Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The End of Day 3

The End of Day 3

Most of the rest of the night is a blur. We are so glad to be back at the Guest House with our children. Our children – it is so nice to say while they are in our arms.

I am not even sure what they served us at the Guest House for dinner but I do know Jocelyn sat on my lap while I fed her and Isaac sat on Daddy’s lap while he fed him. Isaac is still a little lethargic. We see glimpses of his personality but he is still choosing to be a little reserved. We don’t mind. We will work on his timetable. When he is ready we will be ready.

Jocelyn is starting to show her personality as long as no one touches her but Mommy. I am amazed and completely entranced by her wanting only me. Her attaching so quickly is truly the result of prayer. I am learning that when she becomes somewhat stressed due to all the change, I just throw her in the Ergo Carrier. It’s amazing what it does for her. She instantly calms down and snuggles in against me and begins to suck her thumb. I can feel her breathing begin to slow as she begins to let out several large sighs.

I decide to go downstairs to the main living area and try using the computer. Isaac is busy snuggling with Dad and my Mom is relaxing in one of the wicker wing backed chairs with her book. This is a good time for Jocelyn and me to hit the computer.
As I sit at the computer and try to get online (dial-up service), Jocelyn begins to show signs that she is ready to get out of the carrier. I loosen it up and let it fall from my shoulders as I wait for Google to load up. Jocelyn begins to excitedly talk to me in a language I can’t comprehend as she points at things all around us. Then she begins to repeat something over and over again as points at the computer. I talked back to her in the only language I know…English lavished in a mother’s love for her child. All of a sudden…Jocelyn sits up very tall…her eyes get really big…she grabs my face…stairs directly at me and says “Mama!” While still holding my cheeks she begins to kiss me on the lips. After each kiss, she pulls back looks directly into my eyes and says “Mama!” She repeats this over and over and over again. I am not sure my heart could be anymore full of love and joy than at this very moment.

After several attempts at trying to get online to blog and cherishing some very precious moments with my new daughter, I decide to head up to our room. Lying on our bed is a very content Dad snuggled up with his new son sleeping so peacefully. This is truly a perfect ending to a perfect day.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Day 3 - Part II

Day 3 (September 14th) Part II

…As we enter the orphanage, Charlie begins to tap my leg excitedly saying “there they are, there they are!” He didn’t need to say a thing. I had already spotted them. I was afraid that maybe I wouldn’t recognize them but one glimpse was all it took. There were our babies standing nervously next to a nanny on the front steps of the orphanage…

I am trying not to cry…I know the tears will scare the babies. But how do I keep from crying? I have longed for this moment for 17 months and 18 days. As Hanock parks, the nights I spent lying prostrate on their bedroom floor crying and praying for them to come home came flooding into my mind. I can’t take my eyes off them…time seems to stand still as we wait for Hanock to open the van door…breathe Kelli breathe…hold back your tears…don’t let them fall down your cheek.

Isaac is being held by what I thought was a Nanny but later learned it is Abdissa’s (our POA) wife. He is quiet, somewhat sullen and wearing an outfit that looks way too small for him. Jocelyn is standing timidly next to Abdissa’s wife while fidgeting with her pant leg. Her hair has been braided and she is wearing a pink outfit that is way too big for her. As we get out of the van, we are handed two sets of a dozen roses one wrapped with a pale blue ribbon and the other with a pale pink ribbon. It was a nice gesture but I immediately handed them to my mom. Who can think about t roses when you are meeting your children for the first time?

I walk quietly over to them wiping the tears from my face trying desperately not to cry. Charlie and I call them by their Amharic names (Mechot and Tezerash). Abdissa’s wife encourages them to go to us but Jocelyn refuses and begins to get upset and reaches for her. The lady takes Isaac and puts him in my arms. He comes to me but it is obvious that it would not be his first choice. He allows me to kiss him but there is no response in him. It comes very apparent to us that he copes with change by becoming lethargic, accepting, and quiet.

They bring us inside the orphanage to show us around. The main floor is obviously the area where they are fed and maybe play? The two large rooms are very simple, plain with no real furniture. The one has children eating what I assume to be their lunch. We are ushered upstairs with hand motions since the nannies do not speak English. We are grateful that Hanock comes with us since he speaks very good English. We are ushered through several rooms on the second floor without a lot of understanding as to the meaning. We greet the children in the rooms and continue to follow the people motioning to us. We are brought to the 3rd floor where we are finally led into a room where Isaac and Jocelyn slept. Now it makes sense. I don’t believe they were sure which room was the right one until we came to this one. Our pictures we had sent earlier that year were positioned above Isaac and Jocelyn’s cribs.

After a very brief time in the room we are ushered out of the orphanage and back into the van. I was thankful to be leaving. It was hard to see all the children in the orphanage. I had an overwhelming sense from them that they were all wondering the same thing, “Why didn’t you pick me?” Even now it is very difficult to reflect upon. There is such a great need not just in Ethiopia but in other places too including our very own foster care system. I find that I must remind myself that I am only one person, we are only one family. Besides, there is not a house big enough for the 5 million plus orphans in Ethiopia. To give you a little perspective of 5 million, Addis Ababa (Ethiopia’s capitol) has a population of 5 million people. Los Angeles would have to have 1 million more people in it to equal the orphan population in Ethiopia. Yes, I agree. These facts are mind numbing and overwhelming. But God does not ask us to fix the “big picture.” He is asking us to listen to Him and what He would have each one of us to do. For us, it was adoption. For us, it was adopting from Ethiopia. What God calls us to is as individual as the thumbprint and DNA He has given each and every one of us.

Jocelyn is refusing to go to Charlie or me. Abdissa’s wife sets her carefully on the seat of the van and she instantly begins to cry. I quickly hand Isaac over to Hubby since he didn’t seem to mind who held him. I slid in next to Jocelyn and set her on my lap. Hanock asked if I had candy for her. Candy? She is 20 months old, why would I have candy for her?! Oh, wait I have cereal. Hanock smiles at me nods and motions for me to get it. With every Cheerio I give her she calms a little bit more. The shutters and hiccups from crying become less and less. Isaac is also more than happy to indulge in this delightful snack as well.

We are taken by van to what looks to be a home but it is the Ethiopian office for our agency. Once inside we are taken to the third floor (nothing seems to happen on the 1st floor in this country). On the way up we are greeted by Abdissa. Finally we get to meet the man we signed all of our power over to in Ethiopia. His smile is radiant. The unspeakable joy he has overflows his spirit and exudes itself through every part of his being. He shows my mom how to properly greet with a handshake and 3 kisses on the cheek. He then proceeds to greet each one of us including the babies.

As we begin our ascent to the 3rd floor I am amazed at how different things are here. I mean yes, there is the obvious differences but then there are the small things that fascinate me. Like the fact that there was no hand rail on the winding staircase between the 2nd and 3rd floor. It was a little unnerving to be carrying a baby up smooth tiled steps with nothing between me and the 2nd floor below. I find myself repeating the same thing I had earlier on the drive, “this wouldn’t pass inspection in Washington.” We are taken into a room with couches and a very large round coffee table. We are left there along with another family to bond with our new children. The walls have floral wall paper which is partially covered with pictures of families with their new little ones. There is a table off to the side towards the entrance which is where they serve food. Isaac and Jocelyn settle into our laps with no desire to go anywhere.

Later we are called down to Abdissa’s office to go over the rest of the paperwork needed for tomorrow Embassy appointment. Jocelyn joined us since she got very upset when I tried to leave the 3rd floor room. Abidssa’s office is small and every bookcase is lined with binders. Each binder has the last name of a family from the US with a picture(s) of a child(ren) below it. It brought new appreciation and understanding to the magnitude of Abdissa’s job. He must live, eat, and breathe these precious children. I have not always liked our agency or have been in the least bit grateful for them. But Abdissa I adore. His passion for these kids is evident in his eyes. I am so grateful that we have him.

We are sent back up to the 3rd floor to continue to bond with Isaac and Jocelyn. Jocelyn has become very attached to me very quickly. She already won’t let anyone else touch her. She begins to cry even if she thinks I am going to put her down. Lord, I just praise you right now in this moment. I was so worried they would be afraid us. Now I have a daughter who will not let me put her down. Thank you Lord. You are so good. A beautiful young woman by the name of Mika comes up to help us with the babies so we can eat. Jocelyn will not have anything to do with her but Isaac goes with her. He looks and listens intently as she speaks to him softly in Amharic.

The food is so foreign to us (no pun intended). I expected it to be different but not this different. All the food is served with anjera bread. At first glance, it looks quite yummy. Its appearance reminds me of an enormous, very thick brown crepe that has been left unrolled. Let me just inform you now, it isn’t a crepe. I think I might have liked the anjera bread if it wasn’t served cold. How can you eat warm finger food with ice cold spongy bread? The bread has a very distinct sour taste and its texture is like chewing on an old, cold, wet sponge. The beans that are served with it are good but extremely spice. My stomach has been queasy since we got off the plane and I have lost my appetite from all the travel. The last thing I want right now is spicy food. Thankfully there is a pot of boiled potatoes and carrots. Ah, safe and soothing to the stomach.

Isaac eats from Mika’s hand like it’s his last supper; literally. She fed him 3 full plates of potatoes, carrots and anjera bread. Jocelyn took in quite a bit too. They don’t use utensils in Ethiopia so it was interesting to smash the carrots and potatoes with my fingers to get the portions and consistency right for her. But she was patient with her new mama.

After eating, we were left in the room for quite some time. We were exhausted and ready to get back to our Guest house. We were ready to get the kids clothes changed. We learned when Hubby changed Isaac that they had squeezed him into a size 12 months shirt and pants. I do mean squeezed. Isaac is a healthy size 24 months in both pants and shirts. I wasn’t sure Hubby was going to be able to get his pants back on or not.

On the ride back to the Guest House I realize that I have Jocelyn in my lap and not in a car seat. I couldn’t help my mind from wandering back to the same familiar thought, “this wouldn’t be legal in Washington.” It felt so good to have her fast asleep in my arms with her head resting on my chest. I looked at Charlie who was sitting one row behind me and I could see the contentment in his eyes as he held his son. This is how life should be…children to hold…children to love…children to cherish until the Lord calls us home.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

No Time Like Picture Time

I haven't had time to blog about our trip so here are some pictures of our ever lovable and very adorable sweet peas.

Isaac loves baseball hats. Daddy's has to do until we get him his own!

I know the picture isn't very good but I had to post it. How many kids do you know that even smile in their sleep?

Sis has no need to smile. Sleeping is serious business!

Mama's ham

Sis isn't going to let brother show her up in the silly department


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Day 3 (September 14th) Part 1

Day 3 (September 14th) Part I

The Hokey Pokey

After a restless night of sleep I awake to the strangest sound. It was very loud since the slider in our room was open due to the warm, humid air. I laid in bed for quite a few minutes with my eyes closed trying to orient myself and figure out if I was dreaming or was I really hearing the “Hokey Pokey” being sung. I open my eyes to a somewhat stark and simple room. The walls are a very light cream color with only one large picture hanging above our bed. It is of a man’s hand cradling a toddler’s hand. Our bed is plain and flanked by two wing back chairs fashioned out of wicker. There is a bunk bed across from us where my mom is still quietly snoring. How can she sleep with the Hokey Pokey being sung so loud?

As I slowly pull myself out of the very hard bed, every ounce of my body screams with disapproval. Looking out our slider I am surprised to find that across from our Guest House is a private school. Inside the fenced walls there are children lined up singing the Hokey Pokey. Our gravel/dirt road is littered with cars dropping children off at the entrance gate to the school. One more unexpected surprise brought to me by Ethiopia. I never expected to see a private school singing a very American song in English. This would be a prelude to the stark contrasts that comes when visiting Ethiopia.

7:00 am

It is now a little after 7 and we don’t leave to get our sweet peas until 10 am. There is plenty of time to get ready, eat breakfast and to wonder about our first meeting. Will they be scared? Will they cry and be inconsolable? How will we ever get them to understand that we are their parents and we love them so much? Please God, prepare their little hearts and minds for our meeting today. You have ordained this day from the beginning of time. I put my trust in you Lord. I ask for your peace to guard my heart and my mind.

10:00 am

It is a few minutes after 10 am now. We have been waiting in the living room of the Guest House for more than 20 minutes. My question to Charlie and mom: “Do you think they forgot us?” My Hubby gently squeezes my hand and tells me not to worry. He reminds me that they don’t worry about being on time as much as we do. Several minutes go by and we hear the honk at the gate. It is Hanok our driver for the week. He is very kind and somewhat shy. He helps us load our things in the van and the journey to our sweet peas begins.

The Journey

One of the first things I notice as we travel the roads is the unmistakable smell of diesel. The majority of vehicles are diesel and the nauseating smell is clearly identifiable in the humid air. I believe the level of air pollution here would make LA’s air seem clear.

As we meander through the maze of roads (more on the driving later), I am awe struck by the beauty of the people. The skin tones vary from very dark to a light chocolate brown. Their features tend more towards high cheek bones with large eyes that seem to speak volumes as they gaze back at me. The scarves the women wear are absolutely amazing. They are draped in an array of styles according to ones religious beliefs, customs or preference. The colors are vivid or simple. Some have intricate patterns while others are uncomplicated. The scarves for me signify their rich culture and obvious heritage. I can’t wait to buy some for Jocelyn and me.

As we continue to travel, I begin to recognize some of the shapes that baffled me the night before. The spiky like pyramids are dozens of wood poles piled in a triangular shape about 10 – 12 feet high. The sporadic patterns of tall lines I had seen happens to be the wooden poles tied together being used as scaffolding! Some of the wooden pole scaffolding reaches 6-8 stories tall on the newly constructed buildings. I am utterly amazed. My only thought was…that wouldn’t pass inspection in Washington State.

The trip seems to be taking forever. How far could the orphanage be? How big is this city? Wait…we’re finally slowing down. Is this the wall and gate that will take us to our babies? One honk of the horn…no answer. The second honk produces the sound of the gate being unlatched. I ask our driver Hanock, “is this the orphanage?” He answers with a nod and a quiet “yes.”

As we enter the orphanage, Charlie begins to tap my leg excitedly saying “there they are, there they are!” He didn’t need to say a thing. I had already spotted them. I was afraid that maybe I wouldn’t recognize them but one glimpse was all it took. There were our babies standing nervously next to a nanny on the front steps of the orphanage.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Day 2 (September 13th)

Day 2 (September 13th)

We are late getting into Ethiopia. The “40” minutes in Rome, Italy to refuel turned into two hours due to a 30 plane back-up on the tarmac for departing. I am absolutely exhausted, filthy and wide awake with anticipation. I wanted to arrive while it was still daylight so I could get a sense of the city our babies have called home for the past 12 months. But it is dark, very dark.

We meet Note just outside the airport after getting our Visas and luggage. He has the most permeating smile and is full of kindness. He is our lifeline for the Guest House where we will be staying. While he loads our luggage Hubby and I are confronted by several men speaking rapidly in Amharic. We can’t understand them and Note will not acknowledge us or them. We finally came to the conclusion that they were asking for money. We knew we were entering a 3rd world country and we had heard about people asking/begging for things but we never expected it at the airport.
My desire to see Addis Ababa in daylight today has been left to my imagination and whatever shapes I can make out in the shadows of the night. I am amazed at the paved roads and some street lights. Sometimes you just don’t know what to expect. Although several times Note had to slow down to avoid pot holes that makes ours look like minor pits in the road.

There is so much “fencing” along the road side. Some is made from corrugated tin, cement, bricks and whatever else you can think of. Behind the walls are shadows and shapes that leave me baffled. Some shapes seem to make a spiky like pyramid while others seems to be tons of tall lines in sporadic patterns reaching into the sky. The streets for the most part are empty except for a few wandering people.

After about 20 minutes of travel we turn off the paved roadway onto a gravel/dirt road which is lined with tall fences and gates. We stopped toward the end of the street at a solid black, white and brass gate. The top of the fence attached to the gate is lined with razor wire. Note honks the horn and informs us we are not to get out until we have entered the enclosed area and they have closed the door behind us.
My thought…Toto we’re not in America anymore.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Day 1 (September 12th)

Day 1
Everyone says to sleep but how? We are flying over 8,000 miles to pick up our babies which has taken us 17 months of hard work to bring them home. It is also the fulfillment of 15 years of longing for a family.

…but sleep everyone says sleep…

It is now 2 am and I need to be up by 3 am to get ready to leave. I will lay down for a quick nap. My fear of oversleeping is why the kitchen timer is sitting in our bedroom set to go off along with my alarm clock, Hubby’s alarm clock and a back up phone call from my mom for good measure.

4:00 am

Everything is ready. Everything is packed. In 27 hours we will be landing in Ethiopia.

5:00 am

The lady at the United Airline counter asks what we will be doing on our trip. I told her we were going to Ethiopia to bring our children home. The magnitude of what was about to take place overwhelmed me …I could not speak…and the tears of joy and relief began to flow.

Denver to Dulles

As with every step of this journey, travel has been no different. The emotions have been broad and sometimes unexpected. The flight from Denver to DC has brought with it a numb feeling that “this” isn’t real. I felt like we must be traveling anywhere but Ethiopia.

I have yet to be able to sleep…

8:30 pm

Our plane leaves right on time. Charlie is holding my hand from across the aisle. The wheels leave the ground and we really are Ethiopia bound. My mind is flooded with more thoughts than I can process. What if we aren’t able to bond with the kids? What if they are scared to death of us? What if I am not a good Mom? Will I regret doing this? What if they wish we would have never adopted them?
...the thoughts keep coming…
A gentle squeeze of my hand brings me back to my Hubby’s smiling face and to these precious words, “tomorrow you will be a Mommy.”

Yes, in 16 hours our plane will land in Ethiopia and I will be a Mommy.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

No Words Needed

The Best Moment

I know many of you stopped by hoping to read about our trip while we were gone. Unfortunately, the very sketchy internet was just that...sketchy. After several attempts, I gave up the notion of updating while in Ethiopia. So over the next week, I will hopefully give you a glimpse into our time in Ethiopia through the eyes of an adopting mother. For now, I will leave you with the best moment ever.

Yesterday, while Jocelyn and Isaac were busy playing, I snuck upstairs to shower (Jocelyn is still very attached to mom only). We had agreed if she realized I was gone and if Charlie was unable to console her (she has yet to let him hold her) that he would bring her up to the bathroom. I was able to take a very long shower (much needed after 37 hours of travel) without any problem. I quietly snuck down the stairs to find Jocelyn sitting on Daddy’s lap chatting away. When she saw me, she smiled and went back to talking to Dad. One of the best moments by far since getting them.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Count Down

T-minus 9 hours and 50 minutes.

Weight Management

Yep. Here it is. I am going to talk about weight management. And although I could use some serious weight management, I am not going to talk about the body kind. Instead I am going to talk about the insanity of managing the weight of your luggage. It shouldn't be that hard right? Wow was I wrong. Since trying to figure out how to pack for 4 people with a limit of 50 pounds per bag, I have come to realize that everything adds up! .

Take for instance my purse. I do not carry one of the massive purses some of my friends carry. Mine is a nice medium sized purse to take care of my basic needs. I weighed it today. A whopping 3 pounds! So how do you end up with a purse that weighs 3 pounds? Well here is what I have:
- Sunglasses
- Check book
- Wallet (it even has money in it :) )
- 9 pictures of our babies
- Costco renewal form
- Calculator (can't live without it!)
- Mirror
- Thumbdrive (never know when you might need to save something)
- Inhaler
- Small notepad
- 2 pens
- 7 types of lip shimmer/chapstick (hmm maybe I should cut back)
- 8 receipts I don't even need
- Lotion
- Ibuprofen
- Floss
- Keys
- Couple of the unmentionables
- Eye drops
- 10 expired coupons (no time for frugal shopping now)

All that plus my purse adds up to a whopping 3 pounds! How is that possible? By the way...the checked luggage is the easy part. Ethiopian Airlines only allows 15 pounds for your carry-on. I had one carry-on half full and it was already 5 pounds over the limit. Hubby thinks we may need to "bite the bullet" and pay extra for one piece of luggage. The price tag for 1 pound or more over? Only a mere $250.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pink Paris

Are you wondering why I have posted a picture of Isaac and Jocelyn's closet? is all in an effort to explain to you my Hubby's nickname for my mom. If you will notice there are two distinct sections of Jocelyn's clothes. Her clothes start with a full line of pink clothes. Mostly light pink clothes. Then the next section of clothing has a nice array of colors including hot pink aqua, lavender, purple, cream, blue, etc... Can you guess which section I bought and which my mom bought?

Ummm...yes, the beginning section is what my mom bought. Hence the reason for the title to this post. Charlie has nicknamed my mom the Pink Paris (referring to Paris Hilton). Here are his reasons and mind you they are good ones!

  1. Since retiring, my mom has become more busy than when she worked. If I call and ask her to do something she says "just a minute, I need to check my schedule."

  2. My darling dad has been nicknamed "The Secretary" since he is the one answering the phone because my mom is too busy.

  3. My mom loves pink. In fact, the luggage she bought for our trip to Ethiopia is hot pink! Oh no, it gets better. She also has a matching neck pillow.

Pink Paris, this post is for you. Thank you for carrying on the pink tradition to Jocelyn.

We love you!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Isaac's Crib:

Jocelyn's Crib:

Putting the cribs together:
some minor irritations and one trip to the hardware store

Knowing they will be asleep in their own beds in 10 days...


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