May 27, 2009

Visa appointment and coming home early.

Just got some texts from Sherry. The Visa appointment was good today and Naty is doing wonderful. Sherry, however, is feeling a little under the weather.

They will be coming home early. They will leave Addis on Sunday and will arrive in Atlanta Monday at 2:30 pm.

Angela (for Sherry)

"Nathan is amazing!"

Sherry texted yesterday and said that they were doing well. Nathan ( or "Naty" as the call him at HOH) was sleeping on her chest.

They are having some phone and power issues but are very happy that bonding is going great.

I will post more as soon as I hear more.

Angela (for Sherry)

May 24, 2009

We are in DC and will board Ethiopian Airlines in approx 10 min!!! YAY! Nathan here we come.

May 23, 2009

and we're off...

I can't believe it is here! We leave in the morning for Ethiopia to bring home our son. We actually leave tonight since we have to be at the airport at 3:00 am! Our flight leaves at 6:00 am from Atlanta, we arrive in Washington DC and then our flight to Ethiopia leaves at 10:00 am. It will be 8:00 am Monday morning when we arrive in Ethiopia. A driver will be at our guesthouse around 9:30 am to pick us up and take us to the House of Hope where we will meet Nathan. He will be ours from that moment on... I can't wait to see his sweet face, touch his little hands, and kiss his tiny toes. It still does not seem real.

I just kissed Austin and Olivia goodbye, which was VERY difficult to do. They will be going with their grandparents to dinner and a movie to help keep their mind off us leaving. I know Olivia will be fine, I am a little worried about Austin though. He has been glued to my side all day hugging me and telling me how much he will miss me. Olivia is just the type of kid that is good no matter where she is or who she is with. I do wonder how long it will take her to really start missing us. I am sure Austin will run the cell phone bill up calling several times a day, which is just fine.

We have had all sorts of visitors and phone calls today keeping us busy and now that the house is quiet I am really thinking of our trip and the amazing journey we are about to take. I have another load of orphanage donations on it's way right now from my cousin Kira and then we will be all packed and ready. I have been thinking of the first time I will see Nathan and wondering how he will react to us. I have been thinking of the situations we will encounter and the people we will meet. Thinking of the street children, beggars, and all the children at the House of Hope currently waiting for their family. I have been thinking of my friends who were supposed to be going with me. This will be an emotional journey... I feel blessed that God has given me the opportunity to have this experience in life and to have Nathan as my son.

Please continue to pray for our family; that we have safe travels, that Austin and Olivia are safe and happy while we are away, that Nathan is healthy, that he bonds to us and adjusts quickly, and that God will work through us and speak to us through this amazing journey. Thank you Lord for blessing our family.

I will be attempting to update my blog while we are in Ethiopia! Be sure to check back. Our return flight arrives in Atlanta at 2:30 pm on Wednesday June 3rd!

May 19, 2009

Need a little help...

We recently found out the babies name is spelled different than we originally thought. On his referral documents it was spelled Nathenael and on his official documents Nathnael. On one form it was spelled Natnael, which is actually the traditional Ethiopian spelling of the name. We want to shorten it to Nathen or Nathan as a nickname but we need to decide on spelling first. I was already stuck on Nathenael but now I am not so sure. Nathanael is the biblical way of spelling it. I want his name to have some significance and I really wanted his name to be a traditional Ethiopian spelling but... Natnael would be hard to shorten to Nathen/Nathan plus the pronunciation is different. I don't know what to do but we have to decide!!! the name means "Gift from God" no matter how it is spelled. I am now leaning toward Nathanael (Nathan) since it is the biblical spelling. I think I have decided on Elias for his middle name, which is the name I originally I wanted to give him and it is a traditional Ethiopian name meaning "The Lord is God". Ok, are you confused yet??? I am! :) Help me here. On the side bar there is a place where you can vote for which spelling you like best! :)

The picture of my little guy above was a picture we got at referral and I love it. He was so tiny but there is so much character and expression in his face.

May 18, 2009

Cleared for take off...

AHHHHH!!!!! I am on cloud nine right now! We are cleared for take off!!!! All documents are ready and we have the May 28th Visa appt. (UPDATE: our Visa appt is actually May 27th, the 28th is a holiday in Ethiopia so they moved it up one day) We are leaving THIS Sunday May 24th and will be back June 3rd. I can not believe it is here. We leave in 6 days! This time next week I will be holding my beautiful baby in my arms. :) Wow, am I glad I booked our flights Friday. We have our travel call today.

Oh, and we are spelling the babies name wrong. It is Nathnael. I am trying to decide if we are going to shorten it to Nate or Nathen or what we will do. Maybe we will just stick with Nathnael.

Wow, I have to get busy. So much to do...

May 12, 2009

Update on Nathen...

Today we received updated height and weight on Nathen! He weighed 15.7 lbs and is 26.3 inches long. That puts him at 50% percentile for his height and 25% percentile for his weight. That may not seem like a lot but compared to his previous measurements this is awesome! Before he was never even on the charts. I am so excited to see how much he has grown. Hopefully we will get new pictures in the next few days. :) Oh, I think I forgot to post his age before. They have Nathen's date of birth as October 26th 2008 but that is only a guess. He was found abandoned so his "real" birth date will never be known. So right now he is approx 6 months old, almost 7 months old. Our case worker also said she needs to find out about the correct spelling of his name. She said it can vary and may not be spelled the way we originally thought. I guess I better wait to hang those letters on the walls of his room until I know for sure! :)

We still don't have any travel dates confirmed. UGGGG I hate not knowing until the last minute. It could literally be just a few days before we are scheduled to leave before we know for sure. We have another round of paperwork to do and lots of last minute things...

Last Friday was a bitter-sweet day for us. We finally got details on the devastation that has affected so many families adopting from Ethiopia right now. Earlier last week another agency attempted to pass a large group of children through court that raised red flags. It appears some or all of the children were not legitimate abandonments and the courts are now suspicious of ALL abandonment cases. The courts have decided to halt all proceedings of any child that was found abandoned inside the capital city of Addis Ababa until further notice. No one knows when or if these cases will ever go forward. The only way we were able to pass court is Nathen was found outside the city in a town called Sebeta. We know how easily we could have been on the other side of the table. Unsure when or if our child was ever coming home. Families are devastated, worried, and confused, as would be expected. More than likely the courts will put new procedures into play and the cases will eventually go forward but there is no guarantee for anyone. For now they must wait, again... I can only imagine how they are feeling. Some of these babies have urgent medical conditions. I feel guilty that I am able to bring my baby home when so many others can not. It is so sad. All we can do is pray that the judge finds a quick solution and the cases are rescheduled QUICKLY! Please pray for these families and the children.

May 08, 2009

Journey to Nathen Video

Our Son, Nathenael Thornton

See the video I will be posting below!

This an been a very emotional day for us and so many of our friends. 14 families were scheduled for court today, only 4 passed. I am thanking God right now that we were one of the lucky families that did pass. If only everyone knew just how lucky we are. There has been devastating news from our agency today, I am not sure how much info I can share. My heart is breaking for the families that have received this horrible news and the babies that will be without them for even longer. I am praying for you guys and I will do all I can for you and your little ones. God IS with you during this difficult time and He will carry you through this.

I humbly would love to introduce everyone to our new son, Nathenael. His name was given to him by the orphanage director and means "Gift from God". He truly is a gift from God and I will be forever grateful to him for such a precious gift. We will be keeping his name and will call him Nathen for short. We decided after much family discussion that the name Nathenael is a really long name and would take forever for a 5 year old to learn to spell so... His name is spelled a little different than we would usually spell it in the US but I like it that way.

We know little about him other than he was found abandoned and was turned into the orphanage on Christmas Day. He started off VERY small and malnourished but has thrived and grown so much since being in the care of the orphanage and the House of Hope. He does have a birth defect to his left hand. The fingers are just shorter and stop at the top segment or nuckle, from what we have been told and can tell from photos. It is likely due to ABS or "Amniotic Band Syndrome" which occurs when the limb of the child gets tangled into the amniotic sac and that part of the body is unable to develop. We expect him to do well and gain as much use of the hand as possible through occupational therapy and maybe finger lengthening surgery as he gets older.

We have been told from traveling families he is very smiley and happy and is doing great! We can't wait to get him home. We are still praying for the May 28th Visa date, if so we will leave May 24th and come home June 3rd. If not the Visa appt will be June 11th. We should have our travel dates confirmed in about a week. Wow, we could be leaving in only 2weeks!

Please pray for the other families who's adoptions are in jeopardy right now. I will post more info about the situation once I am able to and have more information.



I just want to wish my wife a Happy Mothers day. To the greatest mother on earth!! Austin, Olivia, and Nathen are very lucky! She is a blessing!! Happy Mothers Day to all others out there! Relax this weekend.....You deserve it!

Today is a big day for us!! My faith is overflowing this morning! Praise God!! God continues to bless us...................

May 07, 2009

Tomorrow is THE BIG DAY!!!

Here is one more piece of the "Nathen Puzzle". :) Can't wait to kiss those cute little toes!

Well, this morning Nick asked me what I would blog about today. Hmmmm I just don't know today. Today I am depressed, stressed, and worried when I should be happy and excited. There is just too much right now...

I had this huge, long post typed out here about all the issues I am going through with the adoption process right now. But I decided to delete it...

I just really need prayers and encouragement right now. Please God let our court hearing be successful tomorrow.

May 06, 2009

The day after tomorrow...

Wow, hopefully the day after tomorrow Nathen will officially be our son and we can start making final arrangements to bring him home! Since I can not post any pictures or identifying information on Nathen until after we pass court I thought I would give you a little sneak peak! Surely he can not be identified by that sweet little hand. Hopefully Friday I will be able to share all of him. :)

Today I wanted to share facts about Ethiopia directly regarding the children and orphans there. We have soooo many people question us on why Ethiopia and why not adopt a child here in the US. Most people just don't get it or see the reality of the world. You are lucky just to be born in the US. Even the poorest people in the US have it better than most people in Ethiopia and other 3rd world countries around the world.

In the US children eligible for adoption are mostly given up at birth through private adoptions and agencies. There is a steady line of families waiting to pay $50,000 or more for these "perfect" infants. Children that enter the states foster system are usually taken from their parents due to abuse or neglect and not ever eligible for adoption. There is a small percentage of children eligible for adoption through sate agencies, it takes years for them to be cleared for adoption, and most are older children/sibling sets. Our government makes it very difficult for these children to ever be adopted. Private adoptions are very risky! Of course living all or most of your childhood in a US foster home is not ideal it is better than hundreds of children living in an orphanage or on the streets, trust me!

There are approx 4 million orphans in Ethiopia living in orphanages or on the street. Newborn and child death rates in Ethiopia are among the highest in the world. 1 in 10 children die in infancy and almost half will die by age 5. This is due to disease, illness, and starvation. Children often die from minor illness such as diarrhea due to the lack of medical care available. 1 in 4 women die during pregnancy or childbirth. Only 6% of births are assisted by a skilled professional. Girls are married as young as age 14, resulting in high risk pregnancies with these young girls trying to carry a baby and giving birth. They just do not have the access to birth control, medications, vaccinations, and basic medical care. Try comparing these facts to American statistics! I can go on and on... Most Americans can not see past the "world" they live in and see the World as a whole and just don't understand or don't want to.

Nick and I physically can have children, we just chose not to bring another child into this world when there are so many already born that desperately need a family. Adoption is something that I have always known I would do. My parents kept foster children through a private adoption agency from the time I was 3 until I was 15. They had infertility issues and were unable to have children after my birth. They were never able to adopt a child in the US due to, guess what, the extreme difficulty and cost of it! Although When I was 16 a miracle happened and my brother was born. A couple months after I was married another miracle happened and I now have 2 biological brothers! BTW my Mom and I had babies 4 months apart! Yeah, it is kind of weird but cool! So I am VERY familiar with the adoption process both domestic and international. WE chose international because we felt that was where we were needed most and the right path for us. God led us to Ethiopia because he knew that was
where Nathen would be waiting for us.

Ok, so I will stop now and turn my attention back to the VERY important event in our life happening in 2 DAYS!!!

May 05, 2009

3 DAYS!!!!

I am trying to keep my mind busy instead of obsessing over each minute that counts down to our court date. So today I thought I would share some interesting facts about Ethiopia.

-Ethiopia is situated in the "Horn of Africa" and is as large as France and Spain combined

-Ethiopia is thought to be the oldest country in the world and is referenced throughout the Bible

-Ethiopia was never colonized and is one of the few African countries never to have lost it's independence

-Their government is a Independent Federal Democratic Republic with a President as Head of State and Prime Minister as the Head of Government

-Ethiopia's currency is Birr, one Birr is equal to approx $9-$10 US Dollars

-The main religion in Ethiopia is Christian - Orthodox Church and also has a large Muslim population

-Holidays include Christmas, Easter, and "Meskel" which is to celebrate the finding of the true cross that Jesus was crucified on

-The capital is Addis Ababa which means "New Flower"

-The population of Ethiopia is approx 70 Million with approx 3 million in Addis Ababa

-Ethiopia enjoys a moderate climate year round due to the high elevation but it does get very hot in the low land areas

-Ethiopia is over 2,500 metres above sea level, this high elevation can cause headaches, shortness of breath, and fatigue based on your level of fitness

-Ethiopia is the home of coffee and it is a very important part of their culture and is celebrate with a "coffee ceremony"

-Their main national food is "injera" which is a flat pancake type bread made from teff grain. It is usually laid out on a tray with morsels of meat and veggies on top

May 04, 2009

4 DAYS!!!!!

4 DAYS until our court date!!!

I am so excited! The days have been flying by. I am worried the next few days will start going in slow moe now that we are getting so close.

I am almost done purchasing everything on the packing list. I went to Babies R Us twice over the weekend, which is dangerous. :) My purchases included sleepers, onesies, diapers, and a cute Baby Einstein book that you put pictures in for the baby. I am going to put a picture of Nick & I, Austin & Olivia, the cats, and others in it so Nathen can start learning the faces of his family.

We have had a hiccup with paperwork,one more thing to stress me out. We found out our updated home study approving us for a boy instead of a girl did not make it where it needs to be. The Atlanta immigration office said they sent it on April 3rd so it has had plenty of time to get where it needs to go. They finally had me fax over another copy of our documents this morning and they are supposed to send it RUSH! I DO NOT want this one document to cause us anymore delay!!!

Please keep praying for us this week that our court hearing Friday is successful, we get the May 28th Visa appt, and this document needed gets to Ethiopia in time. Continue also to pray for Nathen's health, that he continues to grow strong and healthy. Also, please pray for the Carley family, they should be on their way back from Ethiopia right now!

May 01, 2009

7 DAYS!!!!!!

If all goes well Nathen will officially be ours in 7 Days!!! I am so excited. I can't believe how close we are. When we received our referral the wait seemed so long for our court date and travel but WOW, it is almost here. That was not so bad. It really has gone by fast. I can't wait to post his pictures for every one to see how beautiful he is. Our case worker promised she would let me know as soon as she heard something. Hopefully the power will be on and the Internet will be working in Ethiopia so we can find out ASAP. Since they are 7 hours ahead of us court will actually be going on while we are sleeping Thursday night. We will also receive updated pictures and measurements within a few days of passing court. I can't wait to see how much he has grown. I am so excited at the thought that he may finally be in my arms in just a little over 3 weeks. So cool!