Friday, June 29, 2007

Home By 7 Months

I remember before we received the court date, Benjamin and I were hoping that we would have have him home by his 7 month. We do! It is today!

The last couple of weeks have been a bit of a blur. We still have many moments where we look at Mikias and then at each other and can't believe he is really here. When you have an idea in your mind for so long, it is hard to change that idea into a living being. Well, until he cries.

He is gradually getting adjusted. We have been able to get him off his every 2 hour feeding from the orphanage to a more normal (for us) every 4 hour suck-a-thon. We think his ear infection is gone. His snots definitely are. He is not going to bed at 2 in the afternoon anymore. While all of these are good things, it is also weird to know that some of his characteristics of Africa are leaving. It is comforting to know he is more on our schedule but at the same time sad knowing that his "Africa time schedule" is gone. He no longer regularly sees people whose skin matches his. I no longer smell Africa on him. Instead, we are beginning to define a new normal for him and us which includes still trying to figure most everything out.

I am enjoying this time of transition but am saddened by already forgetting things of Ethiopia. Our pictures show some things, but can't replace vivid images. Our clothes have long been washed (yet, not put away) erasing the smell. However, I still can't bring myself to wash his socks from the orphanage. Every once in awhile I still open the plastic bag and smell a pretty distinct scent. We still have a chair of "stuff" we brought back and can't find the time to put somewhere. Yet, this is also comforting to have so I can pick things up and imagine where we were at when we purchased it.

I hope we raise him well. I hope we can replay enough of Ethiopia into our lives that he feels connected to his birth country. And although I know he will soon be a typical American toddler, I hope we can instill enough into our lifestyle for him to be defined as an Ethiopian American toddler.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Settling in

The last couple days have mostly involved Joanna and I trying to get Mikias into some sort of schedule. We're still trying to adjust his eating and sleeping to something a little more manageable. We think he's still adjusting to the time change a bit too. Today we think we were pretty successful in spreading out his feedings and minimizing his lengthy naps. We'll see if everything works out tonight and he sleeps a little more consistently.

Yesterday Mikias had his appointment with the pediatrician. Being first time parents, this appointment was extremely helpful to us. Overall, Mikias is in very good health and is progressing developmentally quite well. Unfortunately, because of his ongoing cold, he now has an ear infection. This is the likely cause of some of his fussiness. Some antibiotics should take care of this.

Since his arrival in the US on Saturday, Mikias has been gradually meeting some of our friends and family and getting to know them a little better. It has also been great touching base with some people to begin telling our stories and sharing some of our pictures and video. We hope to continue to do this in the coming days and weeks.

It's felt a little strange to us pushing a stroller around the neighborhood or having a car seat in our vehicle. The feeling is a bit surreal. This whole experience has been almost like a dream. What an adventure it has been...but this is only the beginning!

Monday, June 18, 2007

We're back

Everything on the trip back from Ethiopia went relatively well. Of course we were packing our stuff at the guesthouse up until the last possible minute, but we got to the airport with plenty of time to spare. While we were checking in for the flight we noticed a lot of other Americans that had Ethiopian children with them. It turns out that there were five other couples who were traveling together to pick up their adopted children. They were all working with an adoption agency in Minnesota. That made us feel a little more at ease that we would be enduring this marathon flight with other people in the same situation.
In a nutshell, Mikias was awesome on the 17 hour flight from Addis to Washington DC. We were so lucky that we had a bulkhead seat with a bassinet. He slept a lot and when he was awake he was very content and playful. We made sure he was feeding on the ascents and descents and it worked like a charm. He was fussy a few times, but it was nothing that a couple laps around the plane didn't take care of. He got the attention of a lot of the passengers...probably because he is so darn cute. When we arrived in DC we thought that a 4-hour layover meant we'd have plenty of time to walk around and grab some lunch. We were definitely wrong. We had to go through customs, collect our luggage, go through immigration, recheck our luggage, check in for our next flight, go back through security, and find the gate. This left Joanna and I with about 5 minutes to eat a quick snack and left Mikias a little overwhelmed. When we got on the plane bound for Detroit he let loose. The a/c wasn't working on the plane and it was like an oven. He was drenched with sweat and I was soaked too. He screamed at the top of his lungs for the first 30 minutes of the flight. The a/c started working again and he finally fell asleep...whew.
Seeing all of our family and friends at the airport on Saturday afternoon was unbelievable. They all had signs and flags. It was very emotional. We dressed Mikias in a traditional Ethiopian outfit to meet everyone. It was great that so many people took the time to drive all the way to the airport to see us for only 30 minutes or so. It was cool because there were so many children there...nieces and nephews and family friends. All the kids were so excited to see Mikias and welcome him to his new home. One of my good friends took video of the whole thing so I'm anxious to relive it through that. After collecting our luggage (except one piece that I still haven't received yet), our parents drove us back home.
Once we arrived home we discovered that our family had signs waiting for us there too complete with a "Finish Line" on our driveway. More importantly, they had cleaned our entire house and prepared several meals for us. This has helped a ton. Mikias seemed to be really overwhelmed by everything and we had a hard time settling him down once we got home. Joanna and I were really sad about this because we realize how unfamiliar everything is to him...the people, the surroundings, the language, the smells. We were going through our suitcases trying to find anything (a toy he had played with in Ethiopia or clothes he had worn) that would help him feel a little more secure. Joanna finally walked around outside with him for a while and that seemed to help. Of course the 7-hour time difference was probably having its affect on him too.
Since we've been home our moms have helped out by staying the night and allowing Joanna and I to get some much needed sleep. It will still probably take a few days to get our bodies back on schedule, but we feel a lot better. We're still trying to get Mikias on schedule too, but that has been a bit more difficult. We have an appointment with the pediatrician tomorrow so hopefully they can help us figure out formula and feeding and all that stuff. We're still using formula we purchased in Ethiopia but that is quickly running out. His sleep schedule is also a bit messed up but I'm sure that will straighten itself out in the coming weeks.
For now we're still trying to unpack and settle in to our new family life. It is for sure much easier to do all this here than it was in Ethiopia.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Goodbye Ethiopia, Hello USA!

Today starts our long trip back to the States. We are very excited to be heading home. Of course we’re a little anxious about the plane ride, but we’ll probably be just fine.

This morning we finally met Kurt, our adoption consultant, who arrived at the guesthouse late last night. It was kind of a strange feeling telling him about our stay in Ehtiopia and giving him some tips since he was the one we’ve turned to for answers during this whole process. This is his first time in Ethiopia and his first time meeting Alemu. He is here to visit new and existing AAI-affiliated orphanages and he will also be escorting a child back to the US next week.

After a lengthy conversation with Kurt this morning, Alemu took us to the US Embassy to pick up Mikias’ passport. That was a very quick visit. We were also given a sealed envelope that can only be opened by US Customs in DC when we arrive. This contains copies of all the final adoption decrees and other “official” papers. We sure hope all the correct documents are inside! Following the Embassy, we did some last minute shopping for gifts. Our intention was to get 18 gifts for Mikias’ first 18 birthdays. We did pretty well although Alemu could not assist with the negotiations so we’re not sure we got the absolute best deal.

We will now spend the afternoon packing and getting our things in order for our departure tonight. We need to be at the airport at 7pm to check in for our 10pm flight. We’re not really excited that we have to be there so early, but it is a small price to pay for starting our trip home.

Thank you everyone who left words of encouragement in comments and emails to us. They have definitely helped us during this trying but rewarding week. We look so forward to sharing all of our stories and experiences with you. Our next post on here will likely be from home!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Success at the Embassy

Last night was better than the night before. Mikias slept well except for a 2-hour span from 2am – 4am when he was wide awake and crying. It seems like his nasal congestion is really giving him problems. Ben ended up holding him upright for an hour, so he could get some sleep. Hopefully, we can get this cleared up before tomorrow night’s flight. We’re very anxious about that flight. We just hope he doesn’t end up screaming for 17 hours all the way back to the U.S.

This morning we were able to talk to both of our parents on the phone. Alemu had given us a cell phone that we purchased some prepaid minutes for. So, the grandparents were able to hear Mikias for the first time. It was mostly crying for Joanna’s parents, but Ben’s parents got to hear some laughing and squealing. For us it was great to hear some familiar voices, if only for a few minutes.

Our only event for today was to attend our Embassy appointment at 1pm. Getachew (our power of attorney here in Ethiopia) took us for our appointment and we were a little late getting there because of some traffic. We were required to bring Mikias along too. This was the first time he has left the guest house compound since we brought him here from the orphanage on Friday. The whole process was pretty easy actually. We had to present some of the documents that we had filled out. Some immigration forms and U.S. tax returns were also required. After this we paid the visa fee and then had a short interview. Really the interview was only a few basic questions and took just a couple minutes. Success!! We were very excited that this went so smoothly. We just have to return to the Embassy in the morning to pick up Mikias’ passport and we should be good to go. Alemu told us later that he was a bit concerned about our appointment today because this is the first adoption AAI had done where the birthmother was known. He wasn’t sure if this would cause any issues. I’m glad he kept his concerns to himself and that everything turned out well.

This afternoon has been uneventful as we’ve spent the entire time around the guesthouse. We are beginning to pack our things up a bit. We also had the opportunity to present gifts to Getachew, Gizesh, and Hiwot for the help they have given us for the past week. Tonight Alemu is picking Kurt up from the airport so we expect to finally meet our adoption consultant this evening. It’s funny that we have to fly halfway around the world to meet him.

Tomorrow we’re hoping to also do some last minute shopping, but we’ll probably spend most of the day “prepping” ourselves and Mikias for the plane trip back home.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Not a normal day at all

After we posted last night, we thought we had had a very nice and balanced day. That changed. Last night Mikias woke up at about 2am and we could not get him to stop crying. He would not take his bottle. He doesn’t know how to use a pacifier. (We have been able to get him to suck on an empty bottle nipple a few times.) It was awful and all we wanted to do was call someone (home) to find out what to do. Eventually, it got pretty bad and so Alemu suggested that we take him to the clinic.

Earlier in the week, when we picked Mikias up from the orphanage he did have a runny nose. So, all along we have suspected that some of his colic behavior was related to this. We noticed last night he couldn’t take the bottle because he couldn’t breathe. On top of that he was dead tired and really hungry. This is the point where we weren’t having fun anymore. It was difficult.

So, last night at 4am Alemu drove all of us to the local clinic. Our conversation prior to leaving went something like this “Bring all of our Ethiopian and US dollars, we are going to a developing country’s clinic.” It was not a good feeling. We were able to see the doctor pretty soon after we arrived, and he basically told us that Mikias was really congested. Luckily, his congestion is mostly in his sinuses and not his chest. We talked to the doctor about our concern about the flight home. In Ethiopia they do not give decongestants to children under one. The best he could tell us to do was to mix salt and water and place the drops into Mikias’ nose to help break up the congestion and then use the aspirator to clean it out. (We like this alternative better than the house maid who sucked out Mikias’ nose and spit it out - no, seriously)

After all was said and done, we were finally able to get him to breathe easier. We fed him a bottle and he fell asleep. This was somewhere around 6am. We were so exhausted mentally and physically at this point. We commented about how if we were at home we could just call our moms. It was difficult to be cut off from that.

After 2 hours of sleep, we heard banging at our window. Alemu was outside. He had received a phone call from the orphanage saying they had found the birthmother and that she would be at the orphanage until 10am. Of course, we sprang from the bed, threw some clothes on, ate on the run and began the 40 kilometer drive to Debre Zeit. We had to leave Mikias with the house care, which was also difficult. We have developed a relationship with these women and trust them though.

As we approached Debre Zeit, we tried to take video of the area. This is the area where Henock was born and lived at the beginning of his life. It was very similar to most of the villages we have seen this far. However, viewing it was different. It was hard not to think about what Mikias’ life would have been like when you know he is at a guest house in Addis preparing to come to the States with us.

Meeting the birthmother, Tizita, was an absolute wonderful and a moving experience. We were able to videotape our more than 20 minute conversation with her and felt a connection right away. She was able to, through translation, answer for us and more importantly, Mikias, questions about her life, her family and her situation. We also told her about us and gave her the opportunity to ask us any questions. We are extremely grateful for this conversation. At one point, she did tell us that we had her and the Lord’s blessing and that she considered us her family…unbelievable.

We were able to tour this orphanage as well. This was the orphanage that Henock was brought to by Tizita. It is connected with the one in Addis where we originally picked him up. Leaving Debre Zeit was difficult. Leaving Tizita was also difficult. We embraced for a long time. As we went to leave, she came back to the car and hugged me again. I will never forget that moment.

On our long drive back to Addis we were able to stop at another orphanage that Adoption Associates works with. We had saved half of our donations to deliver here and had packed them in a hurry this morning. This orphanage is relatively new and is much bigger than the other two we have seen. There were so many children. One section housed children ages 2 -10 and the other infants up to 2. We spent some time visiting the children and talking with the director. He was extremely grateful for all of the donations. He said at one point, that he found it “very encouraging”. Obviously, this was another wonderful and enriching experience.

Once we finally arrived back at the guest house it was nearly 2:30pm. We were more than exhausted. It was an extremely draining day. Thankfully, the women watched Mikias for a few more hours so that we could get some sleep. After our nap, we were/are still pretty exhausted, but had such a fulfilling day that we can’t complain. We were able to play and care for Mikias tonight and have already fed him twice. We are hoping all will go smoothly.

We hope tomorrow will be quieter. It is Embassy Day and one that will end with an entrance visa to the USA for Mikias. We received his pretty darn cute passport and birth certificate today, so we are on our way.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Another day in Addis Ababa

Today was a very well balanced day. Not too rushed like some of the days have been. This morning started out a little rough (again). Mikias’ woke up at 4:30am and refused to go back to sleep. He was in a very good mood but both of us were so exhausted from the all the excitement of the last few days that we were not much in the mood for playing with him that early in the morning. We finally got him to go back to sleep around 7am so we slept as well…right through breakfast.

Most of the morning was spent at the guest house just hanging out and relaxing a bit. Alemu and Ben took a quick trip to the Ethiopian Airlines office to confirm our tickets for Friday’s flight. We were able to secure a front seat with a fold-down bassinette for Mikias. Big sigh of relief. The best news came when Gizesh (a guest house worker) turned the faucet in the bathroom and water came out!! This immediately made the rest of the day much easier. We will never take water for granted again.

This afternoon we hit the town with Alemu again. He took us to another market area because we were interested in purchasing some fabric. This market was much less chaotic than the Merkato and we got some great deals (with Alemu’s help of course). We discovered that children had been yelling “white person!” in Amharic at us as we drove down the street. Alemu finally clued us in on that one.

Then we stopped at the University Museum at Addis Ababa University. This was a great experience and we highly recommend this to all families making the trip here for upcoming adoptions. We learned a great deal about Ethiopian history and customs. The tour guide we had was very knowledgeable. This helped us understand a lot about the country and we hope to share some of this with Mikias when he grows up.

We made it home before today’s large rainstorm. This seems to occur in the afternoon every day now. We spent some more time at the guesthouse enjoying Mikias. We finally got our first family picture taken today. We realized that no one had taken a picture of the three of us since we got Mikias. Also, Joanna learned how to wrap Mikias to her back (see picture). This is a very common way to carry babies here. Gizesh and Hewot were able to help Joanna out a lot.

This evening we went with Alemu to a traditional Ethiopian restaurant about 20 minutes from here. It was fantastic traditional food and entertainment. We have had injera (Ethiopian bread) a few times in Michigan, but that was nothing like the injera here. This was much better. Throughout the entire meal there were various dances performed that represented the various regions of Ethiopia. Some of the dancing was simply unbelievable. We ended up recording quite a bit of video.

We are still trying to meet Mikias (Henock’s) birthmother while we are in the country. The orphanage director is trying to locate her but was unsuccessful today. We are hoping that she is located and we can meet her before we leave. When we do meet her we will travel to Debre Zeyt, just south of Addis. We will also have the opportunity to visit the orphanage in this town where Henock was originally brought. This all may happen as early as tomorrow.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Merkato Madness. No water, no problem

Today was an interesting day as well. The new twist on things is that we woke up this morning and learned that there was no water at the guest house. Apparently, the surrounding area has been without water for a few days, but we just learned of it today since the guest house has a large water reserve tank that we were using. Ironically, there was a very large rainstorm today that allowed the house cook and maid to collect and then boil for everyone’s use. Alemu said that this has never happened since he has lived here…just our luck I guess. Our hiccup was Mikias deciding to pee all over himself and we had no way of giving him a bath because it was before the rainstorm. We improvised and those of you who will see our video will see firsthand the humor in this situation.

Nonetheless, we had a great day. In the morning, Alemu took us to the Merkato which is the largest open-air market in Africa. It was wild. It was basically like the market we visited yesterday multiplied by 20. Many more people, congestion, and sellers. We were interested in buying some clothing and little gifts, so Alemu took us to several vendors. Luckily he was there because every transaction involved some sort of heated argument about pricing. I think we ended up with some good deals thanks to Alemu’s negotiation skills. We only walked out on one vendor. Walking through the Merkato was quite an experience. Dodging cars, buses, donkeys, and people carrying huge sacks on their heads was stressful. Also, many people would just yell “You!” or “I love you!” at us. Maybe this was the only English they knew or maybe they really did love us. Many people would also try to get in the line of our cameras so they could get in our pictures. At one point, we walked around for 15 minutes with our video camera rolling at eye level just so we could give some sort of perspective.

After our Merkato escapade, we went to a local grocery store to stock up on formula and other items we’ll need to get us through the week and flight home. The rest of the afternoon was spent at the guest house. We were able to spend a lot of time playing with Mikias and settling our room down a bit (it looked like a bomb had gone off in there). As we said, there was a huge rainstorm in the afternoon. This is the beginning of the rainy season in Ethiopia that will last a couple months. Mikias was absolutely transfixed by all the rain falling from the sky.

This evening after dinner we began discussing with Alemu our upcoming Embassy appointment. Our visit to the U.S. Embassy on Thursday provides the entrance visa to get Mikias into the country this weekend. We need to provide documentation and forms for this process. Our discussion this evening left us both a little frustrated. There seems to be a disconnect between the AAI office back home and Alemu. We were under the impression that Alemu was going to help us complete some of these documents, but now we are left calling the Embassy ourselves in the morning to figure out exactly what we need. We’re sure it is just a miscommunication and that we’ll be able to get things straightened out.

We’ve probably got another busy day ahead of us tomorrow. We just hope the water comes back on at sometime to make our lives a little easier.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Hanging around in Africa

Today was definitely an interesting day. First of all, last night with Mikias went much better than the first night. We’re a very efficient bottle-making machine now. If there was an Olymipic event that included mixing water and powder as quickly as possible after being awaken from a dead sleep I’m sure I’d be headed for a medal. It has been interesting trying to learn how to care for a baby while in a very foreign environment. Last night was good up until 4am. Mikias woke up and we gave him his bottle, but he refused to go back to sleep. He was in a very happy mood though, so we ended up just playing with him for a couple of hours instead of sleeping.

Alemu arranged a trip for us to a monastery that was about 2 hours (country roads) outside of Addis. He suggested that we not bring Mikias because we would be making several stops. So, Mikias had his first babysitters today (that didn’t take long). Gizesh and Hewot, the two women who work at the guesthouse watched him today. It was a little difficult leaving him, but we’re also in Ethiopia to gain knowledge of the culture and customs to share with him later. Seemed like the right thing to do. Of course having to explain Mikias’ care to these two women was interesting especially because of the language barrier and our lack of certainty.

We left at 8am and picked up two of Alemu’s nephews and one of his friends who came along with us. Once we drove out of Addis into the countryside we were just amazed. The landscape is beautiful and very mountainous. We stopped at a weekend market in a village along the way. This was a very cool, but intimidating experience. We obviously stuck out…if not for our “whiteness” then definitely for the “interested” crowd of people following us around. It was a bit nerve-wracking having people watch your every move. We walked around a bit and saw practically everything (donkeys, shoes, chickens, batteries, flour, nails, etc.) for sale. The market was somewhat of an organized chaos. After stepping around donkeys, over chickens and breaking away from the weird following, it was a relief to be back in the car.

From there we continued on to the monastery. It was located off the main road about 4 km on a dirt road which took us at least 15 minutes to travel. This again was a bit intimidating because we traveled through a very poor village filled with beggars and interested people waving and yelling at the car. Once we arrived, we spent some time viewing in and around the building including a 15 minute hike up a mountain to a cave. The elevation aided in making this a challenge.

On the 2 hour drive back to Addis, we stopped and had a late picnic style lunch. This essentially included us sitting in a manure-filled field alongside the road, swatting flies and choking down sandwiches. This was all witnessed by a few of our closest local friends (children) who surrounded the blanket to watch us eat. Alemu informed us that they most likely had never seen a white person. We have been carrying around little packages of candy wherever we go, so this was an example of where we gave them out. They were appreciative as noted by them chasing our car down the road as we left.

Once returning back to the guest house, we spent most of the time playing with and feeding Mikias. We’re hoping to get him to sleep a little longer tonight but who knows how that will turn out.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Our first night with Mikias

“Knowing more” would have been helpful last night as we tried to figure out a feeding schedule for Mikias. We were told at the orphanage that he was fed formula “Nan” at the level of two for his age every 2 hours. Of course, Alemu hasn’t been able to find it at any of the local grocery stores so we are off on our own. We have been creating a schedule mostly dictated by Mikias’ cries and our own intuition (if you can call it that). We were also told that he was given cereal, but we don’t know in which form. As you can see, we are filling in a lot of blanks.

We hardly slept at all last night partly because Mikias needed our attention and partly from still not being on a regular local schedule. Okay, and partly because fixing a bottle out of a thermos gets a little old. All complaints aside, we gave him his first bath today. (Funny story to follow about how to give a bath in Ethiopia) This afternoon we went to the National Museum here in Addis and saw “Lucy” (the oldest human remains). We also went to St. George Orthodox Church and learned our Ethiopian religion history. As exciting as those latter two things were, we mostly just stared at each other in shock and kept saying “we are in Ethiopia” and what did we just do.

Addis Ababa is like something neither of us has seen before. Every time we leave the guest house we stare wide eyed at what is around us. The streets are filled with people and cars and even some animals. There are small blue vans everywhere. These are the local taxis and can have nearly 20 people jammed on them. I am sure our pictures won’t do justice to what we have seen. WOW!

Tonight Alemu took us to a pizza place. This was a nice break from all the food we have eaten thus far. It is good, just different. (Joanna’s stomach is not having fun, yet.)

Okay, we are dead tired and need to go to bed. Thank you for your thoughts!

And of course, here are a few more pictures of the boy.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Introducing Mikias Henock McKinney!!

In Benjamin’s words…

What a great day! We went to the Adera orphanage this morning to pick up our son. It was incredible. The orphanage was quite nice. We met with the director in his office for a few minutes and then a caregiver appeared holding our little boy. He was wearing the outfit we sent for him. Of course we both started crying right away. The first time I held him is definitely something I’ll always remember. Mikias smiled for Joanna almost immediately.

In Joanna’s words…

Wow! Does life get any better than this? The orphanage was amazing and Mikias is beautiful. When they placed him in my arms, he smiled and I melted. As I watched Benjamin hold him, I knew our lives would never be the same (for so many reasons). He was so well cared for! The nannies were all so wonderful, the director very warm and all of the staff very welcoming. We received a tour of the orphanage and were able to be with all of the children for a little bit. They sang to us and we sat in the middle of them. They kept kissing and hugging us. Leaving was difficult for many people, including us.

From both…

The rest of the day, we have spent trying to get to know Mikias and replaying this morning events. We have recapped the crazy, and I mean crazy, ride to the orphanage talking about everything we remember seeing. The roads were so busy with cars, people, animals and our driver only took out a couple of curbs. There was a man carrying this very wide basket on this head. Another man was herding his cattle along the highway and there were many people out and about just sitting in front of their stores. Not too mention, the roads were not even roads. They looked more like compacted mud hills that we had to navigate through.

Mikias has been a joy. It is really strange trying to figure out what a baby needs without having access to much. The orphanage sent us with one warm bottle and that is all we had for a bit. Alemu was able to get us formula for the meantime. We will worry about more of that later. It is interesting trying to find the house cook to boil water to let it cool down to prepare a bottle. The cook actually just gave us a thermos of hot water so that will help us make his bottles through the night. We put his first diaper on backwards and are nervous as all get out to try and bathe him in a shower that’s not the easiest to use.

We think we’ve figured out that Mikias must be able to distinguish familiar sounds or color very well. He seems to be comforted a little more by the workers at the guest house than by us. He’s getting used to us just like we’re getting used to him!

We’re not sure what tomorrow holds for us. We’ll have to talk to Alemu tonight about what the schedule is. We’re sure it can’t possibly be as thrilling as today, but you never know!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

We're here

After many, many, many hours on a plane we have arrived in Ethiopia!! The plane ride from DC to Addis Ababa was very comfortable. We can't say the same for the trip from Detroit to DC...but that is all behind us now. We met a couple from Oregon on our flight that are also here adopting a son. We actually got their info and (maybe) will try to meet up with them while we're here. If not we at least have someone we can email with when we return to the States.

Alemu picked us up from the airport after we went through customs and obtained our visas to enter the country. We then came to the guest house (which is Alemu's own house) just about a mile from the airport. We just finished our dinner and are now enjoying bread that was baked for us as part of an Ethiopian tradition. The accommodations here are very nice. We've got our own room with a crib already ready for Henock.

We found out that we will be going to the Adera orphanage tomorrow to pick up Henock. Very exciting!!! It will be hard to sleep tonight for sure. Alemu also told us that the package we sent for Henock (on April 20th) just arrived yesterday. I guess we could have just brought the items ourselves. At least Henock is sleeping with our gifts for one night before we meet him tomorrow.

It sounds like all the donations we brought will be split between two orphanges so we can benefit the most children. I think we ended up with about 70lbs. of donations. We'll be a lot lighter coming back. Except I guess we'll have one more person with us!!

That's all for now. Goodnight everyone.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007


I am the type of person who likes to challenge myself. I am eager to research something. I am excited to start it, organize it and then be persistent enough to get to the point of no return. Then, I feel like I am going to puke. This is the point where I need the gentle nudge and the "pep talk". I am not going to jump off with both feet, but I will drag my foot on the ground until there is nothing left to do but fall off the cliff. Right now, I am hanging on by the nail of my toe and know that the edge is in sight.

We are ready, I think. At very least we are as ready as we are going to be considering we board the flight today and won't be back in our own bed until the night of June 16th.

Oh, the anticipation. We anticipate the flight. We anticipate the feeling of stepping on to a continent for which we have never seen. We anticipate meeting Henock. We anticipate holding Henock. We anticipate staring at him for hours. We anticipate seeing the orphanage, the kids, the poverty. We anticipate meeting his birth mother. We anticipate seeing our son's birth country and trying to remember everything we can. We anticipate the flight home (a lot). We anticipate going through customs on the way home. We anticipate seeing our families at the airport. I can't wait.

And although we anticipate much, we do not expect. Whatever happens after boarding this flight we know will forever change us. We are excited to even have this opportunity and have enjoyed the ride. Now, let's go bring this kid home!

Signing off from the States with joyful anticipation of signing on in Africa!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

A wonderful surprise!

I wanted to take a moment and share a very moving experience I had this past week at school. Although I started the week "stressing" about how to get everything done, I ended the week feeling very comfortable that my students were left in good hands and that all would work out just fine. However, the surprise of the week came midway when I walked into the cafeteria after school on Wednesday to about 100 of my students yelling "surprise".

My student teacher had organized a surprise baby shower complete with pizza, pop, a 5 tiered cupcake tower, a very large poster card and so many gifts for Henock. It was amazing and I can't begin to tell you how moving an experience this was for me. I have thoroughly enjoyed sharing this entire adoption process with my students and can't begin to express my appreciation to them for their openness, enthusiasm and genuine interest in my life. Somewhere this school year between algebra equations and "geometry", a relationship outside of math grew and my adoption experience was enriched because of this. Here are a few pictures from a moment in my life greatly affected by some wonderful young people.

Friday, June 1, 2007

New Pictures

It's been a crazy week for both Joanna and I as we try to wrap things up with our jobs and start preparing for the big trip next week. On Wednesday we received new pictures of Henock. These were taken just this past weekend during Alemu's visit to the orphanage. Henock looks considerably older and larger now! According to the info we received he's gained about 1-1/2lbs since our last report. I'm not sure how much we trust the information, though, because it also said he is 1cm shorter than before...I'm no expert but I'm pretty sure this isn't possible.
This weekend we'll be spending most of the time filling out some last minute embassy forms, figuring out what to pack, and counting down the days and hours till our plane leaves