Saturday, April 30, 2011

Meeting Her Birth Mother Part One

I really don't know if my words can even come close to capturing the day we spent in Elshaday's home town.   The director of the orphanage and her husband drove us to meet Elshaday's mother. We met at Layla House and picked up Elshaday.   Elshaday wore the traditional dress she had picked out the day before when we went shopping.  She looked beautiful.  It was supposed to be a two hour drive to her town but in reality it took three hours to get there.   Mostly because of the many obstacles on the road like dogs, cows, goats, horse & carts, and piles of large rocks.  There were also several heavy rain showers during the drive. 

First, we stopped by the orphanage for lunch and to spend some time with the children there.  Elshaday remembered a couple of the older girls who have been there for a few years.   We had lunch and coffee there, it was very yummy.   The children were beautiful and very happy.  They are very well taken care of as if they were their own children.  The children go to school but are also taught very good manners. They are taught basic self care skills to help them in the future.  We were very impressed by the older kids. 

The drive from the orphanage to Elshaday's home was only about fifteen minutes.  Here are some pictures from the drive.

We pulled off the side of the road and walked down a little trail between some houses.  Elshaday knew exactly where she was going and led the way down the trail. 

We walked up to the gate and Elshaday knocked on the door.  When her mother opened the door they embraced each other.  They were both so happy to see each other. 

When we walked into her home it was obvious that she had spent a lot of time and money preparing for our visit.  Below is a picture of the outside of her home.

Stayed tuned for Part Two of our trip to visit Elshaday's birth mother.  Hoping to write more tomorrow.

Friday, April 29, 2011

First Day with Elshaday

On Easter Sunday morning Darren & I were escorted to Layla House to meet our daughter.    I planned to get every moment on video.  We walked into the orphanage compound and before we could get our camera out she spotted us.  I wish I could play that moment back to you.  She saw us walk around the corner.  She got the biggest grin on her face.  She took off running towards me, jumped up into my arms and wrapped are arms and legs around me.  She squeezed me so tight and planted the biggest kiss on my check. 

Then she saw Darren.  Well, lets just say the girl loves her daddy.  From that moment on it was all about daddy.   She was so eager to show us the package we sent her and her school books. 

My first impressions of Elshaday. . .  She is beautiful and full of energy.  She seems to be happy most of the time. She likes to play basketball.  She is very thin and petite.  She is probably only a couple of inches taller than Ethan, who is five.  Her pants kept falling down when she was running around.   She has several teeth that are rotten.  I don't see how she eats, of course, they are used to eating injera which is very soft.  We gave her some snacks and she had a really hard time chewy them. 

Maybe tomorrow I can share with you our trip to meet Elshaday's birth mother.  That was an amazing day!


Introducing our daughter . . .

Elshaday Maas


Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Court went well today and we are now officially the parents of Elshaday.  Wish I could post a picture but we cannot get it uploaded.  You will have to wait until we get home.
Tomorrow we will travel to her home village to see her mother.  Elshaday will make the trip with us.  We are so excited to have this experience with her.  Please say a special prayer for us tomorrow.  It will be an emotional trip and a 2 hour drive.  Can't wait to get home and love on our children back home.  We will certainly miss Elshaday as we wait for  her Embassy date.  It will be hard to leave her but we will have plenty to do to prepare for her homecoming.

Rebecca Maas
Mom to Miranda(age 6), Ethan(age 3), Faith (age 2)
Gabriel (age 2) & Jacob (age 1)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Ethiopia Day one and two

We arrived in Ethiopia late Saturday night.  Easter Sunday morning we met our daughter.  As soon as we walked in the gate she recognized us from our picture.  She ran up jumped into my arms and wrapped herself around me. It was beautiful.  She is very attached to Daddy now.  We spent 3 hours with her on Sunday.  She loves to play basketball and can jump rope really well.  She is a very active little girl. 
Today we went to lunch, did the mountain thing(3rd time now), and some shopping.  It was great to have some other families join us this evening.  We had been alone at the guesthouse.  We all went out for Chinese food.  We have enjoyed just getting out and walking around the city. 
Tomorrow morning is court.  Can't wait to show you a picture of our daughter.
Rebecca Maas
Mom to Miranda(age 6), Ethan(age 3), Faith (age 2)
Gabriel (age 2) & Jacob (age 1)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Heading to Ethiopia VERY SLOWLY

We are sitting at the airport in our home town. Of course when you fly international they tell you to be at the airport early. We get here for a flight scheduled to leave at 10:45. when we check in they say our flight has been delayed. How in the world is a flight already delayed two hour. so now we sit for four hours in our hometown airport. BUMMER!!!

check in with you later.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

We made it through our crazy week of rescheduled appointments, packing, and travel preparations.  Now I am sitting her staring at the wall and my brain won't turn off.  Did I remember to do everything?  Did I write everything down for Grandparents?  Is our plane going to crash?  Have I told you how much I hate to fly? Will I be able to relax and not worry about the kids?  Have I told you how much I hate to fly?  Will Jacob scream when I drop him off tomorrow with Grandparents?  Will Jacob eat for his Grandparents?  Have I told you how much I hate to fly?

It will all be worth it when I get to see my daughter face to face for the first time.   Plus I know the Big Man Upstairs.  I know that HE has a plan and a purpose for each person in my family.  I also know that whatever that plan may be it is PERFECT.  So I go with peace in my heart because My God is Good All the Time!


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Five Days Until Travel

We leave in FIVE days!!!!  So many thoughts and emotions.  I hate to fly.   Anxious about meeting our daughter for the first time.  Excited to have quality time with my husband without interruptions.  Nervous about court.  This is the first time we have had to attend court for our adoptions.  Worried about our kids who will stay with grandparents.  They will be fine but a mother will always be a mother.  A mother worries.  Grieving for our daughter's birth mother.  Grateful that we will get to meet her birth mother.  Pumped up about traveling outside of the city of Addis Ababa.  This will be the first time we have left the city while in Ethiopia. 

It has been hard to come up with words to express my feelings recently.  Right now I am feeling humbled, blessed, grateful, and more in love with my Savior every day.  There have been lots of tears in the last couple of weeks.  I can't wait to share the whole story behind this adoption.  It is beautiful.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Our Family and HIV

This week a mother stood before a Judge in Ethiopia.  Her heart was heavy but also thankful.  She asked the Judge to allow her daughter to be adopted by an American family.  You see the mother has been very sick for a long time because of the AIDS virus.  She knows that at any time she may grow more sick and die.   She has watched her daughter grow thinner over the last year.  She does not want the same fate for her child.  So why is she thankful?  She knows that her daughter now has the chance to LIVE with HIV and not die from AIDS. 

In two week I have the honor of standing in front of that same Judge.  To say that I am humbled would be an understatement.  Humbled that God has given me the honor of loving and caring for this beautiful mother's child.  She has made the ultimate sacrifice for her child, to let her go so that she live and thrive.  Our daughter's biological mother will always have a place in my heart.   I get the opportunity to say "YES" to the Judge, to this little girl, to her mother, and to my Father God.  Yes, I want to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  Yes, I want to love the children who others think are unlovable.  Yes, I want to be a mother to this beautiful child. 
For more information about HIV or adopting a child that is HIV+ please see the following websites. . .





Thursday, April 14, 2011

Where have I been?

I am sure you are all wondering where I have been this last week.  As many of you know with adoption, especially right before you travel, unexpected things always happen to take away your focus.  As a Christian family we know that those distraction are just satan trying to get us frustrated.  Well, we are headed to Ethiopia next week so of course this week has been filled with lots of distractions and frustrations.
The biggest frustration was a computer virus that wipped out our computer.  Thankfully I was able to recover the majority of files and pictures.  However our computer had to be rebooted back to factory settings, which means I had to reinstall ALL the programs and settings.  Man, that was a pain in the you know what!!  Just today did I finally get everything up and running again.

Lots going on around here.  Getting ready to meet our daughter.  Preparing children to stay with grandparents.  Getting ready for Sera's big surgery the week after our Ethiopia trip.  Packing. Packing. Packing.  We have 12 therapy/Dr/School/Medicaid appointments between now and next Thursday.  I am not going to know what to do with myself while in Ethiopia.  I am used to a very full schedule. 

Hey, if you are going to be in Ethiopia anytime between April 23-28 leave a comment.  I would love to get together with some other families and hang out. 

Friday, April 8, 2011

Praise & Prayer


Late Tuesday night we received an email saying we have a court date for April 26th.  With all the rumors out there about slowdown we certainly did not expect this wonderful news.  Really, it's kinda wild because other families who where submitted to court within the same week as us have middle of May court dates.  My God is a God of miracles.  The next 30 days is kinda crazy with a major surgery and the Orphan Summit. God was perfect as always in allowing us to travel before all the craziness hits.  THANK YOU JESUS!!

We received another true miracle today.  We received our TAX REFUND!!!  Again God working.  The IRS website initially said that we would receive our tax refund on April 19th if there were no issues.  Then a few weeks ago it changed to "processing delays and refund would not be received until May 5th"  Well, I fully expected after that to see the dreaded "under review" the next time I looked.  We were really counting on that money to pay the remaining adoption fees and travel expenses.  Last night, on a whim, I checked our status on the IRS website.  I was BLOWN AWAY because it said refund will be direct deposited on April 8th.  THAT IS TODAY and it was there.  Today I was able to pay our remaining adoption fees and book our airline tickets.  GOD IS SO GOOD!!!


Obviously we would appreciate your prayers as we travel to Ethiopia to meet our daughter and attend court. 

On April 13th Faith has to have a nasty tooth pulled.  The dentist visits are very traumatic.  She has to be strapped to the table for the smallest procedure.  She has actually gotten her arms out of the restraints before.  It is not fun.  Please remember her next Wednesday.

On April 14th my mom has to have a right and left heart cath. done.  This was unexpected and just scheduled today.  BTW they are supposed to watch some of the kids while we are in Ethiopia. 

On April 18th we have IEP meetings for two kids.

On May 5th Sera has surgery to remove the extra digits on her hands and feet.  This is a major surgery and will require her to wear casts on her hands and feet for at least two weeks. 

On May 11-13 is the Orphan Summit in Louisville.  We are super excited about going.  We are a little stressed about everything else going on and Darren taking more time off work.  Please pray that God can work out those details for us. 


Tuesday, April 5, 2011


I am laughing out loud tonight!!

We have a court date!

April 26th


When the Waiting Gets Hard

Waiting is always hard. 

Waiting to meet your child for the first time. 

Well, that is just PAINFUL!!! 

I am an easy going person for the most part, but when it comes to my children not so much.  We are waiting to meet our daughter.  We first saw her picture two years ago on an agency waiting list.  It has been a long road with many bumps.  We finally had our case submitted to court the last week of February.  We wait and wait and wait.  Here is where it gets the hardest.  People are getting court dates but we have not.  Do they not understand that I have been waiting for two years to meet my precious daughter?   Do they not know that her 9th birthday is the first week of June and I want to celebrate with her? 

Every moment I am awake I pray continually, "Your timing God!"  I pray that God would take away my selfishness and only desire His perfect timing.   He keeps reminding me to "be still and wait". 

I am sure many of you are stuck in tax limbo just like we are.  

The dates change

April 19th


May 3rd

then to the dreaded


I have heard a few people say they are waiting for the tax refund to begin another adoption.  As you know we are in the middle of an adoption right now.  We are currently waiting for a court date.  We still have a few thousand in agency fees to pay and then the travel expenses.  Our tax refund is "supposed" to help out with a large chunk of that. 

So I thought it would be interesting to see how many people were waiting on their tax refund to start an adoption or help with current adoption expenses.  I have created a poll on the right side bar.  This is NOT to make anyone feel guilty for not using their tax money for orphans.  I just thought it would be interesting to see how many people are in the same boat as we are. 


Sunday, April 3, 2011

A God Sighting

Ok, so not actually God himself but God through another person.  There have been MANY God sightings recently. 

Last week I went to get a new cell phone.  A little history behind my phone.   We have always depended on the "free phone with contract" cell phones.  We have NEVER paid for a phone.  We do not use the data plans so we don't need all those frills.  Although I would LOVE to have a fancy phone it is just not in the budget or necessary for our lifestyle.  Two years ago, as we were preparing for me to travel to Ethiopia, I got a new phone.  The phone was supposed to be able to be used internationally and supposed to be a little higher quality than the phone I had.  Well, it did not work ANYWHERE except in the USA.  It was always very hard to hear the person calling and I always had people tell me they could barely hear me.   So last week when I received a card in the mail saying I could get an early upgrade I was super excited.  Off I went to the phone store with all seven children in tow.   To my dismay I was told that they do not have any free phones but they do give a substantial rebates on certain phones.  I said "thank you" and started out the door with the kids.  The kids, being curious as they are, asked why I did not get a phone.  I simply responded, as we were walking out the door, that mommy could not afford to buy a $60.00 phone.  Sometimes I should probably keep my mouth closed until we get into the car.

I love when God sends us encouragement just at the right moment.  It had been a hard couple of days.  I had tried to get some errands completed for two days and kept running into obstacles.  I remember thinking as I loaded the kids in the car at the phone store, "can't anything be easy".  Tears started to well up in my eyes.  Seconds later a very nice lady, who had been at the counter purchasing a phone, came up to me and asked if she could buy me a phone.  I was certainly taken back a moment but how do you say no to a blessing from a stranger.  She told me that she had been a foster parent for many years and that her children were now off to college.  She said she understood how hard being a mom is and she really wanted to do this for me.  I got a new phone and a blessing!!

I will probably never see that sweet lady again but I am grateful that God used her that day to give me a blessing.  Are you listening to God?  Are you missing out on giving someone a blessing?  Are you missing out on being blessed by giving?


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Adoption Update

Well, I wish I had something, ANYTHING, to report.   I have no idea what is going on with our adoption case.  As I mentioned before we had been told our case was submitted to court back in Janaury but ultimately found out it was not submitted until mid February.  It has been five weeks since our case was submitted to court.  Families with other agencies are getting court dates.  I inquired as to why we had not received a court date yet and here was the response.

The federal adoption judge has been hesitant to schedule more court dates, that might ultimately need to be changed, until she is able to see how the process is now working with MOWA recommendations

I really don't know what to say.  It does not make sense to me because other agencies are receiving court dates.  The reason I am telling you this is to ask for prayer.  I don't know if the delay lays with the agency or the court system.  What is important are the children who are stuck in limbo.  Some of them children with special needs and health issues that need to come home soon.  Our daughter is HIV+.  We would appreciate you lifting up our daughter and our adoption case up in prayer.  My God is a BIG GOD!!! He can move the mountains! 


Friday, April 1, 2011

Be Careful What You Wear

I shared earlier this week, in this post, about my recent sinful desire for the world to revolve around me. I also mentioned my favorite shirt that says "It's Not About Me". Well, I did decide to wear it every day this week to remind myself that life is not about me.

I want to share something that happened a few weeks ago while I was wearing my beloved shirt. I had taken Jacob to Cincinnati Children's Hospital to see some of his doctors. We were there ALL day. I decided we would go outside the hospital for lunch. The only choice in that area is a McDonald's. In this area of Cincinnati Jacob is the majority and I am a minority.  So we are waiting in line to order food and a very nice lady, who was escorting a young woman who appeared to be cognitively disabled, walked up to me.  She told me that she really like my shirt and wanted to know where I got it.  Of course I told her all about Project Hopeful and directed her to the website. She ordered her food and left.

Jacob and I sat down to eat lunch in the restaurant. A few minutes went by and a young man walked up behind me. He said, "Excuse me. Do you have some money that I can use to get some food?"  I hardly ever carry cash but I had brought $7.00 with me for lunch. After buying my food I had $2.00 left.  I said, "I only have $2.00 but you are welcome to have it." I handed him the money and as he walked off he said, "Thank you. I could tell you were a nice person. By the way I like your shirt". The young man walked out the door without buying anything to eat. Mind you I never thought for a moment that he would actually buy food with that money. That really was not even the point. God prompted me to give that young man the money so I obeyed without question.  I think that day was more for me to learn a lesson about listening to God.  There are so many times that God has prompted my heart to act and I missed the opportunity out of selfishness.  I am working on that.  My friend Linny over at A Place Called Simplicity wrote a wonderful series of post on listening to God.   I challenge you to read them.  Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

This really got me thinking about how many times I have worn this shirt or another shirt with a Christian message out in public but did not act in a Christ like manner.  How many times have I been frustrated with my children or expressed my frustration with waiting in line while wearing a shirt with a Christian message.  WOW!!!   Better watch what you wear because people are watching.