Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The day we held our boys...

I love these little men so much it makes my belly hurt...

I truly love the month of November and I believe it is not just something for this sappy mom of two incredible little boys. The first day we ever held our boys is a day we will ALWAYS celebrate in the Dorband family. Whether it's called "gotcha day," "family day," or something else, it is significant to us as a family and the feelings surrounding those moments will never be forgotten.

One year ago, we landed at the Kigali airport early in the morning filled with nervous excitement and anticipation. We could not imagine the joy that the next year would contain. It was too early to go to the orphanage so we checked into our bed and breakfast and laid in bed waiting for the sun to rise so we could go hold our children for the very first time. I remember wondering what it would feel like and how the boys would react to us. After what seemed like an eternity, our taxi arrived with our POA to take us to Home of Hope to see Levi and Judah face to face.

As we drove to Home of Hope, we tried to take in ever sight and sound along the way to engrave this memory in our hearts forever. After pulling in to the famous blue doors, there really are no words to describe those first moments/hours/days of holding our boys in our arms. I remember the way their skin felt, what they smelled like, the way Judah laid his head on Adam's shoulder and Levi clung to me because he was scared. Levi had a cold and just like a first-time, type A, overreactive mom, I insisted on taking him to the doctor right away and making sure he was OK:)

We spent a lot of time driving around to various government offices that day to try to obtain our travel letter (which didn't come until Monday). We snuggled lots, Adam took Levi on a coffee date, and we tried to memorize every detail about them. At the end of the day we were exhausted and oh so overjoyed.

Now that we are a year into having the boys home, the joy of being "The Dorband 4" is a reality that we live in every day. Sure, there are moments of feeling frustrated or tired because we have two almost two-year-olds, but we truly wouldn't trade any of it!!! One toothy smile from Levi or belly laugh when we tickle Judah, reminds us that we are so blessed. There is so much that went into bringing the Dorband family together and I marvel at the details that were so perfectly orchestrated. Thankful, thankful, thankful- that is the true description of how we feel.

Sending so much love,
The Dorband 4

*Enjoy these pictures from Day 1:)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

It's about time:)

I know I haven't written anything in months, but as so many of you know, life with two almost two-year-olds is quite chaotic. Lately I've been working on being "fully present" with my kids and conscious of what I am modeling for them. I have realized that there are many uncertainties and things that I cannot promise them, but I will promise that as far as it depends on me, there will be joy in our house. It is way to easy to let exhaustion and a bad attitude overtake all the wonders of being a family and I don't want that to be the case for me. Daily I am working on letting my heavenly Father make me more like him so I can be the mom He wants me to be.

2 Peter 1 says this...
"His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption of the world."

I could go on and on about all the incredible truths contained in this passage, but for now I rest in this. HE has given me everything I need for life and godliness and it is possible that my very character and daily life can reflect the image of God. That is what I cling to as a mom.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

New Pictures

Hey everyone! I realize that it has been quite a while since I updated our blog with new pictures of Levi and Judah so here you go!!! Here's the quick update on us...
  • We head to the Cornerstone Music Festival in IL next week where we will run the Breakaway sessions for teens/young adults in the mornings. This will be the boys' first trip there and we are so excited because they LOVE music. I am really looking forward to taking Levi to see Toby Mac because he ADORES the drums and Toby Mac's drummer is incredibly animated:)
  • We are tearing apart our house this summer to make more room for Levi and Judah and possible future Dorbands:) When we bought the house we live in I really wasn't thinking clearly and now that the market has tanked, we are just trying to make the best of it! Fortunately we have a church community of skilled builders so I know that we will have lots of help:)
  • Adam will be going to Colombia with 40 teens/young adults from our church for 2 weeks at the end of July. During that time I will be working on the house and going on vacation with my family so the boys can see all their aunts and uncles and have some quality Nana and Poppy time. I'm hoping this will take the edge off of Adam being gone for 2 weeks.
  • We FINALLY navigated the "re-adoption" process in Michigan. In reality, Michigan does not require re-adoption, but there are still a number of steps you have to take to finalize everything, change names, obtain birth certificates, and eventually file for the certificate of citizenship with USCIS...apparently this is not something that happens very often in Detroit. After 3 hours, 3 different offices, and 2 different buildings on opposite ends of town, we ended up in the right place only to have them tell us that the office was closed and we would have to come back tomorrow. Even though we didn't accomplish the final task, we did get the answers we needed and had some good family time while we were waiting around.
That probably doesn't really cover everything, but it's all the big stuff for now. We are amazed at our boys and so incredibly in love with everything about them. I was reading a book called "God Loves You" to Judah yesterday and it made me tear up as I realized the depths of God's love for all 4 of us...He knew exactly what each of us needed and He knit our family together before we even knew...WOW, we truly are so rich.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

My Husband's Tears

Adam and I have been married for almost 10 years and the only time I have seen him cry was at our wedding and it was more of a "tearing up" than an actual cry. I also heard that he cried after losing his last football game in high school, but needless to say, he is not a man who expresses himself through tears. He is extremely loving and compassionate, but he just doesn't cry. Me, on the other hand, I don't cry very often in public, but I do shed tears over a variety of emotions including anger, happiness, fear, and fatigue.

The second time I have ever seen my husband tear up and the first time I have ever seen him really cry came so unexpectedly. Our pastor asked us to share a portion of our adoption story with our church family one weekend and we spoke about our experience meeting the other children at Home of Hope orphanage...the ones we were not able to take with us. My husband was talking about the way they swarmed around us, begging to be held and cuddled, and then he lost it. He truly couldn't speak because his heart breaks for the ones we left behind, these children who were created in the image of God with real names, faces, and stories...

We have been home since the end of December and Levi and Judah are doing beautifully...I am ashamed to say that so often it is easy to forget what we saw, felt and experienced. God is so good in that I was reminded of all of this today as I read a posting from a woman who just returned from Rwanda and once again I felt a call to do more, to never grow comfortable or complacent...I've posted a portion of her reflection below and you can read more at…


It was two Saturdays ago, and we walked down the cement ramp into the mass of tiny precious babies covered in rashes and rags. The Sisters beckoned our group on a tour of the orphanage – where each room was a wall-to-wall sea of tiny blue cots, and then even tinier blue cots where the children slept, thirty or more to a room. But another girl and myself never made it past the shoreline of the children. We plunged into the wave of them, holding our breath and suspending our hearts for the next two hours, until we emerged, soaking wet with this new reality.

There are 127 children at Mother Teresa’s, from one day to 6 years old. They are here because their parents were killed, because their parents died of AIDS, because their parents or caretakers cannot afford to feed them. They are here because everyday they are left outside the gate where we entered, as unknown, unannounced, unscreened as we were. They are here because the orphanage takes every one of them.

I sat at the shoreline of this sea of children. And they literally clawed and screamed and elbowed their way onto my lap. There was rarely a moment when there were not three on my lap – one closest to my chest, one further down my knees in the middle, and one dangled at the edge of my knees. The ones who were not closest to my chest wailed and scraped and fought to get to the prized spot – where they would be held, close to someone’s heart. It was as if they instinctively knew the way a baby deserves to be held – even if they had never been held that way – and they craved this cradling above anything. They wanted to be a baby that one person holds and protects. They wanted to be touched.

They wandered around in plastic bags for diapers, some with no pants or no underwear, some in adult T-shirts to their knees. They had no toys. There were a few balls or pieces of bike in the cement yard where they ran – one 2 year-old boy was pulling around the broken handle bars that must have once been part of a bike. When it was taken from him by another child, he wept and screamed and threw himself on the ground.

One child did not ever have a ball or a bike piece for more than a few moments – they were always taken by another. And the one left without would invariably weep and scream and throw herself on the ground. As I watched, it occurred to me that these children had never had anything that was theirs. Not a ball, not a bike part – not a mother or a father – that was not violently stripped from them in a moment. They had nothing that was theirs to hold. And so, as I watched them weep, angry, uncontrollably, it made perfect sense to me. There was nothing that they could hold onto, nothing they could cherish and call their own, nothing to comfort them, which had not or would not be ripped away in an instant. Their wailing made perfect sense to me and made me want to throw myself to the ground as well.

When I started noticing that this was happening – all over the cement ground it was happening – and not knowing what to do, I started walking over to each weeping child and put my hand on his back, or ran my fingers across her head. And the child would stop. The child would catch her breath and breathe. The simple act of a human touch to their precious, scabby skin soothed them instantly. Because they want to be touched. They want to be a baby. A baby who someone holds and protects.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I love adoption!

In response to recent news on adoption, today has unofficially been declared a day to express positive experiences with adoption. Adam and I still feel very much like new parents and Levi and Judah are still transitioning in some ways, but from the moment we began this process, these two little boys were born in our hearts. Before we knew their names or beheld their faces for the first time, they were being grafted into our family and a love for them was growing in us that is unexplainable. As biological and adoptive parents alike know, not every moment is magical. There are sleepless nights, poopy diapers, crying spells, fits, and more but NONE of that makes me say I no longer want to parent my children- that isn't even an option. Someone once told me that they weren't sure if they could love an adopted child as much as their biological child and in my heart and mind, I know that sharing DNA doesn't make love greater.

I think we were wired for adoption because we were made in the image of God. Ephesians 1 says this about God, "Long before he laid down earth's foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ." I'm not saying that everyone should adopt, but I do believe it is a natural expression of the love of God and something Adam and I were created to do.

There is a beautiful children's book by Marianne Richmond called "I Wished for You," and this excerpt so beautifully states exactly how Adam and I feel.

"All families are different. What makes a family is their LOVE for each other...I wished for you, and you are always and forever my wish come true."

I would like to add that NOTHING can change that.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

3 Months Home...

I realized today that our little family of four has been home for three months now. In some ways it seems as if it has been much longer and in others, it seems like we just got back last week. We took the boys to the Dr. today and they are up to the 50th percentile for both height and weight...when we first came home, they were in the 5th, so this is major progress!!! Both boys are walking- actually, it's more like Judah is walking and Levi is RUNNING:) The day before Levi walked for the first time the Dr. said he wasn't ready but I think he walked out of sheer determination to outrun his brother! The boys are learning to play together and on their own and we have been enjoying the great outdoors- taking them outside alone is a bit of a challenge because they want to run in opposite directions, but I'm sure I'll get the hang of it one of these days (or purchase a leash).

When I think of the great and awesome job that Adam and I have been entrusted with in being Levi and Judah's mom and dad, I realize that I need to be more like Jesus. They are such a gift and while there are times when it is easy to forget what a blessing they are, like when they are spitting their dinner all over me and refusing to eat or screaming in the middle of the night, I try to keep the miracle of their journey to our family at the forefront of my mind. God has a great and wonderful plan for them and I cannot wait to see it unfold. If you think of it, pray that Adam and I would be the parents that God wants us to be and that Levi & Judah would grow into men who accomplish HIS purposes in their generation. They are truly amazing and my heart is overwhelmed with joy!

These pictures show the transformation in our boys since we brought them home- they are getting HUGE!!!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Spoon-tastic Fun:)

So my little men are learning to feed themselves with a spoon and oh it is such a mess! I am a self-professed neat freak and having 2 little ones has forced me to do some letting go- I am so grateful I have plastic flooring that is easy to clean:) Here are some fun pics for you to enjoy! This fiasco ended with both boys in the bathtub, but we had a great time working on their new skills!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Happy, truly happy, but exhausted:)

I know I have somewhat fallen off the face of the earth when it comes to blogging, but as you can imagine, life with two one year olds is quite busy. Adam and I are incredibly grateful for how well the boys are doing with settling into life in Michigan. Both of them have struggled with some upper respiratory issues and we have been using a nebulizer off and on, but they are healthy for the most part! Judah has been walking for a while and Levi started a few weeks ago. They say mama, dada, ball, and more (I think). Levi also shouted out something that sounded like "all done" today after dinner, which was oh so very cute. Eating is somewhat of an ordeal...they pick and choose what they like on what day of the week and at what time and everything else ends up on the floor (somewhat frustrating for mom:). Judah has all the teeth but he doesn't like to chew so if it's too difficult for him to maneuver in his mouth, out it comes and then it gets thrown on the floor. Levi will eat just about anything (including entire animal crackers in one bite) even though he still doesn't have any teeth- go figure.

I went back to work part-time last week. I definitely had mixed emotions about being gone from them three days a week, but they are with daddy one day and my dear friend and her two little girls the two other days so they are really in good hands! In some ways it is nice to have work that starts and finishes because that really isn't the case at home:)

Both boys are so happy and playful. It's so fun to watch them explore, meet new people, interact with other kids, and take in the world around them. Judah still likes to be held most of the time and often cries if I leave the room to go to the bathroom or put laundry away. I believe most of it is pretty normal given his personality type, age, and background, but I would be lying if I didn't also say that it can be hard when I am exhausted and trying to make them dinner or do something else that needs to be done and he is screaming to be held...

Speaking of exhaustion- I am exhausted. There is so much joy and I truly strive to savor every moment, but especially today, I am tired. My husband is preaching on James right now for the high school group so I have taken the opportunity to read it again, which reminds me of how much I fall short of being like Jesus- especially when I am tired. There is nothing that reminds me of my need to be more like Him than being a mom and I am oh so very aware that exhaustion makes me the very worst version of myself. To combat all this I have been meditating on some great verses from James so here they are...

James 1
"5If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him."

James 3
"17But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness."

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

My boys take my breath away!!!

So my kids are irresistible...they take my breath away and I cannot get enough of them. Here's some more pics for you to enjoy!!! In my world it really is all about them:)

On our way to the winter retreat for our middle school students. Levi & Judah are professional travelers!
This is Levi's guilty look after taking Judah to the ground- Judah is always stealing his toys so he probably had it coming:)
This is classic Levi grin- he smiles with every part of his face!
Future drummer:)
Levi "hitching a ride" on Judah to ease the long journey across the kitchen floor.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

More video

I was writing a message to Judah and Levi the other day in honor of their first birthdays and it struck me that our boys have grown and done so much in the two short months that we have had them in our lives. We decided to wait to throw them a birthday party until Feb. or March because December and January have been so incredibly crazy, however, I couldn't resist making them a birthday cake (even though they couldn't understand what it was for). Enjoy the video, but here is the run-down of all the ways they are changing...
  • Both boys have learned to drink out of a sippy cup
  • They are feeding themselves goldfish crackers and Cheerios
  • Judah has taken a few steps independently every day since the 19th of January
  • Levi is standing up on his own
  • Judah had no teeth when we met him and now he has 5 with a few more on the way!!!
  • Both boys enjoy a variety of foods and Levi eats everything like a champ even though he has no teeth
  • The boys will sit on my lap and let me read them a book and they are learning to play with all kinds of toys- they are really SOOOOOOO smart!!!
  • They are learning to play with each other:) I think it has finally hit them that they have the same person in their room every morning when they wake up! They chase each other around the house laughing and fight over toys whenever either of them finds something interesting! Levi has also been known to tackle Judah on occasion and I can't help but laugh- it's kinda cute:)
  • Judah has had one round of medicine to treat his giardia- we'll find out in a week if it worked (Levi seems to have escaped without the pesky bug)
  • Levi came home with an ear infection and also has undergone treatment
  • Other than those two minor issues, no health problems to report (except for runny noses)- we will find out the result of their full medical tests from our family Dr. in a week or so
That's all for now! We are so excited for all the families in Rwanda picking up the new members of their families!!!
Sending Love,
The Dorband 4

Monday, January 18, 2010

Little drummer boy...

So our children are pretty much destined to either love music or be musicians. This is a video of Levi getting his first drum lesson from the drummer for our youth ministry. Hopefully it makes you smile:)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Adam and I have started making videos about our journey to help us process and remember everything that has taken place. We just posted "The Beginning of Our Journey" above so you could see the whole screen (my blog layout isn't good for viewing videos)- don't forget to scroll down and pause the music on the blog before starting the video. Enjoy!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Adopted by so many...

When I think about the journey to bring Levi and Judah home, it becomes strikingly apparrent that they have been adopted by a HUGE community of people. Adam and I are simply the lucky ones who actually get to be their parents. Our families, friends, church community and "blogging friends" have been praying for us and encouraging us through every tear and bump along the way and now that they are home, we are experiencing the same love and support. Thank you doesn't seem sufficient for those who have stood with us, prayed for us, supplied us with every baby item we could possibly need, and continue to offer their love and assistance wherever it is needed.

Levi and Judah (and Adam and I) are loved by so many and we pray that one day they will be able to look back and see what a large group was a part of their story. Thank you for praying- we still need it! Thank you for all the encouraging words, gifts, and love you have so lavished on all four of us. We are incredibly humbled and grateful for such a community of friends and family.

Sending lots of love,

The Dorband 4

Monday, January 4, 2010

Instant family:)

Adam and I have been married for 9 years and Levi and Judah are our first children. Instantly being a family of 4 comes with some challenges, but there is so much joy that our hearts feel as though they will burst sometimes. These children are such a gift...snuggles, laughter, and all of the "firsts" that we have witnessed. I don't know what we ever did for entertainment before we had them around. Here are some recent highlights...
  • The boys LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the bath and it makes me love to bathe them. Judah has taken to licking everything so he "chases" after Levi in the bath and licks him. Too funny to put into words!!!
  • Levi said mama today and I'm pretty sure it was in reference to me. Both boys have been saying "dada," but this morning as he was clinging onto my pants crying because he wanted to be held and I was changing Judah's diaper- Levi said "mama". It might have just been a fluke but I loved it anyway.
  • Both boys are learning to sleep through the night and get on somewhat of a schedule!!! Judah fell asleep at 6:30pm yesterday, woke up once at 3am and went immediately back to sleep until a reasonable hour in the morning:) Now we just have to try to develop a regular nap schedule.
  • Even though Levi has no teeth, he goes to town on solid foods. Judah is a little more picky, but he has still been willing to try almost anything.

That's all for now- sending love!!!

The Dorband 4