Mama (Anne) & Reese

Daddy (Mike) & Lilly


This book is a MUST read for all interested in Ethiopian adoption.

Melissa Fay Greene

Here's a great video summary of the book by MF Greene and here is the full length version

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Birthdays, Beach Trips, Busy Summer Days...

Well, this summer is flying by. The girls just both celebrated birthdays in the past 2 weeks---Reese turned 3 and Lilly turned 1 and life just gets more fun every day! We got back last week from our second beach trip just for a little while before taking off again for another trip to...where else? The beach. This past trip was with family. My (Anne's) brothers and sisters rent a house every year together at the beach, the 8 of us (yea, i have 7 siblings--4 sisters and 3 brothers) and our spouses (if applicable) and kids! it gets a little rowdy! we have SO much fun together. Some people think that it seems kind of weird that we like to get away for a whole week together in the same house every year, considering the fact that we all live in the same area---anywhere from 10 minutes to at most 45 minutes apart and we see each other very often. Sounds crazy to some, but it is great fun for us! We have done it each year since we lost our mom to colon cancer in 2000. We are a very close family...(we also lost our dad 8 yrs earlier to leukemia). Anyways- the beach was GREAT--the pics above are Reese and one of her cousins on the beach one overcast morning and below are some other shots with the fam and in the pool at the house we rented. Reese and Lilly were both given a few incredible birthday parties. Both sides of the family threw them parties. Can I just say that we have the BEST family ever? They love up on our kids SOOOO much! Reese had a princess party (2 actually), as she is really into dressing up now--especially like a princess. I will have to post pictures later of what dress up around our house looks like--some of the outfits she designs are WILD! She had cinderella on her cake and plates, etc... and forever she has called her "cinda gorilla." We just think it's so funny that we have yet to correct her. so, everyone in my family now says, "cinda gorilla." We're pathetic, I know. Interesting note on the health/adoption front: we noticed about a month ago that it appeared as though Lilly's thumbs do not straighten. (They are always bent at almost a 90 degree angle). So, i took her into the doctor and our pediatrician (whom we love) was not in that day and the one available to see us is fairly new. Anyways- this new pediatrician referred me to get an x-ray and said "i have never seen this before!" (Just what you always want to hear from a doctor, right? that this is the first time they have ever seen a condition. Way to put the parents at ease, doc.) So, off we went to get x-rays. getting a little girl/baby to hold her hands flat for like 5 x rays of each hand is NOT fun. (especially when your hand cannot be in the way holding hers down). We had to tape them to the x ray table over and over again to get each angle---she was traumatized. Then, we were at the beach when the results came back and when i read them they basically said"x rays indicate that there is a bend at the blah blah blah joint in the thumb." Thanks but no thanks! Duh, we knew that there was a "bend in the thumb"--that's why we took her in! basically, the x ray was USELESS. Our pediatrician then saw her and said "no big deal, we see this every so often, you just need to see an orthopedist. You really didn't even need to have an x ray for this, as it is not really a bone issue." Once again- the x rays were USELESS. so, we went to a pediatric orthopedist and he said that he has "trigger thumb." It is not common, but not super uncommon. typically it isn't seen in BOTH thumbs like with her, but he thinks that it is likely a congenital birth defect. Since I didn't actually see her at birth, I cannot verify if it was present or not. here's the sad part...looks like she has to have surgery. :) Poor Lilly--- she will have to be completely anesthetized. local anesthetic won't work. I have never even been anesthetized and now our little girl who has already lived through too many traumatic events for a 1 year old will have to be put under for surgery on both hands! :( We'll need lots of prayers for that event. Not scheduled yet, I am still researching before agreeing to it. Anyone heard of this or had to treat it? Well, onto better info: tomorrow, my dear dear friend from Chicago is arriving with her husband and two kids who are the EXACT same ages as our two little girls-3 and almost 1. They are staying a week and I am SO excited. Mwende (my friend) and I lived together for 3 years during graduate school in Chicago. We spent like every moment together because we had the same classes, same friends, same apartment and often spent like 18-20 hours a day studying and doing research in the engineering building at we were sleep deprived for several years and insanely stressed out, but we managed to have some of the most fun together ever (probably because we were a bit delusional). I am convinced no one else on this planet could have lived with me through those years but her. I cannot wait to spend time with her and have our girls play together.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Mesgana Dancers

Here is a video from the website for the Mesgana Dancers, which is a group of adorable Ethiopian girls who do a dance tour every year in the U.S. The dancers are affiliated with the Children of Ethiopia Education Fund (COEEF) which is aimed at improving the lives and futures of girls in Ethiopia through education. It is an great video and undoubtedly a great cause! Many people in our local Ethiopian adoption group are planning to go see them and so are we. We feel spoiled because it appears as though they only have a half a dozen stops in the US and two are in our area! Probably because there is a huge Ethiopian population here. Can't wait to see them. For those of you who have already been to Ethiopia and perhaps dined at Fasika, the dancing will remind you a bit of the evening there!!!! :) Good memories...

Monday, July 9, 2007

4th of July at the Beach!!

We took the girls to the Jersey Shore for a little time at the beach, thanks to the Brophy's incredible hospitality. We all had a great time! The weather didn't cooperate the first few days-raining. But, we managed to find many things to do: shopping, relaxing, eating a lot of yummy seafood and everything else, pedicures, etc... The last few days were nice and sunny and all of the kids seemed to really enojy the beach. Reese loved playing in the sand and building sand castles. The ocean water was FREEZING and quite rough some days, but you'd never know watching the way the kids loved the ocean. Especially Eyerus (pronounced Ye-rus with a long U). This is the charming young girl that the Brophy's are hosting through Gladney's Bright Futures Camp. She was incredibly adventurous in the ocean! She is such a little sweet heart. Reese called her "Roos," "Roost" and a few times even called her "Rooster." Reese has this funny thing with giving people nick names. She also calls a neighbor's son, 'Trouble,' when his name is actually Trevor. She also calls my friend Matt's son, Ian, 'Ant' or 'Int.' She is crazy for sure. We really enjoyed our time with Eyerus; being with her reminded us of how sweet the Ethiopian children were when we were there. Oh, and Lilly's little' boyfriend,' Ashenafi, is doing great and as cute as ever! (As you can see in the photos). I got to hold him and feed him his bottle one day after his nap while everyone else was still at the beach, and I enjoyed every minute of it. What a little heart-breaker!
Here's a cute pic of daddy and Reese on the beach:
I am so proud of brave little Reese---she rode her first Roller Coaster at the board walk! That's right, at age 2! It was pretty fast and definitely had some scary drops and wasn't one of those baby ones, I assure you. She took it like a champ! :)

Eyerus and Reese getting onto the helicopter ride. Eyerus really took great care of Reese all week...taking on the role of big sis.

The Delp and Brophy family at the beach (on the boardwalk one rainy evening):
This last pic is of crazy Reese when I went to get her after her nap one afternoon. She was wearing clothes when I put her down, and when I returned, she was asleep and wearing Lilly's bathing suit (yep, that's right, Lilly is 2 full years younger than her--it was tight) and then she had her own bikini bottom over top of it! The messed-up pig tails just makes the image complete:

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Crawling, Teething, Laughing...

So, our little Elizabeth is finally crawling (see video), and over the past few weeks she has become quite an expert at it. Though she's moving at a leisurely pace in the video, she can cruise. We also think that she has great form! :) Reese also crawled for the first time at 10 months old. She had her own "special" technique, though. It resembled the 'butterfly' when swimming: both arms, both legs, both arms, both legs. It was funny, but it got her from point A to point B. Elizabeth's (we are calling her Lilly as a nickname) is a more traditional crawl.

Elizabeth also had 4 teeth cut through all at the same time! (top 2 & bottom 2). Poor thing...she seemed a bit uncomfortable with it, but it has produced an even cuter little smile. She is laughing A LOT, clapping and says "hi" and waves all of the time! She has also added "mama" to her vocabulary of three words --- dada, mama, hi!!! Reese daily says to her, "Say Reese-IE, Reesie. Can you say that Liz-a-Beff, Reese-IE!?!?!?" Reese is such a good big sister. She holds Elizabeth's hand in the car and calls her "my baby." She says, "I need to check on my baby..." and comforts her, saying "It's okay Liz-a-Beff!" Very sweet. They really seem to love each other. Here are a few pics during the nighttime routine, after baths and before bed. As you can see, Elizabeth can even stand when leaning against something or holding onto tables. She is very strong, at least we think so. We are gearing up for a few much-needed summer vacations. The first one is next week and is an Ethiopia-reunion of sorts: a couple, the Brophy's, who traveled with us to Ethiopia and picked up their son, has so kindly invited us to join them at their beach house for the 4th of July holiday!!We are so excited to get the former Gladney buddies together again. The Brophy's are also hosting a young girl through Gladney's Bright Future's Camp, so we'll get quality time with her also. Oh, and on Tuesday, before leaving town we have our first post-adoption follow up appointment with our social worker. Last week it was three months since we arrived back home.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Happy 5th Anniversary to Us!

5 Years! What an adventure it has been!! Since we've been together, Mike and I have been busy, we've:

  • Added 2 incredible little girls to our family
  • Run 2 marathons together (Mike has run more w/o me)
  • Purchased and completely renovated 2 homes
  • Begun new careers
  • Traveled on many vacations to beaches, mountains, overseas, etc...
  • Built many friendships and memories together... and on & on
I feel so blessed to be able to live life with my best friend. We share so many dreams and goals together. It's hard to believe how fast this year has flown by! Really Really flown by---to think that it was a year ago to the day that we decided to proceed with adopting from Ethiopia (but, we didn't start the paperwork until October) and now we have our little Ethiopian princess here with us! What a year.

Friday, May 25, 2007

settling in at home!

time is flying. two months home already! elizabeth is 9 and a 1/2 months old. we are all settling in to being a family of 4. in fact, we love it! reese often counts the number of girls and boys in the room, and it is always 3 to 1; sorry mike. we love our little girls. they are doing great. they love each other SO much. we are so proud of the way that both of them are handling this new transition in life. i can hardly believe how well elizabeth has adjusted. she quickly recognized her new name (turns when called); she definitely knows who mommy and daddy and big sister are. she laughs hysterically when reese kisses her and smiles all day long at her daddy. it is safe to say that this little lady has also stolen our hearts.

family and friends have been super welcoming to elizabeth with a welcome baby party and many visits and gifts and meals, and lots and lots of love! we even got to attend a local ethiopian adoption potluck and show her off shortly after we returned. very fun. :)
great news-two couples that we know are now planning to also adopt from ethiopia: a couple whom we know through church and a couple who live nearby! yea! we are so excited about this because (1) since we wanted to take all of the little kids home with us from the orphanage, but obviously couldn't; at least we can see more of them find wonderful new homes, (2) we LOVE the idea of elizabeth having more friends who are also adopted from ethiopia---ESPECIALLY if they live in our neighborhood and (3) this has been such an amazing experience for us, that we can't help but hope that others will have the same great journey.
we got to meet the bottomly family in person and their CUTE CUTE CUTE little boy, silas, when they came through DC on the way back from ethiopia. they had a horrible experience traveling home, but we enjoyed meeting them if only for a moment and reuniting silas and elizabeth. their beds were right across from one another in the gladney home and i got to hold silas a bit back in march when we were there. they are a super sweet family and we are so grateful to have built a new friendship with people half way across the country through this common experience that we share! the internet is so great for adoptive families! :) i am also so impressed by amy's vulnerability and the way that she shares so much about her adoptive experience with the world. impressive and helpful to other families, like us!
in the past two months, we received elizabeth's green card in the mail (sweet...she can get a job now! just kidding, obviously). we will start the re-adoption process here soon. going to try to do it without a lawyer. we have taken her to the doctor several times, and had blood work re-run and submitted stool samples (YUCKO) and she appears to be healthy as a horse! it's a amazing, really: no parasites, blood work looks great...everything is great! we feel fortunate for sure. she is on a great sleeping schedule...we had to teach her to get through the nights, because we feel confident that in the gladney home all the babies woke each other up and since elizabeth isn't into pacifiers, she probably got a few extra (probably not needed) bottles. so, that habit has been officially broken now. she is sleeping 12 long hours at night and two 2 hour naps during the day. YES! we have also been to 2 doctors regarding her sorta flat head. poor thing. we aren't sure if we'll be doing one of those helmet/bands yet because she is just on the edge of the normal/abnormal range and of course, insurance is making this decision harder by refusing to pay anything. lovely. they apparently only cover medical conditions that we'll never have, b/c they tend to deny a lot! frustrating.
more updates later...

Sunday, April 1, 2007

slideshow of our time in ethiopia

Thursday, March 29, 2007

day 8 in ethiopia-our last full day; the time went so fast

WOW. It's hard to believe that this trip went so fast. We did some more shopping, had a few more macchiatos, spent time with some of the Christians from the church, and went to the pool for a bit. One brother from the church came all of the way across town to bring us gifts for our little girls-dresses. Berhanu also came to the hotel, as did the young woman who leads the women's ministry. They gave us gifts last night at midweek last night (Wednesday), too. What an unbelieveble show of love. There was no holding back the tears anymore. We are sincerely SO SAD to leave here. We had no idea that we'd fall in love with this country. There is a sweetness to this place. We cannot wait to come back one day with the girls when they are older. We'd love to get out into the country-side and see some of the historic churches and more of the culture. If only we didn't miss Reese so much, we would definitely stay longer here. We can't emphasize how much we love the adoption agency that we used-the Gladney Center. They took care of us from beginning to end. Again, big thanks to Ryan, Abby and Belay as well as the US Gladney team- especially Mary T. and Tonia. THANK YOU GLADNEY for our little angel! What an incredible journey....

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

day 7 in ethiopia-appointments at the us embassy in addis

Today we did some more shopping, went back to the Gladney home to particpate in a coffee ceremony (We LOVE how into coffee everyone is here---this place was made for the Delps!) and say goodbye to these incredible women who loved our children for so many months. We also visited a traditional Ethiopian Orthodox cathedral (where Emperor Hallie Salassie is buried) and had our appointments at the American embassy. I think that the ladies who worked at the embassy thought it was so cute that the two husbands were carrying the babies on their front in baby bjorns. They joked that Alem has one health concern that they wanted to discuss before granting her an immigrant visa- and that is that she's a little chubby and needs to have a "lifestyle modification!" So funny! Both Alem and Ashenafi's visas were approved!!! YEAHHHH! The proud daddies, Mike and Nick, did what Nick called the "first ever recorded post-visa approval daddy-baby chest bump," captured in the photo below. (Thanks for coining that phrase, Nick).

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

day 6 in ethiopia-traditional ethiopian food and dance

Today we stayed around the pool at the Shearton during the day, and spent quality time with Alem. We gave her a chance to get some good naps in and we snuck in a nap each as well.

We had dinner at a restaraunt called Fasika, with traditional Ethiopian food and traditional dance. It was amazing! The place serves traditional Ethiopian food and has a band and several dancers who perform songs/dances characteristic of different regions of the country. An outstanding experience. We have been fascinated by the richness of Ethiopian culture and history. Berhanu, the head minister from church, joined us again for dinner. It's great getting to know him.

Monday, March 26, 2007

day 5 in ethiopia- happy birthday to me!

Who would've ever guessed that I be spending my 32nd birthday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia while enjoying the company of my new baby girl? Not me. But, I couldn't have asked for a better birthday (well, actually if Reese had been there, that would've made it the best). It was a very special day, indeed. Sarah Marie and I spent the better part of the day shopping with one of the drivers, Anbes, and his fiance, Mytin. It was so much fun! We got some great jewlery (nice silver here in Addis), many kilos of coffee (yummy -- the coffee is outstanding), and some art work as well. We had lunch on the rooftop of an apartment building with an incredible view of the city.
For dinner, we went to an incredible Italian Restaraunt called Castelli's. Some people say that it is one of the best Italian Restaraunts in the world! The restaurant was recommended to us by a friend of the family who has traveled to Addis Ababa many times during his 25+ years with the IMF. Since he was born and raised in Rome, we figured he knows good Italian food, and so we took his advice and went. The meal was fabulous! And the owner (in pic with Mike) remembers Piero - small world!
For my birthday-- a few unexpected signs of kindess: one of the other couples, the Thorns, had flowers and a bottle of Ethiopian wine sent to our hotel room! Gouder is a brand of Ethiopian wine name, and it is definitely "gooder" than many other wines! :-) Abby and Ryan gave me a beautiful Ethiopian scarf. So nice of them to buy me a gift; when we feel forever indebted to THEM for facilitating this adoption. Then, we returned from dinner, Mytin (one of the driver's fiance) sent a beautiful cake and wine to our room (in pic above)! WOW. How sweet. I feel so loved.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

day 4 in ethiopia- church was incredible!

Today we had the oppoturtunity to attend a worship service with our sister church here in Ethiopia. We had been corresponding by email with some of the members for several weeks before our trip. It was great to finally meet them in person! They have a small congregation here in the city. The service was wonderful - incredible singing and a thought-provoking lesson preached by a fellow visiting fom Abidjan, Ivory Coast. The Christians welcomed us with big hugs and genuine warmth. They made us feel like family. We could see that despite huge differences in culture, language, and surroundings, we are unified by a certainty in the goodness and justice of God. We brought books for the church to add to their library, and they were so grateful...a simple thing such as a book collection meant the world to them.

We brought our new friends the Brophys with us to service and they seemed to really enjoy themselves and the members of the Addis church loved them and their cute baby boy! What an incredible journey we are getting to share together!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

day 3 in ethiopia- i think she likes us!!!

Last night Alem woke up and I went to change her diaper. I took her out of the crib and placed her on the ground and she saw Mike across the room, made eye contact with him, and gave him the biggest smile ever! Almost as if to say..."Hey, I know you. You were here yesterday, and I like you!" This was a real turning point for us. After that first smile, Alem laughed, smiled, coohed and seemed happier each day. She even began crying for us when someone else holds her. It melts our hearts that she can learn to trust and love so quickly.

Not suprising that daddy got the first smile. Reese is definitely Daddy's girl, and I (Anne) am bracing myself for this one to be the same. Who can blame these ladies? They won the lottery when it comes to Father assignments. He is, witout a doubt in my mind, the best dad in the world (and husband).

Friday, March 23, 2007

day 2 in ethiopia- a day visiting orhphanages

Today was definitely better with Alem, but not any easier on the emotional front. We spent the entire day visiting orphanages. It was intense. We began the day at the orphanage where Alem stayed from about 6-11 weeks old. She was taken there after her mother left her at a stranger's house. It was incredible to see where she spent those few weeks. This orphanage was not nearly as nice as the Gladney Foster Home where Alem has been since October. The caregivers here are kind and seem to do the best they can to care for the children, but there are many babies for each caregiver and the conditions are not as nice as the Gladney home. The babies are all in one big room---many cribs. Some babies are only a few days or weeks old here. The rest of the facility has other buildings where all of the older kids live. They mostly seem young here, early elementary school age. They are incredibly sweet and quite well-mannered - running up to us, shaking our hands, and posing for pictures then frantically wanting to see themselves in the pics. Oh, so sweet. They are all in tattered, but matching school uniforms with big smiles on their faces. I want to take them all home. We are so impressed with the level of education of these children; really everyone in Addis. People seem to value education dearly here, and it is obvious in the way that people speak and carry themselves, even these kids without homes.

The second orphanage was privately run and much smaller home/compound. Every house here is behind a wall of some sort---ranging fom corrogated tin to mud walls to fancier cement walls with security fencing along the top (only a few homes had this nice of a wall). This particular private orphanage was tucked into a neighborhood on the most narrow street. There weren't many kids here...but again, they were sweet, kind, full of smiles and wanting nothing more than to be picked up anf held and talked to. There was one beautiful little girl here who was about 3 years old and looked noticeably sad and withdrawn. Apparently, her mother had just taken her here not too long ago. It broke my heart. She did not want her picture taken, she would not make eye contact, she didn't want anything to do with anyone. Having a 2 and a 1/2 year old back home, I can imagine how traumatic such a separation at this age would be. Very sad. The last orphanage was older children-about 195 of them! One little girl attached herself to Mike the whole time and he wanted desperately to take her home also. These kids knew English well and very respectful and kind. They seemed to work hard in school and were even computer savvy. Gladney is working on different programs to teach various skills to the children. Particularly, to the girls who will perhaps "age out"...meaning that they will reach 18 without being adopted and therefore be forced out of the orphanage. You can imagine the lack of job opportunities for these young ladies--in a country with a very high unemployment rate and the jobs that are available aren't really availale to a lot of women. Even college educated women have trouble finding jobs there! So, many girls/young ladies turn to prostitution, and eventually may contract diseases-like AIDS, endure poverty, and maybe have babies themselves that they cannot care for and so they also bring them to orphanages. Alas, a second generation being raised in orphanages! A tragic cycle. I cannot imagine the fear, struggle, pain, worry, and stress that these parents go through that leads them to make a decision to actually give up their child. Sometimes I think that I have stress in my life, but I have never had to even think of giving up my daughter because I couldn't provide basic needs for her! We are very fortunate indeed. We will tell Alem that her biological mother made a brave decision to take her to a home and ask for help- hoping to find a better life for her somewhere else. We are on the verge of tears at every moment here. I must mention how impressed Mike and I have been by the kind demeanor of the people in Addis. We have yet to meet an unfriendly Ethiopian! It seems that in this culture, every baby is treated like family, as nearly everyone we interact immediately moves to hold Alem, kiss her and play with her.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

day 1 in ethiopia---we're here!!!

The flight went surprisingly fast, and I (Anne) barely slept--too excited (bad decision on my part) . When we landed it was 8:30 thursday morning, so it would have been best to get as much rest as possible on the plane! Oops. After leaving behind a cold march morning in Washington, DC, we landed down in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where is it warm (not too hot) and sunny with a nice breeze. The landscape looked beautiful- many mountains and hills with farms in the country side. It looks very different than Maryland from up here! We sped through the visa line, and were greeted by Abby and Ryan who work for Gladney (our adoption agency) and currently live in Ethiopia (couple on the far right in the picture). They moved here in the Fall to be the liasons between the Gladney families and the caregivers/adoptive children, etc... and they do an amazing job! They adopted a little Ethiopian boy, Enoch, a little over a year ago after helping him undergo extensive surgery. A fantastic Ethiopian gentlman named Belay coordinates with the state-run orphanages, carves through the beauracracy, and handles most of the legal stuff. He seems to know everyone in Ethiopia and just works miracles. The three of them handled the Ethiopia-side of our adoption. Many many thanks to Belay, Ryan and Abby. The three adoptive couples managed to stuff all of our many bags into the cars (each of us had two bags full of diapers and formula for the orphanage plus bags of baby clothes, and oh yes a few items for us parents to wear also). We then met our drivers. Each couple has their own personal driver, which we quickly learned is essential in Addis- the city is confusing and public transportation would be very challenging with a baby; not to mention that we wouldn't even know where to say we are trying to get to! Our drivers were our lifelines during the trip! We joke that they were our drivers/tour guides/personal shoppers/negotiators/translators/historians, etc.... Our driver's name was Tafesse. He was the best! Besides everything else, he gave me a phone that would make it possible for me to be in contact with family back home and people in Ethiopia. Thanks Tafesse, you made our time in Ethiopia go so smoothly. We quickly checked into the hotel and off we were to the foster home. Gladney runs a home here in Addis Ababa where the babies live. There are anywhere up to 12 babies and approximately 6 caregivers working at any time. That's a great ratio! They clearly loved and took care of our little lady... they certainly made sure that she ate well! :-) The caregivers cried when we picked up the children- and one young woman even made homemade gifts for them. How incredible! emotional rollercoaster- more of day 1 in ethiopia

Today felt like about a year long. I am sure that the jet lag had something to do with it. But, I think that we are on emotional overload. Just being in Ethiopia is a bit emotionally overwhleming for me. It was difficult to see the poverty and hardship many of the people live with, and we're in the most developed city in the country. I can only begin to imagine what it could be like in the countryside. There are large neighborhoods/shanties throughout the city; even surrounding our hotel.
Then, we're tired, very tired. We went to the Gladney Foster home within a few hours of arriving in Addis to get Alem (we are using her Ethiopian name while here: (1) so that she's not confused by one more thing and (2) because when we introduce her to others while here, Alem is very common to them). The flood of emotions we experienced upon meeting her for the first time were difficult to process. We are overjoyed to finally have her, but she reacted to us as if to say, "who in the world are you?". She has clearly been well-fed during her time in the Gladney foster home, but she is bigger than we thought! Almost nothing that we brought fits her! Then, the formula we brought (which ironically was supposed to be premium and gentler on babies' stomachs) made her sick, so poor Alem threw up pretty much everything for the first day. Thankfully, the Brophy's (the couple from NY) brought extra formula and were in the same hotel as us and so we were able to get some from them that didn't make her throw up.
Alem cried quite a bit today. She seems visibly uncomfortable with us, which is to be expected I guess. Poor thing. How many transitions can a baby handle in 7 short months of life? When we are out in public and she cries, I feel so insecure, imagining that people are looking at me thinking, "See this white woman can't take care of that baby." Not that anyone said anything even close to that in Ethiopia. In fact, the Ethiopians we have met were as sweet and supportive as one could hope for toward adotive familes. Many people said "lucky baby." But, my insecurities weren't really based on reality anyways. Then, we called back home at the end of the first day and spoke to Reese and that kind of put us over the edge. We miss her so much and she misses us, and here we are in Africa with this child who isn't so keen on us. Hopefully tomorrow will be easier.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

the trip begins-wednesday, march 21st

washington, dc to addis ababa, ethiopia Today we boarded Ethiopian Airlines flight 500, headed directly to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (after a short stop in rome, Italy for fuel). Our good friend, Paolo managed to pull himself out of bed at the ripe hour of 4:30 to pick us up and take us to Dulles International Airport. Thank you, Paolo!!! We snuck out before Reese woke up, which is great, because I think that I would've had a breakdown saying goodbye to her for a week. It's SO HARD to leave her behind. We are grateful that my sister, Aimee, came over to stay the night and be there to remind Reese in the morning that we're going to get her baby sister. Thanks Beth, Don, Alex & Ted, Grandma & Grandpa for all taking turns to stay with Reese and love her while we are gone. Thanks also to MJ, Ben, Michelle, & JP for visiting her too. Reese is definitely not lacking for love from her family. Our adoption agency, (the Gladney Center) has us traveling at the same time as two other couples-one from Houston and one from New York. Both of the other couples are picking up their baby boys from the same care center as our little girl. Amazingly, we are all on the same flight leaving Washington, DC! We met one of the couples in the airport and spent time while waiting to board the plane. While in line, I (Anne) also met the author of a fantastic book that I recently finished called "There Is No Me Without You." The book discusses an Ethiopian woman and how she started an orphange (without necessarily setting out to do so). It is brilliantly written in the way that it follows this one woman's true life story and inserts tons of history on Ethiopia-especially more recent history on the AIDS crisis in Africa and the orphan crisis as well. It was just released in 2006, so it is very current. I could not put it down. It was such a great treat for me to meet her! Plus, then I could keep talking to her for the next ohhhh, 18 hours, on the flight.... and ask her a million questions. Which I did. (Sorry, Melissa.) She was incredibly warm, and knowledgable about Ethiopia and adoption. Her and her husband have such huge hearts. They have seven kids- four biological, one from Bulgaria, and two from Ethiopia, and they are in the process of adopting two more boys from Ethiopia now. INCREDIBLE! You MUST read this book!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

one week left before we step foot in africa!

I think that we set some sort of world record on the number of things accomplished between referral and leaving to pick-up the baby! We managed finish major renovations in our basement (thanks to Dave for all of his hard work!!) The carpet was installed just two weeks before departure day. Then, we had to completely dismantle the office upstairs, and set a new office up in the "new area" of the basement and prime, paint, and assemble the furniture for the nursery. And, get remaining immunizations, buy supplies for the trip, pack our clothes and the baby's, and the donations for the orphange, etc... I cannot even remember everything anymore. Oh, and yes, I (Anne) did just switch jobs this last week also. Okay- no more major life changes, please! :-) Thanks so much to Holli and Henry for jump starting the baby Elizabeth's room. There's NO WAY we would have had it done in time without you guys. Then, a big thanks to the family for getting the baby's room decorated while we were in Ethiopia. You guys are amazing. And, arrange little Reese's schedule for the next ten days while we are gone. :-P Leaving her behind is the hardest thing we've ever done. We love our little Reesie and she goes everywhere with us. Typically, she travels well, and is our buddy. But, taking her along at her young age would result in more risks than benefits at this point. We know that she will be in great hands while we are gone because our family has been nothing short of AMAZING and once again, they came through for us! Beth & Don, Aimee, Alex & Ted, and Grandma & Grandpa will all have their turn staying with Reese (or her with them). And, she will receive visits from MJB and the Ben Man, Michelle, Teri, and Uncle JP. Beth even took vacation time to stay here with Reese. Many Many Many thanks. It's the only thing that makes us feel okay about doing this--knowing that she is in great hands and will be having a blast with her crazy aunts, cousins, and grandparents. As the time for us to leave approaches, she can tell that we're leaving soon. We talk about the trip and how exciting it is that we're going to get her new baby sister a lot. We pray for the baby, and we read books about having a new sibling and even about adoption (thanks, Cara for that great book). So, Reese knows it's coming and has tried to convince us to take her (as if we wouldn't LOVE to do so). She said one night to Mike "I want to go with Mama and Dada to get my baby sister. I'll get my clothes, I'll get my Teddy, and I will go." Talk about heart-wrentching. So, then after Daddy reminded her of how much fun it'll be here with her family, and that we'd be back soon she said, "Okay, I'll stay here, but God will stay with me...he'll give me a BIIIGG HUUUUG."

Thursday, February 22, 2007

court date scheduled in ethiopia

Today we received an email from Gladney saying that we have a court date set forMar 6th and that we should plan to be in Ethiopia on the 22nd of March! Wow. So soon! This is all becoming so real. Time to make travel plans, buy medicine, renew Mike's passport, ...and we still have to finish some already begun renovations to the basement to move the office downstairs and make room for the baby upstairs. And I (Anne) discovered that I will be switching positions at work, to a new office, all between now and our departure. It seemed like too much to do in such a short amount of time...We were pretty overwhelmed. After completing all of our immunizations and paying the remainder of the adoption-related fees (yikes), we purchased all of our supplies and many OTC medications in anticipation of travel sickness. :-p. Flight arrangements: Check Hotel: Check Suitcases, International cell phone card, baby sitting arrangements for Reese for an entire week...: Check, Check, Check!

Thursday, February 1, 2007

we received a referral for a beautiful baby girl

We got the call today!!! We weren't expecting this call for months, but today we received the call from our Gladney caseworker, Mary. She called at around 3pm on our home phone on a Thursday and amazingly we were both home and even more amazingly we answered the home phone! (Many of you are well aware of the fact that we rarely answer our home phone---a sane person can only handle so many ways of being contacted: we have two cell phone numbers, work phone numbers, blackberry numbers, personal email accounts, work email accounts.... so the home phone gets lowest priority in our book!) We answered this call and I immediately felt dizzy when I heard Mary say "Are you both home and near the computer? I have some exciting news for you..." Within minutes, Mary sent us pictures of a little baby girl, just shy of 6 months old. This is one of the pictures that we saw: Gladney was able to give us a little bit of information on her history. When she was 6 weeks old, her birth mother took her to a house in Addis Ababa (the capital of Ethiopia) and, after begging for food, left the baby there, promising that she would return after going to fetch holy water. Needless to say, she didn't come back. Her mother has tucked the baby's immunization card under her blanket. On it was her name: Yalem Zerf-nickname "Alem." Alem seems to be a fairly common Ethiopian name, and it means world. We immediately accepted the referral. When Reese woke from her nap we told her that we had found out who her sister would be and we showed her the pictures Gladney emailed us. She was very excited. The girls will be only 2 years apart, almost to the day (both August babies). What fun! We are sure that they will become the best of friends. A few nights later, Reese even made a picture frame with craft sticks, stickers, and glitter glue and placed the picture of the baby in it. It sits by her bed in her room. Every night, she prays for her baby sister, and she shows off the picture to anyone when they come to the house. We couldn't have asked for a better response from her! We were assuming that we'd receive a referral for a baby boy and Reese had been talking for the past month about how she was going to have a baby sister. I'd tell her that it might be a baby brother, and how great that would be also. She would agree that was fine, but kept saying she would have a sister. Maybe her intuition told her! WHAT NEXT? Now we just wait to learn the court date in Ethiopia. We don't actually attend that court date - Gladney attends for us with power of attorney. We can plan to be in Ethiopia about 2 weeks after the court date. Mary said to expect about 6-8 weeks from the date of referral. Our minds were racing. What a blessing to have this great news!!!

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

we finished our dossier!!!

Jan 2007: We completed our dossier!! This process can take anywhere from 2 months to a year, depending upon a number of factors, including the adoptive parents determination and organization. However, many factors are outside of your control (like waiting for approval from immigration, home-studies, etc...) Fortunately, we were able to get through some of the paperwork and approval processes rather quickly. For instance, often times people wait months for approval from US Immigration Office, which we only had to wait approx 3 weeks for after submitting our home-study to them. I sympathize people who have had to wait longer; it can be very frustrating to have such an important life step held up by situations out of your control. We've been talking to Reese a lot about being a big sister. Fortunately, she's had a few friends have babies added to their homes recently, and so she has real images of what this looks like. She seems pretty excited about it. I show her pictures of kids from Ethiopia and tell her: your baby brother or sister may look like one of these adorable little children! Which reminds me of another huge decision that we had to make when completing our application and dossier- boy or girl? We went back and forth about requesting a boy or a girl and finally decided that it was too big of a decision for us and we'd let God decide. We ultimately know we'd love either. We learned that if we said that we had no preference, we'd most likely get matched with a baby boy as there are more unadopted boys in most countries (except China for example). So, we thought it'd be a boy most likely. We said an infant, between the ages of 0-6 months. There - one more major major decision made. Children adopted from Ethiopia can often times be very young. They are given a list of medical test before being "matched," or referred to a prospective adoptive family---those include tests for HIV, Hepatitis A and B, and Syphilis. After we completed the mountain of paperwork, Reese and I spent a few days driving around to get our dossier documents authenticated by the county and state offices. We made it a little adventure, and had lunch together in Annapolis (with Uncle P). I hope that she'll remember how she was a huge part of the process to bring her sibling home. Our documents were sent to the Ethiopian embassy here and then off to Ethiopia. We're getting closer.