Monday, February 28, 2011

Day 3 - Continued

Here are a few more pictures of us spending time with our daughter!

Day 3 - Getting Alemitu

We slept okay last night. We woke up about every hour and a little before 5 this morning, I realized that I was just too excited to sleep anymore so I went ahead and got out of bed. The power was out (and remained out for half of the day), and I became worried because we weren’t getting any hot water. I haven’t taken a shower since Saturday morning. My hair managed to keep the faux hawk style the past few days without a shower, but I felt dirty and gross and I NEEDED a shower.

A couple hours later, I told Adam that I was just going to turn on the shower but stand outside it. I would put my head under the water (which is barely flowing) to wash my hair, and then stick one limb in at a time. He wished me luck but he was not about to attempt this freezing cold, crazy idea himself. The water barely comes out, but after a few minutes it started to warm up. I realized that there was still warm water in the tank but because the water was barely flowing, it was taking a long time to reach the shower. So I cracked open the bathroom door and yelled for Adam to hurry and get in the bathroom. I said, “Okay, here’s the deal. We are getting warm water and I don’t know how long it will last. So take off your clothes and let’s alternate getting in this shower.” The shower is super tiny and the shower head is equal to Adam’s chest, so he can’t fit in the shower anyway since he has to bend down so far. But it was worth trying just to get clean. So I wash my hair real fast as he is passing shampoo and conditioner into my hands. Then I jump out and he gets in and washes his hair and then jumps out. Then I jump back in and wash my body. We were laughing pretty hard at how absurd this situation was, but in the end, we were clean!

A little after 9 a.m. our driver arrived to take us to HOH to pick up our kids. I had so many feelings during that drive (okay, well, since I couldn’t sleep). Would Allie recognize us? Would she be happy to go home with us? Would she transition to the food and formula that we brought?

When our van pulled into the HOH, all of the children (older than 2) were outside chanting “Welcome! Welcome! Welcome!” They were lined up on the sidewalk greeting us. When we got out of the van, they came running over. Two children immediately held Adam’s hands. The kids were saying “Daddy! Daddy!” to Brian and reaching up for him. Seeing these kids immediately erased any nervousness I had.

We walk upstairs and what feels like 2 hours, was just a matter of minutes, as they prepared Alemitu for us. They always try to dress up the children when we arrive. We waited and waited and waited – and finally she came out of her room. She was in the cutest little yellow dress and her hair had been styled in tiny pony tails. She looks like she has had a growth spurt. I got so excited!

The nanny handed her to Adam first and she stared at both of us like she didn’t really know what to think about us. And then after about a minute, she started smiling and chatting away. Alemitu loves to talk! And play games. And blow bubbles. And make herself laugh. She is a super happy baby!

We hung out at the HOH for a while and then headed back to our guest house. I was so thankful that I brought a baby sling/carrier thing. That car ride back was so fast and it was nice to have her attached to me.

When we got back to the guest house, we played a little on the floor. She LOVES the mirror. She kept laughing at herself and then she would kiss it. (drool on it) We fed her baby food (apples) and water for lunch and she ate well and didn’t have a problem.

After we fed her, we went downstairs to have our lunch. I had requested a salad that I LOVED last time. At lunch, they told me that they didn’t have the salad dressing but will have it by tomorrow – so today, they just put mustard on it instead. Mustard? On a salad? Yep. I tried it just to be nice and I have to admit, mustard salad is pretty good. Hollie about died when she tried it telling us that her tongue got stuck to the roof of her mouth it was so tart. Brian just said he liked it too – he called it a “party in your mouth”.

We came upstairs to get Allie ready for her nap. We are trying to stick to the schedule that she is already on. We were told that Ethiopian children do not take to pacifiers, and we shouldn’t bother bringing them. I did bring a couple because I was hoping to transition her to a pacifier rather than have her suck on her fingers. As cute as I think that is, I know I can take a pacifier away when she turns one but I can’t exactly take her fingers away. She LOVED the pacifier. When she fell asleep, it was still in her mouth so Adam took it out. Immediately her fingers went in its place.

One really neat thing that happened today was that a friend Adam made last time, Tekabe, came by our guest house today. It was his day off but he told Adam that he wanted to shoot video of us getting Allie. He went with us to the HOH and took some photos and video, and Adam and Tekabe are going to go around the town and take some video on Wednesday. Tekabe is really interested in video and he has his own camera. It was sweet that he came to visit on his day off.

Allie took a great nap this afternoon and even switched to Infamil formula without an issue. We had pizza for dinner, and our Phoenix friends Paige and Jason came to join us. They are here for their first visit and just passed court today! Adam just put Allie down for bed for the night. Today was a great day!

More pictures to follow...

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Day 2-- A few more pictures

Here are a few pictures of the guest house where we are living.....

This is the guest house. We're on the fourth floor.

Here are a few of the many, many, many steps we get to climb :-)

This is our bedroom,

and here are a couple views of the living room.

Day 2 - Hello Ethiopia!

We made it! Our plane ride was full and so it was a little crowded and uncomfortable for 13 hours. This crowded flight felt twice as long as our 17 hour empty flight last time. Knowing the reason we were on the plane in the first place kept us calm. We arrived at 7:40 this morning, but it took a couple of hours to get through the visa and customs line. Our drivers from the guest house waited 3 hours for us, and they still had huge smiles on their faces when we arrived.

It was lunchtime when we got to the guest house, and we were hungry. The power was out so we couldn’t take showers. Instead, after talking a bit with our friends Brian and Hollie (who arrived last night), we hopped back into the van and went out for pizza, grocery shopping, and we even stopped at the Hilton Hotel to exchange some money. The hotel is gorgeous! Right outside it is a beautiful park that we want to take the kids to sometime this week.

Now we are back at the guest house for some rest and relaxation before dinner. We are completely unpacked and ready for Alemitu to join us! We are staying at Ethiopia Guest House, which is the same place that we stayed at last time, but we are in a different guest house (they have 4). It is the newest and biggest. We have a one bedroom suite that has a queen bed, crib, bunk beds, living room, two balconies, a storage room, and a bathroom. Last time, we had one room that had a bed in it and it fit nothing else — not even a dresser. We had a tiny bathroom down the hall. So we feel like we are living in luxury right now! The only downside is that we are on the 4th floor. Altitude is like 7,000 – 8,000 feet and last time we really struggled going up 3 flights of stairs, and now we have 4 flights to deal with. It is not easy! We have to sit down as soon as we get upstairs just to catch our breath.

We are so happy to be here right now and we feel so comfortable. When we walked out of the airport, both Adam and I had the same thought “this feels like our second home”. It feels good to be here and there are so many things we want to do/see this week — especially with our good friends Hollie and Brian. It’s funny how we got the closest with them during our last trip, and out of 10 families that we traveled with, we are the only two families in Ethiopia right now. We are so blessed to be traveling together and we are already making plans for the Roy family to come to Phoenix in May and us to go to Nashville. Hollie and Brian are adopting a little boy, Ty, who just turned 1.

Tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. A van will pick us up to take us to the transition home where we will get to pick up our kids and take them with us forever! We hope to get to spend a little time at the transition home checking on children from our other friends/families that we passed court with in January. I am so excited to pick up Allie I don’t know if I can sleep tonight!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Day #1 - Washington DC

We made it to D.C. today --- barely! I guess you really feel turbulence when the wind is 20 mph. Today it was 50! So the pilot kept giving us warnings about the situation before we even hit it. We were suppose to arrive 30 minutes early and instead we were 15 minutes late. We had to circle above until they could allow us to land. One of the airports (National) had already shut down. We got clearance to land, and the pilot warned us that we would come down fast. Oh wow. We were gasping, and I even caught Adam raising his hands a few times to brace himself. Everyone on that flight was scared.

Sometimes the nose would be high in the air and sometimes the tail would be high in the air. Adam had to make sure the barf bag was nearby. When we got close to the ground, the plane turned farther on its side than I have ever seen. I thought (and I wasn't the only one) that the wing was going to clip the ground. We were coming in fast but sideways! Then, the pilot straightens out and bam we are on the ground (a little wobbly).

While we were waiting for the shuttle to the airport, I asked a pilot if the nose up/nose down is a technique they do in wind. He said that it isn't -- that was wind pockets. It would throw the plane up and then the plane would drop down and so the pilot would have to hit the thrusters hard to try and level it out again. He also said that if we could survive this, then we can survive any turbulence because this is the worst it gets. He said that the airport was requiring the pilots to land coming in sideways and then quickly straighten out before dropping. He had only done it once before today.

To sum it up, I said a prayer of thanks when we were safely on the ground!

After we got to our hotel, we left about 10 minutes later to take a bus then the metro line into DC for a night lights city tour. Remember that awful wind I was talking about? Miserable. Miserable. Miserable. I had 2 shirts, 1 hoodie, and 1 jacket on -- plus gloves. I was miserable. It was neat to see the sights, but by the end I just couldn't get out of the shuttle anymore. The tour ended about 45 minutes early because it was a struggle for everyone. I'm glad we did it though because I have never been to DC and I wanted to see the White House. We also ate at a really good burger joint, Ollie's Trolley. I had probably the best burger that I have ever had in my life.

Now we are getting ready for bed. We have been back to our hotel for almost an hour and my fingers are still frozen. Our flight leaves at 11 a.m. tomorrow for Addis and we arrive Sunday morning!!!

We got a great call today from our agency that our appointment is on Tuesday!! This means that we will definitely make it home with Allie next Saturday! We also learned that we won't be able to see Allie on Sunday because that is the HOH staff's day off. We understand and are already making plans with our friends Hollie and Brian.

I am praying for a safe, smooth flight to Addis. Also that the plane isn't full. I wasn't doing well on the flight to DC before the turbulence thing happened. I'll post again as soon as we get to Ethiopia!

View of Washington Monument from Lincoln Memorial

Iwo Jima

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

We're Approved!!

I was so impatient today. I could not concentrate on anything besides waiting for that phone to ring. Last night Adam told me not to get my hopes up. Um, too late. Then today I wanted to call our agency at 9:30 a.m. and he told me that I needed to wait until noon. We've been married for 11 years . . . he should have known that today was not the day to introduce patience to me. :-)

I managed to wait until almost 10:30 and I left a message for the director of our agency. In the few hours that followed, I heard from all of the other traveling families (who were also waiting on a call) that there had been questions on their files and it is causing a short delay. I expected the same for us. So you can imagine my surprise when the director calls me in the afternoon to tell us that the embassy approved our file without issue!!! We were given permission to travel to Ethiopia on Friday and they are hoping that we will know our embassy date (next week sometime) before we leave!! Better yet, we get to travel with our really good friends Hollie and Brian (we stayed together last time) because they got approval last week!

So what does that mean? It means we are done. There are no more hoops to jump through. We are done. We just have to go to Ethiopia, pick up our daughter, go to a meeting at the US Embassy to get her birth certificate, passport and US citizenship documents, and then we can bring her back home. We are done with the waiting. The relief is amazing (and then my crazy mind starts thinking that there must be some mistake if we were the only ones that didn't have an issue with embassy . . . aahh, crazy never stops).

So it's official. We leave Friday morning!!! Oh yeah, and what a perfect day to get this news as my mommy mobile (aka my Jeep HUMMander) was getting a little bit tougher. We had planned to get new tires when we bought the car a year ago and Adam said I could lift it a little when we did. Finally, after having to use my ABS brakes a few times this weekend when it rained, my tires/wheels/lift were ready! And what matches a tough looking HUMMander on the outside . . . a super cut carseat on the inside! We now have to use all 3 rows in the Jeep to get my kids to comfortably fit! This is the very reason we traded in my Cherokee for the HUMMander -- we were expanding our family. A year later, we get to use it! I love it!

Trying to step up into it and get Allie into her carseat will take some maneuvering. :-)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Thanks and Prayer

First of all, I want to say I am so thankful that Calvin is doing better. He was really, really sick this past week with Type A flu. He was so sick (and contagious) that my family had to cancel their vacation to come see us - hours before they were supposed to leave! (rescheduled it for end of March) Calvin had a fever between 101-104 consistently for 6 days. It was awful! I am so thankful that he is doing better and we spent 4 hours outside today. We were all getting a little stir crazy (Adam is in Florida), and so the boys and I went on a bike ride, picnic, played at a park, and then played outside with the neighborhood kids. It was nice. Calvin is doing so much better!

While I am so thankful for Calvin's healing, I would also like to ask that when you read this post or think of us tonight and tomorrow (Tuesday), please say a quick prayer for us. We have heard all sorts of misinformation about the embassy rules and our file. We did confirm today that our file was submitted to the embassy on Thursday. Whew. We were previously told last week that all 6 of us remaining families had their file submitted, and that is not the case. We were split into groups and our file made the group that was submitted last Thursday. So we are very grateful that our file is there.

It is very, very highly probable that the US Embassy will come back with a decision tomorrow. They will either approve our file, ask for more documentation, or request another interview with Allie's grandfather. We are seeing the interview request on 50% of cases submitted and according to the embassy, it won't be long before it is 100%. This will delay our file another week. We are supposed to leave on Friday and if our file is delayed, we will most likely have to reschedule our trip. So I ask that you say a prayer when you think of us tonight and tomorrow that the embassy will give us approval. We have had several hiccups along the way, and it would be so great just to have this part go smoothly. We want to travel on Friday for so many reasons, but also because the room that we want is not available the following week. Also our good friends Hollie & Brian received approval last week and they are leaving on Friday as well. We were excited to travel with them again.

The embassy will open at 10 p.m. Arizona time (midnight Indiana time) tonight. Please pray that our file is given approval and that we hear from our agency tomorrow. If we are not given approval, please pray that we will make the right decision on either keeping our trip and taking the risk of extending it a little or rescheduling our trip for the following week.

Thank you! Now quit reading and start praying!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Alemitu's Shower

Yesterday we attended a baby shower for Alemitu. Several people had asked if they could host a shower for us and we kept saying no. However after being so humbled by all of the support we received while we were in Ethiopia, when Sherree asked us after we returned, I quickly said yes. I realized that it would not be a burden for people to attend a shower for us -- it was a celebration of Alemitu and our journey.

Adam had made a video introducing Alemitu to everyone (a link to it is at the bottom of this post). We had lots of good fun, sunshine, and great people. I think there were about 60 people that came!! The boys had fun running around and playing with all of the other kids (until Calvin got sick).

It was a great time, and I'm so appreciative of everyone that attended. I was especially happy to have my friend Paige attend. We met her and her husband at our adoption seminar (an entire weekend) back in August 2009 when we first began our journey. They also have twin boys the same age as Wes and Calvin! We have been through our journey at the same pace, and our daughters are within a month of each other in age. While I hadn't seen Paige in 1 1/2 years, I feel like we have become close friends through e-mail and being support for each other during the ups and downs. I was so happy that she was able to come (she lives on the opposite side of town), and it was neat to get to share all sorts of details with her. They are traveling to Ethiopia for court at the same time that we are planning to go back to get Alemitu. We have already made plans to eat at a good pizza place together in Addis Ababa. I can't wait! It was also neat to see Paige trying to talk one of my other friends, Tiffani, into adoption while she was at the shower. There were two other families that attended that have also adopted children internationally. We have a great group of friends who know what we are going through and it was nice to spend some time with each other.

Thank you to everyone who came and made the day so special!

To watch Alemitu's 2 minute video, go to

Me with one of my very best friends in the world, Char

Adam and our friends, The Guilds

Friday, February 11, 2011

Travel Plans

The people I want to travel with . . .

The transition house gate that I want to walk through . . .

The girl I want to take home with me!

I mentioned in my previous post that it has been a roller coaster for me. To help combat that, I decided to make a conservative travel date for us leaving February 25th. Ever since making that decision, my roller coaster ride has turned into calm, but very excited, waters. I feel GREAT about this decision. Today my family has had to listen to me count down from 15 days to 14 1/2 days to 14 1/5 days . . . yep, I'm excited! And technically, it is after midnight as I am typing this post so we are already at 14 days now!!

We had 2 hiccups a few days ago. The first was that because of a clerical error, we failed court. The second was that the US Embassy is now requiring the birth relatives to travel back to Addis to appear in front of the embassy and confirm what is written on the agency's adoption paperwork. I find this to be very sad. Selfishly, I don't want our file delayed any more than it already is. But more importantly, I feel terrible for these birth families. Alemitu's grandfather had to come on a 12 hour bus ride with no air conditioning. It was a sad day for him to let go of his granddaughter (for the 2nd time), and yet he is now being asked to do the same thing for a third time? I find that heart-breaking for these birth families.

I found out from our agency today that while the US Embassy is making this a new procedure, it does not appear to be in full effect as of right now. Some cases (of family's we passed court with) have just passed embassy today with no issues or request of birth family meeting. There have been two families so far that ARE required to have the birth family appear. So it looks like it is hit or miss and we don't know what our requirement will be until our file is submitted to the US Embassy. If Allie's grandfather must reappear, it doesn't seem like it will delay the case more than a few days to a week though.

I also received notice from our agency today that we have in fact passed court!! Yay!!! Happy Dance!! Alemitu went for her passport papers yesterday and medical exam today, so our file is now ready to be submitted to embassy!!!! With the delay, we weren't expecting this to happen for another week at least.

Even though we may pass embassy sooner than the 25th, we are still not going to travel until that time. Adam has an out of state travel job that will put some extra cash in our pockets to alleviate any stress when taking time off for this trip. (Feb 16th - 21st) My family will be in town from February 17th through the 22nd. And lastly, staying at the Ethiopia Guest House is so important to us and it is not available until the 26th. So again, even if we pass early, I'm so good with waiting until the 25th to leave. I'm completely calm about it. Plus, we have two other families booked with us at the Ethiopia Guest House that stayed with us last time. I hope it turns out that we are all able to travel together again.

Our tickets are booked. We are flying Ethiopian Airlines this time because there is a mandatory overnight stay in Washington D.C. and I have never been there. We have booked a night lights city tour for the evening that we arrive in D.C. We leave Phoenix the morning of the 25th and stay the night in DC. Then on the 26th we take a 13 hour flight right to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. On Sunday we should be able to pick up our little girl and take her back to the guest house with us to stay with us forever!!! We will wait for our embassy appointment sometime that week (assuming we did pass prior to arriving), and then we come back home (through DC) on Saturday evening, March 5th. We will be gone for 8 days. I can't wait!!!! Okay, I must admit that I'm still getting nervous when I think about flying 13 hours there and 17 1/2 hours on the way home sitting next to someone -- but other than that, I'm so excited!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Great child, sick child, faraway child . . .

A lot has happened in the past few days. I can't go into detail right now but we have had a few hiccups with our adoption. Our agency informed us yesterday that there was a clerical error on the report that MOWA gave to the Judge. If you remember, MOWA's report was the 3rd thing needed in order to pass court. We thought we had passed, but evidently we failed court the first time. MOWA has been moving offices and has not been able to correct the typo. Their office opened again today and our agency believes that the typo will be corrected in the next few days. Once this is done, it will probably take a week or so to get our adoption decree.

Yesterday I was devastated. Today I'm okay. It has been a roller coaster ride over here. I'm obsessed with just getting back to Allie. However today I'm really calm. I'm okay that we haven't passed court yet because I know we will. There are some stricter embassy guidelines that may slow down the process some more, but again, I'm okay with that. We will get there soon. Our guest house with internet (the only one with wireless internet) was booked until the 27th. This was really stressful for me because I really wanted to stay there so I could stay connected to Wes & Calvin. Knowing now that our file has been delayed, I moved our reservation to the 27th. I think we will pass embassy maybe right before that. Even with the extra stuff that has to happen, I think planning to pick up our daughter on the 27th is very practical. So I'm good. I'm calm. I'm looking forward to the 27th. If it gets pushed back, I'll deal with it then. Right now, I am simply concentrating on the 27th being our arrival day in Ethiopia. Not sooner. Not later. It is going to happen. Maybe not as fast as we had hoped, but it will happen! I think the idea of not knowing when it will happen was driving me crazy. So I am giving myself a conservative, practical date to plan for -- and poof, it calmed me down.

We've also had some really good news this week. Calvin got Student of The Month! Today his school had an assembly for the Student of the Month students. We are so proud of him. Even though he acts like it is no big deal and he always says "I'm good everyday", we know he was super excited to get this award. He was glowing when Adam and I showed up, during the car ride home, and since we've been home. When we mention how happy he made us, his face lights up. He can't hold back his smile even if he wanted. So even though he is "good everyday" -- we are still so very proud of him!

While we were at the assembly, Wes was at home with Grandpa Fischer hanging out on the couch. He got sent home about 30 minutes before the assembly because he threw up on the playground. Poor little guy.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

New Hair Styles

Cal got a new hair color today. Red lowlights with some blonde highlights.

After 3 foils, he was completely asleep!

Wes got a blue/purple color just on the top of his head. He was growing his hair out, but it only lasted a week. He decided that it will take too long to shampoo so he wanted his short hair back.

Patience is a virtue

Alemitu with her nanny

I am not a patient person. I consider myself pretty self-aware, and I'm completely aware that I'm not patient during "unknown times". I can be patient waiting for our court date to arrive. I can be patient waiting for a vacation. However, if I don't know "if" something is going to happen, I have no patience . . . at all. I know that we will travel for our embassy date soon, but I don't know "if" it is going to happy before mid-February (when my family comes to visit) or after.

The past week, I have been busying myself like crazy. I just need to stay busy to keep focused and not dwell on the fact that my daughter is half a world away from me. It was hard when the boys were in the hospital for a month after birth. It was hard, but I still saw them several times a day. I could get an update whenever I wanted. Sometimes Adam and I went to the hospital in the middle of the night for a feeding. Waiting to get Alemitu is also very hard. This time, I can't get any updates on her. I don't know what/how she is doing. I can't get any new photos of her. I have no idea when we are traveling to go get her.

I am grateful that the US Embassy implemented new changes to allow for faster return trips. Trust me, I am extremely grateful. The new changes make our group the guinea pigs. So we don't get any answers at all from our agency -- they just don't have them. It is frustrating not to be told where we are in the process though. I think they should at least share that (i.e. has our paperwork been submitted to Embassy for approval, has Alemitu had her medical examination to get her visa, has her birth certificate been created, etc.). Instead, we get no answers. Another family that is in Ethiopia right now (and passed court on the same day we did) was told to expect a date next week! Next week!!! I called our agency to inquire, but I received no new information.

From what I hear, it looks like we will know when we are traveling about a day or two before we leave . . . short notice is fine by us. So for now, I'm just going to stay busy. Keep packing. Keep cleaning. Just keep moving.

Below are the boys' school pictures this year. They want their sister home fast too! :-)