Last post was about the first half of our week in Ethiopia. We experienced so much in the first 3 days, reuniting with Jayden Enat and Judah Sisay and really meeting Feven, Meeting both Feven’s dad and Jayden and Judah’s mom, Embassy for the 2, court for Feven, passing court with all documents. The 2nd half of the week was much different.
We did the usual, wake up early, spending the morning to early afternoon with the kids, by afternoon we were off venturing through the country. We traveled back to Nazaret or Adama as it is also known as. This time going back was different. We visited Nazaret the last time on our trip. We went to a school for the orphans and 2 different orphanages. This is where we met Feven. This is where God had our paths cross. This time it we were seeing Nazaret from a different perspective. We were seeing it from this has been Feven’s home for her whole life. 15 years of living here. We returned to Yosef orphanage which is where Feven was from. As I walked in I looked to the left immediately to where I first saw her under the gazebo preparing coffee. No one was there today. My Feven was not there. She is back at the Transition House where she is my daughter.
After touring Yosef, it was amazing to see the changes they have made since we had been last there in December. They are constantly improving on the facility and how they can self sustain themselves. Our agency guide made the statement that if the government was to ever stop providing for the orphanages, Yosef would be the only one that could sustain themselves and provide for the kids. Even as poor as they may appear, they are far better off than most.
Before leaving we had coffee prepared for us, under the same gazebo. I sat in the same spot as I did the last time. To be honest, I don’t remember exactly what I did. I just reflected on the last 4 months and where it has taken us. I felt at peace knowing that from the very 1st moment I had met Feven and had such a burden for her, God heard our cries for her. But I still am broken over the numerous kids who will never have the same experiences. I am thankful for the grace, mercy and hope He gave Feven. I am thankful she is with us.
Onto to another day, busy day of venturing out. We traveled to Mercato. Mercato is the largest air open market in Africa which covers several square miles. Here’s what we were told, “we will take to you see and drive through Mercato. But you cannot get out. And it’s best to close the windows.” Oh hmmm… Jeremy and I had heard about Mercato and knew what we were getting into. It was fascinating to see all the shops selling shoes, luggage, clothes, tools, you name it, they had thousands of it! Gobs of people everywhere. 1, you cannot drive very fast through Ethiopia anyway, but 2, trying to drive through Mercato in a van full of Americans, well, it was even harder. I can say I have been there once and that is enough for me. I was thankful to be out of the area when done.
Our next destination was Entoto Mountains traveling up to the St. Raguel and Elias historical church. The Entoto Mountain was the former capital of Emperor Menelik. Traveling up this mountain in our van was great, except when we stopped the van to take a picture and then needed to get going up the hill again. Entoto Mountain is 3,200 Meters above sea level.
It is covered with eucalyptus trees that were imported from Australia. The trees are an important source of firewood and building materials for the city. While driving up the mountain we would see donkey’s, women, and families carrying bundles of the eucalyptus branches and leaves down the mountain side. Our guide told us that this is what they do for a living. They live in the mountain, they gather up the branches and leaves, carry them down the mountain and sell them. This is what they do every day. I was tried just from us trying to drive up the mountain, not walk up and down it.
Once at the top of the mountain, the sites were amazing. Seeing down into the city, and the drastic change in environment. They had fields of land almost like what we would see at home. It was beautiful. We pulled into St. Raguel’s Orthodox Church. This church was built by Emperor Menelik II and was more than 100 years old. Inside the church are painting from ceiling to floor hand painted by 1 man. He made his own paint from flowers and painted for 3 years until it was completed.
As we walked through the old church and it creaked from old boards, large curtains covered the paintings to protect them. Our guide would pull them back one at a time to talk about the painting. Each one different and describing different stories in the Bible.
Once headed down the mountain, I prayed we had good breaks. A steep mountain in our van with rain.
Our last day there was Friday. We were thankful we did not go anywhere. This was our last day to be with Feven before leaving. Happy to be bringing Jayden and Judah home but sad and overwhelmed to be leaving her behind. We had hopes that this time, with her being older and really understanding what was going on; it might be easier than last time. But it wasn’t. It was worse. As the day went on, she became more and more sad. It started early, she was with us and the next thing I knew, she had gone to her room. I gave her some space and then went to check on her. She was sitting on her bed crying. She does not like to cry in front of us. She has gone her whole life with no family, no one to call mom or dad, no one o tuck her in and say I love you. And for now, we are present, here with her and we are about to walk out on her. (not intending to, but it’s the process, she does know that, but it doesn’t make it any easier.)
Friday was a very special day. When a family clears Embassy to bring their child home, a traditional coffee ceremony is done to honor them. A full Traditional Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony is 3 hours. It is usually shortened for Americans as we are not that patient. However, on this day, the ceremony was for Jeremy and I to celebrate Jayden and Judah. The best part, it was prepared by our Feven. For 3 hours, we watched her from start to finish. She was proud to do this for us. But to make it even more special. They day before at the market NOT Mercato, we had found a traditional Ethiopian dress that was perfect for Feven. We had shown it to her the night before and told her we were taking it home for her. She asked if she could wear it during the ceremony. My heart leaped for joy and I ran to grab the dress. She changed and completed the rest of the ceremony in her dress. The nannies all clapped and smiled at her dress.
As I watched her make the coffee I remembered the 1st time I had her coffee. I smiled at the thought that God knew she would be our daughter. I don’t know her whole life story, I don’t know everything she has been through. Her joys, her praises, her sorrows, her accomplishments and her heartaches. But I do know she lights up a room with her smile. She loves and cares so deeply for Jayden and Judah. And like her, we too count down the days until she comes home.
So here began a new chapter as a family of 4 with Jayden and Judah, full of joy. Here also continued the wait for our Feven. It appears that our adoption is constantly full of joy and sadness. Bitter sweet at every turn.
Please continue to pray for Feven as she is now without her brother and sister at the Transition House. Pray for her heart and comfort during her wait.
I had every intention of making this post while in Ethiopia. However, we were SOOOO busy! (understatement!) I wanted to take a minute while my kids are napping to talk about our recent travel to Ethiopia.
We landed Sunday April 7th @ 6am in Ethiopia. We slept NONE while on the plane as we were so blessed to have the drunk, loud speaking man behind us who talked LOUDLY for the whole flight, 13 hours!!! We were not happy campers, nor where the people around us. One fun note on the flight we met 2 different groups traveling, 1; Ordinary Hero who was traveling to other areas of Ethiopia to serve in villages and orhpanages. It was fun to listen to their mission, passion and share our journey with them as well. The 2nd group was small, a party of 2, But really was a miracle we met them. There were from Project Hopeful! Yes, that’s right. This is the group that really made such an impact on us to advocate for children affected by HIV and we have their information under our HIV page on our site. These 2 women were going to be at one of their women ministries while in country. For that moment, I felt so blessed and thankful to be able to tell this organization in person how much they have impacted us and our lives. God is good!
After leaving the airport, we went straight to the Transition House. Filled with anxiety, excitement and eagerness, I looked out the windows remembering how much I really LOVE this country! This beautiful country, the people and blessed that God hand picked my family from here. Once in, we met the other families there, excited to be among new friends. One family offered to take pictures for me of meeting our kids again and our newest daughter. And there they were, in walked Jayden Enat and Judah Sisay with a big smile on their face and hugs all around. Closely behind them was Feven. We fully expected Feven to be more reserved with us. However, She walked straight to me, hugged my neck as tight as she could, kissed my check and said, “thank you for coming for me.” I squeezed her as tight as I could and said “I love you so much!” It was that moment I knew, God had prepared her heart for us and our hearts for her.
We spent the whole day reconnecting with our 2 and adding her. We went up stairs where we dressed the girls in Ethiopian twirling skirts and shirt and Judah Sisay in his Ethiopian shirt. (outfits made my grandma Kruer and Aunt Shannon.) Needless to say, it was a big hit. We danced, twirled, played and loved. Feven jumped right in. Never felt forced or anything. She longed to hold our hands, hug us and just be near us. I ran upstairs to the room and grabbed something special. We had a video of 1 of our church services at church. As a family, on a Sunday in Ethiopia sitting in the kids lunch area where there is a TV and DVD player, we had our 1st church service. The words to the songs were on the screen and I listened closely as Feven sang along. (in case you didn’t know, she has a voice like the angles). Afterwards, we showed her the video we made her. It contained us talking, showing her the house, dogs, horses, church, and family. She laughed nervously about the dogs and her jaw dropped as she saw the church, yeah we know it’s big.
We had requested to meet Feven’s dad and Judah Sisay/Jayden Enat’s mom while in country if at all possible. Sometimes, these things are not possible for various reasons. On Monday, we were out playing in the court yard when Feven looks at us and says, “My dad. He’s here.” What…She takes our hands and walks us to him with Jayden and Judah at our side too. This man, grabs me, hugs me and kisses my cheeks on both sides (custom) and shakes Jeremy’s hand and gives him a hug. We sat in a room and talked with him through a translator where we learned so much more. We learned of his hopes and dreams for her. I was thankful he came. That same day, he went to court before the judge to officially give her up to be adopted. Here’s a side note that we didn’t know, She (Feven) actually had to go to court as well and say she wanted to be adopted! (because of her age). I found that out and almost fell over. What if she said no, would she say no? Nope, she said YES! Thank goodness for that!
Tuesday comes and once again, playing in the room with our kids and some others, one of the older boys ran to Jayden and Judah and tells them something. The immediately got up, grabbed us and took off running. I asked Feven and she said, “their mom is here.” Once again, what… They ran to her, pulling me along. They hugged and kissed her. They took me to her where she hugged me tightly and kissed both sides of my cheeks and forehead. I was so surprised to see her. They last I had heard was she was very sick. And she had been, but was better now. The woman that stood before me will always be their mom. She was not much taller than me but appeared very fragile. We sat in a room with her and a translator. She looked at the floor when she talked, not thinking she was worth anything to look at us. I remember thinking, please look at me. I want you too! It’s ok! I am no better than you. We are the same! But she didn’t. We learned she is the same age as Jeremy and I, yet appears much older because of life circumstances. We asked her if she knew Jesus, Our Lord and Savior! Yes she answered! Praise God! We asked her if she wanted to know anything about us. Her reply, “I am thankful and Praise God for getting to meet you (Jeremy and I). That’s all I have wanted.” I cried as we told her would would pray for her, her kids will always know her and her love for them.
Nothing can ever prepare you for those moments. No matter how prepared you think you are, you are not. I was so happy to have met them, yet so sad by the different struggles they faced and giving their children up. Their children who are my children.
As Tuesday continued, we had a busy day ahead of us. We had Embassy for Jayden and Judah, followed by hoping to appear in court for Feven. We quickly ate and dressed us and the 2 kids for Embassy as they go with us. We made a long trip to the other side of Addis where the US Embassy was. All this for this 1 moment, that seriously took 3 mins tops! HA! We would wait 2 days for their Visa and Passports to be ready and then they could come home! Meanwhile, the van took them back to the Transition House while we hopped in the car with our Agency contact and rushed to Ethiopian court. The plan was because we were not scheduled for the court dockets that day, we would wait until all other cases were heard and only when the judge was finished, our Agency contact would approach her with requesting us to be seen to give consent to adopt Feven. The last we had heard was all her documents had not been completed, so we would appear to say yes we want to adopt her and then everything would be pending when her documents were finished. The judge graciously allowed us to meet with her. We answered all the questions for her. (this hearing was different. The last one was private, she spoke to us in English, this one was public, she spoke in Amheric with a translator) At the end we wait for them to say pending your MOWA letter, you are approved. Instead, she says, “All documents are in and approved, she (Feven) is YOURS!” WHAT!?!?! Ours! Our Good and Gracious God allowed her paperwork to fly through the system! What we expected to be another month was done! She was ours! Jeremy and I stood before the judge with tears rolling down our faces saying thank you, thank you, thank you! Praise be to God!
I have so much more to say, but for now, that will have to be it! Time to go. I will write more about our trip next post. Thank you again for the prayers and support. God heard our cry and made everything possible! We are officially a family of 5, just waiting for Feven to be submitted to the US Embassy to come home.
As hopefully all of you know, we brought home 2 of our 3 kids last night!
While still at the airport last night Jayden (Enat) started asking about Ferris (horse) and Wusha (Dog). They fell asleep in the van almost immediately on the way home. When we got home, Jayden was very excited to get to finally meet both the horses AND the dogs! She was immediately hugging on both of the dogs. Judah (Sisay) was a little more hesitant about the dogs and didn’t care too much about the horses.
We gave them a bath (which they thought was the most fun ever) and then we put them to bed after a VERY long day. It was no surprise to us that they slept through the entire night. They didn’t wake up until 8:15am! WOO-HOO!
For breakfast they ate sausage and eggs. They liked the eggs a lot more than they liked the sausage but they still ate most of the sausage anyways.
All morning long they have been wearing us out! We played with the dogs, we petted the horses, we walked around outside, we chased each other around outside, and a whole lot more. Unfortunately I wore out long before they did.
Judah is starting to get comfortable with Leo as long as Judah isn’t standing on the floor by himself. He still isn’t having anything to do with Samson (Can you really blame him???). Jayden is in LOVE with both dogs and all 3 horses.
For lunch they ate carrots, oranges, apple sauce, a banana, and a peanut butter sandwich. Considering the fact that one of our biggest fears was getting them to eat new, different, and strange food, we are both ECSTATIC about the food they are eating so far. Lets hope that it continues this well.
They are now both laying down for their afternoon nap.
Thank you to EVERYONE who has supported us a long the way!
I just wanted to make a quick post to say THANK YOU to everyone who as supported us along the way.
Due to the fact that we were able to combine Jayden (Enat) & Judah’s (Sisay) Embassy trip with the court trip for Feven AND due to some VERY GENEROUS donations that we have received over the past several months I am VERY EXCITED to share the fact that our adoption is FULLY FUNDED!
We literally could not have done it with out YOU!
Thank you so much!
Jeremy, Meredith, Feven, Jayden, & Judah Kruer
It’s been a crazy week. With the normal busyness of the work week alone, lets top it off with packing for Ethiopia! OMG! I know, it sounds simple. But, it’s not the easiest thing to do. Packing Jeremy and I is easy. Been there, done that back in December. However, packing for 2 kids that you don’t really know their sizes or even what they need or what you need to survive that flight back…and then trying to get it to fit in the carry on bags. (which have strict rules). It really has not been too much fun. Then, you add the stuff we have for our 15 y/o daughter, checking and double checking that you have all the documents for her and her adoption, plus all our documents, it’s enough to make anyone go crazy! (All you adoptive mom’s, either know what I’m talking about or your about ready to find out) Oh, and then add being fitted for my dress for a friends wedding, cleaning the house, doing laundry, and get everything together to have when we come home. Oh my…I’m stressed out just thinking about it.
I also have a lot of anxiety about meeting our oldest again. Remember, we met her for a whole hour last time, and at the time, we had no idea the plans God had for her, to be our daughter. I worry about her anxiety, her fears, and if she will be disappointed with us. For 8 years she has prayed for a family and now that this day has come…I can’t even imagine how she feels. I just know the feelings I have on this side. I am thankful today for a wonderful friend who is in Ethiopia now. She messaged me today to tell me she has been spending a lot of time with our “clan.” Enat and Sisay eagerly await us coming to get them and Feven is excited and anxious to be with us. To hear that Feven is excited but nervous (who wouldn’t be) about her new life and is ready to be with us brings so much joy to my heart. God must have known I needed to hear that today. My nerves have been better since hearing this wonderful news.
Anyways, we leave this Friday. We have a lay over and won’t actually leave for Ethiopia until Saturday morning. We will arrive in Ethiopia Sunday morning to be with ALL 3 of this our kids! WoW! Monday is a prelim hearing for our oldest daughter, we hope to be seen by the judge since we are in country, Tuesday afternoon is our US Embassy appointment. As a family, Jeremy, Enat, Sisay and I will appear before the US Embassy. On Thursday we can pick up their Visa’s and then we head for home on Friday night. This will be a bitter sweet moment (our adoption and general life circumstances seem to follow this pattern lately). On one side we have our 2 children and will be bringing them home, all the while we will leave our oldest behind until she is ready and cleared to come home. I promise, this is one of the hardest things you will ever do. I know we have only been with her for a week, but still, she is our daughter, and we have to leave her. Can you imagine, you leaving your child for months after birth?
God has been so faithful and generous to us! He is good and has blessed us with an amazing family. As we embark on this leg of the journey, please pray for safe travels, ease our oldest heart as we come in and then leave, and a smooth transition home with our youngest 2. Their world is changing and this will be difficult for them and us.
You can welcome us home at the Louisville International Airport on Saturday April 13th @ 6:40pm.
Thank you for the continued support and prayers! We have some serious prayer warriors on our side and I know they are what has held me together these last few weeks! Thank you!