2012 at 1:21 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
Things have been quiet here on the adoption front because we’ve been in waiting mode. But I’m excited to announce that yesterday we were finally submitted to the US Embassy! In a week or so we hope to receive an embassy appointment, and then travel a few weeks later to bring our kids home.
Here in America we have moved from Fairfax, VA to Louisville, KY, unpacked our new house, celebrated Christmas, and bought bunk beds. Our Ethiopian children’s clothes are in their closets, their booster seats are in the car, their chairs are empty at the dinner table, and our backyard seems deserted with only two children.
There’s still a lot of paperwork to get processed between now and when we bring Kassa and Mulunesh home, including the Embassy clearance and our home study update. We would love your prayers that it would speedily pass through the proper channels.
Meanwhile, we receive regular updates that our kids are doing well and they know that we are coming for them soon. Here’s a recent picture our adoption agency sent us a few days ago. Aren’t they the cutest, smiliest kids you ever saw? Our hearts just ache to bring them home soon.
And although this is not related to our adoption I must add a personal note of thanks to all of you who have welcomed us to Louisville. So many of you sent me your contact information, invited us over to your house, offered to bring meals or watch our kids, and helped us move in. I haven’t had a chance to reply and thank all of you personally but please know you have made us feel so welcome to the seminary and the lovely town of Louisville. I hope I can meet all of you soon!
Thanks again for all your prayers and encouragement for our adoption. Our family is so blessed by your care. Can’t wait to share pictures of our family, complete at last.
2011 at 6:07 am | by Nicole Whitacre
We are home from Ethiopia now, but a big part of us is still ten thousand miles away with our two new children who are still there. The adoption process in Ethiopia requires two trips—the first to meet and appear in court to legally adopt your children, and the second to receive approval and visas from the US Embassy to bring them home. Oh, we can’t wait to bring them home!
Leaving Kassa and Mulunesh was gut-wrenching. We marvel that God made so much room for us in their little hearts so quickly, and for them in ours. Our family isn’t complete without them. In fact, that is what Mulunesh’s name means: “it is complete.” We pray it will be soon. God-willing we will be submitted into the embassy process today (Wednesday) and it can take anywhere from 4-12 weeks after that before we can bring them home. We would love your prayers that the process would move ahead speedily.
By God’s grace Jack and Tori did great in Ethiopia. They love their new brother and sister and talk daily about when we can bring them home. We were so blessed by the wonderful guides from our adoption agency who love all the children there and take outstanding care of the adoptive parents. And we made many wonderful, and I hope life-long, friends with the other couples who were also in Ethiopia to adopt. Several of them did not pass court due to a variety of paperwork issues, so we would covet your prayers for them as well. All in all, we could not have had a more blessed trip and we are grateful to God for his many mercies—most of all for giving us our new son and daughter.
This week though, we are busy packing up our house in Virginia. We are moving to Louisville, KY so that my husband can attend Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, prior to planting a Sovereign Grace Church. For many years, Steve has had a growing desire to plant a church, and an equally strong desire to be further equipped and trained for the task of preaching God’s Word. We are so grateful for this opportunity to attend Southern and we have already been so blessed by the godly people we have met there. We will greatly miss our dear friends at Sovereign Grace Church and are so grateful for the eternal investment they have made in our lives.
So, that’s the update from the Whitacres. In the meantime, I thought you might enjoy this brief little video of us meeting our kids for the first time. I can’t thank you enough for all of your prayers!
Meeting Kassa & Mulunesh from Nicole Whitacre on Vimeo.
2011 at 12:30 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
With those sweet words from the Ethiopian judge, we are now legally the proud and joyful parents of
Kassa Jude Whitacre
Mulunesh Sophia Whitacre.
Thank you for all your prayers! More details to come…
2011 at 3:48 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
These past few days with our two new children have been simply delightful. We have been well-served by wonderful staff from our adoption agency here in Ethiopia and we have made great friends with the other families who are also adopting children. Jack and Tori have had a blast riding in a van with no seat belts, eating popcorn, and drinking mango juice at an Ethiopian restaurant, and most of all playing with their new brother and sister. Steve posted the following update on our adoption blog. Thank you for your continued prayers that we will pass court tomorrow! Nicole
We had another wonderful day with the kids today. We’re
discovering, by trial and error, what our kids like. We’ve discovered
that they like fruit snacks, but who doesn’t? Piggy-back rides are a
hit. They love balloons, but not if you tie off the end. Soccer was
popular, and coloring never disappoints. They love hugs and kisses no
matter what. And they’re getting lots of them.
Leaving these two this afternoon was the first real difficulty of the
trip. Our sweet new son, who is at times thoughtful and at times
playful, became clingy and emotional like we haven’t seen him yet. We’ve
known from the beginning of this process that there is a moment coming
when we’ll have to say goodbye to these kids and leave them for a month
or two while we wait for our their visas to make it through the embassy.
Torture. We’ve been dreading that moment, and today was an appetizer.
That moment will come for us tomorrow afternoon and I don’t know how we
will make it. Please pray for us.
The other significant moment that comes tomorrow is our visit to
Ethiopian court. The judge has the authority to determine whether these
kids become ours or not. We were heartened to receive a favorable letter
from the Ministry of Women’s, Children’s, and Youth Affairs, but that
doesn’t guarantee the outcome we want tomorrow. Only about 50% of
families make it the first time. So, we would appreciate your prayers,
not just for us but also for the other three families who will be
joining us in the courtroom. Please pray that we would find favor from
the judge so that tomorrow these two children would become in the
courtroom what they already are in our hearts: the newest addition to
the Whitacre family.
2011 at 7:15 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
Well, it’s 2am in Addis and I can’t sleep. Jet lag plus excitement is a powerful combination. Today was indescribable, meeting these two little ones for the first time, but Steve has captured it well on our adoption blog so I’m going to let him fill you in. Thanks to all of you for your prayers and support. Our court date is Wednesday so please pray for favor with the judge. If, God-willing, we pass court, we will finally be able to show you pictures of our new son and daughter!
Quite The Introduction
Today was as exhilerating as it was exhausting. After a morning spent settling in and a lunch that just couldn’t go by fast enough, we rode across town to the America World Transition Home to meet our new children. We waited only briefly and then rejoiced as we watched them walk to us, stooped to embrace them, and felt their little arms around our necks.
We got to spend a few hours together: playing soccer, coloring, blowing bubbles, and building Legos. Our hearts are bursting with joy and gratitude to God - Happy Thanksgiving indeed. Watching our two new children play with Jack and Tori, we marveled at the way they are already beginning to fit right in to our family. There’s not a lot we can communicate with them just yet, although we loved hearing “Dad” and “Mommy” from their lips. And we’re peppering them with “I love you’s,” in English and in the best Amharic we can muster, which isn’t very good. But we think they’re getting the point.
Yesterday was delightful but oh, so brief. Today we’ll get to spend a significant part of the day with them. Can’t wait to get started. I can’t let this post close with issuing another THANK YOU for your many prayers that brought us to this point. Thank for sharing in our joy and helping to make it possible!
2011 at 3:20 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
It’s Thanksgiving and my heart is full of gratitude. On Friday we leave for Ethiopia to meet two little people that I hope will be forever after ours. What an amazing privilege God has given us to pursue the opportunity to adopt these precious children. And I can’t wait to see the beautiful country of their birth.
We’re going to try to blog about our trip as much as we can next week, here at girltalk and at our adoption blog. The posts will probably be short, but we hope that just as you have “been there” for the birth of our biological children, you can come along for our adoption.
This is Jack and Tori’s first time on a plane and it will be a long flight, so please pray for peaceful travel. Please pray for God’s blessing as we meet these children for the first time. (The other day in the car, Jack blurted out: “I just can’t wait to meet them!” Me too, my son, me too.) And please pray that God would provide the recommendation letter we need from the Ethiopian Ministry of Women, Children, and Youth Affairs (MOWCYA) and give us favor with the Ethiopian judge who serves many children and families.
Thank you so much for your prayers. One faithful reader, Meredith from Australia, emailed me the other day to tell me she was praying (thank you so much Meredith!). It is more comforting than I can tell you that your prayers follow us across the ocean to meet these two precious children. More than that, I am confident and thankful that our heavenly Father’s goodness will follow us all the days and miles of our journey.
I’ll see you in Ethiopia!
2011 at 4:58 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
Our adoption agency called on Friday with the exciting news that we have received a court date! We are scheduled to appear in court in Addis Ababa on November 30. This is earlier than we expected, and it means that it is a little over six weeks until we get to meet our new children face-to-face.
This is the first of two trips we will make to Ethiopia. The second will be 4-12 weeks after we pass court and will be for United States Embassy clearance and to bring our children home for good.
On this first trip we are bringing Jack and Tori to meet their new brother and sister. They are so very excited to go to ‘Opia (as Tori calls it). They pray for and talk about their new brother and sister every day, and I can’t wait to watch them all play together for the very first time. And I’m so grateful to my wonderful sister-in-law Megan who agreed to take time off from her job as an ICU nurse to come with us. She’s a super-fun aunt and I know our new kids are going to love her.
We fly out the day after Thanksgiving and hope to meet our children a day or so after we arrive in country. (What a day that will be! I imagine it over and over in my mind.) Over the next few days we will spend many precious hours getting to play with them and their friends at the Transition Home. The hardest part will be returning home without them. But hopefully not for long.
As always, I can’t thank you enough for your ongoing prayers and support. If you would be so kind as to pray, here are a few requests:
-For safe and smooth travel
-For us to pass court with no delays
-For a joyful meeting with our kids
You can follow along on our adoption blog for more detailed updates in the weeks ahead. Thank you so much for your prayers!
2011 at 2:57 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
...last Thursday at around four o’clock. I didn’t recognize the number, so I didn’t answer.
The person hung up and called right back. I still didn’t answer, so she left a voice mail. I listened to the message and it was our family coordinator from the adoption agency. She didn’t say why she was calling and that could only mean one thing. I called her right back. “We have your referral” she said, “Would you like to get your husband on the phone so I can tell you together?” I patched Steve in, my fingers shaking as I dialed the number. Then she told us about a sweet pair of siblings—a boy age 6 and a girl age 2. I couldn’t believe this was happening. I thought it would be many months before we received this phone call. “I’m sending you pictures” she told us. We hung up and Steve drove straight home so we could see our new kids for the first time, together. I wept while I waited. Happy tears.
The email took a few minutes to come through and I sat there clicking “Send/Receive” like a kid who won’t stop pressing the elevator button. “That won’t make it come any faster” Steve reminded me. “I know.” I told him, but I didn’t stop.
The first moment we saw our new children was indescribable. Like the moment they place your newborn in your arm. Elation and wonder at this precious life. Only difference is, I’m still waiting to hold them. I can hardly wait. They are so beautiful. Such a gift from God.
We called Jack and Tori to join us, and they were thrilled to finally see their new brother and sister. We couldn’t have planned their ages more perfectly if we tried: eight, six, four, and two. All the waiting to get pregnant after Jack and Tori was God making space in our family for these precious children.
We don’t know exactly when we can bring them home. The Ethiopian courts are closed right now and won’t reopen again for another month or so. Then we will get assigned a court date and after that we must pass embassy. We are hoping and praying we can bring them home some time in January, Lord willing.
The waiting is both sweeter and harder now. Sweeter because I can now look at my children’s pictures (which I do about every five minutes). Harder because I can only look; and not see and hold and tell them how much I love them.
(I wish we could show you their beautiful faces today but that will have to wait until we pass court and they are legally our children.)
The morning after we received the best phone call ever, I opened my Bible and my eyes fell on these verses:
“May the Lord give you increase, you and your children! May you be blessed by the Lord who made heaven and earth.” Ps. 115:14-15.
“Behind the gift is the Giver” says Derek Kidner “and the psalms response is altogether positive: praise here and praise now, in the place and time He has allotted us; praise, moreover (we may take it), in the way we handle this heritage, not only in the way we sing about it.”
We are praising God today, in this place and time. And we pray our Savior will give us much grace to glorify him with our heritage—as we seek to love and raise our children in the ways of the Lord.
Thanks to each one of you for your prayers and encouragement. Please pray that by God’s grace we can bring our little boy and girl home quickly. And if you’d like to follow more detailed updates you can check out our humble little adoption blog.
2011 at 5:08 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
“Waiting on God isn’t about the suspension of meaning and purpose. It’s part of the meaning and purpose that God has brought into my life. Waiting on God isn’t to be viewed as an obstruction in the way of the plan. Waiting is an essential part of the plan. For the child of God, waiting isn’t simply about what I’ll receive at the end of my wait. No, waiting is much more purposeful, efficient, and practical than that. Waiting is fundamentally about what I’ll become as I wait. God is using the wait to do in and through me exactly what He’s promised. Through the wait He’s changing me. By means of the wait He’s altering the fabric of my thoughts and desires. Through the wait He’s causing me to see and experience new things about Him and His kingdom. And all of this sharpens me, enabling me to be a more useful tool in His redemptive hands” (emphasis mine). Paul Tripp
2011 at 9:52 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
We’re still waiting for the phone call that we are going to be parents again. In the meantime, I’ll bring you up to the present in our adoption story.
For us, adoption was actually an easy decision. Once we determined that our desire for more children was from the Lord—but that it wasn’t wise for me to give birth to more children—adoption was simply the next step.
Within days of beginning to pray about adopting, several women separately came to us and told us they had been praying for us of late and wondered how they could pray more specifically. Their kindness was yet another reminder of God’s personal care for our little, but expanding, family.
We continued to seek counsel from family and close friends in our church—all of whom were very supportive and excited for us to pursue adoption. But once we had decided to adopt, there were a whole host of other decisions to be made: domestic or international, agency or private, boy or girl, infant or toddler or school age child? So we widened our circle of counselors, contacting friends near and far who had adopted or who had some connection to adoption.
Janelle first threw out the idea of adopting kids close to Jack and Tori’s age and the more we thought about it the more excited we became. Having all our kids close in age would allow us to do things together as a family instead of our attention being divided between older and younger children.
As we asked around, one particular international adoption agency kept coming up. Everyone had wonderful things to say about their love for God, heart for orphans, and commitment to integrity. We concluded this was the right agency for us.
On a getaway for our tenth anniversary we got the first of what we hope will be several more happy phone calls: we had been accepted by the agency and were beginning our adoption journey. We couldn’t have received a better anniversary gift.
When we reviewed the countries available through this adoption agency, we first thought that one Asian country in particular was the best fit, but after a few months it became clear that there were some practical hurdles for us—specifically the uncertainty of being able to adopt two older children at the same time. Our contact at the adoption agency confirmed what we had already begun to think, that we should pray about switching to Ethiopia. “Take the weekend to pray” she encouraged us.
In God’s kind providence, we had already invited dear friends over to lunch, along with their four children whom they had recently adopted from Ethiopia. When we planned the lunch, we didn’t know we would be considering a change in countries. But God knew.
Our friends’ wise counsel, and their beautiful, joyful, children only served to increase our faith and desire. And the strong support from our families provided further encouragement and confirmation. We applied for the Ethiopia program, and began the paper-chase.
So that brings us to the present. Waiting. I sit each morning in my blue chair to meet with God and I see our family picture on the wall across the room. I try to imagine two new faces there. God-willing, soon.
2011 at 11:51 am | by Nicole Whitacre
(While we wait for the phone to ring, I thought I’d tell you how we got here.)
“Having babies—it’s just not Nicole’s gift.” That was our family friend, Kimm Harvey’s opinion, delivered affectionately in her unmistakable Philly accent. She and my mom were talking after my second difficult delivery, which wasn’t as bad as the first one, but still, um, well, memorable. Let’s leave it at that.
Another dear friend told his wife that he would personally contribute to our adoption fund if only I would agree to not have any more children. (I think I need to let him know I’m ready to take him up on his offer.)
When Steve and I visited a specialist about a year after Tori’s birth to discuss the possibility of me having more children, the first words out of his mouth were, “Have you considered a surrogate mother?” Uh, no. Definitely not.
“You won’t die from childbirth” the doctor told us, but “you’‘ll have to be prepared for things to be a little crazy at the end.”
After lots of praying and counsel-seeking, we thought we were prepared. We decided to go ahead and try for another child. Maybe we were crazy.
We don’t have a conviction from Scripture about how many children a couple should have, but we do have a conviction that God loves families and works through families to build his church. And out of that conviction, and our own experience in wonderful, gospel-loving families, our desire for more children remained strong.
But months went by and I didn’t get pregnant.
So about a year ago, I asked Steve if we could rethink and pray over our decision again. He was more than willing, always being more anxious about my health than I was.
It was a difficult decision. There is no chapter and verse in the Bible that tells you how many children to have; it’s a wisdom issue. And boy did we need God’s wisdom! In the end, it came down to the question: “How can I best serve God’s kingdom?” And for me, the answer was to care first for my existing family by not putting my short or long-term health at risk.
But our desire for children remained strong, so we began to talk about adoption.
To be continued….
2011 at 2:33 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
Friday was a milestone in our adoption process: we are officially DTE, which stands for “Dossier to Ethiopia.” After almost seven months of “paper chasing”—driving from McLean to Alexandria to Richmond, wearing a path from the front door to the mail box waiting for that final piece of paper from US immigration, getting fingerprinted, poked, and photographed—all six pounds of paperwork has been sent to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Now we wait for a phone call.
We wait for word that our adoption agency has matched us with the little boy and girl who will become a part of our family. So, if you notice me checking my phone a little more often these days, please don’t think me rude. I’m just waiting to hear that I’m going to be a mom again. I’m just waiting for my children.
How long might we wait? We don’t know. Families who have gone before us have waited anywhere from five to eight months before they are matched with their children—what is known in adoption lingo as a “referral.” And following recent changes in the Ethiopian adoption process, we are praying God gives officials there wisdom as to how to best serve these precious children and prospective adoptive families.
And so, we wait and we pray, as Tori does, “Thank you God bring brother sister ‘opia. Amen.”
Thank you for praying too. I’ll let you know when the phone rings.
2011 at 1:09 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
If you’ve been reading this blog from the beginning, then like it or not, you’ve been along for the bumpy ride that has been my pregnancies.
First, you read about my health crisis following the birth of my son, Jack; then you waited and prayed with me through secondary infertility; you rejoiced with me when I got pregnant, prayed for the safe pregnancy and delivery of my second child, Tori, and shared in my joy when she was born. And then you waited, and even kindly inquired, as my sisters got pregnant and had babies (my adorable niece and nephew!).
Little did my husband and I know, that in the midst of all that waiting, God was working. He was creating new life, and He was preparing our home to receive that life.
Today, I’m thrilled to announce that we are expecting. Two.
No, I’m not pregnant with twins. In God’s gracious and surprising providence, my husband and I are hoping to adopt two children from Ethiopia.
We haven’t met our new children yet, but, God-willing, we would like to adopt a boy and girl around Jack and Tori’s ages. They may be biological siblings or become siblings upon joining our family. We don’t know. And we don’t know how long the adoption process will take—it could be a couple of months, or as long as a year. In fact, there is a lot we don’t know yet!
But we do know that God has led us. We do know that He is faithful. And we are very excited to one day meet the children God has ordained to be a part of our family.
Right now, we’re slogging our way through a “paper pregnancy” (which, let me tell you, is vastly preferable to three months with one’s head hanging in a toilet!). We’ve completed our home study and hope to be able to send our request to Ethiopia in a few weeks.
We’ve already been immensely blessed by the support and encouragement of both of our families, dear friends, and our local church—a community with a rich legacy of adoption.
And all of you—you who have been so very kind to me and my family through the last six years—can I ask you to pray for us once more? I know you will, and my heart is full of gratefulness.
I can’t wait, some day soon, to introduce you to my new children.
“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9