Wednesday, July 3, 2013


Well it's been a whirlwind 6 months! This momma is tired! I thought having 3 kids would be no problem....hahaha....I forgot that one of them would be a 3 year old boy and I forgot that my girls are very dramatic with..... well life in general! Abraham is doing EXCELLENT! He has amazed us in so many ways. He just rolls with just about everything. We get a lot of comments on how happy he always seems. And he is! Smiling even through the rough times.

Abraham came home with a few health problems. A few we were aware of and a few we were not. To start, we knew he had some scalp ringworm. Justin noticed a little bit on him when he traveled for the first trip. Well when we got back to pick him up a couple months later his head was completely shaved and his ringworm had taken over!!!! It was so bad! (Understatement of the century) I will not post his before picture. It is just too awful. And little buddy was still smiling. When we got home we started him on some oral medication that took 8 weeks to clear it up. Then he was left with HUGE bald spots where the ring worm was. I can officially say that all of his hair has now grown back in! Thank goodness because the doc told us that sometimes it can damage the hair follicle and the hair will never return.
Head after the 8 week treatment
All grown back now!

Next up we found out that he had some decayed teeth. We did not know the extent of how bad until we got home either. The dentist said it was probably from malnutrition and he hopes his permanent teeth won't cause him any problems. There is more to this story but that will come later.:(

He also tested positive for giardia. Which is a parasite found in the intestines. One quick pill took care of that pesky little bug!

Finally we also found out in Ethiopia that he had a hernia above his belly button. Got home and the doc said he needs to have surgery. Say what?! Okay one more thing to add to the list.

The dentist referred us to a pediatric dentist. So knowing (so I thought) that the hernia surgery was more important I decided to put off going to the pediatric dentist until after he recovered from his surgery. Fast forward a few weeks to the night before surgery. All was well. I took Abraham and the girls out for ice cream. He looked great. Nothing wrong.

 It was late when we got home and we put him to bed. Again happy and normal looking kid going to bed. Well a few hours into dozing off Abraham starts to moan in his sleep. I thought 'Well that's strange" and did what any other good mother would do....peek in, see he's okay, and let him stay asleep. :) Never wake a sleeping child! EVER! Well the moaning went on throughout the night. I just figured he was having bad dreams or something. On the morning of surgery out comes Abraham with a HUGE swollen jaw!

 Crap! What the heck is happening? I looked inside his mouth and saw nothing. Well it was too late to cancel so we just brought him in. Doc says in not so plain words that he will "Not be touching him" today and we will have to reschedule. Says he has some infected teeth! Great.....but wait....if stay in the hospital and wait until 3:30 in the afternoon there is a dentist on call who can come and see him.
 Now if you have ever had surgery you will know that you can't eat or drink anything for several hours before. The last food Abraham had was at 9pm the night before. So you are telling me that I have to make my former starving child wait until this afternoon to eat???? Well this is another time where he amazed us. He did it! We were going crazy by the time the doctor got there because keeping a toddler entertained in a hospital setting for 9 hours with no nap can be rather, lets say, challenging. Plus they thought it would be fun to get some x-rays of his mouth in the meantime. Not just the regular old x rays either. The kind where you have to, get this, hold still for 2 minutes with your chin in a chin rest, while biting on a plastic bite guard, not open your mouth the whole time, while wearing a lead vest as the machine circles your head. SUPER FUN! After several failed attempts we had to drug him. And Abraham on "chill out drugs" is a cool, calm, super giggly guy but also limp as a noodle. So we did our best to prop him up against the x ray machine. I think it worked because they let us leave after.
After "chill" meds. Swollen but happy!

So at 3:30 the doc comes in and says "yep we need to remove 2 infected teeth"! "We can get him in to a surgical room by 4:30" and that was that. Oral surgery instead of hernia surgery.

He did great. The anesthesia nurse came to tell us how sweet Abraham was when he went to sleep. Smiling and counting to 10! Once he woke up from anesthesia we went home. As we were getting in the car to leave I sat in the back with Abraham. He kissed the back of my hand and said "Thank you momma". Oh buddy! You are heaven on earth. The sweetest boy around! He must have been in pain and just never let on that he was hurting.

Okay so fast forward one month and we are yet again at the hospital for surgery. This time for the original hernia surgery. Yet again he did great. I was unsure of how he would react to being there again but he didn't care. He charmed the nurses yet again:)  So we are one week post -op now and he is doing good. It's hard to keep a 3 year old from being a 3 year old. He's limited himself some but we need to remind him to not jump off the couch or superman swing on the play set.

As far as the transition of becoming a part of our family, I would say he did WAY better than I had prepared myself for. It was like he was just waiting for us to come get him. He never looked back and took to our family amazingly. I would say the harder adjustment was with my younger daughter. She wasn't so sure of him in the beginning. We have come a long way since January though. There still is some squabbling but the normal "I don't like you because you are my sibling" kind. The play well together for the most part and we are all getting into the groove of this new family dynamic.

referral picture
3 months home
6 months home

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Kristel said nothing emotional happened today so I should write this post. Ha!

But first, the last two days were good. Wednesday we spent playing with Abraham and getting to know each other. He communicates clearly by pointing and shaking his head yes or no.  He speaks quite a bit now that we have him away from other kids and is much more active than he was in the orphanage.  He is a lot of fun and is quick to smile.  The best part is that he is already acting a bit shy towards others and turning to us when he gets nervous. He was waiting for us, I have no doubt.  Of course, if you don't do what he wants you are likely to get some major theatrics.  Worked on the nannies apparently, but it makes me want to laugh. Other than playing we did a little shopping and rested. Another good nap and nights sleep by Abraham made for happy parents.

Thursday was embassy!  A big moment in the journey when the US government approves a visa for us to bring Abraham home.  Because Kristel didn't make the first trip he enters the US as a permanent resident and then we apply for US citizenship.  The embassy interview was not a big event itself.  They checked our forms, discussed the process a little bit and said we will be issued the visa on Friday so we can head home.

After embassy we had just enough time for a quick visit to see a girl we sponsor at a read and feed program on the outskirts of Addis Ababa. They provide breakfast and dinner and tutoring help for some of the poorest kids.  Betty (short for Bethlehem) was so excited!  We brought her a backpack of stuff.  Clothes, school supplies, candy, etc.  She gave us three kisses on the cheek Ethiopian style and in perfect English thanked us very much for the gifts.  I hope she does well, she seemed like a very bright girl.  Them we sat through terrible traffic but made it to the guesthouse for dinner and to put Abraham down for his last night in Ethiopia. Makes me wonder if he will ever return.  I hope we all do, including the girls.  The Ethiopian people are amazing.

Kristel is a woman of faith.  I love her for it.  It is not that easy for me.   But this journey has been an incredible experience. I never knew why it was so easy for me to say yes to adopting.  Yes to not trying for a biological son who would look like me (and my dad, my Uncle John, et al).  But it was.  I knew I would love him, I never had a doubt about that.  I guess God made that first step easy for me because I have struggled some since.  Why are we putting our life on hold for over two years for some kid we have never even met from halfway around the world?  Why are we spending all this money?  Why why why.  My struggles were mostly selfish, unfortunately.  The first yes to adoption was easy, the sacrifice of control over my time, money, emotions was hard.

This week that all melted away.  I am thankful for that peace.

  • The Lord had said to Abram, "Go from your country, your people and your father's household to the land I will show you."  Genesis 12:1
  • My mom gave me a few sports books before we left as an early birthday present.  The one I brought with me was Tim Tebow's memoir. I didn't know, and I don't think that mom did, that throughout the book he discusses his family's work with orphans and quotes scripture addressing orphans.  
  • Saturday is the Ethiopian holiday of Timket (Epiphany-the baptism of Jesus Christ).  Festivities start at 11am tomorrow while we are still here so we will get to experience the beginning most holy (and most celebrated) Ethiopian holiday. 
  • Due to Timket and other upcoming holidays tickets were hard to come by at reasonable prices for last weekend and this weekend.  We were cleared to travel on the 9th and that day I worked with the travel agent.  Her first four airlines were booked or didn't have dates that would work or were out of our price range.  I asked her to check a few other options on less often used airlines.  There were seats available for the exact dates we wanted at cheaper prices than we have seen in a while.  Three days before we flew out.
  • Abraham has a bacterial infection that was not being treated properly.  If we hadn't gotten here now and got him on antibiotics who knows how bad it may have gotten.

Message received God.  Thank you.


(Today was emotional for me)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Gotcha day

Where to even begin writing this post. The day Abraham joined our family forever. I again did not sleep well so I knew I would be emotional from the get go. after big breakfast we headed out at 9 am one last time to the orphanage. One last time.... Even as we were driving there I was starting to tear up. All of the things that would happen today kept playing in my head. Abraham would finally get his forever family, we would finally have our son. But also the children at the center would lose a friend. And the nannies who care so deeply for these children would see another child leave. Its bittersweet. I knew exactly how Abraham's special nanny would feel because I too was a nanny before I had my girls. People always say " but they go into the situation knowing the children will leave". "Surely it must not be that bad". From my own personal experience I know that it is impossible to care for a child the way they need to be cared for without falling in love with them. Yes we know we will not care for these children forever, but they deserve every single ounce of love we can give them. Even if it is just for a short while. They should be cared for as if they were our own children.
So we finally arrive again at the black gates and enter the court yard knowing we have just 2 short hours to say our goodbyes. Abraham was sporting his sassy little leopard trimmed pants again, a red shirt and a very small pair of sandals. He wanted to play football (soccer) right away so he and daddy kicked the ball around. He seemed to have more energy today. And again zero fear of us. Thank you God. Only one other kid was out playing in the courtyard. The rest were back in that same class room with the little green chairs. One of the nannies started to set up the farewell coffee ceremony and slowly the kids starting trickling out of the class to play.
It's funny to see how the other children interact with Abraham. They are very kind and gentle to him. One of his roommates, Owen, came up to him and cupped both of his hands on Abraham's face. It was almost like he knew that he would not see Abraham again. Some other kids got him his drink of water first instead of serving themselves. I'm not sure what all the nannies tell the kids about one of their friends leaving but there was this cloud of "knowing" hanging in the air. The kids only played for a short time outside and then all but 2 were shuffled back into their rooms. There were no good byes. This shocked me. I still don't know how I feel about this. In one way they are protecting the kids from feeling even more loss but in another they don't get any closure. One day you are there and the next you are gone.....
We enjoyed our coffee ceremony and popcorn. Abraham even tried the coffee and liked it! Must be in his blood:) The 2 other kids joined us in our little party. But finally it was time to go.
Abraham had two special nannies who cared for him a majority of the time. I could tell it was going to be very hard for one of them. She watched from afar as I stripped him from his orphanage clothes and replaced them with ones we had brought. She quickly walked up to me and Abraham .(Abrashay as they like to call him) She pinched his cheeks one last time, kissed him once on the right side, then the left, then the right again. All she said was "Abrashay, Abrashay" and then hurried off to be alone farther away from us so we wouldn't see her tears. The rest of the nannies said their goodbyes as well and we got a group picture together. His special nanny not able to look at the camera. After the picture, I went back over to his special nanny and kissed her cheeks the same way she had done to my son and I thanked her for taking such good care of him. And that was it....
We loaded up in the van, waving as we backed out of the courtyard and slowly watched the gates close on the life Abraham has come to know for the last 7 months.

Sent from my iPad

Monday, January 14, 2013

Meeting my Abraham

So many emotions are coming out of me tonight at midnight here in Addis as I sit in my bed. The sights and sounds of Addis I hope will never fade from my memory . From the wild dogs "chatting" all night to the smiling faces who are always eager to help. the joyous laughter of orphanage children playing a quick game of soccer or did I get here? Little me. I am finally in my son's country.
This is a time I have longed for for 3 years and it is happening now. If you want to feel every emotion a human is capable of feeling, then adopt a child. Come to Africa. Touch these orphan children with your own hands. I saw "it" in everyone of the kids at the orphanage. Each of their faces tells a story. These are God's special children. Because even though they have lost everything dear to them, when I look into their eyes I see hope. I see the fight in them. They believe that all things can and will get better. None so much as the first time I gazed into my son's eyes. So many times in this adoption process I wanted to give up. The wait for him hurt my heart too much. The time frame kept expanding. Why was this adoption seed planted into my brain? Just one look was all it took to wipe away any fear, any pain, ANY timeframe. This was our perfect time together. This day. Not in November when I so desperately wanted to go on our first trip. This was my day. January 14 2013.
I didn't sleep much the night before. Much like the night before I gave birth to my daughters. My mind would not turn off. So finally the alarm went off signaling me to move. I have never got ready so fast in my entire life. Today was our turn.
We went down stairs for "BIG" breakfast as we like to call it. The woman who cooks at our guest house is amazing. Plate after plate kept coming out of the kitchen. It was quite funny to see all the dishes at the end of our meal. it looked like 10 people had eaten. They must know Americans eat a lot.
So after big breakfast we went upstairs and waited for our driver to pick us up. He arrived at 9am. I have been told all about the adventures you can have while driving around Addis. There are big people, little people, goats, cars, buses, horse drawn carts, you name it its out there.....and no real rules. I thought I would be afraid but I kind of found it fun. I told Justin it felt like Go-Kart driving. But I think a better description would be bumper cars without the bumping. You can go as fast as you want, go in any direction you want, honk as much as you want, the only requirements are you that you hit nothing and you do it all with a smile on your face. Some how this system actually works and its crazy fun.
We finally turn down a cobble stone street and pull up to these huge black gates. With one little beep the doors swing open and we have entered up until now my dream world. My palms are sweaty just typing this now as I remember all of the emotions of stepping out of the white van into that court yard. Clothes were drying on the line but there were no children to be seen. I heard them before I saw them. The little ones (ages 2-6 years) were all in a room. I think it was school time or something. They were all in these little green plastic chairs. A man went into the room and picked up a child. This was my day! This was my child! He brought him down the stairs and set him on the ground. At first he was hard to recognize because he was wearing a pink ruffled shirt and jeans with leopard print trim. Oh and he had absolutely no hair! I stayed back and watched as Abraham made his way, unafraid I might add, over to his daddy. It was a sweet 30 second reunion I wanted my turn. I handed the camera to Justin. Abraham walked right up to me. I picked him up and my heart melted into a big old puddle. He was so precious and took to me right away. I had him smiling in no time. My perfect little missing puzzle piece was finally found. I had my son.

Sent from my iPad

Friday, November 16, 2012