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  • 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.


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: http://www.petition2congress.com/14960/please-help-resolve-pending-adoptions-from-democratic-republic-co/

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!!!!

Lyla update

I haven’t posted for awhile about our sweet Lyla girl because the updates continue to be incredibly painful.  Our adoption is complete and she is acknowledged as our daughter in both the Congo and here in the US, but we remain unable to bring her home.

You may recall that in September 2013, “the Congolese Ministry of Interior and Security, General Direction of Migration (Direction Generale d’Immigration, DGM) informed the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa that effective September 25, 2013, the DGM suspended issuance of exit permits to adopted Congolese children seeking to depart the country with their adoptive parents. The DGM reports the suspension will last up to 12 months. This suspension is due to concerns over reports that children adopted from the Democratic Republic of the Congo may be either abused by adoptive families or adopted by a second set of parents once in their receiving countries.”

In November & December we battled against case-specific problems and thankfully overcame those, finally receiving her finalized paperwork declaring her as ours.

In February, the Department of State became involved on behalf of all DRC adoptive families and along with many other countries, met and pled with DRC officials, but to no avail. The DGM in the DRC remains firm that the suspension will last AT LEAST 12 months, if not longer, in order to complete their investigation.

Our daughter is officially stuck in country.  Meanwhile, she is struggling with an array of illnesses and residing in orphanage care.  At last report, she was diagnosed with malaria, an ear infection, pneumonia, and parasites.  We LONG to be with her with every fiber of our being.  We’re working behind the scenes with a large group of other visa-ready families and will keep you posted on advocacy efforts you can become involved in with us, if you would like.  We’re praying about our next steps and if we should travel to care for her in-country.

HERE is an article that succinctly but emotionally explains the current situation–well worth the read.

Please, please continue to pray with us for our daughter and for us to be able to bring her home soon.  And stay tuned!  By next week I will have two opportunities for you to become involved!–a video about our family featured by Give1Save1 for you to watch and share with others, and a form letter you can personalize & sign to mail to your representatives/senators.  Thank you all for your support and prayers in this difficult situation.

make a way

.Paula Bronleewe - March 31, 2014 - 1:34 pm

My heart breaks for Lyla and your family. Continuing to pray for a miracle.

Juliana - March 31, 2014 - 1:38 pm

First thing: yay on a completed adoption! That is something to celebrate. Second thing: my heart hurts to hear that the suspension continues and that it might go on longer! And that Lyla is so sick–that is terrible, and I’m sure it is so hard to be away from her right now. Lord have mercy! Prayers for you and your whole family, near and far, that God will grant clarity and speed Lyla home to you very soon.

Debbie - March 31, 2014 - 3:23 pm

Thanks for the update. Crying with you and praying for you now.

Cheryl Barker - March 31, 2014 - 11:10 pm

Emily, I can’t imagine how painful this must be for all of you. So hard to comprehend that they wouldn’t listen to the pleas of the State department. Praying for comfort for all of you and for wisdom to know each step you are to take. Hugs.

Deborah - April 1, 2014 - 2:07 pm

Ohhh Emily, my heart breaks for wee Lyla — and for ALL of you waiting to bring your little ones home. You remain in my prayers. Thank you for sharing despite it being to difficult.


Shannon - April 2, 2014 - 9:44 pm

Continuing to pray for sweet Lyla and the rest of your family. I hope she’s home where she belongs VERY soon!