Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.

-Ethiopian Proverb-

Thursday, November 18, 2010

9 Days to Go!

Only 9 days left until we take off in what amounts to a large aluminum can flying over oceans, mountains, rivers, deserts, and many other geographical features! I can't believe that we are in the single digits. I have been waiting for this moment for years, and in many ways, I can't believe it's really happening. I'm ready to meet my two youngest daughters. I'm ready to look in their eyes, hold and rock them, play peek-a-boo with them, and kiss the tops of their sweet heads. I am ready to see the part of my family that has always been missing. I'm ready to meet the real babies who are printed on the photographs. I'm excited to begin again the adventure of parenting with my sweet husband who is, in my opinion, the world's best father. I'm ready to take that next step! It's time to go!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

10 Days!

10 days is all we have left until we leave on the trip that will irrevocably change the lives of so many people. T and I will become the parents to two more daughters; L will become a big sister; grandparents will add to their brood of grandchildren to love; aunties, uncles, and cousins will be connected to a country thousands of miles away; friends and colleagues will be on hand to welcome two little ones; and most importantly, two little girls who were brought into the world under circumstances that resulted in becoming orphans will be given a family and be forever united in the bonds of sisterhood, family, and daughterhood. When I reflect on the seemingly random and chaotic events that have transpired over many years to bring T and I to this point in our lives, I am overwhelmed by how "unrandom" and "unchaotic" these events have really been. I truly believe that T and I were called by God to this country and to these two little souls! As the days gradually ebb away towards the start of our trip and our departure, I find that I have become very reflective. When T and I got married and started thinking about having a family, we, like most couples, just assumed that our children would come to us through birth. God, on the other hand, had other things in mind. I have been reflecting that if we had been able to have birth children, we would never have had the honor of adopting L into our family; she has been a complete blessing in every way for each day of the past 8 years. By parenting her, we have been gifted with the awareness of so many things that would have never crossed our minds if we had been able to have birth children such as the management of Type 1 Diabetes, the obscene number of amazing children in the U.S. foster care system who are desperate for a family, and the healing that can take place when a hurting child can grieve, mend, and thrive in the embrace of a loving, committed, and stable family. Once again, T and I, through the miracle of adoption, have been gifted with awareness. We are now confronted first-hand with the suffering, grief, and longing of millions of orphaned children in Ethiopia; we are now aware of the effects of crippling poverty and rampant disease; we have knowledge of human rights violations so horrifying, they can turn your stomach when you think of them. Through adoption, T and I have been able to remove our heads from the sand and wake up to finally realize that suffering is a condition of the human race that affects more people than not. Suffering knows no boundaries; it permeates all cultures and all countries including populations within our own (children in the foster care system for example). God has used adoption to not only bless our marriage with children, He has used it to make T and I become aware of more than ourselves. How fortunate T and I are to be blessed by God with the desire to not only love and parent children together, but also with the desire to actually roll up our sleeves and get to work helping our fellow humans!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

High Ho High Ho! It's Off to Pack I Go!

As we are only 2 weeks and 3 days away from flying to Ethiopia, the frantic packing has commenced! I have encountered people who fit into 1 of 2 different packing styles; the "less is more" packers and the "if I don't pack it, I'll regret it" packers. I fall into the latter category for sure. For those of you who have seen the first Austin Powers movie where he discovers that his girlfriend is a "Fembot" by opening her suitcase and seeing how frighteningly organized all of the contents are with each article of clothing in its own separate Ziploc baggie, you have an understanding as to how I like to organize belongings for a trip. I think my method of organizing, which borders on the obsessive/compulsive side, freaks out my darling husband. For this trip, I have divided all of our contents equally between suitcases with all things, with the exception of clothing, secured in plastic containers and fortified with rubber bands to keep the tops from popping off! My oldest daughter L shoots me incredulous looks whenever she looks through my suitcases! So far, I have packed the following items:

1. travel pillows
2. travel blankets
3. first aid kit
4. books
5. pens and pencils including Sharpies
6. toilet paper
7. paper towels
8. gum
9. over-the-counter meds (15 different kinds)
10. prescription meds (8 different prescriptions)
11. peanut butter
12. jerky
13. Cliff Bars
14. hand sanitizing wipes
15. laundry soap sheets
16. flashlight with extra batteries (the power goes off a lot in Addis Ababa)
17. solar alarm clock (wouldn't want to over-sleep!)
18. travel garment steamer
19. travel hairdryer
20. Wet Ones (individually wrapped and in packs of 25)
21. umbrellas
22. sewing kit
23. electrolyte drink mix (gotta stay healthy and hydrated!)
24. instant coffee (for me the caffeine addict)
25. powdered creamer (coffee is just not coffee without cream)
26. tape
27. scissors (with blunt edges of course)
28. Downey Wrinkle Releaser (double bagged with Ziplocs)
29. puzzle books (it's going to be a long plane ride)
30. clothes pins (you never know!)
31. extra rubber bands
32. Ziploc bags in 2 different sizes
33. individual Kleenex packets (public restrooms are rumored to be short on supplies)

I think that's all for the time being. I'm hoping that the above list can be useful to others who are going to be traveling, and I really welcome any suggestions for items that I may have forgotten. I haven't even begun to tackle packing the clothes, electronics, and paperwork that we need to bring over. Just think, on the next trip, I get to pack all this stuff plus the stuff for the babies as well as orphanage donations! Exciting times folks! Exciting times indeed!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Preliminary Court Date

Well folks! On Tuesday, November 2, 2010, we got a call from Dove Adoptions with news regarding our preliminary court date in Ethiopia. If you recall, we were assigned two court dates once the Ethiopian courts reopened in September; the first hearing took place on Tuesday, and the other will occur on December 2. During Tuesday's hearing, the judge reviewed our family's dossier documents to see if we were fit to parent Laurel and Willow, signed necessary paperwork, and made various "judgely" statements and rulings. This was also the court hearing in which any birth relatives or other appropriate witnesses would need to give their testimony regarding our babies. According to Tami, the program director for Dove Adoptions, WE ARE IN GOOD SHAPE!!!!!! Everything went well, all papers were signed, all "judgely" statements and rulings were made, and we are on course for a very good second court date in which T and I need to appear before a judge and give our testimony. If all continues to go well, and Tami seems mostly confident it will, we should (hopefully) be granted legal custody of the girls on December 2nd!!!!!!! I am very excited about the possibility of being Laurel and Willow's legal mom next month, but I need to also remain cautious. The world of international adoption can change so fast it would make your head spin (eg: the Ethiopian court requiring parents to make 2 trips)! So on a positive note, things are looking good for our family, and we are in the throes of frantic shopping and packing. I kid you not, our bedroom looks like it was hit by a tornado with all of the suit cases, bags, snacks, clothes, toiletries, appliances, and weird random-but-extremely-important things laying all over the place in some semblance of organized chaos. I am trying to figure out how to fit all of those necessary things into two carry-ons and two suitcases without exceeding our 50 pound per suitcase weight limit while simultaneously attempting to keep our cats from destroying our luggage because of them thinking of it as their new scratching post! I got my college degree in education; not engineering or veterinary science! Yikes!!!