"Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you" James 1:27

We continue to believe strongly in adoption - this blog serves to tell of our journey and encourages all who read it to learn of and love the journey of adoption!

Contact us at VJansen90@gmail.com

Thursday, November 30, 2017

And so it goes....

Lalli has been home almost 4 months already and we thought it's good to share an update on several issues....

First, Ethiopia and its adoption situation.  As you know, we were very anxious about getting Lalli home before the end of the year, because of his age.  But, there was also a lot of complications with the future of Ethiopian Adoptions.  As of right now, there continues to be complications with the future of Ethiopian Adoptions.  Here is a recent   update https://travel.state.gov/content/adoptionsabroad/en/country-information/alerts-and-notices/EthiopiaUpdateonSuspensionofAdoptions.html  It does seem to be changing from week to week and no one seems to know what the future will hold for sure.   We would ask for your prayers - there are some wonderful people who are ready to bring home children from Ethiopia - some of them who have been in process for years - and they may not be able to bring their children home.  It is heartbreaking - so many true orphans who need and deserve a family.  Pray for the country of Ethiopia to make decisions that are based on what is best for the children.

Second, an update on Lalli~

What's been good....

He's had a lot of "new" thrown at him and overall, he has handled it very well.  He has hearing aids now and is still getting used to having them.  He is attending Speech Therapy twice a month.  This speech therapy is currently more about helping him listen and learn and not necessarily for him to learn how to speak.   We are still considering a cochlear implant in at least one ear in the future...we'd appreciate your prayers for wisdom on that decision.  He's been assessed and tested in all sorts of ways in order for his IEP (Individualized Education Plan) to be done so he could start school.  He started attending school at The Ohio School for the Deaf in October.  He was able to play in a few of their soccer games before the season came to an end.  (This boy LOVES soccer and watches soccer any time he can on TV or on the Computer).    All of these things are good but have taken a lot of time and coordination  - especially on Dave's part (He rocks!).  We are extremely grateful for Nationwide Children's Hospital, Olentangy Local School District and The Ohio School for the Deaf and all the ways they are partnering with us as parents.  Indeed, it does take a Village!!

What's been rough.....

Lalli's homecoming has made Martha ask a lot more questions about adoption and why she was adopted, etc.  It has reminded us again that adoption is beautiful and yet so hard.  There are questions that can't always be answered and pieces of the puzzle that may never be put together.  Adoption is a journey....never really an end point.

Lalli had been in orphanages for many years.  Possibly since he was 4 or 5.  That's a very long, long time.  Life in an orphanage is much different than life in a family unit. He was used to living in a room full of boys and be under the direction of nannies.  How has that translated to being home?  First - delight at having a Father.  He adores Dave and has quickly connected to him.   Second, he and Josh have meshed very well.  They enjoy video games, throwing a football or playing soccer together, and messing around together.  It has been beautiful to watch.  But, because he was used to being with boys and nannies, it's been much harder to bond with his sisters and Mom.  He isn't quite sure what to do with Ellie and Martha and that transition has been a little difficult on both sides.  And, he has seemed to have an even harder time with Vicki as a Mom.  He has, in many ways, treated her as a nanny.  And, since Vicki is home the most with him, that has been hard on Vicki.  We have tried to do some role playing, some discussions, etc with him about family relationships, respect, etc. But, it is going to be a process ....family relationships are foreign to him in so many ways.  Vicki's trying to fully envelop him as her son, but he is cautious and unsure and that comes out in different ways, not always good ways.  It's hard some days to not take that personally.  Thankfully God has provided other adoptive Momma's who are walking the same roads.....we remind each other of our kids past lives and the "stuff" they've brought home with them, we remind each other that we were called to this, we check in with each other and give lots of "you got this" to each other.

Why do we share this?  Because we decided a long time ago in this blog, that we're gonna be real and honest.  We've had some hard days on this adoption journey.  Momma tears have been shed.  We've had to really dig deep and keep going some days.  Adoption is not for the faint of heart.....it is hard and beautiful and exhausting and complicated and worth it.  Always worth it. 

And again, it reminds us of God's love for us.  We know He'd always say that we're worth it. We're worth it for Him to pursue us again and again.  We're worth it in that He'd send His only son as a baby at Christmas to have his life sacrificed for us.  Even when we thwart God's attempts at loving us or push Him away or don't accept His love, it's still there.  The Heavenly Father that is the perfect parent.....Oh How He Loves Us....and because of that, we continue loving too.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Shout outs!

Whenever you experience something significant in life there are people and memories that become extra special.  This recent adoption journey is no different.  That's why this blog is a "Shout out" - a Shout Out to those who helped us make it through - because without them, we never would have made it!

Shout out #1 - to Vicki's sister Jan and our kids Jon, Anna, Ellie and Joshua.  These five people were the best team we could have ever left in charge while we were gone.  They rocked it out and kept our home front (and especially Martha) humming right along.  Our gratitude runs deep, very deep.  We love you all and we're glad to partner with y'all in life!

Shout out #2 - to all of you who donated funds, came to a fund raiser, helped with Martha care while we were gone, brought food for our family, sent a note of encouragement, prayed or a myriad of other things that happened - Thank you! You have no idea how those small acts of kindness put our hearts at peace.  The number of details we had to manage was overwhelming and having others take care of some of those details was such a blessing!

Shout out #3 - Fekadu - the best driver in all of Ethiopia (especially because he could scare Dave Jansen while he was in the passenger seat!).  Not only did Fekadu get us to Court from the airport in about 20 minutes (amazing in Addis Ababa), he drove us to Embassy, the Birth Certificate Agency, the Passport Tent, a bunch of other places, brought us to great restaurants (and guaranteed they were safe for us Americans), helped interpret, kept the Worship music going in his Van,  helped negotiate purchases, but most importantly, he became a friend of ours that we love and highly respect.  His story is hard but beautiful and a testimony that God is our Good, Good Father.  Fekadu - thanks for your witness and integrity and love for Jesus.  You inspire us!

Shout out #4 - to our fellow adoptive parents - you inspire us as well!  You have all worked so hard to fight for your children and once they're home, we all know we have to keep fighting - through paperwork, medical appointments, bonding and attachment, a whole host of things.  Your love and commitment to your kids, even before meeting them face to face is amazing.  And, we know many of you that are home now are weary and in the thick of it, but you just keep on keeping on.  It's a beautiful example of Christ's love for us as His children...He never gives up.   To meet so many adoptive parents on this journey has been a blessing - and we are grateful for the continued support system you bring to our lives.

Shout out #5 - Ordinary Hero Guest House  (www.ohguesthouse.com)  We've made 4 trips to Addis Ababa and stayed at 4 different places.  This one was our absolute favorite!  The place was clean, the rooms were roomy, the eating area provided plenty of room to spread out on couches, play cards/games and just hang out, room outside to play football and soccer, and the staff was so kind and considerate!  It was a wonderful place to "land" at the end of each day as this trip was probably the most difficult of all four we've made.  Oh, and then there's the view from our room......

Shout out #6 - Our US Embassy Staff in Addis Ababa.   We walked into the Embassy around 1 p.m. on a Wednesday afternoon without an appointment and with plane tickets purchased to fly home that night (loooong story - it'll be shared in a future blog) not knowing if they would be willing to process our paperwork and provide a Visa for Lalli.  They were so kind and caring and sent us on our way shortly after 4 p.m. (many times parents are told to return the following day to pick up the Visa).  It was a long afternoon of anxious waiting, but they did their very best and granted the Visa.  The staff there had heart and compassion and we were so impressed by the way they handled our situation as well as the situation of another family having a very difficult time getting home.  They weren't just pushing paperwork, they were caring about kids and families and their kindness does not go unnoticed. 

Shout out #7 - To Pamela at Pat Tiberi's office in Worthington, Ohio who made phone calls, emails and connections to help Lalli come home and was an encouragement during every contact we had.  And also to other politicians across the nation who were a major force during the Ethiopian Adoption Closure and continue to fight for the families still waiting to bring their children home.  There are many....please keep these families in your prayers.  We pray those children are all home SOON!

We're sure that we've forgotten many.....because it really does take a village to adopt a child.  We thank you Village - you have been amazing and lives have been changed because of you!

Saturday, August 26, 2017


     noun  1. the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.
  1. verb   1. undergo or cause to undergo a process or period of transition.

The most common question we've heard recently - "How's it going?".  And, the answer is usually "good", "very well", or  "as good as it can be", because all in all it is.  

Lalli has been home with us for just over 2 weeks.  It is hard to believe that just over a month ago we had returned from our first trip and were making plans to return back in less than two weeks.  And, now we're home.   

We'll save the details from our second trip for another blog update (it was quite the trip!). But, for now, we'll share about being home. 

We arrived home on Thursday, August 10th around supper time.  After quick introductions at the Airport we came home for a meal together with our SIX kids and spent some time outside playing around and trying to make Lalli feel as comfortable as possible.  The majority of the next day was spent at Nationwide Children's International Adoption Clinic (Can we give a shout out to them?  They rock!) where Lalli was poked and prodded and run through all sorts of tests and evaluations.  On Saturday and Sunday we just stayed home and allowed him to rest and try to get acclimated in any way he could.  Then, Monday, Vicki started up daycare for the school year and on Wednesday, Ellie, Josh and Martha returned to school full time for the year. It was a crazy few days to say the least and somewhat of a blur.  

Those first days were tough.  We were tired. Traveling the distance/amount that we did within two weeks of each trip is hard enough when you do it for fun. Throw in the emotional aspect of adoption and you are wiped out. Josh and Ellie were tired from lots of Martha care and the thought of going back to school. Vicki also had some sort of allergic/viral reaction to something just hours before we left Ethiopia (resulting in MAJOR hives & 14 days of predisone once we got home).  Dave returned to work.  Cross Country season began.  Martha started going to school every day and was tired.  Communication was rough. One of our showers our broke.  Lalli was overwhelmed and tired and shy.

Good stress is still stress.  Good change is still change.  And change can take a while to get used to.

Transitions.  That's where we are.  We are in transition.  Changing from having 5 to 6 kids.  Changing from living years in an orphanage to being part of a family unit.  Learning new skills and seeing new things and eating new foods and being with new people. Trying to figure out best methods of communication in order to assess Lalli to see which school setting is best for him.  Trying to keep him busy and challenged and yet not force too much on him as he waits for school meetings and evaluations.  Trying to build relationships without pushing them.  Filling out forms - lots of forms.  Insurance, school, County, post-adoption reports. Prepare for Post adoption Home Visit with Social worker.  Appointments for hearing aids and school stuff and dentist and ear doctor.  Balance socializing without overwhelming.  Changes.  More smiles from Lalli.  Two 15 year old brothers picking on each other.  Lalli tells us he's happy.  He tastes every new food we've introduced.  He is initiating more conversation with us. We get to introduce him to a walk in the woods.  To S'mores.  To our Church family and community.  Transitions.

All in all - it is very good.  But, the balance of all sorts of things is a work in progress and probably will be for a very long time yet.  We are thrilled that Lalli is here and we are grateful for the Village of people in our lives who made that happen in a million different ways.   Thank you for giving us our space, your support and most of all your prayers.  We are so grateful for be parents to Lalli and eager to see what big plans God has in store for him!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Home. For Now.

We had an amazing time in Ethiopia.  Our love for the country and its people expanded more than before.  Our time with our son was nothing short of amazing.  He is a wonderful young man and we can't wait to have him join the rest of the family.  Obviously, communication will take a while on his end and on ours, but we will get there.  Realistically, we are dealing with three different languages.....Ethiopian sign language, American sign language and then English.  It's going to take a while...but we all seem to be pretty determined.  :-)

We spent our time with our son playing lots of games - Uno, Bounce Off, etc.  He also enjoys throwing the football and kicking the soccer ball around and has a great sense of humor (necessary in our family!).  We also spent some time each visit comparing signs in our own language, spelling words and trying to just learn more about each other.  He did a great job testifying to the judge (with the help of his wonderful teacher) and was clearly discouraged when the judge said we needed to place another newspaper ad to see if his birthparents respond.  His testimony was clear....he wants to come home with us. He's spent at least 8 years in an orphanage and has watched numerous kiddos leave with their adoptive families.  He's more than ready.  We were delighted to learn that he remembers Martha from when they were at the orphanage together - what a gift that is!

We were also blessed to see and experience Ethiopia - the beauty of its landscape, the culture, the generous and welcoming people. We were able to worship Jesus Christ together with believers from all over the world - a little taste of heaven!  And, visiting a Young Life Camp in Ethiopia was definitely a highlight.  We also had our hearts broken again by some of what we saw....the poverty, the harshness of living on less than $2.00 a day for so many people.  It's hard to wrap our minds around so much of it and impossible to describe it.

For now, we're home.   And, our bodies, inner time clocks (and tummies) are still adjusting.  And, right now, we could really use your prayers.  We have a few decisions to make in a very short amount of time (like less than 24 hours most likely) and because we don't feel well rested /re-aclimated (and thus aren't sure we trust our decision making right now), we just need God to make things very clear.  We'd like to put out a fleece like Gideon (Judges 6:36-38) and have it that clear.  These decisions aren't easy - they involve lots of money, schedules, our family, other people and the possibility of one or both of us returning to Ethiopia in just a week - we don't take them lightly.  Would you please pray that we make the best decisions for everyone involved?   We depend on your prayers and the nudging of the Holy Spirit.....to God be the Glory!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Stressed and Blessed

As we are down to single digits before we leave for Ethiopia....my stress level is off the charts!  I'm a pretty detail oriented, organized person, so I am making list upon list, pile upon pile and my brain is in total overdrive (so much so, that I am having trouble sleeping....a rare thing for me. And, certainly doesn't help anything at all).  Dave is also trying to pre-plan and prepare as much as possible from the work/church end.  So - you can imagine neither of us are feeling the calmest of spirits.

I am trying to cover every detail imaginable on the US side....finances for adoption and day to day life here while we're gone, food, plans for the kids, sanity for my sister as she stays here, and just about anything I can possibly think of.  It's a lot.

Then, there's the Ethiopia side.  Making sure we have a place to stay and transportation.  Hoping to see a Young Life Camp and also some special friends while we're there (because when you travel that far, you need to pack it all in), and then there's our son.  Meeting him for the first time, spending time with him, seeing his world.  And, the main reason for it all....trying to get him HOME.  This will involve a lot of waiting, praying, talking and probably more waiting.  That's hard, this hurry up and wait stuff.  More than hard sometime, it's heart wrenching.  And, then (probably because I'm tired) my brain jumps to all the "what if's"......what if this trip doesn't help at all?  What if his case just gets pushed aside....for months? What if we have to stay and run out of finances to get all 3 of us home?  What if something happens back at home?  What if? What if? WHAT IF?

And, then I try to calm myself down with some deep breaths, wipe away some tears and listen to that voice that is trying to break through....."TRUST ME.  My plans are better than yours.  They are BEST."  And, then I put out a call for help with some meals for the kids while we're gone.....and the response is overwhelming.  And, then we receive another baked good donation for the bake sale.  And, then someone I just met tells me she has been praying for our family this past week.

So, instead of "What if?" my phrase needs to change to "And, then"

"And, then" because I know that I can trust my Lord Jesus, my Savior.  I know He holds my future and my family in His hands, not my own.  "And, then" because God is writing this story of ours and He has plans that I can't even see.  "And, then" because I'm going to re-tell this story in the future by saying "And, then, God did this....and this.....and this."

I'm crazy stressed out, so why am I taking the time to blog?  Because it just forced me to sit down, refocus, slow down and remember "And, then".

God is good.  All the time.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Traveling and treats!

We have booked flights, a hotel and are getting ready to travel to Ethiopia!  We (Dave & Vicki) leave July 13 for Addis Ababa to meet our boy!!  We are so excited to spend time with him and be back in Ethiopia and experience it again.

We will also be going to see what we can do to try to expedite his case - we would greatly appreciate your prayers that we can see that happen in some way.  We are praying BIG and need you to join us in that.  There is some movement in Ethiopian adoptions again, but we are a bit anxious as to how long that will last and as to what extent.

We will be having a Bake Sale Fundraiser and "Lemonade for Lalli" stand on Sunday, July 9 from 3 - 6 p.m. at CenterPoint Lewis Center (7750 Greenmeadows Dr N. Lewis Center) to help offset some of the travel costs and childcare costs that we pay monthly.  Your support and help would be great - please stop by for some baked goods and lemonade and just to hang out for a while!  Weather permitting we'll be outside and would love to have our "village" come out in full force!

Thank you for your continued prayers and support in bringing our boy HOME.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

No news....

We are so grateful for so many of you who are praying and checking in on us and our adoption situation.  As they say, adoption is not for the faint hearted....TRUTH.

The recent visits to Washington D.C. by some Ethiopian Adoptive parents were well received and we feel good about what happened there, the results and the support of some of our Government officials.

Currently, there is no news about our specific case.  There have been updates on the adoption situation from various sources, but unfortunately, nothing really for us to grab on to.  The news and updates we receive seem to make us hopeful and then take the wind out of our sails, all in the same day.  And this seems to be happening every other day at least.  It's a bit exhausting and we try not to hang our hopes and hearts on any of it so much.....probably for our own protection.

As always, we plead for your prayers on behalf of our boy, our family and the over 200 other U.S. families in similar situations.  We continue to put our trust in God.....not in man.  Please join us in praying and knocking on Heaven's door as we continue to pray for a summer miracle!