Wednesday, December 28, 2011

William Rivers Polsgrove Is Here!

I cannot believe that it has been two weeks since Rivers was born. I want to document our birth story so this seems like the place to do it.  SO, if you don't want to read about giving birth or hear terms such as dilated and effaced...then you might want to skip this post :)

On Monday, December 12th, I went for my weekly doctor's visit.  I was a little over 40 weeks pregnant and just knew that Dr. Young would tell me I was close to being in labor. Instead, I was still only 1 cm dilated and my blood pressure was high.  He recommended that we induce since each week my blood pressure had only gotten worse.  I debated and debated.  I called Russ from his office and we discussed this option.  I had said from the beginning that I didn't want to be induced unless it was medically necessary.  Well, my doctor strongly recommended we induce but also said he would give me the option of going a little longer as long as I got some testing done and came back in two days for him to check me.  So I sort of had the option which made it harder to decide.  But, I finally felt like I needed to trust him and his judgement so we would induce the next morning, December 13th. I came home from the doctor's appointment, packed our bags and spent the night with Lucy and Russ. Oh, and I cried all night.  I was so excited about meeting Rivers but so sad about leaving Lucy and life being different once we returned.  After all, she had only been home 5 months.  I snuggled with her as I rocked her to sleep and thanked God for her being a part of our family and prayed that she would respond well to Rivers.

Once she was asleep, Russ and I went into their room and prayed over both our children, the birth, and thanked Him for the adventure that 2011 has been.  Oh, and I cried some more. I truly think everything just hit me all at once - the long wait for Lucy, the trip to Ethiopia and having to leave her there, finding out we were pregnant, traveling to Ethiopia again, bringing Lucy home, the tough transition that followed, how far she has come, her first Christmas home, and now getting to meet our sweet son.  I experienced every emotion possible that night.

We then went to bed for the last night as a family of three....a journey that lasted only five months.  It was now time to become a family of four and we could not be more excited! I slept a total of about 2-3 hours.  We woke at 4 am to head to the hospital.  Here is our last picture before heading out.  We were so excited and so READY to meet our sweet boy.



....to be continued.



Thursday, November 10, 2011

Our Daughter in One Image



This is what our life is like now. And we wouldn't have it any other way.

The Wheelbarrow and the Backpack

My phone rang on a Saturday. I rarely answer the phone. It's not a noble trait, but it's become a bad habit. When I looked at the caller ID, I saw my friend Will's name and sighed. Out of all the people to call me, he's the one person I didn't want to talk to.

Will is another pastor at the church I work at, and his wife was pregnant. Very pregnant. He was scheduled to preach the next morning, and our Senior Pastor was out of town. I knew if he was calling me they were in labor and I was going to have to preach the next morning. I knew the text he was preaching on. It was Matthew 6. You might know it, "do not worry about your life, etc. etc." 

The reason I didn't want to pick up is because I feared having to talk about worry, particularly not worrying, when my life has been consumed with worry lately. I just didn't want to do it. I felt the hypocrisy dripping from me just thinking about it.

It turns out, she wasn't in labor. He preached, and we all were spared. But that night, this metaphor came to me, and I feel like I would have used it if I needed to. Since then, I've been thinking about this more and more.

Jesus tells us not to worry in Matthew 6, and what he's really telling us is our stress and anxiety about the issues in our life are easily handled when they're in his hands. I kept imagining a giant wheelbarrow and a backpack. When we give our anxiety and worry and stress to God, it's like putting it in a wheelbarrow, the wheelbarrow does all the work. When we hang onto it, we're putting it on our back. We carry all the weight. We're essentially saying, "I got this, it's mine."

So whenever I've been worried or anxious or scared lately, I always remind myself it's because I'm putting those cares on my back instead of giving them away to a God who really can do all the work. And somehow, that's been really comforting.

Monday, October 24, 2011

33 Weeks

I cannot believe that we are at 33 weeks!!  William "Rivers" Polsgrove will be here before we know it!!!  We graduated from birthing class so I guess we can officially birth a baby now.  Life is crazy at the Polsgrove house.  We thought we had sold our house but it fell through so it is back on the market.  Since we are still in our house we are starting to get things ready for Rivers and Lucy to share a room.  His official due date is December 11th BUT he is measuring 2 1/2 weeks ahead and is large so we will see when he wants to make his arrival.  Lucy doesn't quite comprehend getting a baby brother but she will come up and give my tummy a kiss when we talk about him.  We shall see who will rock the other one's world more ;)  Here is a pic of my growing belly....at about 30 weeks. 





We are so thankful for these two precious children.  Yes, life is crazy and hectic but we are enjoying it so much!  Even though they will be about 18 months apart it definitely feels somewhat like twins.  Can't wait to meet our sweet precious baby boy.  It won't be too long.  And yes that sentence totally freaks me out but we are oh so excited!

Friday, September 23, 2011

1 year ago

One year ago today we received the first picture of our Lucy.  We had waited and prayed .....and waited and prayed some more for the day that we would see her face for the first time.  You can read more about the day HERE but basically, I was in Old Navy when we received the call.  I hurried home to surprise Russ with the news.  We called our case worker back once we were together in front of the computer and waited for the email to come through.  I remember how LONG it felt like it was taking for the email to come through.  When it did, this was the first picture we saw of our precious 3-month old tiny (and I do mean TINY) little girl. 





We immediately went to share the good news with our family.  So fun to just show up on their doorsteps with a picture of her!





We then waited a little over four months until we were able to travel to meet her .  As we entered the foster home, I snapped a picture right at the moment we saw her...one that we had waited so long for.

We then had to leave and were not able to return to Ethiopia for 6 LONG, HARD months (for a total of 10 months from referral).  But at last, the time had come and we traveled to bring this angel home.
We have been home for  7 weeks.  I really am going to blog some about our transition...I know...I know...I keep saying that....but I really am!! 

She is amazing and we are so blessed to be her parents.  Her eyes and smile captivate all who come in contact with her.  She truly embodies what the name Lucy means, "bringer of light."








Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Spinning Out of Control. Or Not.

Last night we attended our first birthing class. In the revelry of bringing the little girl home, there are times when we forget something. "Oh yeah, there's another one on the way." We don't actually forget of course. We are reminded every day. But we've been so consumed with the day to day of our new reality, it's hard to imagine that this isn't going to be our reality for long. This is like a briefing. A preparation. It's a soft launch. A pre-grand opening. When we finally become ok with the fact that we don't know what we're doing, we're going to get another reminder that we don't know what we're doing. This is scary.

The birthing class instructor started to go through early labor signs, what to pack to the hospital, and technical terms that would make my 15 year old self snicker(ok, my 33 year old self laughed too). Anna and I repeatedly looked at each other with a smirky "what are we doing" look. It was comforting to look around at the four other couples in the room that gave each other that same look. We don't know what we're doing. This is scary.

At times, this realization is more than I can bear. If I dwell on it, I'm going to go insane.

Then I come home in the afternoon. I look at the little girls laughing face, and it's wonderful. Even if she's whiney or fussy or upset, it still makes my day. As a culture we are so caught up in the present moment. We forget the roads we took to get where we are. It took us two years to get Lucy home. No matter how tiring or scary it is, bringing her home was one of the grandest moments of my life, and when they brought her to me for the first time, nothing else in the world mattered. When Anna first showed me a positive pregnancy test, nothing else mattered. It was one of the grandest moments of my life.

Yes it's scary. We have to figure out finances. Are we going to buy and sell homes? Is he going to be healthy? How will Lucy respond to being a big sister after such a short adjustment period to the US? Will we ever sleep again? These are all questions we have, and they're not easy to answer. When these questions arise, I'm often reminded of something my dad always told me. Nothing worth doing is easy. This is conventional wisdom, an old wise saying, and it's truth rings deeper than ever before. All the pivotal moments of life involve leaps of faith. Every grand moment in my life started out with me saying these words.

"I don't know what I'm doing. This is scary."

So bring it on.

Russ

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A New Reality

Thursday will mark four weeks since we got home with the little girl Polsgrove. A month. It's cliché to say that it's been a whirlwind and we don't know where the time has gone, but sometimes statements are cliché because there are mountains of truth to them. For the first week, we were just trying to survive, and in many ways we still are. The second week we were dealing with a nasty stomach virus. Now it's not so chaotic, not so stressful. At least it's calmed down for me. I've gone back to work and reconvened a regular weekly schedule. Only now when I come home there's two people I'm looking forward to seeing rather than just one. I know it's different for Anna. She doesn't go back to work for a few weeks, and she is pregnant with our second child. I'm sure this makes the job of being a mother much harder because she is uber tired but she's doing a great job. One thing that has helped both of us is Lucy started sleeping through the night last week, and ithat's been a huge help. It's nice for us to sleep a little bit.

Before we brought Lucy home, there were two things I hated. First, I got tired of people telling me how different my life was going to be. Not because I didn't believe it was true, but because I hated the connotation that always came with it. Mostly we heard "do everything you want to do now, because once that kid comes home it's OVER". Although most people weren't trying to scare us, it was usually no fun hearing from people in that way. Our lives have changed, this is true. But we've made a priority out of trying to do the things we used to do. We've been to movies, created space for each other to go read and relax. It's more difficult to get away, but we prioritize our time away more because we realize how precious it is. And also it allows us to prioritize the time we get to spend with Lucy as well. Once the initial bonding process is over and we start having babysitters, I can't wait to go out with my wife again too. Yes our lives have changed, but it's been for the better. It's harder for us to do the things we used to, but we're still fundamentally the same people. I hope that never changes, even if our schedule is different.

The second thing I hated was when people relentlessly flooded the internet with pictures of their kids. Their Facebook profiles are their kids pictures. You get email updates every day. Blogs are filled with pictures. It bothered me so much. It seemed pretentious and self-absorbed. Now i know why those people do it. It's almost impossible not to. When you have an addition to your family, and you have other people who want to be a part of that, you can't help but be absorbed in the brand new moments. Asking a new parent to cool it with all the pics is like asking a 16 year old to stop showing off their driver's license. It's like telling a newly engaged woman to stop showing off her ring. It's such a life changing experience there's no way not to be proud.

Our lives have dramatically changed, so you will pardon me an indulgence for a little while. It'll eventually cool off, I promise.



As you can tell, she likes the swing.



She wore this headband for approximately 4.7 seconds before ripping it off.

Russ

Friday, August 12, 2011

Together at last!

We have been home for one week and are doing great! Every day is full of surprises and not all days have been easy but we are so thankful to be on this journey. Here are a few pictures from our first day in Ethiopia.

After sitting on a plane in Chicago for 2 hours, running through the Istanbul airport, almost missing our plane to Addis, we finally arrived around 1 am that Saturday morning. We then found out that two of our four pieces of luggage did not make it (one made it the night we left to come home, one just came to our house today--TWO WEEKS from when it should have arrived in Ethiopia- thanks Turkish Airlines!). Our friend and driver Yoftahe dropped us off at the guesthouse. We unpacked, got everything settled, and finally went to bed around 3:30 am.




Last night with an empty crib in our room

We woke that morning and called Belay about taking placement. He said he would bring her after lunch. We knew that could be 1 pm or 7 pm. Around 2 pm I decided to lay down and take a nap. As soon as I closed my eyes, I heard Russ saying, "They're here!" We both jumped up and ran outside as they pulled up. We could see her in the backseat, drinking a bottle, with a precious bonnet on. We walked around to the passenger side and there she was...just a smiling. As I took her from the caregiver, I was so nervous of how she would react. She was a little cautious but quickly began smiling and laughing.





We spent the afternoon playing. She showed off her tricks and loved showing us how she could walk (just a few steps without our help).





We ended the day by giving her a bath (she was very unsure of this...but has come to LOVE the water) and then bed. Loved having her fall asleep in my arms!






The day began with an empty crib and ended by us putting OUR DAUGHTER to bed in it. We could not believe that after all this time she was with us to stay!

It has been quite a whirlwind since that day two weeks ago. We have so much to share about her, life, adoption, etc. but we are all still adjusting to our new life. I will say there have been difficult parts of the past two weeks (for her and us) but we are so thankful for God's continued faithfulness. We are exhausted but so in love and are truly amazed by this little ball of energy. We are so lucky to get to be a part of her life. Can't wait to share more!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Coming Home

So sorry we have not had a chance to update! We have been busy here with the sweetest, cutest, funniest, MOST ACTIVE 13 month old I know! She has done so well and we cannot wait to get her home. We fly out in 5 hours and land in Memphis Thursday night at 6:50! Can't wait to see friends and family that have loved us and her for so long!

My heart is at peace for the first time since October 2007-- when we knew we were to adopt a baby girl. It has been a wild and crazy journey...one that has taken longer than I would have liked...but being on this side I can say God is good and IT WAS WORTH IT!

She has adjusted well... but pray for our long flight. Hoping she does well! Can't wait to update from home :)

Anna

Saturday, July 23, 2011

It's a Boy!!!!

We are so excited!! Lucy will be having a little brother in December!! Russ has been saying it was a boy and he was right!! Love that God revealed that to him so long ago. I cried just watching him as we heard the sonographer say it was a boy. Precious, precious moment!

We celebrated with family (and a few close friends) on Thursday night!










We then celebrated with a few friends tonight!








What a GREAT weekend!!!! As I lay here typing, this baby boy is moving and squirming. The lady doing the ultrasound went on and on about how active he was. If you know Russ, then it is no surprise to you that we would have an "active" baby ;)

I am now 20 weeks pregnant...which is half-way there!! I cannot believe that. On another celebratory note....our baby girl will be in our arms FOREVER in ONE WEEK!!!! AH!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ethiopia, here we come!

We leave for Ethiopia in just over a week to go pick up our girl!! We are ecstatic!! This has been a long, long journey- one that brings tears to my eyes every time I think about it. We saw Lucy Samrawit's picture for the first time in September. I never would have dreamed it would have taken this long to clear court and embassy. But, it did. I would love to say I have been patient through every trial but that is not the case. Some days I have been filled with peace but then made it through others kicking and screaming.

I will say I have learned so much about God's nature....He has been so faithful during this time. I haven't understood every twist and turn or delay but I can say His promises are true. This adoption journey has brought on a whole new meaning to "lean not on your own understanding" and we have totally had to rely on His truths.

We are in a state of thankfulness right now. Tomorrow we find out if Baby #2 is a boy or girl. 1 week later we leave for Ethiopia. 1 week later we arrive back in the United States with one of the most precious gifts we have ever been given.

Please continue to pray for others still waiting to pass court and embassy. There are lots of mountains that are having to be overcome. We know God can level the mountains, break down the bars, make the rough places smooth, and make the crooked places straight. Please join us in praying that for these sweet families and precious children.

Thanks for loving us for the past two years we have been on this crazy ride! We are so thankful.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Submitted

We got an email from our amazing social worker Kristin today! We were submitted to the U.S. embassy this morning! We now wait 3-5 days (or a little longer) to see if they approve us or need more paperwork. Hopefully, they will approve us and then give us a travel date. We hear (not sure if it is true or not) that embassy dates are currently 3 weeks out. So, we shall see. I know one thing....Russ and I will be on the first flight out if they will just give us a date soon!! Can't believe we are one step closer.

Praising God for moving and working. His promises are true and we are clinging to that.

Please pray for all of the families that are still waiting. There are many that are still waiting to pass court...some that traveled before us and some that traveled after us. Others are waiting for referrals. These have become dear friends to us and the waiting and not knowing is hard. Also praying for people to be called to adopt from Ethiopia...adoption is not the final solution to orphans in Ethiopia but it is part of the solution for now.

Thanks for being in this with us.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Happy First Birthday Lucy Samrawit!

I must confess...I have been anxious about this day for a while. Knowing that she would not be home to celebrate her first birthday with us has been hard. But, we decided this week we wanted to celebrate and be able to show her JUST HOW SPECIAL she really is...not just to us but to many!

On Saturday, we were in Oxford, MS for a wedding. We were free all day so we ate lunch with friends before the wedding. After eating, The Ward's pull out the sweetest cake! Sawyer, their 2 1/2 year old daughter sings Happy Birthday to Lucy and then they give us the cutest painting and card!





Today we woke up to a new picture of Lucy. Our friend Carrie is in Ethiopia so she went to the guesthouse to sing happy birthday to Lucy and get a picture of her. Such a joy to wake up on her birthday and be able to see exactly what she looked like!!! I knew Carrie was supposed to be sending it so when my eyes popped open at 5:30 am (which they NEVER do), I immediately looked at my phone! Russ and I just laid in bed staring at the pictures. It was one of the best gifts we have ever been given :)




This afternoon we had a few close friends and family over to eat cake. Definitely not the way I had pictured today but it really was a great one! I can't say I didn't shed a few tears but I know we are so close to getting her home. Praise the Lord for that!!!





Blanket made by her Coco (my mom)


video

We are so thankful for the way people love us. We love that all of our friends and their children have prayed for Lucy for two years. We love that our families simply cannot wait to get her home. Today was truly a day of celebrating her birth.

Lucy, you are one loved little girl! We cannot wait until the day comes when we are together--the day God has had planned since the beginning of time. Happy First Birthday!! We love you so much!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Exciting news!

It has been almost two weeks since our daughter (for the past year in our hearts) LEGALLY became our daughter on paper. We are still awaiting an embassy date. Our agency has to submit our paperwork to the embassy and then the embassy will give us a date. I am praying to be submitted this week or next (REALLY HOPING THIS WEEK)! Once submitted the embassy has to review our case and give us a date. I have seen this happen within days. Praying that is the case for us!!! I would love to be on a plane within the next 2-3 weeks!!! We want to get our sweet girl home and let her have some one-on-one time with us before December.

Why December you ask??

Lucy is going to be a BIG SISTER!!! We are due in December and couldn't be more thrilled. We should hopefully find out if it's a boy or girl in the next few weeks!! We knew God was calling us to adopt our first child and are so excited about this being the next step for growing our family.

It is NEVER boring at the Polsgrove household!!! I will keep you updated on the progress of Lucy and Baby #2!!!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Peace and Chaos

I have a hard time staying focused. It's true. Anyone who's ever talked to me knows this. I sometimes get distracted and you might as well be talking to a wall because I didn't hear what you say. I'm sorry if this has happened to you. I'm working on it. I promise.

The thing is, there are certain things I've always been able to zero in on. They're usually solitary pursuits. Running. Reading. Writing sermons. Even cleaning is easy for me. If I'm alone and I recognize something needs to get done, I can do it pretty efficiently, until recently.

You all know this, but this year has been filled with euphoric highs and devastating lows.

We left to get Lucy, YAY!!!!!
We had to come back without her, oh crap.

It could be just a few weeks, YAY!!!!!
It's been four months, oh crap.

We're going to have a second child, YAY!!!!!!
We're going to have a second child, oh crap.

Throughout all this, one of the things that has been hardest for me has been the few areas of my life where I've always maintained focus have just spilled out everywhere.I constantly feel like I'm trying to reign in 1000 marbles on a glass table. This became evident to me this week when I looked at the calendar and realized I had scheduled myself to be in two places at one time. This is the second time I've done this in a month. When I realized what I had done, I got super depressed. I felt guilty. I felt like a failure. These probably seem like extreme reactions, and they probably are, but when you suddenly find yourself struggling with things that used to come naturally to you, it's unsettling. It's especially frightening when I realize I'm feeling all of these things before my children even arrive.

We feel like we are as ready as we're ever going to be for this new phase of life. It looks like it won't be long before this new phase of life happens, and that's good news. I'm sure when it comes there are days I'll be pining for life before children, but I'm ready for a progression. There are all types of emotions that come with waiting for something you've been longing for. Anticipation and fear and excitement for the unknown can sometimes paralyze you. That's what I think I'm feeling right now. I feel paralyzed and limited because at any moment my reality could change. It's like asking an 8 year old to act normal on Christmas Eve. I'm clearly incapable of going about business as usual.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, when you group the anticipation of what's to come along with the constant good news/bad news of this year, I can't do anything but get on my knees and pray to God. I keep hearing him say his grace is sufficient. I've read that passage over and over before, but I'm just now knowing what it means. Before I can be ok with having children, I have to understand that Jesus is all I need. He is going to make these things happen, but it all belongs to him. My daughter is not my own, she's his. Our high school students don't belong to me, they belong to him. My wife and family and house don't belong to me. They're his. Christ really is all that you need.

Sometimes the most worthwhile lessons are the hardest to learn.

Russ

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

She is OURS!!!

We got the call this morning! Lucy Samrawit is officially ours!! We now have to wait to get our embassy date...but praying it won't take too long. We will post more later but we are just so excited!!!!! Praise the Lord!!!!



We cannot wait to get our hands on her!!!!

Monday, May 30, 2011

waiting

Waiting is unbelievably hard. I thought waiting for a referral was hard. Then I thought waiting for a court date was hard. And they are. But I must say meeting our sweet baby girl in January and then having to leave her was the hardest. At the time though, I thought we would be back within weeks to get her. So, while leaving was difficult, I thought it would not be for long. We left Ethiopia on February 12, needing a committee's approval for our adoption to be finalized. It is May 30 and we still do not have the paperwork. Not one things has changed in our case. Our daughter, however, is now 11 months old instead of 7 months. She has changed SO much and looks so different. We have gone through every range of emotions the past 4 months. Anger, Sadness, contentment, thankfulness, anxiety, peace, joy, longing.......

I came across this verse today. I am not a Bible scholar so I do not know the context but it totally resonated with me.

Psalm 119:81-84

"I am worn out waiting for your rescue, but I have put my hope in your word. My eyes are straining to see your promises come true. When will you comfort me, I am shriveled like a wineskin in the smoke, but I have not forgotten to obey your decrees. How long must I wait?"

For the past two weeks many cases have been processed, some of which happened before our courtdate and some of which happened after our courtdate. I truly am SOOOOOO excited for the people who have passed. Each time someone passes court, ONE MORE child gets to come home. I rejoice in that.

But I must admit I sometimes have felt forgotten. Some days have felt hopeless. We love our social worker and agency and cannot say enough wonderful things about them, BUT we have had so many days where there are no answers.

I was so thankful to see words in HIS word that I am feeling.

After reading this verse, I again claim that "I PUT MY HOPE IN YOUR WORD." God always finishes what He starts and brings His will to completion. We truly believe that. While we would have it differently, we are still called to wait. And if that is God's best for us and for our baby girl, then we trust Him in that.

Thanks for the prayers and kindness. We are so thankful. Please also continue to pray for the other families waiting.

Hope everyone had a great weekend! Anna

Monday, May 16, 2011

January 31, 2011

Our second day in Addis, we met our BABY GIRL!!!!! Here is our last picture before getting in the car to make the 20 minute drive to meet her!



We were so nervous. Several years of dreaming about this sweet girl and we were finally going to see her face in person. As we entered the foster home, there were 15-20 babies laying on a mat in the sun. We walked past...overwhelmed with the fact that we were THERE! Russ whispered that he thought we had just passed her. We looked around and there she was!!! I will never forget the look she had on her face! We both went and just stared at her. She was a little frightened at first....well, most of the time we spent with her. I then picked her up and held her for the first time. She didn't cry at first...but I did. I could not believe that I was actually holding her. She then started to cry so I returned her to the caregiver. After they took her to her room, we went to see her again. She was asleep in her crib so Russ and I just stared, in awe that this was happening. They then fed her and we watched her play. She was so small yet so strong! She crawled and was into EVERYTHING! We noticed that the rug had been torn....and then noticed that she was the one doing it! We stayed about an hour and then it was time to leave. So hard leaving her after finally being in the same room with her after 5 months of only seeing her on a computer screen.

Afterwards, we had lunch and then went to tour the Silk Factory. We loved seeing how the women and men take actual cocoons to get the silk. They unwind the silk and create thread to then make fabric, scarves, purses, hats, etc. Such a neat process!









video


After touring and buying Lucy the cutest hat from their store, we went to Bilo's for dessert. GREAT ice cream!

Our last stop for the day was visiting the Alert Leprosy Hospital. Men and women receive long-term treatment for HIV and Leprosy here. As you walk around the hospital grounds, you see men and women creating the most beautiful items. You could then purchase these items in the gift shop. We bought Lucy a beautiful crocheted table cloth. Beautiful to see these people with limited physical abilities (no fingers, no hands, etc.) doing such unique and detailed work.





We ended the day with take-out from Cloud 9. We were exhausted...such an emotional but wonderful day!