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 northwestern....so 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.
Sunday, August 5, 2007
Thursday, July 19, 2007
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...
Posted by Anne at 8:58 PM
Monday, July 9, 2007
Posted by Anne at 11:53 AM
Sunday, July 1, 2007
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.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.
Posted by Anne at 3:06 PM
Friday, June 22, 2007
- 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
Posted by Anne at 8:19 PM
Friday, May 25, 2007
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.
Posted by Anne at 12:26 PM
Sunday, April 1, 2007
Thursday, March 29, 2007
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....
Posted by Anne at 9:39 PM
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
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).
Posted by Anne at 9:38 PM
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
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.
Posted by Anne at 9:37 PM
Monday, March 26, 2007
Posted by Anne at 9:36 PM
Sunday, March 25, 2007
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.
Posted by Anne at 9:35 PM
Saturday, March 24, 2007
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.
Posted by Anne at 9:35 PM
Friday, March 23, 2007
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.
Posted by Anne at 9:33 PM
Thursday, March 22, 2007
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
Posted by Anne at 9:31 PM
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
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! http://melissafaygreene.com/
Posted by Anne at 9:30 PM
Thursday, March 15, 2007
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, now...to 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."
Posted by Anne at 12:33 PM
Thursday, February 22, 2007
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!
Posted by Anne at 12:29 PM
Thursday, February 1, 2007
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!!!
Posted by Anne at 12:15 PM
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
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.
Posted by Anne at 12:20 PM