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Monday, August 29, 2011

amazing

i think we really got our pay off at the end of  such a long process....Sam is so wonderful- he really is....my love for him feels so genuine and real and authentic like i have known him forever. I DID NOT EXPECT THIS....i expected hard, and it coud get harder,- i expected trauma and fear and him to at least be scared of someone- not so...i expected "parent shopping" but he wants to be with us and interact with others with us holding him at our side....i expected dog fear- OK thats still going on until today, when he decided it was time to go outside and see these wooshas up close.....still scared but better sitting on our laps. I am amazed at this boy....so amazed at how he fits in so well, and it has blown me away. I feel like all of these trials and tribulations are so worth it to have such a wonderful bond with one of the most delightful little boys i have ever known (and he is mine!!) I know Gabe is the one who is probably having more issues than Sam - so we will work on things together- he is a very sensitive boy (Gabe)- and doesnt go with the flow well when the flow gets crazy .....so we have work to do...and lord knows we will have lots of work to do once the surgeries start. But for now my heart couldnt get much bigger

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

the embassy puzzle

We were so fortunate to be cleared this last friday and offered to come in on Monday. The crazy thing was we weren't given a time to come in (9am was the usual time , but we were not part of an agency group- so Holt asked for a specific time) We were emailed on Monday at like 930 to be there at 11am (yikes!)- Initially the first email we got on Monday said to come in Tuesday the 23rd with the big HOLT group- then it was followed up by "come in at 11am")....scramble scramble, get ready, get driver, get over there. We arrive and they took us right away. The agent we worked with, a tall American woman with dark hair and glasses reviewed our materials. She reviewed the power of attorney John created with the template we were emailed...it was missing a very specific phrase....ugh- she asked us to have him re-do one right away and scan it and come back either that afternoon or tomorrow morning at 9. She also said that the embassy physicial for Sam had no mention of his special needs. WHAT?!!>! ARE YOU KIDDING?>!!#@?!@# I have been emailing and calling and sending information about Sams health and their own physician didn't review it when she performed his physicial in July? So guess what?~ We got to go back and visit the embassy physician for her to correct her form and review his special needs. ....geez
So....on to this morning.... we go in and to our delight we just wait like 15 minutes. Again, we are going in at an opposite time of the other adoption groups, so we are called right up. The POA was emailed by John and myself and they have it, they are ready to go...i swear in- discuss his history and the investigation, discuss the finallity of adoption and the need to have these materials with me until we reach immigration at our first point of entry to the US.....they tell us the visa will be ready at 10 am the next day.
We return to guest house...play....watch lame tv...the phone rings. I tense up b/c i just feel something is off. I am told we need to return to the embassy for a THIRD TIME to sign off on the new physical report, but we can just pick up his visa this afternoon at 4pm...... if i never see the US Embassy again it will be too soon (unless some how i adopt again hahaha)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

winding down and gearing up

hello hello. Our time here in Ethiopia is winding down. There is end in sight. Ironically it was at my lowest moment, at a point when i felt like this process may very well defeat me , that we got the good news of our clearance. Having been told the police dept in Sams region was not willing to change/amend thier reports- i once again pleaded with embassy to help us find a sollution. Have our agency create an edited report detailing new information and have it notarized, or have the embassy do it. Heck, I can come down and type up the new information and detail that the police were not compliant in issuing this new letter. I sent this pleading email at 1056 am , knowing that since they do not do any appointments on Friday and are only there half the day, that they may not get back to me with any sollutions. Much to my astonishment at 1224 pm they emailed me back to inform me our case was cleared and we could come in as soon as Monday morning. I was just astonished that we were finally cleared....finally done with this uphill battle; uphill all the way. I did not get a confirmation that Monday was ok, but we are showing up!!!
I was able to , fortunatley, get a return ticket leaving late late Wednesday (really Th at 1am) on Turikish Air. This was not my intended flight- i had hoped for the Ethiopian Air- direct, but all coach seats were full until 9/1 so i was unable to switch my original ticket. We will make it work; I am not looking forward to the layovers (Istanbul and Chicago- immigration) but we will make it work....it will be the last trying test of this uphill journey.
I have enjoyed meeting so many families, such diverese groups of people adopting beautiful children. Some with attachment issues that can most likley be linked to trauma and grief, some babies who seemed to click with thier parents/parent from day one....its pretty amazing. Sam and I are one of the "click"ed pairs. I hope it stays that way. He has a certain level of confidence that he will go and play with others but always seeks me out and comes back to be held and hugged. We have some behavior challenges but they are main stream toddler stuff- "don't play in the toilet, you can not eat chalk, toys are not to be thrown, bananas are for eating; not smooshing on the carpet"- He did have a hint of wanting to eat and eat eat and always have food in his hands....that went on for about a week but now we have a good routine, he knows food is coming and he has let that "security cookie" go. I think our biggest challenge will be him having to share my attention. I think, however, that having a good tradoff- having his dad around to give attention will help. He already gets a bit protective when i hold, talk with or play with other kids exclusivley- he wants to come sit on my lop and says "mama" kind of loud, as if to let those kids know who I really belong too. He is also a big time hugger.....even after he throws a little fit about being told now i wall say "up please" and he will reach out....so even when hes mad at me, he can take comfort from me- thats a biggie, something Gabe has issues with at times.
Things i wish i had planned for/brought
More diapers/pull ups (he is about 85% trained)
BIBS! he inists on feeding himself but is messy
More American comfort food snacks- i seriously want a hershey's bar and some skittles!
Toys for a younger age
More clothes for him (he is in 2 and 3t, all the 4ts were too big but he has actually gained weight, so the 3ts are pretty right on)
More socks for him- and ones that fit his feet (club feet distorts the widness of the feet :( )

Overall i think i packed well.....i am trying to wrap my mind around repacking this all up and actually heading out of the door. I have purchased lots and lots of stuff, for my family and friends.
We haven't gotten too stir crazy- we have been able to go to the Hilton and play on the playground and get great food. Sam loves being in the car and looking out the window, meeting new people and playing!!! I can not wait to get this boy in the pool! He looks longingly at the many pools by the Hilton  playground (soon little man, your brothers love to swim). I have also been lucky to have the internet on my laptop (yay wireless) and stay in communication with everyone. The one thing i am "stir crazy" about is the food...its pretty good but i am just tired of the menu.....I WANT MEXICAN FOOD!!!
I am concerned with transitioning Sams very good diet to the American - lots of processed food diet- not that i intend to seek out processed food, its just inevitable that Gabe will want to take him to McDonalds and or Chik-Fil-A and i am not sure what our food will do to his system.....i hope the G.I. gods can treat us well.
ok some pictures to top off this post




Friday, August 19, 2011

TGIF- EMBASSY CLEARANCE- FINALLY!!

HOORAH!!!! we finally have embassy clearance!!! they are willing to take us on Monday at 9am....but i am having issues with finding returns to the states on Ethiopia Air mid week for next week....we could be stuck here until August 30th, but it would save us like $2,500! We will work it out...and the important thing is all his paper work will be done and official!!
TGIF!!! Lets celebrate.

autumn and sam

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

big step backwards

So now the head of the police dept. of Jima refuses to revise the original police report like requested by the US embassy. She said it was entered into court as official evidence and can not legally be changed without court approval (courts do not reopen until the first week of October due to the rainy season) The investigator said the embassy needs to accept the police report as it is and then can add an ammendment documeny of their own referencing the errors and the interview findings. I must admit, she has a point. There should not be a need for a court accepted/evidence document to be recreated if we are supposed to focus on *transparency* in international adoptions. The embassy or even Holt can create an ammendment detailing the issues/errors and attach it to the original. Since the original police reports were court ordered and accepted - the investigator does not feel it is legally ethical for her to have to reissue a whole new police report. So at this point have contacted our Senators, yet againWe must appeal to the US Embassy to accept the report as is/making notes about this issue or accept and ammendment to be added to the police file.  Our agency rep said she pleaded with the investigator from Jima, as did the nuns from  the Mission of Charity- but the Jima investigator was not keen on recreating/reissuing a new report. At this point the US Embassy can document all of this in thier file and move forward and they need to be requested to do so.   This report was accpted by MOWCYA and the Ethiopian High Court and was a requested item of evidence for his case.- there is one date descrepancy of two months that got overlooked by the court/MOWCYA.....but the embassy must nit-pick it seems and then pretty hardline about a whole new report being created when we can make an ammendment statementand be done with it,.....please pray for a resollution!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

today has been hard....

today is Saturday- a weekend day revered by many because of loungey afternoons spent with family or friends, shopping or home projects, watching aimless amounts of tv. Saturdays kinda suck here in Ethiopia because I know that for today and tomorrow i will not have any updates about embassy. The sticky part of the embassy requests are over and now we just wait for o.n.e. l.o.n.e d.o.c.u.m.e.n.t    ugh- . Yesterday we went to the Sheraton, which i found much too fancy for kids, as did many b/c no kids were there...none at all..the playground was closed. So i took a car to the Hilton where there were tons of kids and a full playground,but we didnt have a lot of time....i hope to go back next week. The weather has been kinda cool, heavy rains in the afternoons and evenings. Sam and I have a pretty good routine down. We wake up about 730, down to breakfast by 745 or so (he stays in his pjs b/c of frequent breakfast food messes), then play until 9 or 930, get dressed, brush teeth, straighten room, more playing while i check email, maybe venture outside to play with the guard, lunch at 12, then clean up, watch a little tv /Elmo - nap at 130, 3/330 wake up, shake off the crankies and have a snack (attachment rocking time, Sam loves it), play in or out again, dinner at 530- at 615, back in playroom area, mom on internet, Sam in and out of the balcony to yell at the guesthouse driver and guard. 730ish bath (unless it was completed earlier int he day due to boredom), play around til 830, lay down/watch tv- Sam falls asleep by 9pm. I then have more time to try and read, shower or surf internet. If we venture out to the store or to the larger hotels it happens between 11 and 2ish, we have lunch out :) Wash, rinse, repeat each day. Sam has been battling a runny nose, he is also wanting to stubbornly do everything himself- such as eating spaghetti, running the bath water and tying his shoes....he does not always favor my assistance until he realizes he is not getting it done. Tis the way of the toddler

Monday, August 8, 2011

The last phase of a long journey

Super excited to see me- Samuel was squealing- it was so adorable!


On August 1st we met again after over two months! We played in a good sized ball pit, in the new play/PT room on the first day- Monday afternoon Aug 1- during an hour of visiting time. He was pretty distraught when I had to go. I got to help him eat his last dinner in the orphanage.

Took custody August 2nd- was given two handmade sweaters and a pair of shoes by the MOC, Allasalem (his main nanny) took him around to different people to say bye, and stayed in a classroom until I came to get him. She seemed really sad- he has been in care for over three years! She visited with me for a while when we changed his clothes, looked at many of his pictures. I gave her a collection of pictures and a card. She looked at a book I made for Sam and asked to have a picture of me and him together (my favorite picture of us, and the very first one we took after I had him in my arms less than 5 minutes). That was very touching and I immediately took it out of his book and gave it to her. I am so glad they were “loose “ pictures and not printed by Shutterfly, or I wouldn’t have been able to do that for her. Sister Jennifer helped me put on the new shoes I brought him- and that was just a great moment.

I am very very grateful to the other families here, because they had to wait for me to visit Sam at his care center, while they lost time to spend with their children since the Holt care center 3 was so far away and we were crunched. These families, knowing that I am here for an indefinite amount of time, were so willing to help me, give me items that I could use- propel water, bibs, medications, nice Kleenexes for Sam’s very runny nose, musical toys, leftovers, wet-wipes etc…it was so sweet how this group was very much a team. Those initial 4 families have all gotten their visas, and have made their way back homw.We have two new families here now, and somehow that initial “team” feeling isn’t the same. Or maybe i am already too familiar with life here, after a week, and dont seem so frazzled.

Things I realized in the first day or two: He loves to eat, had mangos, banana, lentils, injera, cake all on the first day. He will try any food once, and likes 95% of it. He finds security in always carrying a cracker or cookie. He also finds security in being with me- and is always calling me to his side with endless “nay”s. He really wants to be right with me and will sit on the bathroom step to wait for me – its adorable. He cuddles next to me in bed to sleep even though he has always slept alone. Although he takes a long time to settle in to sleep, wants to play, cuddle, sing and then fidget/squirm his way to la-la land. We play this game, that I saw with his nannies, where he yells or even whispers “eep” and I repeat it then he kinda play slaps my leg or runs to give me a kiss…so awesome.

He was given honey-nut cheerios on August 5th (Friday) and loves them. He is super happy and easy to please, even during his grumpy times. He does not like to be told NO- but is easily appeased

He has become very attached to me, and when someone asks him who is ema-ye is he points to me but just calls me “allo”- which I believe he got from the French nuns. He would say that to them, b/c he would hear them say that to him when they greeted him. I wonder if he thinks I am French (my husband would love that to be true). On the first day he began giving me spontaneous hugs and kisses, looks me right in the eye, always telling me to “Nay”- or “come with me/come here”. The shoes I brought him are working out very well. Although there is something rubbing the outside toes, where they meet his feet. I am so looking forward to getting him home and more comfortable. He was/is scared of the big potty but we got him a “po-po” on Thursday (August 5th) and he has started using that. He is small for his age, fits in 2t well, and 3t is a bit big. 4t clothes are very big on him. His shoe size is an 8.5

He speaks A LOT of Amharic, and I wish I knew all his phrases and songs. I have learned important communication words for “eat” “open the door” “its ok” “beautiful/wonderful” “good job/clever” “cookie”, “shoes” “water” “drink”, “no/yes” “stop” “hot” “thank you”, “slow down” “dog” , “diaper”and three different potty terms- those I can manage without looking at my list. I use many other phrases from my list for longer statements.

He is very playful and even likes to clean up. He loves musical toys! His walking is quite cumbersome and at times he often asks to be carried, especially up the stairs- although he does crawl on them. I have heard him complain about his feet twice since we have been together and it breaks my heart. He is so eager to be fast and quick, but then falls and stumbles- but gets back up with a smile. He throws the cutest and funniest “fits” which are very different from when he is truly sad/scared. His bottom lip pouts out in a major way and he falls to the floor, sometimes forward and sometimes backwards. He is usually silent and just pouty, rolls over and covers his face like he is asleep. Sometimes if I exacerbate the situation, without giving in, he will whine. He looks like a 2 year old doing this. Most of the time he is much more of a two year old. He is wearing 2T and some 3T clothing, He is kind of a tiny guy, but chunky. An Ethiopian Danny Diveto, if you will.

The first two days my body was quite mad at the world. Mad at the lack of sleep, different food, tension of the stressful trip with all the luggage handling left up to me. Then compound that with a 30 pound chunk of toddler-love that insists on being carried up all 4 flights of stairs (5 of you count coming up from the dining area). We have since moved rooms and the sleeping issue and stair issue have been resolved. I have acclimated to the climate, food, embassy-wait stress and time change and to being mom of a little one again. I have also lost some of my “pregnancy” weight! Woohoo

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The last night....the last hour

Last night was the last night our Samuel will have spent in an orphanage. I was there to feed him dinner and play and then put him to bed for his last night in his little blue crib at the carecenter. This is the last hour he will live there...in an hour he will be with me....i leave in 30 minutes. I left Sunday at 7am and arrived in Addis at 8am on Monday- and am surrounded by some great families. We have challenges with embassy, but nothing major and it will take a few days. Hopefully good news will come this week. Sam is walking, well kind of hobbling...but its a fast hobble! He is out of casts for now and some muscle tone is coming back to his legs. He is such a joyful boy....just giggles and smiles all the time. He is so excited about being able to wear shoes for now. "CHEMMAS!!!!" he yells . He is a short little three year old it seems, but he is a good eater! Its nice here, weather wise. Daily down pours make the air so much nicer than in May. The north is still battling drought conditions. Its such a nice break from 105 temps in SC. I am at such peace finally after so much anxiety...my chest and heart would hurt some days (or usually in the middle of the night at 3am) with worrt about what would happen with our case and if i will make it back. I have heard other very frustrating stories of adoption from some families here, and there has already been tears due to a scary court situation for some families who left yesterday. It is so difficult to be able to have grace and peace with this process....and this is just the beginning....after the heartbreaking hurdles of just getting through court and embassy, then you have the new life to create, often dealing with trauma and attachment building that is not always easy.... through this process i really have felt my heart has literally grown (maybe b/c of the anxiety palpatations hehe)....now i can breath