Thursday, December 30, 2010

Embassy Day - Day 8

Everything went well at the Embassy Appointment today. We got in and out fairly quickly and got Bereket's visa approval, birth certificate and adoption paperwork without any problem. It was a little nerve racking because as soon as we got there, they dropped us off across the street and told us to hurry up and get inside the embassy and not to stand around outside. We got in after showing our id's and going through the scanners and sat in line on benches outside the main building until our group was called. When we got inside we again had to show id and stand in a waiting area until each family was called. Once everyone was called and all the visa's were cleared we left and headed to lunch.

We went out for more shopping that afternoon and had dinner with our friends that evening. They were so gracious to us and really enjoyed meeting Bereket. We had a really nice time!

After dinner they took us back to our hotel and we played with Bereket until bedtime. All in all a great day!

Gotcha Day - Day 7

Tuesday we got up, had breakfast and did some shopping before we were able to go back to the Transition House to pick up our kids. Shopping was a really fun experience. It was very cool to be out in the streets with all the people and crazy traffic. It was a very surreal feeling walking around shopping in a third world country all the way on the other side of the world knowing that in a few short hours we'd have our son in our arms and life would never be the same. Only God could have planned this!

After shopping we headed back to the hotel to get things ready for going back to the Transition House to take donations, care packages and pick up our little ones.
I was so nervous; going over everything a million times, making sure we had everything for Bereket as well as all of the donations and care packages...we had 7 beautiful kids to take packages to and I didn't want to forget anything.
When we got to the Transition House we got busy right away with the care packages. What a blessing it was to take these kids a gift from their parents who were waiting so anxiously to bring them home and praying over them everyday. They were all so sweet and humble and just precious. We took pictues of them and stamped their hands and feet on cards for their parents back home.

Once everyone was done with care packages they brought our little ones to us again. This was it, Bereket was with us...for good! We got to change his clothes and feed him and spend some time with him there before we said goodbye.

All of the nannies were so sweet and they hugged and kissed all of the kids as we were getting ready to go. It was a bittersweet time. You could tell they really cared for our kids and we were so thankful for that. We were so happy to have our kids and anxious to get home with them but at the same time you mourn the fact that these kids have already been through so much and are being taken from their home by these strangers who look, smell and sound so different. They're whole world is being rocked and you just put your trust in Christ that He's gonna make it all okay for them. He's gonna get them, and us, through this transition by His grace alone. Praise God that He is who He says He is! He can do all things and is faithful in His promises!

When it as time to go we all got in the vans and we were thinking," This is really it, here we go! We're really parents of this little guy and we have to take care of him now. OH MY GOSH!!!!!" I couldn't believe the sweet little sleeping boy in my arms was really here, with us, and we were taking him home!

We stopped to visit the second Transition Home which is where the older kids stayed until their parents came to get them. It was fun to see all the kids and play with them for a bit.

Later we went out to eat and then back to the hotel to rest. We really needed some rest too, our emotions were running like mad and we had just been going and going and wanted some time to sit and let all of this sink in. Bereket took a nap in his crib and we talked for awhile about everything that had happened over the past couple of days.

We met up with the other families for dinner at the hotel and just kind of hung around for the rest of the evening learning our new little boy. We gave him his first bath and played with him until bedtime. We all crashed early because we were so tired.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Meetcha Day - Day 6

So it's been forever since I've updated the blog. I'll try and catch you up on the rest of our time in Ethiopia and what's been going on at home over the next few posts. I really want to be better at this but having an 18 month old lends itself to not much time on the computer for things like this.

Day 6 was Monday, the day we met our baby boy!!!!!!!!
We barely slept the night before and woke up early for breakfast with the other families in our travel group before we started the big day. As we sat around the table at the guest house eating...or trying to anyway due to nerves...we talked about how we were feeling. Some of us were excited and for some others, the nerves had already kicked in. I was definitely nervous. I just wanted to go to the Transition House so we could see Bereket face to face. Two years of paperwork and waiting, several years before that of heartbreak and trials and we were finally here, finally to the day we would meet this precious boy that God was placing in our family. Let's get this going!

We met up with our driver and guide and drove to the Hilton for our paperwork party before we could do anything else. This paperwork had to be done in order for the Embassy to process Bereket's visa to come home with us, which we would get on Wednesday when we went for our court date...very important stuff. It was stressful making sure we had everything filled out correctly and took some time. We had lunch at the hotel once we were done. I think most everyone was just so ready to get over to the Transition House by this time.

After lunch we got in the vans and headed out. It was pretty quiet as we got closer and closer. We turned down this alley way and that alley way and our guide joked that now we were going to take a tour of the city. That little joke was met with lots of groans and lots of "haha, that's not funny". :-)

As we made the final turn and could see the America World sign, there was a nervous silence. We pulled up to the silver gate, honked and the gate swung open. We were there!!! Our kids were there!!! Was this really happening or was this a dream??!!
We all climbed out of the vans and huddled around together figuring out who was going to take pictures for whom and what order we were going in. They called the first family's name and I started shaking. I literally could not stop shaking. I'd seen this moment on several families blogs but being there in person was unreal. Watching families come together for the first time was an honor and something I'll never forget. Our Lord is an amazing orchestrator of life and each of those children were placed in the perfect home for them. No one could have done that. Only Him. It's simply amazing.

By the time they were close to our name it started to rain so we all moved up onto the porch. It was even more surreal now. We walked up the stairs I'd seen in so many pictures. The stairs to the front door of the house that our son was in!

It was our turn!!! They called our name!!!! We handed our cameras over to another family and stood ready. Shaking and feeling like we were dreaming we watched one of the nannies walk out of the doorway carrying this beautiful sleeping boy in green overalls. She handed him to me and all I could do was stare at his precious face. So peaceful. It took everything I had not to burst into tears but I didn't want to freak him out so I held it together as best as I could.

We took turns holding him while he slept and when he awoke, we were able to give him a bottle and spend some time playing with him. We didn't know how he'd react to us and had been praying that it would be a positive experience for him. He didn't cry but just sat back and took everything in. We got some big smiles out of him and some good cuddle time too. We got to give him a bottle and a snack. He fell asleep in my arms and then it was time to go.

The time flew by! We were filled with a mix of emotions about leaving him after just meeting him but in the end knew it was what was best for him. We'd be back tomorrow and then we'd be together for good. Our family of three.

That evening we went to a traditional Ethiopian restaurant for an amazing dinner and some incredible dancing. It was fabulous and a great end to a great day!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Our First Month Together!

We've been home as a family of three for just over a month. The time sure has flown by! We're enjoying having Bereket here with us very much and are amazed at how well he's doing so far. The first week home was rough because all three of us were sick and exhausted from the trip. No one got much sleep that first week. We all went to the doctor though and by week two, we were starting to feel better.

Bereket is fascinated by the cats (Stranger and Bella) and loves to play with them or shall we say chase them around the house all day. They aren't as fascinated with him, but they're doing really well and being very patient.

He loves to explore the house and see and touch everything he can. It's all so new to him and it's been fun watching him discover things. He crawls around so fast and pulls himself up on everything. He "cruises" around holding onto furniture and walls. He loves to stand and push his toy lion around the house. His eyes get so big with excitement as he walks across the floor pushing it. It's so funny!

He loves to be outside in the grass. We spend time outside everyday and he loves to find leaves and sticks. Of course everything has to be tasted by him! We found a caterpillar one day that he thought was pretty cool.

The boy loves technology! The first day we met him he wanted Ben's phone and every day since then, any phone, remote, computer, cable...he wants it! He's learning to hold a phone to his ear and say "hello". Well it's not really hello yet, more like a grunt, but the idea is there.

We got to celebrate his first birthday here at home and that was very special for us. He's got tooth number 7 coming in in just this past week. That's been a cool first experience for us, seeing how that happens. He doesn't say any words yet except "na" with means come in Amharic. He says da or ada a lot as well. Not mama yet, but we're working on that!

Bear is definitely a water baby! He LOVE'S baths!! He gets so excited about bath time that he tries to get in the tub with all of his clothes on. He loves splashing around in the tub and in the swimming pool. Even the sprinkler or water hose splashing on him makes him so excited!! I love that about him because I love the water so much too! We're gonna have lots of fun as he grows up!

We're still adjusting, most days he doesn't want to be put down and screams if he is. He's still not sleeping through the night and neither are we. Not getting very much sleep has been a challenge for me for sure. When he's screaming and fussy I feel so unprepared and like a complete failure. I understand it's going to take time. Time for him to get comfortable and feel secure and time for us to bond with him and understand him more. I also know that I can't parent him without Christ. He is the only one who can guide me and teach me to be the woman, wife and mom He desires for me to be. This adoption is His plan for us and for Bereket and I realize that we're all going to be under attack from the enemy as well because he doesn't want this to succeed. He doesn't want God to be glorified through this journey but we will fight for Christ and His glory to shine!

Bear is doing better about not going to just anybody anytime now. He'll look for us whenever anyone else is holding him and he'll want to come back to us pretty quickly now. We get the best smiles from him! I especially love the ones first thing in the morning when we come into his room to greet him and get him out of bed. He has a laugh that warms my heart. His slobbery kisses are like heaven! Afternoons are his hardest time of day it seems. He really doesn't want to be put down at all in the afternoon. That's my hardest time of the day too.

This first month has been full of ups and downs, hi's and low's, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. We know without a doubt that Bereket is the perfect child for our family and we love him so so much. We are so trilled to have him here after all these years of prayer and waiting. We thank God every day for this precious blessing! We can't wait to see what the next month has in store!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Happy 1st Brithday Bereket!!!!!

Yesterday was our little Bereket's 1st birthday! I can't believe he's one already! We've only been home with him for a few weeks but I'm so thankful that we did get to celebrate his birthday here at home. It makes it extra special for us.
Bereket enjoyed his first experience with cake and had a blast playing with the paper and boxes his gifts came in.

Happy Birthday little man! We love you so much and can't wait to see all that God has planned for you in this next year! So many new things for you to discover and experience, it's gonna be great!!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

We have family in Sodo - Day 4 & 5

Saturday morning we got up early to meet our guide and driver who would be taking us to the Sodo region to meet Bereket's aunt. We were told it would be an all day trip; about 6 hours there, visit and 6 hours back. We were nervous about meeting her but excited as well. When our friend Travis dropped us off at the meeting place, we met our guide and we asked what time we would be back, so Travis could pick us back up, and he said 2pm tomorrow. Wait...tomorrow? That couldn't be right. We told him we were told it'd be a one day trip, he said oh no, it's too far to do it in one day. Well, we weren't prepared for this, mentally or physically. We didn't bring a change of clothes or toothbrushes and that meant we'd be staying the night in another city, 6-7 hours away. We told them we'd go but we'd have to run back to the house to get a few things and we'd be right back.

We headed out shortly after that for the long journey to meet Bereket's family. We really enjoyed the drive through the countryside, it was just beautiful. Very green farmlands and I wasn't expecting that. We spent time talking with our guide, his wife and our driver. They told us about the area, the crops that were grown, the history, etc. They were all so sweet and so funny. They made the trip even more enjoyable. We stopped for lunch along the way and watched David, our Driver, eat raw meat. It was not appealing to us but he sure loved it!!

We stopped at a coffee tree farm and got to see the berries and the coffee beans inside. We took pics with some of the guys there. There were quite a few people there and they all came and gathered around the white foreigner. I thought it was pretty funny!

We bought fresh sugarcane from some women on the street and it was so good. We saw so many people on the roads taking there goods to the market and lots of people getting water from the river, bathing in the river and washing clothes in the river. So many little kids along the road by themselves in just an old torn and tattered shirt, no pants or shoes. Those things were tough to see but I'm thankful that we did because it changes you.

After about 6 hours on the road we meet up with Bereket's aunt's social worker and hopped into another vehicle to go the rest of the way to her home. The van we were in before could not have made if through the roads we were now traveling. We were in an off-road vheicle because these roads were were so bumpy and full of ruts and large holes. It stared to rain pretty hard and we traveled through a couple of riverbeds that were starting to fill up.

We met Bereket's aunt and her kids and spent about 45 minutes talking with her. She was very kind and answered all of our questions as best she could. It was a very surreal experience. Her home was very small, one main room with a small area in the back for cooking. She has three beautiful children of her own. We are so blessed to have met her and to know that we have extended family in Ethiopia. We asked her what she'd like / her wishes for Bereket's future and she said that we would raise him to love the Lord and that we would love him as our own. We promised her that we would absolutely do both. We pray that we'll be able to take Bereket back one day to meet her and her kids.

That night we drove back into Sodo and stayed at fairly new hotel. We had dinner there with our guide and had great conversations about Christianity, morals and hypocrisy. The power went out while we were eating but thankfully they had a generator so we didn't have to eat in total darkness. We didn't sleep very well because we were told that no matter what, if anyone knocks on your door, don't answer it. So slept off and on and work up very early the next day to head back to Addis.

On the drive back we were admiring the grass cottages and our guide asked us if we'd like to go into one and see it up close. We of course said yes! So we stopped at a home along the way and all go out of the van. We greeted the family living there and asked if we could come inside. They were so gracious and allowed us in without hesitation. It was incredible. The cottage wasn't very big yet they kept their livestock in there, had a small area for cooking and a small area for sleeping. It has rained quite a bit yet inside was completely dry. The way the cottages are built is amazing. They were a family of such humble means and yet they seemed so content. We were so thankful to be able to have that experience.