Our Incredible Journey Home!

Thank you so much for praying for our family as we traveled to bring our adopted baby girl home from Ethiopia! It was a very long trip and we are completely exhausted, but we’re doing really well! It honestly could not have gone any better. Aster was an amazing little traveler!

The only bump along the way was that our flight from Frankfurt to Washington, DC was delayed so we missed our connecting flight to Charlotte, which meant an additional 4.5 hour layover. We ended not get home until after 12:30am Sunday morning. But Jesus was right there by our side keeping us company and helping us enjoy the incredible journey we had coming home. Here are are few fun memories:

Aster loved the airport with all the people, lights and sounds she’d never experienced. Here we are filling out customs paperwork and eating dinner at midnight before we get on the plane.

Getting ready to board Aster’s first plane ride! Can’t you tell she is so excited?

Playing with her big brothers on the plane.

She loves the sounds of plastic spoons beating on bowls, and the fact that Joshua’s face turns purple when he puts it on his nose.
Sleeping in the bassinet in front of our seat. Sweeeet!

We found a great restaurant with a shopping center all around it at the Frankfurt airport. Eating, shopping, changing diapers, walking around, changing diapers and eating again. What else could we do to pass time in the airport for 6 hours?

“Okay, I’m done! Thanks for trying but peek-a-boo isn’t even enough to entertain me anymore.”

“See even daddy is ready for a nap.”

“Me too! Thank you mommy for being my bed.”

“What are Joshua and Andrew doing? Writing books? Why aren’t they tired?”

“Oh now I see! When I wake up they go to sleep.”

“Why is Daddy smiling so big? We just missed our flight and I am pooped!”

“Okay, well if you play with me maybe I’ll smile, too.”
“Oooh, I like this play pen mommy made for me!”

“Oh, it’s not only a playpen but a baby bed, too. What’s mommy doing in here?”

“Who are all these smiling and huggy people with balloons and welcome home signs? Shouldn’t they be in bed? It’s so late! I guess they are really excited that I am here!”

“Hmmm. Who is this? He’s really snuggly! They say he’s our pastor but I think we could be related!”

God has done a beautiful work in Aster’s heart since we left Ethiopia and headed home. She is SO HAPPY and feeling so secure in our love. She is laughing and playing, making new sounds and being so cuddly! It has truly been a transformation before our very own eyes. She is already a display of HIS splendor, which is the promises God gave me for her life exactly two years ago today!

About Renee

Renee Swope is a Word-lover, story-teller, heart-encourager and grace-needer. She's also a wife, mom, friend, daughter and author of A Confident Heart, a Retailers Choice Award winning book that became a best-seller and has been published in six languages, with over 150,000 copies sold. Renee is speaks around the country at women's events and and serves on the writing team for DaySpringโ€™s inCourage blog. For twenty years, Renee served in leadership at Proverbs 31 Ministries and as former co-host of the ministry's radio program, โ€œEveryday Life with Lysa & Renee.

Comments

  1. Renee,
    She is absolutely beautiful. You made the trip home look like a breeze. Glad your home. Can't wait to read about the amazing path God is leading you down!
    Paula G.

  2. Thank you so much for taking us on this journey with you. Ever since you spoke at our retreat 1 1/2 years ago I have been following along. I feel like a friend of mine just had a baby…congrats, Renee, to you and your whole family.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Hi Renee, i do consider you family we are all part of the family of God:) And i am very excited for you and your husband and children. What a beautiful family you have.

    Your story is so inspiring, i cant wait to hear more as time goes on. God is faithful and no matter how long it takes he comes through for us, i really needed to know that at this time in my life, Thank you, i have hope for my expected end more now as well.

    God bless
    Lisa
    Nova Scotia

  4. Oh, sweet friendgirl! You are home! Whoohoo! Praise the Lord! Love the pictures–thanks so much for sharing this incredible journey of the heart with us. I want to meet this precious little girl!!! We need to meet for lunch!Continue to rest!!

    Love you!
    Susan

  5. Yes thank you for acting on your heartstrings….i follow the proverbs devos and your family blog i love how you write and God uses you to guide others! Love the pictures of your complete family! Aster is doll! You all look so very proud, as God is proud of you!, whitney terrell arl tx

  6. Anonymous says:

    Thank you again for taking us on your journey. The way you handled everything was amazing. Your new daughther is beautiful and so are your boys. They look like awesome big brothers. May God continue to keep you in His arms.
    Blessings,
    Nicole

  7. Anonymous says:

    Thanks sooo much for taking the time to share your journey and your family with me (us). It has been my pleasure to pray for you and your family and to read about your journey. So glad you guys are home and she is sleeping. Can't wait to hear more about it.

    Angela

  8. Thank you for taking me along on this journey! AMAZING! I am thankful for a precious transition. God is so good. I bet He smiles at how sweet this blessing is for all of you!

  9. Renee,

    What a blessing it has been to come inside your lives and share in this miracle you have been blessed with. Every step of it has been so prayed about and as each plan has come to light they have been penned for later times to share. As Aster comes to know of God, what a wonderful tool to be able to pick up and show her. This will be about her very own life.

    It will be so wonderful to see the plans He has for all of you involved in her lives. May the be blessed.
    Prayers in settling in,
    Diane

  10. Sweet, precious memories!! Loved all the pictures, especially the one of Aster with your pastor. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thanks for sharing your journey to bring Aster home. Can't wait to hear updates.

    Will continue to pray for you and your family.

  11. Anonymous says:

    She is so precious and beautiful! Congratulations and happy you made it home safely. Thank you for sharing your blessings with us.

    Angie

  12. Renee, having a friend who is adopting a baby girl from China, I have been following literally hundreds of family adoptions over the past four years. I have never…never…read or seen a post like yours as the precious little one comes home. The child is always in tears. The videos are heartwrenching to view as the children are confused and sad, having been taken away from everything and everyone they have known. Aster looks so content and happy. The Lord has certainly answered many prayers in helping her make this adjustment so quickly. I am just in awe at what He has done.

    Continuing in prayer for you all. Rejoicing in His goodness to you. Smiles, hugs and blessings,
    Joy

  13. Oooooooh dear Swope family, many congrats!

    The playpen idea is GENIUS! Love it!!!

    smooches,
    Larie

  14. Oh yeah, airplanes have bassinets?!

    smooches,
    Larie

  15. Renee,

    Welcome home!! What an incredible testimony to God's love and faithfulness. Thank you for being so open and sharing this expirience with us. Your story has touched my life in so many ways. You have no idea the impact for God's kingdom it has! It has given me an inquisitive soul that has my husband and I praying about adoption. Who knows where it will lead, God knows!!

    Many blessings on you and your family!
    Tricia in Ky

  16. Wow Renee, God has filled your heart with His promise. Aster is responding to the love flowing from you and your family. Simply beautiful! Many blessing! WOW! I pray for God's plans for ALL of your children. Thank you for sharing your pictures. B

  17. Oh my goodness, Renee!!! I've been praying and praying along with all your other friends, and look at what God has done. He is completely amazing!

    I'm all ready for CA (almost) and psyched about all that God will do. I covet your prayers.

  18. WOW! That's so stinkin AWESOME!! I LOVE IT! I'm all smiles for you today. I know you are having so much fun!

  19. I'm loving following your story Renee. I bet it's wonderful to hold and cuddle and kiss that sweet little manifestation of your faith. God is so good!

  20. Congratulations! What a plan God must have for Aster and your family. Thank you for sharing your journey in His grace & love.
    Elaine

  21. Anonymous says:

    Renee,
    Lysa told me I should visit you this morning, but I was already here once…
    I have been keeping up with this incredible journey of yours for some time now and praise God for how smoothly things went for you on your trip. Aster is precious and one lucky little girl! From one adoptive mom to another, I'm sure you'll testify right alongside me that it's a blessing to adopt and be able to tell the amazing story and give all the glory to God.
    Thank you for sharing!
    In His Great Love,
    Pam Owens
    bprowens@bellsouth.net

  22. Renee,
    So Happy for you and your family! The pictures are wonderful to see. I'm praying that everything from here on out goes well. Praying that Aster will adjust to her new family and surroundings easily. Thank you for sharing all along the way of your journey. I look forward to following the rest of your journey with her. She is beautiful and you all look so happy with her!
    Josey

  23. Renee,
    Sorry forgot to add this. Lysa told us to visit some of her Proverbs 31 ladies. She didn't have to tell me, I would have visited your site anyway. I've been following your story for months.
    Josey

  24. Like, others, I am here because Lysa said so but would have been here anyway. Thanks for all of the pictures and updates. What a blessing! I also thought the bassinet on the plane was cool. I have never seen anything like that. Also saw your FB post that Aster slept through the night. Awesome.
    Robin
    robins_stampin@yahoo.com

  25. I loved reading your story of bringing Aster into your family. What an inspiration! And it's wonderful to see how the Lord is already brightening her heart!

    Glad you are all feeling better!

    Suzy

  26. Congratulations! This is an awesome thing you and your family are doing. I'm so happy for you and your family that this has all worked out and you returned safely. She looks so precious. I pray God continues to bless you and your family and little Aster.

  27. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us. Through reading your blog, I feel as if we are all part of the same family!
    Can't wait to hear more of Astor Swope's journeys!

  28. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations again! She is gorgeous! I've been praying and following your story, and praising God that all went fairly smooth and you are back home. Can't wait to see what else God has in store for your amazing family.

  29. So rejoicing with you!
    Welcome Home, Aster!

    "He tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young."
    Isaiah 40:11

    Renee: He is gently leading you adn JJ! ๐Ÿ™‚

  30. Renee,
    I am commenting because of Lysa's blog, but I've been following your blog for awhile now. Love getting to see your new daughter. ๐Ÿ™‚

  31. Congratulations Swope family. So glad you ALL are home. What a sweet, sweet baby girl. As a mother of 3 boys and a grandmother of 4 boys I must say ENJOY that little GIRL.(you lucky dog)!!

  32. Oh Renee! It's positively exciting to see your whole family home again! The pictures paint such a vivid story of your trip home. From the pictures, I would say that Joshua is absolutely smitten over his little sis! How sweet!

    Y'all rest and relax as much as you can. Praying God's healing mercy and grace upon you as you adjust to being home AND being a family of five!

    Prayers and blessings!
    Rebecca

  33. My heart is just jumping around. What a precious (tiring) trip!

    God we love you…..you are amazing!

  34. Oh Renee,

    These pictures brought tears to my eyes and chills to my legs. What sweet moments. I just love seeing the love and joy shining on all your faces!

    You've been on my heart so much these past days. I'm so glad she's finally here!

  35. Oh, and I meant to comment on the bassinet! I never knew they had those on planes. I figured she'd be a lap baby the whole way! That's amazing!

  36. What a blessing and joy she will bring to your family and you all to her life! God's love is so amazing!

  37. Thank you for sharing your journey! What a joy to see your new little blessing meeting you and coming home with you! God is good…all of the time!!!! Godspeed!

  38. Awesome!

  39. Astor is so precious! Congratulations and thank you for allowing us the chance to follow your journey.

    Love the playpen – really, it's great!

  40. May God bless you all through your new daughter.

  41. Renee,
    Your baby girl is so cute. What a wonderful gift God has given you and your family. What an amazing story! Thanks for sharing it with us.

  42. Welcome home Aster…praying and knowing that you could be no better place but in the arms of this Jesus loving family!

  43. Congratulations Rene, and all your family. Gods timining is the best. "He has K)made everything appropriate in its time He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man (L)will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end". Ecclesiastes 3

  44. Welcome Home Renee! How exciting! Your family will continue to be in my prayers.

    Blessings,
    Pearls

  45. Renee,
    Youโ€™re going to have so much fun. I waited 11 years for my girl and my daughter is the pampered princess, and you canโ€™t tell her any different. I have two older boys as well and they have a tendency to cater to her and just cave and give her what she wants even if she is in the wrong. Have fun with your princess. She is so beautiful and blessed. I just want to eat her up. And thank you for sharing this journey with me. I was on pins and needles waiting for your next blog. She is just toooooooo cute.
    Have a blessed Day
    b3b2b1@gmail.com

  46. I have peeked in here a few times to see how things have been going for you. Thank you for sharing this very personal journey with us. Your family is beautiful!

  47. I am so excited for ya'll. Happy you are home and praying the transition continues to go smoothly!!

  48. Wow…I'm speechless. Last time I read your blog, she was clinging to the workers and the transition was slow but okay. Now, to see her SO happy and bonded to you all is just priceless. She is such a cutie. I love the pics with her big brothers. It seems rare to have young boys want to play with babies. You know what I'm saying.

    Thanks so much for sharing your pictures, your life, your journey.

    Indeed a very beautiful and precious thing.

    I'm so happy for you all.

  49. What a wonderful story…I'm new to your blog and I really enjoyed seeing all the photos and reading about your adoption adventure. Congratulations on welcoming little Aster into your lives!

  50. Renee,
    I have been waiting anxiously for you to post "we are home"!!! And it's finally here. She is precioius, and like our youngest, blessed to have 2 big brothers to love and take care of her. Our boys were 12 and 7 when the last of our 4 was born. They developed a bond that is still so strong now 17 years later. Every little girls should be so fortunate at Aster is!
    Love, Kim

  51. Praise God! Thank you for sharing His love with us & with little Aster! love ceddins965@yahoo.com

  52. Congratulations Renee!!! Aster is absolutely beautiful (but of course, you know that:) I cannot wait to see what the future holds for your precious family!

  53. Welcome Home!!!!! What a wonderful blessing for you, your family and Aster. I saw a picture of Aster on Karen's blog today and it just made me smile. From the picture it appears that she is settling in just fine.

    Congratulations and thanks for including us in your journey.

  54. You guys are such troopers..that's a long trip! The bassinet on the plane..really? Who knew?

    You have been so sweet to share this personal journey with us. Aster will be amazed by God's grace when she can read all that you thought and prayed for.

  55. I have loved reading along and watching this story unfold. Your faithfulness as an individual and a family is so inspiring. Looking forward to reading many posts about life in the Swope household…raising a beautiful little girl!!

  56. I cried when I read this, and I laughed too. Your daughter is beautiful, and your photos were so fun. I'm so glad she is adjusting so well, you can see her joy (and the rest of the families) just bursting out. God bless you and your beautiful family!

  57. Congratulations! I am so thankful for safe return and PRAISE GOD for your little girl!

  58. WOW! Enjoy your sweet miracle baby girl. I love that God knew exactly when you would make it home and the promise was given at just the right time. You must tell us about that day two years ago. This journey of faith will bring many blessings.

    Keep shining,
    Jeannie

  59. Renee, Our family lives in Charlotte and is in the process of adopting a baby girl from Ethiopia and I would love to talk to you. We have been waiting for a referral for 6 months and are hoping to get that phone call soon. I would love to know what it was like taking your sons. Please email me when you get a chance at jmcollins05@hotmail.com.
    Thanks, Shannon

  60. Renee,

    Aster's beautiful! Our Bible study group has been praying for you as you've traveled and battled sickness. Looking forward to learning more about your journey!

  61. So sweet! Congratulations on your new baby girl!

  62. When can I hold her??!!!!

  63. WOW! Thank you for sharing you new joy with us! How amazing is the Lord and the way that he brought this new bundle into your home and hearts. She may not have grown under your heart but she is growing in it! Amazing!

    Tanya

  64. Congratulations to you and your family on Aster joining your family!

    I loved the pictures!

  65. I found you through Lisa's blog and what an amazing journey! You have truly touched my heart and made me wonder if our family is called to something similar. What a beautiful girl!!!

  66. Oh wow Renee. So gorgeous. I love her!

  67. Hi Renee! Sooo glad that you guys made it home safely and am happy to hear Aster is adjusting quickly.

    Thanks for updating your blog with the news – I felt a little obsessed with my repeated checking to see if anything new had been posted. Such an amazing story of love.

    God will bless you for your obedience!

    Sanya

  68. Renee! Can we say absolutely adorable and Praise the Lord! What a sweet lil' blessing. She is THE cutest thing ever.

    This post reminded me to stop and pray for a sweet family in Corsicana, Texas just now. The Edwards family. Today David and his wife Lyndy were supposed to leave for Taiwan to go adopt two precious children. However, this past Friday David, who is the pastor of First Baptist Church Corsicana was in a car accident and was killed. My heart breaks for them and this is a reminder that ever good and perfect gift is from above!

    Y'all are blessed beyond measure. Thanks for sharing her with us! Huge blessings on you.

    Lindsee

  69. Renee,

    What a beautiful family God has given you. Enjoy this latest blessings!

    Mary

  70. Lindsee, Thanks for your note. You are right – we are so very blessed by this gift God has given us in Aster.

    That absolutely breaks my heart to hear about Pastor David Edwards and their family's tragic loss. I cannot imagine the pain and sorrow and confusion. For some reason, I often wondered throughout our process what I would do if something happened to JJ. Aster is such a part of his heart and his dreams. I wondered if I would still go without him. Oh, I am praying right now for Lyndy and those two precious children in Taiwan.

  71. SO proud for all of you! Now, get some rest. Gotta be ready for the wild ride ahead!
    kim

  72. Anonymous says:

    Wow Renee, what beautiful pictures! So glad you're all home safe and sound. I've been praying for all of you steadily while you were traveling and ill. Praise the Lord for His care of you and your family! Aster is a little doll!

    Love,
    Andrea
    ahenry048@aol.com

  73. Congratulations! She is adorable!

  74. Have enjoyed the P31 daily devotionals for some time and am happy to hear that you had a safe; all be it long, trip home with this wonderful child. It seems that she already enjoys her new family. The love you already feel for her is apparent.

  75. All I can say is, WOW!

    What an incredible journey. Truly.

  76. Renee,

    I just took another long look at previous posts and pictures and I have to say that I'm hooked! I can't wait to follow your blog and to see how Aster develops and what God does in your life because of her. May He bless you with more of Himself!

  77. Anonymous says:

    Welcome home baby girl! I have been following Asters story, I believe the first time I saw her was in some of Hope's photos. ( she was kind enough to let me see her Ethiopia photos after an email I sent) i'll be praying for yalls transition!!! yvonnemdz@yahoo.com

  78. Anonymous says:

    So excited for you all! She is a darling little girl. What a blessing! Thank you for sharing!

    Darla

  79. I am overwhelmed by the emotions stirred up in me by this post. I am SO thankful for your wonderful experience! ๐Ÿ™‚ Praying that my best friend (and I) have very similar experiences as we move forward in our adoption journeys.

    (Her dossier has just been sent to Rwanda! My husband and I are still praying about when to start our journey. Baby Boy just turned a year old. Getting close!!!) ๐Ÿ™‚

  80. I am loving following your Aster story…what a blessing. This is one of my favorite things about being sisters in Christ. We don't know each other yet I cried right along with your posts and followed your journey to Aster like we were sisters.

    We serve a big God who bonds us Mommies together whether we KNOW each other in this life or not.

    My heartfelt joy and congratulations to you all and welcome to sweet Aster.

  81. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I have loved following along and praying for you all. You are such an inspiration! Aster is so beautiful and so blessed to have such a wonderful family!

  82. Molly Lewis says:

    Renee,
    Thank you for sharing this amazing and beautiful journey to bring Aster home. It makes me feel like I'm your next door neighbor, sitting down with a cup of coffee to brouse through your pictures and hear your story!
    Hugs,
    Molly

  83. She is beautiful, Renee! I loved all of these pictures! Especially the luggage playpen! Oh, and the one of her asleep on her mommy. Too sweet!

    I am so glad you guys are back safe and sound!
    Love and prayers,
    K ๐Ÿ™‚

  84. Anonymous says:

    Renee, what a blessing to see that your family has grown by one and that you are safely home in the USA. Praising God for a safe trip and the addition of beautiful Aster. You will continue to be in my prayers as Aster gets settled in her home and grows and loves and is loved!

    Blessings to you, Caroline
    thegrossmans@carolina.rr.com

  85. Renee,

    I can't wait to meet Aster!!!! I'm so thankful that y'all are home and she's doing so well. Love the pictures. Thanks for sharing your journey with all of us.

    Love you,
    Melissa

  86. Renee,

    I am so happy to see that you are all safely home! Aster is beautiful and your happiness shines through the exhaustion. The Lord is indeed faithful and His hand has orchestrated this journey so perfectly. Welcome home, Aster!

  87. I loved reading Aster's adoption story! Congratulations to you and your family on your new beautiful addition! Blessings!

  88. Congratulations on your newest family member!
    Blessings,
    Terri in AZ

  89. So precious! This post got me all teary-eyed. What a blessing this adorable little one will be in your life!

  90. Oh, Renee!! So thrilled for you and your family and your beautiful new daughter! LOVE the pic of her sleeping on your chest. Sigh.

    Praising the Lord with you tonight!!

  91. Renee…I know you're busy, but you need to update your "About Me" page on your blog Girlfriend!! Your "family" paragraph & picture is a little outdated. ๐Ÿ™‚

  92. Soooo Coool!
    Have fun mama!
    pat

  93. Congratulations Renee and family on the safe arrival ofd your darling daughter! A Habesha Lej is a precious gift! I know as I have twins habesha daughters who arrived home in 2002. Altitude sickness can be sooooo bad! I have taken the twins back twice now and everytime I have to allow a week to adjust.. the headaches nausea etc can be hard whilst trying to bond with your precious children. I wish you all every blessing as you enjoy the beginning of a wonderful journey. Hugs Jo x Australia

  94. Beautiful! Story and pictures! Thanks for sharing…

  95. Renee, thank you so much for letting us go on this journey with you. Today, my sister and I decided that even though we are all going through hard financial times, we are going to the Compassion In Jesus Name and sponsor a child. thank you again for all the encouragement you have given me in such a short time I have followed you and the entire Proverbs 31 crew. God Bless! Kelly Willie

  96. Oh Renee ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thanks for sharing your life with us! These pictures are amazing….that little girl is blessed to be your baby ๐Ÿ™‚

    So awesome.

    Inspired,
    Kate ๐Ÿ™‚

  97. Anonymous says:

    Congrats. What a beautiful little girl and family! Your amazing story is a blessing to all of us.
    God bless you,
    Nancy

  98. Looks like she's attaching nicely to you and your family. We adopted our boys at 4 and 6 months and we found that after 2 weeks they were perfectly content with us and the change in surroundings, different smells and the time change difference. I was told that children at this age really only remember about 2 weeks back. After that, they really don't remember anything but you. Many blessings to you and your beautiful family!

  99. Renee, THANK YOU for "sharing" her with all of us – God's big family. I'll be praying for sleep (for everyone!)

  100. How is little Aster doing? How is your family?

  101. I have tears in my eyes right now. I think it's so awesome that your whole family went together to get her. What a blessed baby girl!

Share Your Thoughts

*