Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I thought I would be able to blog in Ethiopia, but there was one computer for the entire guest house and every time I tried to get on someone else was there or the power was out. We got home on Sat.noon and today is the first day that I am not napping when she is napping and able to get online. Jetlag and those flights were killer-- 18 hours from Addis to DC, a 4 hour layover in DC, then a 4 hour flight to Denver. All were long and difficult with a toddler that is not quite sure about this world she is finding herself in.

I will try to log back on and tell chunks of the amazing journey we experienced...

The flight there was just as rough-- almost worse in some ways because of the nerves and anxiety. Being purely uncomfortable and wanting to sleep so I won't be tired when I get there, and not being able to. We arrived in Addis in the morning-- our flight was 2 hours late due to a mechanical problem in DC. Once off the plane we had to stand in a line for almost an hour to get our Visa into Ethiopia. It cost $20 per person. Once we finally had that then we had to go through Immigration and get our passports stamped. Then we changed money quickly at the "bank" in the airport. They were very rude. We were told we'd get a better exchange rate with $100 bills and to get "old" bills-- older than 2001. However they had a machine that ran the bill through it and 4 of the $100 did not "pass" the machine. They kept saying NO GOOD and throwing them back at me. It was odd. Very rude people at the bank. While I was doing this, Dad was getting our luggage off baggage claim. We had 5 suitcases, all weighing 50 pounds a piece. Dad isn't supposed to lift more than 40 pounds so I was trying to do it all. Not possible. So a official looking man approached dad and helped him get the bags. He asked for the baggage tickets, so Dad thought he was with the airline. He wasn't. He loaded them up on the cart and then demanded money. I had just gotten the money, hadn't even looked at it. Didn't realize the exchange rate and he is asking for 100 Birr. And I take a 10 out and he says, too small. and then says, give me 200 birr. So stupidly I do (that's about $18). And then he wisks us over toward the exit where they have to scan the bags to get them OUT of the airport. So now we have to load the 5 suitcases and our backpacks/purse onto the scan machine. I'm stressing because we are now 3 hours later than I thought and I don't see my "name" on a sign anywhere. The Guest House was supposed to pick us up. I have no address for where we are going if they don't meet us. So now the luggage goes through and this official airport man with a clipboard yells at me and they take my purse. And the man says, you have TWO cameras in here? And then says to my dad, do YOU have a camera too? Show me. So I show him my 2 digital cameras. He says, are you a professional? I say no. he says WHY do you have TWO camera. I said, I'm adopting a child and this camera is old and I wanted to make sure I got the photos. And he says, only ONE camera is allowed per person. You must pay a tax. He is very rude this entire time. And then finally waves me off. Then we notice one of my suitcases has been pulled aside-- it is one full of donations for the orphanage. The same rude man with the clipboad says, what is this? What is in here? I say, Donations for the orphange. And he makes me open it. A lot of the clothing inside the suitcase are in those vaccum packs to make sure I could zip the case. He makes me open it. It explodes clothing all over. And he leans into it and then waves me off. It was very stressful. Finally the man we paid 200 Birr to takes us outside and there we find my man with the sign. He was VERY polite and happy to see us. I relaxed then. All the people at the guest house were WONDERFUL. But the airport was stressful.

We then load into an old van and drive for about 30 minutes through Addis. From one paved road you see all the dirt roads intersecting. You see extreme wealth right next to extreme poverty. I am moved close to tears imagining the life Tihun COULD have if she stayed in this city. I see two women crawling through the streets-- the leg was limp from the knee down. I wonder how different her life would be with a wheelchair. But realize there are no sidewalks, no paved roads most places. She couldn't get around in a wheelchair in this city. We drive past herds of cattle walking, then herds of goats. Chickens tied together sitting on the side of the road for sale. Donkeys hauling straw and grass. Stray dogs running through the streets. People walking. Men peeing in the ditch at the side of the road. One man weaving baskets and selling them.

We finally bump down a dirt road full of holes and rocks. All the homes have giant gates you can't see over from the car. We stop and we are "here." This wall has barbed wire spun at the top-- some serious security. We walk through the gate and into the guest house. There we are met by a pleasant girl who shows us our room. She gives us our "two liters" of water we get a day. The room is a simple room. One queen size bed, a pack-n-play in the corner, a small bedside table with a locking door, a small table, and a wardrobe. They bring our 5 suitcases up the 3 flights of stairs. The bathroom we "share" with another family is nice and clean. We have about 20 minutes before lunch and then we will go to the care center to pick up Tihun. I jump in the shower and take the fastest shower of my life. I am very aware of not opening my mouth and letting the water in-- I am uber paranoid about getting sick from the water as the bacterial dysentery expereince from Greece was all I EVER need in my life. We come downstairs and they have fixed spagetti for lunch. The meat sauce tastes like "wat" -- the Ethiopian stew. Very spicy. We shovel it in and then get ready to go. We meet on the stairs a woman holding a very calm little girl-- both look completely overwhelmed. We learn that the woman is from Grand Junction, CO and she just returned from the care center-- just having met each other. Later this couple become our closest friends in the guest home and we shop together and hang out. And her quiet daughter turns out to be the life of the party and the cutest thing in the world. We make plans for our daughters to keep in touch as they grow up.

Suddenly the van is there. I have told my dad I'd like him to video tape our meeting. I've been watching for months these "Gotcha Day" videos of other families meeting their forever children. I have plans to make my own. We ride to the other guest house-- only a few blocks away-- and pick up another couple from Michigan. We are all chatting in a nervous manner as we drive to the care center, about 10 minutes away. They are picking up a baby girl, about 6 months old. We finally arrive and unload the van. They knock loudly on the tin door. A woman opens the door. Dad is behind me and can't hear what is being said. We walk through the door and they say, there's Tihun and point to the woman who opened the door. There on her hip is my girl. My dad has no idea what is happening. The nanny then kind of shakes Tihun and says, Tihun Tihun Tihun. This makes Tihun unhappy. Then she says Mommy Mommy Mommy!! And points at me, which makes Tihun cry. Then the nanny hands her to me and Tihun launches into a full out tantrum. She is pushing off my stomach with her feet. Then collapsing. Then launching back with her head. It is not the beautiful calm transistion of my dreams. My dad finally figures it out and starts taping the screaming child. Then about 10 minutes later says, I don't think I pushed record. I'm trying everything in my limited bag of tricks to distract and calm and it just isn't working. I hand her to dad and she does the same thing. Finally the head nanny comes outside-- we have been in the driveway this entire time. And she says, I didn't know you were still out here. And takes Tihun who immediately stops crying. Clutching the nanny. We then go into the care center's main room and sit together. I try to let Tihun look at me and touch my cheek. I sit close and talk soft. The nanny is holding her and kissing her. She finally says that we will need to let her get into a deep sleep and then she'll pass her to me. I try to ask questions-- what is she eating? Regular food. Cow's milk. What is her routine? Naps? One nap in the afternoon, bed at 8, just lay her down and she will be out. That's about all the info I get. To date, she has refuse ALL milk and formula. Usually falls asleep about 10AM and 3PM. And has never laid down at 8 and fallen asleep. But, life has drastically changed for her, so I guess so would everything else.

She finally falls asleep and I hold her. We wait for our ride to take us home. It takes 30 minutes. She wakes up. I fear. I stand up and walk away from everyone else and sing her 3 songs. She stares at me. She is calm. I return to where the others are. The nannies are all inside. Our van arrives, and the nanny comes out. Tihun immediately arches and looks for her. I distract her and run to the van-- it has started to sprinkle so I sing a song about rain. I climb into the van and she is silent. She is against my chest and stays there....

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Night before

I have spent the last two days running errands all over town, cleaning, packing and repacking. I have three suitcases full of donations to take to Ethiopia. My suitcase holds the smallest amount of things I've ever packed for myself and half of Tihun's clothes. Dad's suitcase holds the other clothes. And food and diapers and wipes... Maybe that is what life will really be about now-- not me. But her. I am so excited to meet her.

I have checked and double checked that I have all the paperwork and forms I need. I photocopied all of them as well so I have a copy. I have charged all of my camera batteries. I'm taking 2 digital cameras, 1 video camera, and 1 flip video camera. I think I have enough to record this journey, her home, our meeting=the birth! :) I have gatorade packets in case of dehydration, I have packets of pedialyte in case she has diarrhea. I'm always ultra prepared and for this... I'm just so unsure of what I'll find in the next 24 hours as I walk off that plane and meet that baby.

I hope that she fits 6-9 month old clothes. Reports say she is only 15 1/2 pounds so I think I'll be OK. But if she is larger, uh-oh.

Last weekend I downloaded several kids shows to my ipod for the airplane. As well as the first season of Weeds for my way there! :)

The carseat is in the car, the highchair is set up in the kitchen, the changing table and crib awaits... All I need is the girl!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Time elapses

I haven't blogged in forever and so much has happened. Our original court date of July 17 was bumped. This was due to the Ministry of Woman's Affairs (MOWA) closing unexpectedly until the end of July. Lots of stress was put here with the rainy season and the courts closing Aug/Sept usually. However I was assigned a Aug.4th court date and hoped and prayed we would pass. AND... we did! I officially adopted her on Aug. 4th in Ethiopia. Then the next layer of waiting was added. Basically after court it would take a week to translate her adoption decree into English. And then another week to get her passport/papers done. And yet another week... up to 5 weeks of waiting. The 5th week then is my Embassy/Travel date. So plans are to take off on Sept. 5 to fly to Addis.

In the mean time I had a shower with alumni home from college and wonderful families/moms that have always been supportive of this journey. Another shower for DSA teachers is in the planning stages and a final shower for DSA current kiddos will be upon our return. So I will know more about what she needs and it can be a sit-n-see shower, where the baby is THERE. :) I have also received so many things from my siblings-- used items, the crib and such. Every piece of furniture in her room is special-- from great grandmother Waldron's rocking chair that I recovered with a dragonfly material! :) to the chest of drawers that was in my grandmother's closet and held the knitting she helped me learn how to do when I was 10 until last year when she died. That drawer represents a project taught to me in love that I would work on randomly when I came to visit. Started at 10, continued at 22, picked up at 37... never finished without her. And a vanity from grandma's bedroom that is also special to me and memories. The baby room is only missing the baby!

Right now it has outfits laid out all over the floor in anticipation of packing. AND the donations I've already received. I can take 100 pounds of donations so it is most important I get what they need vs. unusable items.

Last week I went to a picnic held by my agency and met a couple that were in one of my classes. They just brought home their 12 month baby boy 5 weeks ago. So they gave me lots of info, including remembering my daughter and relaying a story that she was very happy and scooting across the floor to play. :) yea! That's the first "happy" report. All the photos she has been sad/serious in. However, they also said most of the babies have Giardia, which is a parasite in the intestines and causes awful diahhrea. They said they went through 5 outfits on the plane ride home and that "no diaper can hold that." Great. Something to look forward to. I have an appointment with my pediatrician on Sept. 1 as a pre-seeing the girl meeting. However, my girl hasn't gained any weight in almost 2 months and I think it is because of the Giardia. So.... we will see if he can give me anything to give her some relief immediately vs a week later when we get home.

Today is another picnic where I am sure to learn more things to do, say, take... Yesterday my parents and I ate out at an Ethiopian restaurant and all of us enjoyed it very much. So that is a positive and releases some tension/apprehension of eating there and not offending people if we didn't like it. Am worried about my dad getting sick. I will be handling most of the diaper situation to protect dad and bringing gloves for him. I already have prescription meds to protect myself from Giardia... let's hope I don't need them!

I leave in 12 days and then the REAL journey of loving this baby girl and raising a daughter can begin! :)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

shots. check.

On Tuesday I got the first round of my shots-- 7 total. One in each thigh, one on the back of each arm, two on right shoulder, one of left shoulder. Pleasant. Was told to be ready to experience "slight" flu like symptoms over the next couple days. According to the nurse, be ready to be "icky" for a while. I think I was OK yesterday-- slightly warm. My arm pain has dissipated but my thigh where I got the "new" tetanus hurts. It is a deep down in the muscle hurt. But I will be FINE! :)

Yesterday I retraced this journey back to when I was still trying to get pregnant to the decision to adopt to finally finding her. I created one of many scrapbooks/baby books for her life. It made me very happy to piece together this story-- the story of her coming into my life. I foresee us reading it together, almost like a bedtime story. I of course will also make one of the actual trip there, meeting her, bringing her home. I've actually started thinking about writing a children's picture book of that journey. Both my sister and mother are visual artists, they could draw the pictures to my story.

Now I wait. Again. Just wait. But I have things to keep me busy! I had the JOY of registering at Target the other day which made this whole thing seem real. Looking at diapers and formula and wondering what she will want/need. And seeing the blankets-- finally her baby room came into view of what I need to do. My plan today is to move things OUT of her new room and move the dresser and crib IN. And my new infatuation with DRAGONFLIES. They have been swarming my house for a couple weeks. And then when I registered I was drawn to a quilt with dragonflies. So I researched them and they are a symbol of "change." Woot woot! I now wear a dragonfly bracelet (much like Wonder Woman) in hopes that my change will come soon. Also, lady bugs. My yard was infested with them the other day, and again, I registered for things with ladybugs. And they mean GOOD LUCK! I am beyond excited. :)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


I am now doing a court date dance!!! AHHHH!! My hopes have been fulfilled. I had hoped against all hope that I would be assigned a court date mid-July. I had HOPED for July 15 because if I could get a court date by the 15th then I could get her passport/visa BEFORE the courts close for rainy season in Aug/Sept. It was looking doubtful. Again, trying to remain positive, realizing I can't plan/depend on ANYTHING. But thinking about traveling in August vs. October is a big deal to a theatre teacher-- where my 6 week maternity leave will land amid productions and units. However, I have realized it is futile to PLAN any of this, so I will take it as it comes and go with the flow.

Yesterday I got an email from IAN saying I was assigned a COURT DATE of July 17!!! Whoo hoo! Now I just have to HOPE and cross my fingers that she passes. According to IAN, The two main reasons a child does not pass court is if the child was relinquished and the parent does not come to court or does not have an ID, or if the ministry has not submitted their final letter of approval to the court. If one of these things happen it is generally cleared up in a week of so.

But I really hope she passes the first go round...

What the court date means is basically a representative in Ethiopia will go to court on my behalf and my little girl will be officially classified as an orphan and therefore adoptable by me. This is scheduled on July 17. If she passes court (the right papers are there and signed by the right people) then I will travel to pick her up about 4 weeks after that date-- which is of course the beginning of school. But I will make it work! :) For now, one step forward!

AND.... SHOTS! Just had my phone consult with Kaiser. I hate shots-- but must do what I must do-- I know I spelled a lot of that wrong, it was over the phone and I was spelling how it sounded-- forgive.

Shots to do:
Hep A recommended – transmits via food/water. Two shots—now, booster in 6 mons
Typhoid – spreads by food/water. Capsule form/injection form. 4 capsules in 8 days—immune for 5 years. Or shot, 2-year immunity. Charge for typhoid—capsule $58, injection $150.
Hep B – transmits by blood/body fluid—like HIV. If you work in an orphanage—recommend it. Series of 3 shots. Get it. 3 shots, one now, one in a month, and 6 mons. booster
Yellow fever – recommended. Charge- $150 vaccine. Not in Addis, but outside there is. Entry to Ethiopia currently needs it.
Rabies—stay away from jackel and monogoose—if bitten, seek help immediately. Don’t need it now.
Menegitus vaccine—covered. One shot…
Flu shot – pass on it, get it this fall with my daughter.
Tetnus with vertusus (sp?)—update this. Tetnus, yes.
Polio—resurgent in Africa. Adult dose/booster recommended. 1 shot.
Malaria – use insect repellent.
Travels diahrea—ciypro. Food/water watch it. Viral. Usually.
Dengate fever—insect precautions/repellent.
Larvee – fresh water—NO SWIMMING

So...looking forward to shots. :)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Waiting waiting waiting...

I've officially accepted my referral for my beautiful baby girl. Now I wait. Wait for a court date. I am reading entries on the EthiopiaAdoptColorado group I am a part of it where many people who have HAD a courtdate failed to pass court for whatever reasons. And the rainy season is madly approaching. According to someone who is staying there the rains have started and with rain comes power and water outages. Last year the courts closed July 15-- I have my fingers crossed that I will get a date before the 15th and the courts don't close until July 30. Oh the tape to cut to get to that little girl who waits for me... I just want to go get her right now. In a way it is almost easier-- having her "assigned" to me and a photo and knowing it will happen... some day soon. Hopefully in this year. ;) Just waiting

Thursday, June 4, 2009


9:20AM got the call. A baby girl. 8 mons old. Or 12 mons. Depending on the document. Can't post the photo of course, against the rules. But she is BEAUTIFUL. I can tell already I will lose my heart to her eyes... one bat of an eyelash. She is amazing....

can't tell you her Ethiopian name...

can't post anything really... except... I HAVE A REFERRAL!!!!! :)