Monday, January 31, 2011

Wow, we have been home for over a week now!



Here we are Monday morning, home 9 days! We have been to the doctor, had blood work (which so far has all came back good), gone to basketball games, church, an Ethiopian Celebration, met new people and much more.... On Saturday night we went to an Ethiopian Celebration with a Boston group of adoptive families and our dear friends the Steigers! We all had some traditional Ethiopia dishes and yes injera! They had crafts for the kids, dinner, a coffee ceremony, and Ethiopian music. A nice time was had by all! I took the kids off to church on Sunday morning, while Tom took Michael in to have a strep test. Yes, he has strep! It has been a crazy week with medical issues... Allison has a sprained hand, from a basketball injury and another issue going on. I have to say Tamenech is healthier than some in our house right now.

Tamenech is doing great, she is a bit like a toddler. She is very curious and exploring everything. Everyday is more English and a little more independence! She has some maturing to do to reach her actual age, but that is to be expected. Everyday they spend in the orphanage, the more they lose. She was out of a family setting for 9 months. The adjustments are are going much easier than we thought they would.

Sara has been home this weekend and it has been nice to have everyone in one house! Sweet T is enjoying her time with her big sis!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Our next couple of days!

Monday and Tuesday have come and gone! We are doing great! We need to get over the jet lag (or should I say, I need to). We ventured out to the bus stop Monday morning with the boys, it was -10 degrees. We were freezing. she was a little concerned when the boys got on the bus and left! We then ventured off to the store to pick up a few items. She was happy to see bananas but not happy to put them up to pay for them. She was happy again to see that she got them back to take them home! Daniel and Tamenech rode in the cart together. She did not like the cheese that the deli passed out. We played at home and then headed to the doctor for a check up. She was 44 pounds and 3ft 7 in. The doctor thought that she looked great and at this time has no concerns except getting her used to the office. We headed over to the lab on Tuesday with stool samples and to get blood work done! She did not like the blood work, but who does. We survived it and lived to tell about it! We now wait to see that it all comes back good!
 Tuesday evening we ventured out to Michael's basketball game. She did great, wasn't sure about all the noise. She is playing well, eating well, and bonding with us! She slept through the night last night which was a first since we have been home. Every day she is a little more willing to try new foods. She actually ate cereal with milk on it and ate a string cheese. A favorite right now is tacos and burritos, but instead of eating them like we do, I tore up tortilla shells (like injera) and piled the toppings on her plate so she could eat it like an Ethiopian meal with injera. She was all smiles and begging for more of the meat and refried beans and rice. She is a great eater.
Today we are staying home most of the day and heading over to clubs tonight if there isn't too much snow by then. This will be her first trip to the church! Yesterday morning it was snowing and she loved it. She was all smiles, loved touching it, making tracks in it, and seeing snow on others hats and hair. Everything is a first and it is fun to see it through her eyes!
Her favorites seem to be playing dolls (doing there hair), coloring, puzzles, balloons, and my i pad!
She understanding more English everyday! She is curious and it is a bit like having a new toddler around, but is quickly learning the rules of the house. She also loves singing in English and Amharic, this girl is always singing! What a sweet girl.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Our first full day home!

We were all up fairly early, but started the day with smiles. We had scrambled eggs and pancakes. Tamenech ate well but is not willing to try milk. She does not like cheese and has tried but not wanted yogurt... hhmmmm not sure what we will do! Time will tell, at least she is eating. Her two beverage choices have been water and pineapple juice. In the morning the kids were running and playing Tamenech was scared of the dog. By afternoon she was letting the dog lick her and was petting her. They are now friends. Tamenech thinks that since Daniel looks like her that he should speak Amharic. She jabbers non stop to him. He thinks that she is being silly so he mimics her. It is funny to listen to them. They must have ran at least 50 laps around the house together. He said wow Dad, she is fast. She loves the phone and wants to call and say hello to everyone! Buttons are still a novelty, the phones, ipads, computers, dish washer, washer, etc. She is definitely curious and exploring. There has been some jealousy but no more than we would expect. The house was not quiet, it was full of giggles all day! She had her first bath and was full of smiles. Over all a perfect day!
Allison said that Tamenech woke up 3 time in the night just to check that she was still there. As soon as she heard Allison she went right back to sleep. Today we go to see the doctor for her in country check up! Then off for blood work today or tomorrow. Tom is back to work and teaching tonight and jet lag is in full swing. Praying for a successful day.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

and we are together!

Our journey HOME!!!

Packed and ready to go at the guest house! We said our good byes to the wonderful Coffaro and Ewing Families! It was so bittersweet. We were so happy to come home but so sad to leave them! I really wish that we could of all come home together! These families were wonderful and really helped me out, and watched over me since I was there alone! Tamenech really enjoyed her time with their boys! They had so much fun chatting, playing, and taunting each other! I truly have made new friends. A funny thing is the Coffaro family has a daughter that was born at the same hospital as Allison a few days apart 13 years ago. We were both living in Granger IN, but did not know each other. We are now on the east coast and they are on the west coast!

We were picked up around 6:30 and headed to the airport. We were traveling with the Herwehe Family, they were returning from their court trip. I am so thankful that I had their help to make it through the airport! I showed them the way and they helped with Sweet T. It was great to have extra hands and eyes! We made it to the check in counter and through customs (thankfully) before all of the computers went down! We then were headed up to where the gates were! We get to the escalator and Tamenech is scared to death! Thank goodness, Laura Herwehe was there and we both held her hands and lifted he onto it! AS soon as she was standing on the escalator, she started smiling. She now says one, two, three and steps on and off them. She thinks they are fun! We went to a little restaurant with the Herwehe family to kill some time! We had a good time just sharing stories! We then ventured over to the security line to head to our gate! We waited in line, got through security, put our shoes back on and waited in one more line. Then Tamenech says shint. Yikes, there are no bathrooms in the secure area. So we left our bags with the Herwehe family and left the secure area to go back to the same bathroom that we had just left. We then head back to the security line and go through security again.

We find out our flight is going to be delayed by an hour. Well that hour goes by and we are still not boarding. Tamenech is so tired, she is starting to fall asleep. I had to keep her awake as there is no way that I could carry her and all of our stuff on the plane. She was tearing up and the tears weer coming full stream! We still wait....

About an hour after the plane was supposed to take off, we finally started boarding. She got in her seat buckled up and went to sleep before take off! She slept all the way to Rome (for refueling). She was awake for part of that time, and was back asleep before we took off! She slept for a while, had breakfast and played. We then battled it out... She wanted to play but was yawning, I wanted her to sleep. After some time (no tears and no screaming) I won and she fell back asleep. She slept for about 5 more hours. She woke up and had beef and rice for a meal. NO vegetables or fruit. We have some work to do! She then played the last 2 1/2 hours of hour flight. As we are landing she is singing a song about America, mostly in Amharic, but you can hear the AMERICA. She is so excited. I had someone explain to her in Amharic that we would be in DC for a little bit, that she needed to stay right with me, and that we had one more airplane ride before we would see Daddy. We made it easily through customs, baggage, dropping our bags back off, checking in for next flight, and security. We then headed for smoothies. We shared a muffin and a bag doritos. She was very excited to get a little umbrella on top of her smoothie. We wait for our next flight. She is very excited and full of energy! We board our next flight, and we are off to MA. She is chattering the whole flight about Daddy, family, and America. When we land she once again bursts out in her song about America. Everyone on the plane is smiling and laughing. They are cheering her on! We get off the plane and head toward baggage. We meet up with the Steigers, and Tom and the kids. She was shy in the beginning but quickly is running with the kids and beyond excited. We hung out at the airport for a little while and headed to Dunkin Donuts for hot chocolate and a time to visit!

We finally are on the road to home. Tamenech was sad in her seat at first as she had pinched her finger in the door at Dunkin Donuts. She quickly got smiles on her face and starts chatting with the kids. She is carrying on like crazy. She is saying something and Michael says what does that mean? I say I don't know and Tamenech says it means "Zip your lips!" Everyone busts out laughing! They were so loud the whole way home! We pull up at home. She steps out of the van and we show her the snow. She touches it and the look on her face is priceless. She was shocked at how cold the snow felt. We came in the house and she started playing and running around. She had spaghetti and green beans, and garlic bread for dinner. The green beans took some encouragement. After playing some more we headed to bed and she slept from 8 pm to 6 am. She is up playing with the boys this morning.

Everything is going great except for the dog. She is really scared of the dog. This is going to take some time! There is going to be a little jealousy between Daniel and Tamenech also!

All is good. Love to all and thanks for praying us home. The peace that I felt traveling alone was amazing!

Thank you God for the many blessings. Thank you for Sweet T and the families that we met along the way! Adoption is great and the journey is long but very worth it! This morning there is one less orphan in the world!!! Thank you God!!!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Day 4: January in Ethiopia


Hello again,

Here we are, our last day in Ethiopia! It is bittersweet. We are ready to come home and see our family and friends but are leaving great friends behind!

We showed up at Embassy at 8 am, waited, raised my right hand swore to tell the truth, signed some papers, was told to wait some more, and finally was handed a brown sealed envelope to deliver to immigration in DC and a passport and visa to get Sweet T (or maybe the new nickname will be wild child) into the country. As soon as we land in the US she will be a US citizen.

After Embassy I returned to the guest house. Friends were waiting to hear the news, and cheer for me. They had held a big prayer circle for me at 8am. I walked in feeling bittersweet. I was very excited for us, but very sad for the other two Embassy families that I traveled with that are not returning with me. Those families will be staying at least some of next week. Please keep praying for them.

They waited for me to get back from Embassy so that we could all travel out to the Gorge (the Grand Canyon of Ethiopia). It was a 2 hour drive outside of the city. We truly saw the country side, huts, mud houses, and incredibly beautiful scenery. On the way our driver took us by an Ethiopian family home, a hut, and let us meet them and go in the hut! What an experience. There was a small bed that the parents sleep in (it did not look very comfortable), a place on the floor for the kids to sleep, a fire, an injera basket, clothes lines, a bucket for hand washing clothes, and that was about it! Oh, and they share the hut with their animals. We took this family clothes, shoes, snacks, etc. It was a neat experience.

We then drove a little further and stopped by where people were selling hand made baskets and soft marble cross necklaces. It was overwhelming; so many people trying to get you to buy their baskets. We then drove further stopping every little bit throwing out hand fulls of pens to students begging for pens to do their school work. We finally reached the gorge. It was a beautiful breath taking site. Of course the moment we started to walk and take a look, Tamenech yells shint.... if you guessed that there were no restrooms you are correct. We went about a hundred rocks over and to a tree, watching out for cactus so she could squat (another Ethiopia experience). We stayed there for a while enjoying the beauty and peace (other than more students trying to sell cross necklaces and beg for pens).

We then went to a beautiful restaurant overlooking the Gorge. It was the most amazing setting and view. Yes, Tamenech once again had injera, this time with vegetables.

We then started our journey back to the guest house. We had kids singing in Amharic, carrying on long conversations (about who only knows), some taunting, and some potty talk as we could hear the laughing random words and then shint and caucau! We were about an hour into the drive when you guessed it Tamenech yelled shint. So David stepped on the gas and took us to one of Ethiopia's finest rest stops in the middle of no where and if you don't believe it Shannon Ewing has photos to prove it. Yes once again we dodged some cacti and cow dung, and squatted.... Another Ethiopia experience! We are ready for restrooms!

We are now back at the guest house packing up the last of our things, going to have a quick dinner and head to the airport! See you all in the US and thank you for following our journey. Please continue to pray for safe travels and adjustments for our family!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Days 3 and 4: January in Ethiopia

Day 3

We started out the morning by heading to the Timket to check out the Ethiopian Celebration for Epiphany. I don't know how far we walked but it seemed like a long way especially carrying a very heavy little girl through crowds of 10,000 people. Tamenech was feeling pretty scared. I have to say I was a little uncomfortable myself. We walked many blocks while watching people dance in the streets, teach from pulpits, auction paintings off, looking at people in beautiful costumes of Sunday best, decorations lining the streets, and so many more sights. As we walked there were people on the streets begging. They were people that were sicker, more handicapped, disfigured, and near death than we could ever imagine. I felt so bad a few times that I just wanted to take out money and send people to the doctor for help. I could paint images that would make you completely sick. I can't imagine the pain some of these people were in! 



Tamenech was terrified walking past these people. I am thankful that I had this experience, but had I known what we would see I would not have taken Sweet T. We did keep walking until we got close enough to be sprayed with Holy Water, see the umbrellas shading the Ark Of The Covenant, hear people being baptized, and hear some of the teachings in Amharic! It was an amazing moment, but also very overwhelming! I definitely was wanting Tom next to me and to help carry Sweet T. I do have to say that our guide Job was wonderful and really watched out for me and Sweet T. He carried Sweet T on his shoulders for a while and held her other hand the rest of the time! We all made it back to the guest house. We were told that by later that afternoon there would be 15-20 thousand people in the streets there. Some had walked 15miles to be there.

After our time of celebrations we went to lunch at Island Breeze, a great restaurant whose owners are from Seattle. This was my second time there. Sweet T was happy to once again have injera and beef tips. She is not going to be happy with our food. We ordered extra food to take back for dinner. Yes, Tamenech had injera and beef tips for the 3rd time. Tom, you'd better see if you can get some injera on the way to the airport. The kids in our group were even using injera to eat spaghetti and piles of meat marinara sauce. It is really cute when we sit down to eat. All the kids say “See food, say thank you God, Amen!”. I am with wonderful families and Tamenech is really enjoying the time with 3 friends from the transition home.

After lunch we tried to make our way to the mountain, but another celebration was going on there and the roads were closed. The main roads have been closed 3 days for celebrations. We watched a little more of the celebration from the car and then journeyed back to the guest house. We cleaned up and rested. At 4 we were told that Duni from AWAA would like to talk to us. We were also told that there is a film crew here working on a documentary for international adoption. We were asked if they could interview us, and if Duni could talk to us on camera about Embassy. Two families said alright. So, we are thinking that Duni is just going to tell us what to expect when going to Embassy. Well, it turns out that she wanted to share bad news with us. I was told that there was a mess up with some paper work and missing stuff. They were hoping that it could be resolved quickly, but were unsure. I could end up staying until next week or have to place Sweet T back in the transition home and come to the US without her. I certainly did not want to do that. We stayed in the rest of the evening praying, praying, and praying. We went to bed praying, and did not sleep very well (3 families were in tough situations, with mine being the easiest to fix)

Day 4

We got up with every intention of going to the US Embassy, uninvited hoping to get something resolved. Early in the morning our guide, T, came and told me that I had an Embassy appointment at 1:00 pm, and everything looked good. He also told me that a car would be here soon to take me to the transition home to be able to speak with someone who knew Daniel's birth mom. I was able to go and spend about 45 minutes with him. I now have the cutest baby picture of Daniel with his birth mom. I was able to video the whole meeting and have some great information to share with him when he is older. It was exciting to learn so much, but also very sad to hear the story. As a birth mom I can't imagine being in a situation so bad that you can not keep your children. I am heart broken for her and forever thankful to her for our special Daniel. After learning about her, I can say Daniel is a lot like his mom.

We then went to lunch and off to the Embassy. Tamenech once again had injera this time with half beef tips and half shiro (chic peas). At the Embassy, there were crowds of people and we had to wait a long time! I finally got called up and they are missing a paper that is needed to get T's visa. It is a silly mistake by both the Embassy and AWAA. The Embassy did everything else that they needed to do to get her visa ready.... and I need to return with our guide, T (and the paper he has) to the Embassy at 8am tomorrow morning. Hopefully they will have everything ready and I will be able to hand over the paper, sign on the dotted line and pick up her visa so we can be on our flight tomorrow night to head to T's favorite word AMERICA (as she says airplane America). Thank you for the prayers and please keep them coming. It is going to be a long way home and I can't see Tamenech liking being confined in her seat on the plane. Watch out car seat when we get home, it is not going to be pretty.

After the Embassy we chased down my missing paper and did a paper drive by! We then headed for the mountain. It was about 30 minutes away and was beautiful. We went to a historical museum, some beautiful churches, and saw the outside of the first church built in Addis Ababa Ethiopia. It was a great time. At that perfect moment Tamenech yells SHINT (that means PEE).... we were escorted to a little outhouse looking building with a hole in the ground and two places to put your feet (and no toilet paper); the true Ethiopian Experience! We made it in time. We squatted with our feet in the feet holes, I held her and we didn't make a mess. On a different potty note she experienced her first automatic flushing toilet; it scared her to death! I never saw a little girl jump off the toilet to fast.

After the mountain we headed back to the guest house. We had left overs that Sweet T wanted nothing to do with. My stomach is really bothering me, so I started Cipro tonight. I asked the gals at the front desk if I could pay them to braid Sweet T's hair. She is coming home with some really cute braids. Tameench is sleeping and I am going to run downstairs and try to send this.

I will be at the Embassy at 8am tomorrow, midnight EST. Please be praying. If I get Tamenech's visa, I will be the only Embassy Family that gets to come home. Please pray for the other two families!

Good night all



Lori

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Day 2: January in Ethiopia

Wow, what an experience! We just got back from walking to take part in the Ethiopia celebrations! I am not sure how far we walked but I can tell you that Tamenech was scared of the dogs, the crowd, and the handicap begging on the streets! She was very scared and wanted to be carried. I can also tell you that she is very heavy and it is very warm outside today!

The ceremony and experience was very neat! We were among about 10,000 people! That is one large crowd to try to walk through! I have taken quite a bit of video of some of what we experienced today. I am not sure how it will turn out as we were smashed in a crowd of people and I was holding the video camera above my head! We were sprayed with holy water, we were close to where the baptisms were taking place, the ark of covenants, and the teachings taking place. By this afternoon there will be over 15,000 people walking to the churches. Some people walk here from 15 miles away to be a part of this.

I will share more later as we need to head off to lunch at Island Breeze! We are then headed to the mountain and off to do a little shopping (at a new area by the mountains)!

Tamenech is really feeling tired and a overwhelmed by all the new! It is an interesting day! Thank goodness for Job and his help in carrying her and his Amharic help!

Love to all,
Lori

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Day 1: January in Ethiopia

My trip so far.

Sunday morning started off stressful as the folks at United were extremely slow, unfriendly, and not very helpful! Once again we had an extra bag of donations and one bag too heavy by a pound and one bag under. They made us pay the extra fee and rearrange bags. They were not friendly at all about me having an extra bag. In the end the kids in Ethiopia get the needed supplies and that is what is important.

My first flight was at 6:00, out of Hartford. They were so slow with check in and security, I walked right on the plane with 10 minutes to take off. I arrived in DC without any problems. It is a large airport with many terminals and shuttles to get you where you need to be. Once in DC and checked into Ethiopian Air, I met two other AWAA families that were also traveling for Embassy! they were wonderful and have really watched out for me since I am traveling alone!

The flight was good. It is a new bigger airplane than what we flew on in November. There are 3 seats on each side and 3 in the center row! I had a window seat and it was really nice to be able to look out and see some of the places that we were flying over. This new plane now has these touch screen monitors in front of you. You can chose your movie, tv show, etc. And control when you start it, pause it, etc. It also has games that you can play and maps showing where you are going. We touched down at about 8:40 am (Ethiopia time). The other 2 families were seated way in front of me and were able to get off the plane way before me, but as I came around the corner there they were waiting for me to venture on through visas, customs, and baggage.

This was at least twice as long of a line for visas that I have ever experienced. We made it through. All bags made it and we were ready to head out of the airport. We were supposed to scan our bags one more time, but it was a super long line, so the guys said, just look down and keep going.... Act like we don't know what we are doing. We all made it through and out to our AWAA driver.

Next stop was Yebsabi Guest House!  We arrived to a full crew as, there was film and camera crew interviewing AW families for a documentary on international adoption! They were also at the Transition Home most of the day. We had about an hour and a half to shower, get things ready for the kids, relax etc. Before we left for lunch. Tamenech and I have a very small room with 2 beds, a bathroom, a small stand, and mini fridge on the second floor!

We were then off to lunch at a restaurant with an art gallery. I was begging for somewhere fast but they just told me to calm down and relax.... I just wanted to get to Sweet T! I had already been told that she was sobbing all morning because the court families were there with their kids and kids were taken for Embassy needs. She knew I was coming and that she was leaving with me today. When she did not see me first thing in the morning she thought I was not coming for her. After two hours of having lunch, fellow-shipping and learning and learning of all of T's (our guide) practical jokes it was time to head over to the Transition Home and once again see Sweet T!

We started our journey to the transition home. Once there we lined up with our video cameras and waited for the kids to run out! Tamenech came running right into my arms. She was excited. She hugged me and then kept asking where is Daddy! I told her that we would soon be meeting up with Daddy and her brothers and sisters! She is a very happy little girl, she is excited yet a little nervous with the new. She has this cute little attitude (cute for now maybe not later) when she is told No! They have been prepping for the cold, snow, airplane, going to America, the new family etc! When asked what she will need to wear when she comes to America she said big clothes to keep me warm. When asked what she wants when she comes to America she said a new name! Where did that come from, we were planning on keeping her name! I guess we will have some talking to do once she can understand us some more. At this point she does not know what she wants her name to be.

She picked up right where she left off from our last trip. She wants to get into everything! I took her new clothes, shoes, and a back pack. She was very excited about putting it all on, especially the sunglasses. She was very concerned about leaving the old stuff behind. We hung out there for several hours and then headed to a market to pick up a few supplies. She was taking it all in! We arrived at the guest house. She was very excited to run up the stairs to our room. I had a hard time keeping her out of things (other donations etc)! She went straight for the beds and started jumping on them and from one to another.... She just went from one thing to another - total over stimulation!

She is understanding some of what I am saying but not everything. Thank goodness for the guides and their translations! We hung out in the room and then headed down for dinner. We had beef tips with veggies, served with rice, injera, and bread. Tamenech loved it and went right at it using the injera. She ate more than me. The meat was good, but a little too spicy for me. We then returned to our room to play, shower, and get ready for bed. She seemed to like her shower and was very excited with her tooth brush and tooth paste. At 8:00 it was off to bed. She woke up at 10:30 a little scared and concerned at where she was. I had her climb into bed with me. She in now laying sideways across the bed kicking me. The dogs are really loud from time to time. Here it is 2:00 in the morning and I am wide awake writing to all of you! I am hoping to catch a few more hours of sleep before T wakes us.

In the morning we will have our paper party for Embassy, pray that they confirm us, go to lunch, back to the transition home to deliver care packages, take photos for other families, deliver our donations, etc. While there I will be meeting with a fried of Daniel's birth mom. This person was her boss for four years and Daniel lived at their house as a baby. He is supposed to be bringing some pictures for me to see and take pictures of. I am meeting with him at 2:30!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Look who is coming home!!!


The day that we have been waiting for!
Today our paperwork was submitted to the US Embassy! We are scheduled for Embassy on Jan. 19th, to get Tamenech passport so she can come home!!!
Our schedule:
Jan. 16th Lori will leave fly out of DC at 11:30 am!
Jan. 17th Arrive in Ethiopia, pick up Tamenech forever!
Jan. 19th go to the Embassy to sign for her visa. (Please pray all goes well)
Jan. 21st get her passport/visa and begin our journey home!
Jan. 22nd arrive at BDL (Hartford) at 1:54 pm. for welcome home celebration!
We can't thank you enough for the prayers, love, support, encouragement, etc.
If you would like to be at BDL on the 22nd to celebrate our homecoming, please let Tom know. He will then be able to keep you updated in any changes or delay with our flights!

Since I am traveling alone I am limited on the amount of stuff that I can take with me. I have a 50 pound bag of donations!!! If you would still like to help make a difference with the orphanages in Ethiopia, I will be taking monetary donations with me! Please let me know if you would like to donate!

I will be updating our blog as much as possible from Ethiopia!

Did I mention I leave in 11 DAYS!!!
Thank you Gowin Family for the newest photos!