Monday, December 28, 2009
If you are attempting to do adoption travel on the cheap, I will include several points of interest in this post. Here are my tips:
1. Fly Turkish Airlines----I had flown Turkish before and totally recommend it for cheap travel. Even at the last minute, our flight was only $1200 per person. (Because Y is over 2, she had to pay a full fare coming back which was also $1200, but for one way only...boo!). We flew directly from Chicago to Istanbul and had a quick layover of three hours. During that time we utilized the free Internet in the airport, but compensated with outrageously expensive and mediocre food and coffee! The flight was smooth, all luggage arrived as planned and the plane was new and well kept. Booking was easy. We did it through Cheap Tickets.com and then phoned the airlines to book Y's ticket which was linked to ours. Turkish has consistently had the cheapest tickets to Addis for over a year now. Although the ticket is nonrefundable, you can pay an extra $200 once you are in Addis if you need to change your ticket, and this is very easily accomplished. CONS: It was a slight nuisance to book over the phone as the connection was obviously through a distant call center, but totally worth the money saved. Also, flying back through Istanbul security was very tight. We had our passports checked six times. With a three year old in tow, this was a hassle and almost made us all go crazy, but one week later we are just glad to have saved so much $$$. No regrets on choosing Turkish. I would note that a stroller would have made this part of the trip 100% better!
2. Mr Martin's Cozy Place Guest House (or "German Guest House"): Some would call this "no frills." It is fairly basic, but still allows you to feel comfortable and safe and has the modern amenities one needs (hot water, electricity, and a shared refrigerator). We stayed in the single room one night before we picked up Y ($10 USD) and then switched to the family room ($19.50 per night). The family room included a sitting room with a desk, wardrobe and chairs and an attached bedroom with a double and single bed. The bathroom is down the hall, but felt like a private bath because only one other suite shared it with our room and the suite was empty most of the time. The staff are super friendly, they were understanding and accommodating to our screaming three year old, and all of the guests are fairly social, which is good given the amount of time spent in the guest house. They have a cafe with reasonably priced "Western" food ($3USD breakfasts). They have a decent Internet connection and the staff can help you get anything you need including changing money and running errands for you (the latter does not come for free, but is cheap!). Most of the other guests are tourists or low paid researchers or interns, which is nice because the place clears out during the day making the staff extra attentive and eager to chat with you! CONS: The walls are pretty thin in this place, so the noise really depends on your neighbors and what sort of...ummm, shall we say "activities," that they wish to participate in. (None on this trip, thankfully). If you are a Gladney family, this guest house would be far from the Care Center...about 30 mins, but totally accessible with your driver (this is in the "Atlas Hotel" neighborhood). Again, it is pretty basic, but they clean everyday and it is bud free etc.
3. Eat Local---This will save you a TON of money. Right outside of the guesthouse is an Injera house. We ate the local "Shiro Wat" daily which cost around $1.20 total. With drinks included we would spend about $2.50 on lunch and sometimes eat breakfast and dinner there as well. However, I am a saladaholic and need my salad fix, so we also ate at the neighborhood Lebanese restaurant that caters to foreigners...great, but much more expensive (still cheap at around $13 total). CONS: none! Injera and Shiro Wat at those prices can't be beat.
Hmmm those were our big price cutters! We also didn't have a driver at all, which worked well for us because we know Addis public transport, but most likely would not be a good bet if this is your first time to Addis. We aren't really super thrifty people and these things were all fairly easy to do. We certainly were not suffering.
To make up for all of our savings, I did feel the need to spend around $100USD at this store. I consider it an Ethiopia MUST!
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
It's kinda like lice or flies or bedbugs...once you hear about it, you are convinced that it is taking over your body and you itch and see it appearing all over the place!
Yuck and Happiest of Holidays! :)
Monday, December 21, 2009
I'm a mom, y'all! And can you believe that I am so lucky as to parent this cutie pie???
Y is a living and breathing and RUNNING....oh yes she runs, child in our home!
Stealing from the Office a bit in regards to parenting. I totally know what I am doing, but "in a much more real sense, I have no idea at all." :)
Ethiopia was wonderful! It was great to connect with friends, eat shiro and injera literally every day (except one) for lunch, drink endless amounts of coffee, pay $1.20 to get Y's hair braided, meet this family, meet this families children, shop for things we REALLY needed...(I mean who doesn't need yet another scarf?) and to just be in a place that celebrates being. It was for sure a different trip than any other, and we underestimated how much work it would be to have a child along for the ride! We dramatically scaled back on our initial plans of meeting friends for lunch, coffee and dinner everyday and actually just spent a lot of time in our guesthouse.
I feel like I have tons to write about; Y's adjustment, my adjustment to parenting, adoption travel on the cheap, adopting an older child, Missionaries of Charity orphanages (home to Y).....but for now I will sign off because it is not yet 6am and I need coffee and find this hour repulsive without it! And mostly because little Y is screaming that the "the urine has arrived" (literal Amharic to English translation) and how can I not attend to that???
Monday, December 7, 2009
"Has it hit you yet?"
Hmmm, actually.....not really! But it should, right? We are within 20 hours of picking up our daughter and embarking on a new life together. Forever. And that is good and great and wonderful. And I can't wait to see her and hold her and play with her.
But something about this seems so unreal. Maybe it is because of all of the ups and downs that we have experienced throughout this journey. (I'm pretty sure that is why)I think a part of me, even though it is not rational, still might not believe that this is all really happening and that Y really is my daughter until I see her again. I realized this week that it has been eight months since I last saw her. Sure, I have seen pictures, but I see pictures of people's cute adopted kids from Ethiopia all of the time.
The craziness of life in the last month has contributed to the strange feelings as well. I have wrapped up my job of six years (well, mostly......a project or two hang over!), started a new one, and tried to plan for life with a three year old (but how do you really do that?). I was literally sending work emails until the cabin crew forced me off of the computer. And now? Now I am dreaming of macciatos, reunions with friends and one super cute little girl! (added bonus: N's sister, who is working in Kabul, will be joining us at some point on our jouney!!!)
It's all good, it's just all new!
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
I remember when I first learned about HIV/AIDS. It was scary. It was incurable and people I didn't know got it. Then someone I did know had it. And he lived next door to me, and then he passed away. It was the 80's and no one knew better and I remember his family burning his clothing and mattress "just in case."
Cut to 1999. One of the best things about my Bible college was our required volunteer work in the great city of Chicago. My eyes were continually opened and challenged by both the needs and the beauty of such a rich city. I was assigned a year of volunteering at a home for children infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. I remember when the head nurse told me that one of the babies was infected (let's disregard that HIP AA violation). I remember crying and praying over the baby every week while I rocked him.
2002--Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. My friend Julie regularly volunteered at the Mother Teresa home for HIV infected children. I went with her to visit and play with the kids. It was a day full of fun and sadness. I distinctly remember thinking how amazing it would be to one day spend more intensive time in a home like that just loving the kids and caring for them.
2008--Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Same orphanage, same kids, six years later. We played so much and laughed so much and some days I would forget just how sick they were/are. And then the nightly rounds of medicine would come around and in the quietness (well, kinda quietness) of the toddler room, I would think about how precious the kids were and how tragic and ugly it was that they were sick.
...and now when I think about that ugly, scary incurable disease, I don't think that it happens to people so different than myself. Because I know names and faces and personalities of so, so many infected and affected. And it is so very personal now.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Last week I was reading a list of developmental milestones for three year olds. One of the milestones says that at three years of age you should be able to slide down the slide by yourself. Check! Yitayal has been ruling the playground far longer than that! One of my first memories of her was seeing her on top of the slide (all alone) screaming and waving at a friend. Um, she wasn't even two then. Nice.
We leave to pick up the fearless one on the 6th of December. It is totally surreal!
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
With great joy Nathan and I are so happy to introduce you to our precious little girl!
Yitayal Sofia Haines
Born August 3rd 2006
Officially in our family November 18th 2009
We will travel to pick her up on December 5th!
Yitayal: meaning "the one who is seen." Given to her by her birth mother
Sofia: meaning "God sees" (in Amharic) and "wisdom" in English. Given to her by us!
With deepest joy,
Richelle and Nathan
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
We are almost near to what N and I feel to be the most important day of our married life. Y might officially join our family tomorrow. She has been in our hearts and minds for so long now.
I was thinking yesterday about a trip to California that N and I took in January. We had been contacted by Gladney earlier that month. Gladney said that they didn't think that she had the necessary documents for adoption. They would contact us shortly. I was in a lovely hotel enjoying the lovely weather, when the unlovely news arrived. Our caseworker called to say that after evaluating the "case" of Y, it did not seem that we could adopt her. We were shocked (because she had no known family and had lived in an orphanage her whole life), saddened and also pretty darn determined to figure out what else could be done.
That same day we received a set of four photos of her. Our first in six months.
Joy, elation, heartache, paperwork, investigation, trips to Addis, crying, more heartache and now tomorrow.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Here they are! The best couple ever! (Feel free to use this caption for the photo below!)
the cupcakes....here is one flavor!
PS: Can anyone tell that I don't know how to put captions under photos?
Monday, November 9, 2009
She is about 10lbs too small for those clothes.
My experience with her is that she is not a particularly good eater. Thankfully, she will be in a house with people who LOVE food and will ensure that she is full AND healthy.
And....9 days until you-know-what.
Friday, November 6, 2009
Drink coffee (check)
Buy American donuts for French house guests to try (check)
Shop for cupcake ingredients (check)
Pick up wedding guests from airport (oops--no time, they better meet me at the train)
CUPCAKES (checking, and will continue to check after the rehearsal dinner)
Present state: Scarf in my hair (B-you know the one/style! :), TONS of chocolate on my dingy sweater, whitening strips on my teeth. I am so hot! Must shower and prepare for rehearsal dinner!
Peace out! (And 12 days until court!)
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Our great friend Chantal is getting married to our great friend Jermaine this weekend! Don't you just love it when you are totally and fully excited for something wonderful to happen in the lives of people you love?
Our house is command central and full of life and madness! Chantal's family is in from France and I am loving seeing Chicago through the eyes of French teenagers! It certainly brings out the beauty in the mundane---today they were in love with the street squirrels and the apartment buildings; both things I certainly take for granted! They have been pleasantly surprised at how "not everyone is fat" and that the food is actually better than they thought. They did mention that the shoes in our stores are about a year behind Paris fashion. Sigh. What do you expect from the Midwest, kids?
Tomorrow is the day before the wedding. Not Friday. But the day before THE event. Manicures, rehearsals, lunches and dinners are in order. Oh, did I mention that my friend Ace and I are making ALL of the wedding cupcakes? Yup! 350 of them! Don't ask me about my professional baking skills, because they do not actually exist! Cross your fingers that success will be ours!!!
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
I remember that I had a really hard time focusing at work.
I remember that it was the most invested I had ever been in the political process.
I remember taking a packed out Red line train downtown.
I remember that it felt like a holiday.
I remember November 4th 2008 when Barack Obama was elected president.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
This does relate to Y, I promise.
After she changed orphanages in August, we started to get a bit sad wondering about how she is doing in her new place and how she is handling the loss of the only family that she has ever known (with plenty of "good-enough" mothers to love and care for her).
Our referral photo was oh-so-sad.
Our update photo yesterday was cute in it's own way, but the message was sad. She plays mostly alone. She is quiet (please refer to older posts to know that this is NOT the Y we know!) and kinda withdrawn.
I'm wondering a lot about her next move. Here. To Chicago. How's that gonna be? I'm so excited with a healthy dose of scared shitless thrown in for good measure. Wondering what Y knows, comprehends and is thinking.
Monday, November 2, 2009
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Today's fun highlights included a nice long run, the successful feeling of completing a cleaning project and thoughts of some wine this evening.
To balance the fun highlights, I should mention that my true feelings right now are that of total stress and "how in the world can I get everything done" which relates only casually to Y and more to work and other commitments.
Peace out! See you tomorrow and the day after, and the day after that until we reach the 18th!
Monday, October 26, 2009
1. Choose a middle name for Y
2. Buy a bed/totally make her entire room AMAZING! :)
3. I actually can't think of a number 3, but you can see how 1 and 2 are fairly consuming.
Presently Y owns the following items:
1. "I *heart* MJ t-shirt
2. Colorful Nike's from Aunt J
3. Books from Nanna Main
4. A rug from the Amish peeps in Wisconsin
5. Rocking chair from WR garage sale
6. Cabbage Patch Kid and blocks from Amanda
7. About $20 worth of cute sale clothes from the Gap purchased by myself and N.
What else do you need for a 3 year old? Anything? :) Your thoughts on this issue will be greatly coveted!
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Tonight we are tasked with our most important love letter. We have until tomorrow at 3:00pm to come up with a letter and photo for Y. We aren't so good with the picture taking, but our friend took the above photo last week and it is good enough! I'm not sure what one says to a three year old who has had her life turned upside down in the last few months with our comings and goings and her move to a new place. Of course we will tell her that we love her and miss her, but what does that mean to a three year old who can only see us through a picture?
We are longing for the time when we are together and we can care for her. And we can love her forever. And we can be her family in a real and tangible way.
Monday, October 5, 2009
Her birth date is August 3rd (August is THE birthday month in my family and extended family)
She needs to put on some weight (and we were worried about her candy consumption)
The spellings of her name are as varied as Bjork's wardrobe choices.
Gladney (our adoption agency) is now working on our case.
Our paperwork will be submitted for a court date.
Our court date will come at an unknown, but hopefully soon, date!
Things are good!
Thursday, October 1, 2009
I came across this photo today and happily remembered this day in April (Y "sat" in the service with me but kept screaming that she wanted candy, so I had to take her out early). I choose this photo to mark our 6th month of wait list life (4/1/09).
Come quickly referral. Come quickly.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
Since last posting we have celebrated Ethiopian New Years, our 6th wedding anniversary, biked a whole lot, I attempted to run a little bit more and we have both continued with our jobs and life in general. Fall is totally here as I felt a strong chill in the air this morning!
Oh, and I went to Michael Jackson's birth house yesterday. Don't be jealous. I will post photos of that later!
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Guess what is a total pain in my world?
Plantar Fasciitis. I have it. Some kind of rocks-stuck-in-your-foot-and-you-want-to-die heel problem.It is so freaking painful and also apparently my fault, or so the kinda judgemental Physical Therapist explained. Something about not stretching enough, bad running shoes and increasing my mileage too fast. What? Me?
I am aiming to run the Detroit Free Press Half Marathon on the 18th of October with my friend MMG. I had dreams of a 1:59:59 pace. Not sure that will happen. It might be more like "kicked off the course because you ran too slow." No good, man!
Not only is this painful, it is sad, man! You see, I love to eat things like triple creme brie, sour cream and tortilla chips. (Separately, of course). This isn't just about running races, this is about obesity prevention, man!
My Bikram yoga teacher has kindly modified some of the poses for me so at least I can keep yoga-ing. Arg!
Anyone ever had this?
Monday, August 31, 2009
In a phone call yesterday she said "well, you caught the lion. what now? are you going to blog about what's next?"
I guess we don't really know what is next. Unless everyone wants the weekly details of which pieces of paper have been moved and signed by whom, nothing really happens until we have a court date. According to my deeply scientific calculations gathered by intensive evenings of blog stalking, it appears that people receiving referrals in Aug/September didn't have court dates until late December. Hmmm. That would mean travel in early Jan and home mid Jan.
Again, very deeply scientific.
In the meantime, this is what is up: We painted and furnished our office and did some other random house repairs. When I say "we," I think you might know what I really mean. N returns to work (school) on Wed, and I have started some new tasks in my current job. In addition to anxiously awaiting our departure for Ethio, we are looking forward to Labor Day camping, fall canning, camping with kids from my work, running a half marathon, participating in a wedding, coaching the first ever cross country team for N's school and Canadian Thanksgiving (supremely better than "real" Thanksgiving because all of your friends can come over since it isn't an American holiday!
Friday, August 28, 2009
---Ethiopian proverb (Amharic)
We were repeatedly told that the adoption of Y would not work.
The Sisters at Asco prayed and worked so, so, very hard for her.
We made two trips to Ethiopia.
Her smiling face and insane antics kept us going.
You all walked with us and thought of us.
We have caught the lion!
"The" letter has been signed, sealed and delivered. We received the news about 20 mins ago!
What are the next steps:
The letter will be sent to the regional authorities who are actually below the authorities who wrote the first letter. (One week)
Paperwork goes to Gladney in Ethiopia (One week)
Gladney gives us the referral of Y (this is laughable to us, really)
Court date scheduled
Once we pass court, we will fly to Ethiopia. (Maybe November??)
Thursday, August 20, 2009
N and I have been thinking about starting to create Y's room. With the impending *good* news of next week coinciding with some vacation time off, it seemed a lovely time to make Y a space. What says cheap and cute like Ikea?
We are also still trying to get that letter that is really important for Y's situation.
I dreamed that Ikea had the power to write the letter, but they did not do it. I think I woke up wondering if I should consider Macy's as a second source. Things that make ya go "hmmmm."
In other news, N is home, DC was bitchin, Teddy Afro is out of jail and Addis Ababa University FINALLY has a female professor!
Thursday, August 13, 2009
I head to DC in the morning (which is a mere six hours away and two more dirty rooms left to clean,but whose counting?). I look forward to a joyous reunion with N as he will be arriving from Ethio after five glorious weeks. We will stay in DC for a few days hanging with our good pals Nicki and Mesfin. Nicki and I worked in Ethiopia together. She, the lovely urbanite to my village inspired life. We had some good times. She shared the joy in my engagement and I watched in awe as she fooled everyone into thinking she was truly Habesha. (See? You thought so to, right? Nope----) We are so thrilled to be able to attend a baby shower for them while in DC!
N's arrival means a sad good-bye with Y. I haven't yet talked to him, but I know that it will be tough to leave when it feels like we are on the cusp of change. Inshallah, right?
Enjoy a couple of photos that are hilarious (to us) circa 2007. Every good Ethiopia home has a photo book. When you look inside you see some lovely photos such as these. Focus on the guys picture (I couldn't upload the BEST one of Nicki and I!)
Monday, August 10, 2009
News will not be coming today.
Or next week.
Perhaps in two weeks.
Our man has decided to extend his annual vacation by two weeks and thus cannot write us the ever important letter.
Whatcha gonna do?
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Here are this week's juicy tidbits on her ever emerging cuteness: N informed me that she is left-handed. Good to know. She will join the likes of Barack Obama, Oprah, Ringo Star and other left-handed wonders.
N said that Y decided to draw a family picture this week. She scribbled some stuff on paper and ran around screaming that her mother was Rahel and her father was "you" for N. Sigh. As cute as this is, it is a bit sad for this stage of our journey. Obviously she has been told more than we would have liked her to know, but I also honestly believe that she deeply feels a connection and longs for family.
My real feelings right now? I have a good vibe. I really do feel like we are going to get positive news this week. I even debated about posting this because we have had so many false alarms. But ultimately that is what this blog is for; the whole journey thing. Sharing with others what is really up; both the good and the bad. For now, I am thinking it's gonna be good. For reals this time.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
I also learned that running in a high altitude in the New Mexican sun is much harder than running in Chicago. This should have appeared obvious to me, but I ventured out several times anyway. (Public Announcement: I WILL run a half marathon in October. Stay tuned for how well I do/don't train for said race) I needed the exercise to justify the next lesson learned:
I really can't live without tortilla chips for more than a day. I even brought my favorite green bag version (a Chicago speciality) under the guise of "sharing with the family", but I think it was really more for my own outrageous consumption needs.
Finally, I learned that everyone should get a vacation. Since I had one, why should I be so sad that the guy in Addis who we are super dependent upon for a signature keeps taking leave when we need him most? Maybe that was the hardest lesson learned.
Summary: A little self reflection, a little exercise, a little junk food: Life is good; summer is grand!
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Monday, July 20, 2009
N called this morning with the report that we have no news to report! The good news is that the Sisters have learned some interesting information in regards to Y's situation and they feel very equipped to make the application for her. After receiving additional information on Friday, they are choosing to make the report sometime later this week!
I can't say that I am feeling totally positive, but I am also not wallowing in a pit of despair! I have so appreciated the e-mails, phone calls, text messages, comments and general support from all of you! Thank you for following our story and for caring about Y!
I had to force myself to be engaged while at work today! Being present is so super hard when your mind in 7000 miles away! I had a wonderful weekend visiting a long time friend, having dinner with another and catching up on sleep and phone calls. My goal for this week is to try and be a bit more present and less focused on things that I cannot control! Wish me luck in that venture!
We still seek your thoughts and prayers for Y this week!
Saturday, July 18, 2009
About that: Although Y has lived in the orphanage for over 2.5 years, and no relatives have been able to be identified, she has not been granted "abandonment status" and we thus wait. The Sisters will be headed once again to the powers-that-be to advocate for this status to be given to her. This will occur on Monday. Inshallah we will hear something positive and we can FINALLY move forward. I really don't want to think of the possibility of this not happening. If you are reading this post now, please pray for some good news on this front. Updates from N only serve to remind me that I so desperately want Y to be apart of our family and cannot imagine it otherwise.
Should she receive the necessary documentation this week, the process is still long but POSSIBLE! If she is denied, we will need to keep waiting and asking. I am filling my time this weekend with fun stuff in order to forget about the waiting time! Heading to visit a special friend who I have not seen in over a year! Should be fun!
Monday, July 13, 2009
We often say that Ethiopia is the perfect place to make decisions. For us, that has included the decision to get married (2002), the decision to pursue careers in Ethiopia (2005) and the decision to adopt a child (2008). We find a kind of clarity, apart from the distractions of our often insanely busy North American lives, that we don't find in other places and have been able to spend time thinking about what is important to us. We value friendships, family, having a strong relationship together and do find joy in serving others. But we often forget about what we love . and what we value gets pushed to the side as we focus on career, school or other things that really don't seem important when we are surrounded by life and death issues in Ethiopia.
For five weeks N will be working with the Missionaries of Charity in Addis. He will spend his days playing with kids who are pretty sick. They may not always look sick, or act sick. Sometimes he will forget they are sick. But then in the quiet of his room, he will think about the unfairness of the sickness that they do have and will question how such sweet faces should have to life with bodies that are so frail. He will eat simply (although will enjoy plenty of delicious coffee, I know) and will wash his clothing by hand.
I remain here in Chicago. I will continue to work with refugee kids, but these kids have families. They have endured war, famine, illness, death, separation and so much loss. But they are now in a safer place. We will play all day in the sun and enjoy the wealth of free activities that this city has to offer. At the end of the day I will return to our home, and most likely eat a delicious meal, because I don't like the undelicious kind.
We will both be reading this book daily and writing down our thoughts and feelings about the words of MT and how it applies to our present situation.
I am eager to reflect back with him on how our present situations and surrounding impact our thought process. I wonder what decisions he will be making while away this time and how we will join our thoughts together upon his return. I feel ready to make some changes in life. Not sure what those changes will be or when they will happen, but I am starting to think about what they might be and that can be exciting!
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Saturday, July 11, 2009
It's confession time: I don't clean the house. I used to pretend that I did, but now I am readily admitting that N does all of the housekeeping. Maybe I've done laundry, say, twice in the last six years. Dishes? Hardly. Toilet bowl washing? Forget about it.
I know, I know.
How lucky am I, right? Well, N left for Ethiopia today and here I sit wondering how I will learn to do the tasks that I have gotten out of for most of my life. I have historical roots in uncleanliness and have always somehow had some nice soul willing to assist me in my task. Here's a look at how I have gotten out of the housework for the last 29 years:
1980-1998: My mother really likes things clean. Too bad for her, I take after my father. From my long pointy noses to my love for food, I just didn't get my mother's genes or cleaning skills. Lucky for me, my moms desire for a clean house was equally matched with my desire to trick my younger sister into doing anything I wanted. Voila! Clean room! (And it usually only cost me a piece of candy or something).
1998-2002: College. Let's just say that my roommates liked me for my personality and NOT my ability to keep our living space in tip-top shape. I wised up and got a single room so that I could live judgement free. I do think that I had a college wide reputation for living in a total pit. This is when I realized that I could use my cooking skills to get people to forget about my other domestic failings. From marinara sauce to spinach dip, I whipped up culinary delights in the dorm kitchen and people always helped me clean my room so that we could all dine together. Another successful diversion...
2002-2003: Ethiopia. Working in Bonga Refugee Camp. It was hot as hell. I was teaching for the first time, overwhelmed with life without electricity, running water and living in a roach and sometimes rat infested home. Enter 'Monkite. Her name means "no soup" which described the condition of her family when she was born. She wanted a job and allegedly liked washing dishes. For a salary that is less than I spend on tortilla chips in a week, 'Monkite scrubbed my dishes until they shined as much as they ever would. (The decision to have a housekeeper while living in rural Ethiopia was a struggle to come to, but ultimately something that I would do again. More on that later).
2003-Present: Marriage. Aaghh.....wedded bliss, right? I always told N that I was messy. He swore before we lived together that he didn't mind. We got married in September and he would start grad school in Jan. Without a green card or work authorization, his time filling prospects were pretty bleak (Let's not engage the deeper issues of my potential power over him )Thus his role as domestic manager as I worked to pay the bills. Well, our roles stuck, and the rest is history. Not to say that he actually enjoys the role. I sure do, but his feelings are not as loving as mine. (He is in DC now and has ample time to form a rebuttal before his next flight takes off).
Today: Me, a sponge, some kind of all natural spray and the bathtub. Cross your fingers for a successful five weeks. The good news is that kid sister (now 25 years old and a law student) is back for the summer living in the back room. I plan to entice her with something that she doesn't know how to cook and tell her that I will give it to her if she cleans the tile. After all, it's worked for the last 29 years, why not now?
All this to say, N will be deeply missed for many reasons, including his mad house keeping skills (including coffee roasting). Enjoy this super cheesy photo of him looking demon possessed as he browns our beans to perfection!
Sunday, July 5, 2009
Busy times around here! But not the kind of busy that we have become overly accustomed to. You know, the not fun kind of busy: work, school, sleep and no play. Nope! Not us, not now! We have left that kind of busyness in the dust for a summer of serious fun! I actually can't remember N and I ever having so much spontaneous fun. This week (give a couple of days) has included outdoor music fun with friends, Ethiopian soccer game, late night trip for coffee with friends, a too late night at a dive bar, more Ethiopian soccer, and then some more, two meals of injera, a family reunion, thoughts of visiting Michael Jackson's house while driving through Indiana, house guests and BBQ's. It just feels so nice. We are both still working (N will finish teaching the first section of summer school this week), but it does us both well to have a rest from being in school.
The spontaneous fun as a union will end in a few days as we part ways for "Part II" of Summer 2009. N is off to Addis for five weeks to continue with language, work at the orphanage and see Y (who we hear is growing bigger everyday and is still the "queen" per reports when we phone the Sisters). I will continue on with 4 more weeks of programming with work and then a break when N returns. Any suggestions on vacations spots?
Perhaps a highlight for the week was a chance to truly practice Amharic with a 78 year old gentlemen. I say "truly" because my friends always provide me with the wonderful out of using English to fall back on when I forget words/or never knew it to begin with! We went for a meal/coffee at a new friends house only to discover that she had not yet returned from work. Her father opened the door and immediately greeted us in Amharic and launched into a super long monologue. He was thankful to have someone to speak with and got a kick out of an American/Canadian duo attempting to navigate the lingo. I'm blaming some of the initial language confusion on the fact that his first language is Tigrinya. Man, it was tough. I would say that the two of us managed to understand and contribute fairly well, but it required conversation skills that I have not used in months and maybe even a year. We talked government, adjustment to life in America, growing old and the chill of Chicago winters. Thankfully, our friend came home after about 20 mins. Wonderful practice for us and a fun chance to interact with a generation that often does not immigrate to the US.
That's all for now! Peace out!
PS: With all of this fun, guess what I haven't been doing? Ummm maybe exercising and eating "right." Maybe a few too many tortilla chips and not enough Bikram and running. Tomorrow, right?
Friday, July 3, 2009
Saturday, June 27, 2009
The owner is named David (Dawit) and was friendly enough to show us the beans that had just been delivered (from Ethiopia) and allowed us to taste some of the freshly roasted ones. Heaven. Just don't ask him specifically where the beans come from...."...someplace in the Southern Region (of Ethiopia)." I guess when you have a product that is this good, you want to protect it!
Check it out! If you live in Chicago, or plan to come for the Blog Union or summer vacation, make sure that this is a stop for you! I'll be the one double-fisting the macciatos!
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
What makes you come alive?
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who are alive.”
If the 90 degree weather wasn't enough of a wake up call that summer has FINALLY arrived, the activities of this week are a good reminder! My most beloved employment task involves creating and leading a six week summer day camp program for newly arrived refugee children. I'm on year six and going strong! The fun includes beach days, museum trips, art projects, ice cream eating and non-stop cross cultural goodness. This year we have kids from Burma, Bhutan (Nepal), Iraq, Congo, Columbia, Liberia and Cuba. Stay tuned for more updates on the kids and my sanity!
Saturday, June 20, 2009
This shows a tiny piece of our work...
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
I have the greatest news eva, eva! My bff has F-I-N-A-L-L-Y let me "out" her on my blog! She's adopting from Ethiopia also! Yup! That's right! Our magical friendship began over eleven years ago when we met in our dorm. She, a beautiful worldy city girl to my Southern accent, overalls and conversations about band camp (I swear...this is what my college roomates remember of me from my freshman year). We share a common love for dirty martinis, farmers markets and lying around and doing nothing (because we both work hard and that's how we play hard). She has traveled to visit me/with me to Ethiopia not only once, but twice. And that last time...well, I'll let her tell you about it. Go on over to her blog and say hello!
Sunday, June 7, 2009
The blogging drought has been directly tied to our feelings of sadness lately regarding our adoption. As I mentioned before, we are attempting to adopt a child that we know from Ethiopia. A precious child. A 2.5 year old little girl with a personality to rival all personalities. Loud, bossy (even for a two year old), full of life and curiosity, active and everything we could ever hope for all wrapped into a bundle of total and complete cuteness. I work with really cute kids in my job and am frequently accused of saying that so and so is the "cutest kid in the whole world..." Y really IS the cutest kid in the whole world. And her sing-song voice screaming phrases in Amharic like "Me, Me Me," "I refuse" and "give me" makes her all the more appealing! She is all two year old and we are totally in love!
We started the adoption process at the end of August 2008 and really thought that because we would not be waiting for a referral, things would fly so quickly...and they really did. However, in January, we found out that she may not be adoptable. We really had a hard time accepting this news and kept getting mixed information between the orphanage and our agency. So, in April, I (and my lovely friend) went to visit for three glorious weeks. We played with her, learned more about that aforementioned amazing personality and feel deeper in love. The trip was super worthwhile. In addition to always loving the chance to visit Ethiopia, N and I really did get a clear idea of what her adoption situation is.
May was a hard month. Fresh from my trip to see her, she was real and alive in our hearts and minds in a way that was deeper than before. We watched her videos, stared at her picture and I even hear her voice in my head a lot...(do what you will with that information).
Several particularly hard things occurred in May that have lead us to believe that her adoption may not be possible for a long time, if ever:
1. The closure of adoption for abandoned children (pending further investigation) in Addis. She would be in the category.
2. Our agency contacted us to state that they have not had any luck getting the final necessary documents needed for her (and it appears that they will not be able to).
Baring a total and complete miracle (which we are really open to happening and hope, hope, hope that it will), we do not anticipate that Y will be able to join our family. Our hearts are really breaking.
What does this mean for us and adoption? We really don't know.
What does this mean for Y? That is maybe one of the hardest parts....she does not have family caring for her and she cannot be adopted. She will stay in the orphanage.
What will our interaction with Y be in the future? We will ALWAYS remain open to adopting her should she be adoptable. We are not sure what our interaction with her should be in the meantime. We want to protect her from greater hurt and feelings of loss and abandonment.
N will spend 5/6 weeks in Addis in July/Aug. We hope to learn more then, but do not anticipate that the outcome will change at this time.........That's all the news from here!
PS: We are ok. We are so sad, but hanging in there. Besides a few inappropriate comments that have spilled out of my mouth which I have realized are connected to my general frusteration with this process, we are not totally falling apart.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
My point? Parenting is full of joy, but also full of tough stuff. Parenting a child who has joined your family through adoption adds several extra layers of tough stuff that will stump us as parents. And because parenting is so tough (just projecting here...) and because adoption does bring up many important questions for the adoptee, the last thing we as adoptive parents need is something like this to make our children feel ostracized......http://orphan-movie.warnerbros.com/
I again ask the question, "is this for real?" And if so, what should we as adoptive parents do about it?????
Friday, May 15, 2009
I accidently deleted all of the other pictures......maybe I will add them again later....
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Today's tale is one of suspense and shock, and ultimately, a life lesson. After a lovely dinner with my fav pal S in which we celebrated life by consuming fried potato tacos covered in sour cream, guacamole, queso fresco and salsa (it was so worth it!) I bid her goodnight and went to do some "work" (ie: blog stalking, emailing, time wasting) on the computer. "Had it really reached midnight already," I wondered? I was intent on spending "just one more minute" searching through my photos from Ethio in hopes of finding more pictures for families who had received referrals. I knew I should go to bed, but why sleep when catching up on everyone else's life is so much more interesting.....
I heard some pretty loud noises coming from the house below us and guessed that our landlord had just returned from his recent trip. Yikes! The noise is actually getting really close to our porch...wait? Is someone opening the door? Yes, that does sound like the door is opening.
I flipped out and ran to the bedroom to wake up N. By this time I KNEW someone was walking through our house....I woke up N and scream/whispered "someone is in our house." N is a pretty heavy sleeper, but seriously hates that I tend to over dramatize things and wake him up on a weekly basis. This time was for real, folks........The footsteps intensified and so did the random paper shuffling and pounding around the house. N went out to confront the "guest" (In hindsight we agree that this was perhaps foolish...)
For those of you who have been to our house, you know that it is very, very, very old and has some strange quirks, which on my good days, I call "personality." One of those quirks happens to be hook locks on the outside of several doors.
As N went to follow the mysterious intruder, I frantically attempted to find my cell phone which was (typical) dead. I found N's phone and called 911...The operator told me twice to repeat my address b/c I was talking so quietly.....something along the lines of "someone is in my (*&(*& house and I don't know what the hell they are doing. hurry!!!"
Remember those quirky locks? Um, yeah, so N locked the "guest" (by this point we realized that we had never invited this guest to our house and did not know who he was) into the bathroom. Yup. That's just how bad ass he is.
I went outside.
I waited for the police.
They pulled out the guns and kicked open the door.
They took the man away.
We went back to the house in shock.
So, we don't know who he was or why he decided to pay us a visit. Apparently he was totally tweaking and perhaps went into the wrong house. All I know is that it was super scary and that I jumped twice today when coworkers approached by desk when I wasn't facing them.
During family safety training earlier today, we concluded that we will just leave the house next time this happens.
This story totally tops the time we found the gun on our porch.
Ok, I'm just trying to be sensational.
Oh, and the moral? Never feel guilty for staying up late wasting time on the Internet. If I had gone to bed earlier, it would have been much scarier to wake up with someone random in my house.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Since I am patterning my blog after all of the blogs that I have so faithfully followed/stalked for the last five months, I was thinking that the next best step would be to explain a bit more about our adoption story. Here goes:
Adoption has been on our mind for a long time. I don't actually remember N and I have many conversations about it, but as a child, I desperately wanted my parents to adopt. On a fairly regular basis I would show them the "waiting children" pictures in the Sunday paper and talk about how Tommy would fit nicely into our family because he liked to ride his bike just like me. No dice. I did get my big break when my aunt adopted three children and I got to be very involved in the process of picking them up and bringing them home from the hospital. So, somewhere in my head, adoption as always been a normal and wonderful way to grow a family.
Fast forward: N and I always thought that we would have kids about two years into marriage...and we thought that every year for the next five...work/grad school/other interests became a greater priority. Additionally, we struggled with the concept of international adoption. Was it in the best interest of the child and of the country as a whole? We still wrestle with these questions, but..........................
While working at the Mother Teresa Orphanage in Asco we met a child. She is 2.5 years old, pretty much the cutest little girl ever and the Sisters were seeking a home for her. We talked...talked some more, thought, prayed and decided that we really wanted to adopt...HER! Maybe we even surprised ourselves, but most of our family didn't seem to be shocked!
Our process has had some real ups and downs. While we initially thought that we would just fly through all of the paperwork, our cute little "Y" has some challenges with her paperwork which presently prevent her from being adoptable. We were told by our caseworker in Jan that we would not be able to adopt her and that because of some really sad and crazy paperwork issues, she may never be able to be adopted. Devastation. Thankfully, neither N or I felt that it was really over. We pushed. We called. We investigated and finally I visited Ethiopia. While things are not necessarily ok now, at least we now fully understand what the problem is and that is comforting...to some degree. We wait.
In the meantime, Y is getting bigger, smarter and more active everyday.
Anyone else hate waiting? Somehow I am at peace...As the Sister repeatedly told us "If Y is for your family, God will make a way."
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
So, let me introduce us! (My husband is still not so sure about the blogging world, and will thus be the fairly silent partner in this venture!). We are R and N residing in the great city of Chicago. N is originally from Eastern Canada where the tides are high and lobster is plentiful. I am from a small town in Arkansas, but always loved to travel and knew that a big city was for me. We both made the move to Chicago in 98, and the rest is history!
N is a high school history teacher and I am a social worker with refugee children and youth. We both passionatly love our work, and have been at it for awhile. Our shared love and passion is Ethiopia; a place we have lived, worked, volunteered and now look forward to continuing our lasting connection through adoption of a child that we know and love.
We love living in Chicago, although anticipate that we will work internationally at some point (first choice ETHIOPIA) should the right opportunity come along! N enjoys biking, running, reading, education for social justice, and coffee roasting and gardening. R enjoys running, Bikram yoga, cute kids, cooking complicated things, having people come over for dinner and figuring out ways to get out of housework.
Our families are spread out all over the world. N's parents are retired and living in Canada. N's sister presently resides in London, but is crazily (ok, I'm just jealous) accepting a post with a NGO in Afghanistan. R's parents live in Indiana, nieces and nephews in New Mexico, brother in Afghanistan and sister finishing law school in Atlanta. We are lucky to have families that are supportive and excited about our upcoming adoption!
Other than trying to find ways to visit Ethiopia all of the time, we spend our days attempting to avoid swine flu (or Mexican influenza, depending on your geographical location), and enjoy the seasons as they come!
Ok. I did it. I made a blog!