Author Unknown

Sometimes I'd like to ask God why He allows poverty, famine, and injustice in the world when He could do something about it. But I'm afraid God might ask me the same question.

Mother Teresa

"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish."

Friday, October 14, 2011

Coming Home


I want to thank all the wonderful people that met us at the airport on our trip home! They came wearing Africa shirts with a heart on Ethiopia and brought toys, flowers, candy, and American flags. You have no idea how glad I was to see familiar faces after that very long trip. I'm not sure how long it was, but it was tough! There was several airport changes as we flew to Dubai, Houston, and then Dallas. Lots of waiting, running through airports, and one missed flight.

I don't blame the kids for being restless during the flight. Liyone couldn't watch a movie for more then 10 minutes. Lots of flipping, turning, sitting on the floor. I thought he handled it very well, but the man in front of him might think differently :) And an apology to Emirates for the silly putty stuck to the seat :)

We were not able to get the bulk head seats that had the bassinets. So, I put Kidist in a baby carrier that you wear so I wouldn't feel guilty for going to sleep. I was hoping she would be more secure and not fall out of my lap. Two hours later, I woke up in a complete puddle. She had soaked us both. Of course I had clothes for her, but silly me didn't pack anything extra. That made the trip extra-long in pee-soaked blue jeans! And thank you to the nice men that picked up every toy she threw in the aisle. She does have a good arm.

And I do have to say there were some very understanding people on our first flight. When one lady across the aisle found out we had just adopted them, she started crying. Really crying. It caused a big stir around us that led to more questions from the other passengers.

When we entered the Houston airport, they asked me to enter a room that looked similar to DPS. They needed to review the packets that Embassy handed us. When they finally took the twelve seconds to look at the paperwork, we were minutes away from our flight leaving. We ran!!! We showed up at the gate with red and sweaty faces just in time to see the plane pulling away! Looking back, it all worked out ok. It gave us a chance to stop and eat at Chili's, clean up, and catch the next flight out.

Also welcoming us at the airport were two of Liyone's friends that he knew from the orphanage. We traveled on our first trip with the family and they were able to bring their boys home in June. He was a little confused to see them in Texas, but that made the surprise so much fun! So glad they came.

There are not any words to describe how relieved you are to see all FOUR of your kids together in the same car going HOME. It has been two years since we began. It was worth every tear, every hour of missed sleep, every worry line on my face. Moments like these make you drop on your knees and praise God. He has truly blessed us!

Random pictures from our trip


Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Lion Zoo

We also visited the Lion Zoo while we were in Ethiopia. This was a great way to spend the afternoon. It is very small and probably has less then thirty animals. There were lions, birds, antelope looking-animals, and some monkeys. Of course, the crowd was in front of the monkey cages. I have never seen a monkey jump straight up about 15 feet!! It was craziness!

The zoo also had a few rides for the children. We paid extra for this, but it wasn't much. The funniest was the jeep ride. The child climbs in the car and a young man walks him around for about 15 minutes. They did turn the motor on and give Liyone a few seconds alone at the wheel, but after he came inches from crashing into the tree, they decided to steer for him again :)

I do have to admit it was awkward walking around the zoo with our driver and our two new children. Many people would turn away from the animals and give us more attention. We had several people stop and ask to take our picture. I felt like a movie star! The second time, several young men would take turns getting in the picture with our group. All we could do was laugh about it. When they were gone, we asked our driver why they were so interested. He said they probably have never seen our skin color before.

The funniest part was one of the men with cameras knew our driver. He insisted to take a picture of him and Melanie alone. He threw the driver's arm around her and pushed them close together. Both were very embarrased, but Adrian and I were standing in the background rolling with laughter.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Ethnological Museum

While we were in Ethiopia, we took a few trips around town to learn more about our children's heritage. If you are visiting Ethiopia, I recommend this museum if you have a good driver. I have to add this special plug for an incredible driver named Solomon (Muhaba Suleyman). He drives a little blue and white taxi and his telephone number is 0911-56 23 71. Unlike some of the hotel drivers, he loved taking us to new and unusual places and spent a lot of time explaining the customs around Addis. What I really appreciated was the way he made sure that we found our way into the right place and paid the correct fees. He was fun to hang out with.

One day, we went to the Ethnological Museum. This museum is located in Haile Selassie's former palace and surrounded by a university and beautiful gardens. It gives colorful displays of the different cultures in Ethiopia. When we arrived, our driver asked for a guide. He was a college student who worked there and studied history. I loved being able to ask questions when we didn't understand. The stories are all displayed at the museum, but it was much more interesting to have somebody to show us around.

We learned interesting facts - like the reason the Mursi people used large lip and ear plates to discourage the slave traders from taking them away. We also learned about the cow jumping ceremony in Hamar. Each man would jump over eight cows or oxen, four different times, before they were able to marry. It also had the original rooms and clothes of Haile Selassie and his wife, including the original furniture where the assassin tried to take his life. On the top floor was the art gallery and a display of musical instruments used around Ethiopia. Oh - here's another interesting fact we learned. If you see a painting and the eyes are big and facing forward - that is a good person, like Jesus, St. George, or any Ethiopian. If the head is sideways and you only see one small eye - that is a bad person, like the Italians would tried to take over the country.

Here is a picture of Mussolini's steps that in front of the museum. One step for each year Mussolini reigned. Of course, the lion was placed on top as a symbol of the Ethiopian victory.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Africa Park

While we were in Ethiopia, we checked out the African Park, across from the Hilton Hotel in Addis. This is a great place to take the kids to run and play and get rid of all the extra energy from spending the week in a hotel room. The long, skinny park is really close to the Addis View and you feel very safe because it is gated and watched over by several guards.

All week, Liyone was very shy and super quiet. He has a giggle that he keeps inside. I'm not sure if he's ever been to a playground before, but when he realized he was allowed to climb and run, he took off!! Maybe I should say...he went up! That boy can scale any playset and was not only at the top, but on the roof. He also likes climbing trees and light poles. At the time, we thought he had just turned four years old. (Now we think he is probably five or maybe even six.) The thought of him being way over my head where I couldn't reach him really scared me. I didn't see a Care Now in Ethiopia and I'm pretty sure they don't take insurance for broken arms :) So, I spent the afternoon chasing him around the park and trying to keep him closer to the ground. The guards thought it was hilarious! I'm sure we were the entertainment for the afternoon.

If you're interested in visiting there, I copied the information I have gathered about it. I also heard they might close more often during the rainy season. They also have a little cafe to buy refreshments and the bathrooms are super clean.

Hours 10:00am - 6:00pm
Closed on Mondays

10 Birr - ages 10 and under
25 Birr - over 10
50 Birr - to take pictures

It was totally worth it! There aren't many places in Addis where there is an abundance of green grass and places for the kids to play safely. I loved getting a sneak peak of Liyone's giggles and laughs while he had the chance to run and act crazy.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Oh the places we've been!

Has it really been more then a month since I updated the blog?? Wow! Sorry about that! I will say the last few weeks have been a whirlwind and honestly, most of it just a big blur. So many changes and so much to say! As I sit here and type this, my new sweet baby girl is fast asleep in her bed and I'm bouncing a balloon with Liyone between every third letter. Sorry if some of this sounds like gibberish, but I haven't fully figured out how to juggle four kids yet :)

So much has happened...I'll try to use the next few blog posts to catch everybody up :)

We booked our tickets to go pick up Kidist because she was the only one cleared by the U.S. Embassy. It would be me, my best friend and my daughter travelling this time. The day we boarded a plane, we received word that Liyone cleared too and they would let us interview for both children at the same time. What a relief! I was prepared to stay there as long as it took to bring him home, but was overjoyed things were resolved before I arrived. I LOVE Ethiopia. I love being there with my children and experiencing their culture. I was even happier to have all four of my kids together, riding home in the same car from the airport. Pure bliss.

On our way to Addis, we had short layover in Dubai. If any other travelling parents get a chance, take the metro to the Burj Khalifa. It was incredible!!! The metro was modern and spotless and we felt very safe, even late at night. The Burj Khalifa is the tallest tower in the world and you can buy tickets and enter via the mall. The elevator takes less then one minute to get to the 124th floor. Yea, I typed that right. Now, I live in Texas and it's super hot here. Even though it's the same temperature in Dubai, there is a BIG difference. I've never felt so hot - internally. Even at 11:00 at night, it feels like your lungs are burning. My eyelids hurt. It was fun to experience for just a few hours, and I highly recommend Dubai. It was a very beautiful city.

After our plane did a weird circle in the air, we finally arrived to Ethiopia Saturday morning. This wasn't a - fly around the airport waiting to land circle - just a tight circle in mid-air. Makes you wonder if the pilot had a bet with somebody :) At the airport, our driver finally arrived and we booked into the Addis View hotel. It does have a great view of the city from the restaurant on the sixth floor. They didn't have the right room when we arrived, so we spent the first few nights with five of us in a room with one bed and a cot blocking our hall. Oh, and within the first few minutes, my best friend got locked in the bathroom for a while. Even the lady that worked there had a hard time getting the door open. Good Times!

The hotel took us right over to the care center where we were able to see the kids again!! The day had finally arrived and I couldn't wait to wrap my arms around them. They were finally and officially OURS!! You have so many emotions going around in your head - all ruled by exhaustion. But all you can think about is how this day is going to change the rest of your life. I would REALLY be a mother to four kids. So scared and excited, all at the same time.

We pulled into the care center and I was looking all over for Liyone. They had moved the boys' room since we were there last. They nanny led him out and he went to wash his hands. He was so shy again. He looked like he remembered me and understood what was happening. He gave me a hug and then wouldn't look at anybody for a long time. When we asked if he wanted to get in the car (in Amharic), he willingly climbed in. He sat quietly in the van playing with the toys we brought him. Every once in a while, you could see him sneak a peek at us or smile when he saw something interesting outside the window. He didn't say a word. When we arrived back to the hotel, we showed him the rest of the new toys. He was so excited to have toys of his own. Rocket balloons were his favorite and we eventually had a huge pile of them in our hotel room. After a while, we gave him a bath (maybe his first?) and put on his new pajamas. Even though it was bedtime, he wanted to play with his new light-up shoes and wear his rain jacket. The two of us stayed up late that night and had some great one-on-one time playing together. Incredible!!

(one of the many pictures of his shoes taken by Liyone)

Kidist just glowed when we picked her up. She craves attention so much and just giggles and grins when anybody talks to her. We found out she was very congested and they were giving her shots and medication. Even so, she was a happy baby. We were able to just hold her in the van - no car seats in Ethiopia. That is so strange :) This was probably one of a few times she has ever been outside of the walls of one of her orphanages. She was so curious and just wanted to be held and play with anything she could get her hands on. We found out very shortly how important her bottle is to her! We heard she was fed every two hours and I'm really starting to believe it. She likes to hold her bottle - even if it's empty. And she is a hawk at spotting it across the room!! The first night with her was wonderful. I love snuggling with this little bug!

I'll try to keep posting until I catch up!