Friday, June 29, 2012

Things We've (Hopefully) Learned This Week

  • To Sintay: You WILL end up in the time-out chair (just like yesterday) if you bite your big brother again. Mommy WILL make you apologize again, no matter how much you dislike doing so.
  • Just because you emphatically shake your finger and say "No!" when Mommy tells you that Daddy and Yikealo are hers, just like you are.....does not mean that you and Mommy are actually the only two people in this family.
  • If you cover your uneaten pasta with a napkin and say, "Mommy, pasta yedlem" (all gone), you will not get away with it, because Mommy is not as dumb as she apparently looks. (How in the world did we get one child who refuses to eat meat and one child who refuses to eat anything else once his meat has been snarfed down?)
  • The best way to make friends with a grumpy old cat is NOT to fling a plastic fireman's hat over her head and then pelt her with small stuffed animals. She will probably hiss at you, and then you will be terrified of the "Meow."
  • If you throw small bits of salmon onto the floor while eating dinner, the two resident felines will begin circling your chair like sharks, hoping for more treats. You will not like this arrangement, since you are frightened of the Meows (see above). The rest of the family will not like it either, as they will have to put up with repetitive howling from you and the cats.
  • Even if you shriek like a banshee when Mommy washes your hair in the bathtub, you will inexplicably love running the freezing garden hose water over your entire head. You will also repeatedly dive under the water in the wading pool.
  •  To our neighbor Maria: It does not help your 2-year-old recently adopted Ethiopian neighbor learn English if you shout "Hola!" in his ear over and over while he is riding his tricycle. In fact, it may induce him to kick you.
  •  To Yikealo: If, while your little brother is still strapped into his booster seat eating breakfast, you bring the three toy mekinas (cars) that he has claimed as his to the table and start playing with them in his sight but out of his reach....he WILL start wailing again, and Mama WILL get annoyed with you.
  • To Daddy: Just because you tell your new son that you are going to lay down with him at bedtime does not mean that he will accept this arrangement. When he says, "Ayedellem! Mommy alga!" (No! Mommy bed!), he does, in fact, mean that he will cry until Mommy takes pity on him and replaces you in his bed.
  • To Mommy: when your new son gives you his first completely unprompted hug and kiss and says, "Mommy, awedashallo" (I love you) in your ear, you will utterly melt.
  • God made little boys so completely precious when they are matter how tired you are of them shrieking and fighting and taunting and biting, one look into their peaceful, cherubic, sleeping faces will ensure that you will be more than willing to get up and do this all over again tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

On Luggage

I've been surprised at how many people have asked about our luggage. Apparently, we left you hanging with our spotty posting in Ethiopia for which I profusely apologize. Let me recap the timeline:
  1. 10-10:45 PM 6/19 - stand at carousel looking for luggage
  2. 10:45-11:15 PM 6/19 - work with Ethiopia Airways representative on our lost Lufthansa luggage (yikes...).
  3. 11:15 PM 6/19 - assured that luggage would be on tomorrow's Lufthansa flight LH598
  4. 9:30 PM 6/20 - call Bole airport, assured that LH598 has landed but since the system is down representative could not confirm arrival of luggage. Recommended to come to airport
  5. 9:50 PM 6/20 - arrive at airport. LH598 has not landed. It is delayed.
  6. 9:50-11:15 PM 6/20 - drink buna bu'wetet (coffee with milk) and play Civ Revolution on my i-Phone while waiting for flight. No estimate on arrival.
  7. 11:15 PM 6/20 - return to hotel sans luggage as there is no information on when to expect flight LH598 and no way to let Larisa know what is happening
  8. 11:25 PM 6/20 - get halfway to hotel and return to airport for a more important guest
  9. 11:55 PM 6/20 - finally get back to hotel
  10. 12:00AM 6/21 - medicate self to counteract buna bu'wetet
  11. 8:30 AM 6/21 - call airport to ensure luggage has arrived. System still down. Instructed to come in
  12. 8:50 AM 6/21 - arrive at airport, clear security at doors and again at the baggage claim. Representative instructs me to look for the luggage myself (unclaimed luggage area roughly 25' high by 60' long by 15' deep)
  13. 9:00 AM 6/21 - find my luggage
  14. 9:30 AM 6/21 - return to hotel
  15. 10:00 AM 6/21 - delight Sintayehu with lots of new toys and snacks
  16. 10:15 PM 6/21 - receive phone call from airport indicating that they have our luggage...and we can come pick it up at the airport., you don't, because we've had it in our hotel room for over 12 hours now!
Thank you all for your donations and prayers.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

New Brothers

Things are going amazingly well around our house, in spite of two take-charge, attention-loving little boys trying to find where they fit in the new family dynamics. Essentially the situation is this: Yikealo is a 2nd child by birth, who became an only child for three years, and has now become a big brother. Sintayehu is a first-born only child who has suddenly been thrust into the role of baby brother, and he doesn't necessarily like it! He is also one of the bossiest little people I have ever met, and Yikealo doesn't take real well to being we've definitely had our share of little melt-downs from Mr. S!  We'll probably be keeping our distance from people for a little while, until S has figured out that the four of us are a family and that he and Yikealo are equal in our eyes. We definitely don't need to load down his little world with lots of other unknown kids at this point.

Having said that, we've had a lot of fun too. Sintay (as they nicknamed him at HH) has a big, loud personality, and he loves to joke around. He also loves to imitate others, which Mr. Y is finding to be quite fun. I asked Yikealo this afternoon what is his favorite thing about having a little brother. His response? "Teaching him to belch." (How in the world did I, of all people, get stuck with gross little boys, anyway?!) I asked what his least favorite thing was, and he replied, "Teaching him to be good, because being good is too boring." I think I'm in for a long summer! ;-)

Right before we left for Ethiopia, Yikealo drew this picture for me:
He described it this way: "This is you and Dad kissing, and there is a heart beside you. Down here, in the corner, are me and Ty going "BLECH!!" Sure enough, on our first morning at home, David and I were kissing in the living room, while both boys shouted "BLECH!! at the top of their lungs. It's good to know that some things havn't changed, although apparently, kissing each other is just fine!

Right now, we're all just trying to catch up on sleep and find our equilibrium, but things are looking very promising! Here are a couple of photos of our new little guy to enjoy in the meantime...

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

In Our Arms!

We made it to Addis safe and sound; there is really nothing to say about the peculiar time vortex of international travel that seems to simultaneously fly by and last forever. My theory is that it converts your energy into distance so that you are left drained on the other end.

Unfortunately, our luggage is in parts unkown. When we arrived at the Bole airport in Addis Ababa we sailed through customs only to stand staring at the baggage return carousel for an hour. We have been assured that our luggage will come in on the same flight this evening, arriving in Addis at about 9:30 Wednesday evening. We shall see.

In better news, all of our adoption related activities have gone well today. We met Sintaheyu (sin-TIE-you) this morning around 8:00. While he didn't come running to us as some other families have experienced, he did insist that Larisa pull up a chair at the table where he was eating breakfast. After breakfast we headed out for our appointment with the US Embassy. The "appointment" involves putting your name in a queue with a couple hundred other people and waiting for your name to be called. Once we were called, the discussion lasted about 3 minutes, and I was torn between relief and disbelief at the amount of resources necessary to facilitate that 3 minute meeting.

We are now back at the hotel and having lunched and napped, Sintayehu is ready to be entertained (keep in mind all his toys are somewhere in the air over the Mediterranean Sea). Currently he is pretending that our rolling carry-on bag is a mekina (car), and he and Larisa are making seal and sheep sounds at each other... two... more...days...

Friday, June 15, 2012


We learned yesterday morning that our case has been cleared by the US Embassy, and we leave for Ethiopia on Monday afternoon! We will take custody of our little S on Wednesday, which will also be the day of our visa appointment with the Embassy, and we will be leaving Ethiopia for home on Friday night. We have over 30 hours of travel on our way home (UGH!), and we will be arriving back in Cleveland around 10 PM next Saturday, June 23rd if all goes well.

Please pray for all of us: for Yikealo, as this will be his first experience being away from us for an extended time, for James and Susan's family as they watch our precious oldest son for the week, for David and me as we get ready to face jet-lag and emotional overload, and especially for S, as his entire world is about to be turned upside down once again. Pray that our great Father will heal his broken, confused little heart as he becomes part of his new family.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Good News

The last few days have been filled with calls from our case worker and forwarded e-mails between Almaz and the US Embassy about our case. Yesterday, Almaz had asked the Embassy if it would be possible to video an interview with S's birth mother (A), since she was refusing to travel. The Embassy responded that they would accept a video in this case, although they could not guarantee that they would not require additional information as well.  They gave some basic outlines of what the interview should include. This morning, the director of the orphanage in Gambella where S was originally placed went to A's home to conduct this interview and discovered that A had changed her mind about traveling. She said this morning that she would go to Addis because she really did want to see her son one more time. Her interview is now rescheduled for next Thursday, June 14th.

PLEASE pray for her. I cannot imagine what she is going through right now. We are sincerely hoping and praying that she doesn't back out of this interview a second time, but at the same time, I really feel for her. Pray that God will miraculously cover her in His strength and love as she makes this impossible journey.

My reading from this morning beautifully sums up my prayer for her: "For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your heart through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen."

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Critter-Bat and Other Yikealo-isms

Today we celebrate three years of parenthood to Mr. Y! He legally become our son on June 5th, 2009, and we have thoroughly loved being his mama and daddy. Here are some recent bits of our life with him...

Last week, THIS walked into my kitchen:
He informed me that he was "Critter Bat", a new kind of super-hero. I asked what his special powers were, and he said that they included "donking people on the head, flying, making lava, making people blind, and changing into other kinds of super-heros." I said that I thought he sounded more like a super-villain than a super-hero, to which he replied that he could also make rockets, guns and fairies. My sister suggested that perhaps one of his special powers needed to be making pockets instead! For the next two days, he spent most of his time dressed up like this, riding his bike up and down our street (with his cape tucked into the back of his shorts) and practicing his "lava-making" moves. It's a good thing that we don't care a whole lot about what our neighbors think of us!

On another day, we were outside playing "I Spy" while doing our Phonics lesson. Yikealo said that he spotted something that started with "ch." I guessed everything that I could think of: (chin, cheek, chair, chain-link fence, cheerful mama) but nothing was right. He finally got tired of waiting around on me to guess and informed me that he saw a "chree" while pointing to one of our large maples. He definitely doesn't have the "tr" sound figured out yet. He also recently wrote the following sentence for phonics: "You can not take my toys or you will be in chrubol." (!)

Speaking of school, we finished Kindergarten yesterday. Somebody might be just a little excited to be done!
Our final lesson was on Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King. We learned about what each of these heros did for equality and we listened to part of MLK's famous "I have a dream" speech. Y was fascinated by my goosebumps, but I absolutely cannot listen to that speech without them! Then he was supposed to fill his own bus picture with various people cut from magazines and write "We all sit together" on the top line.
I kind of loved his bus. It's being driven by a poodle, an orphaned child from Sudan is sitting next to Lionel Richie, and in the back, Captain America sits next to the President of Syria. How's that for mixing things up a bit?

Yikealo's 6th birthday is next week on June 12th. We had thought that we would be traveling by then, so we gave him his presents on Sunday evening. His main gift was a pair of roller blades with the necessary protective gear.
(What was I thinking, anyway?! Sure, he's been begging for these, but he is going to give me a heart attack!) He was SO excited, and he's been practicing over the last couple of days. He's got great coordination, so he's actually doing pretty well, but of course he's fallen many times. He keeps asking why I am so scared to watch him: "Do you think I am a monster or something?"
I was obsessing about him hurting his tailbone the other night after watching him fall yet again. After his bedtime bath, I was lotioning him up and noticed a large bruise on one hip. I hissed through my teeth and said, "Oh honey! That looks like it hurts!" He immediately wanted to know if his tailbone was broken. I said, "No, but that is probably going to hurt like the dickens." He had been fine until I said that, but then he started whimpering and looking frightened. With huge eyes, he looked up at me and asked, "Are the dickens those wet things that you put on cuts?" We giggled and assured him that no, we would not need to use an alcohol wipe on his hip.

While we wait anxiously for news of our second little boy, we are thankful that there is just so much to enjoy about our first! Last week, he walked up, hugged me and asked, "Mama, could we just snuggle for a little bit? After that, it would give me great joy to play with you." How could anyone resist that?

Monday, June 4, 2012


We've hit another stomach-churning drop on the adoption roller-coaster. We were expecting today to be full of rejoicing and frantic preparations to leave for Ethiopia by the end of this week. Instead, we received some bad news this morning. S's birth mother refused to come to Addis for her hearing with the US Embassy. She had agreed to make the trip, and she had even purchased her bus ticket, but at the last minute, she said that she would not go with the social worker who had come to get her. She said that she "is done" with this, that she has already testified in court, that the relinquishment has been very difficult, and that she has been through enough already. I couldn't agree with her more. In fact, she has presented her case in two different court systems in Ethiopia....once in December in her own region, and once in March when she finalized the relinquishment in Addis Ababa. I don't blame her one bit for not wanting to go through the pain of it all again in front of an official from a foreign country.

It all leaves our case in an uncomfortable position, though. This is the first time that AGCI has had a birth parent refuse to interview with the Embassy, and our case worker isn't sure what the next step will be. Almaz e-mailed the Embassy on Saturday explaining the situation and asking for direction. There's a small chance that they could decide to clear our case anyway, but it is much more likely that they will try to set up an interview with one of the witnesses to the original relinquishment case in December. That would mean more weeks of waiting while they schedule an interview, find the witness, and bring them to Addis for the hearing. The Gambella region, where S is from, is 2-3 days journey by bus from Addis. A witness would probably have to miss an entire week of work in order to testify. In the meantime, our little S spends more time without a family, waiting for good medical care, and we miss more weeks of his life.

I know that there is a reason that this is happening. I know that God is in control, and I know that His timing is perfect. In all honesty, the Embassy probably needs to see this happening a few times in order to get their act together. The system is SO backwards currently. S is legally our kiddo, his name has been changed to ours, but we can't bring him to the US yet, because our own Embassy is still trying to prove that he's really an orphan. I feel like we're being held hostage by our own government, and I feel so helpless. It's one thing to want to interview the birth family...but for crying out loud, please do that when they come for court! There is simply no reason that these families should be put through this more than once!

Please pray for us while we're thrust back into the waiting game again. Pray for S's heart, pray that God's greater purpose will be accomplished, and pray that while we grieve this setback, we won't miss the opportunity to seek everyday joy in the precious extra time that we'll have as a family of three.

"Be merciful unto me, O Lord: For I cry unto thee daily. Rejoice the soul of thy servant: For unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee. Give ear, O Lord, unto my prayer; and attend to the voice of my supplications. In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee, for thou wilt answer me. Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto thy works. All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worhsip before thee, O Lord; and shall glorify thy name. For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: Thou art God alone....O turn unto me, and have mercy upon me; Give thy strength unto thy servant, and save the son of thine handmaid."  Psalm 86: 3-10, 16