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Ella's Adoption story

Our Journey to Ella

 

Ella&siblingsOur journey to Ella began almost 20 years ago and thousands of miles away from home. In 1995, while in Guatemala on a medical mission trip with my mom, the Lord began to plant a seed in my heart for adoption. Two years later while visiting an orphanage in Honduras, He stirred a deep love in my heart for these precious children, as well as one that would one day call me mommy. All during high school and college, the desire to adopt never went away. During my junior year in college, I met Kyle, the man I would one day marry. While we were dating, I told him of my desire to adopt one day. At that time, he had never considered adoption, but expressed that he would like to have biological children before considering adoption.

We were soon married in August of 2004. On our second anniversary, we found out we were pregnant with our first child. During the spring of 2007, our son Jackson was born and we were elated to be parents! Just a few months after Jackson was born, we found out we were expecting again. When Jackson was fourteen months old, our sweet daughter, Avery, entered this world. God had truly blessed our family! Even though our days and nights were busy with parenting two young children, the desire for adoption still laid heavy on my heart. Many nights I spent praying, asking God to show me His plan for our lives and His timing in regards to adoption. I knew that God would begin to impress it upon Kyle’s heart in His perfect timing as well. One night soon after our daughter’s first birthday, the topic of adoption came up as Kyle and I sat and talked. Even though I had spent many months diligently praying about it and felt sure in God’s calling for our lives, God clearly revealed to me in that moment the work he had been doing in Kyle’s heart as well. As I listened to Kyle talk about the verses found in 1 Timothy 5:1-16 and Psalm 127:3-5, he told me that he knew this was God’s will for our family and God would bless our desire to adopt.

For the next 18 months, Kyle and I spent time researching domestic and international adoption options. We attended informational classes through the DHS foster to adopt program, as well as sessions with several adoption agencies that offered domestic and international programs. We felt very overwhelmed at times with so many important decisions to make in beginning the process, but God was always faithful in revealing His plan. After many referrals from other adoptive families and meeting the wonderful team of people in TX, we were excited to finally begin our adoption journey with the help of The Gladney Center for Adoption. We began looking into the international programs that Gladney offered and while our initial interest was in Central America (since that is where our story began!), God made it clear as He began to develop a love in our hearts for the people of Ethiopia.

The fall and winter months of 2010 were spent gathering paperwork, completing homestudy visits, background checks and immigration forms just to name a few. With all the steps and requirements involved in international adoption, we were so thankful for our amazing friends at Gladney who were there to hold our hand and help us every step of the way. After five months of working diligently on gathering information for our dossier, it was complete and we were officially added to the Ethiopia waitlist! At that time, the current wait to be matched with a child was about 9 months. Since we were open to adopting a child of either gender and possibly even a sibling group, we were excited about soon finding out who would join our family.

Soon after being added to the waitlist, we received news that changes would soon be made in the processing of adoptions within the country of Ethiopia. At that time, we did not know what this news meant or how much our patience AND faith would be tested in the years to come. Although the waiting was hard and we longed for the day we would meet our child, we knew that God had brought us to this point and he would continue to be faithful. The months of waiting soon turned into years. As our children grew older, they became more and more anxious as they would ask how much longer until our brother or sister comes home.   Every year as we updated our paperwork and completed another homestudy, we wondered if this would be the year.

One Monday morning in the spring of 2014, we were completing our normal weekday routine of getting the kids off to school and then heading into work. We had no idea that this was the day our lives would be changed forever. That afternoon, our eyes were filled with tears of joy as we stared at the pictures and listened to our caseworker tell us of the precious two year old little girl that would soon join our family! Our next few weeks went by quickly as we shared our exciting news with friends and family and began gathering paperwork and preparing to bring our new daughter home.

Every month, we would receive new pictures of her and updates on how she was doing. With every picture we received, we fell more and more in love this amazing little girl. It was such a joyful time as we watched Jackson and Avery prepare for their little sister’s arrival by getting all her books arranged just right on her bookshelf and setting out all her little pairs of shoes so they were ready to wear when she arrived home.

On July 11th as we celebrated our daughter Avery’s 6th birthday, she received her only birthday wish – our case was cleared, we had been assigned a court date, and would leave in two weeks to meet our newest little family member!   The next two weeks went by quickly and soon we were kissing our kiddos goodbye and boarding the 14 hour direct flight from D.C. to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Just 24 hours after arriving in Ethiopia, it was time to meet that little girl that our stole our hearts from day one. We were anxious, nervous, and trying to soak in all that was about to happen. As we walked into the room where she was, I couldn’t hold back the tears as I laid eyes on the child I had spent so many years praying for. That afternoon, we had so many amazing moments with our sweet girl that we will never forget. We spent the next few days traveling the countryside in Ethiopia and playing with all the children in the orphanage. On July 31st, after attending our court appointment, the judge informed us that our case was cleared and she was officially our daughter. The next day, it was very hard to say goodbye to her as we traveled back home and waited on the US Embassy to issue her visa. Just a few weeks later, we were cleared to travel back to Ethiopia to bring our daughter home.

On August 28th, 2014, almost four years after we began the adoption process with Gladney, we received a very special gift as we celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary – the U.S. Embassy issued her visa and we were ready to take our girl home to Arkansas! We were blown away when we arrived to XNA as she was welcomed with so much love by our friends and family who had come to meet her.

As we celebrate “Adoption Awareness Month” during November, we are reminded of the many blessings that have come through our adoption. The journey to our sweet Ella Kate is one filled with God’s faithfulness, grace, and unconditional love – a precious life for which we will forever be grateful.

November 2014 Holiday Gifts & Events Guide

The month of November is a time of remembering all we have to be thankful for. Unfortunately it’s easy to get so busy with life and miss out on simple joys that surround us everyday. Our hearts are especially tendered as we share with you this beautiful cover story of Ella Kate’s adoption. November is also National Adoption Month so Ella Kate being featured is a perfect way to help raise awareness for children in need of adoption. We hope it encourages you to remain steadfast to your calling & count each moment as a gift. Special thanks to Emily for sharing her story & to Farmland Adventures in Springdale for allowing us to use their location for the photoshoot!

Speaking of holidays, this Holiday Gifts & Events Issue is filled with the best gift ideas & holiday events. Maybe you have a Lego enthusiast, an aspiring artist or thespian, or a sports fan. Or maybe your girly girl only dreams of the latest fashion or dance lessons. No matter what, you’re sure to find unique gifts they’ll love within these pages. Remember too to plan time for the special events in NWA during this season.

As always, we are grateful for our advertisers & readers & we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!!

 

October Birthday Bash Issue 2014

It’s OUR 12th BIRTHDAY & what better way to celebrate than by bringing you our October Birthday Bash Issue? Within these pages you’ll find everything you need to plan & throw the best birthday bash ever for your kids! The birthday ads begin on page 7 with the quick-reference resource guide on pages 46-54. Several of these great businesses are offering discounts on birthday parties – Hopes & Dreams Gymnastics, The Whole Creative Process, iNFiNiTi, Mid-America Karate Academy, The Purple Lime, Fast Lane Entertainment & Modern Mission. Please be sure to tell them you heard about them from Kid’s Directory!

Are you looking for family-fun fall activities? Maybe you want to spend time outdoors or do some shopping. Or with Halloween approaching, you may be hoping to find activities that are less scary for your little ones. Here are just a few ideas that are sure to delight & help make memories!

  • Farmland Adventures open until November 1
  • McGarrah Farms Pumpkin Patch open until November 2
  • Tinkerfest sponsored by Amazeum at Old High Middle School, October 4
  • American Girl Fashion Show at Arts Center of the Ozarks, October 4-5
  • Rhea Lana’s, October 8-11 in Siloam Springs & October 19-25 in Springdale
  • Halloween Carnival at NWA Mercy Family YMCA, October 9
  • Hands Full Consignment Sale at Trinity Fellowship Church, Fayetteville, Oct 10-11
  • Game Day Camp at Brick by Brick, October 11
  • Operation Christmas Child Family Fun Fest at Arvest Ballpark, October 12
  • Champions for Kids Simple Giving Project, October 13-27
  • House on Haunted Hill at Arts Live Theatre, October 16-19
  • Ozark Regional Arts & Crafts Fair, October 16-18 (3 locations)
  • Fall Craft Fair at Christ the King Lutheran Church, October 18
  • The Witches at Trike Theatre, October 23-26
  • Fall Festival at The Little Gym of Rogers, October 24
  • Halloween Event at Little Giggles, October 29
  • FREE Kid’s Smoothie for kids in costume at participating Tropical Smoothie Cafe, October 31
  • Mall-O-Ween at Northwest Arkansas Mall, October 31
  • NWA Boutique Show, November 7-8

Have a safe, fun Halloween with your little monsters! We’d love to have you share your kids’ costume pics on our Facebook page!

September Healthy Families Issue 2014 Sponsored by MANA Medical Associates

The first day of FALL is September 23rd!! Anyone else counting down the days until then?! September is my favorite month, not because of football (gasp!) but because I love to see the leaves change color & enjoy the coolness of the weather. It’s also the month I celebrate my wedding anniversary so it holds precious memories for me. I confess I’m not a health nut but I do want to enjoy lots of years with my man & my kids so this Healthy Families Issue challenges me to be more proactive with my health. I hope it does the same for you! You can find these ads starting on page 8 with the quick-reference guide feature on pages 48-57.

We are honored once again to have MANA Medical Associates sponsor this issue! MANA’s mission is to improve quality of life by providing compassionate, comprehensive, quality healthcare. With over ​50 years of experience & over ​80 physicians & providers including family medicine, pediatricians, internal medicine & specialists, you’re sure to find ​excellent care for your ​family’s ​medical needs. ​ Learn more about MANA at mana.md. You can find their ads this month on pages 8-10.

MANA also sponsored our September Cover Kid Contest. It’s an absolute blast for us every year reading the kids’ responses! This year we asked, “What fun things do you do with your family to stay healthy?” Our adorable winner responded, “we go wimming!” We love “kid-isms”! Oliver is active in other sports but has excelled at swimming this year as a 2 year old. Way to go Oliver!!

I can’t close out this letter without saying a HUGE THANK YOU to our loyal advertisers & readers! I know I can speak for our entire staff when I say it’s our pleasure to bring you this resource guide every month. Our goal is to provide the highest quality family resource & be the most valuable connection between our advertisers & readers. Please remember to always tell our advertisers you saw them in Kid’s Directory!

Happy Fall Y’all!​

August 2014 10th Annual Back-to-School Issue sponsored by Once Upon a Child

As I write this letter, on my desk sits three school supply lists for my kids. A somber reminder that summer will be over too soon & our kids will be starting a new school year. This time of year always brings mixed emotions at our house, probably much like your own, as we waiver between excitement & anxiety. With school-aged children of our own, the staff at Kid’s Directory understands how this experience can feel overwhelming. Our hope is that this 10th Annual Back-to-School Issue will serve as a valuable tool to help you navigate through the ups & downs of sending your kids off to school. This issue is jam-packed with resources for preschools, private schools, after-school care & activities (gymnastics, dance, art, drama, martial arts, swimming, technology, music, tutoring & more), back-to-school check-ups & physicals & of course, school supplies & clothing. You can find these back-to-school ads on pages 8-46 with a special quick-reference guide feature on pages 48-57. Many advertisers are providing discounts when you mention you saw their ad in Kid’s Directory. We offer our special thanks to Once Upon a Child of Fayetteville & Rogers for sponsoring this issue & for providing the clothes for our cover kids! Be sure to shop their stores for your kids’ back-to-school clothes where you can find name brand clothing at a fraction of the cost! We also thank our cover models, Allison & Caleb Blue. You guys rock!
 

Hear what our advertisers are saying about Kid’s Directory!
Northwest Arkansas TCBY has been advertising with Kid’s Directory since we opened our store over 3 years ago.  The Kid’s Directory team has been fantastic to work with, and our advertisement in Kid’s Directory has consistently given us one of the best returns on investment of any of our print advertising.
Jared Greer, Owner 
 
I began advertising with Kid’s Directory when I started my dance studio ten years ago. It has helped me build my business and connect with great families all over NWA. I would definitely recommend them for all of your advertising needs! 
Julie Booher, Owner 
 
Be watching for these upcoming issues!
September Healthy Families
October Birthday Bash
November Holiday Gifts & Events
December Holiday Gifts & Events

July 2014 Moms-in-Business Guide

Happy 4th of July! It’s one of my favorite holidays. I love watching fireworks with my family & friends & thinking how privileged we are to live in America. If you’re looking for spectacular fireworks’ displays, there’s certainly no shortage in NWA. Visit our calendar online at nwakidsdirectory.com or on pages 28-29 of this issue to find ones closest to you. In honor of our nation’s celebration, we thought it would be fun to share a few interesting facts & kids’ jokes related to this great day.

  • John Hancock was the only person to sign the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. The other 55 signers did not sign it until August 2nd or even later.
  • Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national animal but was outvoted when John Adams & Thomas Jefferson chose the bald eagle.
  • Over an estimated 150 million hot dogs will be consumed on the 4th of July.
  • Calvin Coolidge is the only U.S. president born on the 4th of July. He was born in 1872.
  • Q .Why did the duck say bang? 
  • A: Because he was a firequacker
  • Q: What’s the difference between a duck and George Washington?
  • A: One has a bill on his face, and the other has his face on a bill
  • Q: What was George Washington’s favorite tree?
  • A: The infantry
We are also excited to bring you this month a brand new featured guide…the Mom-Preneur Guide aka Moms in Business Guide! Found on pages 32-35, these are home-based or small businesses who offer products & services usually not found at your local stores. Entrepreneurship is one of the things that sets apart our country & we are honored to help promote these dedicated entrepreneurs. Help show your support for local businesses like these by shopping their “stores” & letting them know you saw them in Kid’s Directory. Thank you to Portia Bowen & MiKael Hassebrock for allowing us to feature your new business, Freckles & Sunshine, on our cover. MiKael & her sweet girls, Lily & Reese were a joy to photograph! You can find their mobile boutique this month at First Friday on the Bentonville Square.
 
Remember that many summer camps continue through the first part of August. It’s not too late for your kids to try a new sport, hone their art skills or make new friends at day camp. There’s still plenty of summer left so get out there & enjoy as much as you can with your family!

June 2014-Happy Father's Day

Hooray for SUMMER! Kids out of school, vacations, playing & exploring outside, camps, longer days…these are the things we love & welcome about summer. And if you wonder what you can possibly do with so much free time, you’ve picked up the perfect family resource to keep your kids active & busy. Summer camps & programs are featured on pages 7-24. Our community calendar on pages 28-29 also includes many free activities for the entire family!

We also take time this month to say thank you dads! It’s a special Father’s Day for our family as I get the privilege of featuring my kids with their dad on the cover. Since I began working for Kid’s Directory of NWA in 2011, my oldest has requested she be included on the cover. I couldn’t be happier that this cover became available for me to honor the best dad I know. He works hard but always makes his family his priority. I love you, Chad. We hope you’ll let the dads in your family know how much they’re loved & appreciated this Father’s Day.

Be watching for these upcoming issues:
July Mom-Preneur
August Back-to-School
September Healthy Families
October Birthday Bash
November Holiday Gifts & Events
December Holiday Gifts & Events

May 2014 Happy Mother's Day

Kid's Directory Cover 05.14Happy Mother’s Day! If you have the title of mom, whatever form it takes, we celebrate & honor you! Take time today to tell your mom how much she’s loved & appreciated. We’d like to thank Mila Morris for allowing us to feature her & her three beautiful children (Parker, Presley & Paige) on this month’s cover. Our amazing cover photographer, Amber Lanning, wowed us again!

Speaking of moms, I’d like to give special recognition to all the dedicated, hard-working moms here at Kid’s Directory of NWA. These women love God & their families & give sacrificially of themselves to bring you the best family resource guide in our area. Heather (Owner), Cat (Creative Director), Katinka (Sales Director), Nicole (Photographer) & Amber (Photographer)…I love you girls & am humbled I get to work with you & call you my friends.

This issue continues to feature Summer Camps & Programs. Even if you picked up April’s issue, be sure to check out pages 7-31 this month for more camps you may have missed. Please also let our advertisers know you heard about them from Kid’s Directory & tell them thank you for providing first-rate programs & services in NWA.

April 2014 Summer Camp Guide

Kid's Directory Cover 04.14It’s with great pleasure that we bring you one of our favorite issues of the year…The April Summer Camp Guide, brought to you by iNFiNiTi. Every year we’re amazed at all the fun & creative activities, camps & programs available for our kids during the summer! Our advertisers work diligently to ensure your family’s summer is memorable. Be sure to check out the Camp Guide on pgs 44-53 & keep this resource on hand for your summer planning. Thank you, iNFiNiTi, for helping us bring this valuable resource to NWA! You can find their ads on pgs 8 & 9. Also see our community calendar on pgs 40-41 for on-going & special events, many of which are free. A complete listing of events can be found on our website.

We’re also thrilled to introduce you to Katinka Sweet, our new Sales Director! She’s passionate & enthusiastic about helping you stay connected with all the latest happenings in our area. You can learn more about her below. Welcome to the Kid’s Directory family, Katinka!

 

Hello NWA!

Even before I was a mom,  I picked up Kid’ s Directory every month as it was such a valuable resource for me to get to know the area. Yes, I have a smart phone with information at my fingertips but there is just something I still love about touching and feeling a guide in my hands! When we moved here in 2005, NWA quickly became my home away from home.

Moving here from a large city, I was a little nervous about feeling alone or bored. NWA continues to exceed my expectations and the community has done nothing other than embrace our family! I am so excited about joining this team as Sales Director to continue helping connect all of our wonderful businesses and community events with your families.In my spare time I enjoy spending time exploring NWA with my husband, three kids and our black lab. I’m passionate about living a Christ-led, active, healthy lifestyle with my family and have a special place in my heart for children with special needs. I love all things dark chocolate and I typically have my camera on hand because I’ve learned you never know who or what you will see in NWA!

March 2014 Summer Camp Preview

Kid's Directory Cover 03.14

I’m sure you’ll agree with me that this is probably the most anticipated spring ever! After enduring extreme temperatures, snow, ice, sleet, freezing rain, wind gusts & impassable roads this winter, I can hardly wait to be outside enjoying all that spring has to offer. I’m grateful we get to enjoy all four seasons but I’d like to have more spring than winter. Remember to change your clocks to “spring forward” for Daylight Savings Time on March 9th.

Speaking of warmer weather, this issue is a great resource in planning your kids’ spring & summer activities. There’s something for everyone…art, theater, sewing, dance, gymnastics, cheerleading, martial arts, swimming, foreign languages, train rides, science & Legos! Even if you can’t be home with your kids this summer, there are child care providers (preschool-elementary) who have lots of fun activities planned for your kids all summer long.

We are proud sponsors again this year of an event that’s become a household name in NWA–Champions for Kids RazorFest presented by Kellogg’s. This is a FREE family event featuring fun & health zones, games, music, mascots, giveaways, fitness activities, nutrition education & more. The event concludes with the University of Arkansas Razorback Red-White game. We love & support Champions for Kids because of the work they’re doing in serving children. Their core values are that ALL children should have someone who cares, a place to belong, hope for tomorrow & provisions for their journey. Agreed! 

We’d like to thank N.c.K. Talent Academy for partnering with us in providing local talent for several of our cover models (Aug ’13, Oct ’13, Dec ’13 & Mar ’14). These kids have been a delight to work with, always enthusiastic, appreciative & willing to be posed over & over again. We’d also like to thank Rhea Lana’s & The Pink Lilli for providing our adorable cover clothing this month. You can find new & used clothing like this at Rhea Lana’s Consignment Sale on March 2-8. See their ad on page 34 for more information.

Come see us at our booths at The World’s Largest Baby Shower on March 29th & RazorFest on April 26th. We’ll have great giveaways & fun surprises for your kids & would love to meet you!