Friday, August 14, 2015

A Letter to Our Friends and Family...

Dear friends and family,

Warning: This is a long but important post. Grab a beverage and settle in.

It is almost time to return to Ethiopia to bring Kena home. We hope he will be home before the end of August. As we prepare to bring Kena home, we would like to share some of our thoughts on some parenting decisions we are making. We want to help you understand how you can help us begin our new life with Kena as a family of six.

In Kena's short life, he will have gone through many significant changes and life altering experiences. While he may not consciously remember the events, he will still experience immense loss when we bring him home, including feelings of grief and trauma. He will soon experience the loss of familiar and comforting nannies, as well as the sights, smells, and language of his orphanage in Ethiopia. He will likely struggle with feeling safe and secure, and he may lack the ability to trust that we will meet his needs. Kena has not experienced God's design for family while living in the orphanage, and his world is about to turn upside down.

Throughout our adoption process, we have read books, attended conferences, and listened to stories from other adoptive families. One thing we hear repeatedly is that parenting a child from a hard place is very different than parenting a child from birth. Children who come home through adoption have experienced interruptions in the typical attachment process. The loss of a biological mother and birth family at an early age is a major trauma on their little hearts. He has spent more of his life in institutional care than anywhere else. He is a 20 month old baby boy with wounds that God has entrusted to us to help heal. The good news is that we can now, as Kena’s parents and by God’s grace, rebuild attachment and help him heal from these emotional wounds.

Everything around Kena will be new and he will need to learn not just about his new environment but also about love and family. The best way for us to form a parent/child bond with him is to be the ones to hold, snuggle, instruct, soothe and feed him. For the first few months home, Donny and I will need to be the only ones who hold, feed, bathe, comfort, and change Kena. We need to teach him that we are his people, his parents, and that we will always be there to care for his needs. As our love and care of him repeats over time, he will be able to learn that his parents are safe to trust and to love deeply. We are, essentially, recreating the newborn/parent connection. Once Kena starts to establish this important bond, he will then be able to branch out to other healthy relationships.

It will help us immensely if adults limit with Kena what is typically considered normal, physical contact with a baby/toddler. This will (for a while) include things like holding, hugging, and kissing and just seeking any kind of real attachment relationship with him. Children from orphanage settings are prone to attach too easily to anyone and everyone - which hinders the important, primary relationship with parents. Waving, blowing kisses or giving high fives are absolutely appropriate and welcomed! We want Kena to know that the people with whom he interacts are our trusted friends and family, but we also need to differentiate that we will be the ones who are always there for him as his parents. Please don’t try to meet his needs. Please redirect him to us.

"A well-tended newborn is fed, cradled, and soothed when he cries from hunger or crankiness. This scene plays out hundreds of times in the first month of life alone. Through this exchange, the baby learns to trust that his needs will be met and that he can rely on people." (from The Connected Child).

We have been professionally advised that it is best that Donny and I solely meet every need--quickly and consistently. Until he has learned that WE are his parents, we will need to be his primary caretakers at all times. Although it may appear that we are spoiling or babying him, we are not. You may wonder how long this will take, but the timeline is different for every child. We will follow his lead and trust our instincts as his mom and dad. After meeting him a few weeks ago, we learned that he is apprehensive and hesitant and even fearful in new situations. This confirms even more that we need to really work on developing trust and consistency with him and trust the Lord to bind our hearts.   

For the first few weeks or even months, it will seem as if we are kind of cocooning our family in our home. It will be our time, as a family of 6, to huddle in together and start fresh. We need to teach Kena that he has a stable, calm and predictable environment to live in. Donny will be working from home more often the first few weeks Kena is home, so he can establish himself as “Dad” for Kena. As I stated above, we are starting from the beginning and establishing a connection similar to a newborn/parent. 

"Children who come from hard places don't overcome their history in six weeks; it can take years before new, improved life skills and attachment take permanent root for these children." –from The Connected Child

A brief note about his story – Kena’s life has been hard, but there are obvious strands of God’s love, protection and redemption in his past. We will protect his story, and we are choosing not to share the details of his life before he was matched with us. It is his story, and we are blessed to be a part of it. We will wait to share more with him when he is older, and we pray that the gift of his story in the future will be used to help him see God’s kind and protective hand in the midst of the brokenness that came so early in his life.

We cherish each of you and the role you have played in our adoption story. You have helped us grow our family, and there is just no way to thank you enough for that. We need you. Adoption is restoration, redemption, healing. It is work. It is a different kind of parenting as it's parenting on the front lines of children who come from very hard places. While we wanted to offer some boundaries on how we will approach our early months with Kena, please don’t fear making a mistake that might threaten our attachment with Kena. We will give lots of grace just as we hope you will give us grace as we enter into this new phase of our lives.

I will follow up soon with more about how you can practically help us through this transition. Please keep praying for us. We know the Lord has brought us to this point, and we need to continue to rely on his grace and power to parent Kena in a loving and secure way. Please pray he will bond to us. Thanks again for your love and care. We can’t wait to bring Kena home, and we thank the Lord for this gift of our new son.

With love and thanks,
Donny and Kim (and all of us) 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

My Heart on a Screen

As I type, we are flying at 39,000 ft with 3 hours to go until we land in Nairobi. I've only watched one movie because I can't keep my eyes off the interactive map that shows our flight progress. I have watched us leave London, pass Austria and Greece (along with many other European lands), fly over Crete and the Mediterranean Sea and then enter air space of a land I know so little about yet love so much - Africa. Maybe it's the homeschooler in me who loves watching us fly over all of these places we have studied and will study again this year. I think, though, that it's because I have a promised son in this land. We will fly over Ethiopia en route to Nairobi, and I just keep staring at that map. He's there somewhere. Our soon-to-be son. And so I stare. Because it's the closest I've ever been to him.

Our travel process has been fairly smooth. We left our house yesterday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. in a big, black suburban. A kind friend from church had a car service take us to JFK. The kids thought it was cool being picked up like the president or famous people. It was definitely nice to sit back and let someone else do the driving. As Donny and I took our final steps out of our house, he looked at me and said:  "Let's go get him." Mush. From that moment on, I have been fairly laser focused on one thing: adopting our son. It's time to do this.

Back to travel: Let me tell you - I have never driven with a native New Yorker before through lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. When you are super confident and know what you're doing, you can really get places. Let's just say I was a little white knuckled here or there, but he was great.

We got to JFK with lots of time to spare. Once we checked in and got through security, we got the kids McDonalds and took it to a restaurant where I could get a salad. I don't remember the last time I had a salad. It's been lots of frozen pizzas and breakfast for dinner around here while we've been packing/planning.

After dinner, I realized that I had forgotten lip balm, so the kids and I went into a "Hudson News" bookstore to see if they had lip balm. While in the store, I had my first New York star sighting. I saw Padma from Top Chef. I didn't have my camera with me, so I ran back to get it, and once she had checked out, I went up to her and asked if I could take a picture with her. She had her daughter with her, so she politely declined. I told her how we were flying to Ethiopia to adopt our little boy, and I thought it would be so fun that meeting her was part of our story. We introduced our daughters to each other which was so fun, and then she asked her daughter if she knew what adoption was. Her daughter didn't really respond. Padma said she would explain more about it to her later. She was very kind and gracious to me, her airport stalker, and Millie.

Once we finally boarded our plane, which was delayed, we sat on the tarmack for roughly an hour waiting to be cleared for take-off. Apparently the president was there earlier and had held up departures a bit. We settled into our flight, and we tried not to worry about whether we would make our layover in London.

The kids have been doing great. Will fell asleep during our wait on the tarmack before we even took off from JFK yesterday and slept the whole flight until I had to wake him to put on shoes and put his seat upright. The big kids watched a movie, we ate an unexpected meal around 10:30 pm, and we all fell asleep after about an hour and a half into the flight. I have no idea how long we slept, but I guess maybe 4ish hours.

Now we are on our final few hours before Nairobi. Thankfully, we made our connection, but it was close. We arrived at the gate about 10 minutes before the gates were scheduled to close. The kids have been awake this flight which I hope means they will sleep well tonight. The flight has lots of great on-demand movies and even some video games, so they have been well entertained. 

Overall, I don't know that it could have been smoother. I thank the Lord for his continued grace and provision for our family. We are ready to adopt our boy, and we couldn't be more thankful that we have our whole family here to do it together. Thanks for your continued prayers.

We fly to Ethiopia Saturday morning, will drive 3 hours to his orphanage, and then we will meet our boy for the first time. My heart is thrilled even writing those words. As the east coast wakes Saturday morning, we should have him in our arms. We will love on him with all that we can for three days and then head back to Addis Ababa to appear in court next Tuesday. We won't bring him home with us this trip. Once we adopt him, the U.S. Embassy takes 4-6 weeks to complete all they need to do to prepare him for immigration and citizenship. Then we will race back to get him and bring him home forever hopefully at the end of August or beginning of September.

As you sleep early Monday morning, we will be saying good-bye to him. Writing those words hurts my heart. Pray that our embassy process will be surprisingly swift. We can't wait to bring him home.

Thanks again for all of your love and support. I don't plan to blog much more while we are gone, although I may surprise myself. We'll post quick updates here and there on Facebook. An hour and 22 minutes left of flight time. I think I'll go stare at my map. We're coming for you, little one.

Quick pic of Millie and Will under their "tents" doing what they did most of the JFK-Nairobi flight: Movies and Video Games. 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

An update, and the winner of our giveaway is....

Rusty Harding!!!!

Sorry we are a few days late on this, but Millie was excited to draw this morning for our Adoption Fundraising Giveaway. Congrats, Rusty!!!

We are humbled and in awe to report that, by God's grace and the generosity of many, we met 100% our adoption fundraising goal!!! The generosity of our friends and family has been incredible. It really does take a village, and we will continue to need your love, prayers and support now and in the many days and months ahead once we bring our little guy home.

If you had a desire to give and didn't get to it yet, you can still give. There are other "extra" expenses that will come along the way, but it is so good to know we have met all of the absolutely necessary expenses to bring our guy home. 

In case you missed my post on Facebook, we received a court date and will travel to meet him next week! We will officially adopt him to be ours forever on July 28. I will try to post again before we leave, but I can't make any promises. Please pray for our travel over the next two weeks. We are taking our entire family with us, so we are praying that the Lord uses this time to begin molding us into a family of six.

We will not bring him home with us on this trip. Once we pass court, it will take a month to six weeks for him to go through US Embassy  approval to be issued the proper paperwork to come home. Please join us in praying that we can bring him home at the end of August or very beginning of September. Our prayer from the beginning has been that he would be home by Hunter's birthday on September 14. 

Thanks again for your incredible love and support of our family.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Final Countdown

In December, our kids received an XBOX 360 from their Aunt and Uncle. It came with a Kinect sensor that allows them to play the games using their whole body. One of our favorite games is Just Dance 4 where we get points for following the right dance moves. One of our favorite songs in the game is "The Final Countdown" by Europe where two guys dressed as wrestlers dance battle it out. It is very commonplace in our family to hear our four year old humming or singing "The Final Countdown," and that is pretty much awesome.

Well, in a manner of speaking, the final countdown has begun for our family. We received a call yesterday that the final letter needed for us to receive a court date has been submitted to the courts in Ethiopia. Yesterday we were told, "When the court docket comes out next week, your name will be on the list."

I had her repeat that part: "Our name will be on the list."

AAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!! It's finally here!!!! Hopefully this time next week we will know the date we will go to make our little guy a Friederichsen.

Can you hear it? "Da, dah, Da, dah,'s the FINAL COUNTDOWN!!!!"

Hopefully more next week with news that we are packing our bags!!!! Until then, enjoy this little music video and just imagine our little family rocking it out, cause it's THE FINAL COUNTDOWN!!!!

Saturday, July 04, 2015

138 days - A Fundraising GIVEAWAY!!!!

First family picture with our little guy back in February.
It's been 138 days since we first saw his face (which is hidden under the heart until we officially adopt him).

138 Days - As of today, it has been 138 days since we saw our future son's face for the first time. Lord willing, there won't be too many more days that will pass before we meet him face to face.

Today I woke up to Facebook posts from families who are leaving for Ethiopia today having been given TWO DAYS NOTICE. Yes, they were called Thursday and are leaving for Ethiopia today. Some of these families are only two weeks ahead of us in the process. It's getting real, folks. Getting THE CALL to travel to go meet our soon-to-be son and officially adopt him could be very close.

We still have about $5000 to raise to be fully funded to travel to adopt him, bring him home, and complete our final adoption expenses. The grants we were hoping to receive to finish off our adoption expenses did not pan out. We are so thankful that we have received some generous donations in the past few weeks, but we are not finished yet!

In honor of our 138 days of knowing our little one's name and face, we are holding a fundraising giveaway!!! 
We are giving away a $138 Amazon gift card to one lucky winner!!!

You can enter our giveaway twice. Here's how to enter:
1. Click here to give a donation of ANY AMOUNT, large or small, to our adoption fund with Lifesong for Orphans. Any donation will enter you into our giveaway. Want to give $1 just to be entered? Great!!! We would love for you to be a part of our little guy's story.
If you would like to donate via check rather than paypal, let me know. I can send you the address of where to send a check.

2. Share this blog post/giveaway via Facebook or another social media outlet. Other adoption-minded individuals might be excited enter our giveaway to help us bring our little guy home. We would love your help to SPREAD THE WORD. If you share our giveaway, you can comment on this blog post or comment/message me personally on Facebook, and I will put your name in for a second entry.

Here's something fun to think about: Would you consider giving $138 in honor of our little man and our wait for him to this point? If that is too much or if you want to give more, that is totally fine. Just think - if 37 people gave $138, our needs would be met. Cool, right? OR - What if 138 people gave (even small amounts)? That would be awesome, too. I'll try to post a thermometer on our blog to track the status of the giveaway. This will be SO MUCH FUN to see how the Lord provides.

Giveaway ends on Monday, July 13. I will put all names in a bowl and have our kids draw for a winner on July 16 to celebrate five months since first seeing his face. My prayer is that when we draw for the giveaway that we will also be scrambling making travel plans. Only the Lord knows!!!

If you are a first time visitor to our blog and would like more details about our adoption journey and our financial provision/stewardship throughout the last three years, you are welcome to browse through our blog to learn more of our story. Here are a few specific links:
The Beginnings of our Adoption Process
138 Days Ago - Our Referral Call
June 2015 Update on the State of the Friederichsen Adoption Funds

Thanks for considering our family's needs. Above all, please pray that the time remaining to see him face to face will be short and that the Lord will prepare all of us to be together as a family forever.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Be Brave, Little One

Early in 2015, I decided that I wanted two words to define my year: Courage and Discipline. Throughout the year, I have waned in and out of faithfulness to those words and how God wanted to grow me in those areas.

Lately, however, I have been thinking a lot about courage and how brave Donny and I, our current kids, and our little boy waiting for us in Ethiopia will need to be to see this adoption process to completion and to begin life as a family of six.

His life has already held so much pain - too much that any one and a half year old should have to experience. His first pain came so early. He will need to be brave.

We are entering a phase of parenthood that is totally unknown. God has entrusted us to help be part of the process to heal his heart. We will need to be brave.

There will be much we won't understand. There will be much we won't know. We will all need to be brave.

We know our courage is not perfect, and our bravery will wane. I am thankful, however, that the One who we put our courage, faith, and trust in does not waver and does not wane. My bravery will fail. My God will not.

Psalm 121:1-5
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? 
2 My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. 
3 He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. 
4 Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. 
5 The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand. 

Be brave, little one. Someone is waiting for you. We are waiting to love you in the flesh. Until then, our Lord will watch over you. He is the truest Father you need. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

The State of the Friederichsen Adoption Funds

Now that we have accepted our referral and await our little guy's homecoming, we have been putting energy into funding the final part of our adoption which will cover the enormous expense of traveling to bring him home. 

We want to be totally transparent with how we, by God's grace and provision, have funded this adoption up to this point. Below you will find a summary of how the Lord has provided beyond measure for our every need to bring our little guy home.

Our adoption expenses over the past three years have come in three waves. When we began the adoption process in 2012, we used personal savings to cover our initial agency and home study expenses. During 2013, we received a matching grant, held an adoption auction and yard sale, and received charitable donations which covered our second major set of expenses - our international fees that we paid upon accepting the referral of our little man. Now we face the final and MOST EXCITING set of expenses - the ones to travel to GO GET OUR BOY!!!!

We are seeking donations, grants, and other ways to fund the remaining costs associated with our adoption.

To continue with our transparency, here's where we are financially:

As of today, we have personal savings ($4038.50) and some remaining grant money ($1410.41) which together total $5448.91.
Our agency estimates approximately $11,300 in travel related expenses. This will include two trips to Ethiopia, travel, lodging and food while in country, and funds needed to bring our little guy home.

We are currently praying for and seeking the remaining $5851.09 needed to completely fund our estimated travel costs.

We have applied for two more grants, been rejected for one of them already, and we are not sure when we will hear from the other grant agency. 

In the meantime, we wanted to remind you that we have an adoption fundraising account with Lifesong for Orphans in which individuals and families can partner with us to bring our little boy home by donating any amount of money to our adoption. You may donate by clicking 
click the "Donate Now" button on the top right corner of this page, or CLICK HERE . 

One of our greatest desires right now is to be rid of the financial concerns associated with completing our adoption so that we can give all of our energy to preparing to bring our soon-to-be-son home. Will you consider giving little or big to make that happen? Any amount will make a difference. If you have friends who are adoption-minded and might be interested in helping us bring our little guy home, feel free to share this post and need with them.

One more note of transparency: We are considering taking Hunter and Millie with us on our first trip to Ethiopia. Any funds given to Lifesong for Orphans on our behalf will only be used for necessary adoption expenses. We will make decisions about the financial feasibility of taking our kids with us once we see how the rest of our necessary funding comes in. I wanted to be upfront that your donations are only covering what is necessary and outlined by our adoption agency. We will figure out the kids' expenses as we go along if we decide to take them.

Many of you reading this have given to our adoption in the past, and we are so thankful. It was incredible to have grant money and past donations to 100% cover our HUGE referral fee. You helped us to be able to say "yes" to our little guy without having to worry about finances, and that was a HUGE gift to our family.

Now we seek the ability to freely say "yes" to booking those plane tickets when we get the phone call. Will you help send us? We are ready, and we will trust the Lord to provide for our every need. He has been so faithful through this long process, and we trust his faithfulness to bring us to the end when we will finally have our boy in our arms, forever a Friederichsen.

Feel free to contact me at kim (dot) friederichsen (at) if you have any questions about our process. Again, you can donate RIGHT NOW by clicking the "Donate Now" button on the top right-hand corner of this blog post.

We hope with all of our hearts that one of our next blog posts is to tell you that we have gotten the call to go MEET OUR BOY!!! Until then, please continue to pray for our family and our little guy across the world. We long for the day we will be together - a family forever.