Court picture with cort Magistrate Mr. Taljaard

Taken right after all the documents were signed and sealed and our family was prayed over by Mr. Taljaard.



If anyone was awakened around 5am this morning with the burning desire to pray for us, you can thank me for that! While some of you were sleeping we were finalizing our adoption of Isaiah. To say our court date was a blessing is a complete understatement, even an insult. If we ever doubted-which we didn’t- the power of our (this includes you) prayers over the last 2.5 years, we received enough confirmation today to last a lifetime. We must strive to remember this! Let me share.
We had gotten word yesterday that the magistrate we would see this morning was an incredibly wise and Godly man. Even the Wartnaby’s (Isaiah’s caregivers here) said we were as likely to be prophesied over as we were to walk out with a new son. Naturally, my first reaction was anxiety. I spent much time yesterday in prayer. I first explained to God that we did not feel the need for prophecy and that we truly believe He is fully capable of communicating with us through his word and his son. I then said, “Father, if you chose to prophecy to us through this man, make yourself absolutely clear!” After additional scriptural confirmation and prayers I fell asleep last night with an inexplicable peace. We arrived early to court this morning to a host of anxious families and social workers. Even our attorney was seemingly on edge and kept telling us, everything will be ok, relax, its going to be ok…….we sat back calmly and told them “we know, were ready for this”. We went into the magistrates office to find one of the most incredibly Godly men we have ever met. We were immediately informed that Mr. Taljaard would sign, stamp, and seal all of our papers and would commence praying over our family. Just think about it. This magistrate in a South African court is speaking truth into the lives of people each day from his place of work in the public domain being funded by the South African government. That in itself is amazing. Pair that with the fact that this is the man that would see us this morning and you have 2.5 years worth of prayers answered and wrapped perfectly in a package tied with a beautiful bow. So we begin to chat with Mr. Taljaard as he completes our paper work and he begins to tell us that he was completely moved by our dossier and our story. He says, you are the missionary couple, right? Obviously referring to our previous trip to South Africa when we met. He converses with us through the entirety of the paperwork then asks us to pray over our family and our son. As this man begins praying, no one can deny the power of the Holy Spirit that fills the room. We listen intently to this practical stranger as he begins to bless us with words straight from the Holy Spirit speaking truth into our family and our faith. We are sick that we could not have recorded the prayer. There is no way for us to humanly communicate to you the fullness of it, but we trust that you will see without doubt the answer to years of prayer. Mr. Taljaard begins to tell us that Isaiah will become a great, strong, man of God who will bring nations to the Lord because of our obedience to God’s will for his life. He also mentions our family and how the picture of our family alone will draw others to Christ because of our sacrifice through adoption and faith in God. Mr. Taljaard then said to our family “the spirit of adoption lives in you.” For much of the conversation Mr. Taljaard stared straight into Drew’s eyes with tears filling both of their faces. We listen in complete awe as we hear someone (other than ourselves) verbalize the ministry we have intended for our family through the adoption. As me and Drew laid and talked about our time in court, we agreed that the Presence of the Lord was so great in that place that no words could describe it. There were 5 other people in the room representing us in the adoption process and they too were blown away. Words literally cannot describe how the Holy Spirit descended on that courtroom.
As if we hadn’t already been blessed above and beyond our ability to receive, Mr. Taljaard finishes his prayer and immediately asks us how the process has been. We of course don’t fail to mention the length of our stay and our other two children who we desperately miss. He turns to our attorney and says, “How long does this take?” She replies, “Usually 6-8 months, but we try to condense it down to 2-4 weeks after the court date.” He then says, “That just won’t do.” Our attorney reminds him that the last time he helped they completed the process in only a few days. He then says, “Who do I need to talk to to get this done sooner? We are going to get these guys finished here before this weekend. Do you have so and so’s number?” He then turns to us and says, “Rest assured you will be home sooner. We are all going to be praying for this!…..”
Did you hear that? We received tangible confirmation that the prayer that some of you have been fervently praying for is being answered! Please be encouraged! Keep up your prayers. We have been renewed in ours. We sill have a 3 stage process with home affairs that is done on separate days and an appointment in Johannesburg before we can depart, but everything is perfectly placed for a miracle and we have no doubt that every single person involved in our case will undoubtedly witness God’s favor in our family’s life. I hope you are as blessed as we are to have taken part in such a miracle by petitioning God with us in your prayers! Thank you, Father! And thank you friends and family. We pray your day is as blessed as ours!


Well….we woke up around 12 laying in a pile of sweat. Before we went to bed I got creeped out and shut the windows and doors close to our room……big mistake. It felt like it was 90 degrees in our room all night. Even Brooke was miserable which tells me it wasn’t just me! Either way we are thankful for a free place to stay. After yesterdays nightmare of a trip we decided we NEED a GPS. We called the rental car company and phone provider here and to rent the GPS cost about 10 dollars a day. Long story short we bought a GPS, one we can bring back home with us and it was cheaper than renting for the rest of our stay. It was a great purchase and really helped today for our travels. Today we drove out to a place called Lilly of the Valley, an orphanage in rural Africa, and met with our social worker and our adoption agency worker. We discussed how court will work tomorrow with the adoption agency and then met with the social worker for her to see how Isaiah is doing with us. While we were waiting for our meeting in the sauna….wait, it just felt like a sauna, it was actually the house…..I was outside and started playing with 2 boys from the orphanage. Isaiah was down for his nap and I stepped in to a nice game of soccer. They were very surprised that a white American could play. We had a great time and talked about a lot of things. The land that Lilly of the Valley Orphanage is on backs up to Tala Game reserve and they were telling us about all the wild animals that were right next to where we were playing. They were pretty proud of the animals. Towards the end of our play time one of the boys came and sat right in front of me and put his hands on my knees and said “will you adopt me and take me with you?” ……………………One of those times where you literally want to disappear, leave, act like your deaf or whatever. I didn’t know what to say. I told him about Isaiah and the little boy was certain that he wanted to come with us. Fighting back the tears I told him that I couldn’t take him but I assured him what a special boy he was and that God would look after him. Pretty generic answer I know, but I was once again left speechless and wondering what would happen to him. He deserves a family. Soon after we finished our talk it was time for our meeting. The meeting with the social worker was very good but also weird. Knowing that every interaction you have towards Isaiah is being watched and in a sense graded, makes you think twice about everything you say and even makes you act…cheesy. You want him to show off all the good and neat things he has learned but you also want to act natural. At the beginning Isaiah was quiet, expressionless, and motionless. He took a nap down the hall in one of the kids bedrooms and woke up just before our meeting. I was panicking inside, if I could have used a Zach Morris time out to talk to Isaiah I would have. He was still asleep and the social worker was wanting to see his personality. A few minutes later he found a balloon on the floor and got down to play with it. He kicked it, hit it, ran around the room with it, talked to hit, tried to hide it and make it reappear! He finally woke up and started having a great time…. WHEW!!! What a relief! The social worker could not believe how well he had bonded and how well he responded to us. We got to tell her that we have been praying for him ever since he was born, 2 1/2 years, and how the Lord has taken care of him since he was born. The meeting concluded and we were quickly on our way. We drove through some of the most impoverished areas that we have been through so far. The fact that we were driving in a car made everyone stop and stare and then when they saw we had a black baby in the back I can only imagine what they thought. Side note, everywhere we go with Isaiah in public people stop and talk to him. They pick him up without asking and they bend down and talk to him without ever addressing us. The funny part is, they always start talking to him in either Xhosa or Zulu. Xhosa is the clicking language in South Africa and Zulu is a tribal language that also involves clicking. Being that Isaiah has been in an orphanage that only speaks English…….the face he makes when people start talking to him in the foreign tongue is PRICELESS! Sometimes he just looks at them and says “What?” I’ve tried to teach him “wat you talkn bout willis” but he doesn’t much like that. Sooner or later these people will see that we’ve not kidnapped a Zulu baby, rather he is our son. We then were on our way to Hope Farm to pick up some documents from Isaiah’s orphanage. We got to the orphanage and all the kids were excited to see Isaiah. Most called him Isaiah but some of the younger kids still call him “Tumelo” or “Lelo”. Isaiah walks tall when he goes back to Hope Farm but he definitely is anxious when he sees us walk towards the car….its obvious he is on edge that we will leave and not bring him with us. While were at the orphanage we remind him over and over that mommy and daddy are not leaving without him. We went inside and had tea with Rae and Andrew and again swapped stories and talked about the kids. Before long it was dinner time and we started getting our stuff together. Isaiah was right behind us and beat us to the car. We got him loaded up and came back to our house. Were now sitting around watching an old movie, and yes, we have internet! Tomorrow is a huge day for Isaiah and the Burnette family. Tomorrow we will sign a paper that says on March 27th, 2012, Isaiah Andrew Burnette, “as if born unto” Drew and Brooke Burnette. Take a minute and let that soak in! Years of praying, years of paperwork, years of money spent, and tomorrow Lord willing it becomes official. Hopefully I will get time soon to write down some of my thoughts on this but in the mean time, think about the phrase “as if born unto”. It means every right that Brooks and Moses have is now granted to Isaiah. It means these rights are birth rights and cannot be removed. Essentially, tomorrow, Isaiah will be born into our family. A process which cannot be undone. What a sobering reminder of our own adoption through Jesus Christ into God’s family. We do nothing to deserve it, nothing to earn or gain it, and it is held in place by our Father and he promises us nothing can snatch us from his hand. Our prayer for the past couple years has been that our adopting Isaiah would be a picture of salvation for anyone that sees our family. Tomorrow we take one of the final steps in completing this process. Please pray for our family tonight and in the morning, for Isaiah, for Brooks and Moses, and for the people involved in our court hearing. Pray it goes smooth and without glitches, and that we would be able to share our hearts and why we have chosen the adoption process over other available options. We will be up late tonight, it feels like Christmas in a way…..only much much hotter.

Well our time in Durban has come to an end and we are now on our way to a city called Westville. Its close to where we will be going for court and all our appointments after the court date as well. When Brooke and I came to South Africa about 10 years ago we worked with a missionary named Alan Duncan. We talked with Alan before we came to South Africa and he connected us with a pastor named John Arthur Benn and when we got to South Africa we reached out to him. He pastors a church called Westville Baptist Church and has been a great help to us. He drove all the way to Durban to meet with us and invited us to stay at his home free of charge. A huge blessing. We will be staying here for a few nights and then most likely moving again to one of John’s best friends houses about 15km away. John is having family in for Easter and offered for us to stay with him until they arrive, then we will most likely head to his friends house for a while. I have to admit its pretty weird jumping from house to house, to hotel, to house. I will also admit that the way they live in their houses here in South Africa is even more weird. Everyone lives with their windows and doors open. Almost every window on every house we have stayed in, or been in, is left wide open. Are you kidding me? The first thing I do when I walk in is close everything….I mean everything. If you could see the size of the insects and spiders here I PROMISE you would do the same thing. However, 5 minutes later you quickly realize why they left the windows and doors open. NO AIR CONDITIONING. We went to a larger city today and went to their Mall. It was nicer than anything we’ve been to so far with all the major African clothing stores and food stores but still we were sweating our tails off because they had no air conditioning. When left with the choice of sweating ALL night long and chancing some bugs in your bed or room, eventually comfort wins out and you open things up for air. Even the nice houses we’ve been in like the one were in now don’t have air. They have ceiling fans but eventually even the ceiling fans feel like heaters. The sad part is we are here in their “winter” months. Andrew, from Hope Farm, told me working outside in the summer is impossible. They can only work from 6am-9am and 5pm-7pm. I believe it. Everyone knows how much I sweat and I admit its comical somedays how much I sweat through my clothes here. Anyways, we checked out of the hotel and started our 30 minute journey to Westville. 2 hours later we arrived. If you have ever been frustrated by bad directions, bad road signs or lack there of, or by people outside your car looking at you like they want to hurt you, rest assured the conditions here are much worse than anything we have encountered in Tennessee. Once you are lost in Africa, you are lost! Pulling over and asking the average person, not an option. Pulling into a gas station and asking directions, not an option. Waiting for interstate signs to lead you back to a paved road? Not an option. We literally kept driving and driving, and praying, and driving until we eventually saw a sign for a road we had heard of. While it was nice to see a road sign, Africa does not use the terms North South East or West with their roads so……there was no telling if we were going towards our destination or away from it. At this point we didn’t care, we just wanted to stay on a road that was paved and safe. A long story short, we ended up driving our way back to an area we had heard of and then eventually made our way to Westville. We found the church and Johns house is right next to the church. Its a great place to spend a few nights and we are thankful that the Lord provided. Tomorrow is a big day and Tuesday even bigger. We need a good nights sleep!

Isaiah broke new ground this morning. So far he wakes up and says daddy mommy, I want to get down (out of his bed) will you come get me? This morning he got out of bed and said “I want get up”. Snuggle time! He got up in our bed and asked if he could use my pillow. I gave him the whole thing and we sat there snuggling for what seemed like an hour, really about 10 minutes. Yet another sign that he is bonding more and more with us everyday, praise the Lord. Our plan today is to take him to a water park where there are kids areas with beach entrances that we can play in. The place is called Ushaka Marine World and it was pretty cool. Upon arrival at the park, little did we know that SA MTV was doing a spring break party at this pool area! There were hundreds of teenage kids in the pool dancing and singing to whatever the DJ was playing. Not exactly the relaxing day we had planned. We did find an end of the pool less dramatic than the main section of the pool where the teenagers were playing. Isaiah was enjoying the music and we had a great time playing in the water. This was his first time in water “swimming” and he did pretty well. He was open to putting his head under water but seemed to drink a lot of water every time he went under. We finally decided we had enough of listening to Pit Bull on the turn tables and packed up and left the water park. We came back to the room for our afternoon nap and Isaiah barely closed his eyes. We got dressed for dinner and went to eat at Cafe Jiran a restaurant that had been recommended to us by our previous landlords at Enaleni. It was spectacular 5 star dining and we ate our hearts out and went over board on desert! Imagine that. Even after such a fine dinner our bill was around 25 usd, not bad. We came back up to the room and started our bed time routine and all was well. Surfing: we called about doing our surf lessons today and they had a slow day of waves in the ocean(waves only about 3 1/2 ft tall and they asked that we wait till next week as there will be waves early in the week around 5ft ending the week around 10ft. Were hoping to come back in the middle of the week so we can catch the waves before they become too big.

Today was another day at the beach- we woke up and had another smorgasbord for breakfast and left the hotel in search of a few destinations. We are trying to get tickets to a sold out international soccer game that will be played next Wednesday the day after our major court appearance.Tickets are tough to find but we’re trying. For lunch we went to a “mall” where we found a restaurant called Mugg and Bean where we ate lunch. After lunch we took a trip to the national Apartheid Museum which tells the story of how the apartheid came to be and how South Africa fought this segregation like governement policy. We got a lot of stares going through the museum carrying a black zulu baby in our arms. It made for some odd conversations and extremely odd looks of what are y’all doing here. We thought it was a pretty symbolic thing we were doing by taking Isaiah here and showing him some of his history. After all the time we’ve spent reading about his previous life history we want to start showing him his new heritage. We sang him Rocky Top and he loved it, we’ve showed him biscuit and gravy, we’ve skyped with Nana, and Papa, and Uncle Dave and Granny, we are singing him our songs and nursery rhymes which are all apart of this process. He is a Burnette and his new heritage is as important as anything he’ll ever learn. “Behold old things have passed away and behold all things are new”. All things are new to Isaiah and his new heritage is as a Burnette. His adoption is permanent, never to be reversed and we believe he is as much a Burnette as Brooks and Moses. This is only possible because of the adoption by God through his son Jesus Christ by which we are brought into the family of God never to leave it again. We pray for this spiritual adoption of our boys fervently and eagerly await the day when Christ calls them to believe. What a historical and spiritual day we had at the Apartheid museum. After this we went down to the beach and ate at a restaurant called Joe Cools on the beach while we watched other surfers take in some huge waves. Bed time went pretty smooth although Isaiah didn’t close his eyes until he saw mommy and daddy under the covers ready for bed. After he finally went to sleep me and Brooke got up to read and journal. Great couple days and some really important days coming up in that we have our court date on Tuesday! Your prayers are much appreciated.

Viva La Durban- On Monday we decided we needed a break from the Farm/bush living we have been doing for the past week and a half and I decided we needed a break….a type of vacation if you will. Since I’ve used up all my vacation days for the past 2 years on the adoption what better time than now to go to the beach! We told our landlords on Tuesday we would be checking out on Wednesday and they were very accommodating.


When we came to South Africaabout 10 years ago we worked with a missionary named Alan Duncan. A great guy who is on furlow currently in Tennessee. Alan connected us with a pastor in South Africaclose to where we are staying named John Benn. I have been communicating with him for a couple months now on facebook and asking him to bring some people from his congregation to Hope Farm to help us out with labor for the water project we’ve taken on. If you don’t know about the water situation I can fill you in later. John met us at Hope Farm this morning to meet us in person and look at the water issues. Little did we know that John has been an international go to person for water access and purification. What a miracle from the Lord and blessing to Hope Farm. When we arrived at the orphanage John was already there and had been talking with Andrew for about a half hour. Andrew showed him what we are dealing with as well as shared stories about the kids they have fostered, adopted, and helped over the many years. He also shared the story about their child “innocent Africa” which will absolutely bring you to tears. John was extremely moved by the orphanage and thinks they can partner with Hope Farm to help with the water situation and other various needs they have. Through Johns disaster relief work he has a large disaster relief water purification system in his garage that he offered to Andrew and Hope Farm and needless to say they were thrilled. We went inside and had tea at their kitchen table and shared stories of what the Lord  is doing at Hope Farm. Yet again, another blessed hour of sharing what the Lord had done in each of our lives and it was a very encouraging time. John found out that we were leaving Cato Ridge that same day headed for some R&R in Durban and asked if we would like for him to drive us to our new lodging with us following behind. We excitedly accepted the offer and within an hour said our good byes to the Wartnabys and loaded Isaiah in the car. Isaiah felt like such a special boy telling everyone good bye and hurrying to the car. It was such a blessing seeing him want to go wherever we were going and yet another great sign of how his attachment is progressing. On the way to Durbanwe had to stop by Johns house to drop something off and we got an incredible offer. He and his wife are going to Mozambique next week to spend time following up on water relief work that he had done for the country in last years flood and he offered us his house for the week starting on Sunday. Our trip to Durbanwas booked Wed-Sunday at which point we had no place to stay. Now we have lodging for the next week and a half and the best part is next week is free! What an unexpected blessing from the Lord! We checked into the hotel and had a look around. It is a beautiful place and right on the ocean! We can watch people everyday surfing in the ocean and have a lovely view of the beach front activities. We ate lunch in the hotel restaurant and it was nice, won’t eat many meals here as they are expensive. We went to the 32nd floor which was the top of the building where there is an open air outdoor pool that overlooks the beach. There are windows all around thet give you great views of the beach and also of the city. We came back down to our room and had a nap with Isaiah. After he woke up we walked down to the beach and let Isaiah see the ocean. He was in awe of everything around him including the tall buildings, sand, and the waves. It was hilarious! every time the water came in and touched our feet he smiled, then when the water went back out to the ocean he totally lost his balance every time and holding my hand would lean all the way down to the water as he got dizzy watching the water go back to the ocean. We did this for a while and then walked up and down the beach. It was so foreign for him but he liked it. We then walked on the boardwalk and looked at the restaurants and shops along the beach. We came back up to the room for a minute and then went back to the beach to find dinner. We ate at a place called Circus Cafe. It was a great beachfront restaurant that Im sure we will eat at again before we leave. I had fish and chips and Brooke had pasta. Isaiah was a great at the table using his manors and his silverware! It seemed like everyone that walked by our table stopped and talked to him. People are amazed at a black boy being with a white family and many asked, are you adopting? One of the waitresses even stopped by and said her 5 year old sister was adopted and she is very sweet, great confirmation. We had apple pie for desert and then left the restaurant. Interesting story…..on the way back to the hotel an Indian couple with a newborn stopped us and asked for money. We gave them 100R and they were beside themselves and said Thank you God Bless. Before we made it to the stairs to leave the beach area the Indian couple caught back up to us and we wondered why. The father stopped us and told us their story and asked if we could help. Basically they have no money, a newborn child which they were holding, and a 2 year old which they cannot care for. The Father looked me in the eyes and said we cant care for her any more and it looks like you could provide a great life for her, would you consider taking her as your own? What an awkward question and how in the world do you respond? Obviously we couldn’t just take their child but mine and Brookes heart just broke. We told them we have 2 more kids at home and with our new addition we couldn’t but left wondering what we could do. Neither one of has had a good answer and we both wanted to help but we were left speechless. Who knows where the family will end up but we pray that God watch after them and protect them and their kids and that the 2 year old will find a place to live. What should you do in a situation like that? I don’t think I did the right thing but I didn’t know what else to do. We got back to the hotel and started our nightly routine. Isaiah was very happy to shower with daddy and then he got his pajamas on and got in bed. We read him his 3 books and then read John 3:16-20. For the next hour he laid quietly in his bed watching every move we made in the room.   I caught up on email and sent some pictures via Facebook to friends. Dave called and we got to catch up for a bit and then the boys got back to our house and we called them on Skype. They were incredibly energetic and wanting to talk about everything. One of our biggest fears was that they would be sad and visibly missing us. While we want them to miss us we don’t want it holding them down and thinking about it day and night. To our surprise hey were not down and sad but very excited. Almost like they forgot we were gone but they were very excited and energetic to talk to us. We were so happy and talked to them for a long time on the computer. “Live Action” was a phrase repeated over and over by the boys and us and we had a great time talking to them. We did not want to end the call but needed to because of the lack of internet time we have available. Such a blessing from the Lord to see how happy our boys were and how much they wanted to talk to Isaiah. Isaiah has 2 brothers that can’t wait to meet and play with him and welcome him more into their brotherhood. They are incredible boys and the Lord has really done amazing things in their hearts. I also want to point out what a blessing it has been to have so many friends and family members at home who are going out of their way to help take care of our boys and remind them what their mommy and daddy are doing that have taken them away from them temporarily. Now Brooke is reading and I’m journaling about to go to bed. Its about 1130 here and Im not tired one bit. Isaiah is asleep right next to us and the boys are cheerful and happy at home. Thank you God for such blessings. We can’t wait for tomorrow.


We woke up this morning and enjoyed breakfast at the hotel which rivaled any breakfast we’ve had at a hotel. It was such a relief sleeping in a secure room where we didn’t have to worry about the things we worried about living in the middle of the bush. After breakfast we packed up and went to Moses Mahbida Soccer Stadium, which is only a couple km’s from where were staying. We got to the stadium and signed up for a guided tour of the stadium and also got passes on the sky chair which takes you up on top of the arches over the stadium. This is the stadium built for the World Cup back in 2010 which is still thriving today. We toured the stadium and got to get down on the pitch as well as tour all the locker rooms and meeting rooms  where the worlds soccer teams got dressed for their matches. Image It was pretty awesome seeing it all and getting a backstage pass to the stadium. Isaiah loved getting to be in the stadium and seeing all the sights inside the locker rooms and being down on the field, or pitch as they refer to it. After the tour we went to get in line for the ride to the top of the arches. Image Needless to say I was terrified. But of course didn’t show any of it to Isaiah as he soaked up every minute of his surroundings.  We got to the top of the arches and had the most beautiful view all the while daddy having a death grip on the railing making sure Isaiah and Brook were safe. Image We came back down the ride and happily planted our feet back onto solid ground. After leaving the stadium we came back up to our room and let Isaiah nap a little. He was so taken back by what all he saw today Im not sure his little eyes didn’t stay closed for very long. After the nap we went to a recommended restaurant called Café Jerran. Isaiah once again did a fantastic job at dinner staying in his seat and using great manors. He is such a special boy. One odd thing we’ve found here inSouth Africais that any woman or man who walks by and see’s him with us feels the need to pick him up and talk to him. Its pretty uncomfortable when it happens and you don’t really know what to say or do……but by now we just roll with is and try to use it as an opportunity to share what the Lords done through our adoption process. We finished dinner and came home and put Isaiah down for bed. He just lays there and watches us for what seems like forever. I wonder what all is going through his little brain but he always seems happy being in eyesight of us. His giggles and mumblings to himself are always so cute and its so easy to get a laugh from him while he’s watching us.

We’ve got a big day ahead of us tomorrow….me and Brooke are taking surfing lessons in the morning and plan to spend most of the day at the beach. We have wanted to try surfing for a while and no time is as good as the present! Isaiah will have a blast playing in the sand and water and watching mommy and daddy do something really cool. We will take turns taking surf lessons while the other plays with Isaiah on the beach. Please pray that sharks do not find us attractive!

Moses Mabhida Stadium

Inside the stadium on our tour