Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Two weeks!

I can't believe it we have been home for two weeks!

We arrived at the Boston Airport on Saturday around 2:00 pm, we were greeted by Benjamin, Michael, Grandma, Grandpa, and The Steiger Family. We hung out at the airport to talk and play on the playground for a while. We then made the two hour drive home. Daniel's first car seat ride went well, he slept the whole way home. We arrived home a little after 6:00 and Lori and Daniel were in bed by a little after 7:00. We had been traveling for 30 hours. Sunday we just took our time getting around and just hung out. The first couple of days Daniel was terrified of the dog and wanted to be right with us. His sleeping habits were rough. He was not used to the eight hour time difference or the new schedules. He was used to getting bottles every two hours and woke up in the night for bottles. He was using his bottle for a pacifier. We went to the doctor on Monday morning, he weighed 21.7 pounds and was 30 1/2 inches. He got a clean bill of health. We were sent to the lab to take stool samples and have blood drawn. I thought I took a lot of stool, but they sent me home with two more containers. They took 8 vials of blood from his arm and did a finger prick for his lead level test. We then headed home for the rest of the day. On Tuesday he was running a fever, congested, vomiting, and just miserable.... So Wednesday was much of the same. On Thursday Grandma and Grandpa headed home and we went back to the doctor. He now had an ear infection, upper respiratory infection, viral and bacterial infections. We finally started to turn the corner on late Friday. On Saturday he went with us to the farm for Benjamin's friend's birthday party. On Sunday he had his first visit to church. he was quite the center of attention. I have to say though as soon as the songs ended and our minister started preaching he went right to sleep and slept the rest of the service. (I don't think that will happen again) Well that was the end of week one.

Week 2...
We are more adjusted, and Daniel is feeling at home. He actually touched the dog tonight and then screamed. We have switched from formula to whole milk. Mom was mean and took away the bottle.... we now just have the sippy cup (that was one long rough night.) Daniel was kindergarten show and tell (3rd grade show and tell is tomorrow and 6th grade on Tuesday). He has had many firsts... the first grocery cart ride, the first stroller ride, the first piece of pizza, the first Mc Donalds happy meal, etc...... he is doing great he is so full of energy and just loves to play and laugh. He loves to copy his siblings and make them laugh. He loves being the center of attention. In fact last night I was talking to another mom while holding him and he started getting really loud, so that we would pay attention to him.

I tried taking some pictures of the kids tonight, Daniel had his own ideas... I would sit him down and try to snap the picture and he would run away or tickle one of the kids or give them a big slobbery kiss, or what ever to cause trouble. So here are the best of pictures that I got. I hope you enjoy them.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Here are some pictures of our little guy! Danielle the One Family Pictures are for you. The other photo is to show you that the two big brooms are Daniel's favorite toys the last couple of days. Today we started working on some wooden puzzles. He also only woke up twice in the night. Yeah! Today we are off to be kindergarten show and tell. Next week we are 3rd and 6th grade show and tell. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Just checking in....

Well we have been home for almost 2 weeks. Daniel is doing great. He is so adjusted and attached. We just need to get more sleep at night. It just seems that he has always been a part of our family. He is so happy and full of life. I can't wait for all of you to meet him in person.

Here are some new pictures that I wanted to share.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Turning the Corner...

I think we are turning the corner...
1. Daniel seems to be feeling better!
2. Daniel actually enjoyed his bath, for the first time. (KP the orange towel pic is for you)
3. The dog can actually be in the house and walk past without Daniel screaming!

Enjoy the pictures...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Daniel is sick!

We just came from the doctor, Daniel has an ear infection, upper respiratory infection, and his lungs sound junky! He has lost almost a pound since Monday! He has been vomiting a lot from all the mucous that is draining. We started him on an antibiotic today! Please pray for our little guy! We are going to continue Pedialyte for another 24 hours to keep him hydrated. He has had two doctor visits this week, a blood draw and stool samples taken. Welcome to the US.

Other than being sick he is doing great. He is just the sweetest little guy with a big personality! We can't thank you enough for all the prayers during our journey to Ethiopia. We are so excited for all the families that are getting ready to leave this week to pick up their kids. Please know that we are praying for you!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

We are home!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hi just a short post to say that we are home! We made it safely and Daniel did great! We arrived back at Boston just before 2:00. Our boys, Grandma and Grandpa, and the Steiger family were there to welcome us home. The Steigers were holding signs and balloons. When we were part way down the escalator Daniel saw Michael and the Benjamin and got excited.... I think he recognized them from his photo book we sent him. He went right to them. He then let everyone hug and hold him. We took lots of photos, but I don't have ours uploaded yet. However Lenka was very sweet to send me an email with some of the 97 photos that she took, so here are some pictures of the home coming.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Day Four (tomorrow we go home)

Hello again. It is Thursday night! We went to Kids Care Orphanage today.
That is where Daniel lived from March 31st until June 10th. It was really
sad to see all the kids there that do not have families waiting to pick
up. We got some great videos of the older kids in their school singing
the ABC's
and singing in Amharic. We passed out granola bars and dum dums. We also
some playground balls. When we took Daniel into the home and told the
that we had Fitsum, they just went crazy. They were so excited to see him.
They held him and kissed him, and spent time talking to him. One of them
to him in Amharic and Robel our guide translated it for us on video.
There were
rooms of healthy children, rooms of sick kids, rooms of toddlers, and
the school house
of about 30 kids. The kids just couldn't get enough attention from us. I
went around
the school house and the toddler room and got down to their level and
hugged every one
of them. It was all I could do to not just start crying in front of them.

We then went to lunch. It was a nice lunch and it is nice to spend time
with the
other families in our group. We were missing two families today. Two of our
families are sick with the ET Funk.... Please pray for them as we have
long flights
home tomorrow. Anna and Val are both sick! I came back after lunch and
picked up
Val's little girl and Daniel and I watched her so mom could get some
much needed
rest. Then When Tom and Allison got back we went and picked up the Nunez
so his parents could get some much needed rest. So with the 3 babies we
hung out
in our room and then took them to dinner. We returned them at bed time.
everyone will get a good nights sleep.

Daniel is amazing. He has really bonded to us. He even got concerned
when I left
the room. His little personality is showing. He is smiling and laughing. He
is really loving his ball and his car. I think that he is ready for his
big brothers.

After lunch Tom and Allison visited another orphanage. I will let him
tell you about

We are going to shop a little more tomorrow. Then, at 6:30 (10:30 am
EDT) we head to the airport.
Our flight is at 10:15 (3:15 pm EDT) and we should arrive in D.C. at
7:20 Saturday morning.
We should arrive in Boston at 2:00 pm on Saturday. Please pray for a
safe and
healthy flight. We can't wait to see everyone.

We love you all. Thanks for all the prayers.

Michael and Benjamin, We will be heading home tomorrow. We miss you a
lot. Can't
wait to see you.

P.S. Dear Sloniger Family I have good news and bad news for you. The bad
news, your son
was still at Kids Care while we were at the Trasition Home. He was then
moved out of Kids
Care just before we visited there. Sorry that we missed him both
places.... the good news is that
I talked Rachel into taking my husband and daughter back to the
Transition Home after the
second orphanage today... They took pictures and videos of your little
one! I will send
them out as soon as I can.

Have a great night!


Tom here.

This is most likely our last entry before we leave tomorrow. It's been a
great experience. We've learned a lot, but at the same time I feel I
could be here for another year without learning everything about this
incredibile country. We spent all of our time in Addis Ababa, so didn't
even get to experience the rest of the country.

I've met two people here, who have amazing stories. I wanted to share
their stories.

Our guide this week has been a man named Robel (pronounced Row-bell). He
met us at the airport and has been with us any time we've gone anywhere
in the city. We sat down with him for dinner our first night here, and
during the course of the conversation he shared with us his story.

Robel was born in a farm community in Ethiopia to a Moslem father and a
Christian mother. His father died when he was young, and his older
brother was executed when Robel was ten (when the country was run by the
Communists). Robel became the primary support for his mother and two
sisters so traveled to Addis Ababa to find work. He started here washing
cars and shining shoes, saving money to send to his family. While he was
washing cars, he met some folks from the United Nations, who gave him a
job with them. Having never gone to school, he also started getting his
education. There are no public schools here. Tuition amounts to about
$49 per year (which is not much for most people in the U.S., but is a
huge amount of money here).

It took him ten years to finish school (still working and supporting his
family). After he finished his education here, he received a scholarship
from the U.N. and continued his education in Cuba. This year, he started
working for America World as a guide. He accompanies us on our trips,
and because he speaks Amharic, is able to help us with the things we
need. If anyone from America World is reading this, you should know that
you have a treasure and I hope he stays with you a long, long time.

Robel told us that one of the reasons he loves his job is because he
finds it rewarding to help children. Knowing that the kids that are left
with the orphanages are going to good families keeps him going. He wants
to devote his life to helping children, and is working with several
groups to support children.

One of the things he is doing is supporting children so they can get
their education. He is paying the tuition of 23 street children, plus a
meal every day. He meets with them often to make sure they are keeping
up with their studies, and buys them their supplies and uniforms. His
vision is to find a home where the basic needs of these kids can be met
so they can better focus on their school work. He also wants to increase
the number of children he is sending to school. Lori and I, and at least
one other family with us, plan on supporting Robel's work by funding the
tuition of at least one child.

This story is probably much more interesting when heard from Robel
himself. For those families still waiting to come here, make sure you
take time to hear Robel's story.

The second person I want to mention is the director of one of the
orphanages we visited today. Zewditu Yashu founded the GIODFSA (Gelgela
Integrated Orphans and Destitute Family Support Association) orphanage
in 2004. The mother of twelve children, Zewditu and her husband owned a
hotel in southern Ethiopia. Along the way, two of her children, and then
her husband passed away. Zewditu was a single mother of ten children
while running the hotel.

One of her daughters had a child out of wedlock. This was a huge
embarrassment to the family. Her daughter then had a second child out of
wedlock. Because of the family's prominence in their village and the
embarrassment to the family, Zewditu traveled with her daughter to Addis
Ababa to give the youngest up for adoption. They went to a French agency
(S.O.S.). While working with the agency, Zewditu was inspired by the
agency's work and asked what she could do to help. They asked her to
bring them children from around the country who didn't have families.
Over the course of the year, she brought them 170 children.

Unfortunately, S.O.S. would not take children over the age of five. Ten
of the children she brought them were too old to be taken by S.O.S. So,
she took the children herself. She decided that this work was much more
important than running a hotel, so sold it and used the money along with
money she had in the bank to start an orphanage. She has now grown the
orphanage so their are four locations around the country. While some
orphanages are particular about the children they will take in, GIODFSA
will take any child brought to them. For example, many orphanages will
not accept children that are HIV+. GIODFSA does.

Zewditu has worked with the Ethiopian government to receive support, and
has received a donation of two acres from them on the outskirts of town
(they are paying the U.S. equivalent of $3000/month for the house they
are renting). She wants to be able to accept more children and give them
more room to play. She is trying to raise money for construction of the

The children of two of the families traveling with us came from GIODFSA.
One of the fathers told Zewditu what an inspiration she is to us, and
spoke very passionately about making sure his son knew her story and
what her story means to us. It was very emotional. I don't think any of
us had a dry eye.

So concludes our visit to Ethiopia. There are good people here, trying
to do all they can to make this a better country for its people. I've
only been here a week, and happened to learn these two individual's
stories. I can't imagine the countless others also working to improve
the living conditions here. I feel that because of what we've done to
bring Fitsum home with us, we are forever linked to this great country
and will do what we can to help those who are here.