames she goes by a few different ones, but the one I like best is Ellie.  It is taken from a part of her first name (which I wont be sharing on this blog). 

And, she is adorable. See:

I will be sharing more of our amazing journey and of our family soon :) 

Have a great week!