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Hi there! Welcome to Brady & Christen’s blog about living life, loving God, & growing our family through adoption. We're excited to share what God is doing as we embark on the next phase of life & we are glad you're following along!

Home Sweet Home

We made it home! Praise the Lord! We had a very looong past 2 days. About 40 straight hours total of traveling and layovers. Béni did great! He was quite excited to ride on a plane and go to America with us. He had a few moments of sadness/impatience while waiting to board the planes. Before boarding the first plane in the Congo, the Lord blessed us to meet a young Congolese guy who spoke fluent English and Lingala. He was able to speak to Béni and translate a lot of Béni’s questions. Even more of a blessing, this same guy happened to be sitting on the same row across the aisle from us on the plane. Béni sat by him briefly carrying on a lengthy conversation and had a good time! The Lord truly ordained this meeting.


I have to share a humorous incident from the airport yesterday. Turns out Béni is terrified of automatic flushing toilets. He went in the restroom to do his business and during the process the toilet flushed on him. Apparently (according to Brady) he screamed and ran out (pants around his ankles) for all to see in the crowded airport restroom. He had to work up his courage to go back in and complete his task.

We were also grateful for our facilitator/translator while in the DRC. Our paperwork was done in record time! Even though we couldn’t get home earlier than scheduled, the time we had with Béni in country was a great opportunity to begin bonding and adjusting. Our facilitator left us this wonderful/amazing advice. He said “It is a beautiful thing what you are doing…adopting Béni. You are giving him a better life. But it will only be temporarily better if you do not teach him about the gospel and about Christ. That is all that matters.” How awesome is that!

We’ve been home about 15 hours and things are going smoothly. Béni slept peacefully in his bed (in a shared room with Manny) all night. He LOVES Manny and Manny loves him. He was a little sad at first when Manny headed off to school this morning. But he recovered. Shockingly, Béni also LOVES the dogs; which is an awesome surprise! Béni is fascinated with everything; particularly the car. The first thing he did this morning was walk out to the garage and mumble something while gently petting the car. Even now he just keeps walking out to the garage and touching the car. He keeps asking for the keys, thinking he’s just gonna hop in and drive somewhere! Sorry pal!

That’s all for now! I’m sure we’ll have more humorous stories soon!

Filling the Time

The countdown is on. Two more days and we will be US bound. Our time here has been a productive one of bonding and learning each other, combined with large blocks of boredom. The highlights of our days generally consist of going to the “market” to get bread / water, etc. I would describe it as a “bankrupt Sears”. It has a little of everything, but it’s all subpar.


We don’t feel nearly as comfortable venturing out on our own as we did in Ghana. Perhaps we just haven’t been here long enough to feel adventurous (thankfully). So we have mostly just stuck around the hotel.

We have developed our own little language with Béni consisting of an English-French-Lingala hybrid with a little bit of signing mixed in as well. So far it is going well. He has shown us a stubborn defiant side on occasion, yet he has also begun to submit to us regularly as his parents. He should learn pretty quickly by watching big brother Manny when we get home! We have also tried to begin learning the basics (i.e. ABC, 123) through games. He is beginning to take to it. He can count pretty well in French, and thus has taken quicker counting in English than to his ABC’s. He seems to have an extensive Lingala/French vocabulary; which I think speaks to his intelligence. And he finds it necessary to carry on fairly lengthy conversations with the hotel workers in their language. They get a real kick out of what he says… Lord only knows what he is really saying about us.

Once he learns to focus his attention, I believe he will make remarkable strides in schooling. As with the addition of any child, it will be challenging at times. The language barrier certainly adds a different dynamic. Early on we simply couldn’t explain our reasoning behind saying “no” to something. Instead, it just sounded like “no” as a permanent response – which usually displeased him. We’ve thankfully gotten better at communicating with the help of some online resources and nice locals who translate for us. At any rate, we are adapting and learning. We are ready, and thankful to God for choosing to bring Béni into our life as our son. He certainly adds an entertaining element and should provide us with humorous stories for quite some time!



The Call to Adopt

What brings us to adoption? The answers can vary greatly: for some it’s humanitarian desires, for others it may be infertility, or even fulfilling a lifelong goal. Of the 15+ families we’ve met throughout both our adoption of Béni and Manny, more often than not the common thread that ties us altogether is God. God has a heart for orphans; therefore as followers of him, we have a heart for orphans. Our basis for adoption starts with this.


Adoption had been a topic of conversation in our marriage from the beginning. I (Brady) have two brothers that my father adopted domestically before I was born. However, our decision to adopt didn’t really come into fruition until we began to deepen our walk with Christ and understand the biblical implications of adoption.

God used our pastor at Temple Baptist Church, Tony Merida, and our neighbors Adam and Jill Hodge to teach us about our own adoption in Christ. It was only through them that we began to see the parallels of earthly adoption and the adoption that we receive in Christ.

The decision to adopt was placed on my heart by Christ. I didn’t wake up one day and decide say “Honey, you know what’s missing in my life? We need an African kid who doesn’t know the alphabet, eats all our food, costs us money, and doesn’t speak English.” No. I didn’t say that. But I love Christ; and I see his calling on my life. When I stand before Christ at the end of my days, my biggest regret will be that I didn’t do more for Him; that I was selfish. My biggest regret will be that I didn’t pour into the lives of more people.

I realize that not all families are called to adopt. Not all Christians are called to preach, or teach or be missionaries or whatever. However, it is my desire and our sincere prayer that God will use us to influence others the same way he used others to influence us.

What we're learning about Béni

In the 48 hours since the last post we have continued the surprisingly easy process of settling in as a family. Béni continues to be a fun and laid back little guy. He truly does remind me of an “Ewok” character from the Star Wars movies. He just mumbles and waddles around trying to eat things and pick up things. He is pretty comical really. His big interest right now is cars. Every time he sees a car or motorcycle he goes “oooooo” and looks perplexed… like a dang Ewok would! He has also watched the movie “Cars” about 3 times.


It turns out that he and Manny have some unique similarities. The only time we have seen tears from Béni is in regards to school work… just like Manny. Béni goes into “shutdown mode” is when he is hungry… just like Manny. Manny used to get this ‘limp noodle’/ blank stare/ exhaustion / sadness look when he wanted food… Béni does the exact same thing! It’s really obvious when he wants something because he becomes completely lethargic (I’m guessing that sleep was their way of dealing with a lack of food throughout life). Unfortunately, it seems like all he wants to do is eat… just like Manny! I don’t think we will ever be able to leave those two at home alone together– they will eat everything! I have a feeling that Béni is gonna put in a dent in the China Buffet… just like Manny.

I also get a feeling that Christen is going to love life at home with Béni. He is a fast learner, loves helping, and will gladly do school work in return for raisins. Christen gives him as many raisins as he can count. He is up to 187. Kidding, but he is getting the hang of it quickly.

On a different note, we have received our “exit letter” from immigration that allows us to leave the country. So we are free to go! Unfortunately, our flight isn’t until Sunday, and it’s unlikely that we can move up due to the last minute change costs and the flight that the flights are generally pretty full. We are looking into the possibility though. Either way, it’s nice to know we won’t be delayed anymore than we originally thought and may get out of here sooner than expected.

That’s all for now! Love you all!
Brady

First Impressions with Béni

Yesterday was an eventful day. We moved to the new hotel in the morning. In doing so, we gave up TV, and hot water . But it's good enough and it’s nice to have other families with kids for Béni to play with.


Our initial meeting with Béni was really sweet! I posted a video on Facebook if you are interested. We waited around most of the day to have Béni brought to us. Finally, around 4:00 we all met. It was really awesome!! He ran straight for me (Brady) and gave me a huge hug! It was priceless. I realize this is a completely inadequate summation of the moment.

We are now roughly 24 hours into life with Béni and I'm already really impressed. I would describe Béni as fairly serious, and very intelligent... I’d actually say he has a demeanor that reminds me of Christen as a child. He is extremely alert, attentive, and inquisitive. Béni is a good communicator with others (although we obviously don’t have a clue what he is saying) and he likes to do things on his own. He is very patient with us and hasn’t gotten frustrated at all with our lack of understanding. He also seems very accepting of us as parents. He obeys well, calls us Momma and Papa (trying to convert that into Mommy and Daddy), and already looks to us for basic instruction. It’s a real blessing how quickly he has taken to us!

He is smaller than I would have guessed. However, he has a really swollen stomach - but I'm sure that will all get worked out with some medicine. However, he doesn't seem sick. No sniffles, no upset tummy, nothing. He even turned down some food tonight after he got full at dinner. Béni even held his fork correctly and had pretty decent table etiquette.

Last night we began showing Béni pictures of the family and having him say everyone's name as we point to them. He catches on quick and he has the cutest little voice/ accent! He is getting good at identifying Manny in our pictures! Christen is already working with him on identifying shapes in a coloring book and counting in English. He gets it. If I were a betting man, I’d bet that she will have him speaking decent English in less than a month!

Oh, and he’s pretty good at soccer… dare I say, he has better ball technique than Manny did when we met him. I think we have a playa! That’s all for the first 24 hours! I’ll keep you posted!

The Resurrection of a Blog


Welcome back! It’s been 2 years, and we’re in Africa again!

After 24 hours of travel we have arrived in Kinshasa, DRC to complete the adoption of our son Béni. The travel has been a little bumpy, beginning with a layover in DC where we were awakened several times at the hotel by fire alarms, and 1:30am roof pressure washings (cause who doesn’t clean the roof at that hour?). After missing the first shuttle to the airport, we caught a second by a bus driver nice enough to take us even though he wasn’t assigned to leave for another 30 minutes. Upon arrival to the airport, I (christen) began to feel a little sick- I believe because I took my malaria meds on and empty stomach. Nevertheless, I got some food in me and began to feel better. Also, we met several nice people in the airport, who were either adopting or going for humanitarian work.

When we finally did arrive in Kinshasa, we could not find our driver (this happened to us once before in Ghana- on that occasion we waited 3 hours for his arrival!). Thankfully, we did not have to wait 3 hours today. Although, there was confusion as to whether or not this particular man was our driver. He spoke French. We do not. Hence the problem. Unfortunately, my French studies have done little thus far to help. Although, we can recognize some words, it is not enough to carry on a conversation. He was convinced we were the family he was picking up, because… well, we were the only white couple in the airport. We, however, needed proof before going with him (which was supposed to be given to us in the form of our name on a sign; which he didn’t have). We insisted that the man tell us the last name of the family he was sent to pick up. Finally after some much discussion he called someone and said something that sounded like Raanes. So we went with him.

Turns out, he was the right guy, but we are not at the right hotel. We were told that the place we are supposed to stay may be full for the night, but that we can go there tomorrow. Nevertheless, our current hotel is relatively nice. TV (although nothing good is on), AC (leaks- but at least we got it!), Hot water (with a mind of its own). Also, there is one couple with another agency staying here- which is always nice to see and speak with other Americans, when you are abroad. After clearing up with our agency which hotel we had been brought to, Dido our facilitator/driver/translator (yes-English!!) met us and had a short meeting to fill us in on all the details. We are under the impression that Béni will be brought to the hotel to us tomorrow. We were told Béni was upset on Tuesday when the other families arrived and their children went to stay with them at the hotel. So the anticipation is built, and it seems both we and he are ready the meet each other :)

A Great Holiday

Hi all!

Sorry for the delay between post; I've been having computer problems! At any rate, here are a few pictures from our Christmas! I was great time and special having our little guy with us this year! All the gifts, people, and food was a welcome addition for Manny!