Monday, December 30, 2013

Roadblock - Prayers Needed

Recent happenings throughout the Ethiopian government, concerning international adoption have our hearts breaking. We are requesting that you pray with us. Please pray for God to sway hearts of the Ethiopian government officials. Pray that positive adoption PR will flood Ethiopia. Pray God's will be done for these children without families and consequently, without hope.

This news article came from AllAfrica just one day after Christmas:

"The House of Peoples' Representatives and the Ministry of Women, Children and Youth urged stakeholders and the public to undertake integrated work to totally stop adoption of Ethiopian children by foreign families.
In a press conference, House Speaker Abadula Gemeda and the Minister Zenebu Tadesse told journalists that stakeholders should work closely to end foreign adoption.
Abadula urged the importance to give priority to use local means to raise orphaned children rather than giving them away to foreign families.
He suggested the importance to establish and support local NGOs which raise orphaned children with the close collaboration of the public.
He urged stakeholders and the public to support these initiatives and protect children from any kind of abuse.
The Minister Zenebu on her part said the government is working hard to end foreign adoption and facilitate situations to raise the children within their community.
Over 9,000 children were adopted by foreign families during the previous years, in a yearly basis, she said.
Through various activities carried out over the past years, number of children adopted by foreign families reduced to less than 1,000 in 2005EC.
She attributed the success to implementation of various laws and increasing knowledge of the public."

We were informed through EthioStork, an agency founded by Duni Zenaye, a native Ethiopian, that walks families through the adoption process and beyond, providing information about the Ethiopian culture, the adoption process as a whole, and assist families through the many challenges of trans-racial adoptions, of some follow-up information concerning a meeting held with parliament. 

Duni writes "I just spoke to folks back home. They have informed me that the meeting of the adoption network with parliament didn't go well. The minister of federal MOWCYA, Minister Zenebu had declared she wants to shut down adoption in the coming weeks. It was very political, "we have controlled the spread of AIDS, we have dared to build a dam at the Nile, surly we can put a stop to adoption as well". The speaker of Parliament agreed with her. The meeting was adjourned with the plan to create a committee that will present a "plan of action to end adoption" not poverty or orphaning, mind you, within 10 days. If this gets accepted by parliament then next will be getting the prime minister to sign it. Let's hope that doesn't happen."

We currently wait ten of the longest days since starting our adoption journey. We hope to hear positive news soon. Positive news would consist of adoption reform, new standards, new laws that do not include the shut off of international adoption. Protection of these precious children from child trafficking, abuse cases such as those like Hana Williams and more and financial corruption on the part of orphanages and even government, is so vitally important to the future of all orphans. Adoption can become a very politically and even culturally charged subject. The first priority that we share with many adoptive families INTACT. The primary family unit is of the highest importance. When that is no longer an option, children being kept in their own culture, raised by members of their native land would be preferred. In many cases this is not a viable option either. Many areas with concentrated numbers of orphans are many times areas that are extremely poverty stricken. Here is where opinions begin to differ. These children can be kept in their cultural land and be raised by various members of local villages or be raised in orphanages. We feel this is not ideal. The children never form attachments to parents that are their OWN. They do not develop trust and intimate relationships with adult figures. And so, we find ourselves at the mercy of the government, parliament, adoption advocates, local orphanage personnel, and the Prime Minister to make the right decision.

We have faith in the fact that our great God, Creator of all, knew this was coming. He knows the outcome as well. Please pray that He will intervene on behalf of the children of Ethiopia and those waiting to provide families to these little ones.

Five: Officially a Big Kid

Our curly haired, eccentric Eva Lou has reached the coveted milestone of becoming one of the "bigs". She turned FIVE YEARS OLD o December 30th! We had our own private celebration at home, complete with a pink, puppy cake! She is such a treasure. Her quirkiness brings a smile to our faces each and every day. She is kind, compassionate and very easily embarrassed. She loves to perform, but ONLY for us! We are very proud of our little lady!

We love you, Curly Shirley!!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


Advent - the coming or arrival, especially one which is awaited

We began this Advent season just like we always do, opening our Jesse Tree devotional beginning on December first. We celebrate the Christmas season, and we do so with purpose as to not morph into what is so common in western culture...even christian culture. I hate the materialism that surrounds Christmas. Our family chooses to celebrate Christ and His first coming to earth as Savior of the world. We choose to give Christmas meaning for our children. One way we do this is to take our bibles out each night a read scripture rich with meaning behind the Christmas story. While the typical Luke 2 account of the birth of Christ is priceless, there is so much more to behold through His word. It is absolutely amazing how Christ's coming was foreshadowed as far back as Creation. Our children have enjoyed in recent years, being able to partake in the actual reading of the scripture. Hearing my children recite God-breathed words is one of the most precious things ever. All of them participate in some way, listening, reading, hanging ornaments etc. It is precious time with the Word and simply time when we can all be still, together. When everyone is sleeping, Lila has even been involved in some Jesse tree activity. We have learned this year that leaving our tree in an easily accessible location will result in a few , seemingly specific, ornaments will go missing. Her favorites are the earth and Jacob's ladder!! We have now located the tree on the high bookshelf, which has worked this season!

Each night we read a special devotion together, pray and one child gets the privilege of hanging a handmade ornament on our tiny Jesse tree. Each ornament is symbolic of the biblical truth behind the devotion, which helps tremendously with memory recall, for our children. We look most forward to hanging the symbolic ornament that represents the birth of our Savior. Each year the kids love to be the one who gets to hang the ornament on Christmas morning before a gift is ever touched. This year the way the cards fell, Abe got the treat of hanging the ornament that holds the greatest meaning. Our Savior came! And, we shall celebrate His birth.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

NINE years old!

December is an amazingly busy month for the West family. We are scurrying to finish up home school so that we may enjoy a winter break. We also celebrate 3 births!! The greatest and most extensive celebration is of Christ's birth, but we are also so very grateful for two blessed gifts that arrived in our family during this month. Our very first child, Marcus Elijah West (better known as Eli) was born December 12th! What a sweet Sunday evening indeed, the first day I tasted motherhood. This year he turned nine. He is growing up. BITTERSWEET! We celebrated together with family on his actual birthday. We also allowed him to celebrate with some time with friends, while us girls had an afternoon date. I baked him his requested cake. This year was a Star Wars theme, which is currently his "thing". 

Truly blessed this sweet young man!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


In the fall of 2010 my calm and collected first child broke his arm jumping off of the Little Tyke playhouse in our backyard. He was fully cloaked in superman cape, pretending to save the world. This happened right before our eyes as we were enjoying a family evening together. He ended up having a very minor, barely visible, hairline fracture on the elbow end of his radius. Little brother is following in big brother's footsteps, although in typical Abe fashion. On Wednesday, November 20th, again right before my eyes (I was watching out my bedroom window) I witness my little man fall through the small opening left in the zipper of our enclosure net surrounding our trampoline. He loves to lean against the enclosure, pressing his feet against the trampoline, causing him to sway effortlessly back and forth. This time his little tush went right through the whole, followed by the rest of his body. I quickly ran outside to find him being helped up by his sibling. He was a bit dazed and stunned, crying only a bit. This is the child who can go from calm to breath-taking rage to blue and passing out in 0.9 seconds. When I saw he still had his wits about him, I had hope that all was fine. As I consoled him, I watched his behavior, noticing that he was not using his left arm AT ALL, not even a little, instead keeping it tucked very close to his side. We walked inside and I laid him on the couch and he tried to move his arm and WAILED in pain. "Oh no, this is not good!" was my first thought. I quickly called Marcus and said to meet me at the ER, we were on our way with Abe. I felt sure his arm was broken. I gave everyone the task of getting shoes and coats. I very carefully removed Abe's shirt without moving his arm, and replaced it with a zip up jacket, arm carefully tucked by his side. Once everyone was in the truck, we left for Jackson-Madison County General Hospital. Once there, we were met by Marcus who had already filled out paperwork. One excruciatingly difficult thing for this mother to do is to leave her sick or hurting child. But, I did have the great comfort of knowing he was in very good hands with his daddy. I took the rest of our crew home, where we bathed and left for church. The only other place I would have rather been, if I could not be at the hospital was in the presence of dear friends, many just like family. We enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner with our church family. I kept in constant contact with Marcus, who after seeing the x-rays, warned me that this was a terrible and complicated injury. My specific hopes for no narcotics and no general anesthesia were dwindling by the second. 

 Both the radius and ulna in the lower arm are significantly dislocated 
and the bottom of the humerus is broken very close to the growth plate!

Here the radius and ulna has been relocated to their appropriate places and 
two temporary pins have been placed in his humerus to assure proper healing.

Marcus sent the news and our dear friends knew I needed to be there with Abe and Marcus. They rallied together, took on the transportation responsibilities and childcare of our four other children, so that I could be with our baby boy and my husband. Another dear friend took me to the hospital. Are my friends the greatest or what? When I got there, Marcus had just seen Abe off to surgery, which was necessary due to the close proximity of an artery to the dislocated and broken bones. A nurse was kind enough to update us that all was going well during the procedures. The doctor called us personally to let us know "...all his bits were put back in place and were being held there with pins." He was sent to recovery and we went up to Pediatrics to wait on our little man. He finally was wheeled in about half an hour later. 

He was still very drowsy from the medications, but did open his eyes several times and drink some juice. What a trooper! The doctor wanted to keep Abe over night to assure good circulation continued. Marcus elected to stay, while I went home to care for the other children. He was released early the next morning. He came home with a sling to wear for a couple of weeks. 

This incident only slowed him down for a week, two at the most! He was very protective of his arm, and still is to a point. He allowed many more snuggles from all of us. But, he has regained his strength and vigor! Life has meant adding a few tweaking to activities of daily life such as drinking from straws and bathing in plastics bags. We do what we have to do to make it work!

We have even added some significant art work to his cast so that he feels special! Everyone signed their names and keeping with current tradition (although we hope this is not a tradition our boys will continue), we added a chosen super hero emblem to the center of the cast!

When asked will we allow the kids to continue to use the trampoline or do we feel they are a hazard, our reply is this: We will continue to allow the kids to jump inside the enclosure as we always have. We hope it has been a learning experience for ALL of us to always be diligent in making sure the entrance is completely zipped. We are aware that with most play equipment, there is some risk that will be assumed. Roller skates, bikes, skateboards, scooters, trampolines, ATVs etc. to name a few, all have risks associated with them. We will continue to assure no rough housing on the trampoline by anyone and that only a previously and specifically set number of people may jump at a time. We know from experience that it does not take much for the bravery of boys to lead to accidents. We will continue to encourage our children to live courageously, not under a veil of fear. Boys will be boys!!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Signed, Sealed, Delivered...

WE DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!

 (please excuse the unshowered "beautifulness" of ONE of us!)

Saturday, November 16 we went through our official dossier and one photo copy for the last dozen times to make sure that all things were included and in their correct places. It was the day in which it would FINALLY leave our hands. I told my friend Marcie (who is also in the midst of their own Ethiopian adoption and who just sent their own dossier off as well. WOOT WOOT!!!) "This is almost like what I imagine it might feel like to send a kid to college." This has been a huge undertaking in the past four months. To say that we have been consumed may just be the understatement of the year. Granted, we had plenty to do before this all started. We have been in the midst of what is iconically referred to as the "paperchase". No matter what type of adoption you are entering into, which number adoption it may be, or the number of children involved, you will go through the process of compiling our dossier. I love to say it "Dossier" pronounced (doss E A). It is from French origin which simply means a group of papers containing detailed information about someone or something. For our adoption it is a substantial collection of formal, legal and most times notarized (sometimes even certified) documents that will be sent to our government and if you are adopting internationally, then on to the government of the country from which you wish to adopt children.

Racing to the post office in true West style, with only minutes to spare, we arrived, seven in tow. We mailed our package PRIORITY and WITH TRACKING to our agency for final checks, US certification and translation. Amazingly, it arrived Monday and had already been inspected once when we received notification from our Family Coordinator. Our estimated DTE (dossier to Ethiopia) date is November 29. After months of seeing other announce their DTE and longing for our own, we have it! It is a milestone that does not mean much to many unless you are involved. You are at the mercy of so many other agencies, government offices and sometimes even government SHUTDOWNS! It is a tedious process and can get very frustrating at times, maybe more so for the Type-A personalities.It closes this chapter of the process and opens the waiting portion. We can officially receive a referral of precious little ones AT ANY TIME. This fact alone is absolutely surreal. We have no way of knowing when it will come. The approximate wait time for a healthy infant is 30-36 months. The fact that we are seeking an older child (over the age of 4 years old) sibling group, may or may not affect that wait time. Only time will tell. 
Assuredly, it will come in the Lord's perfect timing.

Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! Psalm 27:14

Monday, November 4, 2013


Another one of our beloved West traditions for fall, is our annual cotton picture. We love to compare photos from years past, to see how each child has grown and changed. I found myself scouring folders upon folders of my precious little ones....I could literally sit for hours remembering the treasured times our family has shared through the years. God has abundantly blessed us. We started this tradition, among others, when we first moved to Jackson 7 years ago. Here are all of our cotton babies beginning from the very first picture in 2008 when we only had two tykes.







Days like these, where I am blessed with time to blog and reminisce, I am extremely humbled at God's generosity and favor on my life! Although I am not always as diligent as He commands and I let my emotions dictate my contentment, I am thankful that His word promises His mercies are new every morning! (Lamentations 3:22-23)

“Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God:
“Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country.
“Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, the produce of your ground and the increase of your herds, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks.
“Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.
“Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.
~ Deuteronomy 28:1-6

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Hayride and Chili Supper

Each year our church has its annual Chili Supper and Hayride! It is a wonderful time of fellowship with friends, good food and fun! First we sign up to bring either homemade chili/soup/chowder, dessert, or the fixins'. Many enter the contests for Best Chili, Best Soup, and Best Homemade Dessert. Ballots are passed out and the taste testing begins. Once our bellies are full and prizes are awarded, we bundle up and head for the cotton trailer that is filled with hay. We pack it full, which is great for warm snuggles with the kids. We enjoy the beautiful, night sky, sing songs and tell jokes, enjoying our time together. This annual tradition is also home of another West fall tradition. Since our very first attendance, we dress for the occasion, wearing our white shirts and overalls. Over the years we have invested in many a pair of overalls!

West Fall Hayride 2013

Tiny Dancer

We got the awesome treat to catch a sneak peek of our biggest girl in action! Each year at Pat Brown School of Dance we always look forward to the two opportunities to watch our ballerina dance during one of her practices. Normally practices are closed so that the dancers can focus on proper form and technique without the distraction of watching parents. She has grown in tremendously in grace and elegance through her dancing. I love to see the continuing transformation as my little girl becomes more and more a true dancer. 

The plie` is very very LEAST favorite exercise.

 Mia has grown close to yet another teacher at her school, although she longs to dance under her favorite teacher, Ms. Kim again. 

She is very diligent with her formation and placement of her hands and feet. She concentrates very hard due to the depth of skill required by ballet. I am so proud that she Fortunately class is filled with its fun, exuberant moments as well. 

Although, recently she has expressed a growing interest in gymnastics. Alas she cannot do both. I do not want to be a mother who pressures my children to do any particular thing. While it would grieve me to see her give up such a talent she has acquired and I will encourage her to continue, it is ultimately her decision. If her heart is not truly in it, no matter the depth of her skill, it is not worth it! I have enticed her with the hopes that a few more of her friends just may be in her class next year! Only time will tell. And, we do have at least one more recital of which to look forward. That always puts a smile on her face....and ours!