November is National Adoption Month.

I wish each good family that had even the possibility of making room in their home would open their eyes to the world of the orphan.

I wish I could shake people and make them see what I and so many others have seen in orphanages.

I wish they could feel the yanks on their heart strings (trust me, it’s more than a slight tug) when 10-year-old boys so excitedly run up to them with pink flowered flip-flops to show them off because of how proud they are to have new shoes.

I wish everyone could go to a country and see naked toddlers living on the side of the road as their mother washes their only shirt in a mud puddle.

There are so many excellent and trustworthy people who are willing to take a few bucks from  you and put the food it buys directly in a child’s mouth, not their own.

You need to watch this. Depraved indifference.

You need to see this.

Then you can DO THIS.

Look at your own child who has all the food, milk, & clothes they need and imagine your child sitting in an orphanage or foster care waiting if they’ll ever have a mom or dad to take care of them again.

There are many grants, fund-raising programs, and low-interest loans “out there.” Too many for anyone who can MAKE room in their house to have an money as an excuse to not adopt.

And if you really can’t adopt, then help. Send money by way of Hope Arising or another honest organization. You would be shocked how far your money can stretch to feed a child.

 

Halloween…Again.

It seems like we have one of these every year! So why do I seem to get more tired every year when it’s over? :)

We had fun last night. The boys were all pirates (all, yes, even the husband). Gabby was such a stealthy ninja people didn’t even recognize she was a ninja and got only 3 pieces of candy. Next year she plans to be more conspicuous. Mili was a little pink skeleton. I was a mom :)

It’s funny how different the boys are. Last night, Dean was all into the costume and acting the part. He liked the make-up beard and said, “Aaargh, thank you!” in his best pirate voice when people gave him candy. He jumped off all the stairs and had tons of energy. Pierce, on the other hand, was more quiet and carefully walked, being very cautious of the sidewalks and bumps around the houses. They are so yin/yang.

Maybe the best part was seeing Paul get into it. He had a long wig, grew his beard out for a month, did the patch and hook  hand, etc. He had a lot of fun and definitely plans to do it again next year.

So now on to the next holiday. I already have the menu planned out and plan to be utterly exhausted making it the best Thanksgiving ever for my kids :)

Remembering 9-11, 2001.

Ten years ago, I woke up to news on my alarm clock (I absolutely hate the beep-beep-beep alarms).  I heard the tower had fallen. I was confused, thinking Salt Lake (where I was living) had taken down an old building and wondered why there was so much horror involved in a demolition. So I went downstairs and turned on the tv. I was absolutely shocked to hear that 2 planes had hit the twin towers in New York. I called my sister for a few minutes, then my long-distance boyfriend (my now husband) called. Meanwhile I was trying to get ready for college classes and get Gabby up and ready.

Paul and I talked about uncertainty of chances in life and things can change in minutes to the world. It was really on that day that we decided we were going to do whatever it took to be together as soon as logically possible. We were both scared….the whole country was scared.

When I went to school, the campus was eerily quiet. Not a normal college scene. People were talking in low voices. Some girls were crying. I remember one guy laughed loud and everyone around him gave him dirty looks. Laughter was not acceptable that morning.

On the following days, the news was all around..the death toll, survivor stories, why it all happened.

Now, 10 years later, this day is a reminder of the sadness, the deaths. But also bittersweet, because that was when my husband and I decided we were going to be husband and wife someday.

More of the same…

Other than a new living room floor, not much new is going on here. Kinda nice, kinda boring :)  The carpet was cheap and ugly and I never liked it. I just needed a good excuse to get rid of it. And since we have a new-ish puppy that liked to pee in one corner and liked to snag and chew it, I figured that would work! We put in a pine wood laminate and it makes the room look so much bigger.

Gab’s in 8th (which also means high school next year!!) and Pierce is in 1st grade (just really starting school). They’re both playing soccer again this year through AYSO. Pierce isn’t competitive at all so he just follows the other kids around. But Gab really gets into it; they’re both fun to watch.

Mili is doing better with food. She’s learning to take little bites instead of stuffing her mouth and she’ll hand us her plate and cup when they’re empty and says, “All done!”  She will still attempt to steal someone else’s food if it’s left around, but hopefully she’ll grow out of that. I know she’s not hungry but it’s tough when she still insists (especially when we’re at a restaurant). There’s times I feel like people are saying, “People, feed your hungry kid!” but I can’t listen to my own paranoia; I just have to do what I know I have to do and ignore wondering eyes. Or throw fries at people….I suppose that would be funner….

Baby Update

So things have been going well with Mili. She’s talking, walking, has a few more teeth, understands what we tell her (and if she disagrees, she lets us know that, too).
The older kids have taken to her like a duck to water. She has truly become “one of the kids.” She just blends right in.
We still have a couple food issues though. She will eat until she bursts. She doesn’t seem to know when to stop eating. It’s definitely worrisome, and we hate being the bad guys by telling her no to more food. But we do.
She loves the pool; I take the kids on average 4-5 days a week for about an hour each time. Each of them has changed a lot with water. Pierce can swim for a few feet, Dean kicks all over the place in his round floatie, and Mili has one she sits in and can kick around. It’s been fun so far.
Right now Ethiopia is going through a drought/famine…and things weren’t great before. I’m happy to have her out of a situation like that, but my heart breaks for the other people there. I wish we could do more.
But, things are great here. I have to be thankful for that. Gab just got back from spending a month with cousins. So things are rolling along.

Our Adoption Time Line

Here’s a time line of our adoption process. There were times it felt longer and others shorter, but I think it’s fairly decent.

January 19, 2010—Decided to adopt

January –Mailed out application to first agency

March 10—Denied through agency (religious differences)

March 12—New application to new agency (West Sands Adoptions)

March 17—Began home study

March 24—Approved by West Sands Adoptions

June 30—Home study complete

July 1—Mailed dossier (to UT for authentication) & the I-600a to USCIS

July 19—Dossier on its way to D.C. & the Ethiopian Embassy

July 20—Heard back from USCIS (unfortunately, we had to reschedule the time they gave us for fingerprinting)

July 26–Dossier arrived in Ethiopia

September 7–Received USCIS approval/I-171H

September 23–Received referral

December 21–Court date in Ethiopia — first trip

March 28, 2011–Embassy appointment–second trip, baby came home

Ethiopia Trip, Part 2.

We got word about our second trip, the one where I actually go get our baby and bring her home. We are leaving in just a couple days and I’m such a bag of mixed emotions!

Obviously I’m very excited. We’ve waited a long time for a little girl. I’m excited to have her home and show her the animals and brothers (sometimes I get confused which is which).  I’m excited to introduce her to friends & family who have been along for the ride with us, in all its ups and downs.

But I’m really nervous, too. I’m not looking forward to lugging all the luggage around the airports. I have 2 rubbermaid tubs full of donations, 1 suitcase full of donations, my suitcase with clothes for me & Mili, snacks for Mili, and other stuff, a diaper bag, my jumbo travel purse/bag & Gab’s carry-on-size suitcase with all her stuff. I’m nervous about the 17-hour plane trip home. What if Mili screams the whole time? What if she throws up the whole time? Or Gabby for that matter. I am bringing dramamine & benadryl, just in case. But still….

I’m worried a little. I’m worried she won’t be happy for a long time. I’m worried she’ll push us away.

Then there’s Gabby, now 13. She’s going to see so much on this trip. So much poverty, so many orphans. But she’ll see the best of mankind, too. She’ll see people giving all they have to support each other (directors of orphanages) and people working together to give what they have to those that don’t (humanitarian water projects). She’ll get an eye full.

So many thoughts and things to think about! It’s been a wild ride.

 

 

 

Things we Bought in Addis Ababa.

Before we traveled, I read up about places to visit in Ethiopia. One was the Merkato, a giant market. Sounded like it was right up my alley, so when we were asked where we’d like to go, I did not hesitate to ask!

Some of the Merkato was under a single roof. There were narrow places to walk, and on every side was a stall packed with things to sell. Scarves, jewelry, wooden animals, traditional clothes, baskets, etc. I was really nervous to haggle (something I’d never done before) so I decided to leave that to Paul. But when the time came, I just jumped right in. They mark everything way up and expect people to ask lower; and keeping that in mind, it became a game to me.

There were 2 men in particular during our trip that were fun. With one guy, we asked how much for 2 bowls. He told us and even laughed! He knew it was crazy high. It was easy to have fun with these people when they’re in it to have fun and to sell stuff.  Another guy said, “You’re American? I love Americans! I give you good deal.” I laughed and said, “I love Ethiopia, so you better give me a good deal!”

In the end, both the seller and me, the buyer, ended up happy. They sell it higher than they would to a local, and we buy it way cheaper than we would in the States.

We bought 2 scarves…one for each girl. Gab’s is a wear-every-day kind and Mili’s is a very traditionally Ethiopian scarf. Many women wear scarves over their heads (not just the Muslims); usually they’re thin and white with some design just on the ends. On the end of Mili’s, it’s the Ethiopian colors in stripes (much like their flag).

We bought some beaded bracelets (again with the colors as beads) a couple painted clay bowls, and pictures made of dried and painted banana leaves.We also bought some coffee for Paul’s family. We bought the 3 kids at home wooden animals.

But by far, my 2 favorite things that we bought were incense and berbere.

Ethiopia’s coffee is famous. It’s their biggest export. They have coffee ceremonies, which consist of roasting the coffee beans over charcoal, grinding it with a big stick, then serving it (so I’m told) very strong, like espresso. (Not being a coffee drinker, I’ll take others’ word for all this :)  )

During the ceremony, they burn incense, so between the coffee, incense and charcoal, there’s a smell that can’t be forgotten. Also, in churches, they burn the incense, so the smell is common. And since we associate smell with memories, I knew I wanted to bring that smell home. I bought tons of the stuff.

Berbere is a spice (rather a combination of spices) that is used in lots of traditional foods. The food is amazing. It’s quite hot and smells amazing. I bought 2 kg of the stuff.

So I have a smell and taste of Ethiopia  at home :)

Orphanages in Ethiopia.

The first day we arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, was gorgeous. Honestly, every day was gorgeous, 70 degree weather. Much better than the 30 degree weather we left in.

We got out of the airport and our driver took us to the guest house run by the adoption agency. I was surprised that everything is behind fences and gates. Everything private or semi-private anyway. Homes, many hotels, churches, etc. Later I learned that there are thieves that break in these places so they have a guard for them as well.

After we dropped our luggage at the guest house and sat for a little while, our director took us to visit 2 of the 3 orphanages. There were 4 families, 3 orphanages. (Mili and another baby were at the same one an hour and half away so we visited them the next day.)

Each couple had brought a bag of candy to hand out to the kids at their child’s orphanage. At the second one, watching the kids was as much a treat for us as it was to them to get the candy. They slowly and carefully sucked on the Smarties. Have you ever seen an American kids suck on Smarties? No. Mine practically inhale them. But for these kids, it was such a rare treat. Two little boys sat on my lap quietly and ate their candy, enjoying the attention and treat.

Kids in Ethiopia are truly loved. So it’s not that they don’t get attention, but that attention is just divided in so many ways. It was obvious that the nannies and staff loved the kids wherever we went.

The kids’ clothes were kept clean; everywhere we went there were clothes out on bushes or ropes drying. Unfortunately, though, the clothes were very worn and often too small. On one of our trips to an orphanage, all the kids came up to us showing off their new shoes. They were crocs or flip flops. One boy had on flip flops with a big flower on top; he was probably 9 or s0. He didn’t care about the flower; he was just thrilled he had new shoes! It was very heart-warming to see them excited.

It’s hard to be very sad around these kids when they’re so happy. What it did was to strengthen the spark in my husband and I into a fire. Our desire to do more is stronger than before.

I wish I could show everyone what we saw. I wish I could take every spoiled American to Ethiopia. I wish I could inspire even one family to adopt. The kids are beautiful kids that deserve another chance.

I’m excited to go back in a couple months and have started collecting donations again. And if anyone wants to come, you’re more than welcome :)