Saturday, November 27, 2010

What is next? Questions answered!

Before Brandon and I got married we held out our hands to the Lord and told Him that we surrender all to Him!

Six years God dropped a blessing into our outstretched hands!

What an amazing Thanksgiving we had. Our hearts are still skipping a beat as we realize that we are parents! We have loved our son since referral day, but always there was a feeling that something could go wrong. SO EXCITED that the court hoop is now over!
Talking with our agency director on Wednesday was such a great moment of joy! Sharing the news with all of you and being encouraged by your emails, comments, FB messages, etc was such a gift! If you wrote a longer personal email I will try to respond, but each of you, please know that your comments have all been saved and each is so special to us!

We are so in AWE of our Great God!

To answer your questions:

What is his name?
Great question! We are still deciding this... hopefully we will reveal something soon! We are working really hard on this, and I am losing sleep over it!
Did you have to go back to Ethiopia for the second court case?
No, our power of attorney represented us and did a great job! We will return for our embassy date and to bring M home!
When do you get to bring him home?
Well, just because we passed court doesn't mean we can ho on a plane tomorrow to pick up our son. Yes this is torture, knowing he is legally ours and so far away. The agency will be working with the US embassy to get M's papers in order for an embassy date. After the embassy date (which we will be present for in ET) a visa will be issued, and once we get that, we can hop on a plane WITH our son and fly to the US!

What steps need to take place to bring him home?
Step One: Typically, after you pass court, the clerk’s office releases the hard copy of the adoption decree 5 -20 days later.

Step Two:Once our agency has the decree, it is translated and legalized.

Step Three: The agency then will process a new birth certificate listing our family as the adoptive parents.

Step Four: Next, the immigration process is completed for the Ethiopian passport and a letter of support is obtained from MOWA.

Step Five:All of these documents must be submitted to the embassy two weeks in advance of an embassy interview. Remember, the embassy interview is when we travel to Ethiopia.

When are your agency embassy dates?

Each agency is given a day of the week for embassy appointments (ours is Wednesday) about twice a month. I think in general it is every other week, though sometimes holidays play into things.

In December, our agency has embassy interviews on December 1st, 15th, and 29th.
In January, our agency has embassy interviews on January 12th and January 26th.

So, which date is yours?

We passed court on November 24th. Since we need to complete all 5 steps two weeks before the embassy date we know that December 1st and 15th are out. December 29th is most likely 99.99% out as that would be both very quick turnaround time and also with all of the holidays the ET agency director told us (even before our first court date) that very few families would travel then and not to count on it. January 12th is also quite unlikely (less than 10% I would say) due to closure of things around ET Christmas which is in early January. We are hoping for a miracle 12th embassy date, but we are thinking that most likely we will travel for the 26th date. Yes, there is a chance that we won't make the 26th date and have to travel in February. We are hoping that is not the case! Please pray we are able to bring M home in January. *Note, even with the December 29th date we would land in the US in January :)
When do you know your embassy date?
Another great question! We might not find out for a long time. People sometimes don't learn of an embassy date until 2 or even 1 week before travel. We will have some idea in a few weeks as to the general date, but we are guessing we won't get a confirmation until very close to the date. We will not be able to order tickets until we get a confirmation to travel. Hopefully the tickets will be available and there will be room at the place we want to stay!
Can you share some more photos of your son with us?

Of course! I had to save them for the end of the post as a reward for reading the whole thing :)

My facebook profile photo: Just so in love with my sweet son!

Scooting on the floor of his room!

This photo was taken in the last hour we spent with our son. We were humming his cough away. Oh those eyes... Oh how I miss his weight on my chest... Oh the empty arms that were once filled... Oh the peace in knowing my loving Father is meeting every one of my son's needs and always will! Oh the joy in knowing we will return to that room and bring our son home!!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

He is OURS!!!!!

We "passed court" and we officially have a son! I will smother this blog with photos soon, but since my house is in shambles and guests arrive soon, here is a photo of our son taken in the first five minutes we saw him!

And here are two photos of my brown eyed beauty that I stared at for months waiting to meet him!

updated donation list

No, we have not heard anything about the court case yet... waiting on the Lord, waiting on the phone call or email.

Here is the updated "needs" list from our care facilities in Ethiopia. We have received MANY clothing donations and hope to receive some of these as well. If we get second hand clothing which can't fit in out suitcases we will donate it on to a local thrift store which helps to support a Christian school in our town

The new List:
any and all arts and crafts (stickers, elmers glue, glue sticks, and pre-made
craft kits specifically)
7 and 8 year old sized pants for boys and girls
KG sized shoes
KG clothing (pants especially)
construction paper
nail clippers
disposable diapers
hair ties
fly tape
sanitary pads
I would like to add a couple of things that we noticed (I hope that is OK with the agency):
-Toddler swings (the safe bucket kind)
-Vicks (every baby is coughing)
- Toddler toys which don't require batteries!
-Board books (used are fine)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Court try #2 is tomorrow!!

Actually, court will be happening tonight while America sleeps. That is right, America will be sleeping and Shelly will be wide awake! I just can't believe that we will or will not officially become parents while we sleep tonight. Please, please, please, say a prayer for us as you go to bed tonight. If you happen to be up in the night, say another prayer. Note: even if we don't pass court, we will eventually become parents, it just means we have another court date and a longer wait to bring M home.

We won't get to find out the news right as it happens. We have to wait until we get an email from our agency, which is in the west coast. The agency opens at 11:00am our time. I will most likely give them until 1:00 to send an email. If I have not heard anything by that point I will call them. If they don't know by the end of the day, we have been given permission to call Ethiopia since the agency isn't open the rest of the week. Of course by that time it will be the middle of the night in Ethiopia so we will have to wait until almost mid-night to call and hear the good or bad news. I will post on here as soon as we know something!

We have received updates from Americans in Ethiopia that Baby M is doing so much better. Thank you all for your prayers. We also got word that he started saying a new word, "momma" :) Seriously, the little guy waits until I leave to learn that word... oh well, as long as he connects it to me when he sees me I will be fine!

We are both still fighting a cold bug, but I think we are on the mend. We have had no tummy problems since Ethiopia so we are rejoicing greatly in that! We are very excited to be celebrating Thanksgiving with family and friends. What a special season! I am looking forward to decorating for Christmas this Sunday!

How are we doing emotionally?
Well, I can go through the motions really well! We had a funeral today and I was able to serve and help and not get emotional at all. Then at night, when M's bed is empty my heart gets heavy. Thank you for all of your prayers for sustaining grace in this. As much as special Christmas things will make the time go by quickly, they will also cause the heart to ache as we watch other children having fun and think about the fun that M would have with them. We continue to cling to Jesus, who is so very near to the broken-hearted. He is always with me, but something about this time makes me depend on Him more and makes my relationship with Him especially sweet. He truly is the giver of every good gift. We will officially become parents in God's perfect time. We are praying that is tonight and trusting our Great God who sees the whole picture to answer our prayers in the perfect way that He desires!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ethiopia in Photos!

*Sorry, I fully recognize that you want to see photos of our sweet Baby M. Sadly, until we pass court (we are praying we will pass tomorrow) you will have to settle for general Ethiopia photos!

Our 4 Star Ethiopian Hotel.

Our hotel room! The walls and carpet look so much better in the photo than real life.
The bathroom we spent plenty of time in. It actually looks so much nicer in the photo than in real life.

Brandon and I ready to eat!

I am about to eat my first bite of Ethiopian food!

Eating my first bite of Ethiopian food!

The amazing dancers. We have some great video footage of them doing things with their bodies that are very incredible.

Enjoying Traditional Ethiopian food with friends.

Wonderful friends at Kaldi's after we all failed court!

This is a taxi in Ethiopia. A boy or man usually has his head/body out the window yelling to everyone where they are headed. This way walkers know which taxi to take!

Friday, November 19, 2010

It was the best of times...

It was the worst of times. We got on a plane November 9th and landed in Ethiopia. We got on a plane November 17th and LEFT OUR SON IN ETHIOPIA. I want to tell you all about our trip, trust me, but after being home 12 hours, all I want to do is get a ticket back to Ethiopia and hold my sweet son!

I know sometimes these entries about travels can be long and boring. Sadly, if you don’t know us well, Ethiopia well, or adoption well, I am pretty sure these entries will be just that. It is so hard to know what to say, and what not to say. It is hard to know where to begin.

First of all, I am SO SO SO in love with my son! He is beyond beautiful. He is adorably silly. He is a babbler (much like I am here sometimes:) He does NOT like to smile for photos or laugh for the camera. Seriously, now I know why he always has a “deer in the headlights” look in snapfish albums. This kid does not like the camera. We have almost no good photos of him. We do have some good video of him as we had people sneak up on him with the camera. All I can say is, whatever footage you get to see of him before he come home, know that he is a million times more amazing in person.

We are so blessed by the families we traveled with and those we met in Ethiopia! We met many “famous” families in our agency! It was amazing!

As a disclaimer: I am writing everything post trip. I fully recognize that I flip flop tenses throughout. I am sorry. I better write quickly so I can blame the jet-lag for all errors. Also, I started writing this in the middle of the night since I woke up at 1:30 am wide awake! The most recent entry will be at the top of the screen, so scroll all the way down to the one entitled “November 9-10” and then work your way up.

After writing everything note from Shelly: I am sorry if all of these entries have been boring, but many of you asked for details, and this is surely the long version of the story. I realized that for better or worse I have been working on this for MANY hours. The day today is gray and my body is telling me it is bedtime! I guess since I have been up for over 12 hours, I should start getting productive!

One more note: Sweet M is doing much better. I received an email from two women in ET who said he is improving!

November 18th: Getting home

Technically, November 18th started for us 30 minutes after our first plane left the ground. It was a long day. As I said, thankfully the first 7 or 8 hour flight felt like 15 minutes as I slept so much. Landing in Frankfurt was hard because I slept literally until we had to get off the plane. Have you ever had to wake up from a deep sleep and walk a long ways carrying luggage? I could not make my body work. We had so much time between flights. Every time we passed a set of chairs I begged Brandon to sit in them. Finally, after passing all the “great chairs” we rested a little while. The whole security check time is a blur as I was so tired. The liquid rules are such a pain, esp in countries where you can’t drink the water, so much water is wasted... also the little ziplock bags that you have have to return the hand sanitizer to over and over again. Normally this wouldn’t bother me, but in my sleepy state it seemed so hard. They also thought something was suspicious in my bag, turns out it was salt and pepper. The guards got a kick out of it! My heart was so sad as I began to wake up and hear the shallow conversations around me. I was now around English speakers who made me sad. It was nicer when I didn’t know what others were saying.
The flight from Frankfurt to Chicago seemed long, well, it was. I did sleep some. The last flight was quick and painless and we got home to our house shortly after 5:00pm. The shower felt great and I was falling asleep before 7:00. I went to bed before 8:00, which is part of the reason I have been up since 1:30 this morning. Hopefully I will be able to stay up tonight and then take something to help me sleep through the night tonight.

November 17th: Our Last Day in Ethiopia

We got up early and packed, got ready, ate, and checked out of the hotel. A taxi came and took us and our stuff to a guest house (so we could park our bags there for the day) and then to L. We tried to spend as much time with sweet M as we could. He was OK in the morning, but really wasn’t doing well in the afternoon. During our lunch break (napping time) we went to Kaldi’s and internet place and then Kaldi’s again for one last ice cream treat from Brandon. The afternoon was hard, good, but hard. Baby M was very sick. He had a horrible cough that just wouldn’t stop. It was agony to see him want to go to the caregivers as we were un-able to soothe him. Sadly, his special caregiver, “Orange” (that is the English translation of her name, and if you know us, it is pretty special) could not bring him comfort. I was holding him in the hall. I started walking and humming hymns to him, and the coughing stopped. Brandon and I then took turns for several hours walking the halls and humming hymns to our son. Oh how I pray when we hum those songs to him again his little heart will remember us. I tried to sing one special hymn (I am not saying as I don’t want any other traveling parents to accidently sing it to him) several times each day we were there in hopes that he will remember it when we return. It was one of the songs I sang to “two sweet boy” each day at nap time. As the time grew closer to leaving, I got more and more choked up at I hummed. Little M’s hair was getting quite wet at times as the tears fell. Amazingly, he DID NOT COUGH while we were doing it. Speaking of his hair, it is hilarious! He has a natural mohawk, I am serious!

The time for leaving was drawing near and my heart was breaking. We went into a back hallway and prayed over him and then I walked with him more. Almost like magic (yeah right, thanks for being awesome God!!!) right as it was time to leave our beautiful son fell asleep in momma’s arms. I then passed him off to daddy who laid him in his crib. We then said good-bye to the other children, gave him a last kiss and left. We hugged the nannies as we left. The tears were flowing freely and even Brandon who is the thinker in this marriage got a little misty eyed.

As we waited outside the blue doors Brandon reminded me that next time we go in them it will be to bring our son home. Trite as that thought was at the moment, it was true and hopeful.

I then went into “get to the airport on time” mode and turned off the tears. We went to the guest house and changed clothes and then took a taxi to the airport. It was AGONY seeing the happy families in line with babies going through security. I could not believe how icky my thoughts were towards them, talk about the jealous momma bear. Luckily God is gracious and they didn’t know. Their children were beautiful and it was helpful to observe what works well and what doesn’t in traveling home with babies.

Once through security I had many “TIA” moments. TIA stands for (This Is Africa). First of all, there are no clocks around the airport... seriously, no clocks in the restaurants, no clocks on the walls... TIA. Then the restaurant was confusing, ordering etc and we were right next to a coffee ceremony place with incense going. My head was aching... TIA. Then we realized that there are like 40 chairs outside of security, but that once you go through security you can’t go to the bathroom... TIA. While finding a place on the floor waiting I was overwhelmed with the smokers surrounding me. SO MANY SMOKERS... TIA. Actually, this is Ethiopia being nice to other countries, because our whole time in ET I think I only saw 2 smokers max. I was in such a bad mood and went for a walk. I went into the bathroom by the prayer rooms and it was squatty potties (really stinky ones). I was heading back to tell Brandon that I was going through security and “holding it” until I got on the plane when I stopped at another bathroom that had normal toilets. Nothing like a normal toilet to change my perspective and convict my heart. The only time I was agitated in ET was in the airport. Soon we were through security and on the airplane. It was on the airplane that I really lost it. I was leaving my sick baby in Ethiopia and flying 10,000 miles away from him. I felt like the worst mother in the world! Sure, this “two trip rule” did allow us to meet M earlier, see his routine, see beautiful Ethiopia, do more shopping etc, but seriously, leaving my baby was killing me. I truly and honestly thought about running out of the plane, then I thought about jumping out the door. Then as we were off the ground I just cried and cried and cried. Brandon held me and I fell asleep. It turns out I am a great plane sleeper... who knew?

November 15th: Entoto Mountains/Sabahar and November 16th: Karibo and Cipro

I spent the day in the hotel room. It was miserable. I slept a lot and spent time in the bathroom. We do believe that the children made us sick. M had his fingers in our mouths and we were kissing him. While he wasn’t showing the same symptoms due to immunities, he was carrying germs that Brandon was feeling better and was able venture out quite a bit!

Brandon went to L in the morning and then after a simple lunch of bread and bananas (good for his tummy) he went with another family up Entoto Mountain. They were able to see many interesting things including a September 11th memorial (strange to see there I am sure). On the way down they were able to stop and buy scarves at a place that makes them. Brandon bought 5 and amazingly he chose one I might actually wear. I am not sure if anyone will like the others, but the money will help women who go up and down the Mt. carrying firewood so it is a good thing no matter what and he was so sweet to buy the scarves. Yes, moms and grandmas you will be offered the scarves first!
After the Mts they went to the silk factory, Sabahar. Brandon took lots of photos. It sounds fascinating. They then went back to L and then to Kaldi’s for dinner.

November 16th: Karibo and Cipro
I was vertical, yahoo! We went to L in the morning, but I had very little energy. I will have lots to crackers, rice cakes, and other bland foods on trip two, but I was running on low fuel during much of this trip. M was not feeling well either. He had been getting worse each day, but today he was not his smiling self. It was so painful to see him sick, though I was amazed by how deeply I loved him in his sickness, how beautiful he still was to me! By this time I could trick myself into thinking that he knew there was something special about us, but I know that he gets excited for all people. I really do pray that he understands that we are different.

Brandon had a cold when we left the US, but it was getting much worse. We decided to stick to American food for the rest of the trip. We ate lunch at Karibo, a place many adoptive families eat at. Brandon had pizza and it looked good. We then went to check email and head back to L.

We learned that M has an ear infection and was given medicine. He never rubbed his ears, and his symptoms seemed to be mainly in coughing and breathing, but we hoped it would help. Throughout the afternoon he was feeling worse and worse. We took him to the clinic once and he had no fever. We also weighed him and learned he is a little over 18 pounds. Before we were ready to leave for the night he was so hot and some older boys insisted that he go to the clinic again. He did have a fever over 101 and they gave him meds. It was sad to leave him sick.

Durning our afternoon at L I was given a great gift... CIPRO! Someone leaving hadn’t needed it and passed it on to me. I was still feeling horrible, but amazingly after only a few hours I was feeling better! I REALLY recommend every family take it with when traveling to ET. I also recommend taking it as soon as you begin getting sick, not after a week of being sick.

That night we had dinner at Kings. I was able to order white rice. We had to send it back once as it had butter on it, but the second time it was right and it was great! I wish I had known of that option all week. Warm food is such a treasure!

After dinner we said good-bye to our friends who left that night and headed upstairs to pack. It was surreal to think we would be leaving the next day.

November 14th: International Evangelical Church

Today was the only day it rained while we were in ET. Every other day the weather was in the 70’s and mostly sunny. It was beautiful and the warmth was inviting!

Brandon stayed in the hotel room all day while another family took me under their wing. The day started with a shower in our room! We then went to International Evangelical Church which is located right across the street from Kings. It was such a sweet experience! Having the opportunity to sing praises to God with people from SO MANY countries was a little taste of heaven. Singing songs like “Your grace is enough” and “The Stand” gave me chills and tears!

After church we went to L to spend time with the children. We then went to lunch with a group at Island Breeze. It is a great place to eat (with American food) that is run by an adoptive family. It has very fun island atmosphere. After lunch we went back to Churchill area for more shopping. I was able to get spices to make Ethiopian food (a LONG time from now when we can no longer remember what it tasted like coming up) and other great things.

When we got back to Kings I crashed. I was feeling worse and worse all day and I just fell into the bed. After hours of laying in bed feeling awful Brandon finally convinced me that holding back the vomit was not the best idea. Our new bathroom, while working, was not too nice. It had a STRONG sewer smell, so strong that I often plugged my nose when in the bathroom. The floor and walls were quite dirty and the shower was mildew central. It was livable and with a bucket of clean and hot water, some floor cleaner etc. we would have been set... anyway... So, I did end up throwing up, all night in fact, most likely once an hour... I lost track of how many times I made trips to the bathroom. I too had a fever. I was feeling like I was going to die in Ethiopia. It was so miserable. I just wanted to go home. Each time I popped out of bed I had to slip on my flip flops and then squat by the toilet. The floor was too dirty to sit on. All I wanted to do was lay on our bathroom floor at home!

November 13th: Churchill Street and Yod Abysinnia

This morning we woke up not knowing where we would shower. We met a housekeeper on our way to the reception desk. She wanted to take us to a room on the 3rd floor when I asked her to please show us to a room on the 2nd floor. They always want to fill the 3rd floor as the rooms are much nicer, esp the bathrooms. She took us to a very small room with a pretty nasty shower. What the room lacked in style it made up for in a HUGE way with hot water! Yahooo!!! We both got to take a much needed hot shower! After showering we got ready for the day and went upstairs to back. We had arranged with some friends to move into their room when they left as it had a working shower. The front desk was confused, but after much discussion we did move into their room later that day. I was feeling much better and it was a beautiful day!

Finally we were also to go back to L to see our sweet son. The walks to and from L are always interesting. Watching the traffic, watching the animals in the traffic (it is not uncommon to see a herd of goats or a cow or two on the way to the butcher), watching the exhaust from the cars (major pollution), watch the people...there is so much to see, to hear, to smell. One day on a walk Brandon and I talked about the beautiful Ethiopian people. Truly, they have a much better ratio or beautiful to not as beautiful (outwardly, I know this sounds shallow, but is meant in a great way) than any other place I have been. Everyone is beautiful! For months I have stared in awe at Ethiopian people and now I am surrounded by them. Another thing about the walk that amazed me is how comfortable I was in Ethiopia. I am a tall pale woman married to and walking with a tall pale man. Yes, we did stick out. The strange thing was, it didn’t fill like we did. I never felt out of place, I never felt like I looked different. I can’t explain it well, but it was pretty amazing.

After the morning with M we had lunch across from L with another family. It was a very cool little place and each person ate for about 1USD. After lunch Dawit took us to Churchill street. Dawit is great, so great! Churchill street is a market like street filled with shops where you can buy Ethiopian things. Dawit took us to his friend’s shop first and we were able to get great deals with out having to haggle for better prices which is good since I stink at it. How do I know we got good prices? Well, after that store we went to others and we paid half or less than half of the “foreigner price” the others were asking. We spent a long time in the first store and bought so much stuff! It was exciting to open the bags that night and see everything spread across the bed. If you want us to get you something on the next trip let us know and be specific. After much shopping we wend back to L for a little while.

For dinner we walked to a special Ethiopian restaurant called Yod Abysinnia. It was a place with food and coffee, but also lots of cultural entertainment. We were blessed to go with the volunteer group from our agency. The biggest blessing was to go with an Ethiopian who spoke great English. She sat next to me and talked with the servers.. AND... I GOT TO EAT ETHIOPIAN FOOD!!!! I knew that teff is gluten free, but as teff prices have gone up places are starting to use some teff and some wheat in injera. This injera was pure teff and nothing else had gluten in it. Normally all of the “wats” have butter in them, but if you order a “fasting tray” they are dairy free. Nothing has sugar in it, so I was set! It was SO SO SO GOOD! I think I just glowed all through dinner. It had been heartbreaking to not be able to eat the food of my son’s country and I was so thankful to finally be eating it. What a special gift! The entertainment was awesome. We have some great photos and video. The dancers were SO talented! This was by far the nicest place we ate at and cost 12.00 a person which included the show and food!
That night Brandon didn’t feel well. It seemed like it was the dinner, but it was starting earlier and we know it was from the babies. He woke up twice in the night to throw-up and had a fever.

November 12th: Court Day!

The day the whole trip was about was finally here. We were up early and ready to head down to our second floor room for a shower. We were about to put the key in a door when a housekeeper stopped us and informed us that someone was now staying in the room. That was a close call! She then brought us to a 3rd floor room and turned on the shower for us. Nothing came out of the shower so she led us to another room on the second floor. Note: Most showers on the 3rd floor have very little pressure, or very little warm water, or both. The room we were led to shower in today had a bathtub and a shower head (the removable kind) but no curtain. Already we knew this would be an adventure. I showered first and learned that there wasn’t enough pressure to get the water up the hose out the shower head so I was forced to kneel and take a pretty cold shower out of the bath tub faucet. Showering is made even harder when you are trying to make sure no water gets into your mouth. I was not sure if I was cleaner after this shower.

We were told we would have our court appointment in the afternoon. We got a ride to see M today along with another family and all of our donations. During the ride we asked the ET director many questions about court and other things. Once with M we began playing and Brandon was about to feed him some bananas when someone came to the room to say, “court is now.” The director was willing to drive us back to the hotel so we could change clothes and not have to appear at court in jeans and T-shirts. We quickly changed and then headed back to the center to meet other families. We all traveled together and we were all nervous.

Once at the courthouse we learned the sad news that because none of us had letters written that were needed (basically a 5 lined cover letter) we would not be passing court. This news was so sad, yet because we were all in this together and because we all knew ahead of time, the blow wasn’t as bad. Honestly, I didn’t even cry. We did get a chance to meet with the judge. She is a very soft spoken women who asked us several questions. We were with her about 2 minutes. She was very nice. I answered most of the questions, mainly because Brandon could not even really hear her.

We learned that we will have a new court date next week on November 24th. PLEASE pray that we pass court. Please pray that the letter from MOWA will be submitted. Also, we learned that the orphanage that M was first brought to (not affiliated with our agency) did not follow through on what they need to do as far as relinquishment. PLEASE PRAY that they will do what needs to be done also so that M will officially become ours on Wednesday. This would be the best Thanksgiving present we could ever imagine!

We also learned that our case is not embassy ready. I will be calling the NBC soon to try to hurry things along. It turns out our new homestudy/171-H which was done in July has not been forwarded to the embassy in Ethiopia. I hope to nag until it does!

After court we headed back to the care facility to see M. After a very short time we had to leave so he could nap. We then went to Kaldi’s for lunch (keep in mind that unless otherwise noted, only Brandon ate and I ate Larabars, fruit leather, and other Shelly safe foods). After lunch we were able to email some people and then even hear back from some people before we left the internet station.

We then went back to L to spend time with Baby M. He continues to show us all his cuteness until we get out a camera and he stares! Trust me, he is CUTE!

After leaving L for the day we headed back to Kaldi’s for dinner (yes you are noticing a pattern). We enjoyed time there as a large group and even met the Sr. Pastor of the International Evangelical Church which we were planning to visit. We were so blessed to be traveling with so many amazing Believers! Truly a gift! This was also the night that the ice cream creations began. We were drowning our court failure sorrows in dairy:)

November 11th Meeting our son!!

We were up early and excited to meet Baby M. After showering in our room on the 2nd floor, we went down for breakfast and I was able to have a hard boiled egg and some fruit. The fruit was really warm. We met our agency’s volunteer coordinator and many members of her team. She seems famous to me. It was an extra blessing to be there with her. The team all told us how lovable our son is and I was so excited to meet him. We also got to meet more great friends who were also staying at the hotel. We all decided to walk over together. It was about a 10 minute walk. As we walked my tummy churned. Yes, I was nervous, but this was an intense churn. We still don’t know if it was elevation (Addis is about 8000 ft) or the fruit (pretty sure I was suffering cross-contamination) but I was not feeling great. When we got to the care center I went straight to the bathroom, a place I sadly spent much time. Going to the bathroom a lot in a place that has no working water is a humbling experience, but by God’s grace I survived. We were led into the baby area and we were finally able to meet our sweet baby. He was stunned to meet us. There were lots of people in a small hallway and lots of cameras going (remember how I told you of his dislike for them) and he just stared. He was so beautiful and I am so thankful it was on tape as it was so surreal (like engagement, wedding day etc) that I have no idea what I said or did or how I acted.

Because of my MANY trips to the bathroom Brandon had to step up to the dad role in full force. He is amazing with M! M says “dada” really well which is a nice reward for Brandon. M does say “dada” when most men enter the room, but it won’t be long before he really knows who is daddy is!

We had to leave the care center from lunchtime until 3:30 each day so the babies could rest. On the walk back to the hotel (and the earlier walk too) we saw so many things my eyes have never seen. Some things very beautiful, some things very devastating. We saw a man laying partially in the gutter who appeared to be very ill. We stopped and tried to get others who were also stopping to move him safely away from the road. He was just a boy, less than 14 I would guess. He looked so sick. My heart broke. Many were trying to help him which warmed my heart. Once at the hotel we had lunch with dear friends! One friend hooked me up with “Cell-Power” which helps the body adjust to elevation. I took some other meds (yes, I have popped more pills in the last week than I have in the last year) and actually started to feel a bit better.

We took a little time to organize our suitcases. We packed prepared to lose luggage so that meant that all of our things were in every suitcase. It was a nightmare to find anything and it felt so good to get things in order. Even in Ethiopia, I needed to organize.

We went back to see M after his nap. We learned from friends that when they walked back to the care center the boy (from earlier) was laying back in the gutter, dead! This means we saw him in the last hour of his life. My eyes and heart will never forget this.

The afternoon was much better than the morning, with almost no trips to the bathroom. Thanks Imodium, you rock! M was babbling like crazy. He is so smart (biased, I know) and knew where his nose was when a nanny asked him. Speaking of nannies, M has the BEST! They love him! I feel so thankful knowing where he is and the care he is getting. He is surrounded by loving women who are standing in the gap for us and I am grateful beyond words! Just as I cried when we walked out of the blue door this time, I know I will cry next time as they will all have to say good-bye to him. It is so amazing how frequently pain and joy meet in adoption.

Later, we walked over to the agency guest house to visit some other families and check things out. It is a very nice and cozy place. Brandon was able to eat there as well. On the way back to Kings we stopped at Kaldi’s Coffee (Ethiopian version of Starbucks). They might be trying to copy the American coffee house, but we all know that coffee was BORN in Ethiopia! Kaldi’s has amazing ice cream (according to everyone who had it) and the staff got a huge kick out of our American appetites for ice cream. Not only did we go there often, but we ordered big. Brandon always got two scoops (which honestly is very little as the scoop is small and it is two literal scoops) and then others in the group ordered more and more and even tried to make speciality ice cream treats. I don’t think the staff will ever forget us!

After ice cream we discovered a great internet place above Kaldi’s. We used it several times during our trip!

We learned that 3 of the families with our agency didn’t pass court that day. This was very sad for us as our court day was the next day!

Nov 9-10th Heading to Ethiopia

We left our home on November 9th. We flew to Chicago, then Frankfurt, then Addis Ababa. We arrived in Addis late on November 10th. The travel was made more bearable as we met other adoptive families along the way. It was such a blessing to travel with them and share our adoption journeys together. Once in Addis we had to get visa’s (this took a long time), change money (which Brandon did while I was in the visa line), get our luggage (which was there waiting for us after our long wait in the visa line), and head to Kings Hotel. We took our luggage all the way to the airport shuttle when we were met by men who carried our luggage up the shuttle stairs. They then wanted to be paid by each of us. The hotel driver should have stopped the men and we didn’t know what we were doing. Be prepared on this.

We arrived at Kings and they had a room for us on the 3rd floor. We were so tired that we decided to just go to sleep and shower in the morning, but I wanted to at least wash my feet. I tried to turn on the shower and nothing happened. There were many buttons (new showers on 3rd floor) and I could not figure it out. We went down to the desk and they came up and discovered we had pretty much no water coming out of the shower (like less than a drinking fountain). The man took us to a shower on 2nd floor and that worked well. He then gave us the key to that room too, and told us to shower there the next morning. Yes, that is right, we did have to go downstairs to take showers. (Note: more to come on this in other days, but if you are leaving soon, request a room on a lower floor as the water will more likely work and be warm) We fell into bed exhausted, but praising God that we were so close to our son!