Kombulcha & Bete Hisenete there, Addis
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Lots going on and lots to share! Ebrahim finished his first week of school and so far so good! I wish I could be a fly on the wall and see how and what he is doing and how he is interacting with the other children or how they are responding to him. I am hoping the teacher will email at least weekly to update us on these things as it is difficult for him to communicate this to us. He loves to ride the bus and he loves school. He also very much likes the after school babysitter that all of our kids go to. He seems to be doing OK with lunch too and seems to love corn dogs now, even though he wouldn't eat them for us before. They also have a snadwhich/yogurt/fruit/veggie bar as an alternate. Overall he is doing well at home. We are still working with him on safety aspects such as not wondering away, social norms/manners and minding us. We know as his communication improves so will these areas of difficulty. We have also chosen an American name for Ebrahim, which will become his legal name: Christian Ebrahim Mohammed Orth. We will continue to call him Ebrahim unless or until he wishes to be be called Christian. He had indicated the desire for an American name through an interpreter, but we are still not sure he fully understands. We are also buying a bigger house and are very excited for that! The boys' room will be much bigger and we will have a lot more interior and exterior space with 1.25 acres and will hopefully get some pygmy goats (because they are so darn cute!), chickens (just for eggs and the fun of it) and a pony for the kids. They are also looking forward to getting a dog and I am looking forward to a big garden again and doing lots of canning if I am as successful here as I was in MN.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Today was our 14th anniversary. We went with the kids to Cafe Lalibella in Tempe AZ for some Ethiopian food. It was really good and I like everything except for the mashed yellow peas and could live with out the collard greens. We got a combo plate that have about 10 different dishes on it. Ebrahim was in 7th heaven! I liked the injera too, it wasn't so bitter as the stuff in ET. The waitress said they use tef and wheat flour instead of just tef. We were able to have her do some translation. He misses his friends, but is happy to be here because it is much better. He WOULD like an American name. He IS 8, but doesn't know what month he was born in. We also got the words for listen, quiet and I love you. On another note, we continue to work on phonics and he seems to be understanding the letter sounds pretty well. We have good times and challenging times....with the main issue his accepting our direction to appropriate behavior, especially in public.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
It's been a month now since Ebrahim came home. We've definately have our challenges, but nothing we can't overcome. Of course the language is still a barrier in subtle situations such as understanding the intentions of others. We are working with him to use phrases instead of making demands such as, "eat!" and also to not retaliate with hitting or kicking and let Mom and Dad handle it/them. The dynamics between the children are touch and go...as he does not readily initiate play with his brothers and sisters, but more often plays by himself. Safety is indeed a concern as he does bolt, especially if he doesn't get his way or is gently disciplined. I wonder what he saw in Ethiopia because he pretendes shooting guns at people or stabbing or slitting his throat with knives alot. We are very anti-gun so it is something we don't allow in our home and could also be an issue in school. When I rode through his home area of Ethiopia, I saw many young children wandering about alone, so I can only imagine that he wandered about freely without supervision or someone to answer too....not because his family was bad, but because I think that is just the culture from which he came. He was also cared for by elderly grandparents who had two other children they cared for from another daughter. We know that once his language improves things will be so much easier. We can't wait till we get to the point so he understands the family dynamics and can also tell us about his life in Ethiopia.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
I will continue to update our experiences on this blog, but for photos please look me up on facebook...it's easier for me to add new ones to facebook. Eventually, I plan to start a new blog that will be about our whole family, rather than focus on our adoption, now that Ebrahim is here and will post that info here when I do.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
I got our cell phone bill in the mail shortly after returning from ET and it was a whopper! $372 for 112 minutes! I called and told them we had traveled for an adoption and had used the phone minimally just to check in at home. I asked if they could reduce our bill at all. After putting me on hold for about 10 minutes, they said they could only credit my bill for $200. Only! I was so happy I called and asked! I kinda feel bad that we plan to change companies because the reception is so bad where we live. The phone was one of those extra expenses you don't really think about. It really made my day!
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Ebrahim has been home now for not quite 2 weeks. He understands more and more each day. He understands "no" and uses it quite often...he is definately a stubborn kid!:) He has a lot of good examples to follow too...NOT! (by some certain brothers and sisters) We went swimming and he absolutely loves it! When we went to the pool the first time, I said, "take off your shirt" and he started taking off his swim trunks..I'm like no, no, no because were right near the play pool. He just dove right in like he had done this a million times before. He is also starting to realize that he needs to make sure his trunks stay up! Several people have gotton a full moon! When we were at the pool he took toys away from total strangers, so I had to explain to him that he had to ask first. He refused at first, but then did because he really wanted to play with another child's boat. We have also went to the library, he chose some books but didn't seem too interested in having them read to him later. He loved going to the park and went down the spiral slide a million times! Another day we went shopping and he enjoyed getting a pair of tennis shoes and was so proud of them! We also went into the puppy store, but he was very dissapointed that we left without a dog. Lastly, we went to Build-a Bear, so he could have a stuffed animal of his own to cuddle and he of course picked out a black lab and we put the barking sound in. He is really infatuated with sunglasses and wants to wear them all the time...his dog has a pair too! We usually have to call his name several times to get him to respond to us or a request. We have been using a "sit down away from the activity approach" when he is behaving in an inapproprite way and especially to get him to understand the impotance of safety. We are working with him to take turns with DVD player with the other kids. Food has been a challenge! Much of what he ate in ET, he won't eat here. Right now it is plain pasta, eggs and apples. Unfortunately the luxury of choice, I think has made him more choosy. He doesn't like any kids foods like chicken nuggets, hotdogs, spaghettios and mac and cheese which are big favorites here. He did eat fish sandwhiches from BK several times. I have been trying to work with him 30-60 min a day M-F on math and phonics. He is able to add double to single digit so far. Overall he is doing really well. As his communication improves I know everything else will also improve. He doesn't always understand our intentions (like if we reach to turn down the TV, he flips out a little because he thinks we are going to turn it off), or might confuse words...like last night we wanted him to take a bath (which he loves) but he was adamantly saying no, once he saw the bath, he was happy. So, I think he thought we were saying bed time. I think it's been harder to deal with our other kids then him...the sharing, the understanding of his lack of understanding our communication or what it's like to come from having nothing to having so much. We'll get there though and I don't think things could be going any better considering the situation.
Monday, June 8, 2009
We arrived in Addis on May 25th and spent the night at a the TDS guest house. We got quite a surprise from Ato Teklu that night as he brought Ebrahim to meet us already. Apparently he had been asking when he would meet his mother. He was very shy and sat there quietly as we planned for our trip to Kombulcha the next day. The next morning we left for Kombulcha at 6 am. We started the journey excited and anxious yet unsure of what was to come. The journey soon became long, arduous and extremely rough. The road was under construction and at times was so bumpy that I nearly flew from my seat. Chandler got car sick, but luckily didn't vomit. We enjoyed the scenery and were surprised just how primatively many of the people still live in hut's of grass, mud and eucalyptus branches. Cattle, sheep and goats were hearded along the narrow highway and through the village streets. Farmers plowed with oxen and a single blade on a wooden plow...much as was used in our pioneer days. Rocks and branches were used for everything. Burros hauled grain, branches, grasses and water. Everywhere we traveled, hauling of water seemed to comprise a large part of each person's day. At one point, we saw a sea of color as school children walked to or from school in their brightly colored and matching school uniforms. As we traveled further North, the dress changed as there is a large population of Muslims. Many of the men wore a "skirt" type bottom. We also saw camels carrying supplies which we really didn't expect. When we passed one man with some camels, he shouted something. Our driver said he yelled, "This camel is for sale". Apparently some are for work and some are to eat...and that one was for eating. We stopped twice to rest and eat each way. I tried lamb and actually liked it, as I had cooked it before and didn't like it. I tried injera. It is like a pancake, but very bitter and I couldn't get a liking for it. We had eggs and bread instead. We also drove through 2 mountain tunnels that had been dug by the Italian's....I was unclear if it was a recent thing, or done during their occupation in the past. When we finally arrived in Kombulcha 9 hours later, we checked into a place to stay. There was no power, as they depend primarily on hydropower and it had been dry lately. We relied on candle light in the bathroom. We dined El Fresco in a pleasant temperature...although Kombulcha seemed hotter than Addis. We then met with the local Bete Hisenete representative who directed us to the home of Ebrahim's relatives. We drove a short ways and then had to finish by foot. We walked through an archway of a canopy of trees down a dirt path. We soon reached his granparent's hut. It was a small 2 room sructure with a tin roof. We sat with his granmother and asked her questions. His grandfather later arrived and soon many curious visitors peered in on us probably wondering who we were and why we were there. We also met 2 of his cousins who are also cared for by the grandparents. They shared with us Ebrahim's circumstances and also gave us a picture of his birth mom. We were able to take pictures of his granparents and cousins and the home that was his since his birth until just this past Decemeber. We gave her a photo of Ebrahim and one of our family which she kissed over and over. I thanked her tearfully for allowing us to meet her and her family. As I walked away from their home, I was in awe of what had just happened and the choices they had been forced to make. We then toured the Bete Hisanete in Kombulcha which houses the orphanas temporarily as well as a large group of sponsored children who are there to get schooling, food and shelter with the goal of returning to their home later. We then returned to the place we were staying and relaxed on a porch outside of our room as I read and Chandler played his DS....as he had been advised there would be no more of that once Ebrahim was with us. I eventually dozed off and we retired early and woke early. There was no power or water in the morning. We began the trek home which was another 9 hours, but seemed more tolerable perhaps because in that short time, more road was built and perhaps because of the rewards we had reaped in Kombulcha. When we arrived in Addis we had the opportunity to see Ebrahim again, so after the 9 hour ride we went for another visit. We played with chalk, bubbles and soccer. When it was time to go, Ebrahim told Ato Teklu that he wanted to go with me, so it was decided that he would join us on Tuesday, instead of Sunday. We spent alot of time playing soccer. He also liked writing the alphabet and numbers. He loved the playdough we brought and we also watched some movies. We did alot of shopping and found some wonderful things. When we shopped we were inunduated with shop keepers very insistently pushing their wares as well as beggars. We had to haggle alot too. We also went to the museum where "Lucy" is, Entonto mountain for a panoramic view of Addis and a cave where the priests hid during their time of religious persecution. We attended a dinner with traditional music, dance, and food that was pretty amazing. We were glad to have the experience to tour his country and learn more about his culture. We began to count down the days though, that we would return home to make our family one! On June 5th at 5:45 pm we finally landed in Phoenix. It felt like we were gone a month and it was almost surreal to see my husband and girls waiting for us in baggage claim. We only made it about half way home before Ebrahim, me and Chandler all zonked out. I pretty much dozed most of the night and through it. I got up at 2 am and Chandler was still up, so I had to send him to bed. By Sunday we were all on track for days and nights and I even went out for a grocery run. Ebrahim has adjusted well so far....no grieving. He is like a whirlwind though and into everything. He seems to enjoy the 2 yr olds cause/effect toys the most....he never really had that stage. He is eating like a horse and loves pasta, meat, bananas and bread. After we rest a few days, we will begin to prepare him for school. At the embassy in Addis, we found out he is 7.5 not 6.5 yrs old, which is fine with us. When I saw his dentition I thought he seemed young to have so many adult teeth. However, on the plane he said he was 8. We shall see! The poor kids birthday is the day after Christmas...so it would be a good chance to put some spread between the gift times!