Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Home At Last!

For those of you that don't know, I've spent the last 5 1/2 weeks in the DRC, diligently working to bring home our little girl, Mbo.  And finally, last night, we arrived home at 9:45 on Christmas Night.  What an incredible Christmas miracle for all of us!

I'm hearing lots of questions from all of you, and while I LOVE talking about Mbo and how she's doing, I'm exhausted!  So I'm taking a moment to post a few of our most asked questions, before I crash into bed.  The biggest question so far is:

How is Mbo adjusting?

I feel that Mbo and I have established the beginnings of a great bond.  There isn't a huge level of surface affection (hugging, kissing, I love you's) on Mbo's part, but frankly, we've known each other a month.  It's totally ok with me if she takes her time.  But she does seem to love me, almost as much as I love her!  She looks to me for help, for answers, for permission.  It's amazing, actually, how quickly she decided that I was her mama.  Amazing.  Sure wish I could take credit for it. I know we might just be in the honeymoon phase, but she's a fantastic kiddo.  Don't get me wrong, there are typical 5 year old behaviors that we've had to figure out together, but she's doing so well!

How did Mbo like the plane ride home?

I was super nervous about this one, myself.  36ish hours travelling for the first time on four separate planes... Doesn't sound like the best scenario for a 5 year old, honestly.  But Mbo was sooo excited about the airplanes.  She loved them!  When landing, she'd hide her eyes in my arm, while clutching my hand with both of hers, but it reminded me of riding a roller coaster for the first time.  Scared but excited all at the same time.    Tummy rolling over.  Mbo was a trooper!  She (and her mommy) got cranky at times, but for the most part, we couldn't have asked for better travel.  Mbo watched Brave probably 5 times total in two days.  I offered other movies, but she LOVED it!

The airport was great.  Mbo was genuinely excited to meet her family.  It felt so good to finally have my whole family together after 9 months of working to that end.  Due to snow, we didn't have as many people come as had planned, but it was just the right amount, honestly.  So, so good to finally hug my family!

How was the first day back?

Let me tell ya, we couldn't have asked for a better 24 hours.  Mbo was so very excited to see everyone, just as they were excited to see her.  She was friendly and outgoing (as much as Mbo is outgoing-she's fairly quiet) and generally happy with everything.  We had a great nights' sleep, as all three of my children slept until 8:30 this morning.  Wow, is that a Christmas gift for these tired parents!

Robby and Ella spontaneously decided that we needed a welcome home party this morning.  So they set up the living room with flowers and sea shell for decorations and finally invited us all in. Robby even insisted on a (terrible) family picture that he wanted us to frame and put on the wall.  Probably not gonna happen, Buddy.

The kids spent the day running around the house, using their God-given lungs to the best of their abilities!  Mbo seems happy and well-adjusted today, thoroughly enjoying her new siblings.  Those kids crack me up!  Who cares about the language barrier?!

Robby spent a good deal of time today, patiently explaining things to his new sister.  He was so proud of her that she could count to 20 in English, so he decided to help her learn up to 30!  And then, he wrote our the numbers, so she could see what they looked like.  Love his heart.  There's no one in this world like my Robby.

Mbo and Ryan had a hard time bonding in Congo, while he was there.  It's typical for kids to bond with one parent first, but it's difficult to be on the other side of that.  So it's been so amazing for us that she is so excited to be around Ryan.  Again, there's the reminder that this is all new, and we have a VERY long road ahead of us, but we're off to a better start than I could have imagined.  :)

Ella & Robby are both pretty connected with me at the hip today.  Ella especially is having trouble with not wanting me gone.  She doesn't even want me to leave the room, honestly.  Can't say as I blame her.  I'm holding tight to my kiddos!

All that said, I know we have a long road ahead, but it feels like we're a family.  A dream come true.  Welcome Home, Mbo Alexis Hanson!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

God is victorious!

This has been a roller coaster of a month.  First, we thought we'd travel in September.  When we found out that wasn't the case, it took WEEKS to find out where we really were in the process.  And even then, there were conflicting reports of what's actually completed.  Let me tell ya, it hasn't been confidence inspiring.

In the midst of this, our agency sent out a form called the Travel Agreement, which contained very logical, ass-covering verbage that basically asked us to wait to travel until our agency approved travel, ensuring that paperwork is completed, so we don't arrive in the Congo, missing paperwork.  Pretty simple stuff.  Unfortunately, at the end of this "agreement," which was really an addendum to our contract, they stated that "Children of All Nations reserves the right to discontinue processing paperwork with families who refuse to sign the Travel Agreement or choose not to follow these guidelines."  See the problem in that?

There is nowhere in any of our contracts or addendums that gives CAN (Children of All Nations) the right to cancel our adoption, and frankly, I CANNOT sign something that does.  So... I fought back. I emailed our agency back and forth, repeatedly, while they highlighted phrases from our contract that had nothing to do with the issue, at all.  I talked with my fellow CAN families about the problem.  And then I decided to seek legal counsel.  And the lawyer confirmed what I suspected.  CAN would be in breach of contract if they stopped our adoption because we refused to amend the contract, without both parties agreeing to the change.

And, God be praised, it worked!!  I informed CAN what the lawyer had said, and when I finally talked with them on Friday, they informed me that families had been calling IRATE and in tears all week long.  Please believe me when I say that I never want to upset another adoptive family.  Adoption is a very emotional   process, and I don't want to make it any harder than it has to be. That said, I believe in the power of the masses.  And what CAN was asking was unethical and possibly illegal.  My agency travel rep told me that she'd been going to bat for me all week, and that my emails pointing out the problems were all it took to change the minds of CAN staff.  And I want to believe in that, in the honesty and trustworthiness of my agency staff.  What I do know is that things changed when people stood up and said this is wrong.  And I'm sure threatening legal action helped as well.

I counted that as an amazing victory!  On top of that delightful news, we're told that we're now in our thirty day wait period!!!  I'm very, very cautious in my optimism, at this point, which is why this news is at the bottom of this post, rather than the top.  I'm trying not to attach too much significance to this news until I actually see the paperwork.  Call me doubting Thomas, if you will.  IF we actually are in our thirty day period, then on October 13, 2012, Mbo will legally and officially be ours per Congo law!!!  Unfortunately, this doesn't actually mean that we can go get her then, as there are documents, such as the passport, that has to be arranged and that takes time.  So, please God, please please God!, we'll go meet our daughter in November!  At this point, I don't know which side of November it will be.  I'm mostly just praying that we'll all be home by Christmas (Actually, that's a lie.  I want to be home by December 1st!)

In other fantastic news, Mbo has a tutor coming to her orphanage several days a week to help her learn English!  It's a brand new program, specifically for families adopting from this orphanage through our agency.  I can't even tell you how great I think this idea is!  Mbo will be learning simple basic English phrases, such as "I'm hungry" or "I need to go to the bathroom."  On top of which, the teacher will be talking with the kids about their new families, really basic stuff about adoption.  We get to send pictures of our house, our family, and Mbo and Ella's room, along with basic descriptions, so she'll have an idea of where she's going when she leaves the DRC.  I think it's fantastic. I'm all in favor of as much preparation as possible for adopted kids, anything to lessen the trauma and culture shock of leaving everything familiar.

We're not hoping for much, however.  We're not expecting her to be fluent by any means or to seamlessly merge into our family, but we think the exposure is great.  Exposure to the English language, her new family, her new home... Overall, I had an amazing Friday.

I'll gladly keep you all updated as we get more news, but really, God is working in our adoption and in the lives of our merging family.  It feels so very good to have things finally be falling into place.

God is good!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


How does an agency NOT KNOW that an adoption has to go to court before it can pass court?  We will not be travelling next month.  At this point, it is at least two months away.  Pray, please.  This was a real blow.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Y'all Ready For This?

There are big updates in the works.  The plan, as of right now, is that I will travel to the Congo to get our daughter in about a month!  Before you all get too excited, however, please know that we don't get to bring her home right away.  But in about a month, Mbo will legally be ours by Congo law.  What this means is that when I travel to the DRC, she can come and live with me, while we wait together for the final paperwork for her to come home.  A basic breakdown of it is this:

1. Court papers are filed, petitioning for our adoption of Mbo.
2. Congo law states that family members have 30 days to contest this.
3. At the end of the 30 days, she's ours!  And she is issued three things: a CONA (certificate of non-appeal),
    a birth certificate, and a Congo passport.

At this point, she's ours, and I will travel so that she can live with me while we wait for:

4. U.S. 1-600 (where the U.S. government allows us to adopt her)
5. U.S. VISA
6. DGM appointment (where the Congo gov. signs paperwork allowing her to leave the country)

And then:

7. HOME!

Unfortunately, this does mean I'll be in the DRC for about a month.  Ryan will travel with me for the first part of the trip and then he will return home to take care of our kids while I work on adding another one to the family!  I know this seems a little crazy, living in the Congo for so long, especially being away from Robby & Ella.  But the truth of it is this: my daughter needs me.  She needs her mama.  She needs clean food and water (and enough of it!).  She needs adequate medical care and a bed to sleep in. She needs a mom to love her and take care of her.  And so... I'm going to get her.  Simple as that.  My child needs me, and I'm going.

Because this is a public forum, we won't be posting a lot of details about our travel, at least until we're home.  

This next month is going to be crazy busy, full of preparations to travel.  We started that off yesterday with immunizations to travel.  While I knew shots would be expensive, and I had planned on that, the total amount made me want to puke!  DRC requires yellow fever shots to travel.  So I researched that.  And booked an appointment, knowing that it would be around $350-$400 total for Ryan and I to get those done.

What I didn't plan on was all the other shots we needed!  We got yellow fever, meningitis, and polio vaccines, and Ryan also got a tetanus (I've had one recently enough).  We are also taking typhoid oral vaccinations.  Our total for the day?  $950!!!! And that's not counting the anti-malaria drugs we'll need-  Craziness!  And the best part?  Insurance doesn't cover it.  Boo!

As expensive as that doctor's visit was, protection against these illnesses is worth it.  Seriously.  Worth it.

There's always a lot more to say, but for now, this update is already lengthy!

If you're a praying person, we could use it!

1. Safe travels both to and from as well as in country (Congo transportation is freakin scary!)
2. That God will help our paperwork to go smoothly and easily.
3. That our time together in Congo will be meaningful and well-spent.

And the biggest of them all
4. That God will protect the heart and mind of our daughter, and help keep her safe from the serious consequences that come from being abandoned and without a family.

We love you all and thank you for the support you've shown our family.  This hasn't been an easy process, to say the least, and we truly appreciate you all!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


It's one o'clock in the morning.  And try as I might, I can't either sleep or let go of the thoughts plaguing me tonight.  Thoughts of Mbo. Thoughts of Josue.  Thoughts of another little boy or girl who may belong to our family.  Tonight, I tucked Robby into bed, for the hundredth time, and I was thinking about the quilt I've made him, the fleece throw, and the comforter I've yet to buy.  And I thought, well, our kids will never be cold! And then, of course, it hit me.  Again. Always. That the blankets I've made and those I've planned for, they were supposed to be for Josue as well.

We stand by our decision. We've made the only one possible for our family, for Josue.  But what I really know is that a world away, there is a six year old little boy, not so different from the one sleeping down the hall, who doesn't understand why.  Why he was going to have a family, and now he doesn't. And I don't understand either. Why, when talking about our family, is it our family and Josue, separate equations? Why such a small child should be left, for what will probably be forever, without a real family. Why I had plans for blankets and clothes and toys and photo books for this little man, and now... nothing?  And my grief tonight, is overwhelming.  I want to crawl into my Abba's arms, as I did Ryan's tonight, and just be held.  I want to know that, while I can never be a mom to Josue, my Abba will always be a father to him.

But tonight, it doesn't feel that way.

Tonight, I am raw and aching and struggling to understand.  I can't comprehend the abandonment of so many babies, with empty stomachs.  I can't understand a world in which grown men (and women) do despicable things to little children. Or the bureaucracy that keeps Mbo from me.  What I know is that I have a bed set up, waiting for my little girl to fill it and a closet full of clothes waiting for her to wear them. What I know is that I have full cupboards and warm blankets and so much love in my heart and my arms ache, and I can't share it with my daughter!  What I know is that tonight, tonight I grieve.

Saturday, June 2, 2012


This post is one that I had hoped never to write.  Thursday, we found out new information regarding Josue, and unfortunately, we are not the right family to adopt him.  Josue needs to go to a family that doesn't have younger kids in the home, and with the addition of Mbo, we will have three.  While I can't express how heartbreaking this has been, Ryan and I both feel very at peace with this decision.  For our family and for Josue, there is no other choice to be made.

Unfortunately, even with our closest friends and family, we can't share the details of this decision, and we ask that you respect that.  What I can and will talk about is God's grace through this.  As you all know, the waiting process through all of this has been excruciating!  It has taken months and months longer than we ever expected, and we still don't know when it will all be finished.

But through that wait, we firmly believe that God has been working behind the scenes.  I can't even begin to express how many factors God had to bring together for us to get the information we needed exactly when we needed it.  His grace and protection of our family has been amazing.  Had we accepted a referral for Josue in December, February, April... we wouldn't have known any of this information.  And while I, with my whole heart, wish that things were different, the truth of the situation is that Josue needs a different family.

We are moving forward with our adoption of Mbo, and we are not sure yet exactly how we will handle a second referral, but I will obviously update when we know.  Until then, please pray for a little boy across the world.  Josue needs his perfect family to bring him home.  And, oh, how I wish that was us.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

It's here! It's here! It's here!

We are so VERY excited to announce that we have (finally) received our referral for Josue and Mbo.  What this means is that we have their medical information and their pictures, and we can officially move forward towards adopting them!  We're looking at anywhere between 3-6 months and they'll be home!  We won't be posting any pictures on this site or on Facebook until after they're home, but if you're a close family member or friend, please send me your email (or address) and I'd be happy to forward one to you!  Yay!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Latest email from our adoption specialist

I had an email this morning that contained both very concerning and very exciting news.  The exciting news is that, after weeks of waiting on tenderhooks, we should have our referral any time!  We expected to have them weeks ago, but unfortunately, the Congo lawyer didn't get them done for whatever reason.  Things in the Congo just flat out don't go according to plan!

The concerning news is that my five year old daughter, half a world away, has shoved something up her nose... and apparently needs surgery to get it out!  It sounds like a fairly minor problem- kids stick things up their nose all the time.  But do they usually need surgery?  And not just surgery, but surgery in the Congo? And not just surgery in the Congo, but surgery in the Congo without their mommy?!  So obviously, I'm a little nervous about this, especially as our adoption worker doesn't have ANY details yet about what it is that she stuck up her nose, how detailed (read dangerous) the surgery is, or when she'll know more!  And I'm concerned, of course, about the safety of the procedure and more importantly, the accessibility of medication should there be an infection after the surgery!

Pray, please.  Pray that God will be with His daughter as she goes through a scary procedure without a mommy or daddy to comfort her.  Pray that He will guide the doctor's hand as he removes this object.  Pray that He will work miracles to bring our children home soon and safely.  And pray that He will give peace and comfort and love to Josue and Mbo as they sit 8,500 miles away from the people who love them.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Referrals coming soon....

We're waiting to receive our referral information on our kids, and I'm going nuts waiting to see their beautiful faces!!  I got an email from our social worker, Claire, letting me know their info would be ready by around the end of the week (which would have been yesterday).  Unfortunately, we didn't get it yesterday, and I'm having trouble focusing on much else!

While we won't be posting their pictures on here until after they're home for safety and confidentiality reasons, if you're a friend or relative that wants to see their beautiful faces when we have pictures, email me.  Should everything go quickly and well, hopefully Josue and Mbo will be home in August! (Apparently Claire got her name wrong before, and it's Mbo, not Nbo)

I'm just so very, very excited to "meet" my kids!  It's been a long time coming!

On a completely unrelated but (not even close to) equally exciting news, Ryan is graduating today!!!  He'll be getting his MBA through Northwest Nazarene today.  So very proud of that man.

Keep your fingers crossed for us that our referral comes through soon!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

News from the Hanson home

We are very happy to let you all know we were offered a potential match with a beautiful (so I'm told) little five year old girl named Nbo. Should everything work out the way we hope, Nbo and Josue will be ours in the next three to six months! Like Josue, we don't know much about Nbo, other than she is between the ages of five and six, and we don't know how to pronounce her name! We should receive their profiles soon, including family history and medical information. I'm not sure how much we will share on this blog, to be honest. But what we can share, we will, and I can't wait to show you all pictures of my newest beautiful babies.

Fundraising has been going pretty well, and we have so very much appreciated all the support from our friends and family. This week, Ryan turned thirty, and we asked that people donate $30 to celebrate and help us bring home our kids. That brought in over six hundred dollars, for which we are extremely grateful. Anyone that wants to contribute can donate through our adoption fundraiser page through a fantastic non-profit called Adopt Together, which makes donations tax deductible. That site is

One of the amazing things we've been doing to prepare for our adoption is visiting a church in Boise made up of African refugees, called New Heart International Church. In fact, the pastor is from the Congo, as is a large percentage of the congregation. It's been so very cool to meet so many wonderful people there, and we look forward to growing those relationships. I'm excited to think of what a fabulous experience this will be, not only for our Congo kids, but for all of us American grown as well! We haven't been able to visit as often as we'd like, mostly due to Ryan's schedule. He's graduating with his master's degree in a few weeks, and this last bit of coursework is a killer! I'm so very, very proud of him, though. He's worked so hard and so long, and soon, it will all be over!

I'll leave you all with a couple of pictures of my beautiful kids on Easter. I love their (not so little) faces!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Birthday Fundraiser

Completely forgot to post this to our blog, but for my birthday yesterday, Jess and I ran a fundraiser "$30 from 30 on my 30th". I hit the big 3-o yesterday, and 13 people donated, either on our fundraiser site ( or with a check in the mail. We are so blessed that people are willing to support our adoption process through prayer and giving. It is a humbling experience and we are just so blessed!

We will have some other updates soon! God bless the little children of this world who need loving caring homes and all the people who help in anyway that they can!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Sad Day

We found out today that one of our potential matches, Aristria (3), is no longer available for us to adopt her. She has either gone home to her parents or is being adopted by another family. I'm sure I don't have to tell you how sad this makes us- it goes without saying, right? But I am also happy for her, that she is on her way to being out of the orphanage forever.

We're grieving today. There was a time, a few years ago, that we were in the process of adopting a little girl and it didn't work out. We had a name, pictures, information about her. And when we didn't adopt her, it broke my heart. I felt like I'd lost a child. Thinking about her, even now, I hurt deep inside. This is not quite like this. We don't have a picture of Ari or any information about her. Just a name and an age. Where losing Maria felt like a miscarriage in a lot of ways (the loss of an actual child), this is more like finding out we were never pregnant to begin with. There's an ache in my chest that won't go away.

Josue is still available for us, and we plan to move forward with his adoption. In the meantime, the staff in the Congo will be looking for a second child for us, another little girl. While we will be thrilled when this comes, and while we know Aristria was obviously not meant to be a part of our family, it still aches.

We only had a name. But that's enough to make me miss her.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Long Overdue Update

Early this month, we received news of a potential match with two kids in the Congo. We don't know much about them, but we do know that there is a little girl, Aristria (3) and a boy, Josue (6) that might become members of our family. They are not siblings (yet), and Ari lives in an orphanage while Josh lives with a nun. Let me tell you, this was very exciting news.

For those of you wondering what a potential match is, I'll do my best to lay it out, from what I know. Before we get an official referral (match), the kids have to be tested for several medical conditions and the lawyers have to do a social history and make sure the kids are officially (by US definition) orphans. But that takes money. Before they will go forward with any of that, they need a $7000 retainer from us that will pay for that stuff as well as the orphanage fees, etc. etc. etc.

Once all that is done, we receive an official referral, and our Congo lawyer works towards legally adopting them on our behalf in the DRC, for a lovely fee of $10,000. So essentially, before we can move forward, we need to have a full $17,000. Fortunately, we actually have $10K of that.

But it's hard, because the longer we wait to test the kids, the longer it will be before we can bring them home. Right now, we're (hopefully) looking at July/August, but at this point, we have no idea when we'll be able to go. We're diligently working to fundraise, but it's a lot of money. We also have to come up with the money to travel, which will be another $6-8,000. Eeesh.

I'll admit, I've been grieving lately. While we're here, living this rich life, with food in our stomachs and access to clean water and great healthcare, our kids are living in the Congo. I'm really struggling. This whole process has taken so much longer than I thought it would. We were so hopeful that our kids would be home by this time. And we really don't know how long it will be at this point. At this point, I don't even have a picture of my children.

It's hard, being paperwork pregnant. Since we started this process, we've had friends get pregnant and give birth. And more friends have gotten pregnant and will give birth before we ever meet ours. And while I am honestly, wholeheartedly excited for them, it hurts too. Knowing that we have children out there and not being able to bring them home NOW.

It's been a long process, but we are hopeful that things will move more smoothly from here on out. Out of $40,000, we've already raised $25,000. And that's a pretty big accomplishment, right there. The rest will come.

Thank you all for your support so far. We appreciate it more than you can know.


Monday, February 27, 2012

New Fundraiser Site!!

Jess and I have got a fundraiser site up through the good people at Adopt Together. The site allows people to donate funds to adopting families and since it is a non-profit company, any donations will be tax deductible. Please take a moment to check out our profile now. You can follow the link to the right or click here