Monday, February 21, 2011

The Sprague Family Homecoming from Jessica Strom on Vimeo.

Update from Ethiopia - February 17, 2011

These past 4 days have been so life-changing. Don’t even know where to start so I’ll just skip through a brief highlighted review. Monday… We got to pick up our kids from the Thomas Center (read the last blog post for the play by play). It went so much better than we expected.

Tuesday was a day with no agenda, but to love our kids with the love of the Father. The morning went fairly smoothly as we tried to connect with our fearful 2 year old son. Our almost 11 month old baby girl is a sheer delight and full of smiles… we just eat her up and she loves every minute of it!

Anyway, things were going better than we had expected until Clint was leaving to go try to find medicine for Mercy’s cough. Right when he opened the door to go, our son had a melt down. It was very traumatic for him. When Clint returned 2 hours later, he wouldn’t even let Clint near him. It seemed that any relationship that had been built was now gone. It broke our hearts knowing that our son has no idea of our love and commitment to him. Children who have been abandoned have emotions that push people away as a defense against future abandonment. We have to prove to him we are here, we aren’t leaving, and that we are trustworthy…. And we know that will only come with time. We are the 5th set of caretakers he has had in this past year, and we have no idea what he faced in his first year.

We have the long term vision for the healing of our sons heart, while understanding we may face two steps forward, one step back, 3 steps forward, 2 steps back… etc… but we know that no matter how long it takes, the vital thing in it all is that we are making progress. I’m so thankful for the books read… especially “The Connected Child” because it gave Clint and I vocabulary as we quickly began to see so much of what we learned be true in the actions of our son, and how it has given us a bit more insight into the road we are on. By bedtime, we were making progress again, and Justus once again allowed the arms of his father to hold him… although with some reservation…he fell asleep for the second night in his daddy’s arms.

Wednesday we were picked up at 7:30am and off to the Embassy! We had a 9am appointment, but were supposed to be there early. By 9:30 we heard the words, “It’s official” that our children our now United States citizens! This was the final piece of the puzzle we had waited for these last 3 months since our adoption court date here in Ethiopia back in November.

Next, it was back to the Thomas Center by 10am. The kids had to have their last doctor’s review there after 11am and then at noon they took us and 3 other families to the CHI offices for lunch. Made it back to our guest house by around 3pm and were told we would be picked up at 5pm for the adoption celebration at the Thomas Center. The kids there sang for us, we heard a message from Pastor Abdissa, were given gifts, and did the Bread Ceremony. By about 7:30 they loaded us all up to have dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant with traditional dances, food, and tour. It was a wonderful day and we were all exhausted when we were dropped off at our guest house around 10pm.

Which brings us to today… another down day with the entire focus being to enjoy and connect with our kids. We did one outing at 2pm to a Historical museum. Thanks to my brother we enjoyed the ergo baby carriers (getting some practice in for our airport/travel trek that begins tomorrow). It was the best day so far, yes, still ebbs and flows, but for the first time we heard laughter from our son… and we see glimpses into our son when he let’s his guard down… he’s such a charmer and very smart. There were less times of him withdrawing, and more times of him enjoying the love of his parents and sustained eye contact. Even more times of him testing boundaries like every 2 year does… we are loving every minute of it.

Tomorrow is Friday, our last day in Ethiopia. Our completed paperwork from the Embassy will be ready to be picked up by 10am. We will enjoy the day with the kids, then pack up and get picked up from the guesthouse at 6pm. Our flight doesn’t leave Addis until 10:15pm, but we are to be there 3 hours early normally, and we were told 4 HOURS EARLY if we want to ensure getting bulk head seating on the plane for our kids. So we appreciate your prayers for us and the kids. The flight from Addis to DC is 17.5 hours… then a 9.5 hour layover in DC… followed by another 2.5 hour flight to KC!!! We are dependent on the grace of God for our kids… as this will be a huge amount of change and stimulation after being used to living in an orphanage inside of gated walls. I’ve changed more blow outs in the last 4 days than I ever experienced in 4 months with my other 4 kids combined! I have no idea how they can both poop so many times in one day… but I was warned about it, so we brought plenty of diapers and wet wipes!! Pray for the plane ride home… it’s an overwhelming thought to handle this on the plane, but I know that God’s grace is and will be sufficient.

Everyday we end the day in awe that we’ve been blessed with these precious children. Our God is so good and it is indeed a wonderful life!

What an Incredible Valentines Day!

(Update from Ethiopia on 2-14-11)

I sit here and type with tears of overwhelmed gratitude for the incredible gifts God entrusted to us today. We agree with God, that children truly are a gift from the Him!

We started the day so excited that we were finally going to hold our kids in our arms this morning. We swung by a nice grocery store called Bambis and stocked up on some groceries that we couldn’t bring with us in our suitcases… things like bananas, bread, and a case of water. Then it was straight to the Thomas Center, and as the gates opened for the car to drive in, there was a crowd of kids standing right out front of the building yelling “welcome” and greeting us with huge smiles, roses, and of course the two new Sprague kids that were in our arms as soon as we stepped out of the car. We did enjoy giving the kids some balloons to play with and I even had a few little kids standing at my legs calling me mommy.

Justus and Hannah Mercy are so precious and today went so much smoother than we had ever imagined. We made it back to the guesthouse by 4;30pm and Justus had time to play with the toys we brought for him. Then it was bath time for both of them, then I made some mac-n- cheese for dinner and Justus finished his whole bowl. The place we are staying is working out perfect for us, it’s clean, quiet, and spacious.

Cutest memory of the day… Justus holding onto his daddy’s finger while exploring the hotel lobby… wish I had a camera at that moment, but my arms were full with my baby girl so I just watched the two of them walk around while Clint talked to him. He’s so tiny next to his daddy… the picture in my memory is there for keeps… and later Clint told me how much it had blessed him when Justus had taken a hold of his finger…that my friends Visa just can’t buy.

By the end of the day Justus made it clear that he will be his daddy’s boy… when he cried tonight after I put him down in his crib for bed, daddy quickly said, “ Let me take care of this… and the two of them relaxed in a chair with Kenny G music playing while Justus happily fell asleep in Clint’s arms... I could have been tempted to be a bit envious of the sight, but I did have Baby Mercy in mine drinking her bottle and being as cute as ever. She is a total delight and so full of smiles... still can’t believe we really get to have them. We talked together about the day and both just stood in awe of God’s blessing and answer to prayers.

Well, it’s our bed time now… we are wiped out, and being on the 4th floor is giving us some great exercise. Pray for Mercy, she has an awful cough, but is sleeping through it so far. We are praying for restored health for her before we have to do the 17.5 hour flight back to DC, with 10 hour layover in DC, and then another 2.5 hour flight to KC. Our visa appointment at the embassy is at 9am on Wednesday, so we appreciate prayers for that as well.

This is the day that the Lord has made… and we are still rejoicing and so glad in it!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Every day I will bless you…

If there is anything we have learned over the course of this adoption journey is that we can’t control the circumstances, we have no power over the long waits between steps along the way, but one thing we do have control over is how we face each new day. For us it was growth in determining that regardless of circumstances or set backs, we had a choice to walk in the peace and joy Jesus came to give us, or to yield to the roller coaster of our emotions. The key was obeying His Word… “I WILL BLESS the Lord at ALL times, HIS praise shall CONTINUALLY be in my mouth.” Declaring who our God and thanking Him for His faithfulness refreshed us with renewed strength and peace for the day. Casting our cares on Him daily had to become the “default setting”, and thanks be to God who leads us into victory! We FINALLY made it to the last leg of the journey!

Once again, this is the day that the Lord has made, we are REJOICING and so glad in it!! Our flights took us through Washington, DC and we were so blessed to spend a wonderful evening catching up with my Aunt Jungmi and cousin Daniel. The took us to the best Korean restaurant we’ve ever been to and we feasted… literally!! It was so delicious and we were so thankful to reconnect with family. (Thank you Aunt Jungmi for an amazing dinner, great breakfast and taxi driving to and from the airport. We loved catching up with you!)

This is a picture of all our baggage!! It took two smart carts to get it from the curb to the check in counter. Two of the suitcases are filled with formula, diapers, clothes, and toys for the YWAM orphanages. Thanks to Jon Umstead, we get to donate the suitcases too so we don’t have to bring so much luggage back with us when we have the kids on our return trip.

Psalm 145:2-9
“EVERYDAY I WILL BLESS you and praise your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I WILL MEDITATE. They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I WILL DECLARE your greatness. They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall SING ALOUD of your righteousness. The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and His mercy is over all that He has made.”

Looking forward to being in Ethiopia soon and holding Justus and baby Mercy!!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


It’s late and snowing in Kansas, but I’ve got to write to tell you how great our God is!! First let me catch you up with the last leg of this journey… We had a court date in Ethiopia Nov. 11th and our adoption became final. We were then told it would take about 6 to 8 weeks to be given visa appointments with the embassy in order to bring the kids to the U.S. So although we had full custody of our kids if we stayed in Ethiopia, we were not allowed to bring them out of Ethiopia yet. Thus the wait began… and weeks slowly turned into months… and the Lord was WITH us each day as we waited for 3 long months to hear the news we received today…

Early this morning Clint was sitting at the breakfast table drinking coffee and checking email, when he shockingly said we got an email from the embassy….“We have APPROVAL?!?!!!!! What? How is that possible?? We read and re-read the email from the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia over and over as we stood in awe and knew with great joy that our GOD had truly “turned the king’s heart”… there is no other explanation.

You see, on Dec. 22nd the U.S. Embassy had given our agency a list of 5 things to be obtained before a visa appointment would be issued to us. They were told they would have to wait and submit all 5 things together. So six weeks later they were still lacking one, but finally had made contact with the police officer of the small town and were in process of sending someone to obtain it this week, BUT before that happened we were granted APPROVAL!!!!!!!!!!!!

I ran upstairs after we read the email from the embassy to write in my journal praise to my King and when I opened my Bible, I read Proverbs 21 and was overcome with gratitude because I knew this victory was the Lord’s!! I then wrote these verses in my journal…. Prov. 21:1 “The Kings heart is in the hand of the Lord, as are the watercourses; He turns it whichever way He wills.” And verse 30 & 31 at the end of that chapter says “There is no [human] wisdom or understanding or counsel [that can prevail] against the Lord. The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but deliverance and VICTORY are of the Lord!”

A few hours after we received the good news from the embassy, our agency emailed to let us know an update of the process and that hopefully by the end of this week all would be submitted to the embassy. I immediately emailed our agency rep back the news we had received and proclaimed, “God has done this!!” For all of you who have been praying with us… THANK YOU!! ALL praise and glory and honor be to our God for He has opened the door for us! The victory is the Lords!!

Psalm 118:23-24 “This is from the Lord and is His doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day which the Lord has brought about; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Our Embassy appointment is set for Feb. 16th! THANK YOU LORD!!!!!!!