Franklin Five

Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


posted by Tim

I participate in a weekly book group with a bunch of other believers. Last year we read a book by Albert Borgmann called "Power Failure." I have to admit I understood about 5% of the book, but I did learn something that has stuck with me.

Borgmann has a concept called the "Device Paradigm" which (as I interpreted) speaks to how technology creates the expectation of availability (it could be a clock disconnecting us from the natural rhythm of the day or iPhones turning the workday into 24 hours-a-day). In short, time gets very fluid and actual events seem less important. Borgmann suggests that we need something to counter this in our lives. He argues that we need to restore focal things and focal practices in our lives. A focal thing is something that is concrete and is important - it could be the evening meal. A focal practice is an intentional regular activity done together to prepare or support the focal thing - e.g. preparing the meal, setting the table, getting the boys to wash their hands, etc. Our lives should revolve around these focal things, dinner, church, soccer games, and not our lives around technology and availability. I am striving to be home on time for dinner and to attend all of my boys' significant events.

Last Sunday my Dad would have turned 70 years old, and this year also marks the 10 year anniversary of his death. I decided that we needed to have an annual focal thing to remember my father and to use as a tool to teach my children about him. Even at the time of his death, years before I had children, one of my biggest disappointments (and frustrations with God) was that my children would not know him. He would have made a great Grandfather.

I stewed on what would be an appropriate focal thing to remember my Dad. MILKSHAKES! My Dad was famous in the neighborhood for making milkshakes for all the kids. He worked as a Soda Jerk when he was a kid, and he could make a mean milkshake. The Nashville branch of the Franklin family purchased ice cream and a stack of treats to make milkshakes in honor of Grandpa Shermie. My milkshake skills are not up to Dad's, but I didn't see the boys (and Jo) complaining. Over the years, I hope the kids will learn about Dad even though they never got the chance to sit in his lap.

I think I just got an email on my iPhone from Koike-san in Japan :) Should I answer it or go to bed?

one of Graham's favorite things about kindergarten
riding the school bus

Just a little update...
We heard from our agency today that our court paperwork has been processed and we will be submitted for embassy tomorrow. The next embassy date is September 15, so we are hoping to have clearance to travel for that date. We should hear at the beginning of next week if we got clearance. Keep praying, please! We really hope to be on a plane to Africa in less than two weeks.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


In some ways, August has gone by very quickly. In other ways, it has dragged on. Each day, I think about our daughter and when we will get to bring her home. It looks like we will not be going next week, and I am now really hoping for the next embassy date on September 15. So, we will wait another few weeks to find out when we will travel.
We have had a lot of fun things happen in August, and they have all been good distractions for us. Every year, we love going to our county fair that is just down the road from us. The boys love the hands-on farm, seeing the animals, the rides, and last but not least, the snacks. Graham and I rode the Ferris wheel for the first time and had so much fun.
One of my dear friends from Michigan, Marie, flew down for a visit without her kids. Heidi and I loved spending time with her. She wanted to help me make a scrapbook for Lidiyanna, and it was a special treat for me. Marie and I used to teach together in MI, and now she's got three kids and one of the way. She remains such a precious friend, and I cherished our time together.

Tim and the boys went out on the lake with my brother and his boys. All the boys enjoyed swimming in the lake, but none of them wanted to tube. Maybe next year.

I thought it was cute that Wesley sat on Graham's lap while one daddy skied and the other drove the boat.

Perpy came to visit and to attend a shower some friends gave me. She got to celebrate Graham's first day of school with us by going out for ice cream.

Finally, Graham started Kindergarten and he loves it! It's amazing to me to see the transformation that has occurred in him over the last year. He has grown up so much, and it's such a joy to watch it happen. Yes, I have had to fight back a few tears as I've watched him walk into school, but overall, it's been a very positive experience. A new door in his life is opening, and I am excited for him.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Lidiyanna has another upper respiratory infection. Please pray for her to heal quickly. I am soooooooo ready to bring her home. Each day is getting more difficult to wait. I think about her all the time, I dream about her at night, and I'm always waiting for a call to say we have an embassy date.

Would you please pray for me to have patience and pray that we get to go soon. We are really hoping for the Sept. 1 Embassy date, but we won't find out until a week or so ahead of time.

Graham starts Kindergarten tomorrow, and that has provided us with a fun distraction. He's really excited, and I am excited for him. He's been carrying around Lidiyanna's brown baby doll that my friend, Amy, sent us. The boys cannot wait for Lidiyanna to be home. They pray for her often.

I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.... Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare. Isaiah 40:1-5

Monday, August 16, 2010

Court Date

us with Yonas

The McKims, Job, and us

The day of our court appointment is one I will never forget. I awoke early that morning excited yet anxious about what the day held. Before the two trip rule, you only had a 50% chance of passing court the first time. Everyone was assuring me that since the two trip rule went into affect, most families were passing court the first time. I really wanted to pass because if we didn't pass this time, we'd have to wait until October to have our second court date.

Needless to say, I was ready to have this behind us. It actually was a really neat experience, and I'm so glad I was there to experience it. The further along in this process we get, the more I am appreciative of the two trip rule.

Around 9am, a lovely Ethiopian woman who is an America World coordinator met us in the lobby and gave us a brief orientation about what we might expect in court. She escorted us to the court house. Job, our trusty America World travel coordinator, the McKims, another couple adopting that met their son the same day we met Lidiyanna, and Yonas, another member of the America World staff went with us as well. We arrived at the court house and went into a not-so-large room full of adoptive parents and birth relatives waiting for their court appointment. We stood and talked waiting for our time to come. We ended up waiting about an hour and a half which turned out to be the most difficult part of the day.

Once our time finally came, Tim and I entered a small room where the judge sat at her desk. I sat down next to a man that I later realized was Lidiyanna's birth father. The judge asked him a few questions through a translator. Then, she turned to us. I had told Tim ahead of time that he was to be the one to answer all the questions. It was such an intense moment that all I could do was nod and gulp back the lump forming in my throat. She asked Tim if we had any children at home, if they were excited, if we had a support system at home, and if we had met Lidiyanna and still wished to adopt her. I wanted to jump up and down and shout, "Yes!", but I simply nodded with a smile on my face. Then, she literally said, "She's all yours." At that point, I was so relieved and overjoyed, I could not hold back the tears. We stood to go, and at that moment of such elation for me, I realized the quiet and kind man next to me was letting go of his youngest child forever. Talk about a humbling moment.

We left the court house and made our way back to the guest house where we would meet with the birth father. We had been told ahead of time that this was an option if we wanted to do so, and we gladly embraced the opportunity to speak with this man that would forever be linked to our lives. We had come up with a list of questions and things we wanted to say.

It was a very surreal moment as we sat down with Yonahs, another translator, and the birth father. I don't want to go into much detail because Tim and I feel this is Lidiyanna's story to learn and to tell when she's ready. I will say that my heart was so softened towards this man across the table from me, and I felt so much love for him. He had the same kind, big eyes that my daughter has, and I just wanted to soak up every moment that I could with him. I have so much respect for him, and I will tell Lidiyanna that her first daddy was a man she can admire and be proud of. At the end of the conversation, we shook his hand and then we embraced. I got a wonderful picture of Lidiyanna's two daddies hugging, and her birth father had the brightest, toothiest grin on his face. I will always treasure that picture, and I hope it will be special to Lidiyanna as well.

After such an overwhelming yet joyful day, we were taken out to a traditional Ethiopian dinner with the other families in our group. It was truly a time of celebration, and I felt like I could finally relax. Lidiyanna was now our daughter, and my heart was so full.

The dinner was yummy and consisted of injera, a flat, pancake-like bread that was used to scoop up the meat, veggies, and beans. After the dinner was served, some dancers came out on stage and performed tradition Ethiopian dancing. It was amazing to watch, but the best part was when they went out into the audience. Several people in our group were chosen to dance, and Tim was one of them! He was a very good sport unlike me who was glued to my seat. Below is a picture of my friend, Neiva, who had been with us at the court date earlier that day. What a great way to end a great day! Tim and I both feel into bed later that night.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A New Name

Tim and I have been talking a lot about our daughter's name. We wanted to use her Ethiopian name, and we've also had some family names that are very important to us. We had gotten very used to calling her Lidiya, but we were not completely settled on that name.

We've decided to name her Lidiyanna Jo Franklin. We will call her Lidiyanna.

Lidiya is her Ethiopian name, and we will honor her first family and her beautiful birth country by keeping that name.

Anna was Tim's grandmother's name. We want to honor her and Tim's dad through this name.

Jo was my grandmother's name. I was named after a very special woman, and I want to honor her in this way.

Tim and I have both thought about the song I will change your name by D.J. Butler. It describes beautifully how God has changed our name. Without God, we are wounded and lonely. When He comes into our lives, He makes us joyful and confident.

Over and over through this adoption process, we've seen God's redemption, His rescue, and His love and compassion for His children. Not only have we seen it in the life of Lidiyanna or other orphans, but we have a greater understanding of how He has rescued and changed us.

God is changing Lidiyanna's name and story. That is what He has done with us.

I will change your name
You shall no longer be called
Wounded, outcast
Lonely or afraid

I will change your name
Your new name shall be
Confidence, joyfulness
Overcoming one
Faithfulness, friend of God
One who seeks my face.

Monday, August 09, 2010

The Gate

This was our guest house in Addis Ababa. Most of the homes have barbed wire and a gate around the home. There is little violent crime but lots of petty theft. Our guest house was a nice place to stay and I always felt safe there. Our room had a balcony that overlooked the city, and I enjoyed looking out at this beautiful place every morning. Each night, Tim and I would go down to the lobby to use the Internet, and we enjoyed the time talking with the other families. One of the greatest joys from the trip was getting to know the other adoptive families, hear their hearts and stories, and witness them being united with their children. What an amazing thing to watch! Below is a picture of some friends we met in Nashville through the African Adoption Fellowship group. They were in Addis the same time we were to pick up their son. What a treat it was to watch them meet their son for the first time. There was not a dry eye at the transition home. The families we met on this trip will forever have a special place in our hearts.

This is the gate and entrance to the America World transition home for the younger children. I will never forget driving the very bumpy and rocky road that led to this gate. I kept looking for the sign, and once I saw it, my heart starting beating twice as fast. I was about to meet my girl. Every day while we were in Addis, I looked forward to seeing this sign and spending time with Lidiya. Experiencing the culture, eating the food, and spending time with the other families was great, but seeing Lidiya was the absolute highlight of my days in Addis.
I look forward to entering this gate again to bring Lidiya home. Even though she has wonderful nannies who love her, nothing can compare to a home with a mommy and daddy. She will no longer be one of six or eight babies in one room. She will get to go outside and see the sunshine lots and lots. She will have two big brothers who adore her. She will go to church, learn Bible verses, and be a part of an amazing Vacation Bible school every summer. She will get new school supplies every fall as she prepares for the new school year. She will be gently tucked into bed each night by a mommy and daddy who love her so much. Every one of those children we met in Ethiopia should have all of this. I pray God will bring each of them a home and a family to love them.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Coffee Ceremony and Alert Leprosy Hospital

The nannies at the transition home are taking such good care of the children. It's obvious they love them and know them well. One of Lidiya's nannies told me that Lidiya pulls on her ear when she is tired. It touched me to know that they are loving her while I am not there. They pulled out the book I had sent Lidiya in a care package so I could go through it with her. It was a sweet moment to show Lidiya her brothers' pictures and to tell her about them.

The Coffee Ceremony is a very important tradition in the Ethiopian culture. At a restaurant one day after we had eaten lunch, our guides had arranged for us to take part in one. One woman spent time preparing coffee over hot coals while we sat in a circle on some wooden stools eating popcorn and breathing in lots of incense. When the coffee was ready, she poured it into small coffee cups and passed it around. It was very dark and very strong. Our guide told us that many families gather together with their neighbors daily to have a coffee ceremony. For them, it is about relationships and spending time together through this old tradition. I admire how relational the Ethiopians are. They are very laid back with schedules and spend hours every day talking with each other in homes, restaurants and coffee shops.

Alert Leprosy Hospital
We visited this community where people with leprosy can live and work. They make amazingly beautiful art with their hands that are often missing fingers and thumbs. These men were making woven mats and many others made embroidered linens.

This woman asked Tim to take our picture together, and the girls gathered around when he got his camera out. We passed out granola bars and tootsie roll pops to the kids there, and some of the girls knew some English and wanted to talk.

I'm missing my sweet girl a little more tonight. Since we've returned home, I've stayed busy with the boys soaking in their smells, voices, and hugs. I've been nesting, getting things organized for Lidiya, and doing some shopping for some girl clothes. Despite all of the activity, I find myself thinking about her constantly. I am so ready to bring her home and have our family all together in one place.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Our First Day in Ethiopia

It's hard to describe such an intense week we have had. I think we are both still trying to process things. We had an amazing week in Ethiopia and it is one we will never forget.

We flew into Addis Ababa at night, and David, our driver, was waiting for us at the airport with a small, homemade sign that said, "America World". We were so happy to see him! Later we realized he is a maniac driver on the streets, and every time I was in the car with him, I was praying for our safety. Actually, I think everyone there drives like crazy people, and there are no stop signs and very few stop lights. Fortunately, we did not see any accidents, and we did make it safely through the streets of Addis. The streets are full of diesel fumes and just riding through them can make you sick to your stomach.

Despite the nasty fumes, I was so happy to be in this city where I knew I would meet our little girl. We just couldn't believe we were finally here. David took us to our guest house where we fell into bed. Amazingly, we both slept fairly well despite the barking dogs and noisy rooster just outside our window. We awoke the next morning and couldn't wait to get the day started.

We went downstairs and had a delicious breakfast that consisted of fresh squeezed pineapple juice and scrambled eggs. Every morning, the wonderful chef at our guest home would make a fantastic breakfast for the guests. I really enjoyed that treat.

We met another family that had just flown in and they joined us for the drive to the transition home. Together, we would start the week, and it was a joy to share the adventure with this family that became dear friends.

Once we arrived at the transition home that is run by our adoption agency, we nervously stood outside the front porch and waited for the nannies to bring out our children. Talk about a surreal experience!! After a few moments, Lidiya appeared and the nanny handed her to me while wiping her face with a cloth. I was overcome with emotions and started crying. I think Lidiya didn't know what to think at first. Once I was able to calm down and start smiling at her, she quickly relaxed and smiled back. What a sweet moment it was to finally hold my daughter and gaze into her eyes instead of a photograph. She was even more beautiful and precious than the pictures portrayed, and my heart felt so much peace.

We got to stay at the home for several hours and play with Lidiya. She took a nap in my arms and we fed her a bottle after she awoke. I just couldn't stop smiling. It was so wonderful to be with her. a view of Addis from our window at the guest house

my sweet, sleeping child

one of the first smiles

a view of the neighbor's yard where a woman is washing her clothes
It is hard to describe the life there because it is so different from what we know here. The hardships they face are heartbreaking, and so many of the conveniences we enjoy here are not even imagined there. From washing machines to a good education to great health care...these are things I take for granted here that many people in Ethiopia can only dream of.
The people of Ethiopia have captured my heart. I hope to share more of the amazing people and culture in the coming blog posts.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010


our first day with Lidiya in Ethiopiaour first moments with our daughter

We just arrived home this evening from Ethiopia. I am about to drag myself upstairs and into the bed, but I wanted to send a quick update a few pictures of my beautiful baby girl.

What a trip we have had!! I can't wait to tell all about it, but for now, I will only give a few highlights: we met our daughter and we passed court!!!

Lidiya is so precious and has already captured our hearts. We are so grateful that God has blessed us with such a special daughter. We count it an honor and priviledge to be her parents, and we cannot wait to bring her home. It was very difficult to leave her there, but we are praying it will only be a month or so before we can return to pick her up. While we were in Ethiopia, we missed our boys so much and felt like part of us was still in Tennessee. Now, we are so happy to be home with the boys but miss Lidiya. Now, part of my heart is in Ethiopia.