Kombulcha & Bete Hisenete there, Addis

Saturday, August 8, 2009

New School, New House....

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

14th Anniversary

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

One month anniversary...

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'm finally on facebook!

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

A big phone bill from Ethiopia...but relief given!

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

What it's like now...

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

Our Ethiopia trip and finally return....

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!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Today is the day!

Got the call today that Ebrahim's TB test was negative, so now we can FINALLY buy our tickets. We will be leaving this Saturday and flying Emirates. We will fly out of Phoenix to L.A. then on to Dubai, Arab Emirates where we will have a 12 hour layover with a free hotel room and food vouchers. We will arrive in Addis Ababa on May 25th. On the 26th we plan to have a driver take us to Kombulcha to hopefully meet Ebrahim's grandmother. It will be a days drive up, a day to visit and a day to drive back. Then on the 29th we will finally get to meet Ebrahim! We will visit him for 3 days at the orphanage, then on the 4th day he will come to stay with us at the guest house. We will leave Addis on the 4th of June, spend one night in Dubai and then return to the US on the 5th. It is finally a reality! Tonight I am washing his clothes, because now I know he will soon be ours! We are busy readying his and Chandler's room. So much to do, so little time! I am in the nesting mode and I finally know my due date!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

TB and Travel

We are hoping to have Ebrahim's TB test results on Monday. It's only been a little over 2 weeks since we passed court....but it's driving me crazy! We haven't bought our tickets yet and flights are starting to sell out. We are hoping to leave a week from this Saturday. We are going to leave a few days earlier in the hopes of traveling to meet his grandmother. Tonight I bought a few pair of pants and socks and underwear...oh and a toothbrush:)! It's getting so close and so much more real! I need to get some shirts this weekend too. I am also buying some clothes and formaula for the orphanage. Hope to have results and tickets on Monday! Wait...I haven't even finished painting his bed yet! Yikes! I have soooo much to get done!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

We Passed Court!!!!!

Last night while we slept we became the parents of our new son! His name has been spelled a couple different ways, so I am not sure if one or both are correct.... kinda like Jon and John. We are pleased to introduce Ebrahim (AKA Ibrahim) Mohammed Orth. He name translates to Abraham. We are not sure if he or we will keep his given name. We will probably let him choose from some American names or his name. It is a bitter sweet moment as last night Ebrahim said his final goodbye to his grandmother and she gave her consent to the courts for us to adopt him. We have a precious gift now of a picture of them together....maybe the only picture he'll have of his life before now in Ethiopia. We now will try to finalize our travel plans. Since the U.S. has changed the visa medical guidelines, it is a little trickier process. Our in country rep will now get his new birth certificate with our last name and then with that he will get his Ethiopian passport. Once he has those documents he will have his visa medical appointment before being allowed to emigrate to the U.S. We had planned to leave May 20th, so we could travel some before picking him up, but these changes may not allow us to leave for 1-2 weeks more.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Shots, Shots and More Shots!

Today Chandler and I got our travel immunizations. I got 7 and he only needed 3. I got boosters for MMR, Polio,DpT and Hep A. I also got meningitis, typhoid and yellow fever. I had already had Hep B and part of Hep A. It is recommended that adults born after 1957 have boosters for MMR and Polio. Chandler only needed typhoid, yellow fever and meningitis. He just turned 10 and wil be due for a Dt next year. Kids under 11 aren't supposed to have the DpT, I guess. Meningitis is good to have though, even here in the US. I paid for the yellow fever and the typhoid (I was really suprised just how much the shots were!)and I am hopeful that my insurance will pay for the others as routine vacs. I thought it would raise a red flag if I submitted all of them and they don't pay for travel vacs. We also got scripts for doxycycline to take for malaria and antibiotic prescriptions in case we get ill there. Only 20 days till court! Can you tell I'm excited!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Updates and nearing dates!

Last week we received the much anticipated photo and video update of our Ethiopian son. The interview was so cute, but he was so shy that is responses were not really audible, so the translator had to repeat what he said. Our adoption coordinator said his eyes really lit up when he received our gift package. They said he would take everything out, examine it, then carefully place it back in the bag. Meanwhile he would check to see what the other children had received and then return to examine his again. I wish we could have seen that! He had probably never received anything like that before! I wonder what he thought when he looked at the photo album of us and our home? The coordinator talked to him about us and that there was a family in another country that wanted to adopt him and that he seemed to have an understanding of this already. That night I dreamed of him.....that we were there with him...so disappointing when the alarm clock went off! But at least the court date that was so far away, is now just 23 days away!

On another note Kenny has decided that he will stay home with the girls and our 10 yr old son Chandler will travel with me to Ethiopia. We hope that he will come to recognize the privelege he has and come to respect it. It will also be a great chance for him and his brother to bond. He initially didn't want to go because of the shots he will have to get. He decided that he would go though, if I hold his hand when he gets the shots....so cute! It will probably tear me up the most to leave our 2 yr old behind, because she misses me for just 8 hours, let alone 8-10 days. How do you explain that to a 2 yr old? It will be a challenge too for Kenny to juggle everything while we are gone. I feel bad too that he won't be there for the 1st meeting or to see his country...but he is at peace with his decision. We will be silent now again as we wait for the 28th of April to come and hope all of our hopes will come to fruition that day....so we can announce his name and share the pictures of this son we have waited so long for!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Tentative Travel Dates

We were notified that our esimated travel dates will be May 24th-June 4th to get our son. Although we would leave about 3 days earlier to see his country a little. We are very excited to see an end in site, but it seems so far away. We have been seeing court dates being moved up almost a whole month with other agencies, but our agancy said we would not be affected. Late May is the best time to travel, because I will be off for the summer, but it still makes me jealous and wish we could get him home sooner!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A gift for our son...

Our coordinator for Ethiopia is going their on March 7th. I am so jealous! We are so anxious to meet him and bring him home! We put a package together for him that included a Phoenix Suns shirt, 2 Matchbox cars, a coloring book, crayons and a small photo album with captions. Megan will hopefully be able to see him and give it to him in person. She will also get new pictures and some video. We can only imagine in our minds the long journey there and to finally see him and hold him. Where it will be real and not surreal.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Court date is here!!!!!!!!

Yes, we got our court date today! It is April 28th in Ethiopia. It is later than we hoped, but at least we have it! We will not be attending the court hearing...most families don't. Now we have just (just?) have to wait about 75 days and keep our fingers crossed that everything will be in order and we will pass court on our first try. All the families I have spoken to from our agency have passed the first time. Then we can officially call him ours! So if all goes as planned it looks like it will be late May/early June to travel. I want May though!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Last of the paperwork and more waiting!!!

We received our new 1-171H this past Thursday. This is the last piece of paperwork we needed to complete our file. Now we wait to be assigned a court date. His remaining family member must come to the court hearing, so the courts can verify he is an orphan. As long as the family member is there and they have all the neccessary paperwork, the adoption will be finalized under Ethiopian law. Right now I am seeing court dates as far out as Late April, so it makes me nervous, because it could be as much as a month later before we could travel to get him. We really want him here by May since I have the summer off. Next post to announce our court date and hopefully soon!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Documents off to Ethiopia!!!!

Today our agency received our signed acceptance of "I" so now they can tell Ethiopia, "yes, they officially accept him". They also received our authenticated documents back from the consulate and they were shipped off to Ethiopia today! Yea!!!!!! Once they get there next week, they will be able to request a court date! I don't know if we will wait a long time to get the date or if it will be assigned soon and then a wait for the date to arrive. We are going to put together a photo album for him of us and our community. We will also send him a shirt and a little toy hopefully....it all has to fit in a gallon size bag and we are only allowed to send one. Things are moving along great and with great timing! It will be nice to have him arrive at a time that I will be off for a couple of months before going into the whole school and work routine with him.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Moving forward...

One of our pediatricians reviewed the minimal medical information we had and he didn't have any concerns over his labs....yea! Our social worker has already updated the age on our homestudy and submited it to USCIS. I bet I'll have our new I-171H by the end of the week, because we have an awesome lady there I've gotten to know. Then we can request our court date! After all the disappointments we had with Vietnam, we are so anxious to get him home and make him ours! We emailed WACAP to tell them let's go forward!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Quick as a rabbit....

My new ticker has a rabbit, for hopefully quick speed as we prepare for and wait for a court date to finalize the adoption in Ethiopia.


Yes! We got our referral tonight! A very cute boy who is 6&1/2. Our homestudy was for 7-9, so we will need to have it adjusted before we can get a court date. I am sooo glad that wait is over, but we can't do anything til Monday...I won't complain though! Now the push to get him home. We cannot post a photo until after we pass court and it will take about 2 months for that. The courts close in August and September, but I am sure we'll have him here before that, hopefully no longer than 3 months. He is a little guy (I still have to convert his height/weight into inches) with the most beautiful skin tone and such handsome facial features. Can't wait to hug him!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Waiting for the call.....

We still haven't gotten information on our referral and it's killing me waiting! My cell phone is permantly attached to me. Our dossier is on its way to the consulate today though to be authenticated. Then it will be sent to Ethiopia to be translated. This is so different than China. We will probably agree to accept this child, before Ethiopia even finishes it's translation. It is great to have things moving so quickly, we can only hope that the court date will come just as quickly. It will be sooo hard if we have to wait 3 or more months to bring him home!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A referral on the way....?

I was informed today that the agency is awaiting information on a boy for us and will hopefully be here in the next few days, but for sure by next week. My mind is going a million miles a minute! What does he look like? What are his circumstances? How long has he been waiting? Our "due date" is almost here and as quickly as we had hoped it seems! So on pins and needles! It will be so awesome to know the child that will be our son! Then a hard wait again to bring him home!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I-171H on it's way to Ethiopia!

Our I-171H was officially changed to Ethiopia on Jan 9th and is on it's way to Addis Abba, Ethiopia Yeah!!! Other than signing additional paperwork for our agency, which was sent off on Saturday, all's we can do now is wait for the call. It's like waiting to go into labor....you never know when it will happen! Especially me, because both my bios were c-sections, so I knew exactly when they were coming. I guess this is my chance to experience the waiting for the "birth"! Everytime the phone rings, your heart skips a beat. You wait in anxiousness and in nervousness of who he will be and what it will be like when he is home.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Wait...

With a combination of a lot of bad weather in Washington and the agency forgetting we already had an I-171H we will consider Dec 30th as the official date we will begin our countdown to a referral. I don't fault the agency; I kind of blew them away as to how fast I had everything done. We will hopefully have our new I-171H for Ethiopia next week. My USCIS contact was out of the office until the 1/6 or I know we would have had it sooner. That doesn't hold up the process though, since we already had an approved one for Vietnam....just a matter of switching it to Ethiopia. It is soooo hard to wait. I saw someone from the same agency got a referral for an 8 yr old boy right at Christmas. I couldn't help feeling jealous because we have been waiting so long for this final addition. The adoption coordinator thought we were the only one looking for a boy 7-9 so we should be next....just a matter of when such a child becomes available....although she didn't think we would wait long. You all know how well I DON'T wait! We are just waiting for the call now. Can't wait to be the one to be able to announce, "We got a referral!".