Saturday, April 30, 2011

Yes, we're still around

Hello! I am SO SORRY I have been MIA for the last couple months. I can't believe that April is almost over and I haven't blogged yet! If you have followed us on Facebook, you will know that Jeremiah, Simon, and I got home last Saturday. It was nice to have the family together for Resurrection Sunday. So, I will try to recap our time in Ethiopia and I'll include some pictures as well. This may be a long blog post since there is a lot to share.

We left Omaha on March 4, 2011 and flew to Dulles via Chicago. We stayed overnight in DC and left for Ethiopia on Saturday, March 5. It was a loooong full flight, but I was able to sleep about 4 hours. We got to Addis Ababa on March 6 at about 8:00 a.m. ET (Ethiopian) time. There was one other AWAA family, Jeremy and Keyla Robinson, on our flight so we both got picked up by the driver, David, and Yonas. We went to Yebsabi Guest House (GH) first to get settled in. We could have gone to church, but we all wanted to get unpacked so we chose not to that day. After the others had gone to church, we were picked up and taken to lunch. While we were all hungry, we really just wanted to go meet our kids! Finally, after lunch, we got to go to the Transition Home (TH). Jeremy and Keyla were adopting a baby boy, and they brought him out first. Then it was our turn!!!!! There were so many feelings that I can't identify them all, but some of them were excitement, nervousness, uncertainty, impatience, etc. They brought Jeremiah out first and he came right up to me and I gave him a hug. He had a big smile on his face. While I was holding Jeremiah, they brought Simon out and Garth started to try to pick him up but Simon started crying and tried to go back into the TH. I gave Jeremiah to Garth and went over and picked Simon up. He screamed and screamed. I just held him, got fruit snacks out, and eventually just sat down on the steps there. We stayed there the whole day that first day. Simon cried for what seemed like forever, but I think it was about 45 minutes and then he finally stopped. Jeremiah and Daddy were having a great time together, playing on the playground, bonding, etc.

Day 2 with the boys started out about the same way...Simon crying for 30-45 minutes and Jeremiah being as happy as a lark. By the 2nd day, Jeremiah was having great fun taking everything out of the diaper bag to see what we brought. While Simon cried, I just held him and told him I loved him and that he was OK.

Day 3...same as days 1 and 2, but this time he only cried for about 15-20 minutes and then stopped. YEAH!!! However, after I had to tell him "no", he started crying again and then fell asleep in my arms. It was simply fantastic having my son sleeping in my arms. The feeling is one I will never forget.

Day 4...when the van drove into the yard, BOTH Simon and Jeremiah came running up to the van SMILING!!!!!!! Everyone in our travel group were just amazed. It was definitely a great day. From that point on, the boys were always excited to see us and would try to get into the van to greet us when we got there. It warmed this mommy's heart tremendously. :-)

On March 10, we had our court date. If you had been following Ethiopian adoptions, you would have known that this was the first day that MOWA, an agency in Ethiopia who plays a big part in adoptions, had decided to only write 5 favorable letters a day (down from about 50 a day previously) for adopting families. Needless to say we were all on edge about what would happen that day. We met that morning with Duni who is the coordinator there in Ethiopia for our program. There were 6 families in our group so obviously not all of us would pass. She did say that at least one family would pass because MOWA had asked to review the files. So, that was good news. We went to court and walked up about 3 flights of stairs and into this big room that was filled with both adopting families and birth families. It was packed in there with only standing room available. Duni said she had never seen it so crowded before. After waiting for approximately 45 minutes, we got called into the judge's chambers. We actually went in with 3 other families (sometimes they do it that way if there are a lot of families waiting). We all shuffled into the room and there were two women sitting behind desks. I was wondering which one was the judge but since I didn't know which was the judge, I just smiled at both of them. We all sat down and the judge verified that she had the right parents for the files that were before her. She asked us if we had met our kids, if we understood that once we passed court we were officially parents and could not relinquish the children, do we know anyone else who had adopted from Ethiopia, have we researched the culture of Ethiopia, had we had training in becoming a multicultural family, and if we were sure we still wanted to adopt our children. We all said "yes" to all questions. The judge then said "Jagiso and Simon's paperwork is all complete, congratulations they are yours." The judge talked VERY quietly and Garth actually didn't hear her say that, but I did. I literally couldn't believe it. I didn't hear anything after that and found out later that of the 4 families in the room together, 3 had passed and 1 hadn't and overall for our travel group, 4 passed and 2 didn't. Considering that MOWA was only writing 5 favorable letters, having 4 of them be from our agency was a miracle. After processing the fact that we had passed, I started crying. As we were shuffling out the room I was sobbing like a baby.

After we left the courthouse, we went back to the GH where we were going to be able to meet the boys' birth father. I was very excited about this, but also very nervous. We were able to ask 5 questions that we would like to have answered. I'm not going to go into any of those details, but it was an incredible time and I am so thankful that we had that opportunity. It will be a great memento for the boys to have when they are older. That day when we went to the TH, it was fantastic to know that the boys were officially OURS!!! It made our day together that much sweeter.

Before Garth and I had even come to Ethiopia, we had decided that we wanted to take a trip down to the Sidamo region where our boys came from. Friday morning we left for our trip. It was wonderful to get out of the city. It took about 5-1/2 hours to get down there. We were able to visit the orphanage that the boys stayed at before being moved to the TH in Addis. The orphanage was very well kept and the kids were definitely loved. They remembered our boys and were excited to see pictures of them now. In case anyone is interested, they are always in need of more formula. If you would like to help in this way, contact me and I'll tell you how you can help out. We stayed overnight at the Heile resort, got to see hippos up close from a boat, got rained on, got to go to a hot springs, and saw lots of kids doing tricks for money or food. We got back to Addis Saturday night around 5:00 so we didn't get to see the boys those two days, which was the only downside to that trip. I would definitely recommend the trip to everyone, though.

The remaining time that Garth was there, we would go to the TH every day to see the boys. Once we passed court we could have taken them out of the TH to live with us, but we were wanting to wait until we had a confirmed Embassy appointment, so we didn't. Garth went back home on March 15 so that was obviously sad. He told the boys good-bye and we were all praying that we would be reunited SOON!

 After Garth left, I would go to the TH daily to see the boys for a few hours. The first day they kept asking where Daddy was, so I was able to start teaching them about Nebraska. On March 24, even though I didn't have a confirmed Embassy appointment, I decided that I was ready to have the boys with me full time so I brought them back to the GH with me. Another gal from my travel group, Keyla Robinson, was also staying until Embassy so she and I got a suite together at Yebsabi and shared the cost. She also brought her baby boy, Ethan, back to the GH. On day 4 of the boys being at the GH with me, Jeremiah got chicken pox. I took him to the doctor at the TH where she prescribed some calamine lotion and amoxicillin. I was told that chicken pox had about a 3-week incubation period so I was praying that we would get home before Simon got them. Jeremiah's chicken pox was pretty mild so that was good, but we had to stay in our suite until he wasn't contagious anymore. I can tell you that keeping 2 very active little boys happy in a two-room area for a week has its challenges. They did enjoy watching Marley and Me, a video of kids singing christian songs, and a John Deere tractor DVD.

On April 6, we were VERY excited to have Grandma Kelley join us in Ethiopia. Things had been going well but I still hadn't been submitted to Embassy so I was getting a little annoyed. It was nice to have someone to go through it with, talk to, as well as have help with the boys. I was especially happy for her help when Simon got his chicken pox on April 11. His case was MUCH worse than Jeremiah's and we practically had to paint calamine lotion on him. He was much itchier and so we were prescribed an antihistamine to help with the itch, but he hated it and so we had to force it down his throat. I know...welcome to motherhood. Finally, on April 13, I got the e-mail that I had been waiting for since March 10...confirmation that we had been submitted for Embassy. I was rejoicing and the boys got very excited as well. Mom, the boys, and I had originally been scheduled to leave on April 15 so we obviously weren't going to be able to make that, but even if we had been cleared to go home by Embassy, Simon still had really bad chicken pox so I'm pretty sure we wouldn't have been able to go anyway. So, we switched our plane tickets for the following Friday and prayed that I would have an appointment with Embassy by then and we could make that flight.

On April 18, I got an e-mail from Embassy saying that we were cleared to have our appointment with Embassy, except that on Simon's passport they had spelled his last name wrong so we needed to get that corrected. To correct that, we had to go back and get Simon's passport photo taken again. We weren't able to get the passport corrected until Wednesday afternoon so we couldn't have our Embassy appointment until Thursday morning. They were closed on Friday for Good Friday, so we were running close to the wire, but thankfully we were able to have our Embassy appointment and get the boys' visas, etc. Thursday afternoon so we could leave on Friday. YEAH!!!!

The boys did REALLY well on the flight home. The first flight was from Addis to Rome where we had to stop to fuel up. Jeremiah especially loved the TVs that were on the backs of the seats and he was able to push all the buttons the whole time. Simon also liked that, but he was having fun making faces at Grandma and the ladies sitting next to her. The boys slept on my lap for about 5 hours that flight (part of which was during the refueling). The boys were VERY excited to finally get to see Daddy again and knew that at the end of that trip he would be waiting. I had told the boys that we needed to go on 3 planes before we would see Daddy so when we got to Dulles, it was hard for Jeremiah to understand that we had to wait in lines and wait for the next plane before we could get on it. He wanted to just go get on the next plane right then! We got some Wendy's for lunch and the boys experienced their first American fast food meal. We finally made it to Omaha around 4:45 p.m. and the minute Jeremiah saw Daddy he started running to him. We were all happy to be in Nebraska together.

We have now been home for one week. The boys have done really well and are on a sleeping schedule. They are slowly getting used to the cats. They have met all their Kelley cousins and some other family members as well. They are excellent sleepers and eaters. Garth took this week off from work so the boys have loved letting him do things for them instead of me...and I have enjoyed it too. It has been fun to see Garth as a daddy. I am absolutely loving being a mom. My neighbor told me the other day that every time she sees me, I have a big smile on my face and she likes seeing that. I suppose I do.

Now that I have these VERY active boys at home, I'm not sure how much time I'll have to blog, but I'll try to keep everyone updated on the important things. Enjoy the pictures and if you have made it to the end of this, I commend you for your perseverance. :-)

PS...We are at Grandma's and every time the pictures have almost all loaded, her internet goes out so I'll add pictures when I get back home. I'm having flashbacks to Ethiopia...Come back tomorrow for pictures!

1 comment:

  1. So happy to see your post! I am so happy you have your boys home and praising God that he makes families through adoption- can hardly wait for my turn :) Angi Cooper


Today I Kissed an Angel

Today I kissed an angel. I knew it from the start. The first time my angel smiled at me; I gave away my heart.

Today I kissed an angel; This angel child of mine. Though not of my creation, My child by God's design.

Today I kissed an angel. My heart is dancing wild; Our family, by a miracle; Blessed by our angel child.

All I Really Want by Steven Curtis Chapman