Our Beautiful Baby

Today, we received the best present ever - more photos of our daughter! She has been moved to a foster facility in Addis Ababa, to wait for a few more legal documents and then for our trip to meet her.

I cannot believe how much she is changing... she is already sitting, crawling and even pulling to a stand. Her smile is heart-melting. She has already received her first haircut. We cannot wait to meet her, face to face.

Enjoy the photos!


Your Name

Violet Mariam Amaro, your names are special.

Mariam is part of your birth name. It represents your birthplace and your roots in Africa. The name given to you in Ethiopia was: "Mariamawit". When we first saw pictures of you (when you were only four months old!), we fell in love with your beautiful face, your big eyes, your crazy patch of curly hair, and your personality - yes, even from pictures it was obvious that you were energetic, fun and curious about the world around you. Over the next few months, we called you Mariam. On one of your doctor's notes from Ethiopia, your name was spelled "Maryamwit" and on your birth certificate it is spelled "Maramawit". Your name means both "Star of the Sea" and "Gift of Mary".

Violet is a name your father and I gave you as our gift to you. In the Bible, God sometimes gives people new names to represent a promise He made to them, or a fresh start in their life. We wanted to give you a beautiful, new name to represents our love, the promise of a new life, and your unshakable place in our family. As we memorized every feature in those first few photos, we saw you in two ways: From some angles, you were a sweet, precious baby - innocent and pure. From other angles, we could already see a foreshadow of the "grown up" you - strikingly beautiful, sophisticated, confident and strong. We worked very hard to select a name that would suit all sides of you - sweet, but strong. Like the African Violet plant. Like you, it's delicate, but fiercely strong when it's taken care of properly. Like you, it is velvety... looks best in rich purple... soft to the touch... colorful... cheerful. And, like you, it handles transition with grace. (It is technically called "Saintpaulia" - aren't you glad we didn't name you that?!)

Amaro is our family's last name. It originally comes from Italy, but spent a very long time in Mexico before it was brought to the United States by your great grandfather. My last name used to be Lawler, which is a name that comes from Ireland, like a lot of my family. When I married your dad, I chose to wear his name instead of mine - we became one family. Someday you might choose to wear your husband's name instead of "Amaro" - that is your choice to make. (But in the meantime, having a name that starts with "A" means you'll always get to be at the front of the line in school!) The Amaros and the Lawlers are strong families with beautiful histories full of love, really funny stories and most importantly, a passion for loving and serving Jesus.

Your names represent your past and your future, the many people who have loved you, and your identity as a child of God. Wear them proudly - they tell your story.

And when life gets confusing, they will remind you of who you are.


She's Ours!

Last night, sometime in the middle of the night, somewhere in a court room in Ethiopia, our case passed. We officially have a daughter! Baby Violet will be 9 months old next week, and we'll be able to travel to get her in approximately 8 weeks.

We are still trying to adjust our brains from the "She might be ours" to the "She's legally an Amaro!" status, which is harder than I expected! After so many, many months of guarding our hearts... our family just grew by one. God is so faithful... and His timing is perfect in every way.

Last night, however, we slept horribly. The house was full of unrest all night... even Daniel seemingly sensed it and was awake every hour or so, crying. After a "false alarm" at our last court date, we were prepared for bad news in the morning.

I woke up early to check email and my phone. All I found was a "no news yet" email and no missed calls. Two hours slowly crept by, with new emails popping up from various sources and stopping my heart - but still no news. I had my phone with me all morning, but walked away for about 60 seconds and managed to miss The Call. Our wonderful case manager left us a congratulatory message, and Fernando and I sat on the edge of our bed staring at each other, blinking back tears.

We. Have. A. Daughter.

Ironically, the day was already going to be full of adoption related errands and events - a trip downtown to get our fingerprints renewed and a long webinar on the intricacies of adoption travel. We announced the news to a few long distance friends and family first, then to our wonderful church staff family, and then we posted it to the world via Facebook... dozens and dozens of comments and tearful congratulations piled up within minutes.

Throughout the entire day, I have been reminded repeatedly of the communal nature of adoption. Her birth community was not able to care for her, but as our family opened it's arms, our community opened their hearts. The flood of joyful responses came from every end of our lives - friends, family, social workers, case managers, government employees, pastors, acquaintances, and even complete strangers who (unbeknownst to us) have been praying faithfully for us for years.

One of the Facebook comments said it well: "Welcome baby girl Violet. A little girl could not be more loved than you are!"

Guess we should go ahead and paint the nursery! :)


The Wait

The past few weeks have flown by, honestly. Tomorrow is court date number two (still a 50% chance for being rescheduled, again) and we are holding it together better than last time. You know... staying busy, not thinking about it too much.

But while I have been not thinking about it, I have had lots of time to think about it. Funny how that works.

And what I have realized is that there is power in waiting. There is depth in delayed gratification and finding yourself at the mercy of unknown reasons and logic. There is a beautiful completion that can only come when you stop being the center of your universe and find yourself a tiny speck in a much larger masterpiece.

Fancy words to only say this: I can't exactly put my finger on it, but something has changed during the wait.

There's a great quote by Sue Monk Kidd that says this: "When you are waiting you are not doing nothing. You're doing something. You're allowing your soul to grow up. If you can't be still and wait, you can't become what God created you to be."

We are ready now in a way we were not last year, or even last month. The "us" of last year might have felt prepared to receive our baby, but God knew better. I even feel a little ashamed at how brash we must have sounded - how ungrateful and impatient. But every day since then, God has quietly and faithfully led us to a place of deeper rest in Him, and total trust. He has helped us mature, and has fully prepared our hearts for another child.

We are, finally, ready.

And I never could have understood the need for the wait before going through this process - I'm not even sure I understand it entirely now. But to any parent waiting for their referral, or to anyone stuck in a seemingly endless period of "no answers", let me just say that God is at work. The wait is not just filler - not just a lesson in patience. It has purpose. You can absolutely trust that God has you and your answer on a collision course - you will grow and mature together, and you will collide at the perfect time, in the perfect state of readiness.

Looking back now, that's easy to see.