"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." John 14:18

Our Family

Our Family

Monday, December 5, 2011

We're Home!

After many grueling hours on a plane or in an airport, all 8 of us are finally home. We had a wonderful trip with our whole family and we loved every minute of having us all together for this once in a lifetime experience. It was a precious time of bonding and seeing the beautiful country where two of our daughters were born.

Hannah and Abekeya are adjusting well (some days are better than others) and we're all learning how we fit together in our new lives as a family of 8. Please continue to pray for us - although this seems like the ending, it's really just the beginning. Pray specifically that Chris and I will have the patience we need to work through the frustrating times. Pray for the girls that they will develop the trust that every child needs to have with their parents and pray for our other children that they will not feel displaced or jealous throughout these changing times in our family.

Here are a few pictures of our new family. I will also do a seperate post on some of the beautiful sites we saw on our trip.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

It's Beginning to Look Like Christmas Around Here :-)

I decided to decorate early before we left so we don't have to mess with it in the hussle and bussle of arriving home from Africa. Most of the ornaments on our tree have a story or meaning behind them. We have Baby's 1st Christmas for all of ours, Our New Home ornament, one from our honeymoon, our wedding, etc. It's always fun to reminisce about those special times in our life. Here are a few pics of new special memories we will have this year.

Each of our little ones have their own small tree in their bedroom (my teenagers think they're too old for this). Here's our new small tree addition.

I had to do a little editing on this old family favorite but I think it still works :-)

Here's a new one - all 8 of our names are here!

My children helped me make this for Chris last year when we first started the process. I can still remember his eyes welling with tears when he opened it. It was made before we knew specifically about our girls, when we were only waiting in anticipation to find out who God would unite us with. Thank you God for adopting all of us who believe and call on your name, into your Kingdom and for giving us a very special Christmas miracle this year. Great is Thy faithfulness Lord, unto me.

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving - we all have MUCH to be thankful for. Praying you enjoy a safe and happy holiday with your loved ones.


Many Thanks for Another Beautiful Children's Shower!

Our close friends gave us a lovely coed shower for the girls. It was so nice that Chris could have all his guy friends at the party too :-) It is awesome to have a strong network of love and support. We love you guys.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Finally Booked Our Travel

We did learn this morning (about 2:30am this morning when I woke up to go to the bathroom and checked my phone just in case) that we have an Embassy Appt for Monday 11/28 at 9:00am. If you could please remember us at that time on Monday in your prayers, we'd be SO appreciative!

I tossed and turned for another hour trying to go back to sleep. SO excited! Then I had to wait several long hours for the travel agency to open (10am our time) and the guy who books international adoption flights was out :-( On top of all that, I found out that there is a huge convention in Addis Ababa next week and many hotels/guest houses are booked up. I was so worried that I was either going to have to delay going until we could find room for eight of us or leave my kids behind here - neither of which I wanted to do. SO I started praying this afternoon - God is SO good. Before I got to the Amen, my cell started ringing and it was the travel agent to book our flight and while I was on the line with him, my phone chimed with an email from our desired guest house, who ironically only had 3 rooms left - just enough for our family of 8. Whew! Thank you Jesus. I don't believe in coincidences, I believe in God-things.

We will be leaving Nashville on Friday 11/25 at 1:00pm and arriving in Washington DC to spend the night. Then we'll leave the next morning for the long trip to Addis Ababa where we'll arrive early Sunday morning.

We will be returning on Delta Flight 1899 at 3:24pm on Friday 12/2. We'd love to see you all at the airport if you'd like to come meet the girls and welcome them home :-)


Friday, November 18, 2011

We Have Been Cleared to Travel!

We thought our birth interview date had been changed to Monday but our agency received some misinformation. So we are thrilled to announce that we received an email this morning that our birth interview was indeed completed yesterday and we are cleared to travel to Ethiopia and bring our daughters home! We have been emotional all day - it seems so surreal that this dream that we have been praying for, for a year now, is finally coming true. Due to the holidays next week, there aren't any Embassy Appointments available to us next week so we will travel on Friday after Thanksgiving and meet with the Embassy the following week. We have decided to take our other children with us - we just can't leave them behind for such a big event :-) I'm so excited about experiencing this all together as a family of 8!

We are still working on details of getting our flights booked, etc. When I know the date & time we'll be returning, I will be sure to post here. We'd love for many of you to come to the airport to celebrate Hannah and Abekeya's Homecoming. Thank you for continuing to pray for our safe travels and smooth processes.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Hannah and Aby's room is complete!

Well that's one thing checked off the list... now only 199 more things to go :-) As promised, here are some pictures.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

New Fundraising Items - These Make Perfect Christmas Presents!

We have new fundraising items for sale. These are in addition to the items we are still selling in the right hand column of this blog. Although we are bringing our girls home, we still have many adoption related expenses to pay off so if you're looking for the perfect Christmas gift for that hard-to-buy-for-person on your list, check these out. If you'd like to order, please contact me at v_elaine@yahoo.com. We appreciate your support. We do have limited quantities on many of these items so act fast :-)

The earrings are drops using 3 different colored beads accented with tiny black beads. $12

The earrings are small hoops using 5 different colored beads accented with tiny black beads. $12

2-strand bracelets come in vivid colors. $15
Double wide bracelet - A popular fashionable bracelet that comes in many vivid colors. The bracelet contains two rows of upright beads with a total width of about 1 to 1 1/4 inches. $20
Single strand bracelet. Contains varying colors and sizes of beads, usually at least 5 different colors per bracelet. $10
Tiny black seed beads are used for accent giving them a rich finished look. The necklace is 18" long strung on strong clear monofilament and will have a pewter toggle clasp (not pictured). The bracelet is a one size fits all strung on clear elastic cording. The earrings are drops using 3 different colored beads accented with tiny black beads. $30 for set of 3

Triple Strand Necklace comes in earthtones including golds, oranges, ambers and browns. The necklace is approximately 18" long strung on strong clear monofilament and will have a pewter toggle clasp. THIS ALSO COMES WITH A SINGLE STRAND matching bracelet (not pictured). $25 for the set or 2

Lots Going On Here in the Hulshof House - What Else is New? LOL

First let me start this post by telling you how blessed Chris and I are to have a quiver full of children. We feel so blessed to be bringing home 2 new daughters but God has given us so much more than that. I know our other children know we love them more than life itself and they are SO excited about this new chapter in our lives but with all the changes, I just don't want to forget to remind them how precious they are to us too. I've found myself wondering sometimes if I get so caught up in talking about the girls and the adoption, that my others feel neglected. They tell me they don't but as a Mom, I wonder if I sometimes mess up my balancing acts. Stephen, Will, Alex and Averey, I simply want you to know that I couldn't be prouder of you and your willingness to joyfully open your family to two more siblings. I know you know that some things will be more difficult now but I appreciate you allowing your hearts to be open for God's calling on our family in this way. All of you have told me at different times in different ways that you know that things will be different at home and school but that you will love these girls as your own and will stand up for them as you would your other siblings. How precious it is to see God working in your lives as well. I love you all more than I can say in words. I hope you always know that.

We're moving our teenagers from the 3rd floor down to the guest room in the finished basement. We finally finished that whole transition last night. Stephen and Will are SO glad that's over :-) I'll be working on the girls rooms today so more pictures to follow on that in a later post. Here's the boy's new room. They are thrilled to have more room and be closer to the rec room and the video games :-)

Lastly, we have some big news. We were told a week ago that it would likely be January before we received an Embassy Date to go get the girls. Things have gotten very complicated and drawn out now at the US Embassy and there are a lot of delays. Never forget though that God is in control and He is the author of time. We’ve also been reminded many times throughout this process that the more impossible things seem, the greater He is glorified when He works those impossibilities out.

We received an email today that our daughter’s birth father is scheduled to have his interview with the Embassy on Thursday November 17th and we may be cleared to travel THE NEXT DAY!! We have been praying all this time that God might do a miracle and bring them home before Christmas and instead He may bring them home before Thanksgiving! We are very excited but overwhelmed too. We’ve been feverishly trying to finish moving the kids rooms, etc. We thought we had more time – not that we’re complaining :-) We may be traveling to ET the week of Thanksgiving but won’t know anything for sure until 11/18. We will keep you all posted as things progress. Please be in prayer for these final stages of our adoption.

To God be the glory, great things He has done.

Valerie & Chris

Monday, October 31, 2011

Many Thanks!

Just wanted to say a special thank you to my precious church family for throwing us a beautiful shower for our girls. It is so amazing to have such wonderful support. Thank you guys for all your hard work, cooking, decorating, cleaning, and of course for all the lovely gifts. We love you.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Now that they are ours, I can finally show their faces on our blog with no heart stickers - Yea!

Leaving Washington DC for Addis Ababa. Ethiopia,here we come!

Our first picture together with our girls!

All Dolled Up

The Girls with their Poppy

Morning Bedhead