Friday, December 31, 2010


I love stay-at-home days. I love being home with my family playing games, preparing meals, sleeping in. There’s no doubt that extra time with my kids usually brings an interesting new story. Because I’m still 10 days behind on my 90-day reading, I’ll share a quick story:

After meals, if the kids have done a good job of eating, we allow them to get a candy out of the jar-o-sugar. Judah was still at the table so I grabbed him a Hershey kiss and set it before him on the table and turned around back to finish cleaning the spaghetti off of Bethany’s mouth and hands. A few moments later when I went back to Judah to get him cleaned up, he was still sitting at the table. When I pulled his chair out to get him down, he pointed to his mouth and said “food”. How can the child still be chewing a hershey kiss? My kids waste no time eating candy. As I peeked into his mouth, I found what he was chewing on. Poor kid, no one had told him to unwrap the kiss first so he’d put the whole thing in his mouth! Judah was chewing on tinfoil and trying to finish that candy. I wonder what he was thinking? Was he thinking it was good, or horrible or hard to chew? Good thing he doesn’t have fillings! I scraped the candy wrapping out of his teeth and off his tongue the best I could all while laughing at the situation. Sure, Judah has been home almost 8 months and has adjusted really well, but he certainly doesn’t understand everything yet!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Almost 8 months

Almost 8 months home now and in no time flat, Judah figured out in no time flat how to open Christmas presents!

He's an amazing and precious little boy. What joy he brings to our family!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Seven Months Home

We're all here and accounted for in the frozen sledding slopes of northeast Iowa. Seven months home came and went. I think I was busy trying to get a court date (which still hasn't happened) and who knows what else.

In our spare time, when it's not below zero or a blizzard, we've been out playing in the snow. Judah is a little trooper. He makes his way up the snow covered hill without complaining. With his short little legs the snow is knee deep. He seems to love the snow. Then again, who wouldn't when it's 32, snowing beautifully, your layered in flannel lined jeans, snow bibs, a sweatshirt, coat and mittens and know hot chocolate is waiting inside for you.

The photo is of me and the kids a week or so ago (before we had a blizzard and another 12 inches of snow). The two littles are being towed back to the house while big brother is digging in the snow ahead of us. We love warm winter weather. Not sure what Judah thought of it this morning when it was minus 13 leaving the house!!!

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Just had an interesting conversation with one of my clients.  He asked a few questions about Judah and Ethiopia, etc.  Then as he was leaving I asked if they had kids and he said that they weren't able to so they talked about adoption which is why he asked the questions.  So we chatted a little more about domestic and international adoption options.  I told him that we'd love to sit down and visit with him and his wife some time if they'd like to hear more about it.  How cool would that be!?!?!?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tax Credit

The tax credit, as I understand it, is on the chopping block (and I'm not well versed in this at all). But, our adoption has not been finalized in the states so I should really, really pay attention to that. I just left the lawyers office today where we talked about finalizing in court. He told me it would take 30-45 days to get a court date. Do you think the tax refund will still be available for us? I'm tempted to find out who sets the court appointments and then beg them to squeeze us in this month. In addition to that, I'm certainly calling on the King of the universe to act in our behalf cause I'm sure He wants us to get the tax refund... so we can do another adoption!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Why/How We Chose Judah

And I love when people ask me about adoption and give me the chance to talk about it. The other day at work someone looked at the family picture on my desk and asked me if we adopted the youngest one. I looked at the picture, smiled, and looked at my client and said "nope, he came out natural like that". Of course, I couldn't hold a straight face when I said it. Friday I had lots of people ask me about Judah or about adoption. It was great but I love to talk about it so much that I feel like I can't share with them while I'm at work or I need to take an early lunch if I want to take time to share with those who are truly interested.

Last night some friends asked me how we chose Judah. Interesting question. So I explained to them and thought I'd explain it here real quick. There's two main ways to adopt through Holt (the agency we chose). One is the waiting child program which is a list of kids who haven't yet been matched because of age or special needs. We looked at this option and there weren't children on there that fit our criteria (being younger than Scott). So we went with the traditional method where a child became available for adoption and was matched with us. So the match with us to Judah was that Holt sent us a profile with his known background both socially and medically. Most people review the profile and talk to their doctor about it. Ryan and I had already decided that we would take whoever we were matched with. We didn't want to choose. We couldn't choose our first two (or I would've chose kids without bowel issues) so why would we choose the child we were adopting. We said that we wanted to care for a child in need of a family and the child being presented to us fit that bill.

Now, with that said, it's not like we didn't put any parameters on the child we would take. Holt says they want your oldest to stay the oldest. Ryan wanted the same so we had to have a child younger than Scott. We also knew that we were somewhat limited in the availability of medical help living in a small rural community. So, we limited the "special needs" to things that wouldn't require us driving 90 miles one way to s specialized doctor several times a week. So there you have it, we really didn't choose Judah. But we gladly accepted him as part of our family.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sayin' Somethin'

Well since I can't get my excel to work like I want it, I thought I'd post real quick.

Just a few minutes ago we finished supper and I was washing dishes in the kitchen. Bethany came up to me and asked if I had a baby growing in my belly. As she continued to walk past me, she gently tapped my belly and kept on going.

I am NOT pregnant, thank you very much!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

a little surprise

I just wrote about being home for 6 months and how everything is normal.  I guess I shouldn't have written that because last night we had a little surprise that made itself obvious today.  Judah has ring worm on his chin.  Yes, we've been home for 6 months and he just now picked it up.  Isn't that lovely.  Right on his chin.  I'll try to keep people from kissing on him until it goes away.  This was also a reminder that Scott's ringworm is still a headache.  The first treatment wasn't successful but then again we weren't the best at giving him meds.  We're still not done with it and I forgot the other day.  Yuck.  I'm watching it closely and when I see a sign that it's going away, I'm marking it on my calendar and making sure we have 2 more weeks supply of meds.
Darn ring worm.  I'm sick of it.  Even then, hugging on those little ones (where I likely picked up ring worm) and whispering in their ear that their parents were coming soon was worth the 6 months of fighting it.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Small Gathering

You might have already read about it on Becky's blog or on Tesi's blog, but I wanted to share briefly too. Last Saturday, a hand full of families met at a quiet little park in Waterloo to hang out. I had a great time meeting people who's blogs I'd read, seeing families I'd prayed for while they were in the adoption process, and seeing other beautiful Ethiopian children laugh and play with their families.

Much to my own surprise, I left my little cannon side-kick at home (yes, it was a slight bit chaotic before I left home that day) that day. So, I'm sharing with you a few pics from Tesi and Becky:

(don't miss a certain little boy who didn't think he made the picture... did you find him?)

It was a small group but as you can see all of us had a few kids to bring along. I'm looking forward to hanging out again sometime. Anyone want to plan a gathering in a few months???

Thursday, October 7, 2010

it makes me mad

I just heard the question again and it makes me mad.  The person said "why do sensible people spend lots of money and travel thousands of miles to adopt a child?  There are plenty of children in the U.S. that need adopted."
My loving and simple response is and was: then if there are plenty of children here in the U.S., then why haven't you adopted one or two or three?
There's lots of variety in this question.  But, the simple point is the same, if they're so concerned with the orphans in the foster system, why aren't they adopting them???

5 Months Home

Really, the months fly. I wonder how I'm doing remember Judah's story so I can share with him later. Am I doing a good job of giving him the appropriate amount of attention without spoiling him? Am I doing a good job of balancing his Ethiopian history and culture with his new culture of being an American? How much would he pay attention to that big shadow frame if I actually put some things in it from his past? What do I put in that frame for him? Does his mom actually get the pictures I've sent? Oh, how I'd love to send her the video clip of Judah and Scott having a tickle fight last weekend. I wish I could read his mind. What is he really thinking when he gives us that pouty look? Does he comprehend sarcasm yet? Shouldn't he be gaining more weight, even if he is super active? Am I taking care of his hair right?

We've been home 5 months and still I'm questioning my parenting. How long did I question my parenting when I brought the other two kids home from the hospital? Five months home and Judah is doing great and I'm the one with continuing issues. Isn't that nice? Here's a few things going on in our world now that we've been home for... you guessed it, 5 months:

- Continues to increase his vocabulary and work on sounds.
- He's finally tall enough to pee standing up... with the help of a step stool.
- He's learning to pray on his own. Mostly a copy of what the other kids say, but he makes sure he gets to pray each night. I can't wait until he (and the other two for that matter) really know that they're approaching the King - God who made the world and everything in it - when he prays.
- He's super good at picking up toys and being helpful when asked to do simple tasks like throw a paper in the trash (he loves to do that). Thank you to whoever taught him that!
- He loves his blankie and no one else in his bed is going to use it. Yes, my 3 kids like to sleep together and we're fine with that. He wasn't sure what to think about his new blankie the other day and promptly handed it to Bethany. She of course loved it and thinks its hers.
- He loves to help put on his own lotion. I hope he learns to do that task quickly because with cool, dry weather comes dry skin and a need for lotsa lotion for his beautiful skin.
- He loves people and greets everyone he sees in passing.
- He's not always the most comfortable in new environments where it's busy with people and activity. But other common places for him, like church, he runs around from person to person like the other two.
- Judah does not like hot chocolate. This is odd considering my other two could have it hooked up IV each morning.
- Daddy is his ultimate favorite. Nice for Ryan, not so great for momma!

And a few questions I still have even though he's been mine for 5 months:
- Do you take care of boys hair differently if its butched short versus grown out a little. Judah's hair feels brillo-pad-rough when it's short (but so does Ryan's). And a little softer, but never soft when it grows out a little. If I'm going to let it fro a bit more, do I need to comb it a certain way or put certain products in it?
- He's not circumcised (sorry son for putting that out on the internet) and so urinating is a little different for him. At least it is in my mind, but what do I know, I'm of the female variety. Teaching him to let the urine all come out before he jumps off and pats himself on the back is a chore. He still can't pee outside (we're country folks) without peeing all over his pants. So, do I need to teach him to physically wipe his penis with toilet paper to get the urine out of that foreskin area? Or is shaking it enough?
- He still gives me the blank stare occasionally. It's like he's checked out because he didn't like the situation. I grab him up and hug him ususally but I'm not sure what to be watching here.
- He still has these little pimple/white heads on his scalp. Not sure what to do about those either. I started popping them and I'm sure the doc wouldn't approve of that.
- He's only gained two pounds since we came home. Mom says it's because he's running constantly. I think it's because he poops out SO MUCH that his body hasn't utilized the nutrients. Surely that's nutrients that I still smell everytime I wipe him and flush his load.
- What is recommended for a check up for him. He's due this month for a round of shots, but should he have a health check-up? He hasn't had one since we got home. (and my dear Kerry, please feel free to give me your full opinion on this one).

I long for the day he can openly communicate his feelings. I hope that he has some memory of his time in Ethiopia to tell about. I pray that God will use this small child who came from Ethiopia to Iowa for great things! This little boy has the brightest smile and warms my heart daily. I'm so thankful that he is my son! And occasionally I just want him to shut his running mouth :)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Four Months Home

Like most travel groups, the families in ours bonded well. Our common bond of our adoption and our days together in Ethiopia brought us together. I wonder how long that bond will last. A few months, a few years, a lifetime?

Our travel group started a fun little monthly update. I think some of us tend to write the updates though we’re most interested in hearing from everybody else. Now that we’ve been home 4 months, do we have all the many milestones like first ice-cream, first trip to the zoo, etc? Will our group continue the monthly updates or will it fizzle out? I sure hope that we continue our monthly conversation of what’s going on in our home, even as most of us that are home are comfortably in the new normal.

With that said, here’s my 4 month update (and it won’t be near as well put together as Shonda’s):

Judah does not shut his mouth (he’s learned quickly to take after yours truly). He talks non-stop. When I read to the kids at night, he’s repeating words constantly. I find it both cute and annoying. Cute when he’s counting to five and can’t say the words well, let alone get his fingers up with the right numbers. Annoying when I’m trying to nap during the football game but all I can hear is my riled up son. He’s still not sounding out all of the sounds quite right.

For four months we’ve taken Judah to the toilet and he pays his homage to the porcelain king. If we don’t get him to the toilet in time, he goes potty anyway. That seemed to improve a few months back when I finally just started putting him in undies (except for traveling or social gatherings where he plays and we do too). For four months we’ve explained to him that he needs to tell someone that he has to go potty yet he never does. Maybe something was lost in communication. Maybe he didn’t understand me telling him to tell us when he had to go potty these last four months. When will it click with him? Well, this past week, he started telling his Papa that he has to go potty. Not my mom. Not Ryan. Not me. Just Papa. That’s fine I guess since he is telling someone and he spends almost 10 hours of his day at Grammy and Papa’s house. Get this though, he doesn’t even need to tell us now because he’s finally tall enough to crawl up on the toilet by himself. Okay, so he knows how to go on the toilet, he has an increased control of his bladder, and he can get on the toilet by himself. Why is it that he peed in his undies while standing on my bamboo rug which soaked through onto the wood floor? As annoying as it was, Ryan was right there and reacted quite well and ran him to the bathroom. As annoying as it was, it beats the two kids who have constipation and pooping issues. Just sayin’.

My baby is growing. Finally. I’m sure he’s been growing all along, but the 2t jeans I took to Ethiopia for him are finally fitting. By fitting I mean the hidden elastic waist line is cinched all the way up but the length fits him quite well. He regularly wears 3t shirts but I put a Cyclone jersey on him the other day that is sized at 24 months and it fit just fine. He’s still a small peanut. Since he’s still our good child and he’s a peanut, it’s obvious that he doesn’t have either mine or Ryan’s genetics (you can decide who was the wild kid and who’s built like a line-backer).

I still haven’t been anywhere that I’ve been asked if he’s mine. That might be due to the fact that we don’t go anywhere except our close friends and family or we stick to our town in which everyone already knows our story. I had a fun and interesting experience though. On our way home from Kansas, we stopped to see Ryan’s grandparents who live in an assisted living facility. As the kids and I went with Grandma for a walk down the hall, she had to introduce us to Aunt Edna who also lives there. Wait, did I say us? I meant Judah. Grandma had told Edna about her newest great-grandchild and had to show him off to her. Edna’s response to Judah: “I really like your shirt!” I thought it was funny that she didn’t comment on how adorable he is, what a great smile he has, etc. She commented on his hand-me-down faded black t-shirt (go Bulldogs!). What I also thought was funny was that Grandma was not as eager to introduce the other adorable great-grandchild standing with her. Just Judah, the newest addition to her family.

Tonight, we had a fun few moments. The first was when I handed some injera to Judah that had been frozen over the 4th of July weekend and recently thawed. Ryan said he had quite the look of pure joy on his face. The second fun moment was when Bethany went to bed with the boys for the second night and once again had to reach over and kiss her baby brother good night but didn’t acknowledge her other brother. For those who remember her actions and reactions to Judah in the first eight to nine weeks, I love any moment where she, on her own, shows him genuine affection.

And for those who saw Kerry’s (way to brief) update, that mouthy little beauty is mine!

Monday, August 30, 2010

BBQ & Adoption

I was so busy having fun last night that I totally neglected my camera. Here's one shot that Ryan took last night of our wild-haired beauty. It doesn't speak much for the group we had, so I'm hoping that Kerry took some better pictures.
Since we're in the Kansas City area staying with the Dietz Family, Shonda had a great idea of hosting a little BBQ. Several families were invited, food was prepared, the slip-n-slide was rolled out, and people starting showing up. The little BBQ quickly became 50 people or more. It was a blast!
I was able to meet and socialize with several families. It great to meet and chat with Erin (and her adorable little boy from Columbia), Martha, Wausann (originally from Ethiopia and has adopted two children from Ethiopia), Mary and her sweet girls, and a few Ethiopian college ladies. I'm sure I'm missing a few. It was also great to connect up with Kerry who was in (the wonderful) travel group 8 as well as a few of Ryan's vet school buddies who were in town for the same conference Ryan's here for. One of Ryan's vet buddies, Denise, also happens to have a connection with Ethiopia as she recently returned from there after 7-ish years of being a veterinary missionary. It was cool to hear her talking in Amharic to the Ethiopian ladies (I missed it but heard about it second hand).
I'm looking forward to another gathering. Hopefully this time, I can also meet up with Lindsie and Tesi and a few others. Late October anyone???

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Didn't you Hear Me

Why is it that I can remind Judah numerous times that he should pee in the potty. He can even tell us where he should potty. Yet the child still has multiple accidents a day. Lovely. He has yet to tell me that he has to go or get on the toilet himself (which he can do). And then I read on Sarah's facebook that her 16 month old is using the potty. Oh children, please be "normal" and use the potty!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Home 3 Months Now

Grace based parenting is the key. No, grace based living would be more accurate. It has been a key factor in the last 3 months.

Judah is full of personality. We see lots of emotion from him. Sometimes it’s more emotion than we care to see and other times he’s hiding the emotion. His overuse of the word “owie” is hopefully an emotional connection of someone fixing his hurt, of trusting us to care for his little “owie”. Watching Judah laugh is such fun. His bright smile lightens up the room and is contagious with the rest of us. Judah can use 3-4 word sentences on a regular basis and its fun to see his language improve. He loves to brush his teeth which compliments his gorgeous smile. He jumps through the house like a bunny, runs like a wild man and lately is attached to the CuriousGeorge puppet. He’s successfully learning to let go of objects that act like a security blanket. Watching Judah’s relationships with each of his siblings is an answer to prayer.

All this to say that things are going well. But let me also say that life isn’t perfect in this house. That the reason grace based living is essential in this house.

Judah’s personality is also full of stubbornness. Though he clearly can use 3-4 word sentences, he will not string two words together when asked to say simple things like “yes mommy” or “juice please”. I’m also stubborn and these moments are a good test in patience. He’s also pooped four times in his pull-up in the last two days. He knows to poop in the toilet so this is another test of patience and a time requiring some grace. There are times that he gets mad and won’t make eye contact with me. Upon request, Judah will make eye contact for one second before his eyes veer off. When asked questions he normally says yes to (like do you love momma), he says no. He’s a stinker like that. I sometimes ask him four or more time to see if his answer will change. It doesn’t.

I’m by no means a perfect parent. I continue to struggle with knowing the appropriate training and discipline. Does he understand my request? How was he trained and disciplined by his birth family? By the orphanage? It is often my prayer that I will offer grace like God gives me grace. And that God would continue to give me grace in this whole parenting thing. I take seriously that its my responsibility to raise my children in a manner that is pleasing to God and also to raise them as responsible citizens.

So we’ve been home three months and things are going well as we all continue to offer grace. That goes for everyone in our family. When we forget that important little detail, things don’t go so smoothly. As we continue to adjust to each other, the adjustment involves everyone in the family. I’m looking forward to see how things look another month and three months from now.

pictures for birthmom

Good info from Holt on sending pics to a birth parent:

Please label each photo with the adoptee's birth name and Holt ID number only, along with a little note saying these are for the birth mother. Please do not use your child's American name. Photos printed on 8 ½ by 11 inch photo paper, several to a page, is the ideal method, but loose photos are also acceptable (please limit the number of photos to 5-10 when possible).


I hadn't read the info anywhere so I emailed Jenn in Eugene.  I should have asked before I wrote his name and cut the pics out of the cardstock!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Charity Water

I've seen the banner's multiple times. I saw it on the Johnson's blog and didn't take the time to read what it was about. I've seen the words "charity: water" many times and not given it much thought or attention. This week, I can't get it out of my mind. It's such a simple yet complex thing.

For approximately $5,000 a well can be dug that would offer clean water to a community. I can't put into words what this would be worth to a community. However, I do know that I saw the need with my own eyes when we were in Ethiopia. I saw the women and children walking with their yellow jugs (40 lbs when full) to the nearest source of water. I saw them dip the jug into dirty, gross water that you and I wouldn't swim in and carry it home. I saw the women and children bathing in the disease infested water just down stream from where the livestock were drinking. It broke my heart. The images are etched into my mind and bring sadness to my heart. These kids have such potential. They could be teachers, doctors, missionaries. Yet, they may not reach maturity because the unsafe water they drink has e-coli, salmonella, cholera and Hepatitis A.

Today during lunch I was checking out Charity: Water's website. Oh, that's where all those images have come from that I've seen on people's blogs and other places. I was blown away by the work they're doing. I haven't been able to get it out of my mind ALL afternoon.

Did you know that 100% of their donations go directly towards the projects. That's amazing.

I've been thinking a lot lately about how I can get involved. I feel this tug on my heart to go back to Ethiopia and do ministry. After all Ryan and I are trained and educated in a variety of things that can be useful there (veterinary medicine, conservation, gardening, etc). After reading through this today, I'm thinking that this would be a good start. I went to the charity: water website and looked at where in Ethiopia wells have already been dug. Some in the South, but none near where my child is from. None near the Schinschico Hospital (a place that serves LOTS of people in the South). Wouldn't it be cool to see a well go in near the hospital to provide clean water for them and the nearby community members.

I won't be forgetting this anytime soon. Don't be surprised if I try to pull you in so that you too can play a part in providing clean water to a family that desperately needs it.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Post-Adoption Visit #2

We just had our second post-adoption home visit with our social worker. I’ve got varying opinions on that in itself but that’s not the point of this post. I learned from this visit that two months ago I mailed our SW the report and pictures that I didn’t have ready the day he was here for our first visit and it didn’t show up at his house until a week ago. Seriously? What’s up with that? That explains why this week the staff from the Midwest office called to explain that two of the pictures weren’t appropriate. I wondered why it was taking them 2 months to deal with that issue. So today when I was missing the family picture (because we don’t have any recent family pics) and my SW told me to mail it to him, I was a little apprehensive. Do you think that if I put it in the mail tomorrow, it will show up on Friday like it should or in October sometime?

This brief post makes me think of two other things I’d like to post about:
1. The differences between Holt social workers
2. The pre-adoption education and post-adoption services offered by Holt staff.
Keep a look out for those topics.

Birth parent connection

Picture this: sitting in a birth parent meeting watching your son’s beautiful birth mother dictate a letter. As you listen to a language you can’t understand, you can’t help to notice her beautiful features and wonder if her son, our son, has her amazing cheek bones. As she finishes dictating and the Wolytinga translator finishes writing, the letter is handed to another translator. The Wolytinga text is translated into Amharic and then into English as the translator shares the letter with us. Imagine our surprise when we realize the letter was dictated to us, not our shared son. We are so thankful for the letter and clarify that we’d like a letter to our son. Our sweet and quiet birth mother dictates a second letter while the clock continues to click. As they finish Judah’s letter, time has run short and we’re told by our translator that he’ll translate it later.

The “later” came multiple times. However we didn’t have the letter with us at supper. Because I was hanging on to that letter with dear life (aka had it pressed in between pages of my journal), we weren’t carrying the letter around with us. Fortunately one of the nurses on the Holt staff back in Addis understood Wolytinga. Tesfaye volunteered to take the letter home with him and bring it back in the morning. I was apprehensive and not as trusting as my husband but let him take the letter. We were in Ethiopia so it wasn’t like we could run to the copy machine and give him a copy either.

Before you read on, imagine how touched we were when we read the words of Judah’s birth mom. How cool it is to be able to offer that letter to Judah as he grows up and wants a connection to a lady who brought him into this world and then sadly had to give him up.

The next morning, our last day in Ethiopia, Tesfaye had a family emergency and didn’t make it to work. I was devastated but Tesfaye assured us that he would bring it by later or send it in the mail.

Again, as we think about the value of that letter, we’re just thankful to have it, even if we don’t get to read it for another few hours. We’re thankful to the Holt staff who are willing to take it home and translate it on their own time.

The letter didn’t make it back to the orphanage. In fact, we left Ethiopia without the letter. We arrived back in the states and began adjusting to life although we didn’t forget about the letter. Just recently, almost 3 months after being home and no news of the letter, I sent an email inquiry. Almost immediately, the Holt Eugene staff forwarded the inquiry to the Holt Ethiopia staff. The response I received was crushing. Holt staff informed me that Tesfaye no longer worked for Holt. They managed to contact him by phone and he said he LOST the letter. I couldn’t believe it!

The more I think about it, the more frustrated I am. Why didn’t the man return the letter the next day? He worked with the orphans. How did he not understand the value of that letter - Judah's connection to his birth mom? I also fully understand that I played a role in that. I could have emailed Holt right after returning home to ask about the letter. Why didn’t I value that letter more and assure that we got it back?

Now I know. I know the value of the letter. I know to not leave in the hands of Holt staff. I’ve also learned recently that not all staff are employed by Holt. I still don’t understand that one. I have since emailed Holt asking them to educate families so this doesn’t happen again. Hopefully other families will ask the birth mom to dictate a letter. And hopefully other families won’t have to imagine what the letter says because it will be translated to English and shared with their children!

Monday, July 26, 2010


Read a phrase today that I like: "God helped us raise the $30k needed to pay the ransom for a child of God." ( Very cool perspective.

The New Busy is not the too busy. Combine all your e-mail accounts with Hotmail. Get busy.

Friday, July 16, 2010

small town fun

Earlier today I posted on facebook that I wish I lived near a city so I could find a barber to cut Judah's hair.  Right now I'm tickled with living in rural America where I can call a complete stranger (who happens to have adopted kids from Ethiopia) and ask where she gets her kids hair cut.  Her generous reply was that her husband cuts her kids' hair and would be happy to show me how.  Nice.  Yes, I've heard Leslie was super sweet like that.  Now, I'm looking forward to getting to know her a little and learning to cut my sons hair. 

The New Busy is not the old busy. Search, chat and e-mail from your inbox. Get started.


Okay, okay, it's only been more than two months and I'm finally getting all my journal entries posted. They're done and loaded with a quick link to them on the right. If you wander over and take a look, you'll see that not all entries have pics in them. I'll get to it eventually. Unfortunately as I sit here posting my journal, I'm at a friend's house and didn't bring my external hard drive with me. Can't add pics I don't have. Nice. Maybe another day. Until then, happy reading.

She likes him

I don't think I posted this to my blog before.  But there was a time where Bethany asked me regularly if we could take Judah back to Ethiopia.  She said all kinds of interesting things to justify taking him back.  She also acted in a manner that her normal loving self.
Finally, we have turned a corner.  Just 3 days after smooshing his fingers in the door, she declared "mommy, I don't want to take Judah back to Ethiopia any more.  I like him."  Thank you Jesus.
I know my kids love Judah.  There's no doubt in my mind that they'll make a wonderful trio.  Seeing adjustment occur in a healthy manner soothes my soul.  This morning I once again watched my now 5 year old help his little brother put on his flip flops.  It wasn't long ago that I was helping the 5 year old.  I love watching the two boys interact.  They've done well for a while.  More recently I've watched Judah and Bethany run off and play together and it is SO GOOD!  Now as I watch the two little ones interact, I wonder if Scott feels left out, if he enjoys the break, or if he wants to adopt a child his age...

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(written a week or so ago...)

Sunday night we’re sitting at the supper table and Judah isn’t thrilled about the meal placed before him. That’s okay though because eventually he’ll eat it. At least that was the case two weeks ago. Tonight Judah is a little smarter, so he thinks. At one point during supper he says the magic word for #2. I rush him and his cream covered hands to my freshly bleached toilet seat. He made a mess alright, only it was with his creamy hands on the toilet seat, not the #2 he had mentioned.

Oh how my smart little child is learning quickly. This is normally Bethany’s trick – she whines that she has to poop and climbs out of her chair. My little Judah may not be fluent in this language but it didn’t take him long to pick up Bethany’s little trick.

Back to the supper table we go. Judah continues to play with his food. I’m lazy and give my attention to my laptop rather than reminding my son to use his spoon. Minutes pass before he pulls this same trick out of his hat again. Off to the bathroom we run. Our pitstop at the sink to clean the creamy hands and I hear Judah passing gas. Great, you totally are going to crap your pants because I stopped to wash your hands. We hurry on into the bathroom and place Judah on the toilet. I give him a few moments and this time he couldn’t even urinate in the toilet because he’d since filled his pull-up (yes, he did urinate on the toilet the first time).

This time I’m frustrated. I don’t want to play this game. I don’t want Judah to play this game, nor do I want him thinking that lying is acceptable. So, how do you deal with that? This isn’t an adoption issue. I wonder the same thing about teaching my babes from my buddha belly the same thing. How do you teach young children that being truthful is the only acceptable method. Though this isn’t an adoption issue, adoption issues (communication barriers and him being new to our family) do complicate it a bit. How do appropriately train and discipline him? I’m curious what training and discipline suggestions you might be willing to share for all 3 of my kiddos.

Back to the booster seat he goes. It’s taken way too much time tonight but I’m gladly catching up on blogs and wishing I was still connected to the internet so I could comment. Alas, it’s beyond bed time. I take Judah upstairs where he happily brushed his teeth and headed to bed. He climbs into bed where he starts in with his 2nd trick that he picked up from his siblings. Snickering under my breath, I turn to Judah when he calls me by name. Yes, my kids do that all the time to avoid going to bed. Judah has quickly picked up on this game too. I smile at my sweet son, tell him to stay in bed, wish him a good night and walk out of the room all while getting a kick out of the many things my s on has learned in a few short weeks.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Holiday Weekend with some of our Travel Group 8

Our travel group made some great connections. That might have been due to the fact that we'd connected via the Holt yahoo group, our blogs, or just that we were pretty awesome families. Of course, we wanted to hang out again sometime so before we even left Ethiopia, Ryan was planning a gathering of midwest families. We gathered for the Independence Day weekend with two of the families who were in travel group 8 with us.
Our weekend didn't have a huge agenda. We ended up having to adjust plans due to the rain events but we still had fun. The first afternoon we hung out in the yard chit chatting while the bigger kids jumped on the trampoline and got to know each other. (Travis and Joseph belong to Shonda)

Later that afternoon, we took our city-dwelling friends to a local dairy where they got to experience all kinds of new sights, smells, etc. Some were more willing to try new things than others:

(Michelle who doesn't blog yet but has an amazing life to share)

(Betula is Michelle's daughter)

(Betula and Judah)

I didn't add a picture of a certain (ahem) family who stayed at the end of the barn so they wouldn't get splattered with green nutrients. But they did - that is, get splattered and then stand away from the cow's hind end.
After all those who were interested milked, petted, and learned about dairy cows, they headed out to check out the baby calves. Having recently been fed, they weren't hungry but the little kids tried their skills anyways:

Bethany, my quiet and shy child (yah right) plomped herself right down on a calf as if she was riding it. The calf didn't mind much until she started to pretend like it was a bucking bull and not a bull calf. After some entertainment with the baby animals, the kids were off to the hay mow:

where they ran, jumped, climbed and played all over. Ryan got some really cool pics with the light sneaking in between the boards of the barn on the back side:

From there we headed to The Shanti in the big town of Gunder. No pictures there, at least not on our camera. Maybe Michelle will send me the one that shows the population of the Gunder Metropolis and I can add it in. Needless to say by time we got there, kids were hot, hungry and mine at least were not so willing to sit long to wait. After supper we headed back home for some 4th of July entertainment (I would never admit to having illegal fireworks) of our own:

It was fun to see how much everyone's kids have changed. We've been home two months now and we've seen lots of change in the kids. It was great to see the children from Ethiopia again. It was also a blessing to meet and have our bio children all interacting.

I'm looking forward to the next time we can gather our families together. Maybe next time more of travel group 8 can make it. And hopefully some of you other midwestern families (ahem, Tesi) can make it as well. Thanks to those who were willing to travel up our way to hang out for the weekend!

Shinshicho residents partner with Holt to save children

Trying to post this to my blog... we'll see if it works

Please help us in our efforts to bring this surgery center to the children and families in Ethiopia.
Dear Ryan,

Each month, thousands of desperate families come for care offered at Holt's Shinshicho Health Clinic in Ethiopia. Many walk for miles with malnourished and sick children in their arms.

Please help us in our efforts to bring a new surgery center to the children and families in Ethiopia!  Witnessing, firsthand, the devastation that is caused when children and families are unable to receive life-saving surgeries – Holt has made a commitment to establish a surgery center at the Shinshicho clinic.

Ethiopian community leaders are offering to double every dollar you send today, up to $250,000! To receive these funds, we have to raise our portion first….so we need your help!

"So many sick people have died," says 16-year-old Meklit Gareden, a Shinshicho resident who donated 100 birr (about 7 U.S. dollars) for the construction of the surgery center. "I wanted to give what I could to help with this new project and help children survive."

Won't you join Meklit, and the community leaders of Shinshicho, in bringing this surgery center to the children and families of the Shinschicho area? They can't do it alone…

Your help today will save lives tomorrow.

With a heart full of hope for Ethiopia's children,

President and CEO

Please help us in our efforts to bring this surgery center to the children and families in Ethiopia.
Send a gift today to help the children and families of Ethiopia tomorrow.
Send a gift today to help the children and families of Ethiopia tomorrow.
Holt International Children's Services

Go to the Holt International website.

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Monday, July 5, 2010

group 8 gathering

For those who live "nearby" and travelled in group 8 with us to Ethiopia, we invited them for the weekend. Only two families could make it but we had fun. Did fireworks a night early which was good because it rained all day yesterday. I'm looking forward to hanging out with these families again. Maybe we can make this an annual event and other midwestern (aka local) families can join us.

I hope to post a real update and pics when I'm getting a real internet connection! That might be tomorrow.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Can't wait

Can't wait to see these guys again in a few short days... especially if I can talk them into coming a day earlier.

We're also getting together with a few other adoptive families. I'm totally looking forward to seeing Michelle and Betula who I think I've blogged about (it's an amazing God story). I would love to show you this sweet girl but didn't ask her momma's permission first. I didn't ask Shonda and Travis either but they'll have to get over it :)

Thanks to my sweet hubby for organizing the get together. I wish more families from the midwest could make it. If you wanna stop in and learn about adoption, or visit with those who are experiencing it first hand, come on over!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Items we brought home from Ethiopia

A miniature coffee ceremony set (I’m sure that’s not the official name).
Coffee cups
Coffee pot
Lots of coffee to give away to friends as “thank you’s”
Traditional outfits for now and later
Bracelets to give the kiddos and their friends
Leather injera holder – cause I make so much injera ya know.
Several “Lion of Judah” items since it’s huge in Et and it’s our son’s name.
Ethiopian flag
Judah of course (I know, I know. He’s not an item, but I thought it was cute to say)
The clothes he was wearing on custody day – we traded for a pair of clothes.
Table top mesob
Traditional Ethiopian crosses
Mancala games
A few traditional toys

Friday, June 18, 2010


I'm slowly adding journal excerpts to my blog. I'm adding them the day they were written. When I have all the journals posted, I will link to them on the side for anyone who wants to read. For now, here's a few pictures from the Ethiopian country side.

[love the differences in soils here]

[steep crop fields]

[the most beautiful rainbow I've ever see]

More Questions

Since I recently posted on questions I’d ask the Holt nannies, it got me thinking about the questions we asked Judah’s birthmom. Having never been through an adoption before, I had no clue what questions to ask or what that might look like. In the months leading up to travel, I started a list of questions that I might ask his birthmom.

Maybe you’re just going through the process of adoption. Maybe you’re considering adoption or maybe you’re just curious what kind of questions get asked. For those who’ve been through the process, please comment with any additional questions I didn’t know/ask. I’ll share the questions I had written down to give you an idea of the questions we put together. If you’re adopting through Holt, they will also give you a list of potential questions to ask. Please know that we didn’t ask all the questions we had written down. In fact, I had to re-create my question list as we drove to Durame because my questions were part of the “packing list” that was left in the states.

Why did you name him Asfaw?
What would you like us to tell him about his brothers?
What would you like us to tell him about his father?
What would you like us to tell him about you?
What skills/special talents does your family have?
Can you tell me about his birth?
Who does he look like?
How did you decide to relinquish him?
Can you tell us about your village?
Can you tell us about his birthmarks/scars?
Write down some family names and history to talk to his mom about
Ask her how you can be praying for her.
Take photo album
Show her pics on the digital camera
What do you want me to tell Asfaw about why he was adopted?
What do you want Asfaw to know about you, his father, his brothers?

We also wanted to bring back something that Judah could see and touch that would relate to his birth mom. I traced her hand with the intent of writing her name or something meaningful inside of it for later on (ie her name or “love” in his original language). I also thought that I could use her traced-hand next to my traced hand with her hand having the wylotinga “love” in it and mine having it in English. As a side note, if you’re going to do this, I would suggest that you show her by example first so she’ll be more likely to hold still. The other thing we did was ask her to dictate a letter to Judah that he can be given later on. This got mixed up in translation a bit so we ended up with a dictated letter to us which is pretty special. She then followed it with a letter to Judah which we don’t have in our hand. It had not been translated and the nurse Tesfaw took it home to translate and bring back the next day. Well the next day his mom was sick and he took her to the hospital so he wasn’t there on our last day to give us the letter back. I do hope that he sends it to Holt in Oregon so they can forward it to us! The last thing we did was take pictures with Judah’s birthmom. Every family did this. After the pictures Ryan turned our camera around and began showing her pictures and video of Judah. Her entire deameanor changed and we asked a friend (thanks Jayme) to take pictures of Judah’s birthmom’s reaction to his pictures and video. Those pictures that Jayme took are pretty special!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Do it Again???

Last night we had company before Ryan was home from work. Since the dinner table is our normal place for conversation, Ryan shared about his day. He’d been on a call and someone (I apologize up front, I don’t remember all the details, just the important ones) asked him if he wanted to adopt a 2 year old. Ryan went on to share that this child is currently staying with an elderly grandparent because the mother apparently tried to sell her child for drug money. How heart wrenching.

Not exactly a topic I want to discuss over supper with Ryan’s folks and his friend. But since caring for children is a soft spot on my heart, I couldn’t let the conversation wait until our guests left.

I asked Ryan if he said yes. He looked at me with surprise and said “do you really want 3 two-year-olds?” Well that’s not ideal, I answered but I certainly don’t want the child being sold for drug money. He thought of our friends who are adopting – maybe they’d be interested in adopting this child. I thought of us, why couldn’t we love this child? Every child needs a loving family. God loved me and sacrificed and was willing to sacrifice for me.

A year ago, I don’t know that I would have entertained the idea of adopting a child in this situation, let alone adopting this child having just returned home from adopting in Ethiopia. Last fall that all changed. A local high school girl found out she was pregnant. Ryan and I discussed if we’d be willing to adopt this unborn child if she approached us about it. God really worked on my heart about how I’d answer that question. I came to believe that I would say yes but that I’d also love to take this young girl in and love on her and teach her to love on her child. How cool would that be? Since then the child has been born and I don’t know the situation but I’m sure the child is loved and care for.

I believe I wrestled with that whole issue, all while pursuing an international adoption, for a reason. Today I can’t stop thinking about what Ryan shared with me last night. Do I ask him to contact the grandparent? Do I wait and see if God is stirring in Ryan’s heart about the same thing? Do I wait and see if the question is posed again?

I’m curious to see what becomes of this ongoing issue about loving children who need loved…

negative thoughts on adoption - not serious

I didn’t know it was possible but I’m finding some negative reasons for adoption:
1. He’s not a baby so he doesn’t sleep/nap lots throughout the day.
2. I’m home on “maternity leave” so I’m eating for two. Problem is that Judah is not a baby and is not breastfeeding so I’m not burning extra calories. Do the math: Extra food + normal calorie burn = weight gain. Yikes. It doesn’t help that I have a back injury and can’t move and burn extra calories.

That’s it. Petty reasons that shouldn’t keep anyone from adopting.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Things I took on the Trip that I loved

  1. Wisp toothbrushes – one use brushes that have toothpaste on them already. They weren’t perfect but were better than nothing.

  2. Two converter adapters – Ryan could use one to hook his ipod up to the tv and I could use one to dry my hair or charge the computer battery

  3. Flashlight thingies since the power was out one night

  4. Crystal light single drink packs

  5. My nalgene water bottle – it never got confused with anyone’s water bottle from the hotel.

  6. Malaria meds cause we had lots of mosquitos in our first hotel room in Durame.

  7. A netbook for journaling, it’s way faster than writing, especially when you’re tired.

  8. My hubby of course!

  9. An extra lightweight blanket that was used for Judah.

  10. Curious George - I think a few of us adults played with him more than the kids :)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Money in Ethiopia

Okay this subject is totally boring unless you’re planning a trip to Ethiopia. But for those who are planning a trip, this is super valuable information.

We took $2000 in US dollars. We changed over $200 USD at the Addis airport. The rest was changed over prior to shopping day. Since the hotel just keeps a running tab of food and drinks, there wasn’t a huge need for cash. We did use cash when we ate out and when we shopped at the grocery store. The day of money exchange, our travel group gathered together the money we wanted exchanged and Tesfaw (the driver hired by Holt) took all the money and had it exchanged. Our group had a little mishap when we realized that people were short ~$500 USD in birr. Since I had gathered the groups money, I was really nervous. Tesfaw took the envelopes with the wrong amounts back outside (we were eating lunch at the time) and got it straightened out. Besides that little mishap, it went great.

We exchanged more than enough money. My theory was to not have to exchange money again. With more than enough, we could pay our hotel bill in birr and if need be exchange money back to USD. We knew that we’d likely lose a little in the exchange rate but we thought it was worth it. Good theory, in theory. The problem that we ran into was the we didn’t have a receipt for the money exchange.

When we got through airport security, we were running short on time. Ryan had $500 USD worth of money to exchange back and headed off to do that. I went through the security to the gate and waited. As Ryan got to the exchange place, he quickly learned that without a receipt he could only exchange $150 USD worth of money on his passport. Being short on time and the fact that I was through the second security check and at the gate meant that we wouldn’t have time for me to go and exchange money with my passport. Tired, and ready to go home, Ryan did what he though best – he headed over to the duty free shop and purchased LOTS of Ethiopian stuff. It was wild. We are thankful for the Ethiopian stuff but would have preferred to exchange our money back.

So for those of you travelling. Take into consideration that you can only exchange $150 USD per passport. Maybe you can talk to Tesfaw (he’s a great guy) and tell him that you need a receipt or ask him about exchanging money a second time if need be. Doing so might remove some of the stress at the start of your trip back home.

Packing for the Trip Home

Two things made my packing for the trip home a good experience. The first was that I brought two full suitcases worth of donations thanks to a few friends. The second was that I made a special trip over to the Leper Hospital (it was a holiday on our shopping day) and bought lots of woven items. The donations meant I had lots of room to bring home Ethiopian things. (Side note: I also packed our suitcases light leaving the United States to allow for more weight coming home). The woven items, along with dirty clothes, were great to wrap and pack the more fragile items. What I wish I would have had more of: bubble wrap! With that said, we brought home lots of fragile items and nothing was broken. I had taken empty yogurt and coolwhip containers for Judah to play with and those assited in the packing on the way home too. The containers gave structure surrounding things. We had enough room that we probably could have packed a smaller suitcase in a bigger one and come home on less luggage.

In our carry-ons, I typically don’t worry about clothes coming home. I figure I’ll get home to a closet full of my less favorite clothes if my luggage gets lots. Well, this time I packed an extra set of clothes just in case. You never know when your child is going to pee through their clothes onto yours as you arrive at the airport (lesson learned last summer). Judah’s clothes were packed in a gallon Ziploc bag. Each bag consisted of a complete change of clothes and a diaper. We had several bags just in case. (A side note here is that we packed the other two kids who stayed in the states that way too. It made it super easy for getting them ready in the morning. They were given their Ziploc bag and knew was to put on in the morning.) Thankfully we didn’t have any explosive diaharrea leak onto clothing, urine that soaked through or puke. The change of clothes did come in handy as we were arriving back into the states. After travelling almost 48 hours, I opted to freshen up and put on a clean pair of clothes so I would at least smell a little better to those sitting next to me on the last flight or those hugging me at the airport.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

What I wish I would Have Asked the Nannies/Staff

- Does he pee standing or sitting on the potty?
- How is he put to bed?
- What is he told for comfort?
- Does he speak mostly Amharic or wolytinga?
- Is he ever told “I love you”?
- What bath/body products are used on him?
- Ask about the schedule… some babies schedules said they get bottles 3 times a night and don’t. Some said they nap whenever tired and didn’t have a schedule for that.
- What do you do to make him laugh?
- What is his favorite thing to eat?

Having been home over a month now, I’m not sure how important each of these questions is. But some of the things might have made that first month easier. I would encourage those in the adoption process to start a list of questions you might ask. If you travel in a group, find out what the other parents are asking. If you think of questions throughout the week of travel, stop back by the care center and ask.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thoughts on birthparent meeting

The birthparent meeting, what an honor to experience! We drove to Durame and stopped to drop off our bags and grab a quick lunch before heading over to the Holt office. Holt Eugene staff informed us that we’d be sitting in the same room with birth parents while we waited our turn to “meet”. Fortunately that was not the case. We sat in a big room waiting for our turn. The birth parents were in another room or outside. Though Ethiopians will typically greet with a hug and kiss, in this instance this shouldn’t be expected. It’s a sad event and therefore not appropriate for the Ethiopians to show any sign joy. They are expected to be sad. Things might also get a little jumbled in translation. For us personally, info was double translated – from English to Amharic to Wylotinga. After our official meeting with a birth parent, we were able to share some photos and videos from our camera. Our birth parent expressed emotion during this time and it was precious! If you have the opportunity to print a recent picture of your child to give to a birth parent, it will be worth it. Take along your camera with pics and video to share with your parent – to show them how well their child is being cared for.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Random Thoughts about travel to Ethiopia and Lessons Learned

  1. No matter what flights and airlines you take, it’s a long trip. We stopped for two days in Amsterdam which made our adjustment to Ethiopia go much easier. The draw back was that it cost us more money and being a tourist in Amsterdam kind of took our focus off the task at hand – bringing Judah home.
  2. Four flights of stairs in high altitude is hard at first but gets easier throughout the week. We were super thankful for the hotel staffers that carried our heavy luggage up the stairs at midnight!
  3. I wouldn’t count on internet at the Union.
  4. If you get carsick, take Dramamine the night before and that morning… it helps.
  5. Hamburgers have a different texture and taste than what we’re used to and I didn’t like it at all.
  6. Settle on taxi fare before you drive!
  7. The fruit at the Hilton was awesome and so was the internet. Both were pricy.
  8. Be prepared to drink lots of strong cofee at the different places you go:

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Trying to get back into the groove of posting blogs is an adjustment in itself. My goal is to post something each day for a week about our trip and/or adoption experience along with an update of how things are going. Here it goes:

I came up with 3 different documents before leaving: the Packing List (which was much more than that), Info for those caring for our children at home, and a letter for our children for each day we were gone.

Let’s just say that I had a lengthy 10-page list that helped keep me sane prior to the trip. It was a compilation of others’ packing lists and my own. It included items that needed to be packed: clothing, toiletries, clothes, electronics, miscellaneious, donations I was taking. The document also included info about flights, about the Union Hotel, places I wanted to shop, items to bring home, places to eat, info about Durame, etc.

This document was super helpful. I was able to check things off as I purchased or gathered them and then cross them off once they were in a suitcase. It also acted as an easy to access list of things I had on hand should someone else need them. Now that I’ve traveled, of course there are things I’d change on the list. The typical packing list was great before going. I had an individual list for each of us traveling. The flight info included flight numbers, airline phone numbers and contacts. This is helpful when/if you’re confirming your return ticket while in Ethiopia. The specifics about the Union Hotel were mostly comments I heard from others. They were helpful comments about the showers, the TV, laundry service, the so-called internet connection, etc. More helpful information that was great to know ahead of time but info I could recall out of my short term memory since I’d typed it out. The rest of the info about Addis was helpful considering tipping, shopping, drivers, etc.

The shopping topic was one of my favorites. Reading others’ blogs, I got ideas of some of the things I wanted to take home with me and where to get them. This was super helpful especially on the day that we hired Tsegaw to drive us.

I wish I’d had more information about the trip to Durame. I didn’t take the opportunity to walk around town at all while there. It was too bad that I spent most of the time waiting for my supper and not in the community at all. What I did find extremely helpful was the topic about the birth parent meeting. There doesn’t seem to be much about birth parent meetings on blogs and understandably so. I’ve learned a lot in the last month and hope to specifically post on this topic. One thing I did was write down a list of questions I had for our birth parent. I also wrote down things I wanted to happen during our meeting. More on that later. It was an emotional visit and I was glad to have some things written down to help facilitate my emotional mind.

Two other bits of helpful information on my list was a rough schedule so I wasn’t completely surprised by the schedule given to us by Holt. The other thing written down was the Ethiopian Holidays – we had 2 while there which affects business and you as a traveler.

The info for people caring for our kids had various info on it. Contact info for care providers and emergency contacts, insurance info, schedules, medical info, directions and more. It seemed helpful for everyone involved.

The third thing I had before I left was a letter for our kids for each day we were gone. With the help of a certain little cartoon monkey, we informed our kids what was going on each day and how they could pray for us. It was a fun way to get them involved even though they didn’t travel with us.

Of course these documents took time to create. But in the end I had my sanity and was happy… even if I forgot to take the list with me to Ethiopia. If anyone is looking for a list, child info our letter ideas, I’d be happy to share mine.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Judah is a doll though he’s not perfect. He’s learning quickly and we’re taking the bad with the good. Today he said “I love you” on the phone to my dad. I’m not sure how clear it came out but he said it. He did well playing at the table with a car tonight while we played two quick hands of Uno with our older two kiddos.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

new computer

I have a wonderful hubby who bought me a new laptop for our anniversary.  Thanks love.  Now you'd think I'd be able to get all caught up on blogging and such but that isn't the case.  I'm currently sitting at the motel parking lot using their wi-fi.  I had to come to town earlier for xrays on my lovely back issue.  Then over to the pharmacy to pick up my muscle relaxer which they wouldn't fill because the pharmacy in DesMoines said they gave me more than they really did.  Gotta love the locals, they called right to DM and had them fix it with insurance so I could get my sanity, I mean, muscle relaxer.  So as that's getting ready to kick in and do it's job (well, sorta kinda), I'm heading back home to rest while mom keeps the kiddos.  Thanks mom.


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Friday, May 21, 2010

Recent Thoughts from an Article

I think it was a book review for "there's no me without you" but it's late and I'm not even sure if that's correct.  So, I'm trying to give credit but I'm likely mis-crediting.  Regardless, here's my thoughts from what I read:
When I read this: "adults are hard-wired to attach to wide-eyed, helpless babies; a fit-throwing non-English-speaking snarling Bulgarian four-year-old does not, at first glimpse, invite adoration..." I couldn't help but agree.  And then a previous thought hit me: what was my reason for adopting?  Was it to adore a child or to love a child?  Was it to feel warm fuzzies or to provide a loving family for a child in need. 
Surely this adoption process continues but certainly the big picture is the same.  Judah is in need of a loving family and a mommy who will pick him up and snuggle him closely even after he says he doesn't have to poop and proceeds to leave a stinky pile on the wood floor. 
Lord, would you help me to constantly remember to act in a loving manner and to extend lots of grace!  May no unedifying words come out of my mouth or thoughts come out of my heart.  As you continue to prune me and mold me as a parent, and your child, would I also remember that its necessary to be pruned to have a fruit harvest.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Quilt Raffle Winner

Thanks to all those who purchased tickets for the quilt raffle. Jeannie Tessmer is the proud winner of the beautiful quilt. I must say I'm a little jealous that it's going to be displayed at her house and not mine :) Congrats Jeanie! Thanks again to mom at for piecing and quilting such a beautiful fundraiser!

Still not posting much

I have plans to write about our trip for those who are interested. I journaled daily and that was cool. When Jen and others wrote about their trips, I found it helpful. But for now, I'm still trying to get in the swing of things.
Judah is beautiful and we love him. But sometimes that love is a choice and not a natural reaction. I'm not gonna lie, it's not easy. Adoption is a wonderful thing but its not simple. The paperwork process was the easy part. Now transitioning to having him in our home and for him having us as his family is the "fun" part. We've rocked his world and we know it. He's acted out and we understand but that still doesn't make it easy.

The biting has decreased. He's going on the potty again a little... if I sit behind him on the toilet. He's still sleeping well at night but getting him to sleep is a chore. And that task wouldn't be such a "task" if he had his own room and Scott could go right to bed. But they share a room and Scott is a good big brother and is trying to help calm Judah. He's eating better and trying some new things. When he dislikes food, he's no longer spitting and throwing but rather putting it on his plate. Boy is he strong-willed! The child can say "please" but wouldn't yesterday. Instead he would just shake his head "no". Well I'm stubborn too and I didn't refill his cup of water and instead let him wait an hour until supper. He did finally say please after his first cup of water at supper.

He's adorable though and we love him. We're thankful that so far his test results have come back negative. He's seemingly healthy. He loves to climb and run and even seems unbothered to walk on the gravel bare-foot (but I choose to pick him up). Yesterday he started venturing out on his own a little more. The cats no longer cause screaming fits. He still screams but he smiles too. He doesn't trust them yet but he's not so much on gaurd either. He loves the trampoline even though he doesn't weigh enough to get any bounce. He also loves the play set and doesn't lean back in the swing which scares me and goes head first down the slide. Yes, he's all boy!

This morning Judah went with Bethany to Grammy's. He's been there before but right now he's there for the first time without me. I hope that's going well. While he's there I'm supposed to be home cleaning. guess I better hop to it. I'll leave you with a few pics:

Monday, May 10, 2010

home and alive

Okay, so we're home and doing well.  I haven't even dug through my inbox totally nor have I viewed the 3,000+ pictures we took while gone.  Judah is adorable and is doing well.  Adjusting is difficult but grace is abundant and sleep is slowly improving.
Yesterday we made it to church for MOther's Day which was awesome.  We had supper with my folks... oh so nice to have American food again.  Today was a morning at the docs office.  Checking out wierd stuff, talking about typical stuff and drawing blood for titers tests for the various vaccinations.  In the process he got 3 suckers, two stickers and several hugs and kisses.  We even made it to the physical therapy dept to see Ms. Jen. 
I have lots to catch up on there, including the 3,000+ pics.  Thanks to our friends from our small group who cleaned our house, took care of a flat tire and various other things.  You guys and ladies ROCK!!!  Looking forward to the meal tonight from some friends of home-made pizza... yipee!

 busy momma of 3,                                
 Tamara L. Buitenwerf 


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Friday, May 7, 2010

About Now

Right about now we should be trying to get through immigration and customs. It won't be long and this little cutie will be home with us:

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Judah should fit right into the Buitenwerf family. In Ethiopia coffee and popcorn are tradition. Seems oddly familiar to a Buitenwerf tradition too, at least the popcorn part.

Today we'll have the farewell ceremony at the hotel. I don't know what to expect yet and can't wait to tell you about it. Our flight leaves out at 10:50pm which hopefully means that Judah gets a good snooze in while we fly. Maybe I can get a good snooze in too.

Please pray for us. We have a long day (estimated ~24 hours) of travel before we arrive back home. Speaking of which, you can pray specifically that we land early in Detroit so we can catch our connection (we have a scheduled 1:20 layover) to Cedar Rapids on Friday.

Scott and Bethany, we miss you bunches. We're sorry that we missed Awana awards last night and look forward to hearing about it tomorrow when we get home!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cinco De Mayo: Farwell Ceremony and Shopping Day

It was so nice to have a slow, relaxed morning. We had a light breakfast before we headed over to the care center for our farewell ceremony. Lots of us wondered why the farewell ceremony was so early. We learned from Tsegaw that the ceremony is held earlier so that we have time to shop. So, the ceremony was wonderful. Sister Martha spoke briefly about the need for adopting orphans. It was really touching. And super special that the administrative staff that would usually be off for the national holiday came into work to take part in the ceremony. Sister Martha then asked someone to pray for the families as well as the nannies and Holt staff. No volunteers. Since no one else piped up, Ryan volunteered. As he stood up to pray, he was also asked to give a speech. Nice. Ryan off the cuff, gave a very heartfelt speech about being adopted into God’s kingdom before he prayed. It was awesome and I’m thankful that Ryan stood up there and gave God the credit for everything about our adoptions. As in a traditional coffee ceremony, we were served coffee and popcorn. In addition to that, we were served cake. Prior to the cake being served, each child was given the chance to cut the cake and have their picture taken. It was pretty cool to see all the families participate with their little ones in traditional Ethiopian clothing. During the ceremony (at least until the cake and soda was ingested), the crowd of children sitting to the side behaved extremely well. They were adorable and precious and it was fun to recognize some familiar faces. When the ceremony was over, we changed our kiddos back into their clothes and left them there for naps and lunch while we headed out for a bit.

“A bit” ended up being much longer and shorter all at the same time. We stopped at a tiny shop before heading to the market. I bought a lot thinking I’d get it now and be done worrying about it. Then we stopped at a strip mall sort of place which was a bit bigger and had more stuff but another place that wasn’t cheap. Seriously, they don’t put prices so they can rip off the Americans do they? After that we stopped for lunch. I was thinking a quick grab and go kind of place. I don’t think such a place exists in Ethiopia. Several hours later and after being served the wrong meal, we still didn’t all have food. I ordered a simple ham and cheese sandwich off the menu. I was served a cheeseburger. I can kind of understand the mistake because ham and cheese can be similar to cheeseburger but I wasn’t falling for it. So of course I argued with the guy a bit about it. He tried to pull one over on me and finally said they were out of ham so a hamburger would work. My ugly American filter was full so the ugliness began to overflow. I informed the waiter that I didn’t order the cheeseburger and would not be eating it. I sent it back to the kitchen and asked for a menu. I ordered oriental rice with chicken. Some time later a chicken stir fry dish came out and I ended up just taking it. It was pretty good, but that might be partly due to the fact that it was 3pm and I was feeling a famished. We stopped at a few more specific shops for others requests and headed back towards the hotel. I was quite disappointed when we got near the hotel and realized our shopping trip was over. At the same time, I was sad that we, in my mind, wasted so much time eating lunch away from our children and didn’t get to buy all the things we’d hoped to buy. It was great picking up our son again! Multiple times in the last few days, I’ve had this overwhelming feeling of wanting to take Judah (who now responds to Judah) home to meet his brother and sister.

We spent our evening in the hotel chatting with the other families. As we left the room, I grabbed up my smiley son and had suddenly had poop all over my hand and forearm. Judah went straight to the bath. We went downstairs for supper where we waited for a long time to get our food. I don’t even want to explain the wait other than to say that it was annoying. While downstairs I noticed that Travis had poop in the seat of his pants. He’d been sitting on the floor holding Judah and reading him books when the poop explosion happened. By time we noticed Judah’s poop, Travis was gone. I giggled and informed Travis of his decorated shorts. Grossed out, Travis immediately headed upstairs to change. What fun!

Judah has been an amazing child. He’s happy generally and loves to give kisses. The care center has him very scheduled and although they didn’t tell us about his ring worm until today (and we have kissed all over his cheeks), his schedule is great. We’ve tried to stick to it for the most part. He LOVES liquids and is excellent about going to the toilet. Each time I say “bathroom” in Amharic, he goes to the bathroom. And while in our care, he’s not had a wet diaper and has done excellent with peeing on the potty. Yay for Judah!!! I’m so excited about this. He’s a ball of fun, that is until you take away his toy. Today he had his boats and car in his hands. I took his car and put it on the table since it doesn’t go in the tub. He proceeded to cry and throw a big fit. He took his stack of boats and took them apart and individually threw each of them to the floor. Naughty boy. No winning this one buddy. I took him to the bathroom and tried to calm him down. That didn’t really happen and as I put him in the tub, it only got worse. I had to sit on the side of the tub and put my legs across the tub to keep him in the tub. Snot flying, arms flailing and loud screaming was part of the fit as I now had a wet and screaming child who was trying to climb out of the tub. Not fun. We got Judah bathed, snot cleaned and dried off. Once he had his toy in hand, he was happy again. Other than that today, he has been wonderful and a pure joy.

Cinco de Mayo

We are celebrating this day a little different than I did growing up. According to the schedule, Judah would have stayed with us in the hotel last night. Today we will have the opportunity to do a little shopping. Holt is very conservative and does not allow us to go out in public with our son. If we choose to go on the shopping trip today, we will have to take Judah back to the care center. I'm sure the nannies will be thrilled to see him but he might be confused if we drop him off. Pray for us today that Judah will know that we are his parents and have every intention of him hanging out there for just a few hours while we buy some things to bring home for him.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Gotcha Day, Embassy Day

What a great morning. We started at 830am when we walked over to the care center and picked up our kids. We’d become accustomed to taking them to the play room and hanging out. Holt’s only directions were to pick up kids. So we stuck around a few minutes, chatted with the nurses, met Sister Martha, and eventually left with our precious children. We chose to bring Asfaw home in the clothes he was wearing so that he would have something to call his own. We brought him back to the hotel and he was finally ours!!! Before we even made it up to our hotel room, Asfaw-Judah had pooped through his diaper and all 3 layers of clothes. This is going to be fun. Poor kiddo.

Ryan stayed with Asfaw for naptime while I ran to the grocery store to buy him some diapers that actually fit (Holt said he was 35 lbs, he’s more like 25) and stopped at the bead shop which is just across the bridge/highway. We had an early lunch, dressed him in a button up shirt and headed to the embassy. We were there for about 3 hours total unlike some other families who had morning appointments that had still not be attended to. Our little Asfaw-Judah did great. He’s such a ham! We were called individually to head upstairs to our appointment. It was similar to walking up to a bank teller with a glass divider. The nice lady asked us a few questions related to Asfaw’s history, asked us to sign some paperwork, handed us his new birth certificate and sent us on our merry way. It was interesting driving down the street with a child in my lap in the front seat of Tsegaw’s van. I loved it… well all of it except the smog.

We got back to the hotel and played upstairs a few minutes with our giggly son before taking him downstairs for supper. I don’t think he ate much but he downed about 20 ounces of peach tea. He’s a drinker and he loves his liquids. Since the power was off and it was overcast, it made for an early night. Judah, when put in his crib, cried for about 5 minutes then sat up and watched us for another few minutes before he lay down and went right to sleep. Hallelujah and thank you Lord for his transition so far!

Monday, May 3, 2010

So glad

We're so thankful to have the experience to get outside the city and see a little more of Ethiopia. I look forward to writing specifically about our trip to Durame and what we saw, the people we met, etc.

On our way back today, we should have time to stop at the Leper Hospital and maybe a few other places. I'm looking forward to that.

For now, I'm eager to get back to the hotel. I'm praying the electricity will be on so I can maybe have a warm shower before we hit the sack. We will see you tomorrow little Judah!

Scott and Bethany, we're sure you're having fun. We hope and pray that you are behaving well for everyone. By now you will have spent a night with Grammy & Papa, a few nights with the Fuentes' and a weekend with Grandma & Grandpa. We hope you're not getting too spoiled :) We love you bunches and can't wait to snuggle you again!