Wednesday, June 29, 2011


A year ago yesterday was one of the most amazing days of my life. A day where God answered what seemed like millions of prayers and blessed our family with two new Henderson's. I literally cry when I think about the emotions of that day.

We woke up early (actually I barely slept at all the night before) and the six of us got ready and headed down for breakfast in the dining room of the guest home. We were all fairly quiet and I think that all six of us had the same nervous feelings. We knew that in a few short hours Tia and Garrett would either be a part of our family or God would have more mountains to move to help get them into our family.

After breakfast we all grabbed our bottles of water and waited for Heiskel our van driver to arrive. We all piled in the van and made sure that Heiskel knew where we needed to be. He assured us that he had spoken with Nicco and he knew where we were going. I don't remember much about the drive other than feeling very nervous and praying the entire way. We really didn't know what to expect in the court room because we were the very first family under the new law which required adoptive parents to attend court.

We arrived at the court building to be told we were at the wrong place. David and I stood with all four kids in an unknown place, unable to speak the language but we understood that the armed guard was telling us that we were at the wrong place. I remember a tear starting to run down my face as we stood not knowing what to do. David quickly called Nicco and he explained that we indeed were at the right place and that he and Werke would be there in less than five minutes. Sure enough we were at the correct place and once the guard spoke with Nicco he understood why we were there.

I will never forget the brief conversation that took place outside the building. One that still makes my heart ache yet I was so thankful to be a part of. Werke was sitting in the front passenger seat of Nicco's car with the door open and Nicco and I were standing on the street right beside her. Nicco was explaining to her what he expected court to be like and of course I didn't understand a word that he was saying as he spoke to her. I then inquired on what he was saying and he ask her one other question. He was making sure that she understood that Tia and Garrett would not be returning to her but would be with us forever. Overwhelmed by emotion I turned as Werke got out of the car and we all proceeded into the courthouse.

We climbed several sets of very old stairs and finally reached the room where we were to wait for court. We were some of the very first people there. The room had dirty cream colored walls and about forty chairs lined the perimeter of the room. It looked nothing like what I had envisioned yet I really wasn't sure what to expect. It was a very cold atmosphere and this didn't help my nervousness.

We waited for what seemed to be hours for our agency and paperwork to arrive. David almost got us into trouble by making photos and thankfully Nicco was there to stop us from getting kicked out of the court house. Finally our name was called. David, myself, our biological kids, Werke, Nicoo and two people from our agency entered into the judges office. We all sat down and I remember us all being very crowded. We were in a very long skinny office where we all ten were on one side of the room and the judge and her office staff were on the other.

The judge started off by asking questions to Werke. Questions I am sure that had to be heart breaking to her but again I couldn't understand the language. Werke answered the questions and then it was our turn. She spoke to us in English and had and several questions for David, myself and even Megan. I realized as David was answering a question that I was more nervous than I had ever been in my life- So much so that I had broken out in hives. After the questioning she looked over all of our paperwork and said, "Tizita and Geremew are now yours!" Tears started to flow and David grabbed my hand. We stood to walk out of the judges office and I felt as if a weight had been lifted from me. They were finally ours!

As we climbed back down the stairs with tears flowing down my face I praised God that He hadn't allowed us to give up. On those days that we were told that they would never be adoptable, when their birth family couldn't be located, when Werke went missing, when paperwork couldn't be collected, when lower courts were closed, when mountain after mountain was ahead of us God was asking us to trust Him and I am so thankful that we did. Those days full of tears, nights with very little sleep, days where David and I disagreed on what to do, those nights at bedtime where our kids would ask why, and every prayer that was prayed had been worth it. They were now Henderson's and nothing could change that.

When we reached the van we invited Werke to go to the orphanage with us to pick up Garrett and Tia. We also invited her to join us for lunch and I am so very thankful that she said yes to both. Our drive to the orphanage seemed long because I couldn't wait to tell the twins that they were ours and that they were going to the guest house with us and would never be alone again. I prayed for Werke as we traveled there for her heart to be opened to Christ and His love for her even in this hard situation.

We pulled up and it was as if I heard God say, "Mendy, let her go first." I held our kids back and allowed Werke to walk in the gate of the orphanage first. Tia and Garrett both ran to her and hugged her and I leaned close to David and said, "I don't know if I can do this." I wasn't sure I could watch them interact yet something in me knew I needed to see their interaction. Again tears were flowing as she kissed them and spoke to them. I didn't understand her language yet I knew what she was saying. The scene was heartbreaking yet so very special at the same time.

As soon as they had a few minutes we walked closer for them to see us and they were told that we had passed court. Tia and Garret both we so excited and hugged each of us. They both could not wait to leave they started saying chow to everyone and they wanted to leave quickly. We gathered the blankets that we had brought to them in November off of their beds and I ask if they had anything else. The workers at the orphanage said no the clothing that they had on was all that they had. Again, overwhelmed with the realization that our kids had nothing yet now they had everything.

We all climbed in the van and Garrett found his place beside Jacob and Tia on my lap. Werke again was in the front and at this time she feel into the shadows. As Heiskel started to pull of in the van Tia screamed and started to cry. She had only traveled once in a car and she was scared to death. I was again reminded of how many new experiences would be ahead for us with both of them. Once we got her to calm down she was fine but that first ride in the van she squeezed my arms the entire way to lunch.

When we arrived at the restaurant we walked over to the table and I remembered that our kids had never sat at a table to eat. We helped them sit in their chairs and we scooted them up close to the table. We helped them unfold their napkins and they couldn't believe the silverware. They both ordered soda and that was another first for them. The giggled as they took their first fizzy sip and made funny faces as they drank. Garrett collected the bottle tops from the entire table and put them in his pocket. We had an amazing lunch and I am so thankful that they had David, myself. our kids, Nicco and Werke there with them for this very special lunch.

After lunch Nicco and Werke said goodbye very quickly and headed off. We then took Tia and Garrett to get their first ice cream cones. That was a sight as Garrett bit the bottom of his cone first and he wore ice cream on his shirt until we arrived at the guest house. Tia loved her chocolate ice cream and smiled from ear to ear as she ate it. We were together alone for the first time as our party of eight and I was simply amazed at God's goodness to us.

We arrived back at the guest house after our ice cream and it was shower time for Tia and Garrett. I will never forget Tia saying Thank you over and over as I gave her a warm shower. I was so thankful for Megan's help because there were time that I was crying so hard that I couldn't help Tia and Megan would take over. Tears of sheer joy as my daughter showered in warm water for the first time in her life. The same scene unfolded when David showered Garrett. A warm shower- something we never are thankful for yet it was bringing such joy to our kids.

The day continued with showing them their new cloths and shoes and Garrett unable to believe that he had more than one pair of shoes. He tried to give his other shoes to Jacob and Lindsay. We played games, colored, introduced them to electronic games, to a million pictures and simply enjoyed being together as a family. Memories that we will each cherish forever were made that day.

My favorite time was bedtime- I had longed to tuck them both in, read a Bible story and pray as I do with all of our kids. I had dreamed of this precious time and it was more amazing that I could have ever dreamed. To hug all six kids, give them all kisses, and tuck them in all in the same room was a miracle and I knew it! I shut the door to their room, rejoiced in the Lord, and slept better than I had in two long years knowing that they were safe.

Monday, June 27, 2011

For months I had wondered............

For months I had wondered, dreamed about and lost sleep over what this moment would be like. Would she be warm and welcoming or cold and distant? Would she approve of me? Would she want to share details of her children's lives with me or would she be silent when I would ask a question? Was she angry and bitter at what life had dealt her or was she at a place of peace?

We pulled up to our guest house in the late afternoon as the rain started to fall. I stepped out of our van and took a long, deep breath and prayed that God would give me the strength to face the next few moments. My head was spinning and I literally felt that I might be sick. As I walked beside the van I could see Nicco's car parked on the road behind us and started in that direction when I saw her. Again my breath was taken away and I was not sure that I could keep walking. As this feeling came over me again I noticed that Werke (Tia and Garrett's birth Mom) was quickly opening the car door and hurrying out of the car. I continued to walk towards her and I wasn't sure how to greet her. I quickly put my arms around her she quickly responded by wrapping her arms around me and as the rain fell all around us we held each other tightly. Our bodies were both shaking and tears were flowing down our faces. She started to kiss my cheeks first the right, then the left, over and over and it was at this point that I was able to take a deep breath and kiss her back. In Ethiopia you greet someone that you love by kissing their cheeks and after months of wondering and being overcome by fear God was whispering, "Mendy, I have gone before you."

We stood in the rain for quite some time as a peace came over us. I noticed that by the time we ended this embrace we were both no longer shaking and we both had smiles on our faces. I knew that she must have had the same emotions that I did as she pulled up to the guest home that Sunday afternoon. The same fears that I had experienced for months had to have been the same that she experienced. All of the unknowns and questions finally were beginning to have answers for both of us.

I gently took her hand and led her into the guest home. As we entered the foyer of this home it quickly hit me that this was probably the nicest home that she had ever been to. It is a large home with running water, electricity, sofas, tables, chairs and even a television. I wondered what she had to feel as she entered into such a different environment with me, the lady who would mother her children. I held her hand more tightly and continued into the living room with her.

We sat down on the sofa and Nicco helped translate for us and I held onto every word. I wanted to remember every piece of information about Tia and Garrett's first four years of life, about their extended family, and about the life that she had lived. As I sat holding her hand I could feel her strength yet I could sense how very fragile she was. My mind raced as she told us about her family. She told of how Tia and Garrett's father had died while she was pregnant with them and how she remarried her brother-in-law (which is customary in their village). She shared that when the youngest twins were three months old their father died leaving her widowed for the second time and having to care for eight children on her own.

She shared how hard it was to have eight children, one of which has a medical condition. She told of times where they had very little if anything to eat and how hard that was as a mother. I cried as I listened to her share story after story. David and I had numerous questions for her and she answered each one. I know that this had to be a painful process for her to share how she got to the point of having to make a decision that no mother should ever have to make- to give her son and daughter away in order for them to have their basic needs met.

Tears flowed from both of our eyes as I held her and promised that I would take care of her precious children.I promised that I would love them forever and I would provide for their needs. She listened to every word that I spoke to her and she responded by thanking me over and over. I held her tight and prayed to remember these moments and promises that will always be so dear to my heart. Promises that I made to Werke and before the Lord to love and care for the children that He had placed in my care. I thanked God for picking me to walk this difficult journey with Werke.

Many adoptive mothers never get these priceless moments that I was able to experience. I realize how blessed I am to not only have had these moments with Werke but even more special moments with her when we traveled to the island several weeks later. Our relationship will continue and I look forward to another visit with her soon where I can share with her how amazing our kids are. How they are growing, reading, have made new friends, and how they talk about and pray for her every day.

God has put it on my heart to get to know Werke even more deeply for my children's sake. I pray that I get to spend some extended time with her in the near future where she and I can trace our stories back and write them down for Tia and Garrett to read. Where we together can write where we have come from, decisions we have had to make and what life has been like for both of us as we have gotten to this place on our journey both together and apart as their moms. Praying that God will make a way for this to happen and I am sure that I will share this journey with others to help others understand what adoption is like for both the birth and adoptive mom.

A year ago this afternoon is a day that I will never forget- A day where once again God reminded me of His goodness by using a precious lady that my kids still call Mom. To Him I am thankful for all that He has done!

I can't believe that a year ago we met for the first time. At times it seems like only yesterday and other times it seems likes a lifetime ago. I hope that this letter finds you and your family doing well. You would be so amazed at your precious kids. They have grown up so much this past year (literally by 4 inches). They have experienced so many new things and they are both so very happy. I wish that you could be here to hear them read a book or to watch them play soccer. I wish you could be here when they return from school each day with their stories about their day or watch them ride down our street on their bikes.

Tia has become quite the dancer and she loves to play dress-up. She doesn't like to be dirty or to hot and so island life would be hard for her right now. She loves to sing and I wish you could see her as she gets a microphone and sings to the top of her lungs. She has lost her taste for Ethiopian food but loves anything that we feed her. Tia loves to paint and draw and is a very good artist (I have enclosed some of her work for you). She is all smiles most of the time and she has hundreds of friends wherever she goes. She is an amazing little lady and I am so thankful for her.

Garrett has excelled in every sport that he has tried and several of the boys in his class say that they want to "Run like Garrett" when they grow up. He is such a smart guy and he is reading on grade level after just speaking English for less than a year. He is an amazing student and I can't wait for you to see some of his school work (which I have enclosed). Garrett continues to love Ethiopian food and I am sure that he would love another plate of enjera and dourawat like you gave him as we were leaving the island. Garrett is such an amazing helper and he is growing into a handsome young man.

They both have fallen in love with our family and us with them but not a day goes by without them talking about and praying for you and their siblings on the island. They love and miss you and we look forward to a day when we are all together again. Until that day know that I am keeping my promise to you to love, care for and provide for our precious kids-
Much Love,

PS I hear that the wells are almost finished- I am thankful that in a few short weeks you will have clean drinking water for you and the kids- Can't wait to come for a visit.

(This note that will be taken to Werke next week when a group from our church travels to the island)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

365 days.......

A year ago at this very moment everything changed! I had sent all four kids out to school, David was at work and I was in the middle of doing laundry when the phone rang. I picked up my phone and saw that it was our adoption agency.

When I saw that the phone number was our agency I held my breath. Every phone call from them usually meant more bad news or more time to wait. I said hello and the voice on the other end made sure that it was me. She then spoke these life changing words, "Mendy, start packing your bags because you have a court date on June 28th." I was not sure I heard her correctly and so I ask her to repeat herself and again all I that I heard was court and June 28th. I will never forget that I was in our hallway upstairs just outside of the laundry room when I literally fell to my knees and started to cry. I couldn't think clearly and had a million questions for her but I couldn't seem to think clearly and so I ask her if I could call back when I got myself together.

I hung up the phone and shouted to the top of my lungs, "Thank you Lord!" I dailed David's number as fast as I could and when he answered I couldn't talk because I was crying so hard. (Actually tears are flowing down my face now as I type just thinking of that moment) I tried to mutter that our agency had called and that we were to be in Ethiopia for court in 20 days. David shouted and started crying as well. The news that we had prayed for, fasted for , hoped for and cried out for for months had finally come.

Today I celebrate that when God calls us to a task He will see it to completion. Those long sleepless nights, every tear cried, every prayer prayed- He was there. When the world said that our precious Tia and Garrett were unadoptable our God said trust me and we did..........I am so thankful that this phone call was just the beginning of God completing what He had started!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Our daily bread.........

If you have read many blogs you know that our son Garrett shares many more stories and is much more vocal than his twin sister, Tia. When Tia speaks it is usually very loud and most of the time very important. A few weeks ago she made a huge impact on me with her words and it is one that I have thought about daily.

Prior to tucking in the kids each night we do a devotion with them. Usually it is all four of the younger kids but this particular night it was only Tia and Lindsay. We read the devotion about how God provides for our every need. We read in Matthew 6 on how to ask God to provide for our needs.

Tia seemed to be paying close attention and she seemed to be thinking the entire time that I was reading the devotion about our needs and how God will provide food, drink, shelter, clothing, health, friends and family. She was quiet and didn't have much to say as I questioned she and Lindsay about what God provides for us. The devotion book I use with them always has an activity to end with each day. This night the activity page had pictures of several things and the girls were to circle the things that were needs and cross out the things that were wants.

I really couldn't believe the next few moments as I watched Tia's face. I could tell that she was really thinking about what her true needs were and what were really just wants. Lindsay went first and for the things that she needs she circled the house, milk, bread, and shoes. She crossed out the nail polish, baby doll, and bike. Next it was Tia's turn and I got a glimpse of what she was thinking about as we read the devotion. Tia started by crossing out the wants......first she crossed off the bike, next the doll, and then the nail polish. She then paused for a few seconds and crossed off the milk, next the shoes and then the house. She started to cross out the bread and then ended up circling only the bread.

After she finished marking I ask her to tell me what she needs. She said, "I only need bread." I thought that maybe she didn't understand and I said, "Tia, we need a house to live in don't we?" She responded as she pointed at the picture, "Mom, it doesn't have to be a pretty house like this one. In Ethiopia we had a little house." Of course tears started to flow as I told her that she was exactly right. She then went on to explain that she didn't have milk or shoes on the island and so those were not needs but wants.

As I was listening to my daughter, my heart was breaking. This time not because she had experienced life with very little (literally only her daily bread) but because I knew how the "needs" in my own life are really just "wants". I think that I need so much when in reality God providing my daily bread is all that I NEED. I scooped my precious daughter into my lap and I thanked God out loud for using her to remind me of my selfishness in wanting so much more than I really need. Lindsay and I were both in tears as we both were taught such a life changing message from our sweet Tia.
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