Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Day 6

Today we visited the Gladney Care Centers. We got to see where Mekdes lived for almost four months. We got to meet her special mother. My favorite part was meeting eight darling children and loving on them for their parents. It was so special to hold them and tell them mommy and daddy would be coming soon. If you are one of these families I promise to send you pictures as soon as I can when we get home. My email is not letting me attach any photos, and I obviously can’t post them here. Your children are precious and are being loved on until you can hold them forever. I am crying as I type this because adoption is such a beautiful thing and I feel so honored to have met these children whose parents have fallen in love with them through photos and updates. I wish everyone could experience something so amazing.

It was strange to be in the exact spot our daughter was just a few days ago. We looked at the crib and thought of what it was like for her there. They took her and changed her into a traditional Ethiopian outfit. The picture below is of her with her “special mother”. Her special mother is the woman who took care of her the most while she was in Gladney’s care. Please ignore the red and black onesie underneath…not so much traditional Ethiopian!

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They also have a traditional coffee ceremony at the care center and they brew the coffee and pop popcorn. Here is a picture from the ceremony:

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We snuck away during part of the ceremony to visit the Gladney doctor. Mekdes has not been feeling well and we wanted to have it checked out. She sounded awful last night while she was sleeping. She was really struggling to breath. She has had a cough and a runny nose all day. He said he was pretty sure she had pneumonia again. He wrote a prescription and we gave her the first dose tonight. I hope she feels better soon and I also hope she doesn’t spit it all up, as she spits up large quantities at least 32 times a day….I wish I was kidding!

After the ceremony we all went to a restaurant called Top View. It was great food and was nice to get to know the other families, as well as the in-country staff, a little more. The view was great. Here is a pic from the restaurant:

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We came home and we were all three drained. Here is a picture of how Mekdes felt. I realize she is experiencing MAJOR pattern overload, but I was trying to keep her warm and the bib is a must with the large amounts of spit-up!

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This picture is of her bundled up in a blanket:

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Tomorrow morning we have our Embassy appointment at 9:00 am. This is the final step before they issue her visa. We then tour a church at 3:00 pm and go to a traditional Ethiopian dinner, with dancing (them not us). She will only be attending the Embassy appointment with us, so we have to leave her with a caregiver for a while. Sad face. I probably will not blog tomorrow, but should have plenty of time to do so Friday.

I have so many pictures of Addis and will post them when I get home. It is taking me FOREVER to upload pictures and I have to pay by the hour. I promise to overload you with pictures of lots of insane construction, animals in the middle of the road and the people of Ethiopia.

Day 5

We ventured out into the city to do some shopping. It was our first time leaving the guest house, and our first time seeing Ethiopia during the day. Wow, this is one crowded city. There are cars and people everywhere. I’ve heard how insane the driving is, and it is true. Our driver, Beky did an awesome job of getting us safely to our destinations. We went to a little strip of shops first and got some neat souvenirs. After that Beky took us to a coffee shop, which he said is the BEST in town. He and Michael had coffee, but I opted out, since I am not a coffee drinker. Michael absolutely loved it. When we left there was a family who followed us to our car and the little girl was begging for money. It was so hard to look at this girl, who was probably 5 years old and think that it could have been Mekdes. She could have been begging on the streets. I don’t mean this to come across as a “Thank goodness, we saved this little girl” attitude. We DO NOT feel this way. She is the biggest blessing to us and it hurts to think about her living in such poverty. When we got home I just held her and cried.


Beky and Michael at the coffee shop.

After the coffee shop we went to the Leprosy Hospital. It is a beautiful compound where people with leprosy make tablecloths, scarves, crosses, dresses, etc. and they sell them in a shop. It was an amazing place and we loved supporting them, so we might have gone a little overboard on our purchasing.



Workers at the Leprosy Hospital


Shop at Leprosy Hospital



Here are some pictures of Mekdes from Day 5:



Mekdes in her new purple outfit Grandma bought her.


She LOVES bath time!


The princess in pink.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Day 4


We had a pretty chilled day today. Mekdes woke up around 1:30 am and wasn't too happy. We figured out she was just really gassy and we were able to give her some medicine and put a little pressure on her belly to get the gas out. She slept the rest of the night and woke up very happy and smiley at 8:00 am. The other two families met their sons today. It was nice to see it firsthand and reflect on the emotions we had just experienced the day before. The power went out in the middle of the night and was out all day. They turned the generator on, so we now have power. We really spent the entire day hanging out with her and taking lots of pictures, of course. It is strange to be so disconnected from the world, and yet a huge blessing.

So, what you are really here for...pictures!!!



She loves to be on her belly!






Mekdes loves bath time! The bathrobe was a gift from grandma.






And she absolutely loves her daddy!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Days 1-3



The pictures are at the end and in reverse order. I am just glad I got them to load.

Getting out of the house was a bit of a frenzy. I was so concerned about leaving things behind and we knew our bags were close to the weight limit. We had three large suitcases, four big tubs, two carry on suitcases and our two personal bags – all of which added up to about 430 pounds of luggage. The tubs were filled with humanitarian aid and art supplies for the orphanages. We finally loaded it all up and headed for the airport. Once we got there, the concerns we had about weight limits became a reality. We had to move some things around, but we managed to make it work. We only had enough money to take three tubs, but we were hoping they would waive the fee on all of them and we could take the fourth, but they didn’t, which was disappointing, because we wanted to be able to donate the $400 to the orphanages and not to Delta. However, we feel very blessed to have received all of the needed money to be able to cover the supplies. We are also very grateful for all of those who donated both art supplies and humanitarian aid. We will just donate the fourth tub of supplies to a local charity.

Our first flight was a Delta Connection flight from OKC to Atlanta. It. Was. Tiny. Two seats, an aisle, and two seats. I can’t imagine spending more than two hours on a plane that small. Our second flight from Atlanta to Amsterdam was also with Delta and was delayed an hour, but that wasn’t a big deal because we had a long enough lay over in Amsterdam. This flight had more room, and showed a couple of movies, but I tried to sleep. The Amsterdam airport was really nice and had a great area to sit and relax, which will be great on the way back with miss Sophie and our five hour layover. Our last flight was with KLM and was a nice plane. Each seat had a screen that plays movies, TV shows and has games. I slept most of the flight, because I took Dramamine and it knocked me out. Michael took in a couple of movies. We touched down in Khartoum, Sudan for an hour and a half, and then headed for Ethiopia. I stayed awake the rest of the flight, so there was hope of me sleeping once we got to the guest house. When we arrived at the airport we made a straight shot to the Visa office. I am glad we did, because there were only 15 people in front of us, but when we were done, there were at least 50. From there we stood in another line where they stamped our passport…I think. After that, we went to exchange a little money and went to get our luggage, which all had arrived!!! We went through customs and then went and waited for our driver. He found us and there was another Gladney family there also. He took us to the guest house where we were greeted by two very sweet ladies who made us feel right at home. We stayed up trying to unpack and finally went to bed, thus concluding Day 2.

Today, we had a wonderful breakfast, courtesy of the ladies at Bejoe. We talked to Travis and he thought he would bring Mekdes to us after lunch. We decided to go ahead and get ready in case his plans changed. He called around 10:25 and said he would be over shortly. We got our video camera and camera ready and watched as he pulled through the gate. He got her out of the car and brought her to me. She is smaller than we imagined and even more beautiful in person. She is perfect. She didn’t cry or seem upset when she met us, but had a quizzical look on her face for a while. After we fed her and she had a power nap, she was all smiles. We have watched so many videos of families meeting their children for the first time. It was amazing to finally be on this side of the journey. She is more than we ever could have hoped for. She spent the day just staring at us, which was beautiful. She smiled so much. Our driver and one of the workers here, both call her Mekdie, which is a common nickname and she LOVES them. Our driver was born in Gonder also. She hasn’t been very fussy at all and she has the cutest pouty lip, which I am sure won’t always be cute, but for now it is to die for.

Her daddy is in big trouble, as he is going to have a hard time saying no to his little girl! She fell asleep about 6:15, so I imagine it will be an early morning for us, but we’ve waited a long time to have a baby wake us up in the morning, so right now I am looking forward to it.

We stayed at the guest house all day, so all we have seen of Ethiopia is the five minute drive from the airport at midnight. I hope we can see more tomorrow.









Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Houses for the litte birdies

We leave in two days. Two. Days. I don’t even really know what to say. OMG. I never say that, but O.M.G. I can honestly say I am completely overwhelmed. I am finding it really difficult to decide what the most important items are. We found out we could check 2 bags each. They must weight under 50 pounds. We are taking three large suitcases. That leaves us one more spot, which is for a tub of art supplies our students collected. We currently have enough art supplies to fill another tub, plus we will be getting more supplies on Thursday, but we will have to pay $200 per tub. Through the generosity of others, we have raised $100 toward the fee. We are praying we will get the rest of the money. We are really praying that the nice person working at the airport will waive the fee and the $200 can be given to an orphanage in Ethiopia. Wouldn’t that be great?

If you would like to donate money toward the excess baggage fee, we would LOVE that! We are so thrilled to be able to take these wonderful items to children who do not have much to call their own. If we raised enough to cover two extra tubs ($400) we could take three tubs full of art supplies to Ethiopia, which would be AMAZING!
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To donate online, please click on this link: http://artworksacademy.chipin.com/art-supplies-for-orphans

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I still haven’t posted pics of the nursery and I am not sure if that will happen before we leave. I will, however, give you a sneak peak. My sister has been slaving over some really awesome bird houses she has made for the little darling’s walls. I haven’t seen them in person, but I know they will be even more amazing than they are in the pictures (if that is possible).







TWO DAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Official Travel Plans

We have finalized our travel itinerary. We still leave on Friday, March 26, like I thought. However, we will arrive in Ethiopia on Saturday, March 27, instead of Sunday. I am not sure if we will get to take placement of Sophia on Sunday or if they will have us wait until Monday. I guess it will be a surprise. If we don’t get to take placement until Monday, we will spend Sunday doing touristy things (or resting!). We leave Ethiopia on Tuesday, April 6 and arrive in OKC on Wednesday, April 7. It will be a long trip. We thought we would be gone for 10 days, but we will be gone 13. I can’t even begin to imagine what it will be like. I can’t wait!

We booked our guest house today and we will be staying at the Bejoe House. We are really excited, as this is where we hoped to stay. I figured it would be booked, but I am wondering if very many families are traveling that week. I just know that Robyn and her husband are traveling….anyone else?

We received an update on Sophia Mekdes today. We hadn’t received any measurements since mid-January, but we got her latest today! She is growing. I am so glad to have these, so I can finally know what size clothes and diapers to get her. The picture they sent us was taken on March 10, which is the day we passed court. I love that we have a picture taken on the day she legally became our daughter. Here is the picture they sent us:


Some of the pictures look like they woke her up from a nap and snapped the picture really quick. She has a little bit of a “deer in the headlights” look. I can’t wait to swoop her up and kiss those cheeks and hold her little hands.

We leave in 10 Days!!!!!!

Monday, March 15, 2010

11 Days.....


Well, we found out our travel dates today. I guess they received our court decree, because we get to travel the week of March 29! Yipee!!! Thank you all for your prayers. They worked! We should have our exact dates finalized tomorrow. The travel agent said the week we are traveling is the last big spring break week, so flights are a little full. We are planning on flying KLM into Amsterdam and then into Addis. At this point we think we will leave Friday, March 26 and get to Ethiopia on Sunday, March 28. We won’t leave Ethiopia until Tuesday, April 6, because it was $600 less to leave on Tuesday, rather than Monday. I don’t know when we will be home, but hopefully I will know tomorrow. I will have a much better idea of everything once the flights are booked. After we have our itinerary, then we can make reservations at the guesthouse.

We are thrilled and my head is spinning. There is so much to do, but I am thankful that this is spring break and I don’t have to work. I better go get busy!!!!!
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P.S. We will be holding Sophia Mekdes in TWO WEEKS!!!!!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Travel and court decree

Thank you all so much for your encouraging words yesterday and for celebrating with us. We still can’t believe she is ours and we are hers!!! We are still so thrilled and can’t wait to meet our precious Sophia Mekdes.

We thought we would find out our travel dates when we passed court, but were told we would find out today….well, we didn’t. Our caseworker emailed us today and told us that our court decree has not been received yet. They must have this document in order to get her birth certificate and passport ready for our Embassy appointment. If they do not have this document by Monday it is highly unlikely that we will be able to travel the week of March 29 and will be forced to travel the week of April 19. We know this is far from the end of the world, but we would really like to travel as soon as possible. We would really appreciate it if you would pray today and tonight that they would receive it as early as tomorrow, but for sure by Monday. We sooo appreciate the prayer support we have received thus far and know that we would not have made it this far without it! God is good!!!

I though you might enjoy comparing these two pics of our Mekdes. The first one was taken on 12/18, after only being in Gladney’s care for 10 days. She was almost two months old. The second one was taken by a traveling family (thanks Monique!) on March 3. She had been in Gladney’s care for three months and is just over four months old in the picture. Look at how big her thighs are! Don’t you just want to squish them? She is obviously being well fed, which is great, because she was malnourished before coming to Gladney.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

We Are A FAMILY

Today we are officially a family. Today marks the beginning of the rest of our lives. Today we PASSED COURT! Yippee! We have to give the glory to God. He has guided us through this process. He has made the way for a tiny little girl from half way around the world to become our daughter. He has made the way for us to be her parents. We are blessed.

We are so overwhelmed by the outpouring of love we have received through this entire process. We have had people around the world praying for us and for our sweet baby girl. As I was trying to go to sleep last night, I received constant facebook notifications and emails from people encouraging us. Many of our friends updated their facebook status to ask people to pray for us. Humbled. We are so humbled. We believe God has used our daughter to strengthen the faith of others. Our little girl has already impacted the lives of many people, especially ours.

So, let me tell you about our daughter. Her Ethiopian name is Mekdes. It is pronounced Mehk-dehs. It means temple or holy place. We have moved this to her middle name and her first name is Sophia. As I have said before, we still call her Mekdes more than we call her Sophia, as we think both names are very important to her. I am sure she will be called by both and I think that is okay. She is from Gondar, Ethiopia and her birthday is October 22, so she is about 4.5 months old.

I put together a video of pictures we have received over the past 10 weeks. I hope you enjoy it. I am sorry if drags on, but there was so much I wanted to include.
Make sure your speakers are turned on, if you want to hear the song.

video

We will find out tomorrow what our travel dates are. We will either travel the week of March 29 or April 19. The embassy is closed the week of April 12, or that would have been the second option. Please pray that we can get into the March 29 travel group. We really want to go and get her as soon as possible.

One more day

Grateful. This is what I feel. This weekend we had the pleasure of attending two showers given to us by people who are thrilled with the anticipation of the arrival of our little Sophia.

The first shower was given to us by our students and their parents. It was a surprise shower! We had rehearsal on Saturday with our musical theatre students and they set it all up while Michael and I were rehearsing in separate rooms. We were blown away by their generosity and feel so loved and supported. These families are a HUGE part of our lives. We see some of them 4 to 5 days a week. Many of them have been through this entire journey with us. They have asked us weekly how the process is going and have prayed for us and encouraged us. We are humbled and honored to have them in our lives.

Here are a few pics from this shower….


The cookie cake. I really love cookie cake. Anyone else?

Michael and I


Michael, being his normal goofy self.


Two of our sweet students. Come on, how precious are they? I love that our students are such great friends.


And, this is what a few of our students look like at a baby shower that follows a five hour rehearsal!

The second shower was given to us by Michael’s coworkers (or is it co-workers, I never know….). The shower was at Chili’s and it was nice to get to know some of the people he works with a little more. They all chipped in and got us our car seat and we were thrilled! The pictures didn’t turn out very well, because it was very dark where we were sitting. I did get a picture of the cake. It was made by one of their friends and was very tasty.



Well…….we have one day until court. Can you believe it? I certainly can’t. The past eleven days have really flown by, for which I am grateful. I just can’t believe that tomorrow we could legally be her parents and you can all see her sweet face! We know we might not pass tomorrow, but are hopeful that we will.

I really feel a huge peace about it and really haven’t been worried about it at all. This is NOT my personality. I am worrier. I like to plan and be in control. I am wired that way and it is very hard for me not to analyze every scenario, so I know what to worry about. I don’t like this about myself and my family really hates it. It goes against everything I say I believe in. If I have faith in God, why worry? This process has strengthened my faith and taught me to really rely on God.

I have peace. I have peace that God has gone before us. I have peace that we will pass court eventually, but I hope and pray it is tomorrow. I have peace that our daughter is being cared for. I am not worried about our court date. Now, tomorrow I will be a nervous wreck until Kristin calls me. She will probably call between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm. I will let everyone know as soon as we have notified our family. If we pass, there will be pictures galore and you can see the little girl we have fallen in love with.
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May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. ~Romans 15:13

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Ethiopia on the mind

I have Ethiopia on the mind. All. The. Time. It is consuming me and making me very forgetful and a little nutty. Today I walked into the Army Recruiting office, instead of the optometrist. I wasn’t paying attention. I am sure I had Ethiopia on the mind. Monday I started playing a song for one of my voice students in the wrong key. It took me a little while to figure out what the problem was. After she stared it me like I was crazy, I apologized and told her it was because I had Ethiopia on my mind.

I called the doctor today to get prescriptions for our trip, because I am working ahead and trying to get things done. I told the lady who answered the phone that we were traveling to Ethiopia soon and as she was writing down the message, she told me she had not written ‘Ethiopia’ since she was in high school. WHAT? She doesn’t have Ethiopia on the mind. It is so funny how something can consume me, but never cross the mind of others.

I wish more people had Ethiopia on their mind and in their hearts. I wish more people had orphans on their minds and in their hearts. I might need to do something about that, but haven’t quite figured out what it is yet. Do you have Ethiopia and orphans on your mind? (Most of you will say yes, since 90% of those reading this are adopting from Ethiopia too!)
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So, our court day is one week from today. Tomorrow my fridge will say “6 Days Until Court”. I would take a picture, but I am too lazy. Michael and I have decided to do everything we can during the next week to prepare for our trip. We know we may not pass on the first try, and we know we won’t be traveling right away. However, we think it is best to be as prepared as possible. We don’t want to feel rushed. I certainly don’t want to forget anything. After all, I’ve got Ethiopia on the mind.