Sunday, December 30, 2007

An Alternate Universe

In an alternate universe, we are on a plane right now. Probably just leaving the runway in Dulles Airport. Headed to Ethiopia.

But that alternate universe required that we pass court on Nov 30th. And we didn't.

And we still don't know what happened at court last week. We just don't know anything. And it sucks!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Joys of a Christmas Spent at Home

In no particular order...

(1) Letting your kids plow through their gifts at their leisure - no need to hurry them up to get on the road.

(2) Getting to wear your jammies ALL day.

(3) Having an excuse to cook your first turkey with your husband (and sans meat thermometer - oops!)

(4) Not having to worry about icy roads, time tables, or clean clothing (or a clean house!)

(5) Not having to answer any questions about when the Abi and Hana will actually come home... and not having to hide the tears because they aren't here yet...

Merry Christmas!

Miss Ally dressed all fancy for the party at the grandparent's this weekend:
Miss Ally showing off her scary face to mommy:

Gracie showing off exactly what she asked for from Santa (although I think she was a little disappointed with the actual gadget)

Ally watching a master-unwrapper at work

Oooooh tickle me Elmo was a hit

Curious kitty!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Birthday Boy!

Christmas time brings other fun in our house - Mark's birthday falls on Christmas Eve!

This year, we didn't do our normal round of parties and driving all across the state. We. Stayed. Home. And it was wonderful!

Yesterday, we woke up at our leisure. Ally slept in. Grace has slept at a friend's down the street. We had a nice breakfast and decided to go to the Gardens in town to view the Christmas exhibit. We picked up Grace and her friend and took off. It was very pretty. They have Xmas trees decorated from many countries. My favorite was Mexico. Grace and her friend liked the one from Greece. All the kids loved the great train that runs through the gardens.

Then we came home and got Ally to take a nap. Grace vegged out for a bit and so did we. Then we got the kids up and ready and headed to church for a lovely service. This was our first Xmas attending a service at our church (and my first not going to a Catholic service). It was really nice. We all enjoyed ourselves.

Then home for pizza and cake! Ally was a HUGE fan of the cake. As you can see, she kept checking her belly to make sure she didn't drop any. And she kept doing the sign for "more"! She was a little ticked it didn't work this time. How much cake does a 15 month old need though really? ;)

Then it was bathes for the kids, off to bed. We stayed up and watched the 2nd Lord of the Rings while wrapping like crazy (okay, I wrapped, he vegged - only fair right?). All in all, a great day. And the first birthday Mark has EVER been able to spend just together with the family - no Christmas parties! I think that alone meant a lot. I was hoping for a special birthday present for him/us, but no such luck.I hope he had a great day. He deserves it more than anyone I know. He's an amazing husband, wonderful dad, and my best friend. I don't know what any of us would do without him. I am more in love with him each and every day.

Monday, December 24, 2007

No Christmas Miracle This Year

We were hoping for a miracle today. We were hoping someone from our agency would be able to get the missing letter from MOLSA.

I guess it could've happened. But I doubt it. Either way, we didn't hear a word. Nothing positive, nothing negative. Our agency rep in ET never called the US. So we waited ... but nothing.

It was a hard day. I had NO idea how hard it would be to be apart from the kids during the holidays. Oh, you can 'imagine' and know that it would suck. But the actual feeling is so much worse. I assumed that it would've been easier if we 'knew' the kids were ours and when we could get them. And it probably would help.

Right now, we can't think of anything but them. Tonight in church, I just got really emotional. I started crying at the end and it was hard to hold it together. I hate that I'm distracted and not much fun this year. The girls are so excited, especially Grace. But the holiday just doesn't have the same spark this year.

Grace didn't want to sleep alone tonight. She's sleeping in Abi's bed in he and Ally's room. And it just makes me mad. He's supposed to be there. Hana is supposed to be keeping Grace company. This wasn't supposed to be this way. When we accepted Abi's referral over six months ago, I never dreamed that he wouldn't be home by Christmas - let alone that we wouldn't even know when we'd be traveling. It isn't fair. It just isn't fair.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Strike Two

Today was NOT our lucky day, unfortunately. It sounds like our file itself is in order. However, MOLSA (and don't ask me to remember what that stands for), which is an ET gov't agency, has to put approval letters in our file. We needed a new letter because of the error last time. Even with three full weeks, the letter didn't get done.

So its a no go.

Someone from our agency (in ET) will go to the MOLSA office on Monday and try and take care of it. In theory, if he is successful we will "pass" as soon as we have the approval letter and we could possibly still go in mid-Jan. But that would be a long shot. HOPEFULLY we'll get it and won't need another court date and will travel only 1-2 weeks later than planned. But who knows at this point.

I can't get my hopes up any more. I just can't. It hurts too much.

It's 5 o'clock Somewhere...

It's just a few minutes after 9 a.m. here - which puts it just pass 5 p.m. in Ethiopia. So as business winds to a close thousands of miles away I wonder ... are they ours yet? Or is the time not right?

I can't dare to hope for good news. But I can't bring myself to prepare for the worst either. So, I sit in limbo, staring at work that should've been done yesterday.

And I wait.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

T Minus One Day - Part Deux

So, as you may recall, we've been here before. And I DON'T want to be here again. But here I sit, at work. Not working (as you may have noticed), but rather thinking of tomorrow/tonight. Thinking that in less than twenty-four hours (HOPEFULLY) we will know if we are legally the parents of Hana and Abenezer. Or, finding out that we aren't quite there yet and preparing for that disappointment.

I tried not to get worked up again this time - tried not to get my hopes up. but you know, that doesn't work so well for me. It's almost Christmas. I have to believe we're going to get our Christmas miracle. We didn't ask for anything else this year. Mark and I aren't even getting each other any gifts. Only one thing on our list.

If our wish comes true - mass chaos begins. If it doesn't ... well, let's just say that I'll probably leave work in tears. Let's be honest here. But I HAVE to believe they are mine. I just have to.

We've known about our son for over seven months. That is a long time to know something like that and not have him be ours yet. We've known for quite awhile about Hana too - although it took us a little longer to realize we were in it for both of them! Regardless, they are both firmly implanted in our hearts... we just need a judge to sign that dotted line.

It's going to happen - right? Right?

I wish Santa could bypass the space-time continuum. That would be handy.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

All Quiet on the Western Front

Yes, I'm still unreasonably quiet. That is really the compilation of many factors, not the least which has been a busy work schedule and lack of sleep from a teething little screamer.

But three more days. Just three.

And then [HOPEFULLY] I will [legally] be the mother of 4. Crazy.

We are feeling positive at this time. We have some flights reserved. No firm accommodations plans. But lots of discussion, rate-checking, etc. Assuming a successful court date, we'll have an embassy date in mid-January. So, we are planing on that. Which means we'd be leaving in less than a month - yikes and yay! Still so much to do!

Please keep your fingers crossed that Friday is successful. I have never wanted anything more for Christmas...
Oh, and I couldn't resist the "lawyer humor" =)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Shower of Love

I haven't had time to type a post to do this weekend justice. But rather than ignore it completely I'll throw in a few details!

This weekend my best friend from college and my sister threw us an adoption shower at our house. It was so much fun! We had a very nice turn out with a random crowd - some of Mark's friends from high school, some of mine from college and law school, some family and even our neighbor! We had so much great food, including some yummy take out from a local Ethiopian place. I'm embarrassed to admit, but this was our first time trying ET food! I don't even know the names of everything we had (Mark ordered and then couldn't remember either...) but it was all very tasty, especially the beef tibs. This was my second time trying the injera and I actually liked it this time with the food (not so tasty by itself...). Overall, the ET food was a decent hit at the party too, even among some of the pickier eaters. It is nice to know that we have several options for it so close. I'm sure the kids will appreciate that once in awhile when we get them home!

Everyone in attendance was also EXTREMELY generous with gifts! I was so appreciative just of the support alone, but to get the piles of presents was too much! Everything from sheets to scooters to play ground balls to savings bonds. Our kids are all so loved. That was an amazing gift in and of itself.

I do have photos from the party that aren't uploaded yet. I'll have to add those soon. It was a long, but wonderful day. Thank you so much to everyone that was a part of it.

My Baby is a ... Toddler!

I'm a bad blogger. The year is coming to a close. Our 2nd court date draws near(er). And work is insane. So, blog-world gets neglected. But I'm back for a [relatively] short update on our happenings!


Per true kid form, she refuses to actually walk on camera. So no video footage to prove it. But Ally took her first steps on Thursday. She sort of accidentally took one that afternoon and then promptly fell on her bottom. But, I think she was saving it for me! I had to work late, but while we were all hanging out in her room before bedtime, she took about 5 steps in a row at Mark to get her new favorite toy! I was so glad to be home for it!

She's growing up SO fast. And this weekend, she just started spouting off all kinds of words. I have been trying to determine how much was on purpose and how much was on accident. but she seriously said, more than once "mama" (I've been waiting for this one!), "strawberry" (seriously - we have several witnesses) "Ally play" (all together, while holding up a toy), among others. It's been crazy.

AND last night she did her first sign that i'm sure was intentional (the sign for more). It was so cool! It's been really fun to watch and to watch Grace be excited for Ally. I dont' remember all of this with Grace. How quickly we forget the little stuff...

It's been so fun watching her grow. And watching Grace grow as a big sister. They are really starting to play together now. I can't wait to have all 4 kids home and geling as a family!!!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Finding Peace

It is interesting... this adoption journey has taught me a lot about myself. I think that pregnancy could (in theory - and maybe for some) have a similar effect. However, I was so crazy hormonal with my girls that I didn't care much about self introspection and personal growth (other than growth of my midsection)!

But I can honestly say that this stressful, joyful, horribly painful, frustrating, exciting, emotional roller-coaster of a journey has made me look at myself and what I want for Mark and I and our family.

Turns out I don't have much patience. I know, this is a total shock to most of you.

I'm hot headed. Quick to anger when I want to protect my family. Easily hurt when it comes to my children. I am much more of a softee than I ever claimed to be in the past. I cry easily these days. The mere thought of my kids that I have yet to meet can make me randomly catch my breath in the middle of a meeting.

I have grown so much as a parent, although still much MUCH growing left to do!

What a revelation. Scary thing really.

Yesterday I spoke with someone at our agency. I won't go into the details, but she explained to me in more detail what had happened with our case. And, she basically admitted that it WAS preventable and should've been caught. To be perfectly honest, I was taken aback by this. And then I just let go of a lot of the anger and emotion that had been bottled up since Saturday (well, Friday really). How many times have I screwed up something at work? No one is perfect. Owning up to a mistake is a big deal - especially with a potentially emotional parent on the phone (although I was very polite and NOT emotional). It was like a weight had been lifted.

Although the error is easily correctable and it appears our file is in order other than that, there are no guaranties we'll pass with flying colors next time. Once we go before the court again on the 21st, someone else could review our file and find something else they want. But this was good to know - I need to still remain cautious. But I feel very hopeful.

Abi and Hana are my children. Maybe not legally yet. but they will be eventually. And at that point all of this frustration will melt away. And that first real hug will make it all worthwhile.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Every Emotion Under the Sun

It has been a rough couple of days.

To be perfectly honest, I did not realize how much I was banking on passing our first court date. At some point in the last 2 weeks my mind set completely changed and I had gotten very set on traveling at the end of December. That was a mistake. In international adoption, so much is left to chance, so many things can go wrong to delay your progress. And we know once we decided to adopt Hana that we were doubling the possibility of failure.

Once we heard on Saturday that we didn't pass, I had a good cry. A seriously hard cry. I think I had so much pent up inside just waiting for news that when it came back negative it just had to come out. Next, I became very angry. As it was described to us, the error that caused us not to pass seemed very preventable. In all fairness, I have not yet been able to talk to my agency to confirm this. I have since calmed down quite a bit. Although I'd like to have a better handle on what happened, what didn't, what needs to be fixed, etc - well, it is what it is. We didn't pass, and in 3 weeks (2 weeks and 4 days!) we have another chance. In the grand scheme of things, this is just a blip.

but it is so hard when you are in the thick of it. I feel incredible peace in one respect though - I know my kids are very well taken care of. I received a new photo of Abi this weekend - he is so so cute but looking so old! But, most importantly, he looks happy and healthy.

So, regardless of this rollercoaster and my up-and-down emotions, I know that my kids are okay. I'll have them home [relatively] soon. And we'll be a family.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Bagels Didn't Work

Unfortunately, my bagel karma was too little too late (see post below). We didn't pass.

We finally hard from our agency about 12:30 or so today. It was a hard morning of waiting. Although I'm so upset right now, I think it is still better than not knowing at all.

Apparently there was a mix up with paperwork. There is some contract (?) that needed to be filled out by the orphanage for our file and it was filled out by the orphanage they are currently at. It should've been filled out by the first orphanage they were at. (Some sort of intake paperwork or something).

We've been rescheduled for December 21st to allow time to have the proper paperwork submitted. I have no way of knowing if this was the only error in our file or if once this error was discovered we were immediately rescheduled. There could be other problems.

If we pass on the 21st, we'd likely travel mid-January. Hopefully flights will be a bit cheaper then. I have to find a bright spot.

I'm so angry at myself - I promised myself I wouldn't get my hopes up. But I did. Last night we received some new photos of Abi. He is so handsome. But he's grown so much. We're missing it. I know it doesn't seem like it, but 3 weeks is a long time.

My hearts aches.

No News.................

It is now 11:10 a.m. (EST). We thought we'd hear by 11. In all fairness, 10 min late doesn't mean NO news at all. But still. This morning was even worse than yesterday (well, mabye not, but up there!)

I'm hoping that by posting this I'll make them call me. Gotta love playing with fate.

I need to know!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Don't Wait on Pins and Needles

Because we don't know a thing. And we won't until tomorrow morning at the earliest. =(

It seems our agency is having some trouble with communication. Some families in our area heard great news today (Congrats to the Kirkstras and the Bryants!) but they used another agency. I'm very happy for them, but so incredibly anxious for us!

for me, the not knowing is so much worse than knowing the bad news and moving on. but we've got no choice. so I need to suck it up, get some work done and hope tomorrow morning comes very quickly (and with news!)

Keep your fingers crossed for us!!! We'll share news as soon as we have some!

Today has arrived!

Still no court news. It is about 11;30 a.m. Which mean it is about 7:30 p.m. in Addis. Which means it is 8:30 a.m. in Washington (where our agency is).

What does all of that mean?

Not a damn thing.

We might know today. There is a chance we might not. I'm going crazy. Work is VERY hard. I can't focus. I even brought in bagels to share today as good karma! How funny is that! Especially since court was already over at that point and (even if such things worked) it would've been too little, too late.

At least I have happy co-workers!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

T Minus 1 Day

That's right folks. Tomorrow is the big day - court.

That means that when I wake up tomorrow, I could be the (legal) mother to FOUR children. Not bad at 26 eh? ;) Unfortunately, I won't know for several hours. Maybe even days if we are unlucky with communication issues! AHHHH. That would/will drive me crazy! There has been some construction near the orphanage and email communication has been cut off. Oh, and our agency's in-country contact has been in Ghana all well and won't return until tomorrow. So that all [potentially] hinders when we'll know the news.

PLEASE keep us in your thoughts. We so, so badly want to pass the first time. Okay, well seriously who doesn't? But it feels like we've been waiting SO long. We committed to adopt Abi over five months ago. That is a long time to know who your son is but not to have him legally be yours! Although not as long for Hana, she's grown in our heart so quickly that I can't hardly remember before we decided to adopt her too! Grace has been waiting a long time and wants her new siblings home very badly.

I was also thinking today. If we do pass, there is a good chance that we will be in Ethiopia for Christmas day. And that might be the day we meet our kids. How amazing would that be? Although it would be pretty sad for Mark since we'd spend much of the day before traveling on his birthday! I think he'd get over it though... ;)

Oh, I just cannot focus! I have so much to get through at work and just keep seeing their faces when I try and concentrate! Keep your fingers crossed I don't' get fired today (just kidding, but still). i can't even imagine what I'll be like tomorrow - whether we pass or not I think I'll be useless!!!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Whose feeling lucky??

Sorry for being so quiet the last week or so (but making up for it now)! Busy at work, busy freaking out about all the stuff that needs to get done if we pass court on Friday (I mean when, when we pass court - sorry Mark!), etc.

Among the chaos, I've been thinking a lot. About a whole lotta things. And most of them will just have to wait for another post (assuming that I have time!) But there is one theme I wanted to write about.

When it comes up with people that we are adopting, we tend to get a variety of reactions. One that we get fairly regularly goes something like this "Oh, that is so great! Those kids are so lucky!" Which is a very nice thing to say. I like to think they mean that Mark and I are good people and good parents and that a child would be fairly lucky to be stuck with us as parents. However, some people say it and seem to be thinking that Hana and Abi are so lucky that we are rescuing them from Africa, bringing them to this great life in America.

This later view is the most problematic for me. Because in saying that, one is really saying, boy those kids sure are lucky to have their families torn from them by poverty and illness, to have been plucked from their home country, their culture, the only life they've ever known to move to the America (which is a pretty great place, but let's be honest - quite far from perfect in oh so many ways). I can't say that. I can't ever think that my kids are lucky to lose so much - more than I'll ever be able to comprehend.
But things are what they are. Luck has nothing to do with it. Unfortunately, my kids have already been pulled apart by horrors that I will never understand (though I will do my best to try to). If such things have to happen in our world, than I suppose Hana and Abi are lucky to still be able to experience the unwaivering love of a family, if not their first family.
But truly, we are the lucky ones. When I look back at this journey the past 7-9 months, I realize that I have already learned so much from my children. I have grown so much as a person from what they and their experiences have taught me. And I haven't even met them yet! I think about how much richer Grace's and Ally's life will be to have Hana and Abi as siblings. And I thank God every day for this most precious gift.

What kind of pie are you?

This is so funny - since it is my favorite type of pie! hahaha. Thanks Erin!

You Are Apple Pie

You're the perfect combo of comforting and traditional.
You prefer things the way you've always known them.
You'll admit that you're old fashioned, and you don't see anything wrong with that.
Your tastes and preferences are classic. And classic never goes out of style.

Those who like you crave security.
People can rely on you to be true to yourself - and true to them.
You're loyal, trustworthy, and comfortable in your own skin.
And because of these qualities, you've definitely earned a lot of respect.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving - What are YOU Thankful for?

Happy Belated Thanksgiving everyone!!!! We just returned home from my mom and dad's today and after a [few] busy week(s) at work, I finally have a moment to post. Sorry I've been quiet! It's hard to even know what to write actually. Some days I have so much I want to say that I can't even think straight to do so. Other days I just get caught up in thought and can't write a thing!

But back to Thanksgiving. We had a great time seeing my parents, sister, brother and his family, grandpa and his lady friend (wink wink), as well as my mom's sister and her husband who were visiting from Florida. My aunt Gale, mom, sister and I braved Black Friday madness yesterday. EXHAUSTING. But I did get some good deals and a good chunk of my shopping done - yeah! And it was really nice to have more visiting time.

What am I thankful for this year? Hard to narrow it down. I'll write the first five things that come to mind, in no particular order:

(1) Family - both immediate and extended. Those I see and those I don't. And those that are halfway around the world that I hope will (legally) join us forever on Friday! I have learned a lot about my family in the last year. I guess there is nothing like an adoption to really pull people together and let them show what they're made of. Fortunately, Mark and I are so lucky to be surrounded by family that is extremely proud of us and supportive (even if they don't quite understand all our decisions...). That means the world. Oh, I can't wait to get my 2 other children home!!! (complete understatement of the year)

(2) Old Friends - I'm very lucky to have more than a few great friends. I don't have to talk to them once a day, month or even year (although I prefer to!). Whenever I do get to see them and have a good chat, we just pick up where we left off. And even though some of them are now sprinkled across the country (or just down the street but busy) I know that if I ever truly needed them, they would be there for me in a heartbeat.

(3) New Friends - Here is a shout out to our little "discussion" group (and you know who you are!). I don't honestly know what I would've done without you these last couple of months. I have learned so much from all of you - and we've never even met! I can't wait for the day that we do and that we can start sharing the trials and joys of (finally!) having our kids home with us!!! A very, very sincere thank you.

(4) Something Greater than us all - I grew up in a religious family. I've always believed in God, and truly, even during some of the scariest times, I've always trusted in Him. But I don't have the spiritual depth that I have come across through our adoption journey. A sense of peace that so many have. Such deep trust, even through things that I know would've tested my faith. So I'm not there. But I'm still moving forward. And that is something to be thankful for. Because whatever "He" is, wherever He is, I know he is watching out for us or we wouldn't be where we are now.

(5) Chocolate. I don't have to explain this one do I?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Our email friends, the Isaacs, just got some great news - after 3 tries, they finally passed court and will be traveling in less than a month to bring sweet Abush home!!! Yeah!!!!!

Freak Out

2 Weeks and 3 Days
That is what my handy little counter says. That would mean there are exactly 17 days until our court date. Seventeen.

I have been trying so hard NOT to get my hopes up for actually passing on the 30th I haven't stopped to really think about what we are going to do if we DO pass! How crazy is that. Now I have a whole new thing to stress about!

Because, hopefully, we'll be traveling within 4 weeks of passing court. Which means a full month of preparation right? Well, yes. But let's think about how much free time I usually have during the month of December? Umm... how about none!

And we need plane tickets
hotel/guesthouse reservations
packing lists
actual packing
actual stuff TO pack (yes, there is still some shopping to be done)
somethings to pack stuff in
lists and lists and lists - for everything
What to do with the dogs?
KIDS? (okay, so this has been discussed, but final details depend on our exact timing so still a huge stressful issue)
**Not to mention how can I leave my KIDS for 2 whole weeks????? I'm not even letting myself deal with that one yet...

Now that I have sufficiently freaked myself out, I better get back to work. Now I can worry about passing AND not passing for 17 more days. Sigh.

This adoption stuff is hard...
I just want to bring Abi and Hana home. Soon.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Bronchitis for My Birthday

Well, not quite. ;) But unfortunately, Ally and I have been battling twin chest colds for about a week now. Poor girl - when she gets coughing at night I just want to cry! But she seems to be doing better.

As for me, I've been mostly fine. Unfortunately, the worst of it hit late last week when I was slammed at work. Oh yeah, my birthday fell in there too! Which would have made for a horrible birthday - if I didn't have such a great family. =)

Yep, the big 2-6

The day (Thursday) started off nicely with lots of hugs from Ally and Grace. Grace especially was excited for my birthday, which of course makes it so much fun. I miss when birthdays were that exciting! Mark and Al met me at lunch for a quick bite down the block which was a great break for me. After a loooooooooong day at work I made it home just in time to pack up the kids and get to Grace's school for conferences. she is doing fabulously by the way. Just a bit too chatty at times....

Anyways, made it home at a decent hour for a yummy dinner made by Mark (Mexican Chicken - yum!) AND my favorite - apple pie (also homemade by Mark)! Complete with candle and singing (and clapping by Ally). AND they even wrapped my gifts (I love wrapped gifts - hate gift bags!)

I was supposed to work more that night but after about 15 minutes I just gave up - who can work at night on their birthday? So the evening was saved after all!

All in all it was a really great day. I can't wait until next year with all the kids home. So weird - by this time next year we'll have experienced ALL their birthdays together.... And, that will mean I'll have 4 kids before I'm 27. Not too shabby. ;)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Poor Ponch!

Poncho, our sweet cocker, had another seizure this morning. Most of you probably didn't even know, but he had one several months back. This one was worse, but not what our vet considered a full seizure (he remained conscious). We had some blood work done, which should rule out other causes, but the vets are pretty sure it is epilepsy. =(

And they told us they won't do any treatment until he is having them more regularly (e.g. 6-8 times each year). And it sounds like it is inevitable that it will progress, we just don't know how fast.

So he is fine - but sounds like this will be an ongoing problem throughout the years. And just pretty scary for us in general. If anyone has any knowledge about this subject, please let me know! We are waiting his blood test results tomorrow and doing a bit of research to see what, if anything, we can do. He should live a pretty normal life, and I think if we are lucky, it might progress very slowly and it might never get bad enough to require meds. I'll keep my fingers crossed for that...

Sunday, November 4, 2007

X Marks the Spot on ... November 30!!

Yep, that's right - we have a court date of November 30th!! Whooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

I am excited, but not letting myself get TOO excited. There have been lots of problems/delays since the court has reopened. That date could get postponed a full month. Or we might get heard, but a needed letter from the gov't might not be there, etc. So, many maybes still involved.

BUT it's a huge step forward. And, if all goes perfect, we could still travel this year - perhaps right after Christmas! And since I know how fast December will go anyways with the holidays, the kids seem closer than ever.

Please keep us in your thoughts these next 2 months - that we are able to pass court and bring Abi and Hana home as soon as possible...


Friday, November 2, 2007

Ally thinks Claire is... HUGE!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Halloween was a lot of fun this year! Grace was really in to it. And was very excited to go trick or treating with her best friend from down the street. And I was thrilled not to be super sick like last year! Ally was a great sport and had a lot of fun just hanging out.
The day was cloudy, but didn't seem so bad. Unfortunately, it rained pretty steadily the ENTIRE time we were out! Only lasted an hour this year, but still a pretty good candy haul. And the girls were super cute.
Here is our little Dorothy
(note the dress she is wearing - my mom made me that for my 2nd grade play!)

And our little cheerleader!
(please note her super-cute pony tail!)

The end of the evening was a bit chilly (look those cheeks!)

And damp! (with a little over-tiredness and crabiness thrown it, but not bad)

All in all it was a lot of fun. I can't wait for all 4 to go next year! That is going to be CRAZY!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Run Like the Wind Grace!

Grace has been doing track this year. Funny choice for a 6 year old, but she's been enjoying it! Today was their big "meet" and she did great! I think she really had a lot of fun. See the video/photos below (she's in the red)


Did you know 200m is pretty far for first grade legs? But she ran the whole way in under a minute! =)

We stayed warm too! (barely!)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

She's Got It!

On Friday night we got our photo of Hana with her welcome bag! She looks pretty confused, but happy. It was so fun to see her in her new shirt, holding the photo album with our faces. I still can't fathom what she is thinking and feeling, but I hope she is happy overall I can't wait to meet both of them!!!

Now, hopefully we'll know our court date this week. At the rate they have been getting postponed though, it may not mean much. But still going to cross our fingers that things go (fairly) smoothly from here on out! =)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Dreaming of a New Family?

It is Friday afternoon here. Which means it is nearly midnight in Addis Ababa. Abenezer and Hana should be tucked in by now, like any other night.

But it isn't any other night.

Hana was supposed to get her welcome bag today. We haven't heard for sure, but that was the plan. So today, our five year old daughter-to-be found out there is a family waiting here in Michigan for her. Two sisters. And she found out that Abi will be her brother! And she could see our photos, put on her new shirt, hug her doll.

What must she be thinking???

Is she excited? Scared? Angry? Thrilled? Perhaps all of the above. Can you imagine how YOU would feel in that situation??? I honestly can't!

I just picture her in bed, with her little armed tucked around her new doll, holding tight to her wishes and dreams. And, hopefully, sleeping a little more soundly knowing that she has a new family, a forever family, that is thinking of her and loving her a million miles away...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Group X!!!!

News! FINALLY!!!

The courts have been open for weeks but there has been very little movement, at least with our agency. Only a few families have passed, lots of rescheduled court dates. And we have been waiting... waiting...

But I called today (because I couldn't take it anymore) and found out that today our case was sumitted to court as part of Group X!!! There are usually about 10 families to a group. Our court date should be between 25 and 45 days from today. If we pass the first time (a pretty big "if" - I'm sort of assuming we won't) then we *could* possibly still travel late December.

I'm trying not to get too crazy. But WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

At least it is SOMETHING! We are one huge step closer to our kids!!! Please wish us luck. Hopefully we'll know a court date soon!!!

Also, please keep our friends the Isaacs in your thoughts. They have been waiting and waiting for their son to pass court. Their first court date was back in August before the closure. We hope they can get little Avi home VERY soon!!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

War - Half a world away

No, I don't mean the hot button-political-issue of the war in Iraq. Rather, I am referring to the increasing friction between Ethiopia and its neighbor, Eritrea.

The history between Ethiopia and Eritrea runs deep. One article stated:

Eritreans are proud of their history, even their colonial history. The Italians ruled the country for 51 years. After World War II, when Italy lost its few colonies, the world was not sure what to do with Eritrea. The superpowers stood by when Ethiopia swallowed it whole in 1962, which started a 30-year guerrilla war that Eritreans call “the struggle.” Their heterogeneous society rallied together, with Christians and Muslims, Tigrinya and Tigre (two of the bigger tribes) and men and women fighting together on the front lines.

The Eritreans won the struggle in 1993 and Eritrea became an independent nation. At the time, the country was in ruins, with few natural resources. Its soil was pebbly and dry. But it possessed collective values forged in the trenches and stressing self-reliance that seemed so different from those of older African nations that were corrupt, debt-ridden and torn by ethnic rivalries.

Unfortunately, for both countries, the last fourteen years has been a bitter struggle over borders. Eritrea was forced to deal with some very hard issues and Ethiopia became a landlocked country - a huge disadvantage in Africa. Border disputes continued into the late 90s, specifically over a particular border town. The UN eventually became involved, but Ethiopia ignored the UN commission who had declared the border town Eritrea's. Eritrea has also violated the treaty, sending troops into demilitarized zones. Neither side is willing to declare peace, both alleging that the other is trying to start another war. Both sides sit with troops at the ready.

This conflict would have been a blip on my radar less than a year ago. Now, it raises a number of emotions, not the least of which is fear. Although my children are tucked safely away in an orphanage in Addis Ababa, located in the center of Ethiopia, miles from the Eritrea border, I'm still scared for their safety. And I'm scared that if things escalate, that we won't be able to travel to bring them home, both delaying their homecoming (perhaps by quite a bit!) and denying us the opportunity for a small peak into their lives up to this point.

As you can see, the longer we go with news about court, the more I can find to freak out about. =(

Monday, October 15, 2007

No News ... Is Just That

Well, I knew we wouldn't have a court date immediately upon the reopening of the Ethiopian courts (which occurred last Monday) but hoped we would have some information by now. But alas, not just yet. In all fairness, our rather [relatively] last minute decision to adopt Hana added a slight bump in the road of piles of paperwork. But mostly, things just seem to be moving at an African pace (which means exactly as fast or slow as the Ethiopian government feels like moving right this second, which could change at any moment). So, trying to stay calm and keep myself otherwise occupied.

So that is why I haven't posted much in the last week - it kind of sucks to post... nothing. But then we realized we never posted a photo of Hana's welcome bag!

This is how she will find out she has a family! Not only that, she will find out that Abenezer will be her brother! Oh, I wish I could be a fly on the wall... We are sending a camera so hopefully we'll get some pictures from that. But we'll see. Still haven't seen any from Abi's camera (somtimes they make it back, sometimes not). But a very exciting thought. She is really old enough to 'get it' and I just can't wait for her to know! The bag should go over with someone from our agency in a week or two so maybe we'll have a photo by the end of the month? That is something to look forward to!

Until then, we just wait. Sigh.

For those of you who know my great friend Natalie from college, check out her beautiful new son! Elliott was born last Monday afternoon and mother and baby are doing great! I can't wait to meet him!!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Something a Little More Lighthearted!

Okay, so I have been going CRAZY today, just hoping for news (preferably good news) about court dates, timelines anything. And nothing. SO. In order to take my mind off of it, I'll play a little game for your amusement.

1. YOUR ROCK STAR NAME: (first pet & current car)
Devin Taurus

2.YOUR GANGSTA NAME: (fave ice cream flavor, favorite cookie)
Mint Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter (How is that gansta-y?)

3. YOUR “FLY Guy/Girl” NAME: (first initial of first name, first three letters of your last name)

4. YOUR DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal)
Yellow Dog (heeheehee)

5. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you were born)
Anne Saginaw

6. YOUR STAR WARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first)

7. SUPERHERO NAME: (”The” + 2nd favorite color, favorite drink)
The Kelly Green Diet Coke

8. NASCAR NAME: (the first names of your grandfathers)
Peter Neil

9. STRIPPER NAME: ( the name of your favorite perfume/cologne/scent, favorite candy)
Tommy Girl York Peppermint Patty (that's a long one)

10.WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother’s & father’s middle names )
Kay Paul

11. TV WEATHER ANCHOR NAME: (Your 5th grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter)
Bates Birmingham

12. SPY NAME: (your favorite season/holiday, flower)
Christmas Lilac

13. CARTOON NAME: (favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now + “ie” or “y”)
Apple Button Down-y

14. HIPPY NAME: (What you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree),
Cereal Weeping Willow (seriously - who has a favorite treet?)

15. YOUR ROCKSTAR TOUR NAME: (”The” + Your fave hobby/craft, fave weather element + “Tour”)
The Quilting Thunderstorm Tour

Okay, kind of bizarre, but it was a nice distraction! Feel free to participate on your own blog or in the comments section!

It Wasn't My Problem ... Until Now

There is some really disturbing news out of China this week. I read about it here, on a blog written by an Ethiopia woman married to an American living in China (the blog is a great read!) but more of the story can be found here.

The long and short of it is that last week, the Beijing Police, or affiliates thereof, came down to a street frequented by foreigners and rounded up every black man they could find under the pretense of an "anti-drug operation." Many of these many were badly beaten. Victims included tourists and expatriates, including the son of the Grenadian ambassador.

The arrests and beatings were conducted in the middle of the street in front of many witnesses. There was no attempt to hide the brutality.

That is just a brief story - the links paint a more detailed, and disturbing picture.

Don't get me wrong - this is not something I would have EVER condoned. Had I come across this article a year or two ago I would have been disgusted. But it wouldn't have touched home for me the way it does now. It would've been sad yes, but not really 'my' problem. A fleeting thought, and then gone.

But now...

What if that was MY son? Fifteen years from now. Enjoying an evening out with his friends while studying abroad? Beaten and arrested because he is black.

Or, scarier yet, is realizing that same situation happens every day here in the U.S.

How do I protect my kids? How can I shield them from such racism - racism that is still alive and well and rearing its ugly head daily in the 21st century. How do I make other people care enough for this story to be more than a fleeting thought? People just like I was a year ago. How can we make everyone see that THIS IS EVERYONE'S PROBLEM. You may not be black. Your children may not be. Heck, you may not even know anyone who is black. But do you want to raise your kids in a world where it is not unexpected for people to be arrested and beaten simply because of their color?

What do we do?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Big News ... Maybe?

So, as most of you avid readers know (all 3 of you), the Ethiopian courts have been closed now for approximately two months. So, since that was the stage we were at with Abi's adoption, nothing much as happened.

Well, other than that whole going-to-adopt-Hana- too thing. ;)

But, things are starting to shake up again. Word on the street (and the "street" being a rumor from our adoption agency) is that courts will be OPEN starting Monday. Whoooooooooo!

What does that mean for us? Who the heck knows???

Unfortunately, it seems that Hana's paperwork is not fully gathered, approved, etc. Therefore, we wait. Once her portion of our file is set, we can submit both her and Abi's paperwork to the courts. We are still hoping to be filed this month and heard next month. But traveling by Xmas is looking more and more impossible. Sigh.

BUT thanks to the lovely cyber support of many new friends, I'm trying to take it in stride. The courts ARE opening and that is progress my friends! And, what I'm hoping is, that no matter if we travel in Dec, Jan or (God forbid) February, I will hopefully travel with an adoptive family I have come to know, at least electronically. So, it will come in time. Meanwhile we wait and prepare and miss children we have never met...

Please keep your fingers crossed that we get a court date soon!!!!!!!!!!!!!

P.S. I tried to add an image to this post by searching "Ethiopian court" on images on google. Unfortunately, most did not make sense or were offensive. Sigh. So, because I wanted SOME picture, I just put in the U.S. Supreme Court. =)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Why Ethiopia?

I saw the following exchange on the Isaacs blog, but it was actually taken from the Long's. I guess it really just sums up, for me, one of the many reasons we are adopting from Ethiopia:

Max: "Mom, in Etopia we don't wake up our mom to go potty in the night. We just go by ourselves."
Mom: "Why don't you wake up your mom?"
Max: "Because we don't HAVE any moms."

(My stomach dropped and the reality of my sons' past hit me again. I picked him up, gave him a huge squeeze, and said...)

Mom: "In America you can wake up your mom."

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Oh Baby! Our Little One is ... One!!!

It's true! Big Al's birthday was Sunday. She is now the big 0-1. CRAZY! Just hard to believe our little baby is already a full year old. Saturday night Mark and I just sat and talked about what the last year has brought to our lives. New jobs, new family dynamic, new outlook on life, the world...

Our dreams for our family have changed so much - and just grown exponentially. It is amazing what you think you can do if you actually stop and ask yourself!

So, if all goes well, in just a few months we'll go from a typical American family of 2.2 children (Okay, just 2 - but if you count the pets that is at least another .2) to a family of 6 (for those of you challenged in math, I am counting Mark and I at this point). Another way, that has us going from 1 to 4 kids in less than 18 months! And yet, all of us couldn't be happier!

But back to the lady of the hour (week?) - little miss Alice. What a year she's had! She started out a bit crabby, not going to lie. There were some rough colicky weeks. But the truth is, Ally is just very determined, focused, and goal-oriented little gal. If you were a non-moving blob who couldn't control a thing about your life and you had all of those attributes, you'd be crabby too! Yet, even with those loooooooong nights, she still had us all wrapped around her little finger.

And boy, once she got mobile (rolling) things sure changed! She is now the happiest, smiliest baby ever. She LOVES LOVES LOVES her big sister and her Claire Bear, Wally, and Poncho (in that order). Mom and Dad are alright too. She gets perfect strangers to stop and do a double-take on a daily basis - who can resist those blue eyes? Or that grin?

She's not walking, but she will be soon. She just hasn't made that a goal yet. She is perfectly happy crawling everywhere and getting into everything. But once she does set her mind to figuring something out, you can just see the gears start turning! It won't be long!

Ally sure is special.

Enjoy the random photos from her birthday! She absolutely LOVED the ice cream and cake (in that order) and the toys weren't so bad either! It was a lot of fun.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Life Lessons

Okay, so I usually don't get into forwards. But the following was a cute one from my friend Amanda. Among the humor is a good life lesson, though it is obviously a bit sappy! =)

Life Lessons:

One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do.

Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey.

He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement he quieted down.

A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up.

As the farmer's neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up.

Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!

Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a steppingstone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up.

Remember four simple rules to be happy:

Free your heart from hatred - Forgive.
Free your mind from worries - Most never happen.
Give more.
Expect less

NOW ...........
Enough of that crap. The donkey later came back, and bit the farmer who had tried to bury him.

The gash from the bite got infected and the farmer eventually died in agony from septic shock.

When you do something wrong, and try to cover your ass, it always comes back to bite you.

;) Happy Monday!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I'll cheat just a little!

Okay, we have done SO good about not posting any photos of our kiddos. But since the only thing I can do with myself this evening is post apparently (see three other posts below!) since Mark is out with the guys, I have to put 2 more photos up of my babies that are half way across the world. Since it isn't their whole face, I think it isn't really cheating. Right? (guilty face)

Oh, and if Mark comes home and things I'm crazy, which is entirely possible, these photos will probably disappear... ;)

The Many Faces of Ally Jane