Once our eyes are opened we cannot pretend we do not know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls knows we know, and holds us responsible to act. Proverbs 24:12

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Introducing Our Son Zinaw!

I've really been trying to find my groove lately and it hasn't included updating this blog.... unfortunately. I  think I've lost the drive that I used to have to keep this thing going... but... I am planning on trying to update more frequently.....really.  Yeah, I know you probably will believe it when you see it!  LOL


The reason for this post is to introduce our son Zinaw, who we just learned, will be turning 12 this month!  At this point we are waiting for word from the U.S. embassy in Ethiopia that our case is approved so that we can travel back over to get Zinaw and bring him home!  We are hoping to be able to travel sometime during the first two weeks of June.  This will be our third trip to Ethiopia since last November.....boy do I love that country!  We have been home with Amayah for over 3 months now, but it seems like so much longer than that.  I am missing Ethiopia, Addis, Layla house and my kids SO much, I'm so glad that we will be going back very soon!

Here is the reason for our next trip and the boy we miss more than words......
Zinaw wearing the Michigan shirt we sent him

Zinaw and Amayah just before we left Addis to come home with Amayah

Our daughter Haylie and Zinaw.  Haylie came with us on our last trip to Ethiopia.

Hang on Z....it won't be long now!!

Dreaming sweet dreams cuz I'm trip planning again!  Motherland.....here we come!  =)  


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ethiopia Trip Number 2

First I just want to say that we just celebrated Amayah T's one month home anniversary this weekend!  She is doing so well....adjusting to our family and life in America quicker than I ever thought she would.  We are so happy to have her home finally, there's never a dull moment around her.....she is continually crackin' us up.... her sense of humor is a hoot!

AND.....yesterday was Court Day for our son "Z"......we are praying that all of his papers are in order and especially that the MOWA letter will be there for him.  Todd and I met with the judge last time we were there and the meeting went very well.....I feel like she gave us her approval at that time for him to join our family and that this court date was just a formality.....BUT he will only pass court if all of the needed paperwork is there.  We are still awaiting news of whether we passed or not.....

We will make an announcement and introduce him as soon as we can.  But for now...here is a picture of us looking at the map and talking about where we live and where other family members live.....and about the kinds of things we do here in Michigan.  =)


So....like I said in my last post.....we arrived safely, without our luggage, but we were very fortunate that our travel agent was able to track down our bags and get someone in DC to put them on the next flight over.  I was so happy to see those bags.....I don't even want to think about what COULD have happened to them!  =(

We arrive at the guest house desperately wanting to freshen up, but guess what??  ......just before we got there the water got shut off!  Isn't that just the way it goes?  So.....after about 48 hours of travel with no showers, we headed off to go see our kidders.....nothing was going to stop us from going to see them now that we were that close!   We had planned to just visit and not bring Amayah back to the guest house with us for a couple of days.  We wanted time to be able to show our daughter Haylie around Addis a bit and also to be able to get all of our shopping done before we had Amayah with us 24/7......plus we wanted to let her get used to us again before we took her away from everything she knew.

One skill you need to learn very fast after arriving in Ethiopia is the skill called "go with the flow".   One thing led to another during that very short first visit and the next thing we knew, we were sitting in the director's car with our precious little girl headed back in the direction of our guest house!  Ummm....what just happened here??!  All I could think of was poor Z.....he waited so long for us to come back, and then we no sooner get there and we end up leaving with the munchkin and he's just standing there watching us drive away!  =(

So off we went, back to the guest house to start our new life together.  We were so thankful that there was another family staying there that was picking up their boys from Amayah's group....it helped her tremendously to have M&M there!

We had a very busy schedule while we were in Ethiopia this time.....so much to see and do....  

We went to visit the boy we sponsor from Korah through Project61 and got to attend a church service there.  That was quite the experience....did you know that an Ethiopian church service could go on for hours and hours??!!  We met lots of really great kids while in Korah.....one or two in particular that we would have loved to bring home with us!  While we were there we gave out some of the donations that we brought....things like clothing, toys and art/school supplies.  Definitely didn't have enough time to spend there and would love to go back some day.  Sumer, the lady who runs the Korah sponsorship program, is amazing.....just love her!

This is us with Tesfaye and Sumer

This is the precious little one that we wanted to bring home  =)

We also went on a two day trip to visit the town where Amayah is from.  It took about 4 hours to get from Addis to Asella.  During the first hour or so of the trip, the road was jam packed with lots of cars and big trucks....the air was full of exhaust fumes!  But once we got farther away from Addis, it was like we were driving back in time, into another world.  I felt like I was in a National Geographic magazine!

This is someone's home.....that is actually hay piled in those mounds!  
I have no idea how they do it...

This is a sugar cane plantation

Kids tending their donkeys....the donkeys are carrying water.

While we were in Asella we visited the orphanage that Amayah was brought to. 

It's pretty small and there were only a few babies in care at the time we were there.  From what we could understand, it is basically just an intake center......as soon as they can, they send the children on to bigger orphanages or adoption agency care centers.

People going about their day in Asella

The day we left Addis Todd went outside the gates of our Guest House and gave out the last of the goodies that we brought with us.  We had about 3 soccer balls, some small toys and some candy left.  Keep in mind that every time we left the protected gates of our Guest House we were mauled by kids begging for candy and such.  I wish I would have gotten pictures of the other times Todd was giving out treats....there were times he barely made it out of the mob scene with his clothes on!  They would stick their hands in his pockets and pull on his shirt to try to get at the candy or to get his attention!

Handing out candy....this is only a small group of kids...
sometimes the group was triple this size.

So happy that he got a soccer ball....he's running home with it so
that the other kids on the street don't take it away.  Wish I 
would have gotten the look on his face!

There was much more on our to-do list....and we managed to get it all done in the time that we had....thank goodnes!  All in all, it was another wonderful trip to Addis......although it was very difficult to leave Z behind.

There are so many precious children just waiting to hear that they have a family.....a couple of whom I would have loved to sneak into my suitcase and bring home.  It was hard to leave them behind also.....

Blessings on your day....

Friday, March 4, 2011

Home and Doing Wonderful!

I have been feeling like a major failure at blogging lately.....guess it's because I've only posted once in the last 3 months!!  Yipes!  Well, much has been going on over here and the break from blogging was much needed for me.  I'm glad to be back and I'm hoping that I will be able to continue to post at least semi-regularly!!

The Luggage

We left on January 26th and, wow, what a trip it was!  When we got to our home airport we already had a really good idea of what we were up for.  Bad weather was heading toward the East and that's exactly where we needed to end up that day.  By the time we got to Chicago we knew we were in for some troubles!  Ultimately, our flight got cancelled, like most of everyone else's flights heading east that night. At first we were put on standby but the more rumors we heard and after talking to a couple flight attendants......side note: When you want to know what's going on in a situation like this...grab a wandering flight attendant!! .......anyway, we realized that no matter what plane they were finally able to put us on, we would never make our flight out of DC to Addis the next day.  So I went to a United customer service counter again hoping for some information but ended up getting a wonderful lady who specialized in International flights!  She was great!  She was able to re-route us to London that night and then on to Addis from there.....arriving in Addis one hour EARLIER than what we were originally scheduled to arrive!!  This is GREAT....we thought......until.....

What we saw when we got to the Grand Rapids airport

This is O'hare airport in Chicago....we were on our way to our gate when we 
found out that our flight was cancelled

Here is our confirmation that we were cleared for the flight to London!!

Here is Haylie right after landing in London...
We all felt the same way....ugh.....tired and not ready to 
be stuck in London for 8 hours!

Yep, we got to London alright and then had a 8 hour or so layover there.  We were tired and hungry and already wishing for a shower.  We managed to survive our six hours, even though the food wasn't all that great and we didn't get a shower.  We thought we were in the clear and were so glad that we were just about ready to take our seats on the plane that would deliver us to Addis.  Yeah....well, nothing's ever that easy when you are already in a big mess.....and it turned out NOT to be a piece of cake for us that night either.  I went up to the Ethiopian Air desk to get our boarding passes and she wanted our luggage tags......ummmm.....ok.  So I gave her the tags and she looked at them and typed a bunch of stuff into the computer..... I could tell she was getting more and more frustrated......she really wasn't in that good of a mood to begin with and I quickly realized that we were heading down hill fast on a bumpy road!  She told us....in not such a nice way....that there was NO WAY that she could give us our boarding passes without the proper luggage tags.....AND.....that we were going to have to go all the way back to the baggage claim area and find out WHERE our bags were.  I'm like, "Say What??!!"  Our bags should be on THAT plane, right now.  She didn't care and so we had to get all of our things, including 3 carry-ons and 3 backpacks and RUN backwards through the airport.....go down several flights of stairs......jump on a bus....run through another terminal of the airport and make our way to the baggage claim to find our bags....it kind of felt like we were on the reality TV show "The Great Race"!!  We had a limited amount of time because our plane was scheduled to leave in about an hour!  We got to the baggage claim and not one person was there.....and to make matters worse, the United desk would be closed until the next morning!!  Yeah.....I told you this wasn't good.  Can you imagine the range of emotions we were going through at this point??!  The lady in Chicago TOLD me that they would pull our bags and get them on the flight to London!  WHY were we having this issue?!

In despair, we were pointed to the Ethiopian Air front desk.  That lady had no idea what was coming her way that night!  Very long story, in a much shorter version, I had to call Susan Parr Travel a couple of times and the E. A. agent had to try and handle things on the London end for us.  The one thing that Kathy, our agent at Susan Parr stressed to us was that we HAD to be on that flight no matter what!  We finally told the E.A. agent that we couldn't worry about our luggage anymore and that we just needed to get on that plane.  By the time that we were finally able to get our boarding passes we had barely any time to make it back to the other airport terminal to check in for our flight!

We sat there exhausted after all of that running around and adrenaline pumping through us.....wondering if we would EVER see our luggage again.....and thinking about all of the stuff that was in our 6 large suitcases... all of our clothes and all of the supplies for our agency's care center.....AND all of the things that we were carrying for other families, "precious cargo" they were sending for their children who were waiting.  UGH....my heart sank.....deeper.....and deeper.....and deeper......

As I was sitting there in extreme and total depression.....not believing what we had been through during that previous 24 hours or so.......Todd told me to call Kathy back to let her know that we were getting ready to get on the plane and to make arrangements for her to get a hold of us to let us know if she found out anything about our luggage situation.  Kathy got on the phone and proceeded to tell me that she had good news...... she found our luggage!!!  The bad news was...... that it was in WASHINGTON DC!!!!  OY!  But she assured us that she was able to arrange for our bags to be on the next E.A. flight to Addis and that HOPEFULLY they would be at the Bole Int. Airport in Addis the next morning!  There was still a major fear that something else would go wrong and our bags would NEVER make it to us.... but at least they found them....that was SO encouraging!

Turns out, after another VERY long ordeal in Addis at the luggage "Bags Unclaimed" counter....we were able to get things all straightened out......we had no luggage but at least we arrived safely....and we had a very strong chance that our luggage would be in Addis the next morning!  It was...and Todd was able to go back to the airport and claim it the next day.......

WOW!  What a trip.....NOT for the faint of heart!  =(

Next post will be about our time in Addis......

Have a wonderful day....

Monday, January 24, 2011

I'm Back....and I have news!

I took a break from posting for a while.....decided to set the blog aside through the busy holiday season, but I'm back and I have good news!

Tihun passed court way back in November but then we had to wait for all of her documents to be processed and issued to AAI.  After that, AAI takes about 3 weeks to do what they need to do with the file and we finally found out at the beginning of January that her file was submitted to the embassy on the 5th!  After a slight delay, because of one needed document, we were informed that we would be able to travel back to Ethiopia to attend the February 2nd court date.  We were originally supposed to go to the January 26th embassy date but because of that document that Tihun's Mom needed to sign, we had to wait until the next embassy appointment.  We were so thankful that just around this time, we found out that due to the embassy having such a backlog of cases, they would allow agencies to have one embassy date every week instead of every other week.  If this change wouldn't have occured, we would have had to wait until February 9th to go and get Tihun.

We also found out that "Z" has a court date!  It is farther away than we originally thought/hoped it would be, we had really hoped that he would have passed court by the time we went back to get Tihun so that he could stay with us at the guest house.  Because he hasn't passed court yet and isn't legally our child, he will have to stay at Layla.  We also learned that he wasn't submitted to court until the first week of December, instead of November 17th like we thought.   It's now taking around 3-4 months to get a court date AFTER being submitted to court.....so that's how we ended up with a March court date.  We are probably looking at a late April or March embassy appointment for him, if everything goes well and he passes court the first time.

We have been very busy since getting the word that we can come get our little sweetie.  We've been making flight arrangements and travel plans and packing everything up into the 9 suitcases that we are allowed to bring. Because our daughter Haylie is coming with us this time, we have a little more room to bring supplies for our agency's care center.  We will be bringing 6 bags to check in and 3 carry ons.

We have a wonderful trip planned with a pretty full schedule!  We are leaving this Wednesday and returning on February 5th.  We will spend time with our kids at Layla and also go shopping the first two days, visit Korah and our sponsored child and his family on the 3rd day and also spend time with our kids at Layla.  If Tihun seems comfortable enough with us by this time, we will bring her back with us to the guest house and keep her with us for the rest of the time that we are in Addis.  We will take Tihun's and "Z"s groups on a couple of field trips on Monday and Tuesday and also meet with Hana's birth family.....they are from Addis and can easily make time to come to see us.  On Wednesday we will go to our embassy appointment and then start our 3-4 hour journey to Tihun's Mother's home.  I'm not sure if we will come back that same day or if we will be coming back on Thursday?  We will all probably need a rest by this time so we will lay low on Thursday and probably go and spend some time at Layla with "Z".  Friday we will spend most of the day at Layla with "Z" and attend the going away party for all of the kids that will be leaving with their new families. By 4:00 we will have to say our good-byes to "Z" and leave for the guest house to pack up and get ready to head to the airport.  We will arrive home on Saturday afternoon.....exhausted and very happy to see all of our family waiting for us as we get off the plane!

Here is one of our latest pictures of Tihun, she's wearing her Ethiopian Christmas outfit.

Have a great week......I know I will  =)
Ethiopia....here we come!


Sunday, December 5, 2010

One Less

My heart is aching.  It's aching for the children who don't have a families.  I believe that December is one of the worst months to have to endure when you are a child and you don't have a Mom and Dad....a FAMILY....to call your own.  These children do not sit around wishing for the latest PlayStation game or a cell phone or even an MP3 player......these kids just want to be special to someone.....to have a family.....to be CHOSEN.

I think of my son who is still in Ethiopia right now.  He could still be one of the many children in our agency's care center without a family this Christmas.  My son now has a smile in his heart, something to think about and dream of.  He now knows that very soon, he will not be alone any more....he will be surrounded by a family that loves him, a family that is very excited that HE will be joining THEM.  

HE has been CHOSEN....and HE is LOVED.
There is ONE LESS child longing for a family this Christmas.

I heard that when our son "Z" was told that we had CHOSEN..... HIM....his smile went from ear to ear and I keep hearing that this smile hasn't left his face yet.  This smile also traveled from his face, down into his heart.  He was so excited to learn that we couldn't leave him behind....and that we wanted him to be with us FOREVER... so excited....that he didn't even wait for the welcome bag that we were sending him to start writing us letters!  He also takes every opportunity to lead someone over to the map to proudly show them where HIS family lives and where HE will soon be living.  It is an extra blessing that we were able to spend time with him while we were there so he knows who we are...and he also has the comfort of having Tihun over there too.

There was a boy, that USED to be alone, but now he has a FAMILY across the ocean and a SISTER that is right there with him that he can spend time with and LOVE.....

He is not alone anymore.......and his heart is exploding with JOY this Christmas!

This is an excerpt from a blog of a friend of mine and fellow AAI adoptive parent, Rachael, whose heart is right where mine is this Christmas:
I am continually frustrated with the non-existent pedestal that some choose to place us on because "we adopted." We hear over and over how someone would love to adopt, and oh how wonderful it is that we gave a child a home and saying, "You guys are incredible." But we are not. We are not super heroes, we are not extra-ordinary people. We are not extra-spiritual, and we do not experience any more love and grace in our lives than the next Christian. We are surrounded by incredibly supportive and passionate family and friends who understand the joy of adoption. We simply just said "yes." That's it. It was that simple. God did not "make" Jon and me for adoption. He simply chose us first, and in His choosing, we said yes.  Adoption can't be sought merely for compassion's sake or for a massive tug on your heart strings, or because you think it will be all rainbows and unicorns, because it's not. It's more than that. My mind replays the words "chosen,"  and being "bought with a price" in relation to Jesus choosing me!
**Thanks Rachael, for letting me borrow this beautiful piece of your heart!  Please visit Rachael's blog to read her whole post!  =)  

I will leave you with one more story and a song.....

One Less by Matthew West (The Story Behind The Song) from emicmg on Vimeo.

Have a peaceful Sunday....and if you think about it, say a prayer for these waiting children.  God may not be calling YOU to adopt but there are still many ways to being involved and help out.  Prayer is one of them....

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Why Wouldn't I?

Peder Eide is a Christian singer/songwriter who released a Christmas album last year called "Perfect Surprise".  This CD had 7 Christmas classics and 3 original songs, one song is called "Why Wouldn't I?" and it's a song about adoption.  Peder and his wife have adopted two children, a little girl from Korea in 2004 and then in 2008 they adopted a little boy from Ethiopia.

Every year I buy a new Christmas CD for our collection.....I know which one I'm gonna buy this year!  =)  Check out this YouTube video where Peder explains how his family came to consider adoption, which in turn, gave him the idea for this song.  Peder sings the song after the explanation.

Have a great weekend.....

Friday, December 3, 2010

How Accurate Was Our Packing List Anyway??

I decided to re-cap our packing list for those of you who are soon to travel and may want to know if I went overboard or not!  lol  Everything highlighted in blue are things we didn't use this time around.  I did make notes as necessary to explain my thoughts on some of the items......So here goes:

*Clothing for Todd and I for 6-7 days...short sleeve shirts and long sleeve shirts to wear over them, 3-4 pairs of pants/jeans....I also included extras of everything
*2-3 pairs of shoes, flip flops for shower, dress shoes and hiking shoes
*larger size bag/purse--packing it in suitcase--to use while in Ethiopia to carry our "daily" things
This was a good amount of clothes for the amount of days we were there, I would pack this much again.

Basic Things
*Driver's license, flight tickets and itinerary, credit card
*passports....cash...immunization records  Didn't need our immunization records but ya never know...
*adaptor to convert Ethiopia's electric to our voltage..need to charge batteries and for hair dryer etc. 
*detergent and fabric softner...actually, I cheated and mixed them together!
*clothes line to hang things to dry in our room
*Amharic phrase book/printed out "most used words" translation
*Amharic learning audio on Mp3
*Camera/video camera...chargers and extra batteries...extra camera cards  Only used an 8GB camera card and didn't need more...we took about 700-800 pics on that camera and 150 on our smaller camera
*Sharpie marker
*duct tape....cut a small section of paper towel roll and wrapped some DT around it  I would still bring this
*ALL KINDS of info printed out....from our agency, travel agency and things we wanted to remember
*list of phone numbers and email addresses  
*laptop computer  Didn't use, but if we stayed somewhere different we may have used it at the internet cafe
*small notebook...to record thoughts, info, and sizes/observations about other AAI family's children as requested by them...a pen...list of children to take pics of for their soon to be new parents!
*books/magazines to read  Kind of like that Disney commercial.....I was too excited to read!!  =)
*bubble wrap, in case we buy fragile things to bring back home
*flashlight...incase the power goes out  No power outages at Kings while we were there....but it could happen
*extra garbage bags..dirty clothes etc.
*"Flite Mate" ear plugs....helps to reduce air pressure and prevent air travel nausea. These actually work pretty good  =)
*two 35 gal. tubs filled with stuff for our agency's care center...clothing, crafts and sports equipment. My hubby says no more tubs!  This is because they can easily get caught in customs and get delayed.  The only one we brought back with us got delayed in Chicago and the GR airport had to deliver it to our house in the middle of the night......thankfully, it only had our dirty laundry....hope the inspectors had fun inspecting that!  lol
*various things to take to the care center when we go every day to do with the kids....nail polish, slime, tattoos, silly bands etc.  All were great ideas
*things to do with our little one....special art notebook and paint pens, photo album/video of kids back home   She loved to color/draw and loved the photo album...wasn't too interested in the video but she had to watch it on that little video camera screen and you can't really see or hear it very well, especially with all the toddler chaos going on around you!

*allergy meds/asthma meds  Needed every day!
*Ginko...helps with altitude and travel  Took it every day!
*Pepto Bismol  Didn't need but would take again anyway.
*Immodium AD  
*Melatonin...to take the first couple of nights to help us sleep  Wonderful!
*Airborne...powder and tablets...to ward off sickness
*Tums  Didn't need
*Elderberry Syrup...immunity booster  Yep...took it every day!
*Hydrocortisone cream  Didn't need
*Benedryl cream  Didn't need.
*antibacterial cream  Gave to the Mother with the little boy that had a bad sore on his leg
*Bandaids  Didn't need but would take again
*"Cell Power"...from the health food store....to help with altitude sickness  LOVED this...took it twice every day and actually gave some to a friend that wasn't doing so well and it helped her so I'm sold!  =)  It was recommended to me by a mountain climber....and they should know!  ;)
*Listerine....to swish with a couple times/day and swallow a bit to kill harmful bacteria  Used this twice a day and especially after eating if we went back to the room afterwards!
*No-Jet-Lag....Homeopathic med  Loved this too!  We didn't get jet lag in either direction.....amazing!  
*Acidophilus...healthy digestion, protects against germs  Yep...twice a day and we started taking it a week before we left to go to Ethiopia.
*Dramamine.....for motion sickness  Didn't need.
*T.P....many places in Ethiopia do not have it in their restrooms!  Where we went, we didn't need it but I would still bring it especially if we were traveling out of the city.
*travel size kleenex
*tweezers  Didn't need.
*hair dryer
*barrette/hair ties etc.
*dental floss
*extra toothbrushes...incase we forget to brush with bottled water and we need to throw our TBr away Didn't need, we remembered to brush with only bottled water!
*travel toothbrushes...for airplane, the kind with TPaste already on them  These came in very handy but it's not like using your real brush....I might would just carry my own toothbrush in my bag, not use toothpaste but brush really good and then chew a stick of gum.
*disposable face washing cloths
*clorox wipes to wipe EVERYTHING down, airline seats, hotel rooms, hands...
*hand sanitizer 
*feminine supplies
*nail clippers  Used these for the girls that were painting their fingernails  =)
We didn't get around to getting a prescription for Cipro this time around but we would definitely get one for our next trip!  There were too many people getting THAT kind of sickness when we were there, it was scary to NOT have the meds for it!  Better to be prepared!

*lots of protein bars
*fruit trail mix
*fruit and nut trail mix
*life savor peppermints
*chewing gum
**We didn't pack a lot of snacks because we figured that food would pretty much be available wherever we may be
**We also didn't pack a lot of extra food like instant oatmeal, mac n cheese etc. like a lot of other families do because we are staying at a hotel and we don't feel that we will have a problem getting food to eat....we love Ethiopian food and there are also American type restaurants over there.

If we were going to stay at a guest house where you can prepare some of your own meals/snacks I might have brought the things directly above, but truthfully, Ethiopia has lots of different types of food to eat, not just Ethiopian, and it's pretty cheap to get a great meal.  Plus most guest houses will cook you certain meals either for free or for a minimal charge.  We had no problem finding something to eat when we were hungry.

Another thought.  Two days after we got there, we noticed that others from our agency were getting sick.  This was the "knock you off your feet for a day to a day and a half type, stay real close to the bathroom, if you know what I mean" sickness!  =(  Probably from the water or something they ate.  Todd and I didn't get sick but we were very careful not to let any water even near our face in the shower!  It's not just your mouth you need to worry about, it's any body opening...like your eyes etc.....  Remember, bacteria are VERY small!  I believe that between keeping the water away from our face and using the Listerine and other precautions, this helped us to avoid the evil "bathroom" sickness.

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