Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Welcome Home Video

Our good friend from church, Chris, was at the airport Sunday night.  He is an amazing person, father and creative mind.  He blogged about our homecoming.  Here are his thoughts:

Coming Home

On Sunday, July 22, I was lucky enough to be one of 50+ people at the Louisville International Airport to welcome home an Ethiopian little boy named Chernet to his new family.

This family is more than just your normal family. They are truly and boldly living out James 1:27.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
You want to talk about some inspirational people…J.T. and Natalie Henderson are that. Two years ago, they adopted their first child from Ethiopia, Tedi. The kid is amazing. He takes great ‘care’ of Jovi for me on Sundays and makes sure to give me reports on her actions during children’s church.

He’s great.

Even better, he welcomed his new brother home with ’3 goggles.’ All class.

So when they told us a while ago they were getting ready to do this all over again, no one was really surprised. We were just ready to get to work doing whatever we needed to do to help.

And to those close to them, not even their next bit of news was surprising.

Chernet is HIV Positive.

To them, this is not that big of a deal. Natalie is a Pediatrician and J.T. has a heart bigger than you can imagine.

But for the regular folk, like me, let that soak in for a moment.

HIV Positive.

Not only are they taking one more child out of an orphanage and giving him a home, a family, a future, they are taking a child that not many people would have taken or wanted.

James 1:27.

That in itself is selfless love. A love that is an inspiration to me. A love that I hope I can give.
I can still remember sitting in a coffee shop on the University of Louisville campus sometime in March and getting a text from JT.

The text basically said, you want to see one of the greatest pictures ever?

Of course I wanted to.

What came through next was a picture of his son, Chernet with the words, “this is my son.” Immediately, I got goosebumps. The kid had a smile that could light up a room. A smile that brought tears to my eyes. It’s weird, ever since I had my own child, my emotions have become crazy and this picture brought those to the surface.

I finally had a face to put with the prayers and an excitement for his arrival.

So the work continued to raise funds and get Chernet home.

A couple of months ago, J.T. and Natalie got to go to Ethiopia to see Chernet for the first time. Them being huge UofL fans, you know it delighted me to get this picture from Natalie on my Facebook wall…and no, I had nothing to do with it, no matter what J.T. believes. His home actually put that on him before meeting with J.T. and Natalie.

A few weeks ago, we got word that Chernet had cleared the embassy and would be home in two weeks.

Fast forward to last Sunday night.

This was my first adoption homecoming, or “Gotcha Day” as I learned it is called from a cookie cake of all things, that I have been privileged to be a part of.

Chernet was expected to land in Louisville at 11:30pm…

Yeah, that didn’t happen.

As I showed up, one of about 8-10 people there, I asked J.T. how many he was expecting.

His rough estimate was about 30.

Again, didn’t happen.

Even with the plane delayed until 12:45am, over 50 people showed up to welcome Chernet home and I venture to say most all of us would have stayed later if needed.

As we waited at the security gate, the anticipation continued to build.

Finally, Chernet walked through the gate with Lesley and Sarah, two women, friends of the Henderson’s, that brought Chernet home. It was a quiet moment. No cheers or claps, just quiet. But it was a beautiful quiet. It was a moment where we got to see a family of three becoming four. A moment where a new life was given to a child. A moment where we got to hear a family share their first conversation together. A moment where we all gained another member of our families.

I stood there, just watching this moment. It was beautiful. It was watching true faith in action.

Sometimes, the greatest illustrations and sermons of Christ and His desires doesn’t happen in the seats of our churches or come from the mouths of our pastors. Sometimes it comes from those people following their heart and living out their faith without fear or hesitation.

Sometimes it happens at the security checkpoints of airports at 1:00am.

And sometimes, the face of Christ is seen in a little boy from Ethiopia, who after 30+ hours of traveling and knowing no English, smiled from ear to ear the whole time.

I was blessed to be a part of the moment.

Even more, I am blessed to call the Henderson’s my friends….no….they are family.

We love Chris' heart.  We really consider him and Jovi (his beautiful daughter) a part of our crazy family. 

Chris videoed the entire night of Chernet's homecoming.... He surprised us by taking the video and some pics of the night and turning it into a video with great music.  You can see in the video all of the support and love shown to us at the airport.  Enjoy!!!  Chris, thanks for doing this.  What a gift we have to show Chernet.  We love you!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


I wonder why I am so deserving, why my family is so deserving.... of love, of support, of friendship...  I wonder why God thinks I deserve such amazing people in my life.  I sat down to blog about all the amazing people at the airport, Lesley and Sarah who brought Chernet home, those that supported us throughout the adoption both financially and emotionally, and I was at a loss.  I was in awe at the shear number of people whose meetings and purposes have been carefully orchestrated to make my life better, easier, and more worth living.  I browse the pictures of our Both Hands Project and my work Christmas party and our airport homecoming and I am taken aback by the faces of people who support and love us.

I am so undeserving and I think that may be why I am awestruck by it all.  I cuss on occasion.  I can be envious and I can be walled off and not open and introverted.  I can be impatient.  I do not deserve a major outpouring of love. I am a normal girl who just wants to be a great mom, friend, wife, person, and ICU is that simple.  Nevertheless, I have been surrounded with such great love and despite my deserved-ness (not a word, clearly) of this love, I am grateful more than I can articulate, more than I can write, and especially more than I could ever say to your face without being awkward.  (I don't emotional/sappy/whatever you call it well face to face.)

Below are pictures that so many people took at the airport (if you are my facebook friend, these are the same ones).... I mean seriously.. who are are these crazy people that stayed at the airport till after one AM...why do they love us, our kids so much....I will never understand but I am thankful nonetheless.  (also check out our friends pics at her blog:

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Embassy, Airport and America

On Wednesday we got word that Chernet CLEARED EMBASSY!  He has a visa and can leave Ethiopia for the US.  I know several people are confused since JT and I are both here in Louisville but Chernet had his embassy appointment.  Our agency director is picking up Chernet for us.  There are many circumstances that led us to choosing this option.  So Lesley is there, and we are here.

After his embassy appointment, they took Chernet for his first ice cream cone!  He loved it...I can not wait to see pictures of that.  Also, we were told he was very excited to have his own Superman underwear and clothes. Love this... so many more superhero underwear waiting for him.  Then, today when Lesley woke up he greeted her with a hug and an "America?"   I wanted to scream.... " YES COME TO AMERICA....your mommy wants you here!"

Airport: they land at 11:45 PM Sunday night.  I know it is crazy late but nevertheless... I will be there with bells on.  Please know that anyone who dares to stay up and drink coffee with me is welcome as well... We would be honored to have anyone... just bring your camera because I wont be able to take any.

Thank you for all the support and encouragement...I am thankful beyond belief.


Monday, July 16, 2012

First Mom

I have not known how to write this post....if I even should write this post.  However, I think it is necessary.  It is necessary for people who are highly critical of international adoption to see that many adoptive parents do not just take from the country but are highly invested in and care for the heritage of our children....necessary to share of one the most important days of my life.... necessary to truly be transparent. 

We landed in Ethiopia early in the morning on Saturday.  Exhausted, we spent the day playing soccer and Lego's and basketball with Chernet.  The next morning we hopped into an old land cruiser and took off.   It was going to be 8ish hours to the village where Tedi, our first son, was born.   We were in Ethiopia.  I had contact with someone who found his mother.  How could we NOT meet her if she was willing to meet us (which she was)? 

Stop for a moment.  Imagine the sheer sacrifice..... you have carried a child inside of you for nine months (something I have not yet experienced but can fathom is something truly special and ultimately connecting).  Then, because of the circumstances of cyclical poverty, death by preventable diseases, and not by lack of love, you must choose: keep your child and risk his death due to malaria or malnutrition and spare your soul the pain of his absence OR place him in the arms of another family knowing he will be cared for but just not by the arms that bore him.  Think of that sacrifice.  I can not imagine this.... Thus, we felt it no sacrifice at all to make the exhausting, costly trip to meet this woman for whom I more respect than most that walk this earth.

During the drive, we passed Sebeta, the town where Chernet was born.  The countryside was lush and green in the southwest part of Ethiopia.  We stopped midday for a delicious traditional Ethiopian lunch.  The food was fabulous and the cokes were too...We thought this was truly a halfway point.... FALSE.  We still had another 4.5 hours to the town nearest to Tedi's village. 

We were making this drive and a camera would not quite cut it.  I was trying make mental snapshots of each town, village, hillside. I was trying to saturate myself with the smells and sights and painted mud huts and 3 year olds with infants with their infant siblings tied to their backs.  I fear that some day I won't remember....these scenes will fade in the background of work, the menagerie of daily life.  But I want to remember.  I do....

We reached the town of Soddo...the town listed on all of Tedi's paperwork.  It was larger than I imagined....with a couple of "hotels" and restaurants and shanties mixed with large homes and an American hospital of all things.  A couple of kilometers and two turns and the road went from bumpy to, well, occasional pavement for about five miles or so.  We started asking random people walking around the directions to Yinefo village.  We made a left turn as it started raining and the skies darkened.  We eventually spoke to a man who said he knew Tedi's birth father, Chinesho, and could take us to the village.  He sat in the back seat and pointed us down a "road" to the right.  It was muddy from the drizzle that persisted...uneven from the lack of infrequent automobiles but more regular donkeys, goats and bare human feet.  At one point, we were stuck.  The tires would not move.  JT and I instantly tried to jump out and help push but were quickly forced back into the vehicle as were guests.  We laughed to one another realizing that these thin, fit men and children were trying to lift us plus a land cruiser out of the mud.

By this time, news had spread that foreigners were coming into the village.  Children began surrounding the vehicle.  While there is no comparison, my stomach began to churn like it did before important basketball games or as it still does before big tests..... I sat on the edge of my seat....waiting, which hut would be "the one." 
Tedi's Birth Home
As long as the trip had seemed, we were all of a sudden in front of her home.  We piled out of the car as our friend and guide introduced us to several adults in the village.  Tedi's mother was at a relatives home and one of his brothers ran to get her.  In the meantime, many of the other villagers welcomed us to her home as if it was their own.  They gave us a tour of her home, which was described to us as a very nice home in the village as she had a tin roof and three rooms.  It was, indeed, a nice home. We toured her living area, the room for the animals, and her kitchen.  We saw her coffee plants, banana trees, corn, avocado tree and mango tree.  It was green and lush and well maintained for a widow and mother of eight to manage alone.

Worknesh's Kitchen

Coffee Plants

Mango Tree

The children and villagers surrounded us the entire time, quizzically watching us, sneaking a touch of my hair.  Many of the children had never seen someone with white skin.  They watched videos of Tedi, who they yelled at and laughed and smiled calling him by his nickname "Japi"

The Children

Loved having their picture taken

We want him to know all of this.  His people.  We can not give him all of it living here in Louisville, but we can make the effort to connect him to his heritage, his DNA, to other family that loves him.

Watching videos of Japi

Then, she emerged through the opening in the hedges.... Worknesh Yaya, standing a good 4-5 inches above me, walked strongly right to me and embraced me in a hug.  Like me, this lady is not big on tears but we both had eyes glistening.... full of love for the same boy who connected us.  She then hugged JT and welcomed us to sit with her on her porch.  We chatted for about half an hour.  We explained how Tedi is quite shy until he trusts and knows people.... she explained that was a trait of her children.  She was gracious and welcoming.

We heard the story of Tedi's birth....her 42 weeks of pregnancy and only one hour of labor (it was her eighth child) that occurred in this very home and how she only recently learned of birth control and now educates younger women....we learned that Tedi was a fat, healthy, breast fed baby.  We learned of her deep love for him, her eighth and final child.  Her "favorite" according to her.  We watched her meticulously kiss each of the 157 albumed pictures we brought for her of Tedi from his time in the orphanage until the week we came to visit her, each dated.  I watched the love pour from her strong, stoic, quiet soul. 

My socially skilled husband filled the silences with loving words and emotions that I could not elicit because of the overwhelming lump in my throat that required my entire being to overcome.  The visit was over as fast as it began.  She gave us about 50 bananas for our drive home.  She gave hugs and stood for pictures with us and her three sons that still live in her home.  Looking in their eyes was as if I was looking into the eyes of my own son.  Her son.  One of her sons, the one below in the sweatshirt with headphones, his name is Cherinet.  Yes, The same name with different spelling of soon to be second son.  Coincidence.... I think not.   


Back: JT, Worknesh, Me
Front: Bereket, Tarekegne, Cherenet



I know these words and pictures can not completely capture our trip, our heart for Ethiopia, our desire to share Tedi's past with him and merge it into his future, our desire for his first mom to continue knowing him and watching him grow.  Many people ask if we are concerned that he will want to go back and live there.  Once he grows up, that is up to him.  We want him to know he is part of two worlds.  He HAS two families that love him.... two "best mommies ever", his first mommy who gave him life and this mommy who help him make the most of the life he has with me. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

9 Days

That is how many days until this guy makes us a family of four....  I think we may have our hands full.... Just sayin' 

Emotion, Death, Blessing

I am not really sure where to start.  It has been an emotional couple of weeks around here and yet despite the emotion and stress and overwhelming feelings of inadequacy,I have been reminded over and over again of the specific blessings in my life. 

I want to be in Africa getting my boy.  I could not go because of a test at work. Yep.  I am serious.  One three hour test stood between me and Africa.  So instead of boarding a plane, we booked the tickets for our agency director, Lesley, to go get Chernet in my place, and I headed to work.  Instead of sitting in the DC airport, I tended to the needs of sick children in our local intensive care.  I sat with my friends and their sick little girl.  While I hoped to be with son, being forced to take a test (and one that was quite difficult) allowed me time to sit with my friends, watch over their daughter and take their older daughter for a simple red slushie. 

My friend Emily and her family are headed out for their new life and ministry in Phoenix.  It is not easy to watch your son be sad that his friends are moving while your heart is sad for your exiting friend.  The good news: another city, another group of people will be blessed by the wonderful Fox family.  And, just like other moves in our past, we will not cease to be friends but only grow the decade long friendship.

There is so so much more....I could sit and complain and whimper about the little things that stress me out.  (don't worry, I do to a couple of friends)  But I am reminded over and over again how blessed I am....

I get pictures from people visiting Chernet.  I get encouragement from random people at work.  I have a precious boy who calls me "momma" and kisses my cheek and closely follows with a "raspberry" on my cheek. I have great friends who listen to me complain and let me know it is okay to feel the way I do and remind me I am not wholy inadequate.  Those friends I mentioned above lost their sweet baby girl today....little Jordan is gone and their strength and faith is evidence of my weakness and shines even more light on my blessings.  (Please keep them in your prayers)

So today, in my frustration and weakness, I am also reminded of so many many little gifts and reasons not to complain. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


After much back and forth and airline costs and such, we booked tickets to get Chernet.  Lesley, from our agency, will travel to Ethiopia on July 15.  Embassy will be July 18th.  She will land back in Louisville with Chernet on Sunday, July 22.  Yes.... you read correctly...12 days....  We are stoked.

We have friends there now staying at the guest house who keep sharing such cute pics of our boy and his friends!  I mean, who wouldn't be excited to get pics of this face?

Sunday, July 8, 2012


You read it right.  Chernet William Henderson is cleared to come home.  We will find out tomorrow when his embassy appointment is and if we can use an escort (a person to bring him home in our place).  Why would we do this....cause I know people will judge and not really understand?  Well, I do not have time off till late August and we want to use our time off from work with Chernet at home bonding.  Moreover, we have a great friend who works in our agency that is more than willing to go on our behalf.  We find out tomorrow if this is a "go." Plus, we find out what the exact embassy day will be.

We are beyond excited.  I know there are several people out there waiting for their cases for is not easy to wait...... praying for you all.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Friends: Then and Now

November 2010
...just after coming from Ethiopia

July 2012
....still the love each other

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Random Pictures

Because I am still tired and not really sure what to say....enjoy these pictures!

Me, Tedi and Heather at Coal's

Tedi with Heather

Tedi and several of my residency class

JT, Adam, and Ryan

Tedi with Miss Taryn and her boyfriend Chris

Tedi with Britney and Sean

Tedi, Pop and Granna

Tedi's last swim with Stella before she moves to Arizona

Crazy Viv

Yes, this really happened...Tedi is in a faux fur coat

running man off of the diving board