We, the Hartwell family, have been waiting to write that for 738 days, OR 2 years and 7 days, OR 17,700 hours!!!!!!!!!!! And we are in AWE of God’s goodness!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We have a referral!!!!!! We give glory to our God, the God of perfection, the God of love, the faithful God who speaks stories into existence and makes galaxies with a breath.
This has been a continued journey of His gracious hand on our lives. We tell our story to point to Him. We thank the many of you who have supported us, have been patient with us, have prayed to the God of the all knowing for His story to unfold. We are in awe of His GREATNESS!!!
I (Kimberly) have to be honest… Thursday morning when getting ready I was almost cynical that we could actually get a call. Really? It’s only been 14 months in the top #5 waiting for a call – why today?? I gave myself a pep talk. I need to have peace in God’s timing, I need to be aware of His presence and just rest and focus on my boys. Our Thursday morning was a rather generic morning. Jay did devotions with the boys (and I went and got a Starbucks coffee (not so normal) – complements of my dad!), had breakfast and then did pre-k with Noah. I was so tempted to sit around the rest of the day, checking facebook, emails, any clue from anyone that we were getting our call, but I made myself run my errands. The boys and I went to the library, went to the bank, said hi to our friends at their chocolate shop (where I got another coffee and a chocolate truffle(again not normal!), the boys ate a sack lunch as we drove downtown CS to buy some good workout shoes. On our way back, I just didn’t seem to want to go home. We drove on some slower routes and stopped at Best Buy. I got the boys out of their seats while they finished their cheese and hung out in the minivan, then my phone rang – and it was our adoption agency. I quickly hushed the boys and got on the phone and she begins with… “I forgot to ask a couple important questions the other day when we are on our call…” I’m sitting there trying to decide if this is the call or not, and thinking about our case worker, she’s always so cautious not to get our hopes up, that I’m thinking, I can’t imagine her calling instead of emailing. Surely if their were just a couple questions and no referral she would email. Finally she said, well, with all of that said, I would like to talk with you a little more about some… TWINS!!! I screamed – What? Twins? Really? Are you sure? Really? Twins? in the midst of giggling, crying, giggling, crying…
Yes, we have been referred twins!!!
Since Jay was working and I wasn’t home, I had to let our caseworker know that we would head home and call her together. I didn’t know any other details – but twins! When I got on the phone with Jay, shaking and crying and laughing, I let him know it was time to head home… trying to be calm, he said ok, and then I said we have twins! This is when Jay went on to share the same emotions! J As I told the boys that we were going to finally see our sibling’s faces, our sweet Noah just shook with excitement. He was beautiful to watch. Although, I’m sure my poor boys thought mom was a little loopy crying and laughing all the way home. Jay & I each made calls to our parents while driving home, and a few friends. Finally, we were home, our boys went to a neighbor’s home, and we sat down to go through all the details.
We talked with our caseworker and heard A & E’s story. These precious little ones have gone through so much in their little lives. We sat there with tears of joy in our eyes when we got the call, and then sat there in tears as we heard their stories. We again are reminded that adoption stems from loss. It’s never God’s first choice, and yet He has given us the opportunity to be adopted as His sons and daughters. It wasn’t His desire for these little babies to have to experience so much loss, but He has given us an opportunity to bring these children in, to love them, to restore them to a family. At the end of our call, our caseworker sent us 16 beautiful pictures of our babies. We are not able to post pictures or the names of our babies until they are in the United States, but until then, if you see us we will GLADLY show off our little ones! Oh they are precious!
Can I just say – they’re cute!!!???!!! Absolutely adorable!!!! We have one baby boy and one baby girl, and they are one month old!!! WOW!! Precious tiny little ones. They are doing great!
We quickly got our boys back home to show them pictures. As we’re running across the cul-de-sac, Jonah is saying ‘brother and sister, brother and sister, brother and sister’. So cute! We called our parents (who both live out of state) to let them know more about their new grandbabies, and then friends started coming. The rest of the evening we cried, laughed, hugged, showed off pictures of our babies, and just rejoiced with friends as several came by that evening!! Have I mentioned that they are cute?!?! Precious, beautiful, adorable!
We would love to share a few amazing details that show the glory and the provision and details of our God, our God who is a God of order, who ordains each and every detail! We want to share what God has done. Because it truly is all about Him and what He has done!
I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Romans 12:12 speaks to me. Rejoice in hope: There is and has been in both Kimberly and I, a hope, a desire, a prompting, for siblings to join our family. A hope to step into the lives of orphans and care for them, a hope to expand our family with adoption, a hope to obey our Heavenly Father with the opportunity and gifts He has given us. Patient in tribulation: I realize that there is a family who has a loss, children who have loss and pain from loss that shakes the foundation of many around them. Within the last several years as I’ve had the opportunity to travel the streets of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I couldn’t help but notice pregnant women, mothers in desperation searching for ways to feed their family, young children roaming the streets without their parents, moms holding their malnourished baby on the side of dusty streets, prostitutes doing what they can to make ends meet. And I would often think to myself: we are waiting for their loss. The tears would come and I would begin to pray. There is tribulation through all of this that requires a constant prayer, a prayer that God would carry us all through this journey. To be constant in prayer is the only means by which God brings healing to the loss, to the hope, to the joy of life that He gives and takes. Pray for the loss that makes children around this world an orphan. Every adoption is the result of loss.
Push and hold down the rewind button for a bit on the Hartwell’s life journey. As you see the fast flashes of images scroll through the past several years (7 to be exact), you’ll see joy, pain, laughter, tears, impatience, patience, happy faces, sad faces, the birth of our 2 boys, the growth of our 2 boys, prayer, lots of prayer… Now stop in 2004…
Our adoption journey really started in 2004 when we were a young couple planning out our lives and wondering what God had for our future. We laid it all out before our God – birth 2 then adopt 2 or more. And we’d hope to adopt a sibling group. In 2005, Kimberly and I, newly married, traveled to Africa to explore possible full-time missions opportunities. We were earnestly seeking where God might have us serve, as we both felt a calling on our lives to international missions.
This particular trip was of divine counsel in the journey of our adoption process. When we look back on this pivotal trip, we can’t help but worship the God who orders our steps. It started with a 8 hour layover in Ethiopia, where they actually took us into town, Addis Ababa and put us up in a hotel to get some rest before our next flight to Uganda. We made it to the hotel and stepped out to our balcony that overlooked the vast city of activity. The familiar smells and sounds of Africa flooded my senses and an overwhelming sense came to the both of us, that we “will” be back in Ethiopia someday, for what we were not sure. In that very short time in Addis, on a hotel balcony, I believe God touched us with a small glimpse into what He had/has planned for our personal journey. Though we didn’t know much, we knew that we would return.
Off to Uganda we went with the purpose to explore our future in the area of full-time missions, little did we know that God was going to give us a vision into our future family planning. We were greeted with open arms from dear friends of mine. I had been to Uganda a few years prior and had made life long friends there. It brought me great joy to introduce Kimberly, the love of my life, to my friends. Uganda meant a lot to me and to share this time with my wife was a gift. Uganda is where I was given my African name. On occasion, a Ugandan may come to you and grant you an African name. I remember the day vividly. The prestigious Ugandan lady came to me after several days of being with her and others in ministry and said, “Jay, I have name for you.” This was a big deal for me, a great honor. I knew of only a few others at the time that had received African names and had hoped that I too would be given a name someday. I perked up, you do?! She said, “ Jay, your African name is Kityo.” This was the name of her highly respected late husband. Wow… Wow! What an honor! She began to explain to me that Kityo has a meaning of generational twins. I love my African name and love it even more today!
One of the nights we were in Uganda, I woke up around 3am with a peculiar dream. I looked over at Kimberly to find her awake as well and then began to tell her about my dream. To this, she shook her head with amazement and began to tell me that she had the same exact dream! There we laid, 3am in the morning in Uganda, Africa, both with the same dream that we had twins in our family!
Leaving Uganda, as is often, our friends had a going away party for us. There was dancing, eating, sharing and worshiping the God who brought this great family of believers together. It’s always a joy being with our family from miles across the seas. Our Ugandan friends presented me with a traditional shirt and they gave Kimberly a beautiful traditional Uganda dress. We quickly put on our traditional clothing to carrying on the celebration. They would say, Jay, you look “smart” (their way of saying sharped dressed man). And the ladies admired their new American friend in this beautiful dress. One girl grabbed the dress near Kimberly’s belly and stretched it to signify pregnancy and said, “oh, you can fit a baby in this dress.” To this, another girl grabbed the dress and said, “no, no, you can fit 2 babies in this dress!!!” As you can imagine at this point, Kimberly and I are giving each other a perplexed look. But it doesn’t end there.
We jump on a plane and make our way to Kenya where we planned to stay about 2 weeks with a good friend Tecla and her family. We visited Nairobi, Eldoret and Mombasa, went on a camping safari trip and learned much about the culture in Kenya. Tecla took us from place to place meeting many of her friends and family. One of the last days we were in Eldoret, Tecla invited many friends to her house for a gathering and a big Kenyan meal. The ladies prepared the food literally all day long. After enjoying a great meal, we found that it’s traditional that after an evening with friends and family, each person will get an opportunity to share a word of encouragement or share whatever it is God puts on their heart. We all gathered in the room and began to share, one by one. When it came to one of the pastors that were there, that we had just met, he look directly at us and out of the blue, he told Kimberly and I that he will be praying for twins to join our family and let us know pretty firmly that we were going to have twins! WOW! Ok by now, Kimberly and I got the message. We will be having twins, somehow, someway.
Obviously each of our 2 pregnancies, we look with anticipation at the ultrasound for twins. It wasn’t until our second child, when Jonah was born and there wasn’t a sibling latched on his ankle, did it dawned on us that our twins would come from Africa. As this is where God gave us these visions. Here we are 7 perfect years later, the twins that God told us about will join our family!!! We serve an amazing God! I can’t say that we were faithful with this vision. Often times, we were discouraged and questioned the thought that we would even be able to adopt a sibling group when we were put on the sibling only waiting list. Many of you have heard these doubts, and impatience while going through this process and journey. And I can say that I have a new understanding of Abraham when Sarah asked him to be with the maidservant to bring home a child. Though Kimberly didn’t ask me to find a maidservant : ) there were times when impatience and emotions were real, for each of us really.
As we look back at all that God has done personally in our lives and all that He does in and throughout the world, all that we can do is worship Him, shout it out, sing praise to His name and pray, consistently. Experiences like this can only happen by our all powerful, personal God.
To tag on to what Jay shared, I’d like to share just a couple other quick things over the last couple of years that God has shown us and the miracles He has done. 1st, let me just share a ‘daydream’. Nothing spiritual about this, but one of those daydreams/pipe dreams… I have often thought that the ‘perfect’ referral would be for twins under 3 months! Can I just say that makes me giddy with excitement that we have our twins that are one month old!!!
Over the course of the last 2 years we have had times when we have had dreams about us adopting – but rather vague dreams. As I’ve had these dreams/thoughts… I’ve often been reminded what Mary did when she received word about her Son. ‘She pondered these things in her heart’. I’ve been so tempted in sharing everything with Jay or family/friends, but I have often been pulled back to remember that I should ‘ponder these things in my heart’, and wait for God’s timing.
Last July I had a very vivid dream of a birthmom (BM) in a field. I felt this huge urgency to pray. I prayed for her for a couple of hours in the middle of the night, not knowing whether she had had our babies, or had conceived them. For the last year I’ve wondered whether our babies were born, living somewhere in Ethiopia, or living in the womb. When I look at a due date calendar, she would be due to have her babies in April, and if indeed, she would be having twins, they often come a few weeks early. I have always pictured our babies coming from a very rural area. Our little twins were born in March. Interestingly, I have also sensed for about 2 years that our children would indeed be coming from the northern region of Ethiopia. They indeed are.
And finally, while we won’t be sharing the story of what our children have gone through to be brought to the orphanage, I will say, that I have felt for a long time that I would know the specific reason they would be brought there. In hearing our children’s story, yes, indeed, the reasons that brought them to the orphanage were the reasons I have pondered over this season of waiting. There is no doubt these children are ours. God had been preparing our hearts and giving us glimpses of what was to come.
In an earlier blog post we shared about us changing our parameters in April during our quarterly call. In the last few months our agency has mentioned that these calls will take place at the end of the month. So when our caseworker asked me if I wanted to set a date to have that call, I gave her a few dates at the end of the month. She wrote back and said she could do the April 23 date, but that she was willing to do this call earlier if we wanted. Oh how I wished she wouldn’t have thrown it back in our court. I did not want us choosing this date and possibly changing the course of our lives… We prayed about it that night and went to sleep thinking – we’ll just keep it like it is. However, we woke up and I kept feeling like God was saying – It is time, it is time, it is time. I talked to Jay and he said that he was in agreement in moving the call up. Our caseworker got back to us and let us know that we were confirmed to have our call, April 16. After hearing those words, we felt a sense of peace – God’s will, not ours. Two days before the call, I awoke and began thinking of Abraham. God asked him to take his ‘dream’, his son Isaac and place it on the alter and sacrifice it. God had given him this dream, much like He has placed siblings (even twins!) on our heart, and now He was asking us to take this dream and place it on the alter.
I surrender all. I surrender all. All to thee, my blessed Savior, I surrender all.
Monday we had our call – and we let our caseworker know that we were opening our parameters. Tuesday, was HARD. I couldn’t stop crying all day – but not necessarily out of despair, or resignation, but overall emotions. For so long we have waited and now, our time was coming. I went to a women’s study and we were in the last chapter of Jonah. The presenter was sharing how we need to let God be God and let Him do His job. We need to let go of the reigns and let Him do what He will. And yes, I continued to cry and wonder at all that God was doing.
As I look back on all that has transpired this week, I am in awe. He could have given us 1 perfect child, He could have let us keep our call for April 23 never having to fully relinquish the reigns but He asked us to let go.
TWO BEAUTIFUL BABIES, TWINS!! HEY ARE SO WORTH THE WAIT!!! TO GOD BE THE GLORY – GREAT THINGS HE HAS DONE!