Friday, May 21, 2010


May 20, 2010

I miss Eli. He opens doors, left and right. I miss him. This is too long of a trip. I wonder how he is really doing. I wonder if he has had a melt-down. I wonder if he will be okay when we get back or be worried and miss us. I am sure our family, Carol and Ed, Aunt Jodi, Uncle Bob and Justin and Ally are all taking great care of him, but this is too long away for me. I suddenly want to be back.

Lulu B is pretty great. Turns out that people in Addis think Belyanesh is “old fashioned,” a polite way of saying, what a name, the moral equivalent of Gertrude. That said, people in Bahir Dar might think it a beautiful name. It is her name, although now in the middle, so there you go. Assaye says it is beautiful, going against the general opinion of everyone else who works at the guest house! We are keeping it as it is hers, but will use it as a middle name.

Tomorrow we have our final adoption event, the second part of checking out of the orphanage, meeting with the doctor and reviewing her chart. Unfortunately, Lufthanza doesn't fly out of Addis on Thursdays. Why? Who knows? So we head back to the states on Friday.

About Toukoul Guest house. What an experience. The people that work here are lovely; they reach out and are very kind people. From the chef to the front desk and everywhere else, such nice people. They kiss the babies, swoop them up and bring them inside when us crazy Americans are hanging out in the, for Addis, cold air, but without lecturing, just doing.

One thing the new nurse let us know is that the babies go outside, in the sun for a half an hour in the morning every day (not in the rain!) in their diaper, to soak up the Vitimin D. It is important for the African babies to skip sunscreen, have direct sunlight; this helps them stay healthy. Fun to find out and fun to watch, a beautiful thing.

She played with her friend who is soon to hail from Indiana. Ms. A hails from the southern nations tribes, i think. She has gorgous eyes and a winning smile and attached to her new parents in record time. Her parents are university people and fun to hang out with. I hope Miss A comes to visit soon! She is a few months older than Miss B, but…in a year or two, no one will notice!

Such a fun group of children, getting their US Visa on May 17, 2010, they are the class of 2010. So cool to stay with everyone at Toukoul, have lunch, trade stories, wait to see if everyone passes. A few people got traveler’s sickness; luckily, it passed a lot of people over.

The group had a wide variety of people and places represented, a physician, one special ed teacher, two grade school teachers who have an organic farm, a university professor, an IT person, a musician, a programer.....and from all over the US, mostly midwest and then Az, Ca and Oregon.

On Toukoul. It feels really good to be part of a history that stretches back 30 years. To meet our new friend from France, Nicole, a lovely man from northern france, and his mother, returning to Ethiopia for the first time since his adoption at 5 was incredible. Since our french is non-existent, he was kind to try and express himself in English. By the end of the week, he was a champion. His mother was incredible and that when they arrived they had discovered his birth family was an incredible story. I feel so lucky to have met him and watched this journey from another view.

And the staff. The guest house isnt fancy. It doesnt have internet in the rooms or deluxe accommodations, but the staff and the history combined make the trip an amazing event. Not the adventure travel some aspire to or being in an american bubble like staying at the Sheraton or Hilton would provide, but a place in the middle, with support for you while you are adopting. And a chance to go on the journey with other families, another connection for your child and a touchstone to return to in the future.

I hope we return again and again.


May 19, 2010

Lulu-B is having a hard time staying asleep this afternoon, miss overviligent. Maybe she thinks we are crazy, not really understanding how things are done. We have stuck close to home today, trying to get in the swing of things.

Yesterday, we tried to give her her first bath at the guesthouse; it was a disaster. Not enough water, too cold, couldn't find the plug for the tub, not ready with the clothes, the soap, the everything. THAT, she forgave us, but then we oiled her body with Jojoba oil and, as we had not been lotioning enough, her skin was dry. We can only presume that the oil bothered her, because, our dear Lulu got mad. Really mad. Foot stomping mad. Tears, about 45 minutes of mad, after which, she calmed down, maybe had a bottle and passed out, but I have forgotten the afterwards. Too bad, cause I could have used some strategy for big mad recovery! Put some Aquafore over the top, got her clothes on and she calmed down.

And no BUTT PASTE for my baby. It dried her out and gave her a rash. Maybe when we put the oil on the rash it reacted badly and hurt her. I don't know. She was all smiles again, before we knew it!

She really gets excited about simple things, seeing us in the morning, being outside, books, grabbing your hand. One does have to be careful not to overstimulate, as she starts to shake. TOO MUCH input, but each day she gets more relaxed, or so I hope.

I also reached for an outfit and it didn't fit. She has gained some weight and length! She is growing. She loves looking at people, the other babies, daddy, and leaves blowing in the breeze. She is pretty great. She reaches for Mitchel, is super aware of noises and sounds and very aware of the faces she sees more than once. She smiles for me, but often ignores me. I need to get her even more connected, but I am not too worried. Her behavior reminds me intensly of Eli. If we are too much, she turns her head away. I am often too much! Daddy always get a big smile and if he doesnt stop and say hello, she gets miffed.

We miss the Schmee, I hope we are home soon.

Baby come home!

May 18, 2010 Night time

It is almost midnight, and the last few days have been so full.

Monday, we all woke very early to go to the orphanage and gather up our children. After you finish at the Embassy, we had lunch and then brought our children home.

WE PASSED at the Embassy! We are officially a family. Lulu will have a visa tomorrow Wednesday or Thursday. All the families passed. We celebrated in the lobby and then took the babies back to Toukoul, and went to the guest house for lunch. When we walked away from the vice council for the Ethiopian consulate, who was working the window for our Embassy date, I cried. I was/am so happy that Lulu-B is part of our family.

What a day, what a day it was.

May 16, night time.

We just had a huge day. Met with the lawyer as a group, for several hours; met Mr. Ferez, the founder of Toukoul Orphanage (just shook his hand, but so interesting to be in his house, to meet the man that started the orphanage over 30 years ago), and went to the lake region, ate fabulous Ethiopian lunch at a place called Dreamland.

Drove with the lovely couple from Oklahoma and had a blast. They are cool. Their story is their own to tell, but we had a great time hanging out with them. All the families are really nice and we lingered over lunch, chatting and hanging out, as one will when filled with injera, drove to see the B, came home had dinner, and more talk.

What a day it was, what a day.

Once cool thing, Toukoul is crazy with history, and I love staying here, talking to the other families, meeting the children, and even meeting the adult adoptee’s returning to their birth-land. It is a huge connecting point for me to see people in person, at all places in the adoption process.

The B. She is luscious, delicious and so like Eli when we met him, a bit reserved, and yet, so herself, a vivacious, active, smiley baby. I don't know how Toukoul does it, but each child seems perfect for the family they are with.

Late night rambles…..

May 15 going on 16

So, the browser says my blog post posted. Hum. I’d say 50/50. Ethiopia is wonderful, but the land of fast internet, as of yet, not so much.

The altitude does get me down. Spaces one out and makes one oddly tired, off and on. Water helps, maybe sleep would be the next step, but we are trying to stay asleep through the 3 am witching hour. Last visit, we were awake every night for 5 or 6 days at 3 am. Yesterday, our first night, we stayed up until 11 or so.

We miss the schmee. He does open doors, mostly to people, but also to a culture. Children are interesting litmus of a culture, and in Ethiopia, it is a beautiful test; they love children. This is the first time he is away from both of us and I can't think about it much, cause I miss him so.
In fact, I just woke up, cause I dreamt about him. Because of Facebook, we had reports of his day. He went to the park with his cousins and we call him in the morning…his morning. He had pancakes for breakfast and was having a chocolate cookie when we called. He was quite happy.
Tomorrow, I think we meet the lawyer, then maybe go to the country, then come home to see miss lulu, dinner and done. Mdh wants to skip the trip, I wish he would go, as every different part of Ethiopia I see makes me want to know more, to dive deeper into it. It is easy to stay in, and so enriching to go out, but he needs to find his way.

On the plane, we met a lovely young man returning for his brother’s wedding. He invited us to come. Please come, he said, and he meant it. The time of the wedding was our first time to see Miss B, so, we did not go, but I know we would have been welcomed with open arms. His father is a Vet, an animal doctor in Gondar and he and his brother have been at college in the US. He is trying for medical school, and his brother works in computers.
His open heartedness is something I have seen again and again in Ethiopia. Welcome, hello and openheartedness are a theme. Miss B is very, very smiley, and I hope we can make her more so; perhaps she comes by it from her lovely birth country.
She is young and very alert. She is very interested in the things around her. Eye contact is good, not great, but she did remember us. Big smile when she noticed us. We are a bit much, so then she looks away, but big smiles, when she saw us, all afternoon. I hope by Monday we are so in the groove.

Strange being here with our lovely PAP’s, when last time we were the only guests. Lots of families, one family from Oklahoma, another from Kansas, one from AZ, another from Indiana, one from Portland, and someone from St. Louis. I think that is everyone! Everyone is lovely, but all of us come across questions, concerns, and wonderings. It is so easy to let emotions ricochet off one another, and it is also really wonderful to meet others on a similar journey. The couple adopting siblings seemed to break through to their two children today, as I think everyone did. Two fathers are visiting, one with a mother in law, the other with a father in law, and they were both doing great. One is a first time dad, and he rocked it today, holding his son and being with him. Isn't that half the battle? Meeting them, where they are at, showing up and being present? Sounds easy, but isn't always. Two parents are single mothers, adopting and they both looked so happy. Extra fun to see the first time parents falling in love.

There was a disappointment today. Sometimes, you can have your child come stay with you at YGF, over the weekend, but it looks as if the rules are changing at the same time the 2 trips are coming into play. We will get to take custody on Monday, on the same day as our Embassy date. A French group left earlier tonight and a group from Dove left just before we arrived, with one family leaving around the same time as the French group. Between the volcano erupting, the election and the rain, it has been very quiet, now suddenly, everyone is arriving at once. Crazy!
We also met the father of the family we bought special formula for. He was great. He plays basketball in Europe, and they are adopting two boys. Andrea, Eli and I met his wife and the boys last visit. We brought some supplies and they want to take us out for dinner to say thank you. So nice. One of the boys has been in the hospital, but is out and is doing much better. They now have an Embassy date and hope to be on the way home at the end of the month. I hope we get to join up. Traveling and adopting make for a crazy schedule. Trying to fit things in is a bit of a wild ride!

Lulu-B is coming home. She has some more meat on her bones and has gained some weight. She is fabulous and very interested in the world. I want to get her home, get her to the doctor to check her out and start her new life, respecting this beautiful country she is from.

Battery is almost dead. Signing off…..Mandy, Meira, if you read this, please send the info I need to my dear husband’s email! Although, we will be in the US tomorrow.

Late night in Ethiopia….

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Jupiter Café

Live from Ethiopia

So, we are sitting in the Jupiter café, trying to get Internet access. Right. Slow as molasses. Mdh just threw the computer down in frustration, as it is taking 10 minutes to load one email. I imagine I will post this, once again, when I return. Fingers crossed for tonight.

Today, we saw Belaynesh. Saw the B today. She is great. She is a bit tight, but her head moves to both sides and she loves to look at things. Such a perfect baby. She remembered us!!! She glances around the room, this way, that way, then her eyes light on us and her SMILE takes over her whole face. She laughed for M., her tiny, little laugh.

They had dressed her in one of the outfits my mom gave to me for her, the blue pants with white daises and a long sleeve shirt, a undershirt, and a jacket. She was definitely warm enough, but the room had 9 families in it! And more babies and children. We gave her part of a bottle, took her outside to see her favorite tree and get some air. At the end, she fell asleep right on me. She was tired after our 2 plus hour visit. Then, a little cough on her part woke her up and she was back in the game. She is a dear, dear girl.

Miss B is the youngest and looks it, as she should. She is doing great, but I can't wait to have her come home with us. We thought she might, then were convinced to wait until Sunday, then found out the person who can let her come home with us will not be there until Monday.

So, tomorrow, we meet with the lawyer, all 9 families, then we can go on an outing to the country, by a lake or stay home. Meeting the babies until the afternoon is not possible, so I think I will go. M wants to stay home, which is fine. I will go.

We went to the University museum, which is lovely, but my favorite part was walking around, seeing the campus, seeing the students, even seeing from the outside, a class in session. Universities around the world, students in the library, studying, students outside, walking, talking, it was a touch-point to see it.

Today, we met a man, from France, who was adopted when he was young, who came to visit his birth country for the first time. He was adopted from Toukoul, 25 years ago, and found out, this week, that he has a birth father and half siblings. Neither he nor his mother knew of his birth family, but now they both were, in his words, “so lucky,” and met them. What a week. What a story. And he was so gracious, to tell us such an emotional story in a second language; it was amazing how much of the story he could tell us with out every word he needed.

What an amazing story, and the history of Toukoul mixed right into it. A rich, long history, with adoptee’s returning to do homeland visits, what a rich tradition our child is a part of. I am glad we are staying a YGF, the Toukoul Guest House. So familiar to return to the same place and feel like it is a small bit of home away from home.

The group of families adopting from France left today. Their process is very different and their Embassy issues the visa without a meeting. They stay for 4 days, and pick their babies up on the way to the airport. Such a different process, but interesting to learn about.

Our driver is here to take us the short jaunt right back to the hotel, so let me try, try, try to upload this!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Leaving on a jet plane

Lufthansa Flight, JFK to Germany

Almost everyone is asleep, on our night flight and my brain is racing. I was looking out the window, and I saw Orion, but we were beside him not below. I was wondering about Lulu-B and her birth family and how sad they must be to not have her. I know Eli’s birth family gave him so many gifts, his smile, his beautiful dark hair, his athletic, his open hearted patient good nature. I know he doesn't get his patience from me! I know we share so much, and I know he is in my heart, and hopefully I will be in his as much as I am now, and boy, my heart aches for his beautiful birth mother. I wonder what gifts Lulu’s first family gave her? Her strong personality? Her incredible drive? I hope we can make her feel safe and loved.

I am reading the Kabul Beauty School. It is a lovely book, a true story, about a woman from a small town who goes to Afghanistan and starts a beauty school, to teach women to cut and dye hair and often, end up supporting their families. It is amazing, reading the stories. And I think of the book, My Father's Daughter, another true story, by an adult Ethiopian/English Adoptee, and how her story of being found/meeting her birth family is so moving. The stars are overhead and they are the same in Ethiopia and Guatemala and even in the US. The moon shines down on all these countries, and together our family is connected to families, to people, we may never meet, a world away. Thank you for making our family so perfect.

Ethiopia is very far away, as I can tell you, flying there twice in a season. It takes a long time to get there, but Addis and the Ethiopian people have captured our hearts. I’ve been thinking a lot about how adoption is wonderful and sad; sad to take away the great parts of these cultures, the rich proud history of Ethiopians, the rich, ancient history of the Maya and Guatemala, and to give our children love, but in giving that love, taking away a cultural passport I can not give back to them. To be black in Africa, in Ethiopia, can a proud thing, a thing of fitting in your skin, to know the passwords, the looks, the way to be. To be black in a country where everyone is black, to be brown in a country where everyone is brown, to know the language, to know, just like E’s children’s book, how to be.

I know in my heart that Eli and Lulu are mine; I also know that by being part of our family, we have taken away a passport to part of who they are, and I know that will make them sad some days. I also know they are a gift, nothing more than everything we hoped for. I feel so very, very lucky, like the universe loves us, more than I can say.

I am nervous. What if she doesn't like our family? What if it is a bad fit for her? All I want for her is happiness, not heartbreak. We are on this adventure, leaving E with his grandparents, alone, for the first time. The original dessert. He isn't really alone, and I hope he doesn't see it that way. Although, I imagine he will, just a bit. He does get very worried about being alone. Terrified in fact. I hope he can be as brave as he was today. I didn't leave him little notes, I should have. I got worried if we were delayed that there wouldn't be enough. I should have left little notes, one for each day.

Our program director told us Ethiopians like her family call children the dessert; after the dinner party, at the end, who comes in for kisses and sweetness, but the children, all dressed in their pajamas, clean and ready for bed, just good enough to kiss and send to bed, the dessert.

I have no idea what I forgot. Hair oil. Did I bring enough formula, outfits for Lulu, bottle inserts? I know I didn't find the book on cars I wanted for Ibrihim, and I didn't find the perfect gifts for the nannies, I worry that I brought too much, I worry I brought not enough, crazy but true. I worry that Lulu will like us; I worry that something might go wrong.

My dear husband and I both worry. We really don't believe that babies come home. I know she is going to and I know, in my heart, as much as many say it isn't true, I know both our children picked us. I know that Ms L. D. Geneli is correct when she says that every adopted child she has done hypnotherapy with says that in the bardo, they picked their family, both their first family and their second, and that is what I believe. I believe my two beautiful children picked us.

MDH knows, I hope we adopt another. In a few years. I want to play violin some more, raise Miss Lulu-B a bit and adopt one or two more. I think I am crazy, but maybe we could do the two not one campaign mdh started with this adoption. I read with avid interest on the big Ethiopian site, the discussions of two not one. I disagree with the people who say it is greedy to do so, but I do think attaching with two at the same time, with different needs would be a big, big job. I thought about it when MDH was on the two not one campaign and I thought and thought. I decided that I couldn't possibly do it, and play music, still give our first boy love and meet a 3 year old and a baby. I couldn't figure out how I would do it and stay sane.

I wonder what visiting Ethiopia this time with a baby will be like, once again, taking the dessert to places that people don't usually take little ones. I did pack the baby carrier; I did pack the baby diaper backpack. I also packed 5 sky balls, crazy but true. I know there will not be enough for all the people that should have them.

I look forward to returning to Guatemala, to Ethiopia, with our children and to learn more and more about the two cultures. It is such a huge responsibility, trying to raise good children, to give them love. Sometimes, I feel anytime I do a stupid parent mistake, like the eyes of the world are on us, just for a moment. It is true for all parents, but a huge one for our multicultural family. In our family, we say, we are a little bit white, a little bit brown and now, a little bit black. I often say to young E, the original desert, I am brown in my heart, and it makes me sad not to be brown like you.

Off onto the next chapter of our lives, almost begun, not quite, waiting, worrying, wondering. I want the birth families of our children to know how much we would like to say thank you, thank you, thank you. Our family is so important to us, so very, very important. We will love your child, they are in our hearts and in our minds, always.

As will you. Thank you.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Here we come!

Lulu-B, are you already like your mother, do you love to wear mismatched socks?

This was her third referral picture. She is getting a bit bigger. I think she tops out at 13 pounds now, probably fully dressed! Or at least in her diaper.

Okay, it has been go, go, go for days now. We are not only adopting our dear little girl from Ethiopia, which has been a long and emotional road, but we just moved houses. I had forgotten, but moving is something that brings on amnesia; obviously, you have to transport all of your things from one place to another, AND make it into a home. Add to that a special game of beat the clock, trying to get your house livable in 5 days... this is an exciting time, but I am really looking forward to a new normal, maybe something a bit more relaxed, not requiring opening or closing boxes.

A fun part of adopting and moving is that you need to update your home-study. Luckily, we moved in state, which is possible to do. To move out of state, I have heard, is almost impossible, and I can only imagine the paperwork if you need to move out of a country into another one. I know more about what happens to our paperwork than I ever wanted to and if you look back on the blog, the trail is there. We received an all clear from the main adoption agency; hopefully, our visa will be issued when we arrive and it will all go smoothly.

Our first boy home is very, very, very excited to stay at his grandparents. I said my mom was a little jealous and he said he wanted to split himself in to two, like Dr. Manhattan, and stay with Matmah and with Gramme. Such a sweetie. He was such a good traveler, I am nervous to leave him, but he is really, really excited. He just had a bath, toweled off in his new iron man towel and put his new iron man PJ's on. Time for a book with mom, and off to bed. he will be rotten by the time we get back from Ethiopia.

I am suddenly a bucket of nerves. What if? What if? What if? I packed an entire extra bag and the wrong things I am sure. Eli ended up with 2 jackets and two sweatshirts, why, I have no idea. I have 5 skyballs to give away, which are bulky, awkward and whatever. I hope I have enough diapers, formula, bottles, clothes for the baby. So many things to worry about. I have a packing list from one of the adoption sites, and I checked things off it. I didnt bring:

Nail scissors
Hair oil
In country snacks.

I do have, malaria medicine, books, some toys, and more stuff than I know what to do with. So excited to be going back to Ethiopia. We LOVED Addis, our last visit. We loved the people, we loved the city, we loved Ethiopia.

Nervous, nervous, nervous.

Lulu, here we come, here we come. Ready or not, here we come. I hope you like it in our family.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Embassy Appointment


Okay, sorry to shout it to the mountain tops, but we go get Lulu-B next week.


I woke up this morning and i couldn't imagine waiting any longer for Lulu to come home. I had a horrible dream that she was having trouble breathing and I woke up frantic. Tense, nervous and ready to call on any power to get her home. Luckily, all I had to do was call the agency gave me the news.

It couldn't be at a more awkward time, as we move this week, unpack some this weekend, wait for the washer dryer I bought today to be installed on Saturday, so we can wash our clothes when we get home, hire the garden person, so the grass doesn't die or go to seed, which is next on the agenda, get the baby stuff out of storage....It is the longest to do list I think I have ever had, not this long, maybe since finals week when I took 24 units. The list is multiple choice and many pronged. New House, Old House, Baby, Trip.... I am going to miss a gig, big bummer, as it takes a really long time to get to and from Ethiopia, so long that I am not going to make it back in time for my one gig this month; no time to recover from jet-lag or even get home. Oh, yeah the painters are still painting, and the colors are almost right. I had forgotten how many things have to be done to move into a house.

Called the water, gas, phone. Need to switch our bills, which I havent done yet. That can wait till we get home.

As we leave next week, mid-week. we come home a million years later. E is staying with his grandmother, for longer than we thought, as you have to wait to get your visa after you arrive, 3 days or so. Not that being in Addis is a bad idea, it sounds great, but......i hadn't really payed attention about the pick up trip before. We have to get there early and leave late. Also, all the flights are gone for the day after, so we have an extra day at the end. Oh well, whatever. We get her. At least we have our shots from last time, and I have the suitcases half packed. We stop on the way back with Lulu in NY for a day, then home.

We have an appointment. Wow.