Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Melkam Addis Amet!

 HAPPY NEW YEAR!! 



The year 2005 has ended in Ethiopia and it is now 2006. September 11th marks the beginning of the new year, or the Enkutatash, in ET. 2005 was a very special year because my son was born (12/26/12-US calendar = 4/17/05 ET calendar). We also met and brought him home in that year! 

It is unfortunate that ET New Year falls on the anniversary of one of the worst days in US history.

To read more about the ET New Year/calendar,

~See my post from last year:
http://happyhouseofhastings.blogspot.com/2012/09/melkam-addis-amet_11.html

~Read this article:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethiopian_calendar

~Check out this video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AaqxlwS78AY&feature=related




Tuesday, September 10, 2013

ETHIOPIA PART 5


DAY 7: June 12, 2013:
This day was our final full day in Ethiopia. We woke up early and met Helina, our guide from Children's HopeChest, at a little cafe near our hotel. Our driver, Aweke, met us a few minutes later and we began our adventure to Duber, so we could visit our sponsored child, Bizunesh, at her carepoint Trees of Glory. We stopped at the market and bought two lambs so the staff could make the children a special feast with some meat. We also stopped and bought a bunch of bananas at a roadside stand.
Helina and Aweke checking out the lambs/negotiating a price

Beautiful Bizunesh sporting her new gifts

Showing Bizunesh pictures of herself on my ipad

The few books at the TOG library
Ethiopians are very hospitable, they served us lunch and coffee during our visit

Me, Biz, and Chris
Helina & Simret, the Director
After our once-in-a-lifetime visit with Bizunesh, we headed back to Addis and to our agency's transition house, Jane's House. Early that morning at 4:00 A.M, Alazar and two other boys were transported from Shashemene to Addis. I recently heard from the boys' mom that Alazar "slept and sucked his bottle" the whole way. That definitely sounds like my Alazar.

Chris and I got one last visit with Alazar. I considered this our bonus visit because we did not realize we would get to see him again once he was moved to Addis. I am so glad we decided to stay an additional day in ET and visit Bizunesh since we got the extra visit with our son. It was the longest one too! 3 hours. I felt like he recognized us for the first time and it made me feel good to know he made it to his new "home" safe and sound. It also made me feel better to meet the loving nurse and nannies who would be taking care of him until we returned.

Mom & Alazar
Dad & Alazar

It was finally time to say good-bye to Alazar. I gave him a kiss and the head nurse Mulu swooped him out of my arms and brought him to the baby room. Luckily it was fast and painless at the time.

DAY 8: June 13, 2013:
Basically we woke up super early and headed to the airport. We headed to Germany and back to Boston. After visiting Ethiopia, we will never be the same...

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

ETHIOPIA: Part 4

Day 5: Monday, June 10th:
Monday was our last full day in Shashemene and Awassa. Like the days before, our guide and driver picked us up in the early morning and we set off for an adventure. This day was shopping day. We went to a shop that made and sold traditional clothing. We went into the backroom and saw the artisans make the fabric and items using big looms. We stopped at a few other stores and purchased items for Alazar and his bedroom. We also purchased a small mesob. Our guide, Zek, was able to negotiate a great price for us, $10. Through our various shopping experiences, we learned that many shop owners will charge a different price to Americans and other foreigners so it is very helpful to go with Ethiopians who will help you out by negotiating.

After shopping, we went to lunch and then went to a restaurant where we had a traditional coffee ceremony. I just love the smell of the incense they burn when the ceremony takes place. After coffee, we headed to CCC for the very last time.



Because this was the first weekday we visited CCC, we were able to meet with the orphanage director and social worker. They went over our children's histories and asked if we had any more questions. Unfortunately we only found out one more detail and at this time we realized we will never know much about Alazar's first month of life.

We had our last visit with A. at his first orphanage. It was bittersweet and we were sad to say good-bye to the kids and staff there. We were not sad to leave Alazar because we knew we would get one last visit in with him once he was moved to Addis.




Day 6: Tuesday, June 11th:
We woke up super early on Tuesday morning because we had to make the 4-5 hour journey back to Addis so Chris and I could attend our court hearing. That afternoon we headed to court and answered some questions. The best part was when she said, "You are his parents!" It felt so good, like we could breathe for the first time in a long time!


That night we went to cultural dinner where we ate yummy food and watched many traditional dances. It was very awesome and we took lots of video so we can share it with Alazar someday!


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Case cleared at the U.S. Embassy

This morning we received a wonderful email stating that the U.S. Embassy cleared our case. They asked us to provide three potential dates for our visa appt. so I am hoping that we hear back from them tomorrow. We cannot wait to hold our baby boy again!! 

Today we received an update on Alazar as well. He has gained 4.5 # in the last seven weeks, since he moved from his first orphanage to our agency's transition house. He is closing the gaps on his weight and weight and is no longer that far from being and average sized 7 month old! We are thankful for the wonderful caregivers and staff who have been taking great care of him!

This pic cracks me up! Look at his eyes! Check out his chubby wrists!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Update

I realize I have been such a slacker with this whole blog thing. It has been almost two months since we were in ET and I am still working on the trip #1 recap. I apologize to those of you who follow this. 

Anyway, in late June/early July we had a delay in our embassy submission which ended up being a full two weeks because of the 4th of July holiday. So on Thursday, July 11th, our case was finally submitted. We recently received notice of an interview date for this upcoming Thursday, 8/1, at the embassy. It will take place at 7:30 AM which is 12:30 AM here. (in abandonment cases, the finder appears; in relinquishment cases, the birthparent appears). So, our fingers are crossed that our interview person appears as scheduled and that we can clear in a timely fashion. Apparently, there are staffing shortages at the embassy and the processing of cases appears to have slowed down just in the last two weeks. I am hoping this is temporary and things pick up again, especially because some of my adoption sisters are still waiting for their interviews to be scheduled.

So this is where we are now. Originally I had anticipated that we would be back in ET this week. Stay tuned....





Tuesday, July 9, 2013

ETHIOPIA: Part 3


Day 4: Sunday, June 9th:
This day was the most magical, special day of our whole trip. I woke up feeling better than ever, after feeling sick the day before. In retrospect, I realize I was dehydrated. Anyway, once again we had an early start to our day! Our guide and driver picked us up and first up was a hippo boat ride! Our hotel was right on Lake Awassa and just north of the hotel is where the hippos live! Our hotel actually offered hippo boat rides but our guide informed us they where way overpriced! So we took little drive to another part of the lake and began our little adventure. We had a wonderful tour guide, Abraham, and his helper who helped bail the water out of the boat when it crept in!


Our guide & his assistant
Me & Chris
Justin & Ali, our travel buddies!
Hungry hungry hippos!!
The Haile Resort, our hotel while we were in Awassa & Shashemene
Fisherman 
Many people were out and about today!

After our ride we saw some other animals, these ones were much safer. We got to feed them peanuts!




After our hippo ride we were supposed to go shopping but the shops were closed because it was Sunday. We had a change of plans and we toured a local coffee farm. For those of you that don't know, Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee or "buna."

               Coffee farmers & their families



After lunch, we stopped for buna & macchiatos (our afternoon tradition) and toured a couple of hotels so we could give our agency other recommendations. We saw a few wedding celebrations as well, it was really awesome!



Finally it was time to go see our sweet boy again!! We had a wonderful visit with him and he fell asleep in my arms!










Tuesday, July 2, 2013

ETHIOPIA: Part 2

Day 3: Saturday June 8, 2013
Early Saturday morning our driver, Aweke, and our guide/translator, Zack, came to our hotel to pick us up. 


The Heglunds, Ali & Justin, traveled with me and Chris to Shashemene. Their twin 5 y.o. sons were at the same orphanage as Alazar, CCC or Children's Cross Connection. I was very hot and not feeling well on the drive down. I tried to enjoy the sights and scenery but found myself trying to get comfortable and get some sleep so I would not be feeling yucky when I met Alazar. After a long trip, we finally arrived at CCC in the afternoon. When we first got there, we spoke with a staff member who was prepared to answer any questions we had. She told me that I resembled Alazar. She would the first of four people who told me that during our long weekend at CCC. At this time, we presented her with our donations and gifts.

Finally it was time to meet our baby boy. We walked into the baby room and I was looking all around the room for him. He was actually all bundled up in the arms of the nanny who was sitting right next me!! I sat down next to her and started talking to him. Then I finally got to hold him. After couple of minutes I gave Chris a turn too. Alazar is super cute, happy, content, and alert. We love him so much already!



After our visit we were all very tired and we checked in at our hotel, the Haile Resort.

Travel tidbit: For anyone that is traveling in ET, I recommend that you carry wet wipes and tissue in your purse with you because you do not know what the bathroom situation will be, especially if you stop at random restaurants/cafes on the side of the road.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

ETHIOPIA: Part 1

Day# 1: Wednesday 6/5/13: Our journey to ET began on Wednesday night, June 5th. We had a 10:10 P.M. Lufthansa flight out of Logan to Frankfurt. Thanks to Ambien, the flight was fine!


Day #2: Thursday 6/6/13: We arrived at the Frankfurt airport in the morning and we remained there for 10 HOURS! The layover was actually not as bad as I had anticipated it to be. I was surprised by the cleanliness and size of this airport. Luckily we were able to shower here. In Terminal B they have a nice locker room type shower area that was wicked clean and nice. I believe the shower was what got us through this very long day. Finally, after walking around the airport 587 times, nighttime arrived and we were able to board our plane to Addis Ababa!!




Day #3: Friday 6/7/13: We arrived in Addis somewhere between 5:30-6:00 A.M., obtained our visas & luggage, and found our driver. After we got to the van we realized that we forgot to exchange our dollars for birr, the ET currency. We went back in and exchanged $500 for birr. The rate is 1:18 so it was pretty funny when Chris could not fit his "stack" into his wallet. What was even funnier was the man purse he wore all week long. At least I did not have the responsibility of keeping the money and passports safe. Soon after leaving the airport we arrived at our hotel which was just a couple of miles away. 



After checking in, our agency's person in charge on the ET side called us and asked us to meet him in the lobby so he could review our paperwork for the US Embassy. After this was done, the 3 of us went to breakfast at Kaldi's where Chris' obsession with machiattos  began! Chris and I walked back to the hotel from the breakfast place and this is where I learned the streets of Addis are no place for flip-flops! 

For some reason, I do not remember pieces of this day. It was a bit of a blur but I do remember the following parts:
-meeting and eating lunch with Heglunds out on the balcony
-napping in the afternoon
-eating the yummiest meal ever, the Thai Chicken dish at the hotel's restaurant
-taking a shower as fast as possible because the drain was screwed up and the water overflowed onto the floor.
-going to bed early as we had to get up in the morning to begin our "real journey" to Alazar!

Friday, June 14, 2013

We Passed Court!

I really need to update the blog. There is so much to share from our first trip to ET! On Tuesday June 11th, The Ethiopian judge declared that we are officially Alazar's parents, yay!!!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Ethiopia Here We Come!!

Last Wednesday we received news that our court date is Tuesday, June 11th. We are departing Boston this Wednesday night at 10:10 P.M. We will be flying to Germany, where we will have a 10 hour layover on Thursday. Late Thursday night, we will depart Frankfurt and head to Addis, where we will arrive at 6:15 A.M. Friday morning.  After Tuesday night, we will not be sleeping in a bed until Friday night. Sounds fun, doesn't it?

We do not have the exact details of our trip nailed down yet, but we have a basic idea. Another family from our agency is flying into Addis an hour after us and their kids are at the same orphanage as Alazar so we will have travel buddies, yay! It appears as though we will travel to Awassa on Friday where we will spend 3 nights/4 days. Alazar's orphanage is 15 minutes away from our hotel in a town called Shashemene. We will be able to visit him and spend time with him while we are there. On Monday, we will return to Addis and hopefully get some sight-seeing in. On Tuesday we will go before the Ethiopian judge, answer her questions, promise that we will raise Alazar well, and bring him up to be knowledgeable and proud of his Ethiopian heritage. After we pass court, Alazar will legally be our son in the eyes of the ET government. Unfortunately, we will not be bringing him home for another 6-8 weeks following court (mid-summer) because our case needs to be submitted and cleared by the U.S. Embassy before A's visa and passport can be issued.

We will be leaving ET on Thursday. Hopefully we will be participating in another special "adventure" on Wednesday, but it is not definite, so stay tuned!!

This whole thing has been a bit surreal. I have been dreaming about this upcoming day for a long time and it is hard to believe that is just about here. I will be loving on my baby boy in just 5 days!! 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Waiting for our Court Date

Based on the title of this post, I bet you already knew we are still waiting for our court date. Last Monday we learned that the first court hearing had passed/cleared and that we would be expecting our court date soon. The weekend came and went and we are still waiting. We did learn that this morning our agency received our MOWA letter, an approval letter from the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs in Ethiopia. This means that we really should be receiving some news sooner than later. 

In the meantime we are starting to "prepare" around here. Chris began working on A's room. We removed the carpet and we are currently working on putting down a new wood floor. 






In other news, we have been collecting donations for A's orphanage. Friends, family, and co-workers have been super generous!! We are very appreciative and we can't thank you enough!

video



Monday, May 20, 2013

First Court Date: Cleared!!

We just got news today that A's first court hearing cleared/passed. We were originally told that the date was tomorrow, 5/21, so I was pleasantly surprised when I received an email from our caseworker that said "Court Passed" in the subject line. This means our case continues on to the next level and we wait to hear about our scheduled court date. We should be getting that info in the next week or so, and they estimate we will be traveling to ET in the next 3-4 weeks!!

Tomorrow we have our appointments at the Mass General Hospital's Travel Clinic to get our immunizations for Hep A, Hep B, Typhoid fever, Yellow fever, and Meningitis as well as oral meds for Malaria.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Court Hearing Scheduled

We just got news today that the first court hearing has been scheduled for Tuesday 5/21. At this time, the judge will review all of the info pertaining to A's case. After this case is cleared, our court date will be scheduled and travel plans will be made. Given this information, our agency estimates that we will be traveling to ET in mid to late June. 

I can not believe how fast this is all happening. It is kind of crazy!!! We are SO excited though and I can not wait to hold baby A in our arms. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Referral Day / What's Next?

Referral Day

A's referral was VERY unexpected and it came MUCH earlier than we had expected!! Our dossier left for ET on 12/3 and we had been told it would probably be 9-12 months before we received a referral. 

April 23, 2013 began as a normal Tuesday except my husband, Chris, was away for a work conference in South Carolina. I had a 1:45 IEP meeting in the main office conference room for one of my students. Toward the end of the meeting, we were filling out the IEP dates and trying to determine the exact day school is set to begin next fall. I came out of the room and was looking for a calendar on the secretary's desk. She handed me a "missed call" slip and said, "I have a message for you." I quickly looked and down and realized it was our caseworker, Annise, from our agency. I asked our secretary, Sue, "Did she say anything?" to which Sue replied, "She said you will know who it is." I misheard Sue and thought she said, "She said you will know WHAT it is." At that moment, I felt my heart drop and I felt shaky. I returned to the meeting and told my coworkers and the parent (luckily she is wicked cool and normal and did not think I was nuts!) what could possibly be happening. The meeting ended soon after and I tried to call Annise. Unfortunately (for me) she had just taken another call and was busy so I left a message on her vmail. I came back out and talked to Sue again to clarify what Annise had said. That is when I realized that I misunderstood Sue's original message. Once I understood the original message, I realized that I may have gotten ahead of myself and that Annise may have been calling to check in instead. I knew I had to keep calling just to make sure so I called Annise back another 4 times (not exaggerating here...luckily, the AAI staff is super patient and understanding). Finally, I talked to her at approximately 4:20 P.M. We engaged in small talk for a minute or two so I did not immediately realize it was "the call." 

She then said, "I have a little guy I would like to talk to you about." I couldn't believe it. Because of the delay in talking to Annise, I was actually pretty calm (for me anyway) when I got the news. The phone jack in my office does not work anymore so I was using the phone in my co-worker's office. Her computer was acting whacky (of course) so I quickly hung up and ran across the foyer to the main office so I could use a phone and computer at the same time. Luckily I have watched 4, 356 adoption videos on youtube so I knew what is needed during the call, haha! Minutes later I got see his BEAUTIFUL face. Since school was over, some of the teachers were exiting the building via the front door. One by one, my 4th grade co-workers walked by and I was able to wave them into the office. They were actually the first people to lay eyes on him!

Since Chris was away, I called his cell but was unable to reach him. I decided to go home and try again. Chris is typically pretty good about picking up his phone so I was getting frustrated. He finally called back. He had decided to read his book and sit by the pool after his conference was over. His damn ringer was still silenced. He saw that I had called 20 times so he immediately called me back. He could not believe the news either. I f/w him the emails from Annise and he was getting frustrated because the internet service at the hotel was spotty and he was having difficulty opening the docs up. He was able to see A's pics which was the most important thing! I printed out his pics and then began my tour around town. I stopped by a few houses: my parents, some of the aunties, etc. My SIL, BIL, niece and nephew live across the way so I also had them come over to see his picture too.

So, what I learned that day was "the call" does not always happen the way you envision it to, the way it happens a lot in the youtube videos. 
_____________________________________________________


What's Next?

So, the most frequently asked questions I get are, "When do you meet him?" and "What happens next?"  We are currently waiting to receive notification of the first court date and will most likely get this info next week. During the first court date, the birth parent/family member appears in court (in relinquishment cases), or the judge reviews the file (in cases of abandonment). After this court case clears, they will schedule the court date of the adoptive parents. At this time, our agency estimates that we will probably travel in late July to attend court and meet our child. Three months is a long time to wait, but unfortunately this is the way it is. 

After we pass court, we will return home from ET and wait for our case to be submitted and cleared by the U.S. Embassy. Once this occurs, we will be able to travel back to ET, obtain A's U.S. passport and Visa, and return home with him!! This will occur approximately 8 weeks after our our first trip, so most likely in mid to late September. Once again, nothing is set in stone and there is variability among cases. This timeline is also assuming everything clears along the way. As we receive more info in the coming weeks, we will have a better estimate!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

REFERRAL

I truly can not believe I am writing this post. Today we received a referral for a precious baby boy. He is just shy of 4 months old. He is super adorable and we love him already!!!

Monday, April 22, 2013

New "Unofficial" Waitlist Number

This has been a very busy month for our agency. Two weeks ago we learned that five children had been referred to families. Today I just read that three more referrals were received and accepted over the weekend so that makes 8 referrals just in the month of April. So excited for those families! For reference, we moved from #42 in December to #32 in March. In April we moved from #32 to #24. At this rate, we could expect to receive a referral earlier than the 9-12 month time frame that has been given, but see, that is the thing with international adoption, it is a roller coaster ride with ups and downs and it could slow right down again next month. Only time will tell....

Monday, April 15, 2013

Ethiopian Boston Marathon Runners

Ethiopia is famous for its long history of world-class runners so it common to see runners from ET and Kenya win the top spots each year. This year the men's first & third place winners, and the women's second place winner all hail from ET. It is exciting to cheer for two countries now!



video link:
http://boston.cbslocal.com/2013/04/15/lelisa-desisa-of-ethiopia-wins-boston-marathon-mens-race/

Thursday, March 28, 2013

New Waitlist Number

We just received our new wait list number for this month and we are now number...


There were actually seven referrals but as you can see we moved up four spots (some families were received referrals for 2 children).  In the past four months we have moved up 10 spots. The best news is that our agency is expecting 20 referrals in the coming months and 14 of those children are within our approved age parameters so we should be moving along nicely. Of course, international adoption is a very uncertain process so I try not to get too excited about/ahead of myself as anything can change at anytime.

There are some days when I am super excited about this process and there are other days where I feel somewhat detached since we are waiting and waiting. These monthly updates trigger the excited feelings and help us to realize that we really are one step closer to meeting our child.


Friday, March 1, 2013

Waiting List Update

We received our monthly update from our agency and we are # 


I wished there had been more movement, but two spots is better than nothing. Our agency continues to anticipate several referrals in the coming months, so hopefully this will be the case!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Doggy Bones

Since I am off this week and I am playing "stay at home dog mom," I had some extra time to try out a couple of new Pinterest recipes. Yesterday when I was browsing antique shops downtown I came across a dog bone shaped cookie cutter. Today I decided to make Lucy and Brody some peanut butter treats. I used the recipe found on this website: http://www.browneyedbaker.com/2007/11/03/gone-to-the-dogs/



As I was rolling the dough out, I thought this batch loosely resembled Africa (you can see the Horn on the right).


My oven tends to cook food a bit fast, but I only cooked these for about 10-12 minutes vs. the recipe time of 20 minutes.


Now their bones are displayed on the counter top in an apothecary jar. Fancy schmancy... To the left is my new milk glass pedestal "bowl" I got antiquing, which is curved and perfect for holding bananas.


Waiting patiently, or impatiently, for their bones. They love, love, love treats!

video

As you can see, they are Lucy and Brody approved!