Wednesday, July 13, 2011

We Got Custody of Our Children!!!

I was going to post about our trip to Wollisso today, but a turn of events happened and I thought you should know about it. It is, after all, what we have been asking for prayer for quite some time now. Because Kynzi was so sick on Karston’s birthday (Monday), we moved our visit with the babies to today (Tuesday). We decided we would go and visit with our lawyer, Sintayehu, before we headed to the orphanage. I called him up and he told us to come on when we were ready. We arrived about 2:15 in a rickety old taxi as a storm was brewing overhead.

After a couple of minutes of waiting he came out and walked us back into his office. Jeanne-Ann and I had prayed for wisdom from the Holy Spirit as to exactly what we should say, because we didn’t want to say anything that might be “the wrong thing.”

We shared our concerns regarding something we were worried about with Nyah. It was something we talked to him about before, but the doctor said it was normal and he told us we had to trust the doctor. Today we told him we had done quite a bit of research and agreed that it was “normal.” Babies who lay in cribs and aren’t held a ton often get flat spots and even misshapen heads. It’s called positional plagiocephaly. We are pretty sure that is what Nyah has. We told him that research tells us that it’s best to get a helmet of sorts that is designed especially for this before they are 10 months old. Nyah is almost 10 months. These helmets, or DOC bands, can greatly help to bring back symmetry to the head.

After we shared our concerns, we asked if there was any way to help move the process along any faster. We had not yet received the MOWA letter (the big slow up in the whole process) and then there was the wait for their paperwork after that came (20 days or more we had been told). He smiled and said, “Well, there has been a change since we last talked.” WHAT? This can not be good news, but he is smiling. Mhmmm...what was it? “The letter from MOWA came yesterday, and I was going to call you, but when you called me and asked for an appointment I decided to wait to tell you in person.” WHAT?! Are you kidding me? I held my breath and said, “What exactly does that mean?” “It means you can go and take your kids.” “Today?!” “Yes! Of course!”

Tears welled up in my eyes as the reality of this news began to register. Was he for real? We were on our way to see the babies after our visit with him. “So we can go and not visit but we can take custody of them today?” “Yes!” Wow! I couldn’t believe it. I got out of my chair and ran around to the other side of his desk where he was sitting and gave him a huge bear hug. Then there were hugs all around. We all hugged each other and we all hugged Sintayehu. He would call over to the orphanage when we were on the way and we would start the process.

I asked him how long the rest of the process would take. He told us he would work hard and make sure that it was done in 15 days or less. Jeanne-Ann clarified what 15 days meant. Not business days, just plain old glorious days! It could be sooner, but he would not promise that. Then it will be up to our embassy. He told us not to cancel our return tickets on July 31 yet. It could still be possible! Can you believe that!?!?! We may arrive home on August 1 as we had originally planned!

We arrived at Tokoul, our orphanage, 5 minutes later and the heavens had opened up and in the 13 steps it took us to get to the building from the taxi we were soaked. We didn’t care. This was a momentous occasion. We were celebrating. We handed over the copy of the letter to the office manager who had just arrived so she did not get the phone call yet. She looked at it and with joy in her eyes she smiled and said, “Wow. Congratulations.”

She called for the nannies to bring them out to us and we sat for a while, as they were still sleeping, and she began the paperwork. The nannies finally came and walked us to the meeting room where we had been so many times before with Haakon and Nyah for our 2 hours or so visits. We didn’t understand. So I walked back to the office and asked if we were still getting to take them home with us. She said, “Yes, I just have to finish the paperwork.” Whew. Huge relief. I ran back to Jeanne-Ann and my FOUR children and explained what was going on. A few minutes later we were loading up in the taxi and headed back to our home away from home, with all four kids!

We walked proudly in to the guest house with smiles plastered to our faces ready to show them off to anyone or anything that moved! Most everyone in the guesthouse knows our story and we were greeted with many congratulations and “awwwws” and everyone agreed how beautiful they are! We have shared the  “what happened?” story many times over tonight and every time it has been a pure delight.

We gave them a bath right away. Haakon was not a big fan, but Nyah loved it. Then we hung out in the room, took some pictures and just loved them like crazy! We fed them, changed about 5 poopy diapers (thank you Haakon) and now they are sleeping in our room in makeshift cribs (there are a ton of families here right now and all the cribs are being used). I can hear them breath as I am typing away at my computer. I keep looking over and smiling as I see God’s plan for our family continue to fall into place.

True, a couple of years ago I would never have thought I would be adopting ANY children, now I can’t imagine it any other way. These are the children God purposefully chose for us, just as He has adopted us into His family!

Thank You Jesus!






Monday, July 04, 2011

A Typical Day in Addis Ababa

I thought it might be nice to let you in on what life is like for us over here on a normal day. We usually get up between 6:00 & 7:00AM and get ready for the day. Then we head downstairs to the lobby where we get our breakfast (included). We have the option of hard boiled eggs, an omelet, scrambled eggs or “pancakes” (more like a thick crepe but not quite as good). We have the option to have our breakfast in our room, and sometimes we do that, but we enjoy chatting with other people who are staying here, so we usually choose the lobby option.

I have been running every other morning, so that happens before breakfast. We are at 7,750 feet above sea level where we are staying and it makes it harder to breathe than back home. My first outing I thought I was going to collapse lung as it was on fire! I have been getting more and more used to the air so each time I go a little further than the last. I am training for the Hood to Coast relay, so I HAVE to get in shape. (good motivator). I finally got to run with some Ethiopians, but more on that in another post.

We are currently on a 2 times a week visitation rotation with the babies. Usually that is Monday and Thursday or Friday. We get 2 plus hours with them on those days. On days we are not visiting with them we do any number of things. Some days we just chill around the guest house. If it is sunny, I like to go up to the 4th floor and sit on the roof for 30-60 minutes and read a book on my Kindle. I have discovered that this close to the equator, I should not be out longer than that without sunscreen.

About every 2 to 4 days a new couple “moves in” and we like to get to know them. Weygoss Guest House is known for its adoption friendly atmosphere, so most who stay here are adopting, though recently there have been several single guys who have been staying here, but they mostly keep to themselves. Almost all the couples we have met here we have really enjoyed getting to know. As with anyone, there are some who just like to keep to themselves, and that is fine, but I feel bad for them because I think they miss out on some shared community. Most of the couples that stay here are from Canada, but occasionally we find a couple from the States. One couple, Dave and Becky, actually know someone I know. He is a pastor and he works with a youth pastor who used to work in our district. They are also adopting through the same agency as we are. We have also gone out with Shirley, who is here adopting and has been here since November (she has a story and it’s hers to tell), and she has an amazing attitude and we learn a lot from her experience.

Like with Dave and Becky, we have gone out for meals or other little excursions with many of the families who have stayed here. That has been a real joy. Some are here for their second time and they have introduced us to some new restaurants, but the longer we are here the more places we get to know and we are usually doing the meal introductions. We typically go out for one meal a day and eat in for one meal. I am planning a post on restaurants later that I hope will be helpful to other adoptive families in the future who google “where to eat in Addis Ababa” or whatever. I know that the few places that Josh and Bex and Nina and Wes have recommended have been really good for us to know. We also met some missionaries our first weekend who drew us a map with many restaurants and other sights to see for us that has been very helpful and copied to hand to other couples.

Many of these places we need to grab a taxi and drive to but there are plenty of places we can walk to as well. We live on a main drag in Addis and so we don’t have to go to far. One of our favorite places to visit is Kaldi’s. This is a straight rip-off of Starbucks. The round green sign, the names of their sizes, the look and feel. Jeanne-Ann loves their caramel macchiatos and they have a killer strawberry “juice.” It is like a smoothie and is amazing! They also have fantastic desserts and ice cream too. A big difference from Starbucks is that you could have a legit meal there. We have really enjoyed the french toast, though it doesn’t touch Word of Mouth back home or the Sassy Onion. They also have really good french fries. The kids are always asking if we can walk to Kaldi’s and we very often acquiesce. 

Kynzi has made great friends with all the ladies who work at the front desk. Eva, Betty, Tsion and Bisrat. She loves going down there to play cards with them, tell funny stories or just sit and talk with them. Karston likes to hang out there too, but not as often. A couple of them have even braided Kynzi’s hair. She has really enjoyed that! Eva has also been giving me Amharic lessons. It's a really tough language! There have been a few kids their age that have been here, so for those days there is plenty of playing outside with the other kids.

The main roads here are pretty rough to walk down. It is not because they are not paved, they are, but the cars and buses pump out so much exhaust that it can be hard to breath at times. There are also lots of beggars who either sit with their babies with their hands out or they follow you and ask for money. I will do another post on the poverty here likely in the near future, but needless to say it is hard on the heart to see it everywhere.

There are a couple of small grocery stores in walking distance that we buy things for our meal in and we will often go to the closest one to buy 2 5-liter jugs of water as we can not drink the water here unless it is bottled. 3 times since we have been here we have seen military guards and police line the streets and even shut down traffic so that some dignitary can be driven through at a very fast pace. There are soooooo many embassies here its crazy. Because this is the capital of the Africa Union pretty much every African country has an embassy here, but so do many other countries around the world. I assume most of these shut downs is for someone important headed to their embassy in a hurry.

At around 2:30-3:00PM they do a coffee ceremony in the lobby. Nunu makes up coffee and I have made an effort, as with any country I visit, to try everything I can in that country. I tried the coffee. If you know me at all you know I hate coffee. I had a cup when I was in 6th grade and hated it and haven’t had a cup since. I have sipped here and there to be polite, but have not had a complete cup. It smells good and I know most people have told me that if I get a cup that has all those different sugary things in it that it doesn’t taste like coffee at all. I don’t need another expensive habit thank you. The thing is, I don’t hate this stuff! I have actually had several cups! I know...shocking!

The afternoons and evenings are often filled with card playing or iPod playing. We have been playing a bunch of different card games. Sometimes we play in the room as a family and sometimes we head downstairs and invite others to join us. There is a TV in each room and there are some all day movie channels so sometimes we watch movies or a TV show. There is a little movie rental place around the corner that costs about 25 cents to rent, so we have rented from there some too. I recorded a few shows onto DVD before I left home so Jeanne-Ann and I have been watching Chicago Code most nights before we go to bed. Of course we also jump on the internet most days to do email and Facebook and Skype. It costs about $2 for an hour of wireless internet. Some days it works great and then there are the others. ;)

It’s been a pretty good time for us here. It will get better as soon as we get custody of Nyah and Haakon!

Tomorrow we are taking an overnight trip to some hot springs and to see monkeys. I am sure that will be worth a post so I will put that up later this week.

That’s life in Addis.
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