It Takes A Village

I had the best conversation with our maid and our cook tonight. As they were cleaning up the kitchen after dinner and I was making a pot of coffee (yes, I need coffee at 6:00 pm just so that I can make it until bedtime), our maid asked me, “You have two servants or only one servant at home, Mama?”

(By the way, I love it that they call me Mama. It is because I have 6 children!)

I answered and told them that no, actually I had no servants.

“Just one servant, Mama?”

No. The language barrier must have gotten the best of you. I said I have NO servants.

“Ay! NO SERVANTS! Mama, you do all cooking AND cleaning AND washing clothes? You have someone helping you take care of children?”

Nope. Really. No servants. It is just me.

This set off a lot of chattering in Amharic in the kitchen between the two ladies. They couldn’t seem to understand what was happening. You see, in Ethiopia, if you have any money at all, you hire house help. First of all, living here takes so much more work you need other people to help you. Secondly, it is considered selfish to not provide a job for someone if you can afford to. And third, paying for help here is so much less expensive without having to worry about minimum wage and health insurance and such silly things.

As we continued our conversation the ladies made it clear that they were very worried about me. How was I going to manage doing all of the housework and taking care of the children without any help?

I wonder the same thing myself sometimes.

Actually, I wonder the same thing myself pretty much all the time.

But I realized something tonight as I talked to these wonderful ladies. I may not have any servants, but what I do have is so much greater than that.

I have a God who gives me what I need every day.  ~ The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning, great is Your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:23

I have a family who has been involved with this adoption from the very beginning. Grandmas and Grandpas, Aunts and Uncles, Sisters and Brothers…they are all anxiously waiting back home to love on my kids (and I am pretty sure they are waiting to love on me too)!

And I have an amazing network of friends…all of you. You have cried with me, encouraged me, prayed for me and rejoiced with me every step of the way. I know that is not going to end just because we are home. In fact, I am counting on this! I need you.

And so I come to you with my request. Will you help me? I know I cannot do this alone. So many of you have already told me, “Let us know how we can help!” And so I am. This is how you can help.

1) Continue with ALL of your prayers. Our family is going through some major adjustments right now. Yes, we have a lot of joy! Every day is filled with blessings. But we also have a lot of tears and a lot of emotions to deal with. Every day also has its trials. Please lift our family up in prayer.

2) If you have any questions at all – about adoption, about our family, about my children – please do not hesitate to ask me….IF MY CHILDREN ARE NOT WITH ME. If my children are standing right next to me, please be sensitive to the fact that many of your questions will bring up a lot of emotions for them. It would probably be best not to ask about their birth parents if they are within hearing distance. Thank you.

3) Give me grace. My children are scarred. They are imperfect. They are disobedient. As are we all. It will take some time to unlearn some of the behaviors that have helped them to survive in life up until this point. And my parenting might not look exactly as you think it should. Part of the reason for this is that children from orphanages are parented in a little different way, especially at the beginning. And part of the reason for this is that I just have no idea what I am doing. I make mistakes. A lot of them. All I know for sure is that I am doing my best.

4) Bring me food. Yep. I would love to not have to worry about making dinner every night. If you would like to bless my family with a meal sometime, then I would love to accept it! My dear friend Christy set up a meal schedule for us here. Just click on the link Search by last name Putnam and password great 8.

5) Invite Joel and Hannah over for play dates. When we first arrive home, my schedule will be filled. All four of my new children need to see doctors, dentists, dermatologists, counselors, orthodontists….you get the idea. It would be wonderful if Joel and Hannah did not have to tag along to every one of these appointments. And, it would be wonderful for Joel and Hannah to get a little break from all of the emotional upheaval that is a part of our life right now. If you want to invite them over, please do! They would love it. I would love it.

I know that I have no right to ask all of this of you. You have already supported us in so many ways. Financially. Spiritually. Emotionally. I have even had friends and family at my house painting and moving furniture to get bedrooms ready for me. In fact, I debated with myself many times over whether or not I should write this blog to ask for more help. I feel slightly guilty asking for MORE. But the truth is, we need you.

And we thank you.

And we love you.

I am sharing this picture just because I can. Isn't he the cutest?




12 thoughts on “It Takes A Village

  1. Dawn Kicklighter

    This post brought tears to my eyes because I am wondering the same things! I am so glad you have a lot of support back home, and I’m praying for your whole family as you leave me (ugh! you’re really leaving Monday!). Selfish, I know. But I also know that God will supply your every need (and a whole lot of wants, too.) You are a WONDERFUL mother and are doing exactly what God designed you to do.

  2. barbara harrison

    Beautiful comments. Love the rules. Remember and DON’T feel guilty that people help, because they REALLY want to, or they would not offer. They want to share the love. You have so much to share. When do you actually get home? Prayers for safe traveling.

  3. Rosemary

    First I should say, I really should learn NOT to read these blogs while at work because I tear up EVERY time, and my customers are probably thinking I’m a nut! Hehe
    Second, I’m so excited to see you and the family! I will help you in anyway I can! I think it’s great that you are so honest and admit that you need help! DO NOT feel guilty! Miss you XOXO

  4. dotti

    Forget the guilt…it uses up energy you need! I happen to have a boss who is very gracious about letting me take time to help family, so feel free to ask! You know how difficult I found it to manage 3 children close in age…you have 6! I will be thrilled to help in any way I can! Love you all!

  5. Janet

    Thank you, thank you , thank you, for asking for help! It gives US a wonderful opportunity to bless you and get BLESSED in return! It would be selfish of you NOT to ask. Keep all the blessings for yourself! 🙂 Can’t wait to meet everyone.

  6. Liesje

    May God give you patience and guidance as your family all adjust to their new life together. I know you are dealing with new and challenging situations, so make sure you take care of yourself. As Mothers we don’t put ourselves high on the list. Your children and husband are do depending on you, so don’t forget to find ways to be nurtured.

    Don’t feel bad about letting people help. You are actually doing us a favor by helping you. It is a gift to us as well. It will be a joy to feed you and your sweet family!


  7. Amanda Crawford

    I know that God has been preparing you for this moment…bringing home a family of eight! He loves your fearless courage and boneless love the way we all do! You will have help…and at times will hire help with the things YOU do not need to do so you can do the things ONLY you can do!! And I pray you will wake up each day with more strength than you need…remember do not fear for I am with you-Jesus said! And I know that you and Scott have the teamwork needed to love on all those kids of yours!!! Love you-all 8 of you!!

  8. Jessica

    I’m glad you posted this! As others have mentioned, you are alllowing opportunities for other people to serve and that will bless them as well as your family! Thank you for sharing this journey with all of us 🙂

  9. Kameron Shadrick

    I am so glad you were honest. Don’t even try to act like super mom and like you can do it all. I only have 4 now (granted, 2 of them are 2 and under….), but this past week I finally laid it all out there for my friends and was totallly transparent and it felt great. I also made a point to get OUT of the house almost everyday. I find that on days that I am stuck home, they are the hardest and I want to cry off an on all day. So GET OUT! So glad you have meals coming too. I didn’t (you know… pride…. didn’t want to ask for help). But I have realized that if I cook crock pot meals (which I start at 6 am before the babies are awake and while I have my arms free), we will actually have a dinner ready, and we can eat on it for 2 days:) It will be so much harder once you are home, but you can do it. And message me if you need to chat and cry on the phone about stuff. You will have feelings and thoughts that honestly, you probably only will feel comfortable sharing with another adoptive parent who you know wont judge you. So please know I am here….
    Praying for you all as you transition back home. So thankful that I got to meet you all and that I was able to witness the mighty miracles that He worked.
    God speed!

  10. gina

    wow Natalie what an amazing journey!! It is in the wee hours of the morning here so you guys are in the mid afternoon. we too have adopted 4 and know that crazy roller coaster ride called adoption and how things happen that can only be orchestrated by God; man has limitations, God does not. Safe travels to you and your family as you travel home and continue with all the adjustments and bonding. The twins would love to have Hannah for a play date!

  11. Valerie Ayabe

    Dear Natalie,
    God has asked something amazing of you (and the rest of the village). How amazing that you jumped in with open arms! It would be a sin (and I mean that in the concrete sense) for us to fail to be a part of the village NOW. Yay for dinners, painting, moving, and play-dating. Those are things we CAN do, and we will, now that we know you want them. Big love and prayers as you return.

    …and please remember that when unsolicited parenting advice arrives, the person offering it probably doesn’t have six children from two different countries, and probably doesn’t understand what s/he is doing to your spirit. I’ll pray for your protection and ability to “let it roll off,” but let me apologize in advance for all the times that we’ll need grace, too. Sorry you have to offer so much grace to so many – but then again, it’s less than we’ve been given, right? Well, I should speak for myself, I suppose. 🙂 We’ll try hard, and we think you’re AWESOME.

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