Monday, February 22, 2010

Ethiopian Adoption Journey at

We've watched countless homecoming videos and now we finally have our own. To God be the Glory!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Coffee Fundraiser

I just wanted to thank those of you who have supported our adoption through our coffee fundraiser. So far, we've raised over $300 with Just Love Coffee Company (at $5 per bag, that's over 60 bags of coffee). Our store will stay open for one full year after we've been home to help offset some of the additional adoption expenses that we will incur (home visits from our social worker, readoption, and immigration fees-about $2000). So if you've enjoyed the coffee so far and wish to order more, just click on the icon in the top right corner of our blog to reorder. Your purchase will continue to benefit our adoption throughout 2010. Thanks again for all of your support.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Blessings from Ethiopia: A question I get asked a whole heck of a lot...

Blessings from Ethiopia: A question I get asked a whole heck of a lot...

This is a great post from another adoptive mom regarding the question, "do you think everyone should adopt?"

Giving Back

Today we volunteered with our church-picking oranges again. We get to glean the second harvest from groves that have already been picked and then all the fruit gets distributed to food banks and homeless shelters in our area. It's a pretty cool way to give back and the kids think it's lots of fun. With the exception of the 42 degree temperature and wind (very cold for us, not so cold for the northerners), we had a great time together.

It was a pretty neat experience to have Hermela and Meron with us this time. I had looked up the words to be able to tell them what we would be doing-picking oranges to give to poor people who needed food. Hermela was sitting in the back seat on the way to the grove and she said, "mommy-Addis Ababa, Hermela deh-ha (poor)." She was telling me that she was poor in Ethiopia. She was one of those "poor people" without enough to eat and now here she is in America on the other side of poverty. It just made the day a little more meaningful to know that just a few months ago, our little girls were the ones that were hungry. Hunger is not abstract for them, they've lived it.

Now that we're home, I'm praying that God will show us what our next step is. Just because we've got our children home, it doesn't mean God's plan for our family is done. We don't get to check adoption off the list and move on with our lives as if we don't know that every night children and families go to sleep hungry huddled up on the side of the road in a third world country. Or that on any given day in Ethiopia a mother or father makes the decision to relinquish their child because they literally can not feed them. Or that people die from illnesses that are easily treatable with simple medications. If Ethiopia feels too far away, we don't have to look very far to find that hunger and poverty are right at our door steps. It is all around us, so I pray that God would make clear His plan for our lives and that we will be faithful in following Him and will continue to care for "the least of these" (from whom we can all learn the most).
I'm continually telling our children (and myself) that "its not about you". Life is not about me. It is not about what is comfortable or easy. It is about spreading God's love to others and that is what I hope will define our family.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Lost in Translation

Yesterday, Hermela was complaining about her harness strap, so I tried to draw her a little picture to explain that she had broken a bone and needed to wear the harness. Now, I am definitely not an artist (as you can see). I showed her the broken bone and her eyes grew big and tears fell and she put her hands together and asked me to pray. I prayed and then realized that when I had made the motion to indicate a break in her bone, she interpreted it as me saying her arm was going to fall off (hence the need for immediate prayer and the tears). Well, I got my Amharic dictionary out and found the words for arm, bone, broken, better, and six weeks. I was able to piece together enough of a statement for her to understand that her bone would heal up in six weeks to which she replied "yes!" and smiled.

I think we got that all cleared up. She also received cake from my mom and flowers from Nick's mom, which helped to cheer her up.

Friday, February 5, 2010

First Broken Bone

Returning from the docotor.
Post ice cream.

All packed up

Care package ready!

Not exactly the "first" that I would have chosen to document. So after only 18 days in our care, Hermela sustained her first (as far as we know) broken bone-her left clavicle (collar bone).

I knew that we would eventually have a broken bone with five kids in the house, I just didn't expect it to be Hermela or Meron and I really didn't expect it to be so soon. With two boys and a big climbing tree out back, sports and Colton's fearless sense of adventure, I figured one of the boys would win the prize for "first break".

So our neighbor was pulling his 1 year old son in their wagon and Hermela hopped in for a ride. He was pulling them around in circles and then letting the wagon "spin out" (while still holding on to the handle). Hermela was loving every minute of it. I had just gone inside to make lunch when I heard her crying for mommy (Nick was outside with her). The wagon had tipped over on its side leaving a big bruise on our neighbor's baby and Hermela clutching her shoulder.

It's hard to assess a child that is fairly new to the family and doesn't speak much English. Reactions may not always match the seriousness (or lack of seriousness) of the injury. We've had a couple of minor "koosils" (boo, boos) since we've been home (i.e. stepping on a toy, falling down while running..) and Hermela-who is a little on the dramatic side-will start to cry and then laugh once I come over to comfort her. She and Caleb have even started saying "drama, drama" when somebody cries or falls down as a joke. So when I first brought her in, it was hard to tell how much was drama verses a real injury. I had just read in one of my adoption books last night that adopted children often over play their injuries as a mean of getting that extra loving care that accompanies being sick or hurt (mommy comes to the rescue, kisses, hugs, rocking...). We quickly discerned that this was not attention seeking and was truly a serious injury when she repeatedly told us her collar bone hurt and consistently pointed at the same spot on her bone. Pinpoint tenderness, as it is called in the medical field, is a hallmark sign of a fracture.

Sure enough, she had fractured her clavicle. She is now sporting a lovely harness that straps around her shoulders and back like a back pack. She'll have to wear it for the next six weeks and then should be good as new. I hate it for her that she is in pain and has to go through all of this. Especially because she is just getting use to us caring for her and we don't have all the words to reassure her that we would like. Thank goodness for "Simple Amharic for Adoptive Families" (an Amharic phrase book we bought). It has phrases like, "this won't hurt", "this is the doctor", "point to where it hurts" and "this will make you feel better". I think she knows that we will take good care of her.

I told Nick that I was glad these weren't our first kids. I would have felt like a complete failure if we had only been parents for 18 days and already had a child with a broken bone. Even though it was a complete accident that could have happened to anyone at anytime, you still feel bad as a parent.

She did perk up when we got home and I offered her some ice cream. Meron asked her if she'd like some cake to go with it-we didn't have any (Meron tries to sneak cake in whenever possible).

On a brighter note, Caroline's new favorite game is to play "go to Ethiopia to pick up your new kids". This game consists of packing up and flying on an airplane (the bottom bunk of her bed) to Ethiopia and then meeting your new kids and bringing them home. Fun little game:). Tonight I was impressed with the detail of her packing. She thoughtfully packed a gallon sized ziplock bag (those of you who are adopting will appreciate the fact that she stayed within the alotted bag size-we wouldn't want to pay extra for baggage) with books and toys to send as a care package for her kids (like we had done for Hermela and Meron). She told me she was bringing all the kids in Africa back to our house because we have room for them. So cute!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

First Days Home

Our first days home have been busy but fun. I realize now more than ever that I really prefer things to be run on a schedule around here. Our first night home was pretty crazy. Our kids at home that we had been away from for 9 days were competing for our attention, our new girls were used to having all the attention and lack of sleep was kicking in (at 8pm, it felt like 4 am to us and the girls). The mornings that followed started with dress up and toys being strewn throughout the house. Lots of excitement over new things and a happy chaos. Once the grandparents left and Nick went back to work, we began to settle into our routine.

We started our morning 5 (potty, brush teeth, get dressed, pajamas away, make beds...), instituted a rock jar thanks to our friend Heidi (reward system for catching others doing right/thoughtful behavior) and have laid down the family rules. It was quite interesting to try to explain things in Amahric and English. We found that acting out the wrong behavior first (which the kids think is hysterical)and then the right behavior works the best. Our rock jar is about half full now and things are settling in.

Nick is getting up in the mornings early so he can get the kids ready while I get ready and have a little time to do my devotion and pray (a crucial factor in determining how the day will go). There is just no way around it. If I'm not praying and reading God's word, things fall apart. I'm definitely a better mother when my focus is on Him, especially when I start the day that way. There is no denying that I'm completely inadequate for this job without God. He says we can do all things through Him who gives us strenght, and I'm holding Him to it.

We took the kids to the local Ethiopian restaurant and it was a hit. I'm glad to say that all of the kids enjoyed the food. So much so that we had to reorder an entire second round of food. It was like watching little vultures. The second time around we nixed the family style approach and gave each child their own plate.

Food acceptance is coming along as well. My little Meron is a champ and tries almost everything. Hermela is still a bit challenging. Usually I can pass things by if I sprinkle a little berbere on the food. Vegetables are still being rejected beyond the one bit that I encourage her to eat every time they are severed. She is at least doing that without complaint now. They are huge fruit eaters, love eggs, pasta, chicken and rice and bread. Pancakes were also a hit along with popcorn and peanuts. Every time they like something, Caleb say, "score one for mom".

Our favorite activity is playing outside. We had several days of rain, which really "dampened" our days. Meron is constantly saying "suwashuway, suwashuway" (swing, swing). Once we are outside, it is a constant round of pushing one kid after another. I've finally had to tell them, "Aund, mommy" (one mommy) and five kids. "Koyee" (wait) is another essential word along with "bay Ka" (enough, all done). We are working on our patience (parents and kids).

In the hair department, I fell like things are going pretty well. Except for the fact that Hermela wants her hair straight like Caroline's and Caroline wants hers curly like Hermela's. I'm pretty proud of a few of the styles I've managed. I've found a few that work well for all three girls so they can have the "same" hair.

We had fun today painting on the deck. I'm not sure that the girls have ever painted. I always wonder when we do new things with them if it is the first time they've ever experienced it. We fed ducks at a lake yesterday, which I'm sure was a new experience as every time the girls see a body of water they say, "wooha, America" (water, America). I guess they think lakes are only in America. It has been a true blessing to watch their excitement as they discover their new home. It is one of the biggest bonuses to older child adoption (along with the fact that they sleep through the night and are potty trained).
I'm hoping to post about our trip soon.

Adoption is awesome! Try it, you might like it :)