Saturday, September 29, 2007

My Dad's post about meeting Zeke and Kora

The House of Hope
"It's a strange thing to travel across the world to Africa, flight the city crowds of one of the poorest cities of the world, drive on the worst roads for about an hour into a neighboring village, ask locals for directions several times, pulling up to a well kept church and home and getting out of the car to meet two of your grandchildren. Now that I've played with Magyar and Mariama (Zeke and Kora), I'm almost as anxious as Jody to get them to their new home. But it appears to remain a long and complicated process and moving slowly. But, fortunately, they look real healthy and are well cared for. We'll have to pray them to their field of dreams. By the way, I think Zeke really likes me. Kora is undecided. Proud granddaddy. "

Friday, September 28, 2007

he held them

I talked to my Dad briefly as he was in the back of a jeep on some crazy, bumpy road. It was hard to hear. But what I did hear is that Zeke and Kora are beautiful and doing well. Apparently, Zeke warmed right up to them. Kora would come over occasionally and lean against my Dad, but was more hesitant to climb right up in his lap. I think eventually she did crawl up into Chip's (my Dad's travel mate) lap.

They are smaller than they appear in the pictures, but look very healthy he said. (I'm going to start collecting a few 2T things, but mostly 3T and bigger).

I didn't think they were really telling them about us. And I'm pretty sure they don't understand even if they are. But my Dad did say that they say, "Mama" and "Dada" and "Papa." He showed them pictures of us and the boys. The workers kept coming over to see and saying "Another brother...and another brother." So cute.

Zeke sleeps in a crib. Kora sleeps in a regular bed with several other girls.

He got lots of pictures and little video, but they will not be able to upload until next week. So we wait again. (I'm beginning to see a theme in this whole process...)

I am so thankful for the update and the pictures and the contact. I know it is so much more than most families get. But gosh, my heart is so heavy. It is the strangest combination of emotions...

oh gosh.

My Dad sent a text this morning saying they bought fish, and rice and condensed milk to bring for the workers at the home to cook up for all the children tonight.

His last text as he left the orphanage said only, "we're leaving. what a hoot! will call soon."

I'm sitting in my kitchen covered in flour and frosting and weeping. I ran out of powdered sugar. And I want to be in Africa right now.

sad and good

This was a more recent picture the agency sent us. This is the first one we had of Kora where she was smiling. And I think you can see it more in this picture, but we believe she is the spitfire.
The referral packet said that Zeke is smart but very quiet and shy. And he smiles all the time. Kora is smart and more outgoing. It says she cries when she is being dramatic, but makes no sound.
I don't know if this was helpful or made me miss them more...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


So apparently our paperwork has not been submitted yet to the courts...and we are not even sure if the courts are open at this point. This is Africa, I guess. The agency lawyer in Sierra Leone is headed out of town which could possibly delay things further. My heart sunk when I read the email, but am trying to remain patient and optimistic. This will happen...just not on my time. It is a minor delay, I think. But more than anything, it just makes me a little sad. I miss them. I don't even know them. I do not know what it is like to have them in my life. But somehow, I miss them.

Monday, September 24, 2007

a quote

"I have three things I'd like to say today.
First, while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition.
Second, most of you don't give a shit.
What's worse is that you're more upset with the fact that I said shit than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night."
(Tony Campolo)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

every little bit is so important.

So we probably won't have new information on Zeke and Kora for awhile. So while we wait, I am always rereading our referral packet and staring at their pictures trying to piece together every part of them. My sister-in-law, Randie, helped me uncover this insight into their birth names. Apparently, in most African cultures when twins are born, the middle names are given in alphabetical order to correspond with birth order. If this is true, Kora would of been born first..followed by her brother.
And their birth names have precious meaning as well which we love. Mariama means "Gift of God." And Magar is "Guardian." (and from that first picture we had of them with his sweet little hand holding her shoulder, I would like to imagine that he is and will always be a guardian for her).

So I love that. I love every little piece of information...every little piece of the puzzle that will help us tell them their story. And it is an amazing story.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


I have made some significant connections in the last several days with other adoptive moms. Feel so blessed to share in the journey. It is a much easier road to walk together.

And our siblings as well have been oh so supportive and kind. Spread acorss the US, they have provided very practical assistance, financial aid, and online research. I can't even tell you how thankful we are for them.

We also have other family and some faithful friends who have stood with us through each step...listening to me process, and cry, and panic. And loving us and loving our kids with faithful committment...

I started to get a little sad today thinking of all the hoops we still have to jump through to get Zeke and Kora home. I was overwhelmed by the length of time it will be before I can hold them as only a mother holds her children.

But these people give me strength...they make me brave... and I am eternally grateful.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

fund raising.

I have added a thermometer thing to the sidebar to show the progress of our fund raising for the adoption expenses. We made a large payment upon the acceptance of the referral clearing out the money we had saved from Andy's extra jobs ect.. We are starting from the ground now to raise the remaining 20,000 dollars we will need to bring Zeke and Kora home. We don't want to make a big push or go over the top with fund raising...we just want the information to be available as to where we are at. We are trusting God to prompt and direct people's hearts as they desire to support us...and we are so very grateful for every penny, every prayer, every word of encouragement. We know we are not doing this alone.

Monday, September 17, 2007

And the Names!

Names. Oh, to give these new children names has been very difficult. There were lots of rules--

• First of all, we wanted to honor the children's birth family and their birth culture. We wanted to make sure it was always part of their legal name.

• Second, we wanted them to give them transferable they could have here in America without have to spell every time or stand out even more.

• Third, in our family, each child's name begins with a different letter. So far we have a D, G, M, and Q. The new names needed to be different letters. Because, clearly, when we put 6 hooks on the wall for their backpacks I needed to be able to put a different letter above each one.

• Fourth, we have two kids with one syllable names. And 2 kids with 2 syllable names. We obviously needed one more with one syllable and one more with two. ( I don't know it just makes it flow better...)

• Fifth, the names needed to not be too 'white'--because, well, they are not. But not just the name of some African American athlete we happen to know of either.

• Sixth, we wanted the names to have some significant meaning.

• And lastly, Andy and I (and the boys) had to agree.

So this was no easy task--- But I think we are in a good place.

Obviously, we will call the children by their known names while with them in Africa and until they get comfortable. But assuming the transition goes well, we will give them their new names and keep their African names as middle names. If they choose to go back to them someday, that will be great and it will always be part of their legal name.

But the names we have given them are Zeke and Kora. Zeke means "God Will Strengthen." Kora means "Born in My Heart."

And so Lord willing, someday soon it will be....

Zeke Magar Simbo Landers

Kora Mariama Sento Landers

Thursday, September 13, 2007

hurry up and wait.

I think we are entering what is going to be a difficult period in the adoption. Up until this point, we have been very busy...lots and lots of paperwork, lots and lots of research. Now we must simply wait. Wait for the courts to open. Wait from them to send us a court date. Wait to travel. And then wait some more before we can bring them home. Now that we have faces to our dreams, it becomes increasingly difficult.
We want them home so very much . But at this point, I feel myself being slightly guarded as I know we have so much time to WAIT.
I do, however, stare at their faces often throughout the day. I am thinking and praying for them constantly it seems.

I hope you guys are in for a ride...because I'm not sure how stable I am going to be.....

Friday, September 7, 2007

This Day.

Today we chose you. Today we chose to be your parents…forever.

We choose you in your fear.
We chose you in your excitement.
We chose you in your grief.
We chose you in your healing.
We chose you in rebellion.
We chose you in victory.
W chose you in sickness.
And we chose you in health.

We chose you as you learn what it is like to be in a family.
We chose you as you learn to navigate through the two worlds that are both your own.

We chose you.

You will forever be our son, our daughter. We will be your parents.
We embrace the joy that you will bring to our lives. How desperately we wanted you.
We embrace the pain that will inevitably follow as we mourn together the loss of a first family and culture.

We chose you. All, and every part of you.

We cannot promise perfection or even easy roads. But this we can:

We promise to honor and love your first home…your country, your people, your family.
We promise to storm heaven’s gates in prayer for you every day.
We promise to do our best to provide for you every possible opportunity.
We promise to never leave you.
We promise to protect and guide and care for you.
And we promise to love you with all that we are, with unconditional grace and commitment, just as we love your brothers.

You are our son. You are our daughter. And though we have never met you, we are well pleased with you. And oh so proud of you.

Today we chose you.
You are orphans no more.

a little more about our babies.

The twins will be 2 years old in October.
They have names. We will keep their African names in some form...most likely as a middle name and give them eventually more transferable names.
It looks like the referral will be official maybe tomorrow and I can share their beautiful faces.

Kind of funny history--
When we first began the adoption process, we knew that we would not specify boy or girl. We would be thrilled with either. But when Andy and I would talk about it together, we were on totally different pages. I told him I wanted another boy. We were already doing the boy thing, and I love having boys, and maybe we should just keep going with a good thing. When I closed my eyes, I saw a little boy running around with our boys. Andy, however, did not. He wanted a little girl. When he closed his eyes, it was a little girl that was sitting on his lap while the boys ran circles around us. We joked about it and teased one another, knowing that either one would be great.

Along the way, we were told about a little girl in the orphanage. And so I began to think that maybe she was the one. Still hard to imagine, but I at least began to think about a daughter. With some twists and turns along the way, the twins kept coming to the forefront. We knew about them all along too, but I had said from the beginning. "I can only do one." "We can only take one because we will not all be able to fit in one car otherwise." I was pretty dead set on that because on all the forms, I put 'ONE child." So I was trying to convince some of my other friends to adopt the twins. I loved them, knew they needed a home and someone else might be able to do it.

For a couple weeks, Andy and I were very restless. Something wasn't right. We could not figure out what direction to take this adoption. We were praying constantly. Talking a lot to each other, but wanting each to come to their own conclusion separate from one another. I was emotional and unsettled. The things holding us back from the twins were finances. And the car. ;-) And the idea of having 6 children. Everything about it was scary.
But I didn't realize despite the fear how much I wanted them until Andy said in the kitchen--"We're taking the twins." Immediately a huge weight lifted and I felt happy, really happy for one of the first times. He continued, "We'll figure out the car thing later."

There were a number of other confirming things along the way. I still felt sick--like pregnancy sick--for a couple weeks after we knew we were going to do this. I think I was (and still am) just terrified of how much work, how much money this was going to take. But I also felt such peace. I felt like we were moving clearly in the right direction. Believing that God will resource His call, we stepped out, still not knowing the answers to many of our hold-ups.

Anyway, in the end God gives us a boy and a girl. We get to depend on God even more. We get to step way out of our comfort zone and follow Jesus where we would never go alone. We get the indescribable blessing of being parents to two more children. And two children....two children find a forever home.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


This is the official “We Just Got Our Shots for Travel” picture. (I know they all kind of look the same, but basically Andy makes me wait until we get to the car to take a picture of ourselves on each of these monumental days)

We felt much like a pin cushion, with a total of 11 shots between us today.
My arm is a bit sore. Andy say’s his isn’t. But he is just trying to prove that he is tougher than me…. Whatever.

The doctor gave us an option to take the pill form of a couple of them and thus eliminate some of the shots. As soon as I chimed up to say, “Yeah. That sounds good,” Andy was quick to say, “Nope. We’re getting the shots. We love shots.” He can be a real jerk some days…

We came home to find the 171-H in the mail. (that is basically the golden ticket for adoptive parents– It is pre-approval from the USCIS to bring an orphan into the United States.) So that was exciting too.

2 big steps closer today to these children. And for that we are so incredibly thankful…

slight turn. big news.

Things took a slight turn in our adoption journey over the last couple weeks.

It looks like…

Its a girl!…And a boy!

Yes, twins.

This was not part of our original ‘plan.’ This is way out of our ‘comfort zone.’ We are terrified. Scared. Overwhelmed by the financial burden. And so very, very excited. God’s promptings and peace have outweighed our doubts. And we’re jumping…

I can’t wait to tell you more of our story and how it intersected with their story. And soon hopefully, I can show you their faces.

Still some red tape to jump through, but we’ll keep you posted. Please pray for us, pray for our boys, pray for these children who have no idea that they now have a family…