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Sunday, October 20, 2013

How long has it been?

well i am finally coming up for air....these last two months have been a whirlwind of school, stress, medical issues, new work issues, works conferences, Disney trips, parent visits, school conferences, john being out of town. Its been a roller coaster - Our school year started off with a rough start....we are still very much in that rough start , but its getting easier. Gabe had some issues transitioning to his new classwork routines- with extra homework, more things to be responsible for. However he really did shine brightly with his peers, socially speaking. He began an Pokemon club, joined the steel drum band, and has made some new friends. His grades aren't where we want them to be, but he is really having to adjust to a great deal . Kidist has been the one child to have a seamless transition- she does great in school, loves her teacher, loves the staff- has so many friends, helps with the babies, gives everyone hugs all the time. Her health is great, her adjustment has been really good and she is just thriving. Theres some issue with a prescription injection we need for her- but we are trying to work that out with insurance. Sam continues to be challenged by sensory issues that have reared their ugly heads. He had the roughest start of everyone- but still has a zest and love for going to school. He just gets so very worked up when he lacks control of the activities or the routine changes. We have found an OT who is adept to sensory issues, as is the asst principal. They are working with him at least twice a week- the OT comes to the school. Also, we have also cut out wheat, artificial dyes, take 2400 mg of omega fatty acids, and Sam is also taking 10 mg of Focaline. Its been a good change...hes making progress, we are working out kinks, there are side effects we have to deal with (like lack of appetite and weird leg/head aches late in the afternoon). But hes making improvements and is more focused and mentally engaged with his work and surroundings. Today we went to a birthday party- and had a cupcake (wheat,) with a good amount of colored frosting and two cups of bright red Hawaiian punch. He has not had these things, especially all at once, in 6 or 7 weeks. For the two hours that followed this concoction- he zipped around, running like a maniac, jumped like a wild man on the trampoline, then  proceeded to try and wrestle and fight Gabe- getting very worked up- clawing up Gabe's arms and legs. When I had to begin dealing with this issue- Sam proceeded to have one of the biggest melt downs I have ever seen from him...starting off really sad- sobbing,, then banging things, then banging his head on the bench at the table.... I had to put him in my bed with pillows around the floor to keep him safe. He flailed around yelling and throwing his body against the bed, then would sit up , then throw himself back again...it went on for 30 minutes. This would have been right around when his focaline wore off and the birthday party crap concoction kicked in. I hate seeing him like this but i find it encouraging to have proof of what causes this.....i care for four children, two home grown and two habeshas- and he is the only one with such drastic sensory issues and food sensitivities. So ...our life is a bit messy right now....we tend to have a good grasp on it all- and of course there is more 'good' than 'challenging'- we are making it through. All the staff at Sams new school says things to him like "you are gonna make it...we are keeping you here...you are so smart, you belong here"- ....which is good to hear, given that the first two weeks included Sam fleeing the classroom several times daily, climbing under tables, throwing chairs and just outright refusal to comply with anything.....we are working on it all- every day.
I am sharing all of this, not to be a mom who intending to share TMI about her son from a hard place- but so that other families walking this same road know there are others here along for the journey. Sam has been home two years and we see new challenges often- The attachment is there, the love is there, but we work every day on patience and understanding. And you know if we have issues with patience and understanding, then his teachers must certainly have issues too....

Saturday, August 24, 2013

hows attachment going- and who is that girl giving everyone hugs?

So school has begun and other than not liking to be woken up in the morning at all (grumpiest ever) Kidist is having lots of fun with school. Sam is doing really well too- he is an early rise. Gabe is making a somewhat difficult transition into the world of personal responsibility. At his old school the teachers aide would literally put all the homework worksheets/reading in each and every child's binder for them...like open it up and do it all ...and go around and check behind if they forgot. Not so ith three different teachers, plus electives here in the 4th grade. Gabe is forgetting things left and right- then having major freak outs and looking for someone to blame. So we have had several talks about being personally responsible and just trying to remember "hey do I have everything I need? If not, what do I need to do?" I had him say that question this morning, outloud, on the way to the car for a fencing work shop...we realized a day long fencing workshop DID need a lunch and his fencing bag....all which Gabe left in the house. He then gets uber frustrated and stomps around when he has to go back and get something....wooooweeee buddy- this is your deal now.
Anyhow. I wanted to touch on attachment with K because we are now starting to see some behaviors that make me worry a little. I am with her much of the time, i am the limit setter, the referee with the brother, the buyer of most things, the consequence giver (mainly to Sam but she sees it), and the driver to school and doctors. So i seem to be more authoritarian in her eyes and likely less of a "friend". K has always been a hugger, and up to a few weeks ago she would hug me all the time too. That has ceased to be the case unless i approach her. However we will spend an extra three minutes at the end of each day for her to hug teachers, Sams K5 aide, the assistant principal and even the secretary each day. She jumps into Johns arms at the end of the day and asks him to carry her around (which is a good sign and likely something she needs)- However she gets bitter with me when i have her take her plates to the sink, require she keep her bedroom door open, and . She also loves to go every where at church, running from room to room for hugs, but when i need her to sit in one area so our church meeting/ orientation can take place- she glares at me with such a pissed off attitude. So i am not sure what to do. I know i should likely look for more times to just have fun and be her friend instead of being more authoritarian mommy....so i am looking for opportunities/ideas for that - which can accompany an often whiney and impulsive 5 year old


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A very full world over here

Wow Kidist has been home a month already and we have just been in a whirlwind of activities, work, play dates, doctors appointments, school visits, swimming and playing. I have been working part time, taking Kidist in with me to work. However when she sees the boys going to camps/pre-school she was upset that she couldn't go too. So last week we enrolled her into the Edventure 'Spa Science' camp. It turned out that two girls from our UU congregation were going, plus a third was there but in a different camp. Kidist had such a great time. This week 'gee-maw' and Papa Mike are visiting. We have been swimming a lot this summer- and Kidist has basically taught herself to swim. She decided last Saturday -no more vest.  Its amazing to watch how comfortable she is in the water. Sam is like a fish as well- its great for his legs, sensory issues and to expel lots of energy.
Kidist and Sam are continuing to get along very well- but not too fake. She sets limits for him and has to reign him in- which is very typical. She is not bonding much with Gabe. Hes older and a boy and seems out of her realm of interest....but he does she her stuff like handstands and how to do flips in the water. She loves Brave but has been asking for Cinderella. I am not sure where she was exposed to Cinderella- but she kept asking and asking. My mom bought her a Cinderella doll two days ago and I got her the movie. She has a bit of an obsession...especially when she saw in the DVD case a little brochure about going to Disney and meeting the princesses....she jumped up and showed it to me. Yikes!
She is excited about school and asks about it nearly every day. I had to go out of my way to find people to tell her, in Amharic, that her camp was not school (i wish it were, baby!) School starts early here- August 19th. She will be in the 2nd grade :) Sam will be joining her at the same school, but in Kindergarten and Gabe will be at a near by public elementary in 4th grade...new schools for everyone. Anxiety for me
Kidist's English is coming along well, but I really do not want her to loose her Amharic so I try and find weekly chances for her to use it.
I am trying to find time to update the blog- but I have been working for the developing charter school and Sustainable Carolina- plus being a mommy to three, sometime four kids! Its been a bit crazy, but in a good way. Kidist also loves her dad.... which is great. Kidist and Sam will be at the Little Gym this year for dance and tumbling. We are all pretty excited! * I don't have as many pictures of Gabe because he alternates between his dads house and ours in the summer- so he is not around as much....and when he is, he is usually hiding and playing on the Kindle or Slate!

Autumn

Monday, July 15, 2013

joys and concerns

At my church we do a frequent activity called 'candles of community' in which people from the community, church members etc come up and light a candle in the name of some significant joys and concerns in their lives.
I dont go up too often, but felt the urge to put them here.

JOYS:
Countless shrieks and giggles from two little Ethiopian children who seem like they grew up together- the instant love is amazing and i hope it never fades
A husband who is supportive and patient with me and the children, a fun dad that specifically goes out of his way to make sure he spends some one on one time with each child.
Two glasses of wine- right now there are two on the table next to me....i poured one and because John is always to attentive, he poured me one....not realizing - woo hoo
The sheer excitement of a little boy so overjoyed it wasnt raining that he ran to the pool and jumped in, with his socks on!!!!
My work- i love researching and developing curriculum and managing education research/projects for our local schools and charter school development
My animals- my beautiful tortoise has a new outside 'habitat' and my doggies all love one another.
My fearless new daughter who even during times of slight concern, digs her heels in and stays present, with us and engaged with our family. She could shut down out of grief and fear and even though she is likely feeling those things, she has remained 'with us' and willing to experience anything.
Our new schools for this upcoming year

CONCERNS
Raising a son of color in a post Trayvon Martin verdict world
Attachment
My Lula dog- she is loosing sight, hearing and i think a bit of dementia is setting in :(
My kitchen floor- really it sucks, its horrible, it needs to be rescued
My dissertation proposal, or rather my lack of a dissertation proposal
Developing a new charter school amid weird school politics
Our children's academic futures

Saturday, July 13, 2013

so many new things

whew most days have been so busy with family and resettling here, settling Kidist in, that at the end of the day we feel like we have run a marathon. All of us are really giving it 110% to family time, engaging Kidist in new experiences while at the same time trying to keep her world small. She seemed eager to meet some little girls her age- but only was able to hang out with some for a short time at the water park before rain set in. John has been home all week except for Friday. We have been busy- kids museum, pool, small water park, playing games here with Sam, Gabe and Ross. She likes video games, and Gabe has been trying to show her the Wii- shes getting good with certain Wii Fit games. We have not called her sister yet, but plan to very soon. She prays in Amharic and at times sings in Amharic- but has been trying to mimic Sam and Gabes words. This girl knows how to go to bed. As soon as she sees thats what we are all doing, she gets her dolls ready on her bed, gets changed and before we know it, is often laying down awaiting good-night hugs. Today we had a former student of mine come to do her hair. She loves getting her hair done. Food- she tried any and everything, but is not gorging or hoarding. She will often clean her plate and get more but in a very non-aggressive way. However, when it comes to certain snacky items she will go through the kitchen at will and pull out any food that looks interesting. We have child doors on the larger cabinets but the fridge gets open from time to time. Drinking from a straw at the guest house and at restaurants has been a new novel fun thing for her- so much so that she has been known to drink up ketchup with a straw. She gets along great with Sam but just today I have started to see a bit of rivalry or testy-ness with Gabe. It may be brought on by him, a bit, because he gets overly territorial/argumentative over most everything, so she could be reacting to him a bit. He sees little value in giving of his time or effort unless we specifically tell him when and what to do.This has caused significant strife with Sam and I fear it may cause issues with Kidist. But at this moment i have put them both on the Wii, without disruptions of me, Sam or John and they are doing well together. Of course I am in the very same room. We are making sure not to let her too far from us even if shes with a brother.
I was re-reading a post on another blog I follow about attachment and some guest posts from another blogger about older-child adoption (the challenges, unknowns and positives). This time it does feel lots different than with Sam- but theres good and challenging 'different'. The good- shes able to really relate to Sam and Gabe in great ways, is responsible, able-bodied and can take care of many of her needs. She has a great memory of her language, culture and history and values singing and praying in her language. She is ahead of where we thought she would be as far as school skills goes. NO POTTY TRAINING! The challenges- since she is not small and in casts (like Sam)- there lack of physical contact. We would hold and hug Sam all the time and now we have to try make opportunities for that. She has a big personality that can exude lots of confidence but at the same time it make be a mask for not letting us in on a deeper level (which I totally understand). She and Sam both have complicated histories- both spent years in institutions and/or not living in a traditional family structure. Luckily both have taken to John in a big way- which I am so so thankful for. Kidist and Sam both just seem to exude so much joy when they are experiencing fun and exciting things- little trepidation. However, when they do not get what they want, they both show it- Sam more so than Kidist. Next week will bring changes- Gabe will be at his dad's house, Sam will be back at his pre-school/day care and John will be at work. It will be just me and K, and at times going to work for little bits at a time. Wish us luck!!

Monday, July 8, 2013

blue birds hotel, Kidist and Fruit ninja

i have so much to say and explain and describe about my very eventful embassy trip. We are home! Kidist is resilient, beautiful, creative and artistic little girl who has been so brave, and really extended herself to embrace her new family. She has timid moments, but they are few. Sam is so in love with his new big sister and Gabe has embraced being a big brother to a little girl who is much more patient, calm and attentive compared to Sam. I stayed at the Blue Birds hotel instead of the Horizon House Guest house. The guest rooms are not ready and at this time they are likely choosing a different direction and using the rooms who would have been a guest room for older children's games/learning. I had Wifi but only had my Kindle- which does not have an app that I can use for Blogger :( I will type more as the thoughts come and my mind is not like mashed potatoes. I have tons of Facebook, so i will get some pictures up here.

Kidist mastered some games on my Kindle- one being Fruit Ninja :)

She is brave and excited- loves her dolls and will patiently be 'taught' chess by Gabe, while also spending time wrestling and tickling Sam....beautiful girl.
Selfie- day one !

Love this place....one was across from my hotel

Dressed up for embassy :)


Kidist took this picture- I gave her this doll right before we went to a traditional dinner. 
Baby Princess Tiana came along!



So beautiful right before the coffee ceremony


Just landed in DC!!!


Wasting time, 3 hour layover in Dulles!!

Lounging on our first morning together

Not a great picture but her smile shines thru!!!













Thursday, June 27, 2013

A mere six hours from now...

I will be packed in my car- a large bag, a smaller rolling carry on, me in my new comfy travel skirt (always a skirt), reviewing my itinerary. My husband will drive me to the airport, with our smallest one in tow. I will board a plane at 7ish and be in my way to our little girl. Gabe is staying over at one of his best friends houses, so that he may still get to camp on time, and not be abruptly awoken at 4am to get in the car.
I have been so anxious, boarder line giddy-frantic. I have worked up until today, and banked enough hours so that my taking off two weeks should be ok. I have a great place to call my 'work' because i will be able to take K with me to work, its very low key.
I have gotten her room almost all prepared...printed several pictures of her and I from court, her sister and her while they visited for that court date and her new family....i hope her room feels like home. I expect she may be lonely and want company. Would she dare want to share a room with a hyper up mischievous 5 year old from time to time....or will she tough it out and adjust to having her own room for the first time in her life?
What is more remarkable is that her sister will be visiting with us both....we will all get to be in the same room together. I am amazed and anxious...again bordering on that giddy to frantic state of mind. Our care center in in a bit of a transition. Horizon House is moving to a new facility where all staff, plus guest house, clinic, and care center is in the same compound. This agency really is very hands on with its children and feel it is the best for all involved to have one central location. I hope the new facility is amazing and the children involved are able to navigate this transition in stride.
Whew....i am just kind of amazed and ready for this to begin. I am really trying to grasp and internalize what it will mean for K to move here, to gain this huge new identity and struggle with what to do with her former self....i truly do not want her Ethiopian self to really be 'former'. However, i fear she may believe that she will be expected to abandon her culture. After all she has lost, i really hope she doesn't struggle with this internal strife as well.
-So it begins....

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

auetumnpewins@gmail.com is NOT my email address...and weird embassy confusions

So we got like no communication from the embassy after our consulate review passed (that was over our documents, not K;s)....other families would get daily updates about how things were moving...not us. Yesterday my agency checked into it....said they were waiting on lab results from the Embassy Dr....other families told me this could take a week....so we assumed at least a week wait was what we had in store. That was until today at 2:14 when i checked my messages and heard my SW say that the embassy had my email wrong and that our case has cleared!!!!!!
Departure date: next Friday June 28th!!!
Embassy first choice July 1st
Embassy second choice July 2nd~! ...
We hope to be home July 6th or 7th!!


I will also be able to meet her birth sister- how amazing and scary!!!
SO MUCH TO GET DONE!!!

Monday, June 10, 2013

WOOHOO officially submitted!

we were officially submitted today! So excited. Other people in my court group already have return embassy dates for next week (two families). I am super excited. Still trying to plan the best use of our travel funds. We  are concerned with having some of Johns family stay with Sam- there's just concerns with Sams behaviors and having someone we feel confident to care for our dogs. So if we don't have the $ to take all of us, then it may just be me. That way i would have the $ to visit K's home village too and extended family....so many decisions. I hate for John not to be able to go- but he has significant concerns with not having much support for Sam-care, we do not have many options. We will see where the funds are. I expect to be buying tickets i a week or two.



Sunday, June 9, 2013

still here....still waiting...lets look at pictures

Hi all. We were informed last week that out of the 5 families who went to court with me (well all 4 were the day after mine, but we are close enough to a group)- anyhoo- 3 of them were submitted to the embassy. We were not one of them, also a second family to an older child was also left out. This was due to an extra TB test that the embassy requires of older children. The test was already done, they were just waiting for the lab results. Should all be good then we will be submitted tomorrow (in just a few hours, in Ethiopia time) I am hoping and praying that this happens. Then in about two or three weeks we will be on a plane~!!

     Things have been really busy here but we are working hard to get K's room ready, finally! I am also working with a camp for two weeks, still doing curriculum development with Sustainable Carolina and trying to get the boys to get out swimming a few times a week. We visited with Johns family today- his nephew graduated high school last week. I am hoping/planning/praying Sam can join us on our trip- but we are still awaiting IRS stuff to be straightened out. We spoke with them last week and i hope our return, or part of it, will be here in time for him to come. If not we are developing a plan for his care- not the easiest thing to get arranged. ....we will plan for the worst and hope for the best

Pictures

someones bedding!

I have been working with the great organization that helps train these adorable pups to be service dogs

Sam at the water park part of Carowinds


Gabe and his friend at the rock climbing wall at the zoo:

These boys have been such great friends since 4k!

Gabe made a new friend

VOTED BEST HAIR OF 3RD GRADE

Sams end of year pic nic



This guy trying to maintain order in our little pool

Last week of school- he thinks its summer already

A swing was installed!
















Saturday, June 1, 2013

SO amazed

WOW!! amazed, taken by surprise. We got a large "donation" yesterday towards our travel fund... a plane ticket for Sam!? totally not expected and so overjoyed :) I just have faith that doing good for other ans\d for causes you believe in ends up awarding the 'doer' in so many ways....i am lucky and so fortunate to be able to give back to the community here and to be given back to is just completely unexpected but so so so welcomed. I really believe that Sam, John and I can all travel to get Kidist :)

We still aren't certain when we will be submitted to embassy but i expect an email any day now. John has started in K's room, and I am trying to plan for a former student of mine, currently at USC and who is Habesha :)  to begin work with her so we do not loose Amharic. I also hope to have Sam re-learn his language ! So much coming together.
Work (both of my 'jobs') has been a flurry of activity-lots of great programs being planned!
I am happy and busy and tired and excited

Saturday, May 18, 2013

At a loss

I have been MIA. No news on the adoption front. Although we haven't expected much news until we are submitted. Anyhow, there have been some setbacks and tragedy here. I have been working with a group of people in development of a new charter school. We are set to open this August. The first person I met regarding this venture was Nathan, the executive director for the school. His charismatic passion and drive were contagious. We met weekly if not more so, to plan grant applications, curriculum, community outreach events. Our board and committees have included some great people, we have been featured on the local news several times, and our enrollment really began to pick up in the last two weeks. I met with Nathan on Wednesday from 12-130 with the community relations committee. He was so excited about the events we were planning to be involved with and attention from the community. I remember him saying something to the effect "wow this is really happening....its all coming together. " and " Thanks Autumn, I wish I had ten more Autumms". I have been offered a position with the school in the fall.....opening a new STEM charter school- how exciting. Anyhow later last Wednesday night Nathan was driving home from the office, after meeting g with two board members and folks at the children's museum, when a man entered the highway going the wrong way. Nathan and the man collided head on and both were killed . Our board and committees, families and staff have been devastated. The board and certain key players that have been instrumental in developing the school are working towards a plan of action. But Nathan did everything- facilities planning, financial giving, curriculum..... he gave his life for this school.... it has been his dream for the last two years. I can't comprehend him not being there to open it. His services are tomorrow... http://www.mcswain-evans.com/index.php/obituaries/current-year-obituries/931-nathan-r-yon

Monday, April 22, 2013

school, work and family sucking me in

Despite the terror that took over Boston- i am trying to focus on K's adoption and her homecoming. That being said- our adoption agency is in Boston (Waltham)- so theres no separating the two. We are having a post-court/ trip two prep call soon.....i hope our social workers have been safe.
Anyhow, I miss K- i want her brothers to meet her. We are super excited about going back for her. I havent been obsessing about it, unlike the way we were with Sam. I am confident in her care at Horizon House. I have loved showing her pictures to people and seeing their eyes light up with surprise when they see she is 7. We haven't gotten her room close to ready yet. I have been sucked in to work and school and family duties. I have been lining up projects for summer, and have an online course to complete- but we are ready to get our butts on a plane at the drop of a hat!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

We’deshalu. Emet alu.



Shes ours!!! Had to get that out. Anyhow, heres a description of my trip. I havent gotten clearance to post photos even though we passed court- so i may have to wait on that
I made it safe and sound to Ethiopia. I arrived on 4/10 at 7:15 am. Finding my driver was a bit of
a hassle. But i found him and all was great. It has been so super
sunny. I met Kidist for the first time about 9:30 a.m.- she was so
super shy. The kids all know who the new mommy is for when the nanny
singles out a child by name first. So even though Kidist was told
nothing of my coming (she would have been told had Sister Tirhas been there, but she was out for that day due to her sister being in the hospital). Anyhow, the fact her name was called first startled her
a bit. She came, shook my hand with down cast eyes and then went back
to playing. I played with all the kids- 7 older children all together.
I then went back and brought seven or eight new pictures of Kidist and
her sister. She really opened up then and ran and got her secret bag,
hidden form the other kids, and showed me the two small B/W pictures
she had of her sister. She was so happy to have more and I wanted her
to know, that above all else, i valued her relationship with her
sister and wanted her to see that.  We then really began to hit it
off. I got out some crayons and coloring sheets, we did hair, we
played with toy dinosaurs. After her nap she ran up to me with a big
hug. The second day was even better. We watched movies with the other kids and
they did each others hair- we had lunch together, played soccer and i
shared her family book with her. I made her one on Shutterfly. Her
nurse translated and we talked specifically about what adoption is for
her, who her family is and what will happen

It was quite sweet onthe first day-  Kidist and her friend Fantu (the two oldest girls )went to help with the babies and i went with them. I would say shes 7/8. She colors SO WELL- very meticulous about being in the lines. Then Fantu braided my hair for a while- and Kidist tried to join in. I gave Kidist a plastic storage box with all kinds of hair stuff in it. She has put three of the clips in her hair. Fantu has pretty intricate braids. Kidists hair is much more "white/mixed" than you can tell...its pretty. Its not as tight as Sams..
Court was much much better than before. Everyone sits together and one by one goes before the judge all in one very large room. They remodeled the court- opening up the whole waiting room and judges chambers. This just started in Feb. There were many many Italian
families- like 6 of them and half were from Missionaries of Charity. I was one of two American cases. Everyone passed. The questions were very much the same as with Sam and she took the power of attorney but did not even ask for Johns job letter or new addendum for the home study. All early paper work was in order and processed. She is ours!
Kidist took more pictures the last two days with the camera. She got hit in the face with a ball that hit the camera into her nose. No blood but she was crying :( I helped calm er down. It got very busy on Saturday- four more families there plus three doctors for a medical mission. i went out with a HOLT mom who now lives here (Betsy:). We went to Metro Pizza and Kaldisfor  coffee and gelato in celebration of passing court. I met another family- the one thats here for the oldest boy. They are staying at the Hilton. I also
had lunch with the in country director. Oh and by the way- this is the agency Angelina Jolie used. There are pictures of her with the director right here. How crazy! I never knew. The clothes fit- but Kidist isnt too interested in clothes anyway (because here they are all communal- so she doesn’t see it as a gift to her, but as a piece of clothing for all)- so i am going to take
some back home. Her shoe sizes is about 2.5 (the 3’s were too big)
Kidist was just so sweet. Some of the kids were really aggressive to seek out attention. But Kidist didn’t really do that- she very much knew I was there for her and would sit right by me. Instead of being aggressive she would just say “fuc” (yes it sounds bad) It means “Up”- meaning to go upstairs to the guest house.  I am immensely impressed with the care center and have no issues leaving her- unlike Sam where i was just destroyed. Kidist sat with me and we looked through all kinds of family photos on the computer. She knows all about touch screens and loved playing with my camera, phone and computer. We also looked at Sams adoption photos, as well, so she she understands. We also played hide and seek or as they call it "coo-ca-loo" - very cute. We painted nails and she absolutely loved the doll I bought her from the Ethiopian shops.  She didn’t say much when Sister Tirhas translated for her, but she does try and talk a lot to me in Amharic and act out what she wants. She wasn’t sad when I left but did run and give me a big hug and I kissed her on both cheeks. I told her in Amharic “I love you and I will be back”. We’deshalu. Emet alu. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

jitters and insomnia and the fourth option

posted last night on our funding site and Fb :I will be taking off in less than ten hours, a long 16 hour journey to meet our little girl. I am nervous about leaving my boys, i am nervous about meeting this new little human, i am nervous about her being nervous. I have pages and pages of Amharic phrases, I have packed up some clothes for her, girly hair things, nail polish and princess toys. I wonder what she has been told about us. I had a dream that she told me she wasn't ready to leave Ethiopia just yet and i comforted her and told her i was just visiting. Jitters and nerves and a heart that is a flutter


I am waiting at the Washing DC/Dulles airport. We board at 1015. I have been battling a weird sinus headcold since Saturday. I am so over-tired because I could barely sleep last night.

The fonts on this blog are all over the place. I am excited and anxious and tired and hungry all at once!!

Part of me thinks we are crazy. With Sam we were certain he had no family- he had been in an institution for 3 years- watching so many other kids get adopted and also watching many kids, disabled, older and sick never get out. But with our sweet K- she has siblings and memories of what has happened to her family, to her. It overwhelms me to even speculate the harshness that life may have dealt her. However, i want there to be joy as well- i want her to have joyful memories she can seek out when the painful and harsh memories flood her mind. I hope she has had joy in her life, she deserves that. I hope she can understand how she can have a new family but still love her country and know we will value and cherish that culture. I pray she can help Sam appreciate his culture and homeland- and that we can build stronger connections to Ethiopia. 
I hope and pray we can stay in touch with her sisters and brother. That she can understand the decisions that her oldest sister had to make. We are the fourth option- possibly the best option right now. Of course her first and best option was for her parents to have never been stricken with HIV and/or for them to have the access to life-saving ARVs, the second best option was for her to stay with her siblings or extended family, the third best option would have been for her to have been fostered or adopted within Ethiopia. None of those options panned out ... so now we have the honor of being her fourth option. She has lost so much but  at the same time i do not want to only think of her as a victim. Obviously she is a survivor and a warrior . 

Monday, April 1, 2013

K has had some significant visitors

Over the last two week I have learned that K has visited with her sister, with one of our agency's social workers and with an AP who visited Horizon House with her older, adopted Ethiopian daughter as part of a 'heritage trip'. I have gotten wonderful descriptions of K as she has interacted with these women. She can write her name in English and is quite a leader among the children there. 

The first is K*****. I was told she is 7, but she looked more like 8 or 9 to me. She was taller than my 7.5 year old who is 75th  percentile and has been in the US since age one. K was very nice, a truly beautiful girl, who was so helpful and patient with the younger children. She seemed like a leader. I really liked her. 
I emailed this mother and got a bit more details: 
I was really struck by what a nice sense of community I got got from the kids. She is one of the oldest, if not the oldest child there at the moment. It will probably be nice for her to be someone's little girl and be doted on, rather than a leader.
Also, she is truly beautiful. I found her to be strikingly pretty.

From our social worker:
“I met K***** in a group of her peers.  She was one of the oldest children and she took charge of games and expressed her opinion easily.  She also held and cared for the babies and toddlers.  She wrote her name in English, completing the ‘K’ with confidence, looking to me for the ‘I’ then flipped back in my notebook to where her name was written and copied it.  She also elaborately pantomimed taking my blood (she put gloves on, drew the blood, put on a band-aid, took her gloves off and through them away).    When I asked her to repeat this later, she said no.”

I am so excited to be able to meet her. In one week I will start my journey. Of course this has been the "easy" wait. It will be the two or three months between court and embassy that will really be near unbearable

Sunday, March 24, 2013

More documents in hand and pictures and tears

This week was eventful- from getting our official court date on Monday- the same day that we started our fund-raising site, buying plane tickets in Tuesday, getting the nationally authenticated power of attorney on Wednesday and getting new photos of K and her sister on Thursday.  It has been a whirlwind of a week. I became quite emotional when E, our case worker, told me that K's sister did come to visit when she was in Addis for her court date. I was sent several pictures of the two of them, and a couple of just K. I am really happy her sister chose to visit. I know it may have stirred up deep emotions, and maybe cause regression in grieving, but i would have hated to tell K down the road, that her sister had the opportunity to visit and say good bye, but chose not to. I also really hope to have some sort of contact with her sister in the years to come- and having those pictures are priceless. We were so fortunate to have raised over $500 to help with travel. These funds are going to help Sam and Gabe travel for our embassy/home-coming trip. I really feel it is important we all travel together and come home complete (a complete wreck- ha).
Anyhow- today we visited the State Museum....i have a few pictures

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Court trip planning

I was so excited to get the email on Monday that we received our court date. I cheered through the office at Sustainable Carolina and was just so jolted by excitement Our day is Friday, April 12. I will be leaving South Carolina on April 9th at 6 am, arriving April 10th at 7am. I am flying Ethiopia Air, the straight shot right from Dulles. I loved that flight when I went on Sam's embassy trip. An interesting case of serendipity or divine intervention- I decided to go with a local travel agent, the one who helped me with my recent Florida trip. I called her and explained the trip I needed and that we are adopting a child and it turns out that she is adopted, too. We talked about adoption, our families and kids/school. She is a big adoption advocate/supporter and was just overjoyed to help me. She found me the most direct flight, right from Columbia, for a great great price. *If you are reading Mrs. Lynne- thanks so so much for your help and support.

Another bit of good news- at least two other WHFC families are traveling for court as well, and I look forward to meeting them. I tweaked and edited K's family book and ordered two copies. One to take and leave with her and one to give her again later in case the first one gets lost. I do not believe many children are at the transition house, so i hope to bring some nice little gifts for those there. I hope to find out more about the children there tomorrow when I talk with our case manager.
One additional bit of adoption serendipity- a new colleague of John's adopted twins from Ethiopia two years ago! He is excited to get to know him and his family a bit more.
We have been so fortunate to start a little fundraising page and have received several hundred dollars from family and friends. We are so grateful and lucky to have such supportive people in our lives. We are also contending with issues of fear and ridicule, stemming from lack of understanding and general ignorance of our family's situation. I never expected everyone to be supportive . Of course we have always felt in the back of our minds that we will meet people who feel they have a place to be vocally judgmental . Oh well, its their loss. They may have a deep seeded feeling against adoption, against mixed race families or somehow feel that our biological children should always be favored over our adopted children. The fact is, John and I do not have bio children together. Our kids are from previous marriages and we chose adoption first and foremost as our chosen route to expand our family. We could likely have our own children by birth, but feel spiritually and ethically called to adopt older SN children. We are not seeking support from everyone, or even an understanding. But we do ask that those who choose to ridicule and cast judgment evaluate the values guiding their own lives first. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

COURT DATE!! and FUND RAISING

We have a court date *more later
APRIL 12TH~!~~
Fundraising Site!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Still waiting for court..going solo is a big possibility

I thought that by my spring break we would be scheduled for court and on our way to seeing K for the first time- but that has not yet happened. To top it off, we have had some rather difficult issues arise concerning John's employment. Well after months of work stress, the closing of a factory and a lawsuit involving the partners  John is now venturing on to a new position with a new company . The position is with a company that is near Rock Hill, SC- an hour away. We are excited about it though- and he starts next week. At the present time I am still working part time with the University of South Carolina with Sustainable Caroline. The big monkey-wrench of Johns new job is that this position is in a high-paced environment with large scale projects already in production and a three month probationary period in which there is a big evaluation at the end. So after some serious discussions with each other and our social worker- we have now officially processed a power of attorney and sent the it along with a request to the US and Ethiopian embassies to be authenticated- explaining our situation and requesting permission that I travel alone for court. I hate to have to do this, but we can not jeopardize John's new position nor do we want to wait an extra three months for court. We fully expect all of us to travel for K's homecoming and to bring Sam to visit some key places in Ethiopia. We really need to start saving money in order to take Sam back to Ethiopia for a "heritage trip" and also take Gabriel, who has asked several times to visit Ethiopia.  We should hopefully have these documents back by the end of next week- and I will be taking them with me in person to the high court in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We could get notified of a court date any day now.  Lets hope and pray that my presence in court is enough and we can pass with just me in attendance. Other agencies have sent only one parent for court as a basic practice. Our agency rarely has done this. All that adoption stress is staying at the back of my mind, as I try and focus on family time in this beautiful weather!
We really enjoyed a beautiful early spring day yesterday. The kids, John and I were outside for over 5 hours- a trip to the zoo and playing outside with bikes, dogs, tortoises and the trampoline.




Monday, March 4, 2013

Half asleep on a Monday night

Mondays are draining- I have leadership meetings at work, grading and teaching and attending a night class, plus dealing with trying to get the boy's school situated for next year. We are researching many schools for the boys. My favoirte so far being the Columbia Jewish Day School. We feel this will be a perfect fit and the educational philosophy of this school is amazing. I have also had to spend time fielding emails from Sams teacher- his behavior at his pre school is has been less than stellar. The honey moon phase may be over. Anyhow, Mondays are a bit crazy- I work from 830 to 430 and then have night class til 745....so almost 12 hours on campus!

John has a weird job situation- his soon to be former work place is experiencing some mega turmoil- like huge legal battles with over 2/3 of the staff laid off/. John is actually still there- but likely not for long. He starts a promising new position soon but because of the 3 month probationary time frame- it looks like we must request special permission for me to travel to Ethiopia for court solo....not ideal.
However we will all travel to bring K home- we are fortunate to have prepaid for our food and lodging and now must focus on the airfare. We are looking at close to $7K for both trips.
$1500 for me (court) and then another $6000 + for our homecoming trip. Whew

I have doctored a picture - I am not able to show her face or name.






Thursday, February 21, 2013

Non-update update and photos

Another week has passed and , well we have yet to hear about court. We are so  wanting a date in March!- Well i wanted a date in February....but thats not happening. In the mean time we are getting the house somewhat set up, and trying to plan out school for next year . I am in Florida for a conference and to see friends and family :) Anyhow, I have some time to post pictures- some of Sam, some of the house and tortoise.
Several are from my friend Manda's wedding.


Sam at Mardi Gras festival 

Dresses for K's birthday