Today is Christmas Eve. We got home yesterday.
Ethiopia is a beautiful country. The people are friendly and nice. Their way of life is very “live and let live” and they care about each other. They don’t sweat the small stuff like we do. Family is a way of life, not just something you have or do. The adults treat the children as if they’re each an amazing person, not a small annoyance that’s running around making noise. And the children are very well-behaved. In these ways, Ethiopia is far superior to the USA.
Sadly, there is huge amounts of poverty. Driving around you can see tiny little huts on the side of roads; families live in these. Some are about the size of your bathroom. They provide shelter and nothing else. These people cook right outside their huts. They clean their clothes in mud puddles. Their small children walk around half naked so they don’t soil their clothes. There are fences and tall gates around homes, some churches, and many semi-private areas (like guest houses and businesses).
The orphanages are many. They, too, are surrounded by tall fences. At the top of the fences (which were cinder block or metal), there would be broken glass or barbed wire to keep people out. Each of them has a guard or two to protect the children. The smallest orphanage we visited had about 20 children, 5 or 6 of which were infants. The oldest was a mid-teen. The largest had about 45 kids, 12 were babies. The children are allowed to play. They are taken care of and loved and protected by nannies and “sisters” (nuns). In the baby room in one orphanage, it was obvious when a particular baby would spot their main caretaker. The child would smile and light up. So there is definitely love between the children and caretakers. This made it less heartbreaking. But it was still very sad that all these children didn’t have a true family.
The children were healthy (many had colds and runny noses, but that’s expected where there’s a lot of kids). Of about 100 kids, I saw only one with special needs. We were allowed to go where we wanted to go, but not allowed to take pictures. It’s against the child trafficking laws, so we were more than happy to follow the rules to protect the kids.
We were able to complete the adoption. We now have 4 children. Milinium Grace is going to be called Mili for short. She’s supposed to be 14 months old, but judging from size and development and orphanage, I’m guessing she’s 10 months, 11 months at most. She’s got the chubbiest cheeks I’ve ever seen, curly hair and loves to stick out her tongue.
We go back in the end of February or beginning of March to bring her home. As jet lag wears off, I’ll put pictures up. But I have her pic as my Facebook profile if you’d like to see her 🙂
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Today is Tuesday; we leave for Ethiopia on Friday morning. It’s hard to imagine we’ll be leaving in just a few days. Very surreal; I can’t picture something I’ve never experienced.
I’m so excited to meet our new baby! Paul’s excited for the whole trip; he’s very adventurous as far as going to a country and just being at home and walking around. So he’s gonna take the lead for the touristy stuff.
I don’t know what to say…My mind is kinda numb because I’ve been doing paperwork and waiting so long. Plus there’s a few other things going on right now that I can’t quite say yet. And Christmas on top of it all!
That and we can’t bring her home yet, so it’s just a trip and then more waiting. It’s just very surreal.
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Oh, the dreaded potty-training. Visions of wet beds, poopy underwear and soggy bum prints in the car seat.
When we were training Pierce, it was a few months before Dean was born (he was a little over 2 1/2 yrs). And when Dean made his appearance and so much time and attention went to him instead of Pierce, Pierce’s potty habits regressed. Noticeably.
Dean will be 2 1/2 next month. And we’ll be gone for a week in December and again in January or February. So rather than deal with digression, we decided to wait until after we bring our new baby home. Logical right?
He decided yesterday, he wanted to wear underwear.
I thought, Oh, how cute! Especially after he had them on 30 seconds and immediately took them off and insisted he have his diaper back.
But a few hours later, he wanted his undies back. So, being cynical (since I obviously know everything having trained 2 kids already) I knew it would last, at most, an hour.
He went 5 hours with no accidents. Frequently he’d run over to his little plastic Pooh bear potty and say “Pee!” and go pee. Or not. But he’d try.
Ok, Paul & I thought, this kid is just training himself! He watches his big brother and knows what to do.
This morning, I asked Dean if he wanted new undies from the store. YEAH! he shouted and said, “Blue!” So off we went and bought Toy Story and Cars undies.
He’s had them on all day so far (but since he took a nap in my bed, I did use a diaper then) with no accidents. He didn’t even pee in the diaper during nap time (though he did during the store trip).
He woke up from his nap and walked to me, undies in hand, grinning.
Amazing…I actually have a kid that is training himself.
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I didn’t know there was a month dedicated to adoption, but there is. If you google it, there’s great information out there.
I must admit, I’m a little nervous about what people’s questions will be when we bring our little girl home, but I’m doing my best to find snarky appropriate answers to rude curious strangers and associates.
“Is she yours?” me: No, I just like to pick up random children to take to the grocery store (park, mall, etc.).
“What happened to her real parents?” me: They were too busy being president and first lady, so I said I’d take over.
“Didn’t that cost a lot of money?” me: No, thankfully we have medical insurance like we did with our others. (that should confuse them a bit.)
I did find a couple interesting links HERE and HERE if you’re interested.
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I have been amazed and humbled by the orphanage donations we’ve been given by our friends.
We have a big stack of clothes, books, toothpaste, toothbrushes and toys. We have a nice chunk of money.
I can’t wait to take it to those little kids!!
Today after church, I picked up a bunch of stuff from the Relief Society room and took it to my car. (Relief Society is the women’s organization….primary for kids, young men and young women for teens.) Pierce was very excited to play with the toys, but I explained they were for the orphanage in Ethiopia that his sister is coming from. I told him how the kids don’t have much there and how excited they would be for new toys.
He listened and then said, “Maybe I can give them one of my cars to play with so some little boy can have a car.”
I am so thankful for all of you that have so generously given. I’m thankful for the kindness in people’s hearts to help children they have never (or will never) see. I’m thankful that you’re setting the loving example for my little 5-year-old boy.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
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Well, not right away…but sooner than we thought! Can I just scream “YAY!!” right now?
We got our call today…I was a little confused, because I was told, “We got your date for court. You can travel on December 17th, arriving on the 18th. And court is on the 21st, so you can catch a flight out on the 22nd and be home before Christmas.”
I was speechless. Because first, there is a court date (that we don’t have to be present for). When we pass that, THEN we get a travel date. So I was a little confused.
“So we passed the first court already?”
“No, they combined them to be on the same day.”
Yep…expecting one thing but getting something way better and sooner. I get to see my baby girl right before Christmas. Best. Gift. EVER.
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I have decided to ask everyone to please take this opportunity to help out an orphanage in Ethiopia.
I’m going to take a suitcase (or more) of things for the orphanage our soon-to-be daughter is coming from. I asked our agency what they need and she gave me a list. I’m planning on taking over some clothes, but I’m sure they wouldn’t mind more.
So PLEASE…if you can help, please do so. You can give me the items or, if you prefer, cash. Everything will go directly from my hand to the director of the orphanage. One great benefit of cash is the dollar is stretched further there; they’d be able to buy more than we would here.
But here are the items I’d like to take:
- children’s blankets
- children’s books (yes, in English)
- crocs or flip-flops
- toys (without batteries)
- children’s medicines (tylenol, cold & flu, etc)
- toothbrushes & paste
If I use up my quota of check-on weight for suitcases, I can always take more the second time! So please don’t ever feel it’s too late if you want to help. TIA 🙂
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So while the adoption is moving along, there’s always life moving right along with it.
Today was parent-teacher conference day for both Gab & Pierce.
We went to Pierce’s teacher first…I wasn’t sure what to expect. Anyone that knows him knows he’s either fire or ice, black or white, angelic or…well…not so much 😉
I was pleasantly surprised that his teacher said he’s doing very well. He listens well, pays attention, raises his hand, asks for help when he genuinely needs it, is kind to others, shares well, etc. I loved hearing that!! I know he’s smart and he loves to learn. But to hear it from the teacher is amazing. She was surprised he’s never gone to school/daycare/pre-K of any kind. I had to laugh a bit and really wanted to say, “Yeah, well, there’s other ways to teach a kid…like the mom teaches the kid!”
So the boy earned a donut.
Then we went to Gab’s school…the middle and high schools do conferences differently than the elementary. They just do a walk-in-whenever thing. We wandered around and talked to a few teachers, and I’m proud to say, I was bored slightly. Why?? They said the same thing…”She’s got an A, doing great, pays attention, does her work, studies seriously, etc…”
So it was a great day! I hope they’re as proud of themselves as I am of them.
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Thursday night, (2 days ago) I was doing a spa night for the teen girls at church. Paul was out of town all week so I had the boys with me, and Gab as my lovely assistant.
Midway through my phone rang…I saw a 435 area code (Utah) and figured it was my sister, so I figured I’d call her when I was done. But then by the time we got out, it was after 8pm and I was in a hurry to get the kids home and to bed. When we did finally get home, I told everyone to get pajamas, and took that opportunity to check my email.
And there it was ….”CONGRATULATIONS!!” from our adoption agency! I clicked on it and it read something like, Congratulations, we’ve matched your family to a darling baby girl….
me: What? BABY?? I clicked on the attachment to see her info and photo…birthday read October, 2009! A baby!!! Almost 12 months old. And her name…a beautiful name…Darling photo…she was perfect! (due to Ethiopia’s request, I can’t/won’t post photo or name online until she’s legally ours…but I will tell you her middle name will be Grace, so we’ll go with that for now)
I hurried and called Paul and told him and he said, “Oh, man, you have her photo there? I can’t see her until tomorrow!” So I had sympathy on the guy and forwarded the email to him. Nice of me, I thought 😀
We’re very, very excited and began telling everyone the next day.
But here’s the really funny thing….In January, Paul was out of town. That’s when we decided to adopt. Now, 9 months later, when he was out of town again, we got the referral! I had a feeling it might go down like that, and it was amazing how it worked out.
So the next step is to mail our acceptance paperwork in…then it gets sent to Ethiopia and they will set up a court date. We’ll travel to Ethiopia for the adoption itself and to meet Grace. Then we come home (and I post pics!!!) and wait until her new birth certificate and visa are ready for her to travel. When those are done, I travel to pick her up and bring her home!
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Not much going on right now. Still waiting, but September is the estimated month that we should get a referral, so I’m praying hard!
We got our USCIS approval today, so that’s a big load off.
A few weeks after we sent in our form, I got a letter back from them saying our dossier was not complete and needed to be re-done. I was freakin’ out!! So stressed. I called our home study guy and told him what was going on, faxed him the letter and he mailed the revised copy the next day to us. Unfortunately, the mail seemed slower than normal and it took a week to get it. Then, of course, we had to make a copy for ourselves and send the original to USCIS and hope it was good enough. Finally, after 3 weeks of stressing out over it, we got the approval.
Now I will mail a copy to our adoption agency and then we continue to wait for our referral.
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