Sawyer is turning TWO…..Today!

Sawyer is turning TWO…..Today!

We have been home three months now with the greatest gift ever received, Sawyer. I wanted to post earlier, however, it has been a bit crazy at the Oakley house. :-) Our adoption journey began so long ago but now that we are home and a family, the length of time drifts from your memory. It feels like yesterday that we received our referral, traveled to Africa TWICE, and walked off the plane to family and friends waiting to welcome him home. Today is not only Christmas Eve, but it is Sawyers Birthday. Looking back there were countless holiday’s that we “hoped” he would be home for, through all the hard times and sad times have come the BEST of times. Happy SECOND Birthday to our sweet baby Sawyer!!!!

People ask us all the time how he is doing and how he is adjusting.  Sawyer honestly has exceeded all of our expectations. From the moment we left the orphanage and entered our hotel room, he became a completely different little boy. From that moment on, I truly believe he knew who we were and felt the love and security we provided. He loves his “ma”, and learned to love his “da” with all of his heart. One of the greatest things to see is how he can go from wanting nothing to do with “da” to screaming and running full speed to “da” when he walks in from work. His smile is bright, it stretches from ear to ear, he loves his sisters, he loves his grandma and papa, he loves his dogs (thankfully), he loves his aunts, uncles and cousins, he loves friends, family and everyone that loves him.

He is full of joy, he is silly and always trying to make you laugh, he is a gift and we are so so thankful for him. He has rhythm, man does he have rhythm!!! He loves to sing, dance and can move his neck in a way that I didn’t think was possible for a two year old. :-) He has an arm that will surprise you, so if you play ball with him don’t underestimate his size! Do yourself a favor and back up…..he will whip the ball at you! He tends to love sports, FINALLY….maybe…just maybe….a soccer player? Cars? YES!!! Da is happy that he finally has someone to play cars with!

Today Sawyer turns two, tomorrow Sawyer experiences his first Christmas with his FAMILY. We have some wonderful times ahead, lots of memories to make and can finally say that he is HOME forever.  Happy Birthday to our sweet Sawyer, thank you for showing our family such love. We love you more than you will ever know. You will always be mommy’s baby boy!!

xoxo

We are home, We are family!!

We are home, We are family!!

Well, it has been 4 days as a family of 6 and so far everything has been wonderful. As expected the girls can’t get enough of him and argue over who’s turn it is to hold him, play with him, and quite possibly still don’t realize that he is here to stay!!! :-) We hope the “he is here to stay part” sinks in soon!! ha! I will write a long post about our trip once I get the pictures downloaded and organized. For now, I wanted to provide everyone who has been following our journey with an update.

Sawyer is truly a dream come true. For as long as I can remember traveling to Africa and helping an orphan was just that, a dream, now it is our reality and our story. It is quite amazing to see how attached he is already. He knows that I am his mommy, and Aron is his daddy!!  He is very attached to me right now, and it has been hard to put him down and get anything done. He will go to Aron, but cries first then settles. If he gets a glimpse of me, watch out because he won’t stop until I take him! Although my back and arms are sore from carrying him, we are so thankful that he is attaching so quickly. :-) We think he actually said mama once!!! He knows his name and looks when you say it. As soon as he was in our arms we called him Sawyer, and literally within days, he knew his name. He loves his sisters, he has already been rocked to sleep by Harper (his second mommy). He runs around with them, laughs and is memorized watching them ride bikes out the window. He seems to LOVE the outdoors, so if he is fussy walking outside is a quick fix to calm him. He HATES the dogs, but is learning to warm up a bit. The first day he saw them Cooper licked his foot, Sawyer about jumped out of his skin and let out an ear piercing scream! Oops!! If the dogs are around he will not take his eyes off of them, if they start to get close the squirming and whimpering begins. I am guessing he has never been around dogs. He loves food, and is not picky. He thinks it is hilarious to take his blocks, cars or whatever he is playing with and chuck them!! He has quite an arm on his tiny body!!! :-) He is literally pretty much always happy and doing things to make you laugh! He loves his cousins and my family….everyone is smitten over him and we all think he is simply adorable!!

It is still unbelievable that we are home! We made it though the long travel, through all of the bumps in the road, and the long process of adoption! We are home, Sawyer is home and we are family. Thank you everyone for your continued support and for following our journey!! Stay tuned for a post dedicated to our time spent in Ethiopia.

xoxo

Bringing Sawyer Home….

Bringing Sawyer Home….
I cannot believe that we are finally at the place where this letter is necessary. We are so close to bringing Sawyer home, and we want to explain a little bit about how we are hoping to handle his transition from an orphanage in Ethiopia to a family in North Carolina. This will be an enormous change for him, and while we are so excited, we are also starting to feel the weight of responsibility that comes with being parents…again, particularly being parents to an adopted child. We will be picking him up on Monday and will be removing him from everything familiar, and entering a place where everything is unfamiliar. I can’t imagine what will be going through his little head, and how scared he will be. We hope and pray that he finds comfort with Aron and I immediately, and he feels calmed by our love.
Although Sawyer is only 21 months old the orphanage he will leave next week has been his home for a long time, and pretty much all he knows. For that reason, we are going to have to be extremely intentional in our first few weeks at home. Sawyer will not just be learning that we are his mom and dad; he will be learning what a mom and a dad actually are. In an orphanage there are many nannies which means the children get passed between many different caregivers, and never have a constant “person” they turn to for love and support. We will be his first consistent caregivers, ever. Because of that, our parenting will have to look different for a while. For the first few weeks home (or as long as it takes), Aron and I will need to be the only ones who hold, feed, bathe and change Sawyer. We need to teach him that we are his parents and that we will always be there, no matter what.  Attachment for bio kids is something that happens immediately, for adopted children it takes time. As he becomes ready, we will be ready!
We are making this decision after countless hours of education and research. It pains me to write this because I want each of you to hold him and kiss him and love him right away, but we have to do what is best for him. We want you to come visit. Please come visit! We want to see you and be in the know about what is going on with you and your families.  We cherish each of you and the role you have played in our adoption story. You have helped us grow our family, and there is just no way to thank you enough for that.
Our journey begins tomorrow as we start the long trek back to Addis. Stay tuned, when we have wifi we will post again soon!
Much Love!!
xoxo

Trying To Stay Positive

Trying To Stay Positive

It has been a while since my last update, that is because I have NO update. I figured it was time to at least say a little something about what is going on. Long story short is we updated our fingerprints, even paid to overnight the necessary documents, finally had them uploaded in Ethiopia (a week later) and then we waited for THE CALL…… We were waiting and waiting and waiting to be cleared. Many sleepless nights waiting for the email, never to come. Ethiopia is 7 hours ahead, so I find they typically email between 2am and 4am. So my internal alarm clock would begin always at 2 something in the morning….and would never stop, EVER! I would log onto my phone a million times a night! Finally, there is the email I have been waiting for!!! Except….they are asking for more documents. Say wha? More documents? What are they talking about!!??? This has to be a mistake. Nope, it’s not, it is not a practical joke, they truly are saying there is another huge bump in the road that could delay us weeks or months.

Again, long story short (because honestly it’s too draining to get into details) before we traveled to Ethiopia we updated our passports. I had my orig. from our honeymoon years and years ago. We knew we had to update to be valid to travel (since it expired early 2016), so we did. We also of course changed my name to my married name. DUH………. Well little did we know, after we adopted Sawyer in country, they filled out post court documents with my passport from when we signed up 3 1/2 years ago!! That means the post court docs have my maiden name which does not match my current passport. Which….You…Guessed…It….Is….A….Major….Problem.

So while we watch all the families we traveled with come home with their little ones, we sit here with no answers. I have personally been exhausting EVERY SINGLE possible avenue to override the decision to have our paperwork redone, which could take months. I wake up every single night emailing anyone who will answer at the U.S Embassy in Addis. We now have had to hire an immigration attorney and honestly, she is our best bet to get clearance to travel with the names as is.  I have been in touch with our senators and they have also been willing to help. The point of tonight’s blog is to let you all know where we are at and to let you know we need positive vibes and lots of thoughts and prayers to travel asap. We want to be cleared so we can travel, waiting until November is NOT an option for me! I will do whatever I can to get Sawyer home. My maiden name and my married name are all the same, I am the same person. We need someone of authority to see that. Keep us in your thoughts….we are exhausted!!

xoxo

The Wait Continues…..

The Wait Continues…..

I am sure people are wondering where we are at….. We are not where we thought we would be. Last Friday evening we received a phone call asking if we renewed our fingerprints. Yes we did, but not recently. Our poor caseworkers knew what that meant. After all the paper sent to us, appointments, dates, information, more dates, more renewal dates, more paper, more of everything, we didn’t notice that our fingerprints were expiring and are now expired! UGH That means we can NOT travel until we get them redone. I overnighted payment to Texas and I check everyday to see if they processed our payment. Once they do, I can use our online back statement showing it was deducted from our account as proof to USCIS so they can set us up with a fingerprint appointment. Once we can get an appointment scheduled, we will finally be towards the end of our journey. The part that is hard to handle is the fact that almost all of the families who went to court with us are leaving in the next few days to get their little ones. Things moved quicker then expected, and we should be traveling too….but instead are waiting on fingerprints. :-(

Either way, it is what it is and we will be traveling as soon as we can. Thank you so much to everyone who continues to provide donations, we are so excited to bring bags and bags of donations with us once again. I will update again soon and let you know where we are in the process. We are so close to bringing Sawyer home forever. Hopefully this is the final bump in the road!

xo

Trip Part ONE……

Trip Part ONE……

Well we are home from our first trip to Ethiopia! What an unforgettable experience it was, can’t believe we are back home and waiting on our second trip! Where do I start…..everything about our time away was educational and something one really can’t fully understand unless you are there in the moment. We started our journey with a stopover in London, what a beautiful place! We had a layover so decided to break it up some, extend our time in London, in hopes of adjusting to the time change quicker once we arrived in Ethiopia. We did as much sightseeing in two days that some probably do in a week. We had a fantastic time together, but were all excited and anxious to get to Ethiopia! We started our journey to Ethiopia and began with what was going smoothly to a quick bumpy start. “I’m sorry Robyn, we don’t have a ticket for you” …huh….so what was once plenty of time to get on our flight turned into about 10 min to get to the plane. They finally figured it out, but it took forever and the London airport is huge and was about a 15 min plus walk to get to the gate! Annoying! We boarded the plane at 9pm and arrived in Ethiopia at 7am the next morning. The flight was okay, not great! Ethiopian air decided to serve meals one by one by one….which took FOREVER….then decided to leave all the meals on the trays for a good 2 hours with the lights on. Finally as they picked the meals up and dimmed the lights, the lights were back on and it was snack time! Ahhhhhhh!!! Needless to say, none of us got much sleep and were pretty tired upon landing in Ethiopia! We were greeted with a big smile from our guide, such a sweet man!! Loaded the van with our 9++ bags and off we went. Eyes wide open as we took in Addis on the way to the hotel. Wow!! In a short amount of time, we quickly realized this was going to be a trip of a lifetime.

We checked into the hotel, maybe had an hour and off we went to meet our son!! Again, the drive along the way is bumpy, dusty, dirty, and something we had to adjust to. There are pretty much NO traffic lights or stop signs. What I think is a 2 lane road turns into 3-4 wide pretty quickly. Entering an intersection is pretty much pure chaos, cars going all directions, you give a beep and start cutting across lanes and lanes of oncoming traffic. Completely nuts, but it seems to work for them. Cattle, goats, and horses sometimes just stand in the middle of the road, cars just go around them. When you are in bumper to bumper traffic you will hear a faint voice at your window, asking you for money or food. They say to ignore them, but that is easier said then done. Pretty soon you have multiple kids and adults all asking and they have the saddest face and eyes. I started carrying packs and packs on gum in my purse to hand out. Gum in Ethiopia is expensive and seems to be a HUGE treat for them. I would hear a faint voice or knock and would slip gum out the window. We would get a HUGE smile and almost a scream!!! Kids would run off yelling something (pretty sure whatever they said was something like “GUYS COME ON, FREE GUM” and soon there would be some friends at the van asking for some too! To see how something as simple as a pack of gum brings such joy, is mind boggling. We will be bringing more gum with us on trip two, if anyone wants to donate. :-)

We arrived down a bumpy side road, got out and knocked on a metal door. We have arrived at the orphanage! We walked in, eyes big ….and wide open!! We waited and waited and then one of the workers walked out with Sawyer, handed him to us and walked away. Wow!!! The moment is here, we are holding and meeting our son for the first time. He is precious, adorable, shy and a bit scared. He did pretty well but cried a lot. I mean, I get it….we don’t “look” like him, so I understand his reservation. He is such a sweet, sweet boy. At this point, we really can’t believe we are holding him after almost 3 1/2 years….completely crazy! We spent about 2 hours the fist day at the orphanage. We just sat around and held him. He wouldn’t let us put him down, or sit down and he was trying to hide his face most of the time. The nannies were there washing all the clothes by hand in buckets, placing them on the lines to dry. We didn’t really get to talk to anyone, nannies etc…so literally we just spent two hours staring at him, holding him and wondering what he was thinking.  Day two was similar to day one, but this time we walked around some and met some of the other children. Bubbles were a big hit and all of the older children loved blowing them on their own! One by one we held the wand while they blew bubbles!! It was wonderful to see them smile and interact with us and my parents. They would light up and you just wondered what they were thinking.  Knowing that some or most of the children will never be eligible for adoption is heartbreaking. We would have taken several of the children home with us, literally. There is nothing easy about standing there knowing one child’s life will forever be changed, while the others will remain the same. There is simply nothing easy about it. They all deserve a chance, they all deserve a family, they all deserve love and security. It is a tough situation, and if I could, I would help more in a heartbeat.  I do know that most of the kids don’t know any different, but we know different and we know what they are missing out on.

There is so much more to write…. to be continued with pictures!!!

xo

After Waiting Over 3 Years….WE HAVE A TRAVEL DATE!!!!!

After Waiting Over 3 Years….WE HAVE A TRAVEL DATE!!!!!

The Wait Is OVER!!!!!!

This is the post we have been waiting to write for OVER 3 years. This morning as I was out on a run, Shiela called who is our case worker from West Sands. It is actually kind of funny because everyday I watch the clock, do the math (since she is 2 hrs behind) and either say….there is no hope for today or okay it’s only 7:30am there, so there is still time for her to call! When my radio stopped playing because my phone was ringing, I thought…..please say her name! Sure enough….there it was! :-) WE HAVE A COURT DATE!!!!! Thank you for the extra prayers, they worked!!!

Throughout this whole process you are on an emotional roller coaster, there are times of pure joy and excitement and other times of sadness and hopelessness.  On January 1st when we received our referral, it was pure joy a surreal feeling that is so hard to explain. We have waited almost 7 months for this moment that we are about to embark on. Finally, we have a court date and will officially make our baby an OAKLEY!! So many questions about the trip, about the orphanage, about the people we will meet. Will he be scared of us, will he cry or smile, will he know that we have longed for him for years and years?  We hope he is able to feel a sense of peace, and know that we will love him and care for him forever and ever! We are ready to experience all of Ethiopia and their culture. We have heard numerous times how wonderful and beautiful the people are. We know this will be a positive and life changing trip, and we can’t wait to share it with all of you.

With our journey being a little over a week away, we have some time to pack and get prepped for the biggest trip of our life. We will fly 1/2 way around the world to provide a forever home for our son.

As of August 6th 2015 there will be one less orphan, and one more Oakley. 

Stay tuned and thank you SO much for ALL of your support throughout the last 3+ years. We will keep you updated and will post when we can while in Addis!

Much Love!

xo

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Letter and Prayers Needed!!!

Letter and Prayers Needed!!!

Just a short post to let you all know we are still waiting for MOWA to produce our letter, once our letter is complete we will receive a court date to travel. We are really down to the wire as court will be closing for the rainy season mid August. We would ask each of you to say an extra prayer for our family tonight and for baby boy Oakley. We need MOWA to produce our letter ASAP….like tomorrow!! The adoption process is so long and tiring, but we are so close. We need this one LAST step to happen so we can finally meet our son. Thank you all so much for the support we have received and for your continued prayers. 

 

xo

Things are starting to feel real!

Things are starting to feel real!

How can it be that we are waking up this morning at home, back from vacation and it’s Londyn’s 4th Birthday! It really is true, the older you get the faster time passes by. We had such a wonderful week away with truly great friends. The kind of friends that will last a lifetime, the kind of friends that have become family, the kind of friends that would do anything for us and our kids. As we were sitting on the beach we ALL couldn’t help but think about our next adventure, when we will travel to officially adopt our baby boy. To know that your friends and family are just as excited as you are, is unexplainable. To know that they long to see him dig in the sand, swim in the waves and cause havoc in the house with the other kids, is priceless.  How can it be that we are FINALLY able to think about Africa and travel plans. How can it be that we can almost officially say that our next beach photo with include a baby boy!

Words can’t explain how good that feels!

It’s hard to believe our baby girl turns 4 today. We never imagined that she would be celebrating without her brother home. However, this will be her last time blowing out the candles without a little munchkin trying to blow them out for her! :-)

Thanks to our FRIENDS for an amazing week full of wonderful memories, we LOVE you ALL!!!!!

xo

Final Step and We are A Comin’ For Ya

Final Step and We are A Comin’ For Ya

Well, today was a good day and another step in the right direction! We received a phone call from our agency and they said we were given a PRELIMINARY hearing date! Although this is not a travel date, it is the final step necessary step before we receive a date to travel. Our preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 30th. It is really hard to explain how you feel when you receive these calls. After waiting over 3 years, all we want to do is meet our son, see him in person and connect with the little boy we were meant to parent and call our own. It is surreal to think about the next step, the final step, the step we have been waiting and waiting and waiting for! Our hope today is that we are able to travel in July or early August. That is a BIG task and a lot to ask, but it can be done. There were several families who also received phone calls today, we are all hopeful that our cases will be processed and we will ALL travel before the rainy season.

PLEASE say a BIG HUGE prayer for our family, that we will make the cutoff and travel before the closure in August, that we will travel safe and sound and that all families waiting will receive GOOD news like we did today! We are coming for you baby boy, we are one step closer!!!

Below is a list of items we would love to start collecting (for anyone local) :-) We can hardly believe that we see a flicker at the end of the tunnel!! Thank you for following our journey and keeping us in your thoughts and prayers. Hoping there is more good news to come!! If you would like to send items to Ethiopia with us, please let me know!

xoxo

Baby/Children’s Shampoo Lice Shampoo Baby/Children’s Soap Hygiene products

Oral Hygiene Products
Diaper Cream, Powder, Lotion, Baby Wipes (even 2 packages will help!)  Nutramigen baby formula –  Pedialyte Packets

Rice Cereal Diapers – Cloth or Disposable – Surgical Gloves – Size Medium Children’s Tylenol and Pepto-Bismol Common Children’s Medications Children’s Vitamins – slip on closed toed shoes – Bedding (crib, twin and full sizes) Mosquito Nets

Toys
Books
Clothing (especially children 4-12, in good condition) DVD’s (learning or Disney)