Incredible Family » Blog

  • One of my son's favorite movies is the movie "The Incredibles". When our second son was born, someone said that his resemblance to "Jack Jack" in the movie was incredible. Our oldest got such a kick out of that and the nicknames stuck. We are in the process of adding a "Violet" to our family through adoption.

friday five

I started writing this post on Thursday to be a “friday five” theme….now I guess it can be the Sunday Seven?;)That’s about how the last few days have been–go, go, go!

1. Wedding Weekend
Yesterday was my first wedding of 2014, and the entire day was beautiful!! Great details, plenty of opportunities for creativity, a fun bride & groom, and perfect weather.  I rented a lens I’ve been drooling over for a long time (70-200) and ohhh boy I had fun playing.  I know I love my job when at the end of an entire day of working and shooting I could still keep going!!  I always feel it the next day though and that’s why I titled it wedding weekend…I crashed totally dead asleep for two hours this afternoon, and my shoulders are aching from carrying my gear all day yesterday…but the ‘side effects’ are worth it!  Spring is finally blooming and I’m really looking forward to upcoming spring photo sessions as well!!

blog 2. Adoption Advocacy

change world

I have the highest admiration for a leader of integrity who can mobilize a group of people around a cause and together achieve results. I would absolutely love to serve in a role like Kelly from Both Ends Burning–she is my hero and this past week has been an absolute whirlwind of activity under her leadership.  I’m not sure anyone anticipated the depth of motivation and passion that has emerged from this group of adoptive parents :)   She has helped waiting adoptive families with finalized DRC adoptions come together with a common message and a proactive plan, and she has not shied away from requiring hard work from each adoptive family in this past week.  I am SO happy to have had some action in the waiting. I definitely felt like the action items were taking over my life, but it also felt like the highest priority!  Our voices are being heard!!!  The State Department has taken action and made plans for the DRC delegation to meet Congolese children that are home with their American families (there was no plan prior to this, and this was something we were specifically requesting!! You can see the notice here). Seeing families across the country who already have their children home step up and say “we’ll go, we’ll take time off of work, we’ll spend the money to travel, we’ll do this for you waiting families” has repeatedly given me goosebumps and a profound camaraderie for the adoptive community.    We are very very hopeful that this will get things moving in Congo.  Again, I want to firmly emphasize that all of this work has not been to bring to light another country’s faults.  As Angie wrote in this post, our first priority has been to get our own elected officials involved.  They are here to help with issues that are important to their constituents and this week we made it clear what is important to us!  Adoptive parents have been feeling like not enough has been done by the State Department or the Embassy for our stuck children, and that is what we were unhappy about. Yes, we want our kids home. We want them to have exit letters. But we also want to respect their country and their laws. We are doing our best to go about all of this in a respectful way that shows how much we ALL care about Congolese children!!!  I want to also personally thank every single one of you who has also stepped up and out of your comfort zone–posting about the situation on facebook, changing your profile pictures, signing the petition, sending letters to Congress, calling your state representatives, paying to hand deliver letters to Congress–thank you so so much.

Kelly sent this email yesterday:
CONGRATULATIONS! What you have accomplished in less than ten days is
nothing short of spectacular! Over 100,000 letters to Congress were sent
for your children. It appears as many as 200 members of Congress are
stepping forward to extend a hand to the President and Prime Minister of
DRC to seek a solution to whatever it is that stands between you and
your children. You all became the news in over 20 markets, and more
stories are coming every day. For the first time in the history of my
work in this field, members of Congress are reaching out to me to see
what they can do to help you be united with your children. We have an
opportunity to share your love and committment to your children with the
DRC government officials in less than two weeks. For the next few days,
I want you all to regroup and celebrate your success (after you upload
your one-sheets and love letters, of course). We have made real
progress, and we are just getting started! When I tell you this is
unprecedented (the energy around DRC), I mean it.

And just a reminder if you have something negative to say about international adoption, direct your energies elsewhere–I delete all hateful comments and don’t have the time to engage with irrationality.

3. Crockpot Freezer Meals
As my friend Meri and I have continued to read through our parenting books together, we have been challenging each other and holding one another accountable to making changes in our schedules, priorities, time management, and screen time.  One of the stressors we both share is meal preparation.  I meal plan and grocery shop, but still struggle to find the time to cook.  We are both working during the hours our kids are in school, and then want to pay attention to our kids and their homework once they are home in the afternoon. By evening we’re working again and juggling evening commitments or (gasp!) relaxing!  so doing meal prep after the boys are in bed is less-than-appealing.  Meri came up with the genius plan of bulk cooking together 1-2x a month while our boys play.  We made 10 meals together last Saturday that went into the freezer and will be cooked in the crock pot, and we’re getting together again this Saturday to make another 10.  I am SO EXCITED about this.  It feels so great to have fresh, healthy meals made from scratch ready for my family with the added bonus of talking to my friend about life and listening to music and watching the boys play.  We didn’t use anything canned–it was all lots of chopping and mixing!  I haven’t yet decided if I’ll start using these freezer meals regularly, keep them for when I’m in a pinch, or keep them for my guys when I travel to the Congo for weeks on end.

4. Running!
I have been running regularly and plan to step up my running plan to 3x a week in preparation for a race I’m doing in May:)I can’t say I enjoy running 100% while I’m doing it (unlike biking, which I LOVE), mostly because I feel like I’m dying the entire time, but I like how I feel afterwards and so exercise continues to be an important priority for me. I think I’ve found my solution, which is running somewhere I enjoy–the woods, by water, or along the beach–versus running around my neighborhood or the high school track.  This past week I hiked to one of my favorite lakes that has a pretty flat area around the lake and did a couple of loops around the lake.  I ended by sitting quietly on a rock overlooking the lake for a long while and then hiking back to my car and it was exactly what this introvert needed.  I’m hoping to do that again very soon!

blog photo

5. When my words fail, these are the words of my heart:

blog waiting

Liesl - April 14, 2014 - 5:37 pm

I’d love to share freezer crockpot meals with you! A group of moms meet monthly at our church to make 4 meals–they are great to have in the freezer for those crazy nights or weeks you just can’t get to the food store!

Cheryl Barker - April 15, 2014 - 10:20 pm

So, so happy, Emily, to hear about the progress being made on the hurdle in getting your sweet girl home. Praise God!

sifinalaska - April 16, 2014 - 1:25 am

Wow! 100,000 letters?!? That is incredible! I am still so totally praying for you and your little girl friend…


New pictures of our little girl are incredibly bittersweet.  I’m always overjoyed to see her sweet face and pore over every detail, memorizing each part of each new picture and taking in her surroundings in the picture.  But new pictures break my heart too:  the way her face has turned to look into the camera and her eyes are full of hope….her familiar curly eyelashes brushing against her eyelids….the bags under her eyes from too much coughing at night….her latest hair style with box braids….the crumb on her chin that needs a mama’s hand to unthinkingly wipe off….it’s always the little things that get to me and tear me to shreds.  She’s growing up before my very eyes in pictures, and that hurts my heart.  We can’t wait to hold her and love her here as part of our family instead of a continent away.

While we wait, and you wait with us(!) we are very honored to share a video that conveys a piece of our hearts for our precious girl–email me for the link!  And if you see us in person, we’d love to share our new picture with you as well:)


*I respect all opinions, including ones that are different from my own.  I will gladly publish comments that are not in support of us if they are done thoughtfully and respectfully.  I invite dialogue, particularly about adoption, and would love to chat further with anyone who has questions.  I strive to live a transparent life, and present myself and our family’s story as honestly as we are comfortable sharing–and to that end will openly respond to differences of opinion.  I will NOT, however, engage with commenters who leave hateful comments to me, calling me names, and making false accusations with no true knowledge of our family.  We are fully aware of the corruption often associated with international adoption, and in no way view ourselves as “saviors” of our child.  Please channel your anti-adoption passion into making a real difference in strengthening biological families both domestically and internationally rather than spending time leaving me comments.  I would be more than happy to connect you with organizations we already support that are making a difference in advocating for change at the root level in this broken world. *

Debbie - April 8, 2014 - 1:11 pm

Looking forward to the day we can see pictures here! I’m so sorry you’ve had unfriendly comments. It seems that no good we do here can be totally clean-cut from a corrupt world. “Forgive them anyway… Succeed anyway… Do good anyway…”

Patti Vander Zee - April 8, 2014 - 8:03 pm

People can be so incredibly rude! Praying with you and for you!

Cheryl Barker - April 8, 2014 - 11:48 pm

Emily, my heart aches for you all. May God move mountains and bring your girl home soon!

Liesl - April 10, 2014 - 7:24 pm

I’d love to see you video Emily! Can’t imagine the frustrations and broken hearts you deal with each day. Praying God’s will be done.

Both Ends Burning

yes, yes, and another yes to this article HERE!  With the petition to raise awareness about the children stuck in the DRC spreading like wildfire (over 80,000 signers at last check!), story after heartbreaking story of waiting families have been simultaneously flooding social media.  I could share these stories that have now hit the news and the posts that are hitting home with our own family’s ache, but to keep things simple I will limit my sharing to the most concise and factual reports.  The article I’ve referenced above is written by Both Ends Burning, an international adoption advocacy group who has stepped forward to coordinate and spearhead efforts to action from the US Government(as the first step).  The article is the best summary I have read to date about the situation in the DRC where our daughter waits and what all of this “noise” happening right now is all about!  This sentence particularly resonated with me: “Both Ends Burning supports the DRC in its investigation and believes every nation is obligated to ensure that international adoptions are conducted with integrity, transparency and the highest ethics. However, we do not support the closure of international adoptions while such an investigation is underway.”

Piggy-backing on that point, I want to make it very clear that I am not slamming the DRC.  While I certainly have some very strong opinions, and will gladly share them with you in person, my online presence will never be a forum for negativity against the Country where my daughter is from, and I will publicly respect her country and its governmental decisions to the best of my ability.  I may share my anguish here at how some of those decisions impact our family, and my private circle of friends has already heard more than they probably want to hear!  I have gladly promoted the petition circling, but I do not intend to use negative terminology in connection with the DRC, and I respectfully ask that you do the same.  My public voice is in support of a country that is making decisions in an effort to best protect the children who live there, just as our country is also doing.  My purpose in spurring us all to action is not to stir up a volatile and sensitive situation to the detriment of the waiting children (for example: angering the DRC to the point where they completely close the country, which would be entirely within their right), but rather to respectfully engage OUR GOVERNMENT and open up dialogue about the WHYS and the WHATS NEXTS of what needs to happen to bring our adopted child home, especially when there have been significant breakdowns of communication and complete silence for the first six months of the shutdown. I am not the type of person to sit back and wait if there is something I could be doing–and like I said yesterday I will always do whatever it takes to bring Lyla home.  But I will do it respectfully.

If you haven’t had a chance to do so yet, I encourage you to sign the petition (you have the choice to keep your name private if you desire)–you can click on the link on my sidebar to easily sign the petition and even send a letter to your representatives.  I also plead for your continued prayers that this painful situation may be resolved peacefully and SOON for everyone involved.

International adoption has become an incredibly charged topic, and opinions are vastly varied on what is the best solution to the orphans in our world.  I am thankful that in our sphere we have received unconditional support for our adopted daughter.  I welcome questions, and will gladly talk about Lyla and adoption in general at any time:)


If I spoke in hashtags, it would look something like this: #notplayingaround #hearmeroar #DRCstuck #Godwillmovemountains #doingeverythingIcan #dontseparatemamabearsfromtheircubs #cuethesongRoarbyKatyPerry;)All because:


I will never, ever stop fighting to bring our Lyla-girl home. I will never, ever stop feeling like I could fall to my knees with gratefulness at the support around us that fills in the cracks of worry inside my heart and helps me keep moving forward in this long wait!!!!

Right now there is a petition to Congress that a)explains the situation happening in the DRC that is preventing hundreds of adopted children from coming home and b)gives YOU an opportunity to make your voice heard!  In less than 24 hours, over 30,000 letters have already been sent–WOWSERS.  It feels so good to have some tangible action, right?? Maybe we can’t force a sovereign African country to bend their decision on exit visas, but uniting our voices raises awareness and encourages our government to take care of all of these waiting families in the meantime!  Incredibly fast & easy and takes about a minute:

Next week, there will be a video that I’ll be posting that shows our family’s specific story and shares our hearts as we wait–and I would love for you to share that video too (I know, I’m demanding like that):) All I can say is a simple thank you.  It’s all to help:


Thanks for loving our family through our adoption and hoping and fighting alongside us, and even more thanks for loving Lyla Kate.  We are so hopeful today!



Paula - April 3, 2014 - 9:10 am

Praying for miracles!

Debbie - April 3, 2014 - 10:10 am

Praying for God to move mountains so you can bring her home soon!

Kristi - April 7, 2014 - 9:42 pm

Your not alone and we will pray fervently for the government to set aside their own pride and see what is the most important, that every child deserves a family!
I hope and pray you have seen the STUCK movie and contacted Kelly Ensslin!!
We are stuck too, but in Liberia!!! So sad to know so many children are missing out on a family, unconditional love, medical, and the news of Jesus Christ!
Praying for your sweet daughter, and your family’s hearts as you wait!!!!