I would really  like to write paragraphs on bringing home Tegan and paragraphs on bringing home Davie …. paragraphs of thoughts that are swirling in my head and need to be recorded before I forget this whole year of my crazy life ever existed.  But my brain is foggy, my mind is tired and my shoulders could really use a back rub…. again.  So, because I’m not a crazy person and I really am not on top of it all – I’m going to save those paragraphs for later.  I did want to take up this tiny bit of internet space, (and my precious time sitting here as BOTH of my children are sleeping and I’m not filling it by eating ice cream, rare moment), to say thank you.  I keep coming back to this feeling of gratitude to all the loving people who held us up in prayer, who gave us finances we certainly did not have, who cared more deeply about us, our story, our sanity, our hearts than I could have ever imagined, to the people who brought us meals, who showered our kids with lavish gifts before they even came home, who made things for us, who watched our dog, our cat, our house, to the people who we never expected that sent us cards and gifts and words of encouragement, to the people that made this possible.  We did this together and I am more than in over my head indebted to ALL of you, even though you never expected me to pay you back.  Confession, we never sent out a single thank you card … OK maybe one or two made it through the cracks, but seriously, 99.9% of you didn’t get a single thing!  I already know I’m awful so no need to say oh Ellie, you didn’t need to do that!  I know I can’t thank you all enough, so consider this (and our flashy-pants Christmas/adoption/birth announcement/praise/thank-you card) our deep deep feelings of love and thanks to you all.  YOU GUYS ARE AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!  What a beautiful bunch of friends and family we have!!


And because I may not ever get around to it, here are a few pictures of us these last couple months!! (all the snazzy family pictures in the field were taken by Ashley Maxwell : ) )



IT’S A …… GIRL!!!!!

No, Tegan is not a girl.

But his baby sister is!!!

Now slap that look of shocked amazement and uncontrollable curiosity off your face and get ready for a serious story.  I know, I have quite a bit to catch you up on.

It all started with God’s plan, we said yes to adoption and no to further fertility treatment and we found ourselves in the middle of a three year process of bringing home our son.  The wait times kept extending and we kept saying yes, we kept trusting that this was his plan for us and our little boy was out there somewhere, someday to be united with us.  But it took us a lot longer than we would have ever expected.  God seemed distant year after year of waiting and no change, no children, not even a name or a little face to look forward to.  Just blah.  We were worn by this wait.  We thought we wanted to adopt from Ethiopia again, but when it came to signing the paperwork we had absolutely no peace or clarity about moving forward.  We selfishly felt that it might break us if we had to wait 5… 6 … maybe 7 years (??) for a second adoption.  We lost sight of faith and began to stress about building our family.  We wanted peace on the next step, assurance that we could do this again, that it would turn out alright, that we would have at least ONE sibling for Tegan!  But where would we go, what would we do??

In the middle of this, God gave us a referral.  We had a son, a name, a face, an age… an estimated timeline for bringing him HOME!

He was and is beautiful, he was a miracle – we were overjoyed to say the least!

But in the back of our minds we thought, could we really endure this again?

God convicted my heart as we flew to Ethiopia that first time to meet Tegan.  I could do this again, a million times over if HE wanted me to.  I had lapsed into a faithless spiral of planning out my own life and forgotten that it was GOD’S PLAN that brought us here – to this very child – in the first place.  (In fact, had I not listened to Him, Tegan would not be sleeping in the room next to me as I type.  Convicted? yeah, just a little).  God was no where to be found in my stress and worry, and I knew I needed to let go and fall headlong into the trust I had in Him in the beginning, (maybe even more trust than that!).  Eddie and I prayed on the rooftop of our guesthouse in Ethiopia that God we would be able to enjoy this time with JUST Tegan, that we could be at peace with where He had us in these moments and we prayed that God would make it clear to us when and where to go next.  We prayed for the trust we didn’t have that He would open the door to our next adoption in His timing, not our own.

fast forward to just 5 weeks ago, (3 weeks exactly after we brought Tegan home), we got a phone call from Sean and Erin Traynor, good friends of ours.

‘We know a couple that we’ve been good friends with for a very long time, they know a woman who is pregnant, due in early October and can’t keep her baby.  Do you think you would be interested?’

When Ed got off the phone our conversation was mostly made up of stares of amazement.  I MEAN, THIS DOESN’T HAPPEN TO PEOPLE!!!  Who are we to EVER question God, this was so clearly a miracle that we almost couldn’t help but laugh.  It was ridiculous, really.  Crazy, completely out of the blue, totally unexpected and totally knocking us off our feet in bewilderment over the kindness of God.  Yeah, our lives would be crazy, yeah our son just got here – but can you imagine an adoption where someone basically just drops an invitation to take their NEWBORN baby arriving in just two months and raise her from DAY ONE!?  Ok, enough exclamation marks and capitol letters.  Or wait……


Ok. done now.

We decided to take the next step and meet with Sean and Erin’s friends – and after that meet with the birthmother – and after that the birthmother’s parents.  I actually got the call on August 7th (my 30th birthday) that the birthmother was so excited to have finally found the couple that would take her baby, US!!  We’ve started our new home-study and boatloads of new paperwork and every step of the way we’ve been met with one open door after another.  This is really happening!!

And God has been so clear in all of this.  The birthmother has had a rough past.  But as I told her on the day we met, adoption is always born out of something hard, but it turns into such a beautiful thing!   The most beautiful part her of this story is her faith.  She knows Jesus, and she wanted to be sure we did too!  She could have cared less about the fact that Ed was a “pastor”, she wanted to hear straight from his mouth and mine that our faith was in God alone, that we knew we were sinners and trusted in Jesus who died for our sins and rose again to pay the penalty for us as our Lord and our Savior!  Her gift to her child is not only a stable family but the message of the cross.  She knows that she can’t spend this life with her precious daughter, but she can spend eternity with her in heaven.  (and this is where I turn into a puddle on the floor, I cannot believe this woman’s faith!).  God is good.

So here we are in the middle of adoption number 2 just months after bringing home our first.  I still have my doubts (rationally/reasonably speaking the mom could back out at any moment, and still will have 30 days after the baby is born – if she would like to take them – to change her mind).  But even in my doubts, I am learning to trust that what God wants to accomplish, He will.  I am wrapping myself in faith that He has this one in His hands -and I would be foolish to doubt that He isn’t capable of giving us what is best.  So, right now I feel like Job at the end of his long and torturous journey of loosing everything… to be doubly blessed in the end.

“Behold we consider those blessed who remain steadfast.  You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful“. {James 5:11}

We praise you God for your kindness in this life, and we thank you for all that you give us, good and bad, as it points us back to you; your greatness and your Love for us.

Bring on the crazy, we’re having a baby girl in October!!!






It’s hard to believe that it hasn’t even been a month since we’ve been back from our first trip to Ethiopia.  It seems like so much longer because we just can’t stop thinking about Tegan.  After the time Ellie and I got to spend with him, it’s like he started to take up this place in each of our minds and now no matter what we are doing, no matter how crazy life has seemed since we’ve been back, he’s constantly there in our thoughts, in our conversations and in the silence between everything that’s happening.  

So, while we’re waiting, we’re preparing.  We’re getting ready, (as much as anyone really can), for parenting.  The more we find out about Tegan’s past and about everything he’s been through, the more we are discovering that the beginning of his time at home with us is going to be possibly the most formative experience of his life.  Adoption is all about knowing the times when your child needs to be treated like every other kid in every other traditional family, and knowing when they need to be treated very differently to take into account their past. The reason for this blog post is to let you all know how we are going to be handling the first few months together as a family because we’ve recognized that many of the things that are best for Tegan will seem unusual or even unnecessary to those who haven’t experienced adoption before.

Tegan has experienced a lot in his very short life on earth…poverty, abandonment, orphanage life, and being transplanted now three times (including us) to different caregivers just to name a few. For those of you in the adoption “circle” you’ll know what I’m talking about when I mention the word “cocooning”, but for those outside the circle you’re wondering, “What does that old person movie from the 80′s have to do with adoption?” Cocooning is the strategy that many adoption resources suggest to facilitate bonding and attachment once you bring an adopted child into your home. It basically consists of keeping him at home with us for the first 6-8 weeks of being home from Ethiopia, with very minimal outside visitors or outings. It also means that Ellie and I would be the only ones allowed to hold, feed, bathe, clothe, comfort, console, and meet his needs during the 6-8 week period.

Some of you may be thinking, “That sounds crazy! You shouldn’t isolate him or shelter a kid like that.” Just a few weeks ago, I would have agreed with you, but after meeting my son and getting a glimpse of the world that he’s known so far in her lifetime, I’m beginning to see the benefits of this “cocooning” idea.  Tegan needs to know that for the first time in his life what a family is and what it means to trust. He needs a calm and minimal-stress environment that he’s never experienced up until this point, our son has been passed from one caregiver to the next, which obviously creates confusion for him as to whom he should trust to meet his needs.  He needs the chance at a “fresh” emotional start to bond and attach to the parents that God had planned for him since before time.

With that being said, I’d like to layout the “Game Plan” that Ellie and I plan to put into place once we get Tegan home.

First off, let me say that we KNOW that everyone (friends/family) have been praying and waiting on this moment for a long time. We can’t express to you all how much your prayers and encouragement have meant to us along the way. In fact, once we get him home, we’ll need that prayer and encouragement more than ever. This plan of action is not meant to shelter Tegan or to keep him from all of you that so badly want to meet him and love him. Just trust us, if he healthily bonds to Ellie and I, his bond to you will be all the healthier. So please trust and respect our decision on how we’ll handle our first weeks/months home with Tegan. The decisions we are making are based solely off the advice of experts and families who have gone before us. Ultimately, these decisions are being made to keep Tegan’s best interests in mind… which is why we started this process in the first place.

We plan to implement our “game plan” for at least the first 6-8 weeks after arriving home with Tegan. We will eliminate all unnecessary outings and activities during this time period. We will allow limited visitors during this crucial time.  Please know that this isn’t the kind of situation where the people closet to us will be present and others won’t be, this really is going to have to include everyone because Tegan needs to come out of this cocooning period seeing a clear separation between his parents and everyone else.  Ellie and I will be the ONLY ones to hold, feed, clothe, bathe, comfort, console, and show excessive affection to Tegan during this phase. This is not to shelter or “hog” him but to eliminate all possible confusion as to whom her parents are.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

It’s always wild to step into places so different from the one you know, places that make you uncomfortable and places that make you re-imagine what this world of ours has to offer.  I love seeing things through different eyes, turing what I think is sure, essential and beautiful on it’s head.  There was no shortage of things to look at in Addis, things were happening on every corner, my eyes were glued to the windows of our van every time we would head out.   4 million people crowding the streets, donkeys, herds of goats, wild dogs, houses constructed of corrugated metal and mud, everyone selling something out of their tiny pop-up shops, the air was overwhelmingly thick with smells, meat, sweat, spices, dirt, exhaust.

I’ll be blunt in saying that I was struck by the utter poverty of this city.  I played out the stereotypical responses to such meager surroundings: sadness, pity, overwhelming feelings of being too small to really “help”.  I dug further, why am I so shocked by all of this?  What is it about this place that immediately think that I should step in and stop the injustice of poverty but when I drive around my own town I have no such compulsive feelings to intervene in the lives of the people surrounding me?  Is my heart for others really motivated by such surface-level care?  Yes, you can’t deny your feelings for a person who is suffering from sickness with no medicine or hungry with no food – these are basic human needs that our hands immediately feel the compulsion to give out of our abundance to aid in need.  But I dug deeper still, what if daily life here just goes on as it does in my small town of Roseville – lived to the standard we saw set around us?  What if these people were perfectly content to live in houses made of mud, walk 5 miles to visit a friend down the road and live out their days uncontaminated by the demands of cars, cell phones, internet, deadlines, success and wealth beyond our needs.  What if I had the eyes of an Ethiopian visiting California – would I be shocked by the poverty of our souls, our greed, our constant distractions, our misplaced priorities and lack of care for others?  Thinking this way, I can’t see why the life we live out is any less shocking, or in need of care.

My time in Ethiopia gave me an appreciation for taking things slow and treasuring the life we have set out to live – full of love and excitement for the everyday, the small things, and the blessings God gives us when we least expect it.

Below is a coffee house we went to while visiting (one of three coffee places!) .  I LOVE their coffee!!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Here are more photos of Tegan throughout the week that we were there.  He is such a content little boy!!  We held him practically everyday for the whole time we were with him, he loved to snuggle up on our shoulder and fell asleep on Ed in the morning quite a few times : )  His little personality came out more and more as each day went by and he began to recognize us and feel comfortable in our arms.  He would sing little songs (no real words, just sounds), clap, play games with us, laugh when Ed gave him neck rasberries : ) , and he even copied us a few times on the last day and said “dada”!!  He is the sweetest thing and we both are missing him like crazy!  I can’t wait to finally have him here with us at home!  (We love you Tegan!)


So…… yeah, you can see why are hearts are broken and we can’t wait to get back over there!!  It has officially been 2 weeks since we passed court in Ethiopia and they say the average turn around time to go back is between 4-7 weeks!!  We’re hoping we’ll get an e-mail soon notifying us of our paperwork going through to the US Embassy so they can start getting his passport and visa in order. We’re praying this time goes by purposefully but quickly – WE CAN’T WAIT!!!!!  We’re coming Tegan!!


I have been photographing weddings for the past 7 years and I’ve seen a lot of couples at their worst and best moments.  I sit back and watch a day full of friends and family, small details, and big moments, flowers, make-up, pretty things, groomsmen making fools of themselves.  But my eye is always drawn inevitably back to the couple – are they happy?  Do they look each other in the eye or are they more concerned with how the centerpieces are coming along?  Do they make a good fit, are they kind to each other, do her eyes beam with excitement when she’s alone with her bridesmaids, do his groomen share in his joy for his bride-to-be?  If I’m really honest,  There are times when I wonder if these two people are a “good match” for each other and if they really are deeply and perfectly in love.  I have been guilty of having an idealized version of what a perfect and lasting couple should look like, and  I don’t leave every wedding with complete confidence in the outcome of the marriage in the long run.  After so many weddings year after year, I have grown critical of love.

This year, I had a small epiphany.  Our love is broken.  No matter how much I want to believe in the idea that true love is reserved for the a fairy tale story of bride and groom, the perfect couple, I have to admit  that each one of the imperfect couples I witnessed pledge those binding vows of marriage were expressing their love;  and however broken and imperfect it was, they were just crazy in love enough to take that unknown step into a future of marriage – and that is worth celebrating.

So as it is with love, we can also tend to have an idealized view of adoption.  From the outside we might think of it as saving a child from a life of poverty, or giving a mom too young to care for her child a second chance.  We might think of it as an act of kindness, compassion, offering a better life to those in need.  In a way, it can be all of these things, but there is so, so much more.  Adoption is broken, it is humbling, it is uncomfortable, it is crazy, it is heart wrenching and it is a leap of faith.  It is not for the weak at heart or the uncommitted.  Why am I saying all of this?  Because when you wonder what it’s like to wait three years for your son, travel 36 hours to a third world country and hold him in your arms for the first time, my answer might include a bit more brokeness than just, ‘it was the most wonderful feeling in the world’.

Still, just as it is with the broken love we give, I am privileged to see the reflection of God’s goodness and grace in this difficult path of adoption.  I am overwhelmed by the opportunity to bring this beautiful baby boy into our lives and raise him as our own.  I am blessed to have been asked  on this difficult journey of adoption.  This has already been such a rich story and I would not have it any other way.


….. Here are some of our first moments with Tegan …..

( I’ll write more on Ethiopia and share photos of Tegan from the week we spent over there very soon! )

A D O P T I O N   C A L E N D A R