Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Day 1 of our time in Ethiopia

After 35 hours of travel, we arrived at the Addis Ababa airport very late Thursday evening. Exhausted, we then waited in the tourist visa line, exchanged some money, found our driver holding the sign for us, loaded our bags and rode 25 minutes through the dark city to get to our guest house. I remember stepping out of the airport and into the open air of Addis Ababa and immediately feeling like I wanted to run and do cartwheels because the weather was BEAUTIFUL! It was like a perfect and cool summer evening here in Illinois. There were pretty flowers planted along the walkway and I just remember thinking......."I already LOVE this place!" It was definitely a wonderful welcome after the long hours of travel, AND after having left the frigid climate back at home. We immediately realized on that first night's drive through the city, that the driving there was going to be.....uh....scary! Our driver said they do not have police out patrolling there at night, so sometimes people get a little crazier with driving. We also saw numerous wild dogs roaming all about, and then heard them howling to each other across the city all night long at our guest house! It was well after midnight by the time we got our bags into the guesthouse, familiarized ourselves with the room, unpacked a little, and tucked ourselves into bed. I had thought maybe we'd have to take some Unisom or something to help us sleep, considering it was only the afternoon in Illinois, but thankfully we all slept pretty well even that first night. During our travel, we had taken some homeopathic jet lag tablets we'd heard good things about, and I have to say we really didn't have very much jet lag at all while we were there!! Of course, with all the exciting things going on there each day, adrenaline was probably rushing through our bodies keeping us awake! Friday morning we woke up, excited, and wondering in anticipation how the meeting with Hanna's birth mother would go that day. It's a long story to explain, but it really was nothing short of a miracle the way God worked out the details of our meeting. I had prayed for months before that God would help us to find her. (Edilu was an abandoned/malnourished case, so no birth family known for him) I had laid awake in bed many nights praying for her and having this heavy burden to meet her and speak with her. I had pictures of her with Hanna, and one of her with Hanna's older sister. I knew what she looked like, but I really didn't have much more to go off of except the name of a HUGE region where she lived with millions of other people. I spent hours and hours on the internet trying to figure out if SOMEBODY out there SOMEWHERE could help me find her. Eventually, in my search, I stumbled across the blog of a woman in Canada whose son had also come from Tikuret orphanage. This was the orphanage Hanna had been relinquished to and had spent 7 months. It was a divine "cyber-appointment".....truly. This woman knew ALL about the orphanage and the staff where Hanna had been. She gave me contact information and I was able to get in touch with the staff there. They were AMAZING.....loving, godly people, passionate about the children and mothers of Ethiopia with a real vision to help change the fabric of Ethiopia. They had information on Meseret (birth mom) and knew how to find her. They were so gracious to arrange all the details for us. Praise the Lord! So Friday afternoon we were driven over to the orphanage to take a tour and then meet with Meseret. We were so happy to see that Hanna had been in a very nice place for an orphanage. Asayech, the director/founder of the orphanage is a nurse and understands much about hygiene/health issues and so for Ethiopian standards the orphanage was as clean and organized as it could be. I think she told us that about 50 kids are typically living there. Meseret (birth mom) had been brought to the orphanage the day before from her village 5 hours away. She was SO happy to have been given the opportunity to meet us! Every time I hugged her, I didn't think she was ever going to let go! It was so emotional for all of us, even Caleb. Asayech (nurse) translated for us so that we could speak back and forth to her. We found out during our meeting that she was a protestant Christian and had an amazing faith in God. She never acted angry or bitter over the difficult life she had, but always referred to how she trusted God to take care of her and how she had had to give Hanna over to God and trust Him with her since she had no means to raise and care for her in a healthy manner. She realized that she could not control her circumstances, but that she could trust the God who controlled them. She had been praying for a long time for Hanna to have a good Christian family. So here were two mommas, sitting together in a room after having been half way across the world, both praying for this little girl and for each other. I think it amazed both of us to see how God had brought us together! What a testimony of God's faithfulness! We learned much more about Hanna's life before and how her mother had lost two other children to malnutrition. It brought a flood of tears to hear of her life's difficulties at only 28 years old, but what a blessing to have had this time to spend with her. Tikuret then fed us all lunch and a while later had a little celebration for us over Hanna's adoption as well as over two other children that were leaving the orphange that day to go home with their new parents to Denmark. We were told that the next day they would drive Meseret back home and that if we wanted to, it would be okay for us to go with to see where she lived. Tomorrow, I hope to post this on day TWO of our time in Ethiopia...... Here are some pictures from this first day and our meeting with Meseret. Pictures at the guest house we stayed in. After our initial meeting we all shared a special lunch together at the orphanage. Meseret (birth mom) had graciously come over and served us and unrolled our injera bread and showed us how to eat it! With Asayech, nurse and founder of orphanage and another staff member. We celebrated along with a Danish couple who were taking their children home that day. We were all given gifts of Ethiopian clothing. This woman was performing a traditional coffee ceremony for us....roasting the beans from raw and then grinding, etc.... Long process....Yummy coffee!!!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Quick update.........to be followed SOON by pics of our trip!!

It's hard to believe we've been home over 2 weeks now! Every minute at our house is busy, but we are definitely starting to fall into a routine as a family of 7! Overall, we are really doing well. I think partly we had SO prepared ourselves for the WORST that we are really thankful for the MANY things that have gone better than expected. The past two weeks have been full of Dr. appointments, blood draws, stool samples, LOTS of baths and laundry, teaching baby to sleep without a bottle constantly in his mouth, training Hanna in the ways of our household, and just having fun getting to build relationships with these two new ones!

We've found that despite the challenges, we are really enjoying the kids and have found so much to thank God for! Hanna is doing VERY well with English and is understanding so much more than she is even able to speak, yet she is saying new words and phrases each day. Today, she kept saying with her thick accent, "Thank you SO much!" She is a smart little thing and a very quick learner! She often catches onto what I am doing right away and takes action to help finish the task such as bringing me the diaper and wipes when she sees me lay Edilu on the floor to change him. For the most part she is so obedient and takes joy in doing what I've asked her to. She LOVES to do everything for baby, and I sometimes have to tell her "No, this time you CAN"T feed him.......Mommy's turn!" She LOVES to vacuum, do dishes, fold clothes and mop floors.......maybe just because everything is novel and new, but I sure hope it lasts. Even though it's quicker to do it myself, I've been trying to let her help with all these things and she just puts her whole self into it! It's so cute. Another great thing..... she eats ANYTHING we give her for meals! Tonight she gulped down 2 tacos without batting an eye, even though I KNOW she'd never seen one of those before in Ethiopia! The other day I left kidney beans to drain in the colander for making chili and she kept eating and eating them! The first week we were home, she was in the kitchen asking for food ALL the time. Now I think she realizes the food is always there and there's always plenty, and it has leveled off. She's not asking for food nearly as often.

Edilu is a sweetie, but we've figured out that he was definitely handed bottles ALL through nap/bedtime to keep him quiet and asleep in his crib at the orphanage. At first he would wake every 3 hours throughout the night and cry (scream!)for a bottle. We've been giving him much more solid food than he was getting and are weaning him off all those bottles. He's doing pretty well now at night, but does not really nap at ALL during the day..........We're working on that! He's a pretty typical one year old........into EVERYTHING, including the toilet water! We're learning to stay on our toes because you never know what he's going to get into or pull off or find to put in his mouth! Despite that, he's a pretty precious guy and the kids all love to carry him around the house.

Both of the kids had NASTY colds when they came to us and we are still constantly wiping noses. We're waiting on the blood work and stool samples to come back but are pretty sure our little guy has Giardia/parasites because of his recurring diarrhea/messy diapers. Edilu has been eating well for us, but at this time is only in the 5th percentile for his weight. (50 for height) The Dr. thinks he will catch up quite a bit, but is way behind because he started off so malnourished. His head and belly are pretty good sized, but his arms and legs are SO tiny!!! Hanna had scalp fungus from the orphanage that had to be treated, but we are hoping her other tests all come back okay. We should know soon.

As much as I love being with both of the kids all day they are not good nappers (working on it!) and I am lucky to get a few minutes to get anything outside of dishes and laundry done before we have to rush off to pick up the kids from school and start the whole homework/dinner/evening thing. That's probably been the hardest thing for me is feeling like I'm not able to get much else accomplished during the day..... But hopefully we'll get a better routine for nap/rest time established so I can have a little more time for things such as.........Blog updates!! =)

Our oldest three have truly been amazing helps! We've been trying to take little moments of one-on-one time here and there for them, because I know that it's still hard having to share mom and dad with TWO more people.....especially when those two people need lots of time in the beginning. We have had some really fun moments of just laughing and laughing at silly things altogether and that has been fun! Hanna has had us all cracking up a few times.

Tomorrow I'm planning to start posting pictures/maybe some video of our trip to ET. I think we've finally gotten everything downloaded/saved to our computer. Thanks again for ALL the support, prayers and encouragement along this path......it continues to mean so much to us!


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

We are HOME.........Safe and Sound!!!!!

We arrived home very late on Friday night after 35 hours of loooooong plane rides, layovers and scrutinizing security checks everywhere. Unfortunately, the plane that was to take us from Amsterdam to Minneapolis broke down after we had already gone through security and were waiting to board in this room so packed with people that even though we (and others ) were camped out all over the floors waiting.....we were like sardines in there. We found out later that out of all those 300+ people, many had been held over in hotels from the previous day because the plane had also broken down that day. There was no place to get water to drink or for feeding Edilu his bottle. They finally allowed me to walk 20 minutes through the airport to spend a fortune on 2 bottles of water that were specially "sealed" from the airport store so that I could take them through security to use for Edilu's bottle and us to drink. Caleb had a fever and was feeling puny and we realized somewhere along the line that we brought waaaaaaaaay too much carry one baggage because we could barely keep from falling over with all of it AND the kids. I knew we would miss our next connecting flight, and we had a hard time figuring out how to communicate with everyone back home since we couldn't use wifi at the airport. Finally, everyone was told to take everything and walk to a different concourse at the opposite end (of course!) of the airport and to get ready to take all of our baggage and wait in that super long line to go through security ONCE AGAIN before we could board this new plane that would NOW be taking us to Minneapolis. Can I just say I have NO love in my heart for airport security people?!!? LOL! I know they are just doing their job....but I've never been "patted down" and questioned and barked orders at so many times in my life!!! I did get pretty good at being able to take my shoes off/on with a baby strapped to the front of me. Looking back, we know they must have been so horrible in Amsterdam because we were taking the same route/airline that the bomber from Nigeria took through Amsterdam back in December. I'm sure they are dotting every "i" and crossing every "t" after that episode! Overall, even though we missed our next connecting flight in Minneapolis, we are still so grateful for safe travels and that really, considering, the kids did extremely well through it all AND we were able to still get a flight back to Peoria later that night. Even though it was late at night, many friends still ventured out to welcome us home and that was really wonderful to see their faces!

We have spent the last few days getting settled in, unpacking, and getting over jet lag! Truly, I feel like we are still processing so much. How do you see what we've seen and just go back to life as usual in America? How do I walk into my home with a full fridge (thanks to the Hoyt's!) and indoor plumbing and several bedrooms and not think differently about it because of the faces and people we've met? How can my thoughts not drift off to the children digging for food at the garbage dump....living right alongside the pigs in the filth? Or to the hungry children who's faces lit up when they were given a granola bar? Or to Hana' birth family living in a small dirt floor room with no water.....the people carrying heavy jugs of water long distances,etc, etc.... My prayer is that we will NOT go back to life as before......that the things we've seen will change us LONG term, not just for a few days. We have much to praise the Lord for each and every day!! If we know where our next meal will come from, we are rich. If we have a few drawers full of clothing, we are rich! When I saw the faith of Hana's birth mom, Meseret, who had NOTHING and yet trusted the Lord, it encouraged my heart. I think often our "stuff" can give us false security, and help us feel independent. I'm so thankful for the Lord who continues to teach and mold me into the person he wants me to be. May I fully realize the Lord as my strength and provider even when I am blessed materially. In my blessings, may I be a channel through which many others are blessed.

The kids are all really doing well and getting used to a new "normal". Our three older ones have so far been very helpful and understanding with Hana and Edilu (still not named!). We have already seen Hana make HUGE progress. In the beginning, she would have a crying fit every hour or so about something. I really think much of it is her way of working out her frustration/confusion at not having any control over anything in her life. She has had so many people come and go, and I think she never knows how long she'll be at the "next" place. I pray she is learning that she will be here to STAY with us for good. Of course ,communication has been a little tricky, but I'm amazed at how FAST she is learning English! She is, at the same time, so absolutely precious!!! We're seeing more and more of her personality as she has warmed up, and she's just so much fun! She makes me laugh every day! We are building a foundation of trust with her and she is having fits MUCH less often as she is beginning to trust us and understand what we are asking her to do. She is quite the little worker........in one of her orphanages all the children had jobs to do. Well, she MUST have mopped the floor and folded clothes, because she's a pro at it and LOVES to do it. She repeats our words all the time, and is so proud of herself and grins when she learns new things.

Edilu is such a joy, too. He's still a little mixed up about days/nights and doesn't want me to put him in the crib too often or he cries. I think he spent a little too much time there, and DOESN'T want to go back to that life!

Both of the kids eat just about ANYTHING, which is wonderful! Edilu thinks Hana is SO funny, and Hana loves to help feed him, etc...

We have much to praise God for! There are challenges, Yes. And there will be many more, I'm sure! It's one day at a time! Yet, while in Ethiopia, God gave me such a peace that these children were handpicked for our family! No matter what lies ahead, it's so good to know that God's hand has guided every detail......he has a wonderful plan for each of our children.

Hopefully, in the next few days I can get some pictures/video posted of our trip. Until then, I wanted to post this little clip of a Sarah Groves video which spoke to my heart.

Thanks to each and every one of you for the ways you've encouraged us along this path! It's hard to name ALL the ways...... We can never repay........the blessings we've received have been invaluable to us!

We love you!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday Update from the Hams

Sorry it has been so long since we've had time to update. Our days here have been very full!

We are very emotionally spent. What we have seen and heard has definitely changed us..........it's hard to explain the heartache we have felt for so many of the people here. I can't help but cry now as I even think of it. Last night Sammy, a wonderful young Christian man that drives/translates here for our guest house took us over by Kora, the leper colony. Sammy (and also his friend that accompanied us) grew up there and mostly lived at the nearby city garbage dump because they were so poor that was where they got their food. We went to the dump...........Sammy knows all the people who live there now because he tries to minister to all of them. Just these huge massive mountains of filth and garbage............... some piles are burned as they are dumped and the stench was more than I could bear! There were mothers living there with babies strapped on their backs.........there are pigs and dogs that live there, too. All the children there had on two different shoes on.......whatever they find in the piles of garbage. It's just hard to process it all........so hard to believe people really live like this and children grow up digging for scraps of food in a garbage dump.

Over the weekend, it was arranged for us to go and visit Leku, 5 hours south of the city where Hana's birth family lives. Hana's birth mom had been brought into the city to meet us, and so we were given the option of going with them to take her back home. She is just the most beautiful Christian woman who is very, very destitute. Actually, the entire community she lives in is very poor. She attends a protestant church in her community and her faith is very strong. She told us she had been praying for a long time that a wonderful Christian family would adopt Hana. She was so happy to be able to meet us. It was such a huge blessing to all of us to be able to meet together! I really feel like the details of our meeting were ordained by God. But also, it was one of the most difficult things emotionally. Eric and I just wept and so did all of her family as we said goodbye. Meseret, Hana's mom, and her older brother and sister all live in a very small little dirt floor room ( maybe 6 x 8 ft?) with a small grass filled mattress on the floor where they all sleep. Everything they own is in a little corner of that room. The walls and ceiling have large holes everywhere so there is no shelter from the rain. This is where Hana lived before her mother brought her to the orphanage. It was so much to take in emotionally.........I felt like I was going to break in two from the pain of seeing it. We also met Hana's aunt, Meseret's sister, and her children and husband. Please pray for them. They hugged us and didn't want to let go as we wept. We were able to take Meseret to the local store to get some groceries for her family............mostly dried beans, rice, and corn and some spices. As diffiult as all of this was, we feel SO very blessed to have had this time. It was priceless!

Today we have our Embassy appointment and we'll be bringing the kids back to stay with us for good tonight. We've really enjoyed getting to vist them twice and spend time with them. Edilu, I think will be a fairly easy transition.......he is such a sweetie. Hana has done pretty well. She's taken to Eric and I pretty well, but for SOME reason she is not so sure about Caleb. Poor Caleb keeps trying........but she doesn't really want anything to do with him. Hopefully it's short lived! They told us she gets homesick sometimes and can be a little bit sensitive. I think with time she'll be just fine, but she has so much to process. She is old enough to remember her mother and brother and sister. She's been moved to different orphanges 3 times........ I think I would be feeling much the same as she is . Confused, sad and wondering if THESE people (us) are going to go away after a while, too, just like all the others do. Please pray for her little heart. I can see sadness in her eyes and I can tell she is thinking/remembering.

That's all for now. Love to you all!

Friday Post

Today was quite a day! We were SOOOO happy to be able to spend a few hours next to Hana's birth mom at Tikuret orphanage (where Hana spent about 8 months before she was moved in January to the care center). Definitely an emotional time, but SO SO wonderful to have the chance to meet and speak with her. She was so happy to learn we were Christians and said she has been praying for a good Christian family for Hana and was thrilled to meet us. We learned so much more about the family situation and see clearly that she loves Hana with all her heart, but only wanted a much better life for her. We of course will share many more details when we see you all. It was just a precious time, even for Caleb who spoke up all on his own to tell her we will always be praying for her and that we will love and take such good care of Hana. She loved hearing those words from the boy who is to be Hana's older brother......it seemed to mean a lot to her. Tikuret also planned a special coffee ceremony and lunch ( I'm trying to like ET food.....it's interesting). Unfortunately we weren't able to get hardly any video of Hana's mom b/c the battery had gone dead. But we did get several pictures, and those will be priceless.

Tomorrow morning we are going to go meet Hana and Edilu at the care center and spend a little bit of time with them. In the afternoon, Tikuret has arranged for us to go South to the area Hana is from, and it sounds like we may have the opportunity to go with them as they take Meseret (her mother) home and to see where they live. From what she told us, she and her other two children are renting out a corner of a kitchen. Hopefully we will get the chance to meet the older siblings and see where Hana lived before being brought to the orphanage. We'll be spending the night about 5 hours from the city for tomorrow night if everything goes as planned, and then we'll drive back home Sunday morning I think.

Please continue to pray that our health will hold out for the remainder of the trip. We both had bad headaches when we woke up this morning and just felt a little icky. Maybe some of it is just from the huge time change on our bodies.

Won't be here tomorrow night to update, but will be back and can hopefully update you Sunday eve.


Thursday Update

Date: Thursday, February 18, 2010, 3:32 PM

Wow! After 30+ hours of travel we are finally here and are at our guest house!!! I've actually spent 30 minutes just trying to access our blog to post an update. I will never ever complain about our internet connections being slow at home again! I gave up on the blog, but for now wanted to email you guys and let you know we arrived safe and sound. We appreciate EVERY prayer lifted up on our behalf! Everything with our flights really went well, but it truly was an exhausting trip. Caleb was especially looking VERY weary tonight, and I thought at first he had a fever. I think though, really, it is just sheer exhaustion. He's been in a fog the last several hours and hasn't had much sleep at all and is SO tired. It's REALLY hard to sleep in those airplane chairs. We're praying we'll all wake up feeling rejuvenated tomorrow!

Thankfully I had gone to that prompt care to get that antibiotic for the sinus infection before we left, because as soon as we boarded the plane from Minneapolis to head to Amsterdam yesterday, I knew I had a fever. I had had the chills all morning and just couldn't get warm, then I'd feel like I was burning up and would take all my layers off. I was really glad I had also packed a thermometer and all sorts of meds in our carry on. Today has been better, so hopefully that antibiotic is working!

It was SOOOO neat seeing the Sahara Desert and the Nile River today from our airplane window!

I know there are many more details to tell, but for tonight just wanted to let you guys know we arrived safe and sound and that all is well. Please keep praying that we will all stay fairly healthy. It seems impossible between lack of sleep, stagnant airplane air for hours on end, airplane food, etc... We are SOOO thankful that ALL of our luggage arrived with us.......hopefully we didn't forget anything major!

Tomorrow, we are HOPING to meet Hana's birth mom at the Tikuret orphanage where Hana was for 6 months. We are hopeful it will happen, and yet we know there's the possibility that she won't/can't make it into the city. Pray for wisdom for us either way. We still haven't decided for sure if we are going to try to visit the area the kids were born in. We'll keep you posted. It's looking like we'll get to meet the kids on Saturday am for the first time. Then Monday, Hana will come back to the Guest Home with us, and Tuesday Edilu will be handed over to us.

We'll keep you posted and will try again another time to post on the blog.

Love you all,

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

This is it!!! Leaving in less than 24 hours!!!

Everyone's still asleep and the house is quiet......thought I'd better get on here and post before the rush of the day begins and it gets too busy!!

I can hardly believe this is the last night we'll be home to tuck our kids in as a family of 5!! Life will surely be much different after this point! It's a strange feeling. SO excited, and yet just like I remember feeling as I was whisked off to the hospital to deliver each baby.......that sobering time of realizing you are entering a new phase of life. Even though it's exactly where you want to be, you sort of mourn the loss of life as you now know it and realize you are closing the door to many things this past season of life had. Definitely no more running off to the grocery store by myself to leave Caleb to babysit the others.(Who can basically fend for themselves anyways!) Here we come bottles, diapers, sleepless nights and LOTS of sign language!!! We've had the privilege of watching many friends tread through similar waters, and we're thankful it has given us a realistic perspective of what to expect. It'll be rough for awhile, but we know God will give us the grace to get through ONE day at a time!! =)

So we leave our house at 4am tomorrow and head to Peoria airport. We have about 33 hours of transit time before we arrive in Addis Ababa, and then when we do, they are 9 hours ahead of us. So upon arrival, it will be bedtime (11pm) in Ethiopia and only 2 pm Illinois time!! (on Thursday) Hopefully we'll quickly adjust to the flip-flopping of nights/days because the week is too special to be walking around in a daze! We ARE bringing a sleep aid amongst a whole HOST of other drugs.(Really, we could have our own pharmacy.....just in case!)

Some wonderful friends of ours blessed us with a laptop, so we'll have a way to communicate while we're away. It sounds like the guest house we are staying in is really safe and wonderful for adoptive families to stay at. It was actually started by an American couple who adopted from Ethiopia themselves. ALL of the profit they make goes right back to the orphanages surrounding them. They have generators so that we can have HOT showers even when the electricity is out!! (which it sounds like happens very frequently) We hear internet is "spotty" at best in Ethiopia, but we should have some times where we can update throughout the week. We'll try to post after arriving safely and atleast once or twice throught out week before leaving.

Here are some ways you can pray for us:

1.) That all three of us (Eric, Caleb, and I) will stay healthy for the extent of the 9 days we are gone. SO many people are sick from one thing or another by the time they come home. We want to be able to soak up this trip and don't want anything to take away our short 6 1/2 days in country.

2.) Safe travel on our long flights there and back. And for the way home, being able to manuever our 1 and 4 yr. old through the airports with our luggage in tow. Hopefully they will SLEEP for a good part of our LONG trip back the the USA.

3.)For the kids we are leaving behind.....that God would bless them with comfort and peace at having mom and dad gone for so long. We're so thankful to have loving grandparents to step in and help us in that area. That makes it MUCH easier to leave them.

4.)That Hana and Edilu would quickly begin the process of attaching and bonding to their new dad, mom, and brother. We have a lot to learn about each other in the days ahead......

5.)That God would grow our love and faith in Him as we step into this foreign land.......that we will be impacted by what we see in a positve, life changing way.

And finally, that God would give each in our family wisdom and grace as we figure out how to transition into a family of 7.

We've been SO blessed..... It is hard to explain the love we have felt from the support and encouragement of so many. Please continue to keep us in your prayers this week! Hope I'll be on here again SOON! =)


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A few more of our cuties.......

Got home from teaching History this afternoon and a few more pictures had trickled into my inbox of the kids. I have to say our agency is SO SO good about updating us with pictures all the time. I just LOVE it! Makes it feel like they're not SO far away..... =)

Getting to know you...........

So FUN to see pictures of our two new ones TOGETHER!!! Hana and Edilu were both moved to this transition home in January, but before that were in separate orphanages 4 hours apart and had never seen each other. Even in this current transition home, Edilu is pretty much kept in the "baby area" where all the cribs and baby toys are lined up, so they don't really see each other very often. We were thrilled to get photos of them
spending a little time together. I wonder what Hana thinks about being told this is her new baby brother? =) She seems to like him in the photos!!!! Of course, she might think differently when she's stuck next to him on the plane for hours and hours and he's crying in her ear! Only time will tell..........actually only 15 more days til TAKE OFF!!!!

We are still crazy busy.........organizing, sorting, finding missing crib hardware, digging in the attic for baby stuff, etc., etc, etc.... We have been so blessed by so many who have helped us! We're SO SO thankful for our friends and family! I AM feeling a bit better, although still hanging onto the sinus stuff and praying it's gone very SOON! Should help now that we are ALMOST done painting! Just our upstairs bathroom and our bedroom baseboard trim to go.......

Below are some pictures I just received this morning of Hana and Edilu with the little photo albums we sent them over a week ago! We filled the albums with pictures of our faces and home so they could get a little aquainted with us before we pick them up in a couple of weeks. Looks like Eddy likes Hana's album better than his own! Maybe once he figures out that he can chew on the handle, he'll like it more! =)

Thanks for your continued prayers!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Time to start packing!!!!!

Everything is a go!!! Tickets got booked today and we are leaving town on Feb. 17th VERY early in the morning for Ethiopia!! Woohoo! Now the REAL countdown begins! Exactly 3 weeks away and my head is still spinning!!!! Actually, it's quite literally "spinning" right now as it's completely plugged up and I'm SICK! =( Please pray that I'll be better soon b/c it is definitely slowing me down, and I don't have time for that! Thank goodness we are almost done painting...........3 weeks around paint fumes has done a number on my sinuses. I'm SO excited though, and I know 21 days will fly by!

REALLY thankful that last night I got to hang out with a wonderful group of moms who've all either adopted from ET or are in the process. They're all so sweet and it's so great to glean their "wisdom". One thing I learned is NOT to use the airline we were planning on using! (Which also HAPPENS to be the one that crashed into the Mediterranean this week!!!) (So glad I didn't book yesterday!) I guess even "small" people feel very cramped like sardines for the looooooong flight ( 17 hours straight) each way, going and coming between Ethiopia and Washington D.C. So, when I told my 6'5" not-tiny husband that, he wasn't so glad to hear! It's one thing to have your knees tucked up into your chin for a couple of hours, but for a whole day....... NOT GOOD! I'm going to need this man to be feeding/changing baby or entertaining a toddler much of the time!! =) We are so glad though that our 12 year old son will be going too, and I know he'll be a wondeful help to us. He's gotten his practice in from helping me babysit kids these past couple of years and I know it'll be a blessing for us to have his extra set of hands. We're so thankful that money was given to us for him to go along. We hadn't originally planned on him going, but I know it will be an amazing experience that he'll never forget!

I guess if there is a down side to our new travel itinerary it's that we have to stop in Sudan. Yeah.....a little scary, BUT we don't have to get off, only sit there while other people get on/off. I'll be praying the whole time!!!! My friend Michelle says we need to take pepper spray with us on our trip....... anybody got some extra on hand??? =)

Friday, January 22, 2010

ALMOST there!!!!!!

Seems like there is always ONE MORE THING you have to wait on!! Well, Edilu's Embassy physical is finished and was fine. Because Hana is older she had to have the TB skin test done (different way of testing for babies), and the results will be back on Monday! So 3 more days of waiting until we can actually purchase tickets and have them IN hand! She would've been tested for TB before, but must be tested again before leaving the country. If it would HAPPEN to be positive, I think she'd have to stay longer and have some treatments first before allowing her into the US. We're praying NOT! Will keep you posted................. =)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

One step closer to TRAVEL!!!!

We were thrilled to receive back a corrected birth certificate for Edilu today! His official birthdate is February 18, as that is what the very first physician ever to examine him after he was found wrote on his paperwork. It was just a good guess at the time, but we think it seems pretty accurate. Hana's birthday is Febrary 16, so it will be fun to celebrate them together. We will be bringing home a JUST turned 1 and 4 yr. old!!!! We'll have to take some candles with us and stick them in something yummy to have a little party for them before we bring them home! I'm pretty sure that will be something completely new to them!

We also heard today that the kids were taken for their Embassy physicals TODAY (it is evening there now), but apparently they didn't return from their appointments before the office closed for the day. Since they are 9 hours ahead of us, hopefully we'll wake up to good news in the morning! As long as everything was fine for that (please, Lord!) then we can can book our tickets TOMORROW!!! We are planning to leave around the 17th of February and will be there for 1 week.

Thank you for keeping us in your prayers. Hopefully tomorrow I will have some GREAT news on the physicals!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Waiting..........and working!

Lots of STUFF to sort through before painting can begin. It's AMAZING how many "treasures" little boys can stuff/collect under their beds and in their drawers..........rubbermaids FULL! (definitely some pack rats here!)

The boys weren't so thrilled that the red paint on the bunk beds ended up looking sort of "hot pink"! Red Gloss Spray paint to the rescue..........but that was a mistake INDOORS! MESSSSY!!!! (LOVE the color, though!)

We received birth certificates back a couple of days ago, but Edilu's birth year was wrong. (I'm trying not to grumble.....) Our case worker is hoping it can be fixed quickly, but we are waiting for word. In the mean time I got a call from our Homestudy social worker saying that the State of Illinois needs another paper showing Hana's official relinquishment! (Grrrr..........STILL trying not to grumble!) There are always these little suprises and set backs; We KNEW there would be so we just have to chill out and wait. Hopefully we'll be able to confirm travel dates and airfare SOON! Atleast it's not like we don't have TONS to do in the meantime! We're still keeping plenty busy making preparations in every way for bringing them home. It's crazy how much goes into it, and every day I think of something else to add to the list! Our parents have been a HUGE blessing in helping us get things done, and SO many people have offered help in one way or another! WE. ARE. BLESSED.!!! Hopefully more news to come...................SOON!