Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Monday, March 23, 2009
Wednesday night we went with three other families to eat at a traditional Ethiopian restaurant. When we ate at an ET place in Indy, we did not like it, so we did not go real hungry this night. We were pleasantly surprised though. The food was very good. The meal started with hand washing (you eat with your hands). Then the waitress brought us lots of food. Everyone eats off the same big plate, and we were all happy with the meal. During the meal there was a band of 4 musicians, playing drums and flutes. Later a lady sang while 3 guy and 3 girl dancers performed. It was fun to watch, and a very different style of dancing. We thought for sure someone would through their back out. Eli slept through the first part of the night, and then he wasn't too fond of the music either, but we were glad we went. Many families did not come with us because they were sick. We still thank God that we were healthy the entire trip.
This night, our last in ET, was our best sleep yet!
Sunday, March 22, 2009
That afternoon all 10 families and children rode in two vans to the US Embassy. It was about a 30 minute drive, and some of us to Dramamine before we left (sitting in the back of a hot van and with a baby on my lap and ET streets is a recipe for disaster)! Thankfully with the windows open we all made it alright.
We enjoyed seeing the sights of the town. We did not go out of the hotel too often, as our agency likes to keep us rather low profile. There are some Ethiopians that disagree with the adoptions, so we do not want to aggravate them. Hopefully we can go back to ET some day and see more. This was not the time for sight seeing!
The US Embassy did not allow pictures, but there really wasn't anything exciting to film. Each family waited for our name to be called then we went to a little window where we were asked a few questions about the adoption. We signed our name and that was it. They then processed the paperwork for the kid's Visas, which we got Thursday.
One family in our travel group got an unexpected surprise though. They were told a doctor report showed their child as having a problem (which wasn't true), and they were not approved in their homestudy to adopt such a child. We were all shocked, but it was a moment for God to come through. We gathered round them and prayed in the Embassy, which was a beautiful sight. As soon as we left there, Almaz was able to get a doctor appointment for them, we dropped them off, and their sweet baby got a clean bill of health. We all praised the Lord with them.
Tuesday night Josh got a ride to the airport, where our other luggage was finally waiting for us. He was gone for three hours, and I was starting to think he wasn't coming back. Eli was already in bed before he got back. I was so excited to see my own pajamas and toiletries.
We are all adjusting well to being a family of 5. Eli is still very happy, and he sleeps through the night! He went to the doctor Wednesday, and weighs 15 pounds 9 ounces. If the way he is eating is any indication, he's going to gain fast!
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Monday morning in Ethiopia we enjoyed a good buffet breakfast, though all of the foods were a little different than American. We got to know a few more of our travel buddies, and we were all wondering when we'd get to see the kiddos because the itinerary given us Sunday night did not mention it until Tuesday morning...no way we were waiting that long!
The infamous Almaz came at 9:00 to do Visa paperwork, which was fairly simple. She told us a little of what to expect during our trip and meeting our kids. She gave a few examples of the differences in the children, and the first she mentioned was Tamru - the screamer. She said the others may kick us out of the hotel! We were so impressed with her knowledge of each child, but thankfully Tamru rarely lived up to his reputation.
Finally, it was time to go meet the kids. Walking the alley to Hannah's Hope was surreal. It is about a 5 minute walk...if you go slow. It is a stone walkway that's very dusty this time of year. Others are always walking this way or that and there is a little market along the way. The street in front of the hotel is very busy and noisy, but as soon as you get back by HH its very quiet. You'd never know there were over 50 kids inside the gate. There were flowering trees all along the way, and birds singing. The weather was beautiful all week...80's in the day and sunny.
We took photos by the AGCI gate and then entered in. We were the last to go in, so we watched as the other families were handed their babies or shown their children (they were all outside). WOW, what a privilege. At last we asked Almaz where Tamru was, and she in turn asked a special mother. After they looked a bit (there are LOTS of babies!) they found him in a walker faced the other way. It seemed like slow motion that they turned him around and we saw his sweet face. He was very sleepy and had that glazed over face. He had a broken toy in his hand and mouth. When we bent down and started touching and talking to him, he puckered up. I couldn't take it another second so I picked him up. He started fussing, so I turned him around so he couldn't see me. We walked around the yard and he was content. It was so good to feel the weight of him in my arms.
Eli eventually fell asleep on me so I sat down and watched all that was going on. Josh played with kids and took pictures. One little girl sang Jesus Loves Me to Eli and a little boy kept putting stickers on us. Another girl kept asking us what state we were from. She'd say "Me California" and stick her chest out. I don't know if she was right or just repeating what she'd heard from others, but I'd gladly bring her to Indiana. The younger kids absolutely captured our hearts. They didn't know English, but we knew exactly what they wanted...a hug, a pat, a smile.
It was a very emotional day to say the least. I think the best part for me was walking around HH trying to get Eli to go to sleep and coming upon the young children singing in Amharic. I knew the tune and finally identified it as "I have decided to follow Jesus". WOW, that's a sound I never want to forget! That's my prayer for Eli Tamru, no turning back.
Another great part of the day was watching a family meet their 4 year old son. Seeing them work at winning him over, and him easily loving them was very neat...maybe because I have a 4 year old son. He was the oldest adopted child in our travel group, and we all adore him. A week in a hotel with a boy who knows no English...they did great, even if they had to eat spaghetti every meal!
After a few hours at HH, we went back to the hotel with Eli. He left with the clothes on his back, which we later returned. We ate lunch at the hotel, during which Eli started bonding with Daddy, giving big smiles. We knew we were goners when we saw that smile! We spent the rest of the day either in our room or in the lobby. It was exciting to give him his first bottle and change his diaper. We couldn't wait to strip him down and inspect every inch....pure cuteness all over. He loved his bath too.
That night he got up twice, after the second time he slept with us (which he hasn't done since...he likes his own space). In the morning, he opened his eyes, looked at me, and grinned. It was going to be a good day!
We made it to the Ethiopian Airline check-in with plenty of time to spare in Dulles. We got our boarding passes and met a few of our travel buddies. We ate supper with Eders, though we were all a little too nervous to want much. We boarded a BIG plane for ET at 8:30pm and then they told us we only had 1 bag on board, the others would come on the next flight to ET, Tues morning...oh well. It was so exciting to be on the plane, especially b/c there were so many Ethiopian people on board. We were really going!!!!
On board ET Air (Shannon behind us)
It was a long flight (though not compared to the way home!). We dozed a little, read a little, watched Madagascar 2 about 3 times, and enjoyed the view. We got to see the French Alps very well, and the Mediterranean Sea too. The desert over Egypt seemed to never end. ET Air is a very nice airline, helpful people and very good service. We landed in Addis Sunday night their time, and took a terrible 2 hours to get our visa and go through customs, then of course fill out missing luggage forms.
There ride to the hotel was about 30 minutes, and though it was dark, we could see the city a bit. We got to see ET driving, with no rules and lots of horn honking. We also saw the friendliness of people in the streets, hugging and holding hands. We also saw the poverty. There were lumps laying under tarps that we thought at first was animals, but we then realized it was people.
When we got to the hotel, we were exhausted and excited. I had a good cry and we prayed together. It was very hard to be there at that moment, but we slept well and that night I "counted our blessings" and the number of things that went right far outnumbered the things that went wrong. Satan was not going to steal our joy. We awoke happy and ready to meet our baby.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Thanks for all the prayers and well wishes. I can't quite put into words all that the trip to Ethiopia meant to us. A part of our hearts stayed there, and hopefully we can return someday. I will try to write a little about each day on here over the next few weeks.
We are slowing adjusting to having THREE kids! Sam and Cora love Eli, and he gives them the biggest smiles. To put it simply: God is so good, and we are so blessed.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
and Hannah's Hope is amazing, as promised. Eli seems to love us very much, or at least the
Only 1 of our 4 luggage peices arrived (one with only donations). Our travel buddies have been so
generous in sharing with us.
Please keep praying for us, and specifically that Eli transitions to the formula and clears his
We are in love, with Eli and Ethiopia and God's plan for adoption.
Friday, March 6, 2009
Well, my stomach has been in knots for three days. I'm glad I only have one more night of restless sleep to get through. All is ready to go, minus last minute items and loving lots on Sam and Cora.
I leave you with this picture of Cora. She is laying on the quilt my grandmother, Meme, made for Eli.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Oh, and you should have seen the dirt I just picked out of Sam's old carseat to get it ready for Eli. Looked like three years of spilt Happy Meals!
And finally a Cora story for Sara, who watched the kids yesterday while I got ready for the trip. On the way home from church we were talking about all the fun things they did at Hannah and Addison's house. Cora says, "I eat playdough, but it nasty." Don't worry Sara, its part of her regular diet!
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
We are very close to packed, and beyond ready to go!
Here is our itinerary for next week, as we know it. Please pray for us, especially Monday.
Saturday eat our last American breakfast at Cracker BarrelJ
Leave Indy at 2:47pm and arrive at DC 4:30pm
Leave DC at 8:30pm with six other families in our travel group for a 15 hour flight
Sunday -Our plane refuels in
We arrive in
We will be picked up by AGCI staff and taken to the hotel.
Monday Early breakfast in the hotel
9:00am we will do paperwork with Almaz, the director of Hannah's Hope.
After that we will walk to Hannah's Hope and meet Eli!!!!!!!!!!!
My mind has really been wondering about this time. Some babies react as if they've known their parents forever, others cry. Some are asleep so you get to just watch them a bit. Often all the babies are outside and kids are playing in the yard. No matter what Eli's reaction, we only get to a first meeting once, so I want to remember everything about it. I very clearly remember to moments after Samuel and Cora were born, and they both cried! There is nothing like holding your child for this first time.
Monday afternoon our whole travel group will travel together to the US Embassy to get visa's for our kids. After this, Eli will stay with us.
Tuesday Families are usually taken to a shopping market to get keepsakes for the family.
Wednesday Some families will have birth family meetings, we will not. That night we will all most likely go to a nice cultural dinner.
Thursday We leave
Friday We arrive back at DC at 7:15am EST, and then arrive at Indy at 2:16pm to have our three children together forever.
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, we can use our free time to play at Hannah's Hope, hang out at the hotel, and soak up as much of
This is all subject to change. I may be able to post to the blog while there, but not likely. I want to write a lot about it though once we get home. I am taking my adoption journal, which I started in January of 2008. Our camera holds over 600 pictures, so we hope to capture as much of
Thanks for the prayers and yes the Girl Scout cookies are gone!
Monday, March 2, 2009
1000 diapers (isn't that a nice round number! I tried to figure how many diapers Eli might have used since he's been there, but I gave up. Its probably way more than 1000)
6 pairs of shoes
9 pairs of jammies
5 baby outfits
3 big boy outfits
9 big girl outfits
4 cans of formula
3 boxes of cereal
4 tubes desitin
2 bottles lotion
1 baby powder
1 nail clipper
1 tooth brush
2 boxes of crayons
Thanks so much to all who donated. It means a lot to us to have the support of our family, friends, and church family. And we will be able to tell Eli how many people gave to his first home.
My to-do list is about a mile long, and somehow it just keeps growing. Things like buy chicken feed, give Sam a haircut, make passport copies, eat an entire box of Girl Scout cookies before the kids find them...and on and on and on. So here I sit typing, I guess its therapy and maybe I will sleep better knowing this blog post is done:)
But how do we know that? Josh and I both clearly felt God’s voice on this.
We were recently looking at high school pictures of us, and Josh asked if I ever would have thought back then that we would be adopting our third child from Ethiopia, and I said its more than I could have hoped. I always thought adoption was so special, but I thought it was something other people did, people with more resources, more faith, more…something. This thinking prevents many parents from pursuing adoption, but believe me, if we can do it, so can you!
November is National Adoption Month, and in Nov 2007 our local Christian radio station aired many programs about adoption. Focus in the Family and Family Life Today talked about it, and Money Matters even talked about affording it and the fact that most adopting families are average, middle class people. Shoahannah’s Hope, a foundation founded by singer Steven Curtis Chapman, aired many 30 second and 1 minute bits about adoption. We listen to the radio a lot (no tv remember), but that month we couldn’t turn it on without hearing something about adoption. Mid-month we started talking about it.
At first it was “Wow those are neat stories”.
Then it was “Wouldn’t that be awesome to be a part of?”
Next came, “What if we did that?”
Which was soon, “Could we do that?”
I will never forget the afternoon I was washing dishes with the radio on and Josh was listening in his truck on the way home. We both heard Money Matters, and I think it eased the unknown about affording adoption (Josh had just changed jobs and took a pay decrease). My heart was ready, but my mind wasn’t sure until Josh came in the door, looked at me, heard the radio was on, and said “Let’s do it.”
Sometimes I wonder if all those programs were really on, or if they were just for our ears. And certainly God had us turning the radio on at the right times. November 2008 I was looking forward to hearing all those adoption programs again, but there were much fewer, and none of the smaller bits….hmmmm.
After we committed to pursuing adoption I spent many late nights on the Internet researching agencies and countries. We had friends over, Danny and Ashley Graber, to share with us their experience in two Guatemala adoptions.
We ruled out domestic adoption and Guatemala due to closures, and we also ruled out Africa. I will not lie; we did not want to adopt a black child. This had nothing to do with our own prejudice, but we thought bringing a black child to white southern Indiana would be tough on the child (and it may be). However, God continued to work on our hearts, and our concern became more for orphans than comfort. By the way, we now look at Eli’s beautiful skin color as an opportunity to share God’s plan of adoption.
In January 2008 we went to an info seminar in Indy at Bethany Christian Services. After that meeting, we knew our child would be born in Ethiopia, a beautiful place facing so much tragedy. We applied to the Ethiopia program very soon and were accepted the same week that I discovered All God’s Children through blog land. We switched agencies because AGCI had a quicker timeline and their own orphanage, plus the testimonies of the families we read, not to mention God know where Eli would be.
One Bible verse that God led us to claim throughout this adoption was 2 Timothy 1:7
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
I wanted to write all this for two reasons (and if anyone read it all, thanks!):
- to remember the path God took us on to Eli. He is not another number in the Ethiopian orphan crisis; he is an important and beautiful member of our family. We are his mom and dad. Please don’t ask if we love him like our “real children”, he is our real child.
- To encourage you to follow what God is calling you to do. He’ll talk to you, just listen. Knowing you are doing His will leads to peace in your heart.