Saturday, June 27, 2009

Royal Coffee...

It is more than just legend, it's a fact! People all over the globe (and especially those residing in my household) agree; Ethiopia has the best coffee EVER! So when an Ethiopian coffee shop opened in our neck of the woods, we noticed and drank. And then we drank again. I'm talking about Chicago's very own (and first, I think) Ethiopian coffee house: Royal Coffee (6764 N Sheridan Road). If you order a Macciato and then slowly sip with your eyes closed, you really might believe that you are on Bole Road in Addis. Sans donkeys and shoe shine boys, but with the same love and care given to the bean. The motto for this place is "We know coffee from it's root." We agreed!

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

Summer Lovin (Having a blast!!)

“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.”
–Howard Thurma

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

World Refugee Day-June 20th

Today is a very special day! A day that is devoted to some of the strongest and most resilient individuals in the world: refugees. The legal UNHCR definition of a refugee is(summarized) "individuals who must flee their country due to a well founded fear of persecution." What this definition doesn't define is who these individuals are. To me, they are both clients and friends; black, white, brown and tan; very, very old and very, very young; they are doctors, farmers, translators, teachers and housewives. They are also individuals who have endured more than you and I may ever be forced to endure (Inshallah). They have come from Burundi, Burma, Iraq, Ethiopia, Liberia, Iran and many, many other countries. If they don't verbally share their story with you, you can often still see the story on their faces. Although excited to come to America to begin a new life, the war, death, hunger and loss that they have experienced prior to arriving is often visible.

But so is the hope.

Families arrive with dreams of receiving the education that they never have before had the opportunity to gain, jobs that allow them to feel whole again, but most of all freedom to pursue what is important to them (religion, ethnic identification and political affiliation).

If you live in a city that resettles refugees, consider how you might be able to make an impact. Just imagine what you life would be like if you had to quickly leave your country for a new land simply because of who you are. That's not a world that I like to imagine myself living in, but it is reality for 35 million people.

This shows a tiny piece of our work...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Lovely Day...

Guess what?

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

What to do?

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.