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Sunday, April 24, 2011

We Passed Court!

This is a late post, since we actually passed court on April 20th. But I am still excited. So weird, but our time in Ethioipa feels like a dream. And I can't seem to wrap my head around the fact that we have two sons, who are unfortunately about 8000 miles away, but they are MY sons now! Officially!
Sue is predicting we go get them in June. I am predicting towards the end of May... That is what I am praying for. We know it will be at least 3 weeks from the time we pass court. Which means I need to get busy.
Last Friday, Aaron took the girls to TN to start their trip to Washington DC with his parents. They have been gone all week and will probably be home sometime tomorrow.
I was able to work 36 hours this week. Aaron took off Wednesday (our court day) and we went out to eat for lunch. And other than working 3 12 hour shifts, I have been lazy when it comes to preparing for the boys. We do have one crib up in Madelyn's room. Someone from church is giving us a 2nd crib. Still undecided as to where to put it.
We had a shower at church last Sunday night. It was so nice. The hosts had asked us if we were registering. I said no, all I want is needs, not wants. Our budget will be so depressingly tight this next year, I would love to have diapers, wipes and formula.
So they did a money tree. At that shower alone we got around $1900. Which paid for our Embassy appointment! I made a poster of adoption costs and where all of our money had gone. It all added up to $38,000 for both. EEEKKKK! that is me guesstimating how much our 2nd trip will cost.
So I was working on the budget last night. And just to make minimum payments on our loans, I will probably have to work 60 hours a month.
Still praying that God continues to provide like He always has.
Today I am making a list of what to pack. We could be going as soon as 2 1/2 weeks. On the plane trip back, each baby is allowed a diaper bag, so I am going to go ahead and have those packed and in my suitcase since I won't need anything out of that until we go.
Our house is really crowded and I am terrible at sorting. But we have a tall dresser that I think I will use for the boys clothes. The drawers don't work too well and they are always falling out, so we gave the girls a different one, but rather than spend money on another one, I think I will just use it myself. Now to figure out where to put it.

Friday, April 15, 2011

New Court Date

I found out yesterday that our new court date is April 20th. Sue also said that Dereje has all of our paperwork that the judge requested, so unless she asks for something in addition to what she has already asked for.... Pray please and on Tuesday because it will be too late if you wait until Wednesday...Ethiopia is 8 hours ahead of us.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Karen's Ethiopian Journal cont.

March 28th 3am Monday Court Day Yesterday was a good day. We did not get much sleep at all Saturday night. Tariku slept for 5 hours, then was up pretty much the rest of the night. He may have had a few 30 min. - 1hour naps the rest of the night and all day Sunday. Once Aaron got up around 730am, I went straight to the other room to sleep. I was so out of it at 9am when Aaron came and woke me and said they wanted us to eat breakfast. I felt awful. So we all went upstairs and had donuts and French toast, hot tea, and skipped the fruit, fearing it has been washed in tap water. We stayed in our bedroom almost all afternoon and morning. After we ate lunch, we all laid down. Tariku finally took about a 1 1/2 hour nap. I had him and Natalie in the small bedroom, while Aaron had the other 3 kids. When Tariku woke up, Aaron took him in with him and I was able to take a 4 hour nap. Felt so nice. We then moved our clan to the living space and fixed supper. Pepperoni and crackers back from home. Leftover potato soup from last night and other snacks. Breakfast is provided here, you have to order lunch or supper- which we haven't done. I brought a ton of food. Will probably take 1/2 of it home with us. Better too much than not enough. I was told by Sue before we came that the babies don't go to court. But when I talked to Dereje, he told us to be ready at 9am and I asked about what the babies would do and I guess we weren't understanding each other. Maybe he'll watch them in the car. Who knows. I so hope we pass. I don't mind so much of our MOWA letter isn't there, and it is late. I more fear the birth mothers changing their minds. We changed our sleeping arrangements last night. I hope Aaron got to sleep. he and Natalie are in the small bedroom with Abenezer. Since he wakes up once and just wants another bottle, he is easy to take care of. Madelyn slept on a few thick blankets on the floor and Hannah slept with me. Tariku is using the bouncy chair since there isn't another crib. I used ear plugs and the eye mask from the plane. I can hear the baby crying through the earplugs, but I can sleep through the constant dogs fighting, babies crying in the close apartments and the Muslim call to prayer which starts about 5am. I went ahead and gave Madelyn her bath this morning. I took a bath and will wash my hair later and it is the middle of the night here. That will save us time this morning getting ready for court. I wash the girls hair and body myself and they are not allowed to talk at all during the bath. I also hold the water bottles while they brush their teeth so they don't accidentally use the sink. I have the faucet covered with a folded paper plate. Tariku went to sleep around 10pm. last night and slept until 3am. Yes! Best nights sleep yet. We all got up at 3 (that is Hannah, Madelyn, and me) Madelyn fed Tariku his bottle after I changed his diaper. He laid on the blanket and fell asleep watching Hannah color while Madelyn and I bathed. Back to the bouncy chair and when I am done writing this, I think we will all try to sleep again while Tariku sleeps. It is so pretty here. The town is at 8000 feet and the surrounding mountains at 15000 ft. But the mountains look smaller than the Smokies because we are so high up in the town. The tops of the mountains are bare and brown with a few trees here and there. The weather is perfect. Highs in the mid 70s, sunny, breezy. I hope I can come back and get the boys before rainy season. I can't imagine trying to go down these dirt, pothole, back roads in the mud. Their idea of good roads and our ideas differ. They said the road to Tariku's orphanage was good and asphalt. Yet, it takes 4 hours to drive 120 miles. Hmm. While in the living room last night, the TV was on . I think it was a music video station. Well, Abenezer was dancing away. Not just bouncing like most babies. He had hand movements and everything.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Karen's Journal from Ethiopia 3

Saturday March 26 Today I got up around 6:30 am. Slept terrible last night. Seth slept from 9:30-7:30, so it wasn't him. He did wake up twice for a bottle, but fed it to himself. Hannah slept in the room with me. It was so cute. After Aaron, Madelyn, and Natalie went to bed, Seth crawled and laid his head in Hannah's lap. I got some cute pictures. He is still a real good baby. Only cries when his diaper is changed. He hates it and I fear he sees me as the bad guy sometimes since I have been the only one to make him cry. He loves for Madelyn and Natalie to carry him around. After we all had a choppy nights sleep - except Natalie who slept great. I felt awful. We ate breakfast at 8:30. Took some salami and crackers we had brought with us to the dining room. We ate yummy pound cake, toast and jelly and our salami and crackers, and drank the hot tea she had made. I asked if it was bottled water and she said yes. Then after we all drank some, she brought up two water bottles and sat them down on the table. Then we worried that she had thought I had asked for bottled water. Well, surely we though they know regular water would make us all sick. So far so good, but we all did take some pepto just in case it might ward off some bad stuff. I was planning on a nap around 9am. I felt awful. But Daniel, the driver, showed up to see if we wanted to go anywhere. We decided to go to the museum of Addis Ababa. I sat up front and Aaron and the 4 kids sat in the back. Another crazy ride for about 15 min. He pointed out the leaders "palace" and other things. There is one traffic light. Other than that, it is a free for all. I can't figure out how there are not wrecks. Say there are 3 lanes. Our driver seems to ride the middle of two lanes and if need be, he'll actually get in a lane. Instead of slowing down if a person is wanting to cross the road, he just "beeps" the horn - almost like saying "just to warn you, I 'm not stopping" At the stop light, it took 2-3 turns for us to finally go through it. The beggars came. Women with babies begging for money. A boy of about 12 leading an old lady who was blind. They both came to the side of the car begging. A boy came to our driver and actually spoke English "please-give me food- my mother and father dead- I'm hungry" So hard to stare straight ahead. However, I am glad I did because our driver told me after we drove away, that it is against the law to give these people stuff out your car window and if the police (who stand in the middle of the road doing who knows what) see you, the driver will get in trouble. At the museum, our driver Daniel went in with us. The "military" here wears camo but all of the colors in it are shades of blue instead of greens and browns. Anyway, Daniel and I and the girls had to get out of the car to be searched. They went through our backpack and I actually got patted down. We got a tour guide who spoke good English and took us through the whole museum. Ethiopia is known as the cradle of humanity and we got a long tour of evolution. The man was hard to understand even though he knew English. About all they had for souvenirs were postcards. I got a couple of then and we took some pictures. We found out when we returned to the guest house that Ethan should be there tonight. We ate tuna and crackers and dip for lunch then I headed to the other room ( the much quieter one) with earplugs and an eye mask for a 2 hour nap. I woke up real nervous about teaching the boys their origins. I hope we can bring them back when they are older.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Missing the boys!

I will get back to blogging my journal later. Right now I miss the boys so much. It is very hard to think about them being on the other side of the world...On another continent... I go to bed every night thinking of them and wake up in the mornings the same way. We didn't pass court on March 28 because #1 our MOWA letters were not there on either of the boys. #2 On Seth Abenezer, the judge wanted a letter explaining his birth family's situation. #3 on Ethan Tariku, the judge wanted a police report about finding him abandoned. When we got back to the orphanage that day, the orphan director said that the paperwork on the kids could be obtained within a few days and the MOWA letters were coming in all the time and not to worry, he was sure it would all be there by the next time our case is submitted to court. He thought that would be in 19-20 days. Which would probably be April 18. I am waiting to hear from Sue to see if that is correct and if we are scheduled for that day. So right now we are at a standstill. Once we pass court, our paperwork will be started for our embassy date. The embassy date is at least 3 weeks after passing court. 2 weeks minimum for them to process the paperwork, then if they do call you after 2 weeks, it is to tell you to come the next week. But it may be up to 2 months later also. Pray we get them home soon. Sue said you will get a 3-7 day notice of when to be back in Ethiopia. Hope we get more than 3 days. It took almost 2 days to get there. Once we pass court, I am planning on packing and having it ready for whenever we leave. I am trying to continue to sort and make room in the house. I need a few small dressers to put in closets under our hanging clothes. Right now, Madelyn and Natalie's clothes are either hung up or placed on a bookshelf in their closet. Hannah's clothes are in a tote that she digs through. We have a large dresser we are getting rid of because it is old and dangerous because drawers keep falling out. Once we get that out of Natalie and Hannah's room, they will have a little more room. I cleaned out my dresser a few months ago. It has 5 drawers and I am only using 3. The bottom two I have full of baby clothes. Plus a few more boxes/bags of baby clothes in the closet. I can go through those better once the boys get home and I see what fits. I hate sorting and organizing and I am terrible at it, so this is a big stresser for me. Our crib is in the attic and we will need to get that down and put it up in Madelyn's room. The other crib for Ethan will probably go into the living room. It's at Mom's apartment. Things will be real tight until we get our tax return next year and get some of the money back to pay off the adoptions. Hopefully we will be out of debt soonafter and can start on turning the garage into bedrooms. We should be able to get 3 bedrooms out of it. Or maybe 2 bedrooms and a small playroom upstairs in the attic part.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Karen's Journal from Ethiopia 2

March 25th Friday The flight went well. We left and arrived on time. There were movies to watch and games to play. We were all so tired from being up late, but it was still hard to sleep on the plane. I think I might have gotten 3-4 hours during the course of the flight. We sat beside a man from KY who was there to pick up his 4 year old boy and a couple that was from TN who were picking up 3 and 4 year old brothers. We got off the plane and walked down a flight of stairs to stand in line to pay for our VISAs. $20 per person. Then we had to get in line to ahve our passports stamped. After that we walked a few yards to pick up our luggage and then exchange our US money into Ethiopian BIRR. We then had to lug our 14 bags of luggage to customs, not sure, but all of it had to go under a scanner. It went fast, by the time we got all of the luggage in the scanner, it was piling up on the other side on the floor. As we walked out the door, we saw a man holding up a small "Grace Guest House" sign in the midst of about 100 other people waiting to greet their visitors. Then the 3 men that came to get us loaded all the luggage on top of a very old van. We then drove a harrowing ride to the guest house. No traffic lights, everyone switching lanes, honking, near misses. The last 1/2 mile to the guest house was a dirt road with deep ruts and very bumpy. Our rooms are on the 3rd floor, no elevator. The ladies running the guest house asked if we wanted to go get the children then or rest. We opted to rest since we were all almost sick with exhaustion. Daniel picked us up at 2pm and we headed to Resurrection Orphanage. Got stuck behind a herd of the scrawniest goeats I've ever seen. When we got there, we were asked which Tariku we were there for. We told him the last name and found out that he was a Hosannah orphanage a 4 hour drive away. However, Abenezer was there. He was in a tiny room with 11 other babies. He was the biggest baby there and walks all around. He just stared at us all. I got down and held him and he didn't seem to mind. The orphanage director said "he always likes white people" We all carried him around and took a tour of the orphanage. It was small and not a lot of kids there. We were able to bring him back to the guest house. One of the nannies was in tears. He had been there a long time. He cried when we put him in the car. All 7 of us in a small Toyota Corrola (Aaron and I, the girls, Abenezer and Daniel the driver) He drank a bottle on the way and hasn't cried since. I had brought a bouncy red ball and he fell in love with it and quickly caught on to the game of passing the ball and taking turns. He fell asleep without fuss in Madelyn's arms and slept for about an hour. As for Tariku. The orphan director told us that it would cost us $150 to ahve them drive us 4 hours to Hosannah and back to pick him up. He said that they did not know we were were coming for court and taht if babies are not sick, they are often sent to Hosannah. If he had known he would have picked him up on their weekly trip, but since he didn't know, that would require a 2nd trip. He would pick us up at 6am. Just a week or two ago, our agency had told us not to gve anyone at the orphanage money at all. So I called Sue from the guest house phone to ask her if we should pay or not. She said to call Dereje to ask him because it was his responsibility to have thte babies transported, not the adoptive families. So, Dereje came over and after few phone calls in another language - arranged with Alazar with CCI to go get Tariku. We had the optionof going too. I asked if they stopped for bathroom breaks. He laughed and said "yes, but there are no bathrooms" We opted out of going there because #1 8 hours in a car with a 16 month old. #2 4 hours total with both kids #3 I get carsick, #4 we took our vaccinations planning on not leaving the capitol city. We had only brought around $300 and we did not plan to spend 1/2 of it on this unexpected expense. So glad that was taken care of. So tomorrow afternoon, Alazar will be bringing Tariku to the guest house. Alazar called tonigh and said since we weren't going with him, to pick up Tariku, he would either bring him tomorrow afternoon or Sunday morning. Hope it's tomorrow. I was able to get on the internet this afternoonn and post on facebook that we had made it and that we had Abenezer, but we are still waiting on Tariku. Abenezer seems healthy. He does have bad diaper rash and he had diarrhea this evening, which didnt help it. It may have been the new formula I gave him. We also gave him a bath which angered him, but once we were done rinsing, he didn't mind so much. Hoping we all sleep good tonight.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Karen's Journal from Ethiopia

March 24th 2011 Thursday We got off to a rough start, but hopefully things will go better today. Andy picked us up last night around 2:30pm. We made it to the airport at 4pm for our 6:26pm flight. When we got there, we realized that the flight was delayed because of storms. They would give us a time and when we would get closeto the time, they would put us off again. The plane left DC at 7:40pm to come and get us. we feared they could end up cancelling. There were only 12 people on our plane. There was a little turbulence at the beginning, but it smoothed out. The girls did great. Madelyn seemed a little frightened, but she made it. We finally arrived in DC at midnight. We got off our plane with our 5 carry ons and walked down a hallway following our fellow passengers. Went through double doors and ended up in a tram like thing that looked like a building on wheels. This tram took us to the building that had the luggage. After collecting our 9 checked bags, we slowly made our way outside to call the shuttle from our hotel. When we got all of our stuff outside, Aaron called and they let us know that the shuttle stopped running at 11pm. So, we took a cab - a Lincoln Navigator- that barely fit all of us and our bags. The unhappy driver asked which hotel. He said there was more than one Hyatt. I told him the Hyatt Dulles. He dropped us off and by the time I made it down the long hallway to get our rooms, he was gone. Well, we were at the wrong Hyatt. Ours was down The road. So, instead of calling another cab, we took all our bags a long way down the road. It was bad. 1am when we got to our hotel. Poor Aaron had to pull more than his weight. We sent the girls straight to bed and they all fell asleep almost immediately. Aaron and I however were so tired it took a long time to fall asleep. I think I might have gotten 4 hours straight. We got up at 6:45, took showers, ate breakfast, then brought all the luggage to the lobby to the now running shuttle. We got there just in time. We had so much luggage that there wasn't any room in the shuttle for more people. Another couple had to wait for a shuttle from the neighboring hotel to go. Somehow they made it to the airport before us. Now it is 9:30am. Our flight is "on time" so far. A good sign, the airplane is already parked outside. Oh yeah we were going to take sandwiches to eat last night at the airport. Decided against it. Ended up having to break into our snacks for the long trip. I think we will be OK though. Hard to believe we will be in Ethiopia in 15 hours.