Gotcha Day

1 year later

A year ago today we walked into a very unfamiliar orphanage and looked into the eyes of two little girls who’s faces we had been staring at for what seemed like ages and who we couldn’t wait to wrap our arms around.  It’s been a full year…a year of hard fought battles and fits of laughter…a year of what we thought were unnecessary tears, but ultimately they were tears of hurts being healed and memories being mourned.  It’s also been a year of sisters learning to be sisters and daughters learning to be daughters.  I think it’s safe to assume that is a day we will never forget.

We’ve recently asked them what they remember about that day.  Sifa willingly offered that my pants had a lot of pockets and Jen had awesome hair.  Yeye simply said she didn’t like me.  I remember looking at their feet and holding their hands, they remember our style and my facial hair…go figure.  But they also said they were’t scared.  WHAT?!?  They weren’t scared to leave what they had known as they held our hands and walked out of the gate into a world they did not know.  Maybe they surrendered to the thought that this is simply another day in what has been all too normal.

We’re still learning how to be a family of six.  Jen has recently accepted a position at one of our awesome high schools, so we are learning how to be a family of six with two working parents and four girls in school.  Needless to say, it’s been a crazy adjustment, but we love watching the Spirit gracefully thread himself through every fabric of our lives drawing us closer to Him and each other.

Here are some things we have learned over the past year:

  • You can read here what we had learned in the first six months.
  • It’s harder than we thought it would be…but so was having twins.
  • First grade is hard for a child from the Congo who was in Kindergarten for five months.  It’s also hard on her parents…But God is good!
  • Yeye LOVES to sing songs that make no sense.
  • Sifa is AWESOME at soccer, and when I say awesome, I mean so awesome that I see her potential and I become one of those dads that no one likes…so much so I’ve heard other coaches complain that she’s too rough!  My response, “There’s only one way to play in the Congo!”  Let’s face it…she’s my only hope for an athlete.
  • All four of our girls are hilarious.
  • Van rides over 5 minutes are not fun.  (Fighting, singing loudly, asking questions, throwing things)
  • Sifa & Yeye still remind us the healing process is not over.

Others have traveled this road, but I do believe we all have similar feelings and thoughts.  Jen Hatmaker has a great blog that expresses our thoughts exactly: The Truth About Adoption: One Year Later.

It has been a GREAT year, but that doesn’t meant it hasn’t been a difficult year; so we are extremely grateful for the people that God has put in our lives for such a time as this.  All of this has been so new but with a touch of familiarity as it defines our relationship with a loving Father who adopts His children into a forever relationship with Him.

Again…thanks for walking with us, hurting with us, crying with us, and serving with us!

Jarred and Jen


It’s been six months…


…since we walked trough the metal gate into the orphanage that housed our daughters. We can still smell the smells…We can still hear the sounds…We can still see building where our daughters lived. But with all these memories, we can still see those smiles that could conquer darkness. Six months ago today, we arrived in Knoxville tired and smelly, but a family of six (seven, if you ask Meredith…the family dog, Cookie, has to be included in everything).

The past six months have been an unbelievable adventure. Many of the paths we were well aware of, but some were sharp turns like you see in Temple Run. We would like to say we were well prepared for all the tears, and all the meltdowns…we would like to say we were anticipating the emotional affect it would have on our two oldest girls. I (Jarred) got my orienteering merit badge in scouts, but this was a little harder to navigate.

With all that said, through the meltdowns and the laughs, we find ourselves alive and excited about all that God has done and will continue to do in our family.

What are some of the things we learned:

  • We have given in to Yeye’s continual demands to be called Yeye and not Marie. Yep, she’s gonna be one of “those people” who go by a name that’s not on their birth certificate.
  • Yeye and Sifa are like any other child (or 35 year old dad)…they hate shots.
  • They fit into our family perfectly…all four of our daughters know how to nitpick
  • Yeye’s favorite word to say to me (Jarred) is “no”…here favorite word to say to Jen is “yes”.
  • Yeye still can’t walk anywhere without dancing.
  • Sifa already has that exasperated 16 year old attitude when you ask her how her day was.
  • Every couple of weeks, someone stops us and asks us if we need help with their hair (still not sure why).
  • They LOVE to sing…loudly.
  • They got groove (clearly they got this from their dad).
  • Meredith and Mikayla have assumed the older sister role that Sifa thought was hers…it took some time, but believe me, M&M have established their authority. And they are really good at being big sisters.
  • Yeye no longer likes chocolate…not sure how that happened, but this makes dessert time a little more difficult.
  • Sifa knows how to roll her eyes…needless to say this is a habit we are trying to break now.
  • Sifa is about to finish Kindergarten…she has come a long way.

Their English is pretty good, but there have been a few things lost in translation. Sifa often tells me, “Daddy, you stink good” (with two thumbs up), and Yeye can be heard frequently letting us know that her “mouth is hungry.”

These are just a few of the things we’ve learned about our daughters and our family. We don’t have it all figured out, but we are grateful for the call that God has laid on our hearts and led us to these two wonderful little girls. They know they are loved…they know they have a home…they know they are wanted…they know they are family.

As they’ve learned English, we have seen them find the satisfaction of being heard and being understood. That was difficult for them in the beginning, and probably the root of most of the melt downs, but when they are listened to and loved, they grow more and more comfortable with this family of which they are now a part.

Thank you for loving our daughters enough to follow our story.

Jarred & Jen