Posts Tagged “Ethiopia”

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.

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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

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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.




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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 🙂

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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 🙂

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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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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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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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Sunday was the last of our home study visits. Now we just wait for the report papers so we can send them off to where they need to go.

The other thing was the yard sale…we got rained out the first weekend, but now I’m glad we did. We ended up with a couple friends (they get together every year and have a big one) at one house.  This sale was seriously huge! I forgot the exact number of tables, but I think it was in the 40’s range…yes, 40-something tables loaded with all kinds of stuff.

On day one (Friday), at 3pm, we got pounded with a very fast-moving storm. When we first heard thunder, we started tarping and moving the tables closer together. By the time we were done, we were soaked.  Dripping. And it was windy so we had to find rocks and paving stones to put on the tarps because they kept blowing away. It was crazy.

Day 2 started out cloudy and threatening, but turned out really nice. We closed up about 3pm, took down the tables, and took them back to church (where we borrowed them from). I got home at 5:30. LONG day.

But all in all, it was good. We made a couple hundred more than I thought we’d get. In a couple months I’m going to hold a smaller one at our house just to get rid of the last of our stuff and make just a little more. Every little bit is necessary.

So what’s next??

*the I-600a (with a few documents including the home study report) needs to go to the USCIS—there’s a 5-week to 3-month wait on that

*the dossier needs to be sent to our Agency (including the I-600a acceptance paper) to get authenticated

*the dossier will then be sent to Ethiopia

*if Ethiopia accepts us, we then wait for a referral….they will find a child for us and send us a picture

*after acceptance of referral (after we say “yes” to the child) they set a date for us to go out there…we visit the child and start the adoption paperwork….then we come home for a few weeks and one of us will go back to Ethiopia to pick her up and bring her home!

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