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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Thursday May 26

We were lucky enough to go see S again in the morning 9:30- 12:00 and really got to see a much better area of the Mission of Charity. S was in the activity room with a wonderful developmental psychologist doing a service-internship. Her name is Ana and she is from Italy. She was going different activities with about 6 children, including S. There were padded play areas, ball pits, jumpers, sensory activities, musical tooys and books. I loved it in this great little room! We colored with S and two friends. He is definatley left handed! Before we walked into the activity room we met with another nun who was in the Jima region, where Sam is from. She told us that she was actually there and helped deliver him!! The MOC serves many pregnant women and moms with very young babies. S's mom appeared at the nuns' house late one night in labor, spring of 2008. She gave birth to S who turned out to have very significant club feet. She stayed there three days or so and then left. About 2 1/2 months later the police found baby S with new incesions around his ankles, abandoned outside the compound. The nun recognized S because of his clubfeet. They were able to better determine his birthdate for the birth certificate. Amazing story.
Anyhow, S totally remembered us and was so excited to see us. He squelled and grabbed for us. He SO knows we are "his". We played and played, colored, read books, did bubbles outside. Ana and I spoke for a long time about his development and also about techniques in working with Autistic kids. There are many Autistic children at this center and I have worked with several in the states. We exchanged email addresses. Around 11:30 he went in for lunch and then we put him down for his nap. He gets mad when we leave :(
We returned after nap time and S was pretty grumpy b/c he did not sleep well. We tried to take him to a quiter place. He just wanted to lounge in our arms. When we returned him to the room where his friends were he really perked up. He loves having us play with everyone- almost likes he is showing us off. He is so social . We met with Dr. Teshome, which was met with some frustrations. The head nun had a good deal more information about S's condition and was wondering why the HOLT Dr. never really connected with the medical staff who was already working with S. We determined that we needed to take more xrays to really evaluate S's legs above the ankle which Dr. Solomon, of the MOC, felt were negativley affected b/c of the untreated club feet. He feels surgery should happen very soon. So we planned on taking more xays the next day after court and also planned to see Dr. Solomon that following Saturday when he visits the MOC.
Meanwhile back at the guest house (...meanwhile back at the ranch)- we have been so fortunate to connect with many HOLT and Bethany families. I loved talking with everyone. Wednesday night we had a big dinner in the hut that is in the back. That night we went out with Cami, her husband Ryan and had a great driver named Daniel take us to the Crown Hotel. We saw festive dancing and had more Ethiopian food :) I got very sick that night but am unsure of what it may have been from...i was sosos upset- sick befor court, concerned for S's legs....i was a mess. I was better by morning, lucky me. Other people had been sick for over a day....mine was short and not-so-sweet. We really enjoyed the dancing, though- beautiful and so entertaining/creative. *Pictures to come later!

Monday, May 30, 2011

heart of the matter- our baby S

Ok we are back from visits one and two (yes we got two visits on Wednesday - and even more due to Sam's special circumstances). The Misson of Charity is a hard place to visit. The services are much needed but it is still heartbreaking all at once. There were children everywhere and they’ld run and cling to our legs and call you Enat (mom)or Ababa/Abat (daddy/dad) We were soon surrounded by 8 to 10 children, many nearly immobile or struggling to walk, or languishing on the floor with cerebral palsy or spina bifida. Many had a mental/psychological handicap of some sort. There were maybe two that seemed typical/on target/healthy with no special needs. Our son was clearly one of the ones who is neuro-typical and very alert, outgoing, yelling names of his friends and nannies when we would blow bubbles or blow up the punch-balloons- making sure they saw the fun his family was bringing to his group.. However, he has both legs casted up to his thigh and can not walk… however,this does not break his super happy spirit. He smiles with his whole body and his face lights up like no other child I have seen. We stayed with him in the morning, played and interacted- sometimes just gaings at him and he back at us. Soon all the other children seemed to scoot walk or crawl in with us. What really really concerned us is that the nannies left us alone with all these children for well over an hour. There were two profoundly mentally handicapped children sitting on a counter in the lunch room just slumped over, sometimes rocking, one yelling and screaming to no end. If it wasn’t for Samuel and his livleyplayful toddler group- it would have been a dismal place. I really had hoped/expected the nannies to interact more with the kids but I saw very little sign of it. I expect that it does happen when visitors are not there. Maybe they felt the needed to leave us alone to get to know Samuel. They would come in and out from time to time and several were preparing lunch. Our main adoption in-country coordinator, Miruk, asked us how were “handling these conditions” more than once. We really hung in there and played with the children a lot- singling out Sam to hold, hug, or make strawberries with. But it was so hard to look around- there were two children in the crib area, one restrained. There was one huge room of people in restrained chairs/wheel chairs- but there were many people also helping/monitoring them. As scary as it sounds, there is a nice little playground though and the other side is a center to serve moms-in-need who have tiny babies. The head nuns are French and German and speak English well. The main nun is named Sister Jennifer and she is going to show us around tomorrow and answer more questions. The HOLT doctor was not the one who requested the casting, an orthopedic specialist requested it. Sister Jennifer was in and out today and greeted us so nicely when we came in the court yard.

More on Sam- He took to John so quickly and loves to be held and give hugs. He giggles and laughs all the time. Oh and he is barely three…hes is tiny-short, pudgy, and just does not seem much older than two and a half. This is quite possibly due to the institution and lack of one-on-one interaction. But he does like to talk and yell out to his friends and nannies which is a good sign. He was so enamored with his family book and loved looking at the “wooshas”- so we are bringing our computer tomorrow to show video of his family and other pictures of our wooshas. He was ecstatic about bubbles- all the children were…they squealed and yelled for nearly an hour. We returned in the afternoon to wake him from his nap…all the other kids were up and in the play area. He was slowly peering around and saw us and just started giggling, then hiding his face, then more giggling and peek-a-boo stuff. He is so so lovey and smiley. As heartbreaking as his surroundings are, he brings light to it , and I am just so thankful he’s a happy boy who wants others to play and wants to be held. I was fearful he would be scared and try and run away (well I guess running is out of the questions for now). Other families adopting toddlers have had significant attachment issues at the first meeting, and even minor ones that , I am sure, seemed really scary at the time. He gives kisses and tries to repeat “bubbles” and says “enat” and “abat” to us. He doesn’t call cars “machinas” like I expected he just says “beep-beep”. He really likes to play just with us and roll balls, cars, toss balloons back and forth. He got quite sad when we put him in his crib and yelled out for us and got territorial with his family book. All good signs that he knows we are “his”. We go back tomorrow for three hours, then in the afternoon to the doctor/conference. Court will be early Friday morning and we hope to try and see him again Saturday before we leave .

Saturday, May 21, 2011


we are packing and trying to figure out a drop off schedule,.... and i am already realizing i know very little Amharic and feel bad


Friday, May 20, 2011

One Day

In 24 hours we will be awake (there is a good chance I will be awake much before 7am with anxious stomach flip-flops) but by 7am the HHR packing will conevene, i will recheck our binder (still not allthe way put together) we will duct tape and luggage strap our donation bins, we will prepare our carry on items with needed reading material, snacks, tp and an extra day's worth of clothes so that the folks in London do not think Americans are loud ,weird AND smelly (maybe just the first two). We will kiss and hug the kids staying here, and drive them to thier respective other parents, love on our doggies and psycho-kitty and hope we packed everything we needed to.
Today is a farewell "move-up" ceremony for my students at school, and I am happy to be able to see this b/c next week when some of the most memorable, special, hilarious and ingenius students I have ever taught will walk across the stage to graduate I wont be there.
Lets see- other things i wont be here for : My son's end of year field day and picnic- i have gone every year since hes been in school. Also the last show of Oprah, the Hangover II and I believe So You Think You Can Dance and the Bachelorette all come back - (Thats it, we gotta postpone the court trip!!!) hehee
I wonder if these things will even cross my sons field day- yes of course, and graduation. I wonder how my mind and heart will change over the next week....and that of my husband's. I wonder how the mind and heart of our new son will change over the next week as he navigates feelings of fear, curiosity and love. I am not overly religious but i feel called to do this...i have always felt called to go to Ethiopia, but even more so to help children so in need, to experience such a beautiful culture and to grow my family in this way.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

One Week

ONE WEEK AGO  Happy Belated Mothers Day: last weekend i was at Great Wolf Lodge with my son, step son , step daugher, my wonderful husband and my son's best friend, dale. We had a blast- especially on Mothers day- it was so empty- no lines, we got lots of chairs by the outside pool/splash was awesome!!! we went last year and it was also special for many reasons- my mom and step dad joined us, it was also mothers day and that Saturday was the first day we met the social worker who would be doing our homestudy.  It was our first interview.....the friday before that mothers day we sent off our official application to HOLT for their ET program, after applying for the WC program. So basically last weekend marked the year anniversay of officially begining our adoption journey.

ONE WEEK FROM NOW: We will finish packing our things, drop off our children with their respective other parents (yay for being a blended- 2nd-marriage household) go through the details with our pet sitters/house sitters and be on our way to the airport. We still have so much do get done (why am i wasting time writing this?!)- this is the last prep weekend plus its the last week of school for me since i will be in Ethiopia during the *real* last week of i am just running in so many directions.
Grades gotta be in, projects for my homebound girls (who all had babies in the last three weeks), end-of-year stuff at school, packing,  SO MUCH!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

show and share

Gabe took the photo album we made for him (Gabe) and the one we made for S ( a family book showing lots of the house and siblings/family etc) to school to show with his fellow classmates and teacher. He is getting excited....he knows he will be out of school when S will most likley come home (i hope end of July?) and now wants to come along with me....hmmm i dunno- it would be amazing for him, but John is not coming so it would just be me...but actually Gabe has so much patience and loves kids- that he could probably really entertain and bond with S.....but the $$ is a factor, so who knows
I have travle on my mind so much that i need to stop and realize i got other errands to do, like pay for th einternet and cell phones before they are turned off (no automatic draft after too many mishaps with Timewarner cable)
Trips- book, John is plannign London stuff ...we have 13 hours (so really probably just 10) hours the way there and from noon to 7am the next day on the way back....both Sunday we will hit up some pubs, the Piccadilly Circus, Westminster and the Eye oh and the Tate Modern....not sure what order or how...but those will get done. We are staying quite near the airport so i hope the 4:45 am wake up call means we can get rushed to the airport to sleep in a chair until we board- yikes!
This weekend is GREAT WOLF LODGE! I love water parks with my sons...and cant wait to take S

Sunday, May 1, 2011

go go go

Busy weekend-
so we have been exploring tickets...initially we thought we would do about 9 hours in NYC and then fly and layover in Dubai. But i have found a neat trip on BMI- from Columbia,SC to DC- 8 hours there to hang out (we wanna see some cities and tour around a little) them fly over night to London- 13 hours there, then over night flight arrive in Addis at 6:45 am....i think this is what we wanna go with- so we can pack some time for other touristry things....we will have an extra day or two in Ethiopia for visiting Trees of Glory and some other places....we are leaving on a Saturday and arriving back the following Sunday....pretty sweet