Monday, December 31, 2007
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Today I took my 12 year old to visit our nearest Ethiopian Church while David stayed home with our sick 10 year old. It was indeed a different experience. Two weeks ago I was dropping off mail at the Post Office and noticed the guy who served me had an accent that I knew was from Africa. I asked him where he was from and he joked for a while and said he was from here. He finally told me that he was from Ethiopia and my mouth dropped. Never have I met anyone from Ethiopia before. Never! And now I meet one in my home town. He was so kind to me. He said I should visit his church where his brother was the pastor and it was the same church that I've been looking at on line for a few weeks now. I had decided that the girls need an Ethiopian Church Home as well as our regular church. What a sweetheart he was and I was surprised at how grateful he was when I told him we were adopting 2 girls from his homeland.
So we pull up and my son asks if we will be the only white people there. I say maybe, but there may be some other "Caucasians" there too. We were the only white-folk there so that was a change for us. I told Brandon to imagine what the minority feels when they are in a crowd with a bunch of white people. Regardless of the numbers, I felt totally comfortable and happy to be there. Cause we're all praising the same God. And although the entire service was in Amharic, I knew what they were saying. They also had a translator through my headphones, so that helped. As we sat down, the Senior Pastor came directly to us without skipping a beat and introduced himself. He asked what brought us to his church and before I finished the sentence, he shook my hand and told us what a blessing we are to those 2 girls. What I am learning is to not be afraid of what I think the Ethiopian people are going to think about us adopting one of their own. I've been a little nervous about what they would think, but I am so grateful about how they really feel. I have been ignorant about the culture and thinking it was going to be similar to African American culture.......it is so NOT. They share the same skin color and Africa, but the 2 cultures are extremely different. They are probably reading this right now and thinking, you've got to be kidding me. I'm just being very honest here and not acting like I knew everything about all this. But you just don't ever think of these things until they are up front and center in your life. I mean, there were about 500 people at this service and me being the only white gal there, and I was wondering where they all came from if I'd never met an Ethiopian before 2 weeks ago. Sometimes we just need to open our eyes a little more.
Pastor sat me where his brother, Mesfin, sits and said with a sparkle in his eye, that it was his brother who brought him to the Lord. We both laughed and agreed that God is funny that way. When Mesfin arrived, he seemed happy that we were there and helped me to understand what was going on. We sent Brandon to his Youth Service that was in English. Most things about the service were different for me, the music, the language, the beauty of the people, the warmth I felt...you just don't find that in other churches. It is their culture.
New people in the service were asked to stand and introduce themselves if they'd like. They say their name and what brought them here today. So when I introduced myself and said I am here because my new friend invited me when he heard I was adopting 2 Ethiopian girls, I wish you could have seen their faces as they all turned to look at me as I said it. The smiles and the look they gave was full of warmth and acceptance. You had to have been there, but it was just another example of how much they truly are happy about us adopting one of their own. I felt humbled and unworthy at the same time. The Pastor said, "Well, as you look around, you can see how your girls will grow up to be beautiful people who love God". I felt the love in that room. It was just really a wonderful experience to add to this unbelievable journey we are on.
Brandon's time with the Youth Group was to my surprise really great. He made several friends and even exchanged phone numbers. That didn't even happen at our church. Brandon had such a good time that he said he wanted to go back.
After the service we met a few people and they said they would introduce us to injera. Said it was a must. Of course this is their daily staple of flat bread that looks like a very thin pancake.
Thank you Pastor Endeshaw and Mesfin...what blessings you are to the church and us.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Friday, December 28, 2007
As I read this, I picture a child in my mind, any child, and wonder how this could be happening. Imagine YOUR 2 year old walking a mile or so carrying jugs of water to and from daily. What would that do to their growing bones? To their childhood, what childhood? Imagine your little girl in the 6th grade giving birth and watching her die in front of you cause her little body is too immature to push a baby through. This is as common as your little 2 year old falling down every day. This is not just in a tiny part of Africa or part of Ethiopia. It is prevalent and it is hard to swallow.
This.....is why Ethiopia. Just one of our reasons. But a good one.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
My friend and mentor, Rhonda Anderson, who is the co-founder of Creative Memories teaches about these Sign Posts. She is a woman who I admire greatly, she is just so "real". She has an incredible story of her 2 adoptions from India that are just heart wrenching...her adopted girls are about 19 and 20 now and are doing wonderful things with their life. She wants us to Tell Our Stories Through Our Pictures so that our children's children can tell their story. If you think about it, they won't have too much of a "story" if they don't have "our" story too. She points out that it is a love story to our children and as we write to them in these photo albums, we are leaving a legacy of love and of who they are...as it is told by the only one who could truly tell it. She taught me what these Sign Posts mean. Rhonda writes...
I love what Allan Wright says, “You will never fully harness the power of your miraculous moments until you communicate them with someone else.”
This is why I like to write. This is why I share our journey with whomever would like to know about it. I've always had this part of Nelson Mandela's speech in my head about playing it small in your life. We moved to Colorado so that we could get out of our comfort zone. Shake it up a bit. Play life bigger than we were....
Nelson Mandela writes...
"Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to manifest the glory of God within us. It is not just in some; it is in everyone. And, as we let our own light shine, we consciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others."--Nelson Mandela, 1994 South African Presidential Inaugural Speech
The picture above is the first picture I took while my husband and I were in Botswana, Africa. We went there on a mission trip with 84 other people from our last church when we lived in California. This was Faith Community Church in West Covina, CA. I remember walking towards this gorgeous little boy and not wanting to take this picture at all. I didn't want him or anyone for that matter to question why we were there, which was to offer each home we came upon a vegetable garden. I wanted memories of what we were doing, but didn't want to intrude on their personal lives. This trip was part of the "Never Ending Garden" project put together by Bruce Wilkinson who has a heart for Africa. His project was called "Dream For Africa". These gardens were designed to do several things. First to offer a never-ending vegetable that if taken care of, would allow you to pick the leaves off of the outside and keep growing. Second, to offer them a way to earn money by selling some of the food. And lastly, to offer them a way to maintain dignity by having their own way of providing for themselves. As we worked our fingers to the bone with picks, shovels and seedlings, we felt like we weren't just there preaching the gospel, but rather showing how the gospel works, by being "actively working" out God's word. We would also pray with them if they allowed us to...and they all did.
But, back to why this is a Sign Post. There were hundreds of moments where my heart was so heavy and full, that tears would sometimes well up in my eyes for no apparent reason other than I felt like I was walking in God's light. Truly I did. Whether you believe in God or not, it was hard not to wonder what God was really doing with us. I knew right then that I would not return home the same. I know for sure, that if I could have brought a child or two home that day, I would have. But that is not how it works. I knew that this was a Sign Post because I told myself that, should I return home and nothing had changed in my heart or my life, then I was there for naught...without result or fruition...useless...waste of time and peoples donations. When the children would see us, they'd run to us and just cling. The adults let us tell them about God and how we as Sisters and Brothers were here to show them that we are thinking of them and loved them. From sun up to sun down, we dug in the ground, we walked and knocked on doors, we dodged drunk men who were angry with "us white folk" and asked us to leave. We shared our sack lunches with those we met. We gave up our shoes at the last house as we got back on our bus. We hugged, we loved on and we wept with many of these AIDS stricken people. We were set up in teams and would meet each night to see who planted the most gardens that day. By the end of the 10th day, we had planted over 6,400 vegetable gardens in one of the poorest countries in the WORLD. We were tired, but we were proud. In particular because we knew that we were touching lives. They were so welcoming and grateful that we felt like we were simply God's little hands doing what He had asked of us.
I have many, MANY Sign Posts that I know about in my life that have absolutely led me to where I am today. Some too personal to share on a blog, but most were purposeful. This African trip was important to me because it is leading me and my husband to our 2 little girls who are there now...waiting for their "forever family".
Monday, December 24, 2007
It is the moment we've been waiting for...telling the boys. The night before we told the boys, David and I went to Flemings Steak House for dinner to celebrate the decision to adopt. When we have milestones in our life, we celebrate them at really great steak houses. In California, it was Lawry's. Here it is Flemings. So it was a Friday night and we gathered the boys in the rec room where David had the video camera set up. The boys recognized the fact that the video camera was up and knew already that there was some big news. We barely got a few words out and Evan screamed, "We're going to adopt!!?" We asked how he knew and he said Brandon saw me on some websites and put 2 and 2 together. Brandon (12) stood silent, in awe. Evan (10) was hyperventilating. Brandon had this look about him that was absolutely gorgeous. Evan then had tears streaming down his cute cheeks, speechless. This was a way better reaction than we had anticipated. This was wonderful. Their opinion mattered...so this was good.
We asked the boys how they felt about having 2 more siblings in the house. We asked them how they will feel about 2 girls. We asked them how they would stand up for them in time of need. We needed to know that this was not just a novel idea for them. This was real and permanent. By any stretch, the boys were unbelievably accepting of their 2 new sisters and they just couldn't be more thrilled. Seriously, they could not be more thrilled. The most gorgeous thing then happened and I would never have thought that he would feel this mature...but Brandon (12) after catching his breath, said he needed to take a walk. We asked him why...is there some concern? Are you nervous? He said, "No, this is just so big. I want to walk and think about it". He then took his brother and they walked together and talked. Wow! Just never saw that coming. I know my boys have big hearts, but this was really an unexpected, mature thing. They really stepped up to the plate. What sweethearts they are...ohhh! Just too much to take. Now I've got to take a walk...
Telling our family and friends was so thrilling and scary at the same time. This meant that it was actually going to happen. When I get nervous or doubtful, all I have to do is know that my God is a great God and He would not leave us alone.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
When my cell phone rings and it says IAN (my adoption agency) I get excited 'cause you just want news that you are moving forward. Our FBI fingerprints have come back, which is sooner than expected. I love that. When I was on the phone with her, I was in Whole Foods Grocery Store and my 10 & 12 year old sons were running, fast, through the check out area. And this was after I told them 3 times not to. My imagination got the best of me and I thought, "Hey, now that the files say that we have clean records, I could have my way with the boys and it won't show up with the FBI". My plan was soon thwarted by my credit card not going through the first time and dragged me back to reality. My plan B was that they had to "write a page" of what they did and how next time they'd listen....blah, blah, blah is really all they heard. But they did have to write that page when we got home.
I was also told that the agency owner was going to Ethiopia in the beginning of January and may have a referral for us by the end of January. As you know we have requested 2 girls the ages around 2 to 4 and preferably sisters, but relatives or 2 girls from an orphanage that are close to each other is fine. The idea here is "familiarity" with each other. I dream about the girls almost nightly. I think about them all day long and integrate them into my day as if they were here. I think of how things will change and trying to get mentally prepared for this. My husband is my rock. He reassures me when I question things and he is just always there for me. My Rock! These girls will surely bless us, but I have to say that having a Daddy like my husband is such a blessing to them too. I can't wait to see him with girls. He already coos at all of the little girls when we're out and about. He looks at them all the time as they walk in to church with their "Sunday best" on. My man, my rock!
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
So I thought I'd post some random stuff. At the very end, there is a video that is very moving. Just be patient as it loads, but do see it.
First of all, if I knew how to post these pics in the order that i want, I'd do it, but once you select them, they come up in that order. So bear with me as I figure this out later....
Zoey, again. My friend Shelly's cat. She is big and she is lazy. And she goes perfect with that black and white floor, don't you think? Shelly, I hope you don't mind that I posted these here.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
My girlfriends and I met there for some R & R this Summer. This beach house is the one they used in the movie called "Beaches" with Bette Midler & Barbara Hershey in 1988.
The cove was incredible and timeless, and sadly was going to be replaced with commercial property. However the property was relinquished back to the county and now they are restoring all of the beach houses and renting them out.
It's a happy Saturday...here in Colorado. I'm wondering, however, if I'm the only one reading this adoption journal. I know I have a few friends checking on occasion, but like me looking at other blogs for support and information, I'm wondering if I have any other lurkers? Anyone out there?
It's a wonderfully sunny day, I've just finished up my coffee and I'm sitting in the living room with the Christmas tree lights on, the cat sitting underneath the tree, which is her very favorite place, the fireplace is going, the stockings are hung with great care, including the cats and it is all white outside from a couple days of snow. Coming from living in sunny Southern California all my life, it is such a new site for our eyes. It's like eye-candy for me, personally. Stunning to see so much white everywhere. And the actual 4 Seasons showing up are absolutely gorgeous. We didn't have 4 Seasons in L.A.. You had one big fat season of lots of great weather, rain, hot days...but to now have Seasons, we really look forward to them. It's growing on us and the boys love it when it snows. And in the Spring and Summer, we love hopping on our motorcycles and taking rides thru the Rockies. I love when you have to stop in the middle of the road to wait for an elk or deer to pass. I'm surprised at how much all 4 of us are enjoying it though.
I often think of the girls coming next year and the change of climate for them. From Africa to snow...what a transition! I can't wait to show them their first snowfall. What will they think is falling from the sky? Will they be afraid? With Ethiopia having that debilitating drought in 2003, does it rain much there? I'd have to look that up. Imagine their astonishment when we take them to see their first movie at a stadium theater. New movie from Disney coming out in 2009 where the main character is a black princess from the twenties. The Frog Princess. How fun will it be to take them to that movie on a big screen.
I've been reading a womans blog about her picking up her 2 sibling orphans and while still in an Addis Ababa hotel, they gave the children a bath and I don't think they came out for 3 days. They thought the warm water was spectacular. She wrote that they kept asking in their language, Amharic, to take a bath again, and again... I can only imagine all of the firsts our 2 girls will experience. I can only imagine.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Our family has a family mission statement and each of our boys has a creed that we made up years ago. Experts say that having a statement that you repeat which is positive and empowering really does something in the brain and certainly for the soul.
A creed is a statement of one’s beliefs. When memorized and repeated on a regular basis, it strengthens these beliefs. By repeating this creed, a child begins to understand who they are and what is important to them.
Our children's creed goes like this…
"My name is Evan (full name) and I love God and all His creations. Therefore, I am compassionate and truly care about the feelings of others. I begin every day with thanksgiving in my heart and a clear decision to do what is right. I walk my path encouraging others with truth, love and understanding.”
When they mess up in their day or in their decisions, we have them repeat that part of the creed and question whether or not they were true to themselves. It's very powerful!
Sunday, December 9, 2007
In the meantime, I'm still processing other paperwork. Two steps closer out of a hundred, is better than nothing.
Saturday, December 8, 2007
Let me tell you, and you with girls already know this, but girls are soOO different. She woke up and the first thing she said was, "Pretty! Your toe...pretty". Which was the response to my decoration painted on my toe nails from my pedicure.
Then...She saw my new necklace that I bought from another Mom who is adopting (see link on my site for African necklace) and she looked at it adoringly and touched it and said, "Pretty necklace. Pretty. I like it". Okay, my boys notice things sometimes, but girls notice everything all the time. Am I wrong here? When it was time for her to get dressed in the morning, the green outfit was for church on Sunday, and the other casual stuff was for around the house. Oh, she was going to wear the green ensemble...there was no two ways about it. I've been dressing my boys for years with no problem or complaints. Period. I have a feeling I'll be in for a bit of a shock with 2 girls. The clothes, the hair (the black hair!) the accessories, the clothes changes. It'll be interesting. While Evan played with the 7 year old boy the whole time, Brandon was amazing with the 2 year old. He was so mature and so good about her ups and downs and itty bitty demands;) And then as I cooked, she actually hung out with me on the kitchen island and engaged in conversation with me for more than 5 minutes. Boys just don't do that regularly. So...I enjoyed having her here and seeing what it was like to have that age running around our house (I know what to put away now) and how different girls can be. David is going to be such an amazing father to 2 little girls. I can't wait to see him with them. It's going to break my heart to see him with 2 girls. They will melt his!
Brandon is always coming up with ways to do things easier. I needed him to cut onions, so he ran upstairs to get his goggles to keep his eyes from tearing up. I was laughing so much, he is so funny. He gets so passionate about things.
He's been getting into clay sculpting lately and has an A in Art class. He's a really good artist too. Likes to draw motorcycles, faces, his cat and stuff that I have to tear up. That's my boy. In fact his teacher said at one of our meetings after I asked what is going on in class...he handed me his binder and said, "This is what he is doing in class...". And it was pictures of these wretched images and faces. Breathe Lisa, breathe!
So I just wanted to post that Brandon passed his Africa test with flying colors. 100% and again received a class clap for his results. Well done Brandon. We still have lots to work on if he's shooting for a B average, so this is still a challenging time. But one step at a time...we are very happy about today.
Today was nice as it snowed all day. I guess by the morning we will have received about 3 or 4 inches. We have 2 kids here that we are watching, and a couple of stomach aches, me with an ongoing mini-migraine, and the boys arms really super sore because they each got 2 shots yesterday from our physical. I didn't know they still got shots at this age. But with Christmas music going, kids playing in the house and the snow...it sure feels like Christmas time.
Friday, December 7, 2007
Gaborone is certainly not your typical African capital. By aggregating in Botswana – where 60% of De Beers’ production emanated – time would be saved, the ‘pipeline’ shortened and duplication avoided.So I find it difficult to put the 2 together...Deathly poverty and Priceless Diamonds. Right next to each other. Gaborone is where we stayed for 10 days when we were there. And it was a short bus ride to unbelievable poverty, witchery, prostitution, drunkenness at 9:00am, several families living in one 10x10 room made out of stone or clay, a walk down the street where they could pump water, a hole in the ground covered by a rock was their "bathroom". When Monica and I were digging up the ground behind one of these homes, it smelled so bad, but what we were so afraid of was digging up something else. We would sometimes just sing out loud a song that would keep us going and not falling apart. Monica went home with both of her hands blistered open. She was the hardest working person there I'd say. So throw AIDS into the picture and no medical help or medicine and you have desperation. The men seemed to never have been in the picture, it was always women we would ask if they wanted us to plant a garden for them. So if the woman knows her days are numbered and she had the courage to give up her child, she does it without looking back. She offers her child to the orphanage "In the name of God" I read recently. This gives them peace and hope for a better life at least for their child.
Moreover, De Beers was constructing a building to sort 50-million carats of Botswana production a year – more than the Botswana Diamond Valuing Company’s current 33-million-carat capacity – on the assumption that another major mine would be discovered in the future.
State-of-the-art equipment and cutting-edge international technology was being applied to the Botswana project, which would support the many new diamond factories that would in time cut and polish more than $550-million worth of diamonds a year.
When the girls come, they will most likely speak their native language, Amharic. Although there are 80 dialects in Ethiopia alone, Amharic is the primary language. That is one reason why we are trying to get children on the younger side rather than them having older and so much history and the shock of coming to another country. I would imagine the first 6 months will be very interesting and challenging for all of us. The boys learned today that the girls probably won't know English and will speak Amharic. They thought that was very cool.
Today I should be receiving a hand made silver necklace that I ordered. I wanted to have something I could have near me each day so that I can feel connected somehow to them. The necklace is handmade by a lovely lady named Tracey here where we live whose daughter is adopting from Ethiopia too. The proceeds go to her daughters fund raising for her adoption. It is all silver and in the shape of Africa with a chiseled out heart in the middle. I can't wait to have it in my hands. You can see it at her online store here.
Getting boys Doctors apmts out of the way today. It is part of some lingering things due for the Home Study write up. So I had to scramble to find new practices here...Dentist, Pediatrician, Family Doctors, Foot Doctor, My doctor....thank God for neighbors who had already done the work for me and gave me their referrals. Mum would appreciate that all of our doctors are on the premises of Skyridge Hospital. We know that place pretty well. It's actually a very beautiful hospital. I'll also ask the Pediatrician today about having a one on one with him when I get the girls pictures and medical history. I'd like a local opinion of what their situation is from what he can see in the picture and their medical history. It'll be good to be prepared for them here. It's interesting...I am reading other blogs of women who are many steps ahead of us and are picking up their children now or in January. It's exciting to follow their journey day by day and share in their excitement. I remember several milestones in my life that were surreal. And they did come and they did happen. So this is just another one of those experiences that I can't imagine happening, but I know that it will. Wow!
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Not done yet, but necessary to get closer to our girls.
And speaking of "Not Done Yet"...last night after we worked on putting up Christmas ornaments on the tree, I went back into the kitchen to see if the brownies were cool enough to slice up and put onto a pretty plate to serve. I found the entire brownies just thrown onto a plate with a spatula sitting in the pan and brownie bits on the floor. It looked so funny cause they weren't sliced into my nice little squares, but just looked like a big chocolate mess. They were still warm and not really ready to take out. David and I saw this at the same time and our mouths dropped open with a "What?! What happened here?" We couldn't imagine why (and I knew it was Evan) he would have done this. Evan was nowhere to be found and Brandon does not eat chocolate so I knew it wasn't him. I burst out laughing like, what was he thinking? What if this wasn't for our family? DAvid called for him to come down and he did....very sheepishly. He looked at me and saw my questionable face and saw DAd and started to explain. We said, "No. Sit down". I was in the kitchen trying really hard to keep from laughing in front of him 'cause he was suppose to be in trouble, right? David saw my face turned and my shoulders moving up and down and at this point, tears were streaming down my face...from laughing so hard. I walked away and David said, "See, Mom is so upset. Look what you've done?" Evan started to cry and David would not let him explain. He finally got to explain and he said, "I didn't even have any. I was trying to make it look nice on the plate and the spatula was too big so they came out all messy and fell apart". I finally looked at Evan and said, "Honey, I'm not mad, I was actually laughing cause it was so funny and cute." He was relieved and not too happy that we let him go thru those emotions.
Oh my gosh! I love when those things happen, because they just remind you of how much they are still learning and how, like the brownies, they are "Not Done Yet".
Sunday, December 2, 2007
On another blog (I can't remember who it is so I hope they don't mind me reposting their research)...I found that he put it into words better than I could;
Jesus said it Himself...
"I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."
There was a severe drought in Ethiopia in the mid-80s. You almost couldn't turn on a TV without horrendous sites of small black children starving to death – some of them too weak to even hold their heads up. Anyway, Michael Jackson and Lionel Ritchie (Nichole’s dad) wrote a song called “We Are the World” and recorded it with a bunch of superstars of their day. Proceeds from the sale of what ended up being the #1 song of 1985 went to famine relief.
Things haven’t improved all that much in Ethiopia. It’s still the 4th poorest country in the world making about $160 per family per year. In addition:
• One in ten children die before their first birthday
• One in six children die before their fifth birthday
• 44% of the population of Ethiopia is under 15 years old
• 60% of children in Ethiopia are stunted because of malnutrition
• The median age in Ethiopia is 17.8 years
• 1.5 million people are infected with AIDS (6th highest in the world)
• 720,000 children have been orphaned by AIDS alone
• Per capita, Ethiopia receives less aid than any country in Africa
• In the 90s the population (3%) grew faster than food production (2.2%)
• Drought struck the country from 2000-2002 (first year no crops, second year no seeds, third year no animals)
• Half the children in Ethiopia will never attend school. 88% will never attend secondary school.
• Coffee prices (Ethiopia’s only major export) fell 40-60% from 1998-2002.
• Ethiopia’s doctor to children ratio is 1 to 24,000.
• In 1993, after 30 long years of war, Eritrea broke from Ethiopia and became an independent nation leaving Ethiopia landlocked without any major seafaring ports.
Sources: Greening Ethiopia, Ethiopia’s Children, Global Income Per Capita, CIA World Facts
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Which brings us to the next question we’re often asked. Why siblings?
Brother and sister experience the extreme pain of losing Mom and Dad to some unknown disease. All they’ve got is each other. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could remain together? But often they’re faced with one of two realities:
Separate and be adopted
Remain together and remain unadopted.
We want neither to happen to our children.
We are using the term “Our” children. These kids are already ours. God has given them to us. Two members of our family are living in Africa right now. We just don’t know their names, exact ages, or what they look like.
So Ethiopia for us, is where our heart is.