Friday, March 23, 2012

11 months home

Today marks the day that the boys have been with us here for 11 months. I'm not sure where that time has gone! To "celebrate" Garth got to take them to the doctor to get some more immunizations. While there, he had their height and weight checked. On 4/29/11, Jeremiah was 38.5 inches tall and weighed 34 lbs. Today he is 42.5 inches tall and weighs 45 lbs! That's a total of 4 inches taller and 11 lbs gained! Simon on 4/29/11 was 35.75 inches tall and weighed 35 lbs. Today he is 40 inches tall and weighs 40 lbs, which is 4.25 inches taller and 5 lbs gained! Simon has definitely lost a lot of his "baby fat". My boys are growing up so fast already!

Highlights from this month include Garth's birthday, Jeremiah losing another tooth recently, and just having a great time together! I have to admit that I took hardly ANY pictures this month. I don't know what happened but I only have a few. Sorry. I'll try to do better this next month home. :-)

The picture Jeremiah colored for Garth

No, there aren't 45 candles on there

Blowing out the candles

Simon's "new" shoes...from our neighbor. Also, the pants he is wearing were the ones that he came home in from the transition home. Back then, I had to roll them up about 3 times. Now they fit perfectly and even have a hole in the knee (though you can't see it here).

My kitchen helper

While it's nice outside, the boys have enjoyed going shirtless. This carried over into putting together legos with daddy as well.

Jeremiah's 2 missing teeth...and dirty face

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Happy birthday Garth!

 Happy 45th birthday Garth! Here are a couple pictures from the party at Yebsabi in Ethiopia last year. We were officially parents, but we didn't have the boys with us at the party because they were still at the transition home. This year we will celebrate WITH them though! Yeah!!!!!

Black forest was YUMMY!
Garth with the cake

Saturday, March 10, 2012

One year ago today....

....we officially became parents. Here is the story of that day:

That morning I woke up and immediately had the worst case of butterflies I think I have ever had. The plan was to go to court in the morning and then after court we would have a chance to visit with the boys' birth dad, who I will call J. I don't know what I was more nervous about....meeting J and talking with him (through translators, of course) or going to court. The night before court (well, it might have been a couple nights before, I can't remember that part) we had received a DVD of the investigation that AWAA had conducted on their own to make sure that the boys were in fact orphans. Because of that DVD, we knew what J looked like.  That morning the first thing we did was meet with Duni, who is the attorney for AWAA in Ethiopia. She met with us to let us know what to expect, what the next steps were if we passed and if we didn't pass, and to give us some basic instructions on how to address the judge, etc. She said that she had been asked to send over her files so she knew that at least one of us would pass court. Sometime mid morning we got the call to go. I remember riding to the court house (which we had passed on many occasions and didn't even know it) wondering if we would be one of the family's who would pass or if we would have to wait longer. Our plan all along was for me to stay in Ethiopia until I could bring the boys home, but if we didn't pass court by the time Garth left, I was probably going to go home then too since I couldn't stay there indefinitely. When we got to the court house we got to walk up what seemed like 100 flights of stairs (in actuality it was only 4) and we were led to this room filled with adopting parents as well as birth family members. The first time I saw J I remember what a shock it was to see him right the same room as us....and he had no idea who we were. Birth family members had to be at court to tell the judge that they were unable to care for their children and that they were voluntarily giving up their parental rights. J had some other family members with him which I was glad about because he was about to do the hardest thing imaginable and I wanted him to have some support from family when it was over. I remember looking at him thinking "You are amazing. You love your boys so much that you are willing to let strangers from another country raise them for you since you are unable to." I still tear up when I think of J. Anyway, the room that we were in was PACKED full of people. Duni said that she had never seen it that packed before. Literally there was standing room only. They did have benches along the walls, but there was no space left to sit on them. I don't remember how long we stood there...trying to act nonchalant all the while my stomach is lurching like I was on a really loooooooooooooooong roller coaster, but finally our names were called along with other families in our group. When we went into the judge's chambers, 3 other families went in with us (all from AWAA). We all sat on some chairs that were in there. Garth and I sat fairly close to the judge. She was very soft-spoken and it was kind of hard to hear her. She asked us several questions like have we met our kids, have we researched Ethiopia, do we have other friends who have adopted from Ethiopia before back home, do we understand that once we pass court they are ours and we can't "give them back." Of course we said yes to all of them. After we finished answering her questions, she told one of the other families whether they passed (I don't remember who it was so I can't remember if they passed or not) and then she said "Jagiso and Simon's paperwork is all complete. Congratulations, they are yours." At that moment, I think my head exploded. My mind was spinning and I was thinking "I am a MOM! I am a MOM! I am a MOM!" I don't know what was said after that. When we were all dismissed, as soon as I got out into the bigger room I started crying. I'm not talking a few tears quietly streaming down my face, I was BAWLING. Garth then grabbed me and said "What did she say? Did we pass?" I told you she was hard to hear. I tried to use my inside voice, but I'm pretty sure I screamed "WE PASSED!" We were ushered out of the room, back down the stairs (which seemed to fly by this time) and we headed back to Yebsabi to get ready for our meeting with J. I was obviously ecstatic about passing court (as you can tell by the video below) but I was also grieving. Grieving for the big change the boys were going to have to make, grieving for J who just put his trust in 2 complete strangers to raise his boys, and grieving the loss of his family. We went back to our room to wait for the phone call that let us know that J was ready for us. I don't remember how long we waited, but it didn't seem very long. The meeting was very informative and heartbreaking. We were able to video tape the session so the boys can see it later. It was again hard to hear because they are soft-spoken and there were other families having their birth family interviews as well so there were chairs scraping on the floor, other people talking, etc. But, it was wonderful. Following the visit with us, J was then going to get to go back to the transition home to say good-bye to the boys one last time. We were also able to get that videotaped by one of the guides, Yonas. I admit I was a little nervous about this meeting, but I know that it was necessary for J to have closure. Later that day when we went to visit the boys it was a whole new feeling because I knew that they were ours FOREVER! It was an incredible feeling. Every day since then has been better and better and I can't believe I've been a mom for a whole year now. I've said it before and I'll say it again...Being a mom is the BEST JOB EVER!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The day we met our year later

On March 6, 2011 at around 8:00 a.m. Ethiopian time, Garth and I arrived in Addis Ababa and knew that our lives were going to be forever changed that day. It was the day we would FINALLY get to meet our boys in person and get to hug and kiss them for the first time. That day after getting through Immigration, we got a ride to Yebsabi Guest House. I really wanted to just go to the transition home, but we would have to wait until after lunch (insert big sigh here). So, that morning we spent at Yebsabi unpacking and trying to calm our nerves. I had so many questions running through my head: Will they like us? Will they cry or be happy to see us? How is bonding going to go? Will the recgnize us from the pictures we sent them? Am I going to be a good mom? What if they really don't like us? (to name a few). After a few hours at Yebsabi, we went to pick up some of the group from church and then went to eat. I really don't remember a lot about that meal...I just wanted to leave and see our boys. FINALLY we left. I can remember the drive and when we got on the very bumpy alley-type road that would lead us to the gates that I had seen in so many pictures...the gates that had the America World sign outside of them. When I saw that sign, I'm pretty sure my heart rate doubled, my palms got sweaty, and my brain went into overdrive with questions. I was nervous, excited, scared, relieved to finally be there, anxious, happy for us, sad for their birth family, and many other emotions that I couldn't identify. If you have adopted before, you know what I'm talking about. There were, I think, 3 families who were meeting their kids that day. I think we were in the middle of the pack. The boys had been napping and it was obvious when they come out. Enjoy the video that someone took of our meeting (turn off music at bottom of page first).

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