Friday, December 21, 2007

Now We Are 6!

We passed court today! The girls are legally ours! We now await an embassy date. That date is where we will get the visas for the girls' to come to the US. I will travel around that date. I think that it should be 3-4 weeks out, but I'm not sure with the holidays coming up. It could be later in January. We have gone through the last hurdle! We cannot believe that we are almost done!
Thank you for all your prayers and encouraging words...I am sure we will need more when the girls get here!

Now that the girls are legally ours, we can post pictures of them on the internet! Here are a few!
We have other pictures, but because they include other children, we cannot put them up on the internet. That's why there isn't another of Genet. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Well, our court date is still December 21st. I pray that everything
goes well. I am not very patient...I am nervous....I do not like to wait for anything. Needless to say, this has stretched me in ways that I have needed stretching. Except for getting all our paperwork in, I have absolutely no control over what is happening. Things have gone smoothly for us during this time. It is just a lot of waiting. If you have known our family for more than about 5 years, you know we have had a time of these kinds of processes. I suppose that I am a "better" waiter than I was, just not a great one. I am excited, terrified, emotional, and jittery. BUT, you all have been so incredibly supportive. It is so neat to hear your encouraging words, you excitement, and blessings. I just love to hear my friend Jen clap her hands together and say "I-am-so-excited-for-you!"
And she says it often......and it warms my heart. I will post as soon as we hear the outcome of court. We may hear Saturday or Sunday....

Here a few posts from our group this week. Both of them were touching...

"Allow me to share a story about my daughter, Kalkidan, who is 8 years old and has been home from Ethiopia for 3 and a half months. We have been playing an improvised game at dinner, using index cards labeled "wisdom," "loyalty," "cooperation, " etc. We discuss the meaning of the word and I asked Dani to come up with an example to write on the other side of the card. After a discussion of "courage," I asked her for an example. "In Ethiopia I go with you but I don't know you."For those of you who are adopting or have adopted older children, please bear in mind the amazing courage of the kids who stand up to take a stranger's hand and follow her to a new home. And I thank AAI and the staff at Layla House for giving kids the solid ground that makes such courage possible.

Cheers, Jennifer"

And another one

"Basically, last time we went to the embassy in Ethiopia for Rebka and Hana in March 2006, I wore khakis, a shirt and sweater and mules. Justin wore a smart-casual outfit but it was more casual than smart. He wore sneakers - the only shoes he took with him on the trip. I dressed the girls up though. We felt comfortable with our clothing choices then.However, this time I'm going to wear a skirt, long-sleeved blouse, dressier shoes and maybe even a scarf around my shoulders. I'm going to encourage Justin and the boys to wear a nice outfit with shoes other than sneakers.Now that I spend a lot of time in the Ethiopian-American community, I think they altered my way of thinking about some things.Yes, considering the long, frustrating adoption process, the visit to the embassy is pretty much a technicality and akin to a DMV visit for adoptive families.But consider their perspective. Likely the waiting room will be packed with scared, nervous Ethiopians awaiting their embassy interview. They will be hoping and praying they manage to persuade a grumpy, tired American worker to grant a visa to an ailing grandmother or the children of a mother who won the lottery years ago and settled herself in America. Most of those people will be denied their wish and many of them will be treated gruffly. The interview costs them a fortune just to attempt to get a visa - even for a visit to America.

I've heard of embassy workers not even looking up from their paperwork to take a moment to make eye contact with the Ethiopian standing before them asking for a chance at a future in America. It can be a humiliating, degrading experience for many of them - and they know that's how it's likely going to go while they're sitting there watching us looking bored and confident in our success.We lucky Americans, appearing in sneakers and a short sleeved shirt, make it all look so effortless.So I'm thinking this time I'm going to wear an outfit that reflects my understanding of and respect for the effort *they* are making when they're at the embassy. Maybe, while they're staring at me, as they sit there with not much else to do in the waiting room, they'll think I made a good first impression. Hopefully, my effort will shine through and I'll help them form a more positive impression of American families there to whisk away Ethiopia's children.The habesha visa applicants at the embassy that day would wear a ball gown or tuxedo if they knew it would give them a better chance of obtaining the golden ticket to America. I can imagine where our casual appearance would feel like salt in their probable wound that day.

Randi in NJ"

Friday, December 07, 2007

Another peek into their lives

Here is a note that an adoptive family wrote after getting their children from Ethiopia just a week ago.

"Deb, I'm just back from Ethiopia. Bizayehu and Genet are doing just fine. Genet did seem a little sad, or maybe just quiet the day that I delivered her letter, but every day after that she seemed very, very happy! She recognized me right away and was very happy to see me. I spent more time with Bizayehu as she is at Layla. They are just darling. I'll get the pictures up on Snapfish ASAP. Ciao, Randi."

It is so cool to hear about them. I still can't get out of my mind how they must be feeling. I don't know how their father is doing. I don't know if I will be able to take the girls to see him before they leave.

On a sad note, my aunt passed away today. We are heart-broken. She had brain and stomach cancer. It was very serious, but I was not prepared for this timing. I was so hoping that she could meet the girls. She was so excited for us. I was able to read her most of our blog one evening, and even showed her the picture of the girls as they received their welcome bags.
Our hearts go out to you Uncle Tom....

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Nothing happens, and nothing happens, and then everything happens~fay weldon

We just received an email from Susan Holmgren, our caseworker at Adoption Advocates International. We have a court date and a tentative travel time to pick up our girls. The Ethiopian courts are scheduled to review our file on December 21. That means that a tentative travel time will be mid to late January. There is a possibility that we might not pass court on that day. It has happened that there were papers missing, or a relative did not show up. Most cases go through with no problems...but there is always that chance.

I can’t explain how exciting and stressful is to get an update like this, even if the time seems far away. Yikes! On one hand, we’d love to get past the waiting stage and get our daughters into our home. On the other hand, we’re happy Genet (the six-year-old) and Bizayehu (who is eight) don’t have to come over here during the craziness of Christmas.

Susan also met our girls during a recent trip to Layla House. She said: “I met them both when I was at Layla House. Absolutely beautiful! Genet was a charmer and definitely a favorite at Wanna. Bizayehu was more reserved, but did want to know if I knew her mother! Her English was not advanced enough to have an in-depth conversation about her new family, so she had an older child ask the questions for her. I explained that I knew her parents and brothers and had been to their home. She was excited!”

Please keep us all in your prayers, especially these girls.


Genet and Bizayehu celebrated Thanksgiving!

In Africa, one of the adoptive parents, along with several others put together a special treat for the caregivers and children at Layla House. What an incredible thing to do. Thank you for making a memory for our children!

They loaded 259 people onto 2 buses and traveled to the Sheraton. Here is a snipet of the evening.

"We had the foreign adults sitting with the KG kids, other kids sitting with each other and staff sitting together. We had different groups at the buffet at the same time so that the little ones would be helped. Sometimes that worked fine, sometimes not. We had one little guy at my table who came back with 5 kinds of cakes and nothing else, so Randi went back and got him a proper dinner! Some of the kids went back many times, some ate too many sweets or drank too much pop, but they had a good time!

Circus Ethiopia performed throughout the dinner and the kids and many of the staff were mesmerized. That was a great thing too have, though the music was too loud.
It was a great evening."

Be afraid.....very afraid...

For most of you who know our family....this is a scary photo.
Can you see the detail? This house has it all. There is also a van chock-full o' children and it talks! The dining room table has a special candle, that when you attach special features, such as a cake, or a wreath, will play music appropriate to that season. Such a warm cozy little home right next to the horse stable!
Can you believe that we have girly stuff in our home?
The Walle family gave this and another whole city of buildings to our girls. Thank you-Thank you-Thank you!


We had a wonderful Thanksgiving....18+ friends and family eating around 2 tables filled with all the trimmings. It was a great time. There were at one time 10 children eating, playing and being kids...The older adults loved it. It was nice to hear stories, eat incredible food, and just "be" with family. It is fun thinking that next year there will be two other children around the table.

For a special little treat, I made a traditional African stew called Dinich-Wat. We served it right before the meal, just as a little celebration for the girls. It was completely different than any of the other foods, so I was a little nervous. But I think most everyone enjoyed it. It was the first African recipe that I have attempted. I am a little intimidated by these foods as I don't know what they are supposed to taste like!
Here is the recipe-it is an adaption by my favorite blog mom at Owlhaven

Dinich Wat (Potato Stew)

3 large onions3 large carrots4 potatoes
1/4 of one white cabbage
1/4 cup oil2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
4 cups water

Peel onions and carrots and puree in food processor(or dice very fine). Chop cabbage into fine shreds. Peel and mash garlic. Chop potatoes into 1 inch cubes.
Heat oil in a large pan and add vegetables. Cover and saute 2-3 minutes. Add the ginger, turmeric, pepper and salt and mix well. Add the water. Stir and cook over very low heat for 30-40 minutes.
Serve hot over injera. Traditionally this would be served on injera with several other dishes.
Yield: 8 servings

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Worth the wait, for them AND us!

Well, things are moving, we know that. Families have been passing court in the V groups. X is scheduled for November 30th.We are in Y group and our case was put before court to GET a court date last week. We have not heard yet what our court date will be. I have been told we should hear soon. Maybe even today?!

I sort of freaked out yesterday when realizing that I should have already started the process of immunization. I am not looking forward to shots. I typically do not do anything that I don't absolutely need to, regarding medication. I have scheduled some vacinations today. It is hard to get information about what you actually NEED. The cost is HUGE too. Luckily, I have people who have just been there and I am going to piggy-back on their information. Because of where I will be going, and how long I will be staying, I don't have to get very many, most of them are vacinations I should have anyway. So, the cost went from over 500.00 to about 200.00. Much better!

We are anxiously awaitng news from a family that went to pick up their 7-month old this week. She was going to connect with the girls and see how they are.

We continure to not get ready for their arrival. I think that it seems soooo not a reality. I see their picture with their T-Town shirts on, I believe and feel that they are ours, but it doesn't really register yet. They have a cute room with beds, and I have bought socks and undies, what more could they need? (joke there...) It is slightly overwhelming to think about what will be needed. When you have a child, or even adopting a younger child, you kind of have some time to catch up. These girls will be plopped right into LIFE--big life. Things will work out though. I do have to say, buying girl socks is much more exciting than buying boy's socks! Such pretty colors!

Some other VERY exciting news...a few blocks away is a family who has just come back from Eth in September...not the same agency, with 3 girls right smack in the middle of the ages of ours. I had heard rumblings about a family who had Eth kids. So, several days ago. I went right up to their door and knocked. When the dad came to do door I sheepishly introduced myself and he invited me in. Oh my goodness...I just want to cry. I can't believe that I am not going to be alone, and neither will they! What a happy day..and how often does this happen? I have gone from not knowing anyone in my city who has Eth kids to a family with 4 (they have a baby boy that they adopted last year) and another family on their block is in the process! She is a little overwhelmed as I expect that I will be, I am sooooo happy happy happy happy!!! It makes the wait a little better....well not much.....

Can you believe that next year at this time I will have 2 girls to dress up for Thanksgiving?

Please read on for several posts below. They don't have anything to do with us, but I thought it was some great information. Also, notice some new Places to Visit..Much love, DEB

They (don't) believe in adoption

Below is the link for another post that was striking to me. I agree with her completely. This is such a funny thing--adoption. Something encouraging, is that our girls will have a future. I don't know what lay ahead for girls who age-out of orphanages...Where do they go? What do they do?
The post is at..... February 08, 2007
You can view her blog at Growing Family

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Just in case you you wondering.....when in Ethiopia, children crowd and clammer at vehicles that American's (I would guess anyone white) are riding in. It seems very heart-wrenching. I will be a mess I am sure. I think it is scary too. I have heard that some could barely travel out, and just about fell apart when they the enormity of the poverty of the children who live there. There was a discussion about giving during outings. It is very complicated, but I really enjoyed this post, printed with permission.

"I know this is controversial. When we were in Ethiopia we found good people who thought the best thing to do was to give nothing. We had a driver,Gatu, who we liked very much. He ALWAYS gave just a little money and a smile to all who came up to the car and asked. He said that it wasn't going to help them out much - but it was like showing good will, good faith and compassion. We liked his philosophy and so followed it. We found people begging to be extremely polite and appreciative. Gatu even asked someone asking him for money if they had change and they happily gave it to him and them he gave them a bit back. I found it all very friendly and heart felt. While walking back to the Volunteer House from the store one afternoon a small group of children followed us and put their hands out. We visited with them a bit and then told them if they would carry our groceries we would pay them. They were so thrilled and happy and enthusiastic about their "job." They took it very seriously. Then we paid them more than enough and they felt so good. When you get there you will figure out what makes sense to you. It is such a difficult thing. I am not sure about toys. What they need most I think is food."

Bainbridge Island, WA mom to 5 including Yerus 7, home 1 year in Jan!

Things so sweet

Here are some comments that an AAI mom sent out to the group. They were so incredibly cute that I asked if I could share them with you. It really shows that these children think differently. Their reality is different.

1) Heard on a 50 degree evening while walking to the car, "Mom, have you ever felt so much cold before?"

2) "Mom, how do the blinkers know how to tell you where to go?" (She thought that I followed the little arrows that miraculously showed up on my dashboard when I got close to a corner where I should turn).

3) "What? A man walked on the moon?"

4) Heard on a 30 degree morning before school, "Mom, I don't need a coat. I look outside and see the sun shining so it will be hot."

5) "How can it be light on one side of the earth and dark on the other?"

6) Heard when I was explaining why I didn't want to drive 15 miles to the next town twice on one evening to accomodate everyone's extracurricular activity schedules (cost for one thing). "Why do you say it costs money to drive? Who do you pay? No one drive you. (I explain about paying for gas) "What, gas costs money?"

7) Heard when explaining that although it was nice weather that day, 2 days from then (Halloween) it would be very cold. "Mom, how do you know if 2 days from now the weather will be cold?" ("I listened to the weather man"), "What? How can that man know the weather in 2 days? does he go up in the sky?"

8) Heard from our daughter after she had been home with us at least 3 months. I was explaining to the girls that they might have to ride the bus home instead of me picking them up from school as I usually did that day of the week. I explained that I had a patient who was in labor and that she might deliver around the time school was getting out. "Mom, why you have to be there?" (I explain that I am this woman's doctor and that I have to be there in case the baby has any trouble coming out). "What? You a doctor??" (I have no idea what she thought I did/where I went all those days and nights when I went to work).

9) "Mom, I can't wait to see what the trees look like without their leaves"and finally....

10) Heard from our daughter as she was carrying her gifts up to her room after her birthday party, "America, America....( the song, evidently taught to her at AAI but I hadn't heard her sing it until that moment). (In other words..."I love this country!"

Marla in Kansas--Mother to 5 including 2 from Ethiopia, home 5 months

A challenge for us

I so easily fall into living and thinking selfishly. Daily I am struck that there is more going on in this world than just what happens in my home and in our schools and our families. I just don't know what to do sometimes, This prayer stirs me....

May God bless you with discomfort
At easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships
So that you may live deep within your heart
May God bless you with anger
At injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people,
So that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.
May God bless you with tears
To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger and war, So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy.
And may God bless you with enough foolishness
To believe that you can make a difference in the world,
So that you can do what other claim cannot be done
To bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.

this benediction from Philip Yancey’s book Prayer: Does it Make Any Difference?:

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The wind settled...Then rose up again!

We had gotten the wind knocked out of our sails. It seemed that after courts opened things were going at a good clip. We were hearing of groups being set. I was furiously checking my mail...and then I started hearing that some of the groups' court dates were being rescheduled...out to November 13th. Well, that would mean ours would not be until, at the very least, the end of November or December. So, I could just relax. I spent my time pouring over the hundreds and hundreds of pictures taken by families who have been to Layla in the past few months. The faces of the girls began to be etched into my heart. I went into every online photo book from mid-July to present. I began to see their faces peeking here and there. You see, I had done this once before, but found only a few of Genet. I was freaking out because I couldn't place them. It's not that the kids at Layla look that much alike, but I had to have the intake photos, set them by the computer and look for features, like scars, or the shape of a nose, or how the ears hang, how high their foreheards are, or how their hair is styled. I found several of Bizayehu. In one she is smiling so big...just like she should be!

Last night I started hearing online that people had passed court! The person whose date had been postponed to November 13th, passed court on Tuesday. NOT ONLY THAT, but she is traveling November 10th!!!!!!!

She was in the T group. We have still not been assigned a group, so I have no idea what this means for us. It could mean nothing. But maybe, just maybe I could start getting my shots?

Also, as many of you have seen, we got a wonderul picture of the girls getting their T-town welcome bags....Oh they look excited. I hope they are...I am worried about that. They must be still so confused. I am an emotional mess right now. I am happy for our girls, I am so anxious for all the children who haven't been placed, especially the older kids. They have so much more to worry about, hope for, wish for, be sad about than our kids here in the US. I don't know how to reconcile this.

Anyway...I am back to clicking "check mail" whenever I am at the computer!

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Courts have opened!

The Ethiopian courts opened about a week ago. Families are being assigned groups. A group is about 10 families that will have their cases brought to the Ethiopian court and then the courts will grant them their children. Sometimes your case can go to court and not pass. This isn't typical, but does happen. It doesn't have anything to do with the family, but with the paperwork. There can be a missing piece, or an outdated piece. The agency will then help the family get the proper and necessary paperwork to another court date.

Families are given a letter group. I have heard that families for group T-U-V have been assigned. There will not be a group W (who knows why!). The next will be X and we have been updated that we might be in group Y or Z. There are groups that are going to court today! I should hear soon whether they have passed and when they will be travelling.

The other very cool thing that has happened is that we got the go ahead to send out our Welcome Bags. You are allowed to send a photo book, with no more than 15 labeled photos, 2 toys equalling 10.00, a disposable camera, a letter, and a T-shirt...We, of course, chose to "represent" and sent them T-Town shirts. This will likely be the first time that the children find out that they are being adopted. They will get their packages and KNOW....right at that moment...that we are coming to get them.
I sent the packages to Merrily the head of AAI, and she will be going to Ethiopia on the 20th. So our girls will probably know about the 22nd I think? Would you pray that the girls will not be afraid? I would be afraid, and very very sad to leave. I don't even know if the girls secretly are hoping their father will come back.

We also got our OK from homeland security to adopt. This is also a big deal. Paperwork wise...this is a hang up place.

So....perhaps our case will go to court this month...I am hoping.....If that is the case, we can expect to get a Embassy date...and that will be when I will travel. That date is usually 6-8 weeks from the court date. We could possibly have our girls home at the very end of December. However, what is the real chance at that? Things always happen. I am hoping for them home by the end of January.

By the way...when I talk of a court date, that is where we adopt the children by proxy.

I am still checking my email a million times a day, and will let you know when we get the date!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Introducing.....Bizayehu and Genet!

We would like to introduce to you Bizayehu and Ganet!

We are happy to announce that we have accepted the referral of two girls. We're going to assume you all are excited to hear about the girls, so here is a long post about them!

How can we possibly know the girls are right for us in such a short amount of time? To be honest, we don't have much information. We were sent a grand total of three pictures, which were probably taken the day they were admitted to the orphanage. We have minimal medical records, which really tell us hardly anything), a brief history of the parents (again, not very much info), and a paragraph or two of what the girls are like at the Layla House ( We looked over all the information. We waited, prayed, waited some more. We waiting for something in either of us--a red uneasiness..SOMETHING--but it just felt right as soon as we got the report. One of our mentor friends who we share info with emailed us and said "Why wouldn't you pick them?" That is exactly what we thought! So call us faithful, hopeful, crazy, or all of the above.

Bizayehu (pronounced, as far as we can tell, beej-why-you) is 8, and Ganet (G as in girl, Gan rhymes with can, and ett: Ganet!) is 6. They both have birthdays in July. So, along with our son Abel, we will have 3 out of our 6 birthdays that month. Whew!

The girls seem healthy. There are no medical concerns at this point. Little Ganet has some malnutrition. We know that at Laya house children get to eat as much as they want, so she should be getting better. The report suggests that she should have access to a higher caloric intake than average for a girl her age...don't think that will be a problem in our house! They good news is that they have tested negative for all the medical issues that might pose problems. BUT, we realize anything could happen. There have been instances where things have shown up after coming home. Like with our bio children, as hard as it would be, we will deal with it. Is it still scary? Yes.

The girls' mom died in 2005 from AIDS and their father is HIV+.We do not know how their father came to bring them to Layla House, but the report indicates that he was not doing well. The girls will have a lot of sadness in their hearts, I would imagine.

The girls like to play with toys and swings and slides. They are reported to play well with others and are reported to be sweet. Ganet likes to eat injera, which is a traditional bread in Ethiopia. She likes cabbage, cakes and fruits. Bizayehu likes eating pasta, rice and macaroni, bananas, and mangos. She wants to be a doctor when she grows up. That sounds good to us.

It looks like I could be able to pick up the girls in late December or January. It could even go to February. It is hard to think of them there...and just paperwork seperating us. But there is a lot to do to get ready. Shots for me, plans for school, household preparations, travel plans. Thank God for all the work to keep us busy, or we might just go crazy.

Getting the referal has been exciting, scary and confusing. It has brought up alot of questions about adoption, our girls and their father, and what their lives can and will be. We would love to hear from you if you have any thoughts! We can't post the pictures online, but Deb carries pictures around, so stop her and ask to see them! We are chomping at the bit to get updated photos, and may get some soon from families who have returned from Ethiopia.

I will leave you with a little note from someone who is in Ethiopia waiting for their child...

"I just wanted to take a moment here to tell you a little bit about what I have seen today. I have the unique experience of living in Ethiopia now, only a few minute walk from Layla House. I spent the entire day at Wanna with Mussie- which was beyond wonderful.But, I wanted to let you know first that the caretakers are loving, attentive and so very capable. They really love the kids and the kids love them. They are playful and fun with the kids.I spent most of my time today in Wanna as this is where my son is. The older kids that I met were so kind and enjoyed helping out the adults and playing with the children. There was even an older brother than came to play with his little sister- so sweet and caring.Before today, we had seen twenty some pictures of Mussie and he looked bored silly in all of them. I wondered if he smiled! I played all day long with the kids in Wanna and trust me - they all smile. They are so full of life- each and every one of them. All of your kids are happy, vibrant, and so sociable with their peers and their caretakers. They are a real riot! I took a lot of pictures today, but will not be able to post them for a while. (Give me a few days!). I will keep taking pics for you as I can."

The Llews

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Ok, so we are going along....and nothing is happening. I check my email all the time for some news realizing it could be weeks, months..who knows? In the meantime, we have gotten word that our I600 petition had been filed.Here is a little blurb about what that is.

"To classify an alien orphan who either is, or will be, adopted by a U.S. citizen as an immediate relative of the U.S. citizen to allow the child to enter the United States. The petition is filed by the U.S. citizen who is adopting the child."

Along with that comes fingerprinting.
And we did get that appointment with homeland security! It is a small step, but a big one at the same time. We will be going to the homeland security office on 9/20 for that. We were feeling a little that things were rolling along, and I heard a few referrals being talked about on our agency blog. I knew that there were families ahead of I was trying to be calm.

AND THEN.........yesterday we got the email that we have been praying for. It is a referral for two girls. I want to shout out all the info, but we can't and need to wait. We need to wait until we accept the referral... We are giving ourselves a couple of days to process, not because we have any plans to not do it, but mainly to not be crazy emotional. They seem to be a great fit. Tom is excited...I am of course excited! Tom is a wonderful balance in our family. I am ready to rush forward and do...he is more thoughtful...and so, if he is excited and positive, then I take that as a Big Ol' Green Light! As soon as we accept, we will tell you what we know about them!
WHEN we accept, we were told that it would probably be December or January for travel dates. So, I will send out another update email when we accept and also include info. We won't be able to post pictures on the internet, but I will have some printed to show around.

Oh my...This is for real!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Just in case you were wondering who Viggo is. He is a purebred rough collie. He is 10 weeks old and we have had him for a little over 2 weeks. He is very cute, sweet and smart. He is however a baby, and along with that comes a lot of baby poop! Here he is laying with a stuffed version of himself.

The wheels on the process go 'round and 'round.....

Very Very Slowly..........................

But we got great news today!

Our Dossier was put into final form and it will be shipped to Ethiopia in the morning. We have been added to the child referral waiting list. There are several other families requesting children in the same age range as our family who had their Dossiers sent to Ethiopia in the last two months.

That is nerve wracking....but there is nuttin to do but wait.

Approximately 30 children will be joining their adoptive families in the coming month. This will leave additional room at Layla House for new children to be admitted. A new waiting child video will be put together and should be available in mid to late September and we have been added to the video shipping list.

We have enough to do in the next few weeks into September with Viggo our newest addition, PTA, soccer, school, Cross Country, so I guess this is good. I have faith that the right children are out there for us. I reluctantly put it into God's hands....LOL

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Trying Not To Be Crazy

No information, no paperwork, no requests for fingerprints....just plain nuttin. I think this is part of the process. Not a fun part of the process, but necessary? I am trying to no be crazy. I check my email way too much, waiting for a referral...waiting for anything!

Here is an entry from Two More Waals. They are a family who have had their children for about a month. This entry was especially heart wretching and warming in a weird way. Visit their site to learn more about their journey.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

A Few Steps Back
For the first two full weeks things have gone much better than we ever expected. Neti and Meke's integration into the family felt complete. Still does. However, we've hit a bump in the road as of late.We first noticed a change in Neti just a few days ago. During the day you wouldn't notice a difference. She still picks up new English words every day. She makes jokes ("Daddy little, Neti BIIIIIGGGG!" - giggle). She tickles her sisters, sings along with Bob and Larry, squeals in amusement at anything new, and regularly flashes a toothless smile while throwing her head back with yet another infectious giggle. Bedtime introduces a different world. No longer does Neti find rest quickly. Instead, she spends the better part of an hour (or more) laying on her side, eyes glassy, sleep elusive. She's lost in a world only an orphan of her age could understand.It seems grief has caught up to our little girl after being held at bay by scores of distractions thrown at her by the new world she's found herself in. What's she grieving? Can't say for sure. The old country with the busy streets? The food? Her friends at the orphanage? The smell? Her bed? Her teachers? Her language? Culture? She's lost all these things in a very short time period. What about the death of Mom and Dad? When a child of 6 assumes the role of Mom, does she bypass the grief process because of the added weight of responsibility? Who know's what Neti's grieving? And who knows how long she's held it in? Meke hasn't slept as well either. She tosses and turns. She wakes up crying and sweaty. Last night she fell out of bed. Then she woke up at 5:30 and didn't want to go back to sleep. But when the sun comes up things renew. Happy Neti and Bouncy Meke attack the day with the intensity of a child on Christmas morning. The video clips of giggling girls that many of you have watched over and over repeat themselves in realtime on a daily basis. During the day you wouldn't know that something heavy is rolling around inside those little heads.I know this is a normal part of the process. With things going so well I though we had somehow leapfrogged the inevitable. Now here we are, dealing with the grief of two little girls. Don't interpret this entry as a complaint, disappointment, or a play for sympathy. It's just to keep you informed. This is what we expected. This is what we signed up to do. We ask for your prayers for our grieving girls.

We/I am moving all our bedrooms around. What a mess. I have to remind myself though that there is no hurry. It has taken too much time to do, probably meaning we have too much "stuff".

We did get a dog. All I can say is that is has been a COMPLETE disruption. He is extremely cute and smart......and a baby. Hmmmm I know there is absolutely no comparison between puppies and adoption BUT........

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

We are back and the Ethiopian government is closing!

A 10 day wonderful slice of my life dissapeared while in Germany and Italy! We had a glorious time. While I was gone, I tried to leave my musing over the "childeren" at home. However, I took the book "There Is No Me Without You" along. It really is a great read. Easy to read, uplifting, and very heartbreatking. While in Venice we met a family at our hotel who are long term missionaries in Africa. They run an orphanage there. The children are not set for adoption. They live there. While I think what we are doing is a very good thing, I hope that in the future more nationals will adopt from Africa. There are so many orphaned children right now though, that I think whatever can be done should be. It is such a complicated issue.

On the homefront, here is part of an email I recieved from AAI.

"Your Dossier cover document was sent to the State Department and Ethiopian Embassy in Washington D.C. for Authentication. It typically takes 4 weeks for this document to be returned. Once we have the authenticated document, I will assemble the Dossier and ship to Ethiopia."


Now we are waiting for a referral. That can come from us finding children we want from the waiting children video, or from AAI searching and finding us a match. The video does not show children in exactly the age range we want. Lots are older and younger than we are looking for. Seems like we are talking about it like we are shopping. We aren't. I am pretty sure that we will KNOW when we see them. This whole thing is going to be challenging enough, we don't want to take on more issues than our family can handle.
That is all for now!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Auf Wiedersehen...arrivederci

We are going on vacation! I won't be posting until August, so no news from us right now is not bad's just no news!


I stalked the postman last night. He came just as I was taking Abel to soccer. I jumped out of my car and ran to him before he was even at my house. I stood impatiently waiting for him to gather my mail and pointed to a small package that I knew was the video. I said THAT is what I'm waiting for...he had no clue really, except that I was weird....

I waited until soccer was over and we were all home and hudled in front of the tv. My heart fell.....These children are so beautiful and so scared and mostly sad. You wouldn't be able to tell just from seeing their pictures, or the video. But when the translator asks the children if they know their family history, and they say that their mom and dad have died of AIDS, you "see" it, and feel it.

I don't even know how to explain how heartbreaking that is.
I said out loud, "we could take those kids

BUT, what is encouraging is looking at the list that AAI has sent us, along with the video and seeing as they come on screen that a sibling group of 3 are on hold, or placed. That is encouraging.

We are waiting to talk to AAI. It is not as easy as seeing beautiful children. We have to take into account their "levels of age" (that is my term) For example, a 10 year old's physical age (which might be older or younger than Abel (but they don't celebrate birthdays and don't really know how old they are--there are guesses and semi-medical ways of telling.), school age (which might be a lot younger than Abel's because of language, and lack of schooling.), life experience age, (which might be older than Abel because of say, living on the street for 4 years.), and emotional age (which could be a blend, of not having stability and care, and then of seeing both your parents die, or abandon you.). All these issues blended together will have to be taken into account. Whew...not easy.

We are going to slow down just a bit. After talking to AAI, we are going to go on our trip--watch a suggested video series and not get wound up in picking children right...this...minute.
Prayers are requested! Thanks!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

If you are joining us now....

Go over to the right side and start in the May section. There we began our journey!

Tom chimes in!

Why are we adopting girls from Ethiopia?
During our home study, Susan, the representative from Adoption Advocates International, showed us a video about trans-racially adopted children who are now adults. In the video, these adults recounted their experiences of being adopted by parents of different races. It was an astonishingly eye-opening video, and it shows that taking on such a task will not be all lullabys and kisses. These adults had some issues!

Afterwards, Deb and I talked about the video with Susan and she said that this was a great time for us to consider the question: Why are we doing this? Why do we want to adopt children, specifically from Ethiopia?

If we told the adults in the video that we were doing this to "save" two unfortunate Ethiopian girls, they would certainly call us out for our well-meaning racism. And they would be right. Not only that, but I don't think the answer would be true. And honestly, I think we're doing this for a better, purer reason.

The reason we're adopting girls from Ethiopia is that we want daughters, and we want them to be beautiful and wonderful and increase the wonderfulness of our family. At least at this early stage in the process, we're feeling pretty certain that adopting from Ethiopia will give us the greatest chance of success in that area. Does this mean it will be easy? Heck no. It will probably be very hard, mostly in the same way it's hard to have biological children. But on top of that, we'll have to deal with issues of confused identity and racism and loss, just to mention the obvious ones.

Deb and I thought about what our future daughters would want to hear, when they asked us why we brought them into our lives. The answer would have to be honest, as the girls would have their whole lives to analyze it for authenticity. So no phoniness allowed. If I were them, I would want to hear the truth, and if the truth was that we did this because we wanted them in our lives, because we valued them enough to take on all the hassles and expense and scariness and risk, then that, it seems to me would feel pretty good.

So my daughters, just to be clear, and just in case you ever read this, here's why we adopted you: Because you seemed wonderful to us. Because our lives would be so much better with you than without you. Because you were so beautiful. Because you had so much to give to us. Were we trying to save you? Not so much. We wanted you. Maybe, in the end, you'd be the ones to save us.

A study of our home

That is what happened on Saturday. We had our homestudy. Susan from AAI came to talk to our family about adoption. She also chatted with us about our lives, our dreams, and why we are wanting to adopt from Ethiopia. She also talked with each of the boys about what they were feeling. It was exciting to hear Ben say he was up for the task, and comforting to hear that Abel was nervous. The funny thing is, is that both Tom and I feel both of those things. We are nervous and up for the task! After this meeting we feel so much more connected with AAI and we also feel like it is for real now. Susan is very smart and intuitive. She has been to Ethiopia several times escorting children home. She has been to Layla house and knows some of the children. I am so happy that the person doing our homestudy is part of our agency. She stayed for dinner, and I think she got a good feel for who we are. We watched an informative video about the identity issues of children who are adopted. Tom and I have had quite a few little talks about this since our meeting. It will be a challenge, but not something we can't do, but something we will have to be deliberate in dealing with. Susan also toured our house...we joked that she HAD to go through it because we cleaned and organized for it! We both think that the homestudy went well.

Gal Around Town

That is where I have been! I started going around town gathering the dossier documents on 7/9/07. I am happy to say that I have sent them all back to AAI on 7/17/07! It was a short but arduous and slightly mind numbing task. Some of the paperwork was easy as pie to get together. I have copies of our marraige license, birth certs, and tax forms. Others, however were a little more tricky. I had to wait 20 minutes one day just to get through the metal detectors to get into the courthouse to see about police clearance. I found out then that I needed 20 dollars--each--cash, and some paperwork signed and photocopied since Tom was not going to come in. Our bank statement took a week to get...those poor girls at BECU. They were very nice though. They had to pull every statement for the year and find deposits and add them all up. It was a huge taste for them. We also had to get 8 passport photos each...not a huge deal, but ca-ching ca-ching...again! I did start to stress out a little when looking for a notary. One bank I went to charges 10.00 per signature. Most of our pages had 2! Tom asked someone at work if he knew of a notary, and to our delight, there is one at his work who does it for free! She does a lot of the adoption notarizing for people who adopt at Russell. She was also very nice and accomodating. When I took our paperwork back to the courthouse for processing, I really thought I would have to come back in a week or more, but the lady at the the desk took the paperwork, ran the checks (we do not have criminal records in case you were wondering!) and notarized everything while I waited. I did feel bad for the 3 men who were waiting for their gun licenses....but not too bad. Tom's doctor was moving her office a few days after I had dropped by the paperwork, and I feared that that piece of paperwork would get lost or misplaced, but the very next day I got a call saying it was ready! I did pull out my adoption card in as many instances as I could, and I would guess that it must have struck a cord, and that may be why things happened so quickly. I am very appreciative at all the personalized and quick responses we have had. So, the paperwork is done and UPSed today!

Monday, July 09, 2007


Well, after a few days on the Oregon Coast, we came home to a very official looking packet of papers from AAI! It is our Dossier! While it doesn't look too terrible, I don't understand some of what I need to do, so I will have to call today and ask some questions. I am going to get started today and see what I can come up with. What I really need is a notary. Hmm...I will have to do some research!

I am exicted and a little terrified. Lately I have been overcome by feelings of "We can do this" and sometimes at night, I feel like my breath is taken away with feelings of doubt. Not doubt that it won't happen or that I don't have the means to do this, but doubt that I will be a good mother to two little girls ripped from their homeland. We have things to offer, I just hope that what THEY need is what we can give. I cannot imagine the loss and grief that they are and will go through. I am afraid for them and hopeful for them, and I don't even know them!

After our homestudy, I expect that we will get to see some children via video. I can't wait....I just can't. I think that they boys will be able to feel more involved once they physically see what the children look like and can put some faces with this process.

I am reading a wonderful book called "There is No Me Without You"
I will fill in more info as I go along in the book.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Tacoma-We Have Contact!

Oh my! I can barely contain myself and really...nothing has happened. Except that our agency has called us and we are setting a date for the homestudy! We should expect our dossier package soon, and we will be really on our way. I was feeling a little lost, but after our conversation, I am walking on cloud nine! Our agent went through how the process will be and I feel a little more settled. If we go at a good clip with our paperwork, I can expect to pick up our girl(s) in early 2008. Ethiopia takes a two month government break for August and September. So, that puts the placement out so far. Over at Owlhaven (see the blog list) you can read about their impeding adoption! Today they found out that their girls are theirs! They can't wait to get them!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

chewing my nails

The wait has begun! AAI has our 2nd packet of paperwork and we will be getting a call soon (I hope) to schedule a homestudy. I am pacing around waiting...waiting...... We also do need to get our Dr. appointments out of the way. That is pretty much the last thing we need to do for this round of paperwork. The really weird thing about this is that you do get to see the breadth of your life, from how your friends think of you to how much you are worth monitarily. I have been blessed as I have read the references that my friends have written. We have also told our families. This was exciting and hard, especially since we have gone through so much with another foster-to-adopt situation. I know they are worried that we aren't hurt again, but have supported us and seem excited/and or excited for us.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Off we go!

Today I sent off the big packet of papers that we got on the 3rd. It took a little longer than I expected. Partly because I didn't want to start the personal bio, and partly because we are so stinkin busy right now with the end of the year festivities and school stuff! I would love to put everything down and do just this for now, but real life means I have to squeeze it in!
This process is so scary and full of unknowns...I think we are just scraping the surface for what is in store. BUT...we have started to pay the big bucks so it feels more real. I will feel like we are on our way once we get an appointment for the homestudy!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Ok.........a big fat envelope!

That is what we got yesterday! There are a ton of pages to fill out, personal data sheets for both of us....just sooooo much to do. It is very overwhelming, but I have organized it a little and and we are plowing through them one page at a time!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Why Ethiopian Adoption?

The funny thing is that we have never EVER considered foreign adoption. NEVER. But, as I have been faced with the maturing of Ben and Abel, I have started feeling my mommyness slipping away. In a year, Abel will be in middle school. That is scary to me. I actually get a little flip flop in my stomach when I think about it. I have been feeling like I don't want to be done.
I visit a blog called Owlhaven.
"Mary is wife to John, and mom to 8 great kids ages 2-19, including 2 from Korea & 2 from Ethiopia. We currently are awaiting two more girls from Ethiopia, ages 11 & 9. Yes, that's TEN kids. No, we're not insane. Yet.I spend my days receiving sticky kisses, cooking spicy Korean and Ethiopian food, weeding our mega-garden, arbitrating squabbles over the best spot on the couch, persuading kids that someday they'll need fractions, and marveling at the blessing of our life. Very late at night, I write about it all."
I was intrigued with her life, not only because it is so full, but I saw that they were adopting again, AND I saw pictures! The girls they are adopting are so beautiful and look so full of life...I looked into the Ethiopian adoption and my heart flipped! The agency that we are going through is in Port Angeles, and there are only a few that do Ethiopian adoptions in the nation. The timeline seems shorter than I thought it would be. The cost is large, but with Russell puts 8,000 dollars towards adoption, and of course there is a great tax write off, so it just might be something we can pull off. There is a great blog about adoption, and if you want to read and understand more, please visit it! Do a search about Ethiopia and it's history, it is quite interesting!

What do the boys think?

When Tom and I approached Ben and Abel about this, I was expecting the reaction we got. Ben is full on board, thinks is will be an adventure, and is ready for it. Abel, on the other hand, is a little nervous. And with good reason. The reality is, is that our lives will completely change. Abel will no longer be the "baby" of the family, which we all enjoy! His life will probably change the most. So, we do have to really listen and help him process this possibility. It is scary for all of us, but probably for different reasons. I think that baby steps will help!

What We Know

We know that they have our paperwork. I got an email asking what training video we wanted since I forgot to pick one. That means they have our paperwork! Just waiting for the next step!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Once You've Started Thinking Of The Possibilities

The air is alive. The thoughts swirl around you and almost every conversation, or plan, or comment seems to point to the goal. It is doubly hard when you have only told a few people. Only have dared speak the words to a few who might or might not support you. Those who you trust to be in joy with you, or to fail with you, to worry and be expectant with you. It sounds crazy I know...but we have decided that our pie can be sliced into more pieces to share. We have plenty of pie to go around, and if we seem to be running out, Jesus with multiply it and there will be leftovers....(that's from church today!)

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Begin at the Beginning

Ok....The preliminary papers have been sent to Adoption Advocates International. It's kind of scary, and exciting. I guess we need to wait for two weeks to hear from them and I'm not sure what is supposed to happen then. The desire is for two girls between 5-9 years old. But really, what will God have for us?