"Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls knows that we know, and holds us responsible to ACT"...Proverbs 24:12

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Girls :)

(Pictures wont upload to the blog and sometimes I cant accsess this -so for pictures and most updates I have been using facebook.)

Sunday:  We went to the market in the morning and church at Korah in the evening.  Met Yitiyal our sponsor child and that was the coolest experience.  He was so sweet- when ever I changed seats at the church service to make room for others he woud follow me.  He is 14 but so small.  He was pretty overwhelmed at recieving his gifts:  clothes, soccer ball, and a cross bracelet.  When we told him that we would visit again in a few months and asked if there was anything that he needed or wanted he looked down and shook his head.  Finnaly, he quietly whispered that his mother works all day in the trash dump collecting plastic bags to sell, she then buys ingredients to make inerja (the staple ethiopian bread), which she then sells on the streets at night.  The only thing that he asked for was for clothing for his mother.  You could just feel the deep love he had for her it was so moving.

Church was amazing.  It was dirt floored with tarps pegged down for the floor...tin around it.  They started this church in Korah only several months ago and they now have 2 services and just had an addition put on.  The place was packed.  As soon as I walked in I felt the presence of God so strong.  People were on their knees praying and crying.  Then came worship and the people were dancing with the most joy I have ever seen in my life.  Then came testimony's of healings and the message.  It was beautiful.

Monday/ Tuesday: 
When we arrived at the orphanage the girls were waiting for us on the front steps.  We walked up to them and greeted them w/ a soft kiss on each side of their cheeks.  It was a completle blur-They were so nervous!  We all stood their awkwardly for a moment and then I rememberd that gifts always break the ice :)
We sat down with them and handed them their gift bags.  Just like Sova, they didnt know what to do...they just laughed and could not stop smileing!  They would just look at eachother and giggle.  They looked at everything but didnt touch anything except their dolls.  They felt the dolls hands/ features and held it near to them while sucking on their lolipops...so cute.  We had a coffee cermony w/ them and ate snacks.  The girls laughed when they were given glass soda bottles.  The other couple we are traveling with is adopting a baby boy- you could tell the girls were smitten w/ him- I think Helen is the baby lover.  THere's no grass or dirt at the orphanage- just concrete but we played soccer for a long time w/ them.  Mike and Helen seemed to bond over that.  Mike would steal the ball from her and try to tease her and see of she would come and try to get it back- eventually she did.  I painted the girls nails and we played playdough w/ a group of kids.  We were able to get alone w/ them for a few minutes and held hands with them and prayed together.  I could tell they were so nervous to be alone w/ us and I think Helen was about to tear up so we quickly went back outside.  Helen went to the playdough and made a cross- looked up at me and smiled one of the biggest smiles I saw from her :)

We were told that this 24 hour car ride through the mountais was their 1st time in a car and they threw up.  Today we drove with them to court and even when the van was in park- they were each holding onto a handle for dear life. 
We were told that Helen is very shy.  They both only whisper when spoken to and tried to keep their heads down and diverted eye contact. 
When we were picked up this morning for court we were delightfully surprised to find them in the van- we didnt think we were going to see them today.  They were in their matching outfits that we brought them- they looked excited, were smileing and  sooooo cute!  They definatly already have loosened up alot and personalities are even showing through.  I know we barely know them but I already can tell that Jerusalem is so laid back and go with the flow.  She's so qucik to smile at us and seems easy tempered and sweet.  As for Helen, even though everyone who knows her tells us that she is very shy- I can see something so strong in her.  She is the one in charge.  She initiates most conversation w/ her sister.  You can see she is most nervous and anxious but I can see such strength in her it is so powerful to me.  We had to sit in a queit waiting room for over an hour this morning.  They did great and were quiet and sat but Helen could not keep her body still for one second- she was always moving something.  She even reached out and was feeling my bracelet and and looked up and me and smiled (its the little things right now!)

We got to get a little silly with them too.  I didnt know if I should wear my scarf or not so I was modeling it to them asking them thumbs up or down- they were just cracking up covering their mouths- almost embarresed like.  Mike teases them and tickles their sides- they laugh and try to ignore him but you could see in their faces that they love it.

Court is finished and they are legally our girls...feels so werid but so great!  After court we walked to a cafe and I took Helens hand in mine and we walked holding hands and swinging arms.   As I was walking I was trying to contain my smile but I dont think it worked. 
We are flying up north today to visit where they are from.  The girls cannot come with us and they are still staying at the orpahange.  On the drive home from court the girls scooched alot closer to us.  They let us look at them w/out diverting their eyes and we would just giggle at eachother.  Helen even put her head on my shoulder for an instant and I almost melted :) 

Monday, July 30, 2012


I don't think I have ever slept 12 hours in my life- never too old to break records though right?  We wanted to have an early start today to call Hopechest and see if we can arrange a last minute visit.  So when I jumped out of the bed at 11:00 we scrambled to get ready, amazingly got a hold of Hopechest and arranaged the last minute visit, called a taxi, and inhaled breakfast while the cab was waiting for us.

We met Yemamu- the director of Hands for the Needy in Korah.  He took us to their offices where we dropped of a suitcase full of shoes, clothes, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and games.  He is AMAZING.  We spent alot of time talking about his story on how he got involved in this.  He has such a huge heart and needs so many more people to come along side him and help the people of Korah.

Korah is a trash dump outside Addis.  People live there and raise there families in the dump- surviving on what they pick through.  I could not even watch the strong grown men do this- I litteraly had to look away because it was too much to see. Alchoholism and prostitution is a big reality here as they have no hope left.
Our church pattnered w/ Yemamu and helps him support over 200 children.  The kids of Korah come to the carecenter for food, clothes, and discipleship.  They are also given the ability to go to school and church.  He told us about the physical difference he can see in the children since the sponsorship program began.  This man has a big heart and big dreams....thankful we serve an even bigger God!   THere are hundreds  more children that need to be reached! If you have $34 a month to spare Please consider making a HUGE difference in the life a child in Korah.  Yemamu was actually a child raised in Korah himself- because of him being sponsored he has been given a 2nd chance in life and is now commited to helping as many children that he can.
Check out this listing!  http://www.hopechest.org/community/hands-for-the-needy/sponsor/  

The carecenter is nice- I cant believe I cant show pics now but I definaly will when we get home!
We are actually going back there tomorrow to go to church in Korah!  I am so excited!  We will be our sponsor child there too. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

settled :)

Wow- sometimes I wonder why Im giving updates when they seem to change by the hour around here!  But we only have 1 television channel w/ arrabic subscripts so it gives me a reason to come down to the guest house office :)

Here's the latest:
Mekele flights are booked this weekend.  Saterday the girls will be driven 24 hours south to Addis.  After they arrive we will let them sleep and then we will go visit on Monday afternoon.
Court is still Tuesday morning- I think they come w/ us BUT we bought flights to go north to Mekele (just mike and I) Tuesday afternoon with a return flight Wednesday night.  Ant then Thursday afternoon leave Ethiopia.  Phew- next week is crammed.
We could have waited to go up to Mekele on the 2nd trip but we didnt want to wait- I am so anxious to meet their birth-mother that I cant imagine waiting until the 2nd trip. 
Im am confident that there are reasons beyond our knowledge on why everything got all botched up.

We were planning on visiting Korah- Hands for the Needy site/ sponsor child at the end of next week...now we are trying desperately to get in contact their feild office to see if we can go this weekend instead.  Praying that we can get through to them this weekend!

THe director of the orphange up north was in Addis on business today and we were able to meet him.  He seem's like an amazing man.  He was able to give us more little tid-bits on the girls which was neat to hear.  He told us that he always see's them staying together- "you know because they are twins" he said- so funny  :) 
Im not sure if he telling us the truth but he said that the girls are very much excited- I looked at him like he was crazy and told him that we expect them to be scared and sad- not exactly excited...he said, no no no no- they are excited and greatful for this oppurtunity.  I still dont know if I believe him but I am certainly glad that this was all sorted out!

The guest house is in a small gated compound- I feel like we've been trapped in here the last 2 days and I and so ready to some real Ethiopia this weekend! 

Thanks for your prayers!

Day 2 in Addis

Well with keeping w/ tradition...always an adventure!

When we arrived it was a bit concerning to find the the agency here and our agency at home to not be on the same page where the girls were at!  What?! We expected them to be in Addis when in fact they are still up north in Mekele.  We still cant use the phone so I had to send an over-dramatic email to our agency expressing our frustrations...I will blame that on jet-lag and lack of sleep ;)

It's not too big of a deal- we will need to fly up there Saterday BUT we were told that every single return flight is booked for the next week!  We are now on standby for a return flgiht.  They want us to fly back to Addis with the girls but that would mean that 4 seats need to open up on Monday's return flight.

If this does not happen they will drive the girls to Addis tomorrow.  BUT a 1 hour flight is actually a 24 hour car ride because of the mountainous terrain.  I dont think the girls would arrive until Sunday or Monday and they will be exhausested.  So please pray with us that 4 seats will open up on a return flight!

It is so important for us to visit up north to see the girl's region- but if flights dont work out we would just fly up there to visit on our 2nd trip to Ethiopia.

I know everything will all work out just fine and our hope is knowing that God is in control of this whole situation- he know's what's going on and what is for the best for everyone. 

If we thought waiting to see the twins was hard at home- you can only imagine what it's like to be sitting in a hotel in Ethiopia twiddling our thumbs is like :)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Travel Day 1

Travel Day one:

It was a lot worse than I expected leaving the kids…I was a mess. I think a lot of that emotion came out because of being sick too.

Thank you for your prayers for our health- we are feeling sooo much better. Mike’s fine and I have a chest congestion and small head cold but compared to how I felt a few days ago I feel great!

The flight to Dubai was well…long.

Ate dinner, watched a movie, and then put on our snazzy eye/sleeping masks.

For several hours we tossed and turned (our necks that is- not much else to toss and turn when your belted into a narrow upright seat)

At one point I just hear Mike laughing. I slipped off my eyemask to see that crazy look in his eye. He just kept laughing saying, “Is everyone for real, are they all really sleeping or do we all just pretend?”

I pretended to sleep hoping I could trick my body into thinking that I really slept.

When we were above Moscow I gave up.

When we arrived to Dubai we had to wait in a 1 hour line for immigration.

We took a shuttle to our hotel. When we stepped out into the night air it was incedible. I really thought that there were heaters blowing on us from underneath the awnings- until I remembered that we were in the desert. It was so hot but felt so nice because it was so dry- if felt like a sauna! By then we complelty pulled an all-nighter and we in full swing into the next day. All I wanted to do was to sleep but Mike was hungy and wanted to use our free dinner vouchers 

We somehow managed to eat dinner and then thank the Lord we were able to sleep that night. Even though our wake up call was set for 6:30 am- we both were wide awake at 5am. I had that excited feeling and could not sleep a minute longer- plus the construction crew arrived outside our hotel window at 5am.

Had breakfast and set out for the airport. I am typing from Dubai and we should be in Ethiopia this afternoon! Tomorrow we meet our girls! Keep the prayers a-coming!

Monday, July 23, 2012


What a complete whirlwind!  We have waited for this to happen for over 2 years now- ya think we would have been more prepared.  Nothing like 13 days notice to fly to Africa!!!


BUT...we did it...even through this awful sickness.

 Luggage Packed, Donations Packed, Gifts Packed, 

3 kids packed for 10 nights of sleepovers, head attactched.

When we left for India for 10 days the boys were 2 and 5 years old.  I was terrified that Caleb would think that we left him- it was so sad. 

The kids are a bit older now so it's not as horrible.  Jacob (Mr. Social) is excited and see's this as his own personal vacation w/ friends.  Caleb is kind of quiet about it- but I think he's happy for an adventure.  Sova-Grace is quite vocal about how this is way too long to be away.  She does best on routine and structure...a bit worried about this one.

When I think about them being away from me I will cry...so I just dont think about it. (seriously)  I will pray for them before we go and while we are away but then I stop thinking :)

With that said:  I LOVE TRAVELLING!  I love long car rides, I love airports- even thought about working in one to just pretend Im travelling.  I love planes, I love reading magazines that I always wanted to pick up at the check out aisle but never do, I love bumpy dirt roads,  I love culture, I like nervous excitement jitters, love hotels and love having 10 days alone with my husband :)

So this is what our trip is gonna look like:

7/24   Tuesday night we fly out of JFK

Wednesday at 7:45pm we arrive in Dubai (United Arab Emrites)

What's the coolest is that  Emrites airline is going to put us up in a very nice and very FREE hotel for the night.  (They do this with all excessively long layovers)

I cant get over the fact that we will be sleeping in Dubai on the Persian Gulf.

Leave Dubai Thursay @ 10:30 am and Arrive in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia @ 1:30 pm after 2 days of travel.

Friday- Meet the Twins!  Aghhhh!

Sat-  Celebrate our 11 yr anniversary by spending the day with the girls again!

Sun- Mike and I will fly to the northern region of Ethiopia so visit their 1st orphanage, drop off donations, see the area where they grew up and take hundreds of pics. 

Monday- spend the day up north- in the evening we fly back to the capital.

7/31 Tuesday- *COURT*  2 new Turner's!

(* visa's will take at least 2 months after court...thats why we cant bring them home on this trip.  They will stay in the smaller orphange until their visa's are issued.)

Weds-  our church recently partnered w/ 'HopeChest' in Ethiopia- we sponsor almost 200 kids that live in a large garbage dump called 'Korah.'  (see how you can get involved!)  http://www.hopechest.org/community/hands-for-the-needy/sponsor/

We are thrilled for the opportunity to visit this amazing minisitry and to visit our sponsor child and bring over donations!

Friday August 3rd- arrive at JFK bright and early at 8 am- beyond ready to see our kiddos and prepared for a VERY long day dealing w/jet lag and emotions!

We are still battling sickness and are feeling pretty horrible.  We covet your prayers for our health and saftey, for our kids at home- for their protection, and for the twins- for their healing of their broken hearts.  Thank You!!!

Hopefully internet access will be good while we are there so I can keep the updates rolling!

 Yahoo!!  I cant believe this is happening!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012



We didn't even buy a baby name book when we were expecting Jacob.  We both loved the name and it was that simple.  Jacob Michael ...done!  (Michael is hubby's name:)

When Jacob was a baby I read a book that had the name Caleb in it. (The 'Blessed Child'- sooo good!)

 I fell in love with that name and knew that if our next child was a boy- I'd want him named Caleb.  Mike loved it too.  Caleb Raymond...done!  (Raymond is both Mike's middle name AND my father's middle name :)

While waiting for Sova to come home- every time I walked by the refrigerator and saw that cute little face in the photo I just saw the word 'GRACE.'  I couldn't get past the name Grace. We already choose her middle name to be "Elliana"  (the Lord has responded) and it seemed so appropriate! Mike thought the name, 'Sova-Grace  Elliana Turner would be too long...I thought it was just too lovely and meaningful Not to have! (plus I loved those southern style hyphenated names!)

Christmas morning (the one where we promised no gifts because of the adoption...) Mike gave me a gift 'from Sova' and the tag read:  Love, Sova-Grace  Elliana Turner :)

Done!  (ya, I know he's awesome) 

We found out in India that 'Sova,' is in fact an uncommon Indian name but it means beautiful...

 Now the twins:

When we thought we were going to adopt a baby we were going to name her: 'Talia-Faith' and give her Ethiopian name as her middle name.  The kids especially loved that name and these past 2 years they would even pray specifically for, 'our sister, Talia-Faith.'

The girls birth-mother's name is Azmera.  The name means 'Harvest'  both our favorite season and well- our life's desire...when we hear 'harvest' we think of people coming to know who God truly is...what's not to love about this powerful name!  Defintly a name worth carrying on- it will be a special way for the girls to keep their birth mother with them.

So in keeping with the tradition of long yet meaningful names:

Helen-Talia  Azmera  Turner

Helen means  'sun ray- shinning light'  (Love it!  'you are my sunshine' is my theme song to the kids)

and   Talia means "dew from God" 


Jerusalem-Faith  Azmera  Turner

Jerusalem's real name is actually spelled, 'Eyerusalem.'

It is common in Ethiopia to spell it that way- but it is the same name as 'Jerusalem.'

We are not 100% on this but we are thinking it may save her alot of trouble/confusion in the future if we changed the spelling.

Jerusalem (Eyerusalem):  means  Possession Of Peace and is pretty much the coolest most important city on the Planet  :)

In each picture we have of Jerusalem she is wearing her cross necklace...so 'Faith' it is for her!  Done! 



Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Background

If you read my last post you would know that a book about AIDS in Ethiopia changed my life.  If you didn't read those statistics and figures nor learned what is NOT being done about it- go back and read it!

After reading this book I literally could not get through a day without crying.  I would start crying at the most random times too- not during some deep thought provoking alone time (because remember, I'm a mom and those times aren't allowed)

During this time I got involved with a non-profit agency called, "Project Hopeful." I became their Connecticut state representative and Im really excited about what the future holds for this!


I started looking into HIV adoptions.  Here is where I learned the TRUTH about HIV. 

 *HIV is a chronic but manageable disease.

  * Many people still mistakenly believe people can contract the HIV virus through casual contact or a family setting.

  * People are unaware that HIV has Never been transmitted in a normal household setting.

  *children with access to medicine can live a long normal life (yes including marriage and  family!)

   *I also learned that 'Stigma' is the worst thing that comes along with this disease and is usually the hardest part!

  *  Most HIV orphans never get adopted and therefore never gain access to life saving meds.

Long story short:  I became passionate about this cause, Mike really  thought I was nuts, I kept praying, Mike kept saying no, I kept praying, Mike started listening, I kept praying, Mike started asking ?'s, I kept praying, Mike said, 'let's change our homestudy to include HIV children.'

The twins do not have HIV so at first I was a bit confused on what all the above was about then.  That was a long year of praying- but Im glad we went through that conflict.  It not only is a testimony that prayer works (lets just say there was initial STRONG oppositions:) but we now have an involvement in Project Hopeful that is bringing hope to HIV orphans all over the word (you can check out the above website to see all that they do.)

But now we can see a part of the bigger picture...

The twins father passed away from AIDS shortly after the girls were born.

Their widow mother has raised them herself...not a small feat in eastern Africa.

She held on as long as she could but a few months ago she had to relinquish the girls because AIDS has taken over her health...she could no longer care for her girls.

 The roles reversed and these girls were caring for their mother...instead of school they would stay home and look after her...at 9 years old. 

This region is highly devastated by this disease and therefore there were no family members who could take in the girls. 

The twins have been living in an orphanage for the past few months, they are healthy and do not have HIV, but they are broken hearted and I would say that it's safe to say that they have seen and experienced more suffering and sorrow than most grown adults I know.

The girls have actually been 'lucky enough' to even make it into an orphanage.  Most orphanages are overcrowded and cant even take children in.  The children then take to the streets and it would not be long before the girls would have been in strong danger of prostitution for survival or sold into sex slavery.   Also most rural Ethiopian girls marry very young- some just 12 years old.  The men are usually much older.  Many girls die is childbirth because there bodies are so small from mal-nutrition.  Many girls contract HIV from their husbands.  And thus the cycle continues.

This is not a sweet- goose bumpy adoption story.  To be quite honest it's not the story we would have picked!  But in reality all adoptions stem from a loss.  In a perfect world children stay with their parents. But this is a broken world.

It is unfathomable what their birth-mother most be going through.  In Ethiopia, people with this disease are treated like lepers- they are shunned.  If God did not give us a clear understanding about this disease- who know's, maybe I would have been one of those who shunned her.

 But the Truth does set us free...and I pray that we will be able to travel to her and break that stigma- all I want to do is give that woman hugs and kisses and tell her that she is my hero.  She raised these girls on her own until she no longer could hold on.  I am going to tell her to save a nice spot in heaven for us and that her legacy will live on in her beautiful daughters lives.

Now you can see why I covet your prayers for these girls.

I lost my father when I was the girls age.  Although I believe they are experiencing a higher sense of trauma- I also know what this loss feels like as a young girl.  It is a painfully sad place that when I re-visit those days in my head- the tears can flow like it was only yesterday.  I can never forget him and always miss him.

And so as an adoptive mother to these girls- I will always know that they miss their birth mom, and that they will carry that with them for the rest of their lives.  And that's the way it should be.  Im sure we will eventually gain turf  in the girls hearts but we are more than happy to share that place with the woman who gave them life. 

  Like I mentioned in the earlier post- patents on HIV drugs and the fact that Africa is vanishing while we continue on boils my blood...now I will have 2 new daughters in my life because of this fact.  I love them already but I would give my right arm for them to have not have had to say good bye to their dying mother because she has no access to medicine. 

To me this is injustice.  This just should not be.