We stand by Jennifer. I hope you do, too.

Jennifer has been an integral part of our family for the past nine years. Through her work with Adoptions of Indiana, she has served as our social worker. It was because of her that we were able to bring Mihret home. And Weldu, too.

I have no idea what our family would be like without her direct influence. And for that, we are forever grateful.

We stand by Jennifer.

Jennifer’s story is woven into ours. She has had a huge impact on our family. That’s why the horrible news of her husband’s death hits us pretty hard. And that’s why I’m sharing this GoFundMe campaign. I can’t imagine losing someone in such a public way. This is just one way we can stand by Jennifer as she and her family rebuild and carry on. From what I understand, Jennifer plans on continuing the priceless work she’s already been doing. That’s a great thing. I hope she can continue to impact countless other families throughout Indiana.

But first, there are some other things that need to be taken care of. And maybe you can help.

It would mean the world to our family if you would consider donating to this cause. I realize I can’t speak for them on a first-hand basis, but I’m sure it would mean a lot and countless other families whom Jennifer has served, too.

According to the page itself, here is the plan for using this financial assistance:

  • Emergency rescue and medical out of pocket costs
  •  Funeral expenses
  • Bereavement counseling and support for Jennifer and her children
  • Loss of family income
  • Future educational needs for the children
  • Long-term financial stability

Jennifer Morrissey has given so much of herself to so many families throughout the state. Supporting her during her family’s unimaginable moment of crisis is really a no-brainer. It is a right thing to do.

I hope you feel the same way.

Please pray with me

Clothes on a clothesline

While visiting the compound where Weldu lived before we brought him home, I was struck by how many clothes were hanging up to dry. They were hanging everywhere. It was like a web of clotheslines as you walked through the compound.

In my heart, each one of these clothes that I saw dangling on the clothesline represents a child who has been left dangling. I saw many of them face-to-face while we were there. They are children who have no family, but desperately want a family. They need a family. But because of a variety of reasons, from red tape to health concerns, these children have been left dangling.

Adoption in Ethiopia is unpredictable. It’s a roller coaster ride, to say the least. And there’s always a chance it might become even more unpredictable.

That’s why I need you to pray with me.

Continue reading “Please pray with me”

Brothers and Superheroes

Mom Aiden and Weldu at Cultural Dinner celebration

I was driving Aiden to school one morning shortly after we had brought Mihret home from Ethiopia. I was a little shocked at the words that came out of his mouth.

When are you going to bring home a brother for me?

Uh…

I wasn’t sure how to answer that one.

I have to admit, I was a little taken aback. I mean, we had just brought Mihret home. And the transition wasn’t exactly going well. Truth is, we were still exhausted from the flight home and from the continual lack of sleep. How could he be thinking of adding another kid to our family already? As I thought about it, though, I understood. The balance of power had shifted. He was the only boy in our family. He was outnumbered. And I started to see his point. He needed a brother.

He had me convinced. All it took was that simple, innocent question.

Some six years later, we took Aiden with us as we flew to Ethiopia to bring his brother home with us. And it was one of the best decisions we could have made.

Two brothers playing soccer. I mean, football.

A photo posted by Matt Todd (@mattdantodd) on


Aiden and Weldu posing in front of a school

They became instant friends. In some ways, it’s almost like they’ve known each other for years. I mean….they even have their own secret handshake.

Hanging out during a flat tire

Weldu meeting Mihret

Weldu and Aly Aiden and Weldu - first meeting

Sometimes being a brother is even better than being a superhero!

I think Marc Brown is right. Sometimes being a brother is better than being a superhero! It’s also pretty cool to have a brother. I know both from experience.

Todd family of SIX

You know, it’s taken far too long for us to be able to say this, but WELCOME HOME, WELDU! We’re excited to have you part of our crazy family. Our journey is really just beginning, but you’re already a pretty amazing brother. I now there will be some rough days in the future. That’s a given. Everyone goes through them – especially in the teenage years. But there will be some pretty amazing experiences we’ll have along the way, too. During the easy, happy times and the tough, sad times, I know this: we’re going to walk through them hand in hand.

Together.

As a family.

Because that’s what we are.

All six of us.

My appearance before the judge

Dad and Weldu  - first trip last day

On Tuesday morning, December 22, I joined a dozen other families from around the world in a small 30 foot by 30 foot room on an upper floor in an Ethiopian courthouse. All of us were there for the same thing. So one by one, families were ushered into the adjacent judge’s chambers for an interview. When the family would complete their interview, they would leave the judges’s chambers with smiles on their faces. And they were greeted by congratulatory handshakes and the occasional high-five from the people around them.

When it was finally my turn, I was escorted into the judge’s chambers. The door closed and I shook the judge’s hand as I sat down in a chair in front of his desk. He began to ask me questions in order to confirm our family’s eligibility to adopt “W.”

None of the questions were tough. And none really came as any surprise. But they have me the opportunity to share my heart and show how we hadn’t entered this adoption journey without serious thought and prayer. I love this boy. And Christy loves him, too. Our whole family loves him. And that’s how it should be. Right?

The first of many hugs to be had.

A photo posted by Matt Todd (@mattdantodd) on


Weldu Josiah entered the world more than a dozen years ago. He entered our world about a year ago. In our hearts, he’s been our son since that day we first laid eyes on him. He was our son when Christy met him in July. He was our son when I met him shortly after stepping off the plane in Addis.

And on December 22, we were legally declared capable of adopting Weldu into our family. On December 22, Weldu became a Todd.

Dad and WelduIn a few weeks, we’ll have an appointment scheduled with the US Embassy in Addis. Then we’ll be making one more flight to the Land of Coffee and 13 Months of Sunshine. And we’ll take Weldu into our arms and bring him home. 

It’s been a long journey. But this kid is worth it. He’s so worth it.

 

This is what love feels like

Tobymac concert 2015

I think this is my favorite song on Tobymac’s newest album. Because of the reunion of dc Talk on What Love Feels Like, it already made me feel kind of warm and fuzzy all over. But then I heard Mister Mac’s (or should it still be Mister Tobymac’s?) intro to the song at his concert in Indy a few months ago. Tobymac concert 2015

He shared that he wrote the song in the wake of his father’s passing. CCM.com has a great writeup on the song. You should just go over there and read it. Go ahead. It won’t take you very long. I’ll wait.

Powerful stuff. Right?

I have loved this song since the first time I heard it. Its sound kind of echoes dc Talk’s style from a decade ago. I’m sure that’s an intentional nod to the beautiful music Toby, Kevin, and Michael made together.

But the more I hear this song, the more I think it describes our adoption adventure. There have been times where the process has been frustrating – especially when it has come to waiting. And there have been some days where we’ve felt disheartened and maybe even a little defeated.

As I sit here in the airport, waiting to board my flight to Ethiopia, I m must say that I’m pretty spent. I’m physically exhausted. My nerves are a bit raw. And last night I felt like I was on the verge of a meltdown while helping a guest in the middle of the store. Not a temper tantrum type of meltdown. More like the way you feel when you cry so much that you’ve kind of melted into the floor. Yes. That kind. Anyone else ever feel that way?

I’m completely spent.

I’m empty.

And that’s where I really love this song. Because empty never felt so full.
Tobymac concert 2015
Poured out.
Used up.
Spent.
Exhausted.
But ready to fight tooth and nail for this boy I’ve never met.

Just like I will fight for the rest of my kids. Because in my heart and in my soul, this child is mine. I hope the judge in Ethiopia agrees.

Our biggest adoption update yet

It’s been a whirlwind of a week, let me tell you.

On Saturday, we received a letter from the Immigration office. It included this phrase:

USCIS is pleased to inform you that we have preliminarily determined that the beneficiary child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States as an orphan…

I’ll admit that it’s hard to celebrate some of those words. They’re full of loss. And hurt. And sadness. While that phrase “as an orphan” breaks my heart, this determination is a big deal. It means that we have cleared the PAIR investigative process. It means that one more hurdle has been cleared. We are one step closer to bringing “W” home as our son.

For I know the plans I have for you bracelets

Then we got a call Monday morning. Courts in Addis were closed Monday and Tuesday, but our agency was convinced that there would be a very quick turnaround on the next step, which is a court appearance in Ethiopia. Because Christy already met him, I am to fly out to Ethiopia, meet my son for the first time, and then tell the Ethiopian government that yes, our family does intend to adopt “W” and that we will bring him into our family as one of our own. The agency staff was so convinced about the possibility of a quick turnaround, they were pretty sure that I would be due in court sometime early next week.

That meant that I needed to book a flight out of the States as soon as possible. Of course, there was a chance that the court wouldn’t schedule me to appear that week. So there needed to be some flexibility. But I needed to buy a ticket as soon as possible.

After some drama in trying to find an available seat, we were finally able to purchase a ticket on Monday night, some six hours after learning that I might have a court appearance very, very soon.

And then we waited.

I’ll be honest. Tuesday was a very long, emotional day. It was full of anticipation. But it was also full of caution. We couldn’t wait for the courts to open. Hopefully they would do their scheduling very soon. But in the meantime, I listened in on a travel conference call with our agency, learning as much information as possible in preparation for a potential visit this weekend.

Christy got the email Wednesday morning. She called me right away.

I leave for Ethiopia this weekend!

I get to meet my son for the first time this weekend!

Ethiopia or Bust #Tips4Trips

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. An adoption journey ain’t for the faint of heart, y’all.

It’s going to be a whirlwind of a trip. And I’m going to miss out on a few family functions, but I’ll be home for Christmas (hey, isn’t that a song or something?) and holycowIgettomeetmyson!

I know what you’re going to ask. And no, I won’t be bringing him home with me. There’s one more step after this one. It involves travel. Again. But this time Christy and I get to go together. And we get to meet the fine folk at the US Embassy again. And hopefully everything goes as expected during our visit to the Embassy.

And then we’ll head home. And our family of SIX will finally be together.

But first things first. I’ve got to get to Ethiopia and meet my son (HOLYCOW!). And then meet with a judge. And sometime after that, assuming all goes as it should, we’ll (hopefully) be named “W’s” legal guardians in the eyes of the Ethiopian government.

And then the clock starts ticking to that final trip to Ethiopia to bring this boy HOME!

Will you pray with us today? Please?

Ethiopia Innocent Prayers of a Young Child (3405971322)

Today is a pivotal day in our family’s story. And we’re asking you to join us in prayer. Here’s what Christy posted on our facebook page:

Six Family Christmas Stockings

December 1st, Tuesday… I’ll be doing lots of things. Sleeping. Getting kids out the door for school. Teaching. Presenting my school’s programs to a group of students…
But, my heart will be in Ethiopia. This day could seal the deal, finish the investigative process, and give us a court date for Matt to fly to Ethiopia and legally make this kiddo our son. To meet this almost-grown boy that he loves with all his heart, but hasn’t yet been able to lay his own eyes on.
December 1st, Tuesday, there is a hearing scheduled (not for us) that involves a long trip from the country side to Addis. It involves a final letting go. Adoption is necessary. It is a way God can make beauty out of the ashes of this fallen world. But, it is not easy. It is not without loss. Over the next few days, please pray for those who are making decisions, those who are letting go, those who will walk that road beside them. Please pray the trip can be made, that things go smoothly, so that we can finally transition this treasure into a family again.
This is a pivotal week for the future of our family of six. We would greatly appreciate your thoughts and prayers.

Posted by 7, 568 Miles to “W” on Friday, November 27, 2015

We are so in love with this kid that it aches to have to wait so long. Of course, we completely understand the need for the parties involved to do their due diligence. I wish I could just hop on a jet plane today and scoop up this young man and never let him go.

Soon. Very soon.

Thank you for your ongoing support of our adoption journey.

**Update** We have received word that the hearing did happen today and that it went very well. Now we wait for a decision from the Embassy. Please continue to pray for all parties involved.

Our family is growing. So I’m stocking my medicine cabinet.

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #HealthySavings #CollectiveBias

Stocking up our medicine cabinet #HealthySavings.jpg

Our family is about to grow again. Soon, we’ll be a family of six. Our family is about to explode in anticipation of this boy’s arrival. We have his bed ready. We have tons of clothes for him. We already know his name and we can’t wait for him to fill the empty chair around our dinner table. We’ve had one waiting for him for a while.

The empty chair at our dining room table #HealthySavings

I mentioned that he’s a teenager. Right? And that he’s currently half a world away. And our waiting has been longer than any pregnancy could ever be. But that’s part of the adoption journey. Christy has already met him. She got to hug him and spend a lot of quality time with him and love on him for almost a whole week. Hopefully, I’ll be meeting him before the year ends. That’s exciting.

In the meantime…

Continue reading “Our family is growing. So I’m stocking my medicine cabinet.”

Know their names. See their faces.

I know I’ve shared this quote before. But since it’s National Adoption Month, I think it’s worth sharing again.pablo (2)David Platt is right, unfortunately. “Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they are not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes.” (Radical, emphasis mine).

I hope this blog makes it harder to ignore these little ones. I hope our story helps give voice to the voiceless, a voice that is impossible to ignore or get out of your head. I hope that seeing their faces and knowing their names spurs you to act.

I’m not saying that you have to adopt a child in order to stop ignoring orphans. Let me be very clear about that. Adoption is not the only way to care for orphans. There are countless other things you can do to stand in the gap for these kids. And some of them might live right next door to you. You don’t have to go halfway around the world to be there for a child who is parentless. It might only take walking across the street.

Don’t just sit there and say “Oh, someone should do something for these kids,” and leave it at that. Together, we can do something. We can change their worlds.

We cannot ignore them anymore.

We must pay attention.

And everything will change.

It will change their worlds. But it will also change yours. See them and listen to them and know them. That’s the only way things are ever going to change.

Be the change today.

Please.