Learning to Love God and Others Well… Luke 10:27…"LOVE WELL""

charity: water
We have an update on your projects!
Thanks to the following, we’re happy to report that work is now underway in the Rajshahi and Sylhet Divisions of Bangladesh!
CAMPAIGN NAME AMOUNT RAISED WHERE YOUR MONEY WENT
Love Well $5,361.00 Bangladesh

YOUR PROJECT TIMELINE
You are currently at the 9-12 months step in the 18 month process
1-3 MONTHS
We send
your money
to the field.
3-6 MONTHS
Our partners
get permits,
supplies, pick
sites & begin
the work.
6-9 MONTHS
Our partners
collect midterm
reports & send
us the
information.
9-12 MONTHS
*You are here Our partners
finish the work
& train the
communities to
manage their
water point.
12-15 MONTHS
Our partners
collect final
photos, GPS
& community
information.
15-18 MONTHS
We receive
completion reports,
verify the data,
assign your dollars
to projects & send
you your report.

RAJSHAHI AND SYLHET DIVISIONS
Rajshahi and Sylhet, Bangladesh

THE PROGRESS SO FAR
COMPLETE
12 tube wells drilled
233 school and community sites located and prepped
Local skilled workers recruited
PLANNED & ONGOING
221 tube wells
19 latrines at schools
314 well caretakers trained and equipped

COMMUNITY AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT COOPERATION
Our field partner, Concern Worldwide, works closely with local government, organizations and skilled workers throughout water project implementation. Coordinating with local government and organizations means making sure that work fits with regional development plans. By hiring local skilled workers, these projects support the local economy.Before construction begins, field staff meet with communities to discuss work plans. Thanks to the communities’ feedback, our partner was able to improve the design of the pump platform to better meet the needs of pregnant women, physically challenged community members and the elderly.Sanitation and hygiene education are also a crucial part of ensuring the success of this program. Rather than giving boring lectures, field staff are providing information sessions that use local forms of song and theater to educate communities and hosting festivals in honor of World Water Day, World Toilet Day, and World Handwashing Day.
STAY TUNED!
We can’t wait to report back and show you the impact your donation made for those in need.
— the charity: water team

Love Well T-Shirts

147 Million T-Shirts

$20

All proceeds go towards M’s Ticket Home!

Click here to order.

*We would love to get all of these out there advocating and encouraging others to “Love God and Others Well” We want to live our lives “Loving Well”! For our family, God has pointed us to love and serve orphans through different avenues. So many of you have jumped on board this time around donating items to the orphanages our agency partners with…How humbling it is to play a part in the Bigger story for His glory!

We have 6 xs left, 6 med left, 6 lg left, and 10 xl left!!! YAY!!! Great Christmas presents, bday presents, etc all proceeds go to help bring M home!!

In my last post, I explained the reasons for cocooning. Some of you have asked, “What does that look like?” A fellow adoptive momma friend, from a church we were on staff at almost a decade ago, shared the following post and said I could share it here because she nailed it and said it so well. We changed it up a bit to personalize it towards M and our family.

Cocooning is a time in which we hang low and  are the only ones to hold, feed, change, touch, and comfort him. M is used to having so many different care takers, so now he has to learn what a mom, a dad, and a family is. We won’t be introducing a ton new people and won’t be leaving the house much. Lots of new people and environments can be overstimulating…everything is new…sights, sounds, smells, new place, etc. Last time, we cocooned for 3 months and reevaluated over time. This time around our kiddos are older, so we will have to be creative in making things best for everyone.

The cocooning process allows the children to understand that mom and dad will meet their needs. It allows the children to be acclimated to the new environment with minimal over-stimulation. We must remember that our son won’t know what a mom or dad is. In the safety of our cocoon, we will teach him what any biological one year old already knows: mom and dad love me and will respond to me when I cry and have a need. M must learn that we are those people and that he can’t go to just anyone to have needs met. He needs to learn that being passed around and having multiple people respond to his needs is not his reality any longer.  This will help with not only his psychological development and attachment, but also allow for him to set up healthy boundaries for the future.
What will this look like for us?
1.)  We won’t be going out much (including church…just J and the kiddos will obviously go) or having many visitors when he first comes home.
2.)  We will be the only ones to feed, change, touch, hold, and rock him for awhile.
3.)    Hopefully, M love love the front pack and we can wear him/hold him for a majority of the time once he is home. Physical contact is one of the best ways to bond, and it will help him begin to develop trust in us.
It may seem harsh to not pass our son around, or allow others (even family) to hold and kiss him, but we know that the best interest of our son is for him to know that mom and dad are the ones who give affection and care for him most. Eventually, when he is ready, those things will come, but for the first few months especially, we have to put the best interest of our son first. Even after we are out of the cocoon, there may be times we need to go back in and allow him to recover from over-stimulation, especially if we see that he is not attaching well.
How Do You Know if it’s Working? The great thing about adoption is that “little” things are BIG milestones! When we see that our son is seeking our approval before going to strangers, that is a good thing. “Charming” strangers is a habit of institutionalized children- where they are always “parent shopping” and may seem overly happy or silly to get attention. If you have ever visited an orphanage, you know what we are talking about. Although that certainly may be part of our son’s personality (Like Lil Miss J…naturally a people person), we want to be careful that he knows that WE are the ones who respond to him first. Other signs of progress: when our son cries or acknowledges that he has a need, because it means he knows that we will meet his needs. I know, this may seem weird, but a lot of institutionalized children don’t cry and don’t tell parents when they are hungry, have a wet/dirty diaper, or need something. For example, if he just lays down and goes to sleep this may seem like every parents dream, but sadly he has learned that no one will come when he cries. So we have to teach our son that we will meet his needs, and celebrate when he lets us know them! Sometimes institutionalized children may hoard food or toys, because they fear that they may not get them again later. This is a positive sign if hoarding is not an issue.It is also a good sign when our son is able to make healthy relationships and able to communicate with others using appropriate words and actions. It is a good thing when he shows us his happy moments and sad and angry moments- because he knows that we acknowledge his emotions and value him; our love does not depend on him acting a certain way.

Will be have an airport party?

YES YES YES!!  No matter what time of the day we’d like to invite our friends and family meet us at the airport when we bring our son home!!! We are all about celebrating and having fun!!! This is so fun And we cannot wait for you to meet him there in person!

 How can you help during this time?
1.)  Pray! Pray that M attaches and adjust quickly and that we are able to come together as a family. Pray that he adjusts to life, time zones, etc. Pray for our other children as they adjust and transition and bond during this time. Especially lil Miss J;)
2.) If you are a hands on person and are dying to DO some thing to physically help: Meals: this is a HUGE help and I will not bar the door shut, if you show up with a meal;) I will probably hug and kiss you and maybe even cry depending on the day;) This transition part can be hard and not having to cook every meal gives me more time to focus on the kids during this time.
3.)  Text, FB, email and check-in on us! Since we won’t be going out much it will mean the world to know that we haven’t been forgotten.
4.) Take 1, 2, 3, or 4 of the kids:) No really, some of the kiddos, especially the older ones, will need to get out for a bit:)
5.)  Just simply ask us what we need once we are home…who knows what will come up…
While we know that this is a lot of information to absorb and understand we believe that we must be very intentional about the first weeks that M is home. We also realize that some of you may not completely understand or agree with our approach and that is completely ok. However, what we will ask is for your understanding and patience as we walk through this process together. If there are questions that we can answer for you please do not hesitate to ask. There are no dumb questions and we promise to respond with whatever information is needed so you can better understand this process. We are continuing to learn more each day about M’s potential needs and our desire is to be the best parents we can for him.
As we said in the beginning, we covet your prayers during this time and are excited about the end of one chapter of this adoption journey and the beginning of the next one!!!

I wrote this post before we brought lil Miss J home and it helped our friends and family understand why we cocoon once we get home. I can tell you last time our friends and family were so gracious, respectful, and helpful even though this was so stinkin’ hard especially because so many trekked the journey with us in bringing her home, but it was so worth it and because of their understanding, she is doing well and thriving today.

Because you care for sweet “M” and our family, we want to share with you some information that we hope will help you assist us in laying the strongest and healthiest foundation for him. For many months, we have researched bonding and attachment in children, especially those coming home through adoption from an institutional orphanage setting. In many ways, he is like any child who enters a family through birth. There are a few initial, key differences, however, that we would like you to be aware of.

Forming Attachment. Attachment between a parent and child occurs over time, when a child has a physical or emotional need and communicates that need. The primary caretaker (usually mommy) meets the need and soothes the child. This repeats between a parent and child to create trust within the child for the parent. By God’s very design, an emotional foundation is laid in the tiniest of babies, which will affect their learning, conscience, growth and future relationships for the rest of their lives. The security provided by parents ultimately gives children a trust for and empathy towards others and helps them establish stable relationships as adults.

Interruptions in Attachment. Children who come home through adoption have experienced interruptions in this typical attachment process. The loss of their biological mother and/or father at an early age is a major trauma on their little hearts. The good news is that we can now, as her parents and forever family, rebuild attachment and help her heal from these emotional wounds. This will take a lot of work on our part, and understanding from everyone around us.

Recreating Attachment. Once he is home, he may be understandably overwhelmed. Everything around him will be new and he will just beginning to learn about his environment, love and family. He has not experienced God’s design for a family in an orphanage setting. The best way for us to form a parent/child bond with him is to be the only ones to hold, snuggle, instruct, soothe and feed him. As this repeats between us, he will learn that we are his parents, and that he is safe to trust and to love us deeply. We are, essentially, recreating the newborn/parent connection. After M establishes this important bond with us, he will able to branch out to other healthy relationships.

To help recreate attachment, he will have a lot of structure, boundaries and close proximity to us that is different than a child who enters a family at birth. These decisions have been prayerfully and thoughtfully made based on immense amounts of education and research. We are committed to doing what we believe is best to help him heal from those interruptions in attachment as quickly and effectively as possible.

How You May Help.

Set physical boundaries. It will help us immensely if adults limit what is typically considered normal, physical contact with him. This will (for a while) include things like holding, excessive hugging and kissing. Children from orphanage settings are inclined to attach too easily to anyone and everyone, which hinders their most important, primary relationship with parents. Waving, blowing kisses or high fives are perfectly appropriate and welcomed!

Redirect him: Redirect his desire to have his physical and emotional needs met by anyone (including strangers), to having us meet them. Orphans often have so many caretakers that they, as a survival mechanism, become overly charming toward all adults. A child struggling to learn to attach may exhibit indiscriminate affection with people outside of their family unit. It may appear harmless and as if they are “very friendly” but this is actually quite dangerous for the child. To share this is difficult for us because we have snuggled, cared for, fed and loved so many of your children. Please understand that we want nothing more than to have him hugged, cuddled and cherished by ALL of you (he is totally irresistible and huggable). Until he has a firm understanding of family and primary attachments, however, we would be grateful if you direct him to us if you see that he is seeking out food, affection, or comfort.

Risk. If we seem overly focused on this topic, we are: this is too important to get wrong. Children who fail to establish a healthy bond with their parents may suffer the rest of their lives with Reactive Attachment Disorder, which causes severe interpersonal and behavioral difficulties into adulthood. We may be overly sensitive to the risk of RAD – we pray that we are. Statistically, however, 10% of children adopted from an orphanage setting suffer from RAD. While we want to let you hold and interact with him as much as we do, the risk is too great these first few months. We hope that you understand and will support us in making these tough choices for M’s long-term well-being.

We are incredibly blessed to have so many friends and loved ones around us. Thank you again for your love and support during our adoption journey. So I hope this helps, if you have been wondering where we are: cocooning and bonding;) once we get home! However…we do want to invite our friends and family to the airport once we get home! We will let you know when and where!

Our hearts have been moved to plug into Ethiopia even more than just sponsoring a child via Compassion International. More than supporting, praying for, and advocating for different ministries who are already established and doing amazing things there. More than purchasing gifts with a purpose for birthdays and Christmas. Our hearts were moved to do more, but what??? For months prior to going on our first trip, we prayed that God would show us with whom to partner and pour into and Love Well.

Long story short, through different avenues we stayed at Wellspring Guesthouse ran by Ephrim B. that was recommended by several different people stateside and in Ethiopia. Our stay was absolutely wonderful not just because a great guesthouse, but because of the family who runs it. Have you ever met someone and thought, “Wow, you are just an amazing person. You just shine. You are smart. You are a leader and God is going to do great things through you.” That’s the feeling we had when we met and spent time with Ephrim, the owner of the guesthouse, throughout the week. My husband felt the Lord tell him. “This is whom I want you to pour into.” We were looking for a ministry or a program, but God showed us a man. Joe spent the last few weeks building him a website to help with promoting the guesthouse. Kind of like micro-financing, but helping with what you know and what you can do. We have been collecting sheets and hoping to purchase a pack and play for the guesthouse as well. All things which Ephrim mentioned he needs to keep the guesthouse moving forward. One thing I love about the guesthouse is that many of the furnishings were purchased from ministries that help employ people with special needs. In ET, it is very hard to get a job if you have any sort of handicap/special needs like a missing arm or legs. So by purchasing from these ministries, it helps employ these people and keeps them from having to beg on the streets. Ephrim understands this and is such a man of God and desires to empower others by being a smart business man. Job creation. Love.

1010928_10201533143836740_317231819_nThe second thing that we have been collecting is crocheted hats. One of the orphanages that our agency partners with is in need of crocheted hats for the children during rainy season. So many people have jumped on this that it is incredibly amazing. I can’t wait to deliver these hats to these precious children. I love even more that God choose to use our gifts to love and care for orphan. Much thanks to all of you who have jumped on board and made some! I cannot crochet for life of me and am so impressed with all these hats coming in the mail! You all rock!

First trip, we took 2 bins of donations for the orphanage and are taking 2 more this trip as well donations list below. So excited and thankful to all who have given. The orphanage staff was so grateful and the items were much needed.

If you would like to purchase a pack and play or good set of white twin or queen sheets just let us know and we will take them with us second trip!

 

IMG_0453It has been 3 weeks and 2 days since we passed court, but who is counting anyway:) Close friends of ours who actually love us enough shared their time share with us, so last week, we packed our bags and were able to go on the most fun and relaxing vacation to HH with them before we bring “M” home and start cocooning and helping him move forward in being part of our family:) And guess what at the end of the week we were all still smiling and God bless ’em…they still love our crazy, loud, big family;) Thank goodness!

As a family, we pretty much went media free on vacation…so incredibly freeing not checking email, FB, blogs, etc. all week long. Lil Miss J had a birthday while we were there, so I did post a cute bday pic of her on the beach celebrating her day for fun!

Soooooooo….this morning, I checked my email hoping just maybe for an update on “M” and we received his court decree and his birth certificate last week!!! Whoo whoo! Next steps…our agency will get his passport and then take him in for his embassy medical appointment. Then we can be submitted to embassy!!!

LOVE WELL T-SHIRTS…our goal is to sell all of our LOVE WELL t-shirts before we bringing him home:) If you would like to purchase one, click here to view them or to order one! All proceeds go to help defray the cost of adopting and to help bring him home!

Please pray for:

-passport and embassy medical appt to go smoothly…I just have that momma feeling that he will not like these appts. at all. He had some medical procedures/test early on in his life that were probably traumatizing for such a lil guy:( Just pray for his heart and mind and that God just gives him peace during these appts.

-keep praying that God does the miraculous and he is home before his second birthday! Times ticking!

-transitioning for whole family, cocooning, feeding, and plane ride home

-pray for our youngest daughter as she had a hard time when we left during our first trip…hoping second one goes smoother…such a momma’s girl;)

I stepped off the plane, closed my eyes, and deeply inhaled breathing in the familiar aroma of 2 of my children’s beautiful birth country. In a place, I love so dearly, I finally stepped foot on the same soil as sweet “M”. J and I grabbed our luggage and donation bins, and easily went through security this time around. Completely worn out from 26 hours of traveling, we made our way out of the airport into the deep blackness of the night walking towards to the parking lot passing many dark faces with bright white smiles shining in the moonlight. Oh I love this place. Looking for our driver, holding a white sheet of paper with our names, we finally spotted him and he helped us roll all our stuff over to his van. We loaded it up and exited the parking lot headed to the guesthouse about 15 minutes away. We were beyond tired, we unloaded our stuff, settled into our room, and fell exhausted on the bed to awake early the next morning.

We headed up to the balcony before breakfast to capture life happening in the midst of our first morning in country before heading out to meet our son.

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We had booked our guesthouse not knowing it was right around the corner from our agency’s office. Absolutely perfect! After quickly eating a delicious Ethiopian breakfast, we headed out to the orphanage. Be still my heart. The moment we have been waiting and praying for so long. It has here at last. We pulled up to the gate and the guard let us through and introduced us to one of the ladies on staff who led us to where sweet “M” was laying sound asleep for his morning nap. There he was sleeping so soundly on his back with one arm above his head the other by his side. The nannies were trying so hard to move another crib outta of the way just so we could get a little closer to him. Some of the other babies woke up from all the commotion and started crying. We stood there for what felt like eternity staring at him. I wanted to just scoop him up as fast as my arms could move, but instead we both just studied everything about him. Finally, one of the nannies walked over and said his name and gently shook him. No avail…haha…he was out cold! She picked him up and continued to attempt to wake him. He opened his eyes, looked around, and started crying. Poor lil guy:( Waking up to see 2 strange, smiling white faces staring at you is not the most pleasant way to wake up on any given day. His nanny changed his diaper and set him on the potty chair, and then he just completely fell apart sobbing. I almost broke down and started crying with him. Once he was dressed, she handed him to us. And pure sweetness…holding him at last.

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He is very quiet, he is sweet, he is a sharer, he is so smart and he has a million dollar smile that will make all hearts melt in an instant. We may be bias, but we think he is the most handsome lil thing around. Boy, he has thunder thighs, huge thick feet, and big hands. I think we might have some height in the family now people:) He can throw a ball like a pro and loves to play! We are in love with who he is and cannot wait to see him grow, change, and thrive. He has a belly the size of Texas…probably parasites…oh fun! He definitely has some delays and things, which we knew when we accepted his referral, but there were no surprises. The lil boy we saw Tuesday was a completely different one on Saturday. It took him awhile to come out of his shell. It just takes lots of time. Good thing is he wanted to be held the whole time. He did not go to other parents who came to visit their children. He would turn and check to be sure we were still there when he went to get a toy during playtime. All good signs. We don’t think he has been outside very much, so he has pretty much been in 2 rooms most of the time. Everyday we would take him out to swing. He would lay back and relax into us. By the third day, he would lean and lean until we would leave the baby rooms, step outside, and then he would lean until we made our way over to the swings in the older children’s section of the orphanage. So funny…with a language barrier and these 2 new faces, you just use motions to get what you want. I cannot wait to kiss those precious fingers again and hold that precious lil hand…

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One of the days, we had him out from 9-2 and the rest of the older babies were in their cribs the whole time. He was out with us and of course we had a boatload toys on the floor to play with. He went around to every crib and gave each lil one a toy. Oh my heart. This is a kind, sweet spirit of a precious one who has been waiting for almost 2 years and he has learned to love others his midst…that my friends is finding beauty in the ashes.

On Friday, we passed court and he officially became our son! We spent our last day with him soaking in every last second. He fell asleep on J and he laid him down in his crib. So we kissed his sweet cheeks and left him just as we found him when we walked in on Tuesday morning….sound asleep.

Please continue to pray for:

-a quick smooth embassy date…we are praying he is home b4 his 2nd bday

-this time between is way harder than I thought…I find myself in almost in tears when I stop and think too much about it

-transition, bonding/attachment for whole family

-developmental delays/health

-funding for rest of adoption cost

Up next…the ministries we visited, Crocheted Hats for AHOPE, and what we are taking to help 2nd trip

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