Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.

The Family

The Family

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Home At Last

We are thrilled to be home in Texas.

We were able to deliver all our packages and take pictures as requested by some families.  We will get these out ASAP.

Friday in Addis was a full day.  We started very early with a positive meeting with Sam's birth family.  There is a Gladney social worker present along for us a translator.  We ended up going through 3 languages (including English) in order to finish the meeting.  We took pictures and ended with a final hug. 

We recieved all our paperwork (visa, originals of immunization record, birth certificate and immigration papers) while we were at the gladney center for our meeting.

We went back to Bjoe to pack.  We took advantage of a care giver while we packed.  I went to the government orphanage, infants, and saw some sick babies and toddlers Friday afternoon.

We flew Lufthansa this round and were very pleased.  We arrived at the airport about 3 hours prior to take off.  We flew out at 1130 pm - little hurtful.  Sam did well on both flights.  Sam is 12 mo and walking.  We were able to get a bulkhead seat on the way from Frankfurt to Dallas - we created a playpin area with good success.  He slept most of the first flight and little the second.  He howered drank his body weight in formula, water and juice - lots of diapers.  Though active we were pleased.  God granted us the strength and enough sleep in make it!

NOTE TO ALL - Immigration note.  You pass through immigration first pass.  You then must go and wait for officials to review the paperwork you brought back sealed from the US embassy in Addis.  This was a 1.5 hour process for us - very hurtful.  Thankfully, once it was our turn the IR3 visa made it a slam dump / quick process.

Thanks to everyone for your thoughts and prayers over the week.  I am writing this entry as I have been up all night due to jet lag with an opiniated toddler!!

As they saw in Addis - Chow!!


Thursday, September 2, 2010

T minus 1

One more day to go!  We had the opportunity to get out today without Sam.  Our caregiver was worn out when we came back - Sam never stopped.  One of the many blessings along the way came in the form of the caregiver.  The young lady works for Gladney at the care center.  She took care of Sam from the first day he arrived until he was moved to the toddler room (Brawler Room) about 6 weeks ago.  She knew him and he knew her - it was sweet to see them interact. 

We made it out to the fistula hospital today.  The books and documentaries about the Hamlin Fistula Hospital due it justice.

We made it out to the Sheraton today for a nice lunch and some high speed internet.  You can find yourself forgetting where you are in the Sheraton - it is a 5 star hotel.  It was a nice brief gettaway for an hour or so.

We find ourselves looking forward with some anxiety about meeting Sam's only birth parent tomorrow.  We realized today this person had to appear in court for MOWA with Sam in order to relinquish (about 6 weeks ago).  This process has been long with emotional ebb and flow at every step.

I will get the chance to work in the government orphanage tomorrow prior to leaving tomorrow night.

It is amazing to us (even after having 3 biological children) the circumstances around visit #2.  You take new or experienced parents, place them in a foreign country and city, change their diet, overcome jet lag and place a baby or toddler (us) in their life.  The same is equally true for the child or children.  God gives you nugetts of grace and mercy that remind you that He is in control.  We continue to be awed.

We ask for your prayers as we travel 18 or so hours on a plane with a toddler tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Babby vs Highchair

After 3 days, the score is Sam 1 and the highchair 1 in the running feud over who will submit.  Yesterday, Sam pushed the chair across the room as it went crashing down - Sam 1.  This morning, during the prolonged, funny and messy breakfast, the chair struck back.  Sam was doing the head bob thing and went a little low.  Striking his mouth with 2 upper teeth resulted in a small laceration to the lower lip - chair 1.  No stitches required today.  Seeing a little blood made us very aware we have a real boy on our hands.  A little ice an all was good!

This morning was the Coffee ceremony.  Every child at the foster care center as a "special mother" - the caregiver who really attaches to each child.  The Coffee ceremony is a time that allows for the special mother to say goodbye to each child who has been placed.  Ethiopia is a huge coffee producer.  The coffee beans are roasted, ground by hand and serve as hot coffee while you wait for your child to be brought to you by his/her special mother dressed in traditional clothing. 

To our amazement (concerned about bonding and confusion issues), Sam went back into his toddler room and was greeted by most of the kids who yelled his Ethiopian nickname and wanted to hug him.  One guy (with special needs) planted a kiss on him and started leading him around.  He was a celebrity of sorts and everyone seemed to miss him.  We then took him upstairs to his special mother where he responded with gratitude to see all the care givers who had taken care of him for months - with no bonding or attachment issues.  God is good as he prepared this time.

I was able to meet the the full time Gladney pediatrician today and pass on some meds and supplies to him.  He works full time for Gladney and is a great guy.

Lastly, we had a great time with the other families delivering care packages and taking pictures for "expecting" families back home.  How some of the kids have changed in 4 short weeks.  You can ask any care giver and they know exactly where in given child is in the 3 houses - their care is abundant!

All is well and we are ready to finish the week.  Our last 2 official items are to get Sam's visa and papers tomorrow and meet Sam's birth family Friday.

Thank you for you prayers as always.


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Embassy Pass

Thankfully, our embassy visit was uneventful - we passed and Sam's visa is forthcoming.
Tomorrow is the coffee ceremony.  Still on for Friday night departure.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Embassy Day

On our second day with Sam, he was clearly more comfortable and willing to explore his new freedom (legs that work real well).  What were baby steps a few days ago have become sprints toward open doors and everything that is dangerous.  We played "close the door and miss your fingers" for hours yesterday.  He apparently likes the rain (it has been raining for days) but hates his bath at night.

We see more glimpses of his personality each day.  He is strong, determined yet calm - probably why he survived.  He desperately wants me to talk to him in Amheric - I am a touch rusty.  I make up words though that sound native and it satisfies him.  He eats like a toddler but likes his formula.

We go to embassy today during his nap time (he must go).  We trust and pray this will be uneventful.

The other families who we met 4 weeks ago arrived for placement yesterday.  We enjoyed seeing everyone again and taking pictures for them.  I will have to go to the Hilton or Sheraton to post pictures but will try soon.

It is colder and more wet here this time (we are freezing) - 50's.

All is well.  Thank you everyone who prays and keeps us in your thoughts.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Day one with Sam met with give and take by both sides.We gave as much love as possible knowing he was out of sorts in a new environment, western food (he is not thrilled about this yet), new clothes and some medicine.

He gave preference to his mother and delivered his first "EBE" (ethiopian buttocks explosion).  Oh my heavens!  From a quite conversation and playing with toys, came foundation shaker.  There were initial tears in his mothers eyes prior to the pealing of make up off the face, followed by immediate horror.  It was impressive even on Steelman standards.  He managed to clear the entire first floor of the Bjoe House of any potential helpers in 10 seconds.  Unfortunately, I did not bring face shields in my medical kit.  Though is was clearly an impressive statement and territorial marker, the record will still be held by my dear niece, COB, from the incident in Allen 1998 - which required steam cleaning.  Clean up was immediately undertaken by his mother once her blood pressure recovered.  We were approximately 5 mm from total clothes and sheet incineration.  We spent some time outside after this in order to prepare for aftershocks.

He pretty much didn't like anything on day one to include his very brief bath.  We are blending Ethiopian food / formula with Western food and formula to try and transition to his new diet.

Ethiopia is wet with bouts of sunshine.  It seems colder here this visit but it was 102 in Texas prior to us leaving.

Our kids sound OK via text in Texas - we are very proud of them.

Day #2 brings some money exchange and shopping for mom, more bonding and preparations for Embassy visit on Tuesday.


Arrival and Placement

We had a nice but long flight.   We are pleased with Lufthansa.  I am more than convinced that I just "don't fit" in the seats for hours at a time.  We were fortunate to get our visa quickly and to see all our bags in one place.  Travis (in country staff) and our driver were waiting and we settled into Bjoe, warmly greeted by the Bjoe girls.

Sunday arrived earlier than usual (2 am for Joan and 4 am for Andrew) - you have to love that jet lag.  Clearly the highlight of the day came at 1045 when the little man, Sam, arrived to be with us forever.

If you take 2 jet lagged adults and one Ethiopian 12 month old, place them in a guest house with new food, the result looks a lot like being parents for the first time with our oldest, who cried a lot.  You can just tell that Sam is "out of sorts".  However, we sense that he is a calm little guy (we have had one of these as well!).  In addition he likes to be close like our youngest daughter. 

We have survived a diaper change without being showered, a change of clothes (yea they fit) and finishing a nap (praise the Lord)!

It seems like we never left the first time.  All is well.