Our family has grown - Our daughter has joined us from Ethiopia and we want to share our journey with friends and family.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My little girly girl!!!

We have been having lots of fun with our dress up box!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Home at Last!!!!!!!

Wow, what a ride!  I can't believe this is my "we are home" post.  It's been a wild, stressful, exhausting, exciting and joyful year.  Exactly one year to the day from our placement on the waiting list, I was together forever with my daughter!

Now, my mother always told me that everything happens for a reason and that good things don't come easy.  We've had lots of proof of both of these in the last few weeks.  My time with Scott and Semeret in Addis was amazing and also harrowing and heart wrenching.  I arrived on Monday evening late...Semeret was already asleep.  I enjoyed a wonderful couple of hours with my amazing hubby.  It was so good to finally get my arms around him again.  I had begun to wonder if he only existed in my imagination!

In the morning, I awoke to Semeret and Daddy snuggling in bed and giggling...she was a little hesitant at first to let me into their play, but that got better every day.

I wore her most everywhere we went for two weeks in my Boba (thank you Tina!!!).  She enjoyed being carried and I felt good that she was ok with getting so close to me so quickly.  We were out and about every day - Semeret had her medicine appt every morning at 10 am.  We usually took the mini bus from in front of the guest house, over to Bole Bridge, then switched to a Mexico bus to get to IOM where she would get her pills.  Then we would sometimes walk home.  We might stop at the market for milk or juice on the way.  99% of the Ethiopian people we would see were very kind and accepting.  Very rarely someone would either give us a look or say something that I didn't understand but that Semeret obviously did as she would get solemn and quiet, but that was the exception.  

We also visited the Leper's market with our dear friend Ishmael.  I had read about it and really wanted to go. The hospital provides training and sells the goods created by those affected by leprosy.  We met a man who'd lost most of both hands to leprosy and he was a master at weaving these cool doormats.  Another man was weaving bags made from strips of plastic milk labels.  I bought several things at the market including a hat for Semeret, shirts for the boys and a nice little something for my Mom...can't say what cuz she reads this and I haven't sent it to her yet ;-)

On the technical side, our journey was no less ridiculous while I was in Addis than it was before.  The CDC was less than helpful in getting our waiver approval until we involved our Colorado Senators (Thank you Sen. Udall and Sen. Bennett!!!!)  The doctors at IOM refused to see us.  The Embassy told us there was nothing more they could do...

Near the end of our trip, we had one night where I was losing it because we were having to think about how I would leave to come home again without them.  It was awful.  Reading this, it doesn't sound so bad, but I think it's the huge relief and joy of being home that is blocking out all the details that aren't included here.

Anyway, good won out on Thursday afternoon when we learned that USCIS finally sent our approval to the Embassy and we'd have everything we needed by 10am Friday.  We practically ran to the Lufthansa office on Friday morning to change our tickets to come home IMMEDIATELY.  Luckily there were seats on Friday's flight and we were home by Saturday evening around 6pm.  Thank you to Corey & Pat for bringing our car to the airport.

The drama continued when the boys' flight from LA on Sunday was cancelled and United couldn't rebook them until Monday.  Then, they cancelled the flight Monday too!!  Such a mess.  They were so desperate to get home, see their Dad, be with their sister...I finally bought two one way tickets on Frontier and they were home for dinner Monday night!

Everyone is settling in nicely.  We are happy to be all together under one roof and are looking forward to the road ahead...

Here's a peek at us at the airport, 27 hrs into our journey home!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Here I go!!!

I can't believe I just got home from my last official day at work.  My "bonding" leave starts NOW!  My trip to reunite with Scott and Semeret begins in 48 hours!!

Here's how things are (hopefully) going to work -
On Saturday the boys and I fly to LA.  My dad will pick us up and we'll head to my parents house.  This is where the boys will stay until Scott, Semeret and I get back.  Then on Sunday, Dad will drive me back to the airport where I'll catch my flight to Frankfurt and then on to Addis!

I arrive in Addis, barring any delays, on Monday evening.  The guest house driver will pick me up since it will be after Semeret's bedtime.  After much thought, we decided to let her follow her normal schedule and prepare her that Mommy will be there when she wakes up on Tuesday morning.

I am giddy with excitement to see both of them.  I am (selfishly maybe) glad that Scott and I will have a few hours to spend alone before Semeret is up in the morning.  It should be good for her too since I'll have had Daddy to myself for a bit and won't be hogging him in the morning.  I'm prepared for a little bit of adjustment having to take place since she'll have to share him for the first time.

We may go out of Addis for a few days to get some peace and quiet as a family of 3 before coming home to full time family of 5...it all depends on how the Medical Clearance looks when I arrive.  If it will still be a few days, I think we will go.  Even for just a couple of nights.  I'll share more if we do - it's not too far from Addis and is right on a lake.

Well, I have a Gazillion things to do so I'm going to leave you with this lovely photo from the world-wide Williams/Healey pizza party this week (Everyone had pizza the same night even though we were not all together!!)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I am SOOO ready...

Things seem to be moving along quite well right now.  Since we passed court, Scott has been very active in developing relationships with both the doctors at IOM and the folks at the US Embassy.  As a matter of fact, our file was submitted to the Embassy yesterday!  This is a big step.  They are now reviewing it to see if there is anything wrong/missing or that requires further investigation.  This is all normal.  While they are doing that, we are awaiting the final medical report that will determine whether we need to submit the special clearance request that we have all filled out and ready to go.  We received great news that Semret's last TB culture came back negative.  This means there is a strong possibility that the doctors will classify her as Class B TB, which DOES NOT require any special clearance!!!  Please keep us in your thoughts as we await the report.  This will not only save us another $600-700 but also means that if the Embassy is good with our file, I could be on my way to bring my family back together soon!  Hooray!

My dear sweet loving and amazing husband is so ready to come home.  He has been my hero for so many reasons over the last 20 years, but this last few months is the pinnacle of his super hero-ness!  Semret has been living with him now for almost 2 weeks.  That means he is in a country where he doesn't speak the language, living isolated in an apartment, and caring 24X7 for our baby girl.  I think he deserves to come home and soon.  The boys are talking like crazy about how great it will be when dad is back.  They want to hang out with him, listen to music with him, play catch with him...just BE with him.  I think they appreciate him more than ever and I hope that will be something they remember for the rest of their lives.

As for me, I'm working like crazy on my transition plan at work.  Not only am I going on leave, but I accepted a new position at my company (a sort-of promotion) so I'm learning and leaving all at the same time - woo hoo!  I'm also trying to get my house in order - cleaning up the 7 weeks of clutter, packing for my trip, starting to pack for the boys' trip out to LA to visit Grammy & Grampa while I'm gone - lots to do, lots to do!

Here's a peek at our little princess in their apartment in Addis - Scott took her to the salon to get her hair done!  And yes, those are stickers all over her!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

What was court like?

This is a question I've gotten quite a few times since I've been back from our trip to Ethiopia.  I thought it might be helpful for others who follow my intermittent blogging to have at least one perspective of what that day is like.

On December 23, we woke early and had another wonderful breakfast at our Guest House.  Tsebaye's mom makes great buna, eggs, injera and some other oatmeal-type thing that I never got the name for.  After breakfast, we gathered with the other families we were traveling with and waited in the courtyard for our van to come pick us up.  I wore a dress I'd bought for Derek & Karen's wedding in Jamaica - it had a happy aura!  I also wore a beautiful scarf that my dear friend Tina let me borrow.  We all wanted to be sure that we were dressed in a way that would show our respect for the traditions of our children's heritage.  Everyone looked bright and shiny!

Once the van arrived, the drive to the court building felt like it took forever.  I think it was 30 minutes.  We spent another 15-20 minutes standing on the sidewalk waiting for something, though I'm still not sure what.  There is a lot of putting your trust/faith in others required on this journey :-).  Then we headed into the building...and that's where it hit me.

The second my foot set down inside the courthouse, the emotions that must have been building inside of me the entire week just rushed to the surface. I couldn't breathe, the tears just came.  It only lasted a few seconds, but the enormity of what we were about to do...what Semret's aunt was about to do if she had made it...it was all so overwhelming.  Scott was amazing and helped me get centered enough to climb the three floors to the waiting area for the judge's chambers.

At first we lined the hallway...there were so many people there all the seats in the waiting room were full.  This is when we started to look around and wonder if Semret's aunt had made it.  We knew that it was a very real possibility that she wouldn't.  Gambella is a 3-4 day journey away from Addis.  It is not easy for these families to make the trip - financially or emotionally.  I was braced for the disappointment that she wouldn't be there and we would miss the opportunity to meet her.

After about 20 minutes, we were able to file into the waiting room and find a seat.  As I walked in, I couldn't look around.  It seemed like the energy in the room was so conflicted - pain and heartache mixed with anticipation and joy. Then Scott told me to look across the room.  I did.  On the chair at the end of our row sat a beautiful, young (very young) woman with Semret's eyes...I knew it had to be her.  It had to be Semret's aunt.  This was confirmed when the judge's clerk called her into chambers along with the birth mother of  a little boy whose family we'd gotten to know so well over the last few days.  Then, so quickly, they came out and our names were called...we went into the chambers with the parents of little E.  This was unexpected, to go in with another family but given the number of people waiting outside, I guess it was the only way to get everything done.

We sat in chairs across and next to the judge's desk.  She was a lovely young woman with a soft voice.  In a matter of 2-3 minutes she asked us just a few questions -
Judge: Do you have other children?
Us: Yes
Judge: Have you discussed the adoption with them?
Us: Yes
Judge: Do you understand that this adoption is permanent and cannot be undone?
Us: Yes
Judge: Congratulations
Us:
Well at that point, there were no words.  My dear friend and I burst into tears...I still don't know why other than they just needed to come out.  The dad's shook hands, and I think there was a man hug there too.  We filed out into the waiting room and then into the hall (my tears felt inappropriate for that room).  After a minute or two I was able to get control and stop crying.  They were definitely tears of sadness for how Semret had arrived at this place in her life, for her aunt for the most difficult task she'd had to do in the two years she'd been caring for her, and also joy knowing that we would be here for Semret for the rest of her life - loving and supporting her.

The rest of the day was equally emotional, but that will have to wait for another post...here's another photo from our amazing trip.