Brief Update

We wanted to post an update here for those following along with the blog. Court went well on Monday, as the judge approved Olivia’s release to our care for bonding. Now we are just waiting for the paperwork to come through, so we are visiting her at the orphanage until then. Above is a picture of some of the daily traffic we experience in Lagos!

Once we have her in our care, the bonding will need to be approved by a social worker, and then we can finalize the adoption on the Nigerian side. Please pray that we can get her into our care as soon as possible. Thank you all so much for your prayers!

The First Few Days in Nigeria

It has been a wonderful first few days in Nigeria getting settled and meeting Olivia for the first time. Sorry for the delay in updating the blog – the internet was pretty spotty at first and Facebook was working best for updates. We hopefully have those issues sorted out now. We do want to remind anyone that is not already part of the private Facebook group to reach out to us if you are interested in receiving more frequent and detailed updates.

Arriving in Nigeria, May 4

Our flight to both Amsterdam and Lagos went smoothly, so we are thankful there is nothing noteworthy to report there! It took us a little while to get through visa/processing when we arrived in Lagos, but it went pretty smoothly as well. When we landed we definitely noticed that it was HOT and very humid. We were ready for a shower and bed by the time we made it back to the apartment.

Sunday, May 5

Sunday was a restful day for us, as we got to sleep in and unpack. We were able to livestream our church service from back home, which was wonderful. We are hoping to go to a local church here possibly next week. We were thankful for the macaroni and cheese and other snacks we brought so we did not have to go hunt for food without Nigerian currency or a driver!

Monday, May 6

We started the day by going to Morgan Hill Children’s Foundation, the agency that handles all adoptions in Lagos. The staff there is amazing – we could see their passion and love for the kids they help. After a good meeting there, they sent us with our case worker and driver to the orphanage to meet Olivia. She was very shy and timid when she first came into the room, but she went right to Sarah and let her hold her. After a little while she grew more timid and cried a bit. We would have been happy with this meeting if that’s where it had ended, but were thrilled when we started to play ball with her and she really opened up. We were able to spend another couple hours playing, swinging, and laughing with her before we went back and she took her nap. Words can’t describe how sweet it was – God was so gracious with our first meeting! We then got to experience our first trip to the supermarket ShopRite, which went well.

Tuesday, May 7

Our driver picked us up at 9:00 and drove us to the orphanage, which is only a few miles away, but it took us over an hour in the traffic! We were able to spend 3 hours with Olivia before she went down for a nap and we headed back to the apartment. Today’s meeting with Olivia went well. She was very timid again when we saw her, but came right to me and let me pick her up. She definitely warmed up more quickly than Monday. We were able to break the ice with the swing set, and then we brought out the equivalent of Cocoa Puffs and won the little girl over through food! She loves being outside and watching the birds come and go, which she fondly named “coo coos!” It was another good day.

Wednesday, May 8

Today we met with officials from the Lagos State Ministry of Youth and Social Development, so we didn’t get a chance to get out to the orphanage. The meetings were brief but went well – the Lagosian people are very kind and welcoming. We tried our first bit of Nigerian food – we ordered it through Jumia, an African app similar to Uber Eats. Jollaf rice is somewhat similar to fried rice but cooked with tomatoes and peppers. It is delicious but very spicy! We also tried fried plantains, and they were pretty tasty as well – a lot like fried pieces of sweet potato. Last and definitely least was goat pepper soup – I know other families have enjoyed some form of pepper soup when they were in Nigeria, but this version was extremely spicy goat organ pieces in broth. We will not be ordering this again, but we have talked to a few locals who like it! Our outdoor supper had to be taken indoors – it looks like dusk is feeding time for the very large bats that live near us in Lagos!

Thursday, May 9

Today as we left for the orphanage we had quite the ride as it was pouring rain! The drainage on some of the roads to the orphanage was poor so there was some localized flooding. At one point on our trip, I looked out my window and we were sitting stuck in traffic in a fast flowing river down the middle of the street. We got quite wet as we knocked on the gate and honked for someone to open the door over the noisy rain and thunder. We were able to stay and play with Olivia today for a few hours today, which was really nice. We colored, played with some stacking toys we brought along and fed her some Cocoa Puffs and cookies, which she really likes. We got lots of laughs and squeals as we played hide and seek with her. She is such a sweetheart and her personality is starting to come though even more. Each time we leave it gets a little harder for everyone to say good bye. We believe we will be back to visit tomorrow.

Prayer Requests

We are praying we can have court early next week to get the approval so that she will be released to our care – pray this happens quickly and the bonding does as well. Pray especially that our family would grow close in the coming days and weeks ahead. We continue to trust the Lord’s sovereign plan and in his perfect timing.

Coming Up Next

Our next update on the blog will likely be when she is released into our care for bonding. We are so thankful for everyone of you – looking forward to sharing more updates soon!

Arrived in Nigeria & a Big Thank You

Knowing how many people are praying for us has made the journey thus far a joy.

We wanted to let you all know that we’ve arrived safe and sound in Lagos, Nigeria! It took a little while to get out of the airport last night, but we made it to our apartment and slept very well! Today we are in the process of unpacking. We brought along some American mac & cheese (including the gluten-free/dairy free kind) so we would have something to eat today before we go grocery shopping tomorrow. The power did go out once already, but it came back on after not too long.

We are meeting with officials tomorrow and our hope is to meet Olivia for the first time! If we don’t meet her tomorrow it will likely be Tuesday. We are very excited!

As we settle in to our apartment in Nigeria, we wanted to post and say thank you for all your prayers, love, support. We have been overwhelmed with love over the past few days from our family, our church family, and friends. Knowing how many people are praying for us has made the journey a joy! We know that God is the good Father who loves to give his children good things, and we are trusting in this truth no matter what lies ahead.

Thanks again for everything!

Markus & Sarah

Preparing for Departure!

We are happy to announce that we are in the process of finding airfare to travel to Nigeria in early May! We received our welcome letter today are so excited! Now that we have this letter, we can reserve our plane tickets. Once we have the actual dates we will be arriving in Nigeria we can apply for our Nigerian visas and finalize where we will live.

Prayer Requests

In addition to praying that the travel prep goes well, please continue to pray earnestly for the U.S. Consulate and for little Olivia’s paperwork in order for her to enter the United States. The time it will take for her to get approved is completely unknown at this time. Please pray specifically for favor with the Consulate, that the process goes quickly and smoothly, and that we are able to all come home together.

We are so thankful for all your prayers and encouragement!

Referral: Accepted!

We have accepted a referral of a little girl from Nigeria!

We are thrilled to be able to post that we have accepted a referral of a little girl from Nigeria! She is a beautiful little toddler, and we could not be more excited! The name we picked for her is Olivia, which carries with it the meaning of peace. We chose this name because we think that is both beautiful and fitting. It also goes well with her middle name, which is the name given to her by the orphanage. Nigeria has strong privacy regulations on sharing information regarding pending adoptions, so we will not be sharing any pictures or specifics about her publically until the adoption is complete. We look forward to sharing a little more about her as we talk to you personally! We also will be setting up a private Facebook group for friends and family to follow along through the process from now until we get home from Lagos. Please let us know if you want an invite for this group.

We now begin the process of preparing for travel. Due to the elections in Nigeria, we will not be traveling in March. Our hope is that we will be able to leave at some point in April, but we are holding that very loosely, as there are still a few steps before we can hop on a plane. Between now and when we do travel, we need to get Nigerian visas, buy plane tickets, secure lodging in Lagos, and pack. There are likely lots of other little things we need to do and paperwork to fill out, but those are the big milestones and tasks we will be working on over the next several weeks.

Prayer Requests

  • Please pray for little Olivia! We especially are praying that the Lord is preparing her heart for us, and that in the mean time she is happy, healthy, and safe.
  • Pray for us as well, that we would be preparing well to meet her and become her parents. Pray that the Lord would bless us physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually as we begin preparations to travel and meet our little girl.
  • Pray for the elections in Nigeria – the national elections are tomorrow (2/23) and the local elections are in two weeks. Pray for peace, safety, and a smooth transition of power. Pray that any changes resulting from these elections would not slow things down but only serve to simplfy and streamline the adoption process.

We again can’t thank you all enough for your support and prayers – it means the world to us!

Markus & Sarah

Eight More Weeks of Waiting

The officials in Nigeria did confirm that they have a referral for us, but they expect that the paperwork for the child will not be available for about eight weeks.

We received an update about our referral, but it was not exactly the update we were hoping for. The officials in Nigeria did confirm that they have a referral for us, but they expect that the dossier (paperwork) for the child will not be available for about eight weeks. We are taking this timeframe with a grain of salt, as we know things can and do change, but we were hoping for the paperwork sooner than this. Once we get the dossier and accept the referral, we can travel to begin the bonding process.

We do have a few prayer requests:

  • Pray for patience and joy as we wait. We know that the Lord is sovereign over this timeline, yet waiting is hard.
  • In mid February Nigeria is having national elections, and in early March Lagos State is having local elections. Please pray for a smooth, peaceful election process and for the outcomes to be favorable with regard to adoption. If there are changes as a result of the elections, please pray that the impact and downtime is minimal, particularly for the families already in Nigeria.
  • Finally, pray for the families that are in Nigeria right now in various stages of the process. Because of the U.S. government shutdown, some of the consulate and embassy employees are not being paid, and this is likely slowing down the process. Pray for a quick end to this shutdown and for these families to be able to come home.

Thank you all for all your prayers and support – we could not do it without you all.

Markus & Sarah

Good News & a Prayer Request

We still have several hurdles to go, but it is encouraging to see some movement.

We wanted to send out a brief update – some good news! First off, we have official approval from the Nigerian government to travel for our adoption. This is very unusual, as this typically comes after a couple accepts a referral. We are thankful for this, as it is one less hurdle to traveling when the time comes (even though our travel date is still up in the air).

Also, we have been told that Nigeria likely has a referral for us! We have not received the official paperwork yet, so the details are few, but we are hopeful we will get this paperwork soon. Until then, we have shared with some of you in person a few more details, but we will wait until we have official news to post any details here. All in all, this is very good news, so please pray that we get the official paperwork soon.

Once we receive an official referral, we will look it over and have one or two doctors who are familiar with international adoption review it as well. When we officially accept a referral, we are considered matched. We then will apply for our Nigerian visas and make final preparations before traveling.

All this said – we are getting closer! We still have several hurdles to go, but it is encouraging to see some movement.

Again, we would greatly appreciate your prayers that we receive the official paperwork as soon as possible. We are are so excited to get more information and a picture!

Markus & Sarah

Waiting in the Season of Advent

Waiting for earthly blessings echoes some of the deepest longings of our hearts – for the world to be set right, and for God to dwell with his people forever. 

Waiting.  It’s a word that describes much of life – especially as a Christian.  Children wait for big milestones, like a birthday or other fun event.  Teens wait for the chance to get a driver’s license and graduate.  Adults wait for jobs, vacations, and periods of rest.  Ultimately, as believers, we wait for the consummation of Christ’s kingdom, where he will dwell with us in the New Creation.

From Genesis onward, Scripture is filled with waiting.  Following the fall, Adam and Eve waited for the Seed that would crush the serpent’s head.  Noah patiently built the ark and waited for God to deliver his family and the preserved animals through the floodwaters.  The patriarchs waited for God to fulfill the promises he made to Abraham.  Moses waited as he led his people out of Egypt and towards the Promised Land and then waited 40 years for his people to enter it.  The history of the nation of Israel is one of waiting – from the waiting for a king to waiting for deliverance because of their sin.  The prophets waited for judgment and deliverance, and also for the new covenant to come.

In church history, Advent is a season that waiting takes on special significance for the new covenant believer.  During Advent, we look back to Christ’s first coming, remembering the prophecies and the events that led up to the birth of Jesus, but we also look forward to Christ’s second coming to fulfill the promises of Scripture.  We eagerly await this day where all the wrongs will be set right and all the tears will be wiped away.  This is what Christians celebrate at Christmas – not just the coming of God incarnate, but the dawning of the age to come with Christ as King.  In this, we celebrate with the certain hope that he will accomplish all he has promised.

So we wait.  As we begin this Advent season, we feel the reality of waiting more than ever because of our adoption.  We still do not know what lies in store for us in this adoption.  It is our desire to get a referral any day for two children and travel soon to bring them home.  We often check our emails and messages to see if we have any news, and we struggle with anxious hearts as the days go by.  Waiting is hard – sometimes extremely hard.  Yet in waiting, we are reminded of the Sovereign One who knows our plight far better than we do, and he loves these children far more than we will ever be able to.  Waiting for earthly blessings echoes some of the deepest longings of our hearts – for the world to be set right, and for God to dwell with his people forever.  We are reminded of his promises that he will make all things new, and even now is orchestrating every molecule of the universe for the good of those who love him.

So we wait in confidence – not in the confidence that all our desires will be fulfilled on earth, but that God is good, and he is on his throne.  He will accomplish all his purposes, and those purposes are ultimately for our good and for his glory.

Charles Wesley captures this spirit of Advent well:

Come, Thou long-expected Jesus,
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

We hope you have a blessed Advent season as you look forward to celebrating both the miracle of the incarnation and the promise of Christ’s return.

Markus & Sarah

 

Thank You & Small Update

Thank You

We want to thank everyone who participated in the spaghetti dinner a couple of weeks ago.  We were extremely blessed by the love, support, and generosity of everyone who attended.  We are also grateful for the many who were unable to attend but still reached out in support and encouragement.   Also, thanks to all who donated desserts for the dessert silent auction and helped set up and tear down – we could not have done it without you!  We want to give a special thank you to Levi & Emily Secord and Jim & Bev Ornell for hosting the event and preparing all the delicious food.  Words cannot express how grateful we are – thanks again!

Thanks also to everyone who bought a t-shirt both earlier in the summer and in this latest second round.  We just received word that the second round has been printed, and we will get them on Friday.  We will contact those who ordered in the second round (or have not received their first round) early next week.

Adoption Update

While we were hoping to have bigger news to share, we are still waiting for a referral.  Representatives from our agency traveled to Nigeria for a week in mid September, and they were able to visit several orphanages and speak with the adoption personnel in country.  It was an encouraging trip, and it was helpful for us to hear that they are optimistic we will receive a referral “soon.”  We are not sure exactly what this means for a timeline, but we are encouraged by this update.  We are praying that we will receive a referral by the end of this year.  While there are no guarantees, we are trusting in the Lord’s sovereign plan for our family.

In other news, we have bracelets for sale!  The suggested donation is $1, but if you have already donated and would like one just let us know.  Thanks to Aaron & Liz Rothermel for starting this fundraiser for us!

Prayer Requests

Please pray that we receive a referral soon!  We are excited to bring home our kids, and we hope that this will be sooner rather than later.  Pray for patience and contentment for us as we wait.  Please also pray for our future children. Specifically for their health and safety, and that God would be preparing their hearts for their future family.

We love you all so much – thanks for your support and encouragement!

Markus & Sarah

Fundraising News

We are excited to let you know about some fundraising we are doing for our adoption!

Spaghetti Dinner

Some friends of ours will be hosting a spaghetti dinner fundraiser for us at the City Hall in Albertville on Saturday September, 15.  The dinner will be a freewill donation, and there will be a dessert silent action, bracelets for sale, and an opportunity to order t-shirts.  All donations will go towards our adoption expenses.

Dinner Served: 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM

Dessert Silent Auction will close at 6:30 PM

We need to have an idea of how many people we will be serving.  If you could please let us know if you will be able to attend either via the Facebook Event RSVP or via email that would be great!

Second Round of T-Shirts

Today we are also opening the second round of t-shirt orders today!  If you wanted a t-shirt and did not get one the first round, here is the link to put in an order.  This round will close on Monday, September 17th.

Prayer Requests

Please continue to pray that we would receive a referral soon for two children.  Also pray for two staff members from our agency, who are traveling to Nigeria in mid September to strengthen contacts on the ground and hopefully do what they can to smooth out the process for U.S. families adoptiong from Nigeria.

Thank you again for all the love and support that you have shown to us.  We look forward to seeing many of you on the 15th!

Markus & Sarah