Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Answers to Common Questions

Here are answers to some of the common questions we have been getting. If you have a question, feel free ask it (by commenting on this post) and we will try to answer it!

Are the kids happy or scared?

Remarkably, given all they have gone through, they are very happy right now. As I mentioned before they are in the honeymoon stage. Everything is new and fun. They have a house, bed, clothes, food, toys, kids to play with, and a mom and dad. They are all smiles and giggles.

How are you getting along since you don't speak the same language?

It has not been a problem. We know a dozen of their words and they know a dozen of ours words now. This, along with lots of hand gestures really gets you pretty far. Then we have our kids, which are a huge help. When we say, "Time for baths!" all of our kids run upstairs and F.G. and K.D. follow them. The girls take F.G. into the bathroom to take a shower and in a little while the three of them emerged ready for bed. Our kids are stepping up to the plate and being a great example for F.G. and K.D. to follow.

How are they doing with the food?

Great. When we first picked them up from the care center, we were astonished at how much they ate. After a few days it slowed down to just a very hearty appetite. They absolutely love all bread products. Meat and vegetables are a bit of a harder sell, but this is largely because of their reduced exposure to these foods. They are adapting quickly and eat more than our other kids. CrazyMom has a good feel for things they will like and always makes sure there are some new things to try at mealtime along with some tried and true items.

Have you started home schooling them yet?

Nothing formal yet. It has just been a few days. We are giving them a little space to adjust to all of the other things first. As we play, we count, do colors, write some letters and things like that. They both can sing the alphabet and can recognize some of the letters. They both can count in English and I worked with them yesterday on putting the numbers in order. F.G. can recognize and order 1 – 10; K.D. can do 1 – 5. They both seem so eager to learn!

Do they go to bed OK at night?

F.G. and K.D. are playing so hard during the day they are absolutely exhausted at night. The first night we went through the bedtime routine with all of our kids even though it was early. We told our birth kids that they all would go to bed, but they could get back up after F.G. and K.D. fell asleep. Well, K.D. was asleep before the boys could even get into their beds. F.G. took another 60 seconds or so. Each night has been the same. We have to rush to get to them to say good night and that we love them before they fall asleep!

When are their birthdays?

Well, we don't know. Birthdays are not that important in Ethiopia and that is a part of their history that we don't have. As they go through medical exams and dental visits, we will probably get a little bit better idea of exactly how old they are. Then, when we readopt them in the US, we will pick birthdays for them. This will be a tough time for CrazyMom and me. She wants every child to have their own birthday so each one can be celebrated. I think I have too many things to remember already and we ought to put both their birthdays on the same day as one of our other kids. Just think of the efficiency!

Unpacking the Trip to Ethiopia

Well, all of the physical unpacking is done. The clothes have been washed, the pictures have been downloaded, and the souvenirs are resting in their new homes. It will take much longer, however, to unpack emotionally. We had many significant experiences that we have not yet fully come to terms with. I imagine the blog will be sprinkled with thoughts from the trip for awhile as we continue to emotionally unpack.

Part of the difficulty of "unpacking" is the reentry into society here. I don't fit into society here like I did before I left. For example, when my kids decide they don't want to eat the crust of their bread, I am no longer willing to accommodate. "There are starving people in Africa," I want to say. A phrase my mom use to use on me which I thought was absurd. I was more than willing for her to ship the food I did not want to Africa. But the tables have turned. I have been to Africa for a second time but for the first time with fewer scales on my eyes. Now how do I convey to my kids that it is insensitive to treat as worthless that which is so valuable to others because it is needed in order to live?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Double Jumping

Here is a few seconds of a video clip of F.G. and Ed double jumping. F.G. was jumping rope and then got Ed and was trying to get her to stand in a certain spot. At first we did not know what she wanted, but it soon became clear. Just about every moment in our house is like a party right now as F.G. and K.D. get to know us and we get to know them.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Back in the U.S.! (First 24 Hours)

Hello Family and Friends!

We are back in America and our family is all together. I wish so much that each one of you could be in our home right now to experience what we are experiencing. Unfortunately (as we know from quantum mechanics), the mere act of measuring a system alters the system. So instead of being here you get the poor substitute of an email.

I have been thinking about TobyMac's song where the lyrics are:

"Love is in the house and the house is packed
So much so I left the back door cracked"

I think this refers to a smaller family than ours because cracking the back door does not feel like quite enough right now!

We are currently enjoying what is known as the "honeymoon" stage where everyone is being so polite to everyone else. Our birth kids are doing a fantastic job of making our new kids feel right at home and there is nothing but LOTS of laughter and smiles. I catch the eye of our new kids on a regular basis and they instantly break into a smile. They are beaming and so are we. It is intoxicating. I think I need to go and crack a few more windows. . .

There are stronger gender lines drawn in Ethiopia then in America. Even before we got here, K.D. was obviously more drawn to his brothers and F.G. to her sisters. This was evident in several ways. For example, when K.D. would look at a photo album, he would say, "This is my brother!" (in Amharic) and then kiss the photos of his brothers with a loud smacking noise (say "ma!" while breathing in for the "m" sound). When the kids first met in the airport, K.D. went right up to Little Foot and grabbed his hand and would not let go. (See video below.) F.G. was a little more reserved, but all smiles. She wants to do everything right, I think, and so is a little less outgoing than K.D. at first but she seems also to be savoring everything a little more. K.D. is like a kid given free reign in a candy shop; F.G. is like a child discovering a trunk filled with precious foreign items.

I had some concerns about what it might be like introducing our new kids into our home. It was no problem at all. Our kids showed them all around and within minutes it felt like a play date. Kids were running all over and playing hard with new discoveries spaced just moments apart. Of course, the full weight of our materialism was overwhelming us. When K.D. found a matchbox car and it was evident that he had an affinity for cars, Little Foot started dumping out every car he could find. The single car that would be a treasure for a child in an orphanage now becomes just one of fifty match box cars. And the match box car is just one type of many types of toy cars that we own. And the cars are just one type of the many types of toys. Having now been in three orphanages in the last week we realize that the right amount of stuff ("icka" in Amharic) for a child in an orphanage is all of the stuff that they can hold AND play with at the same time. I don't know what the right amount of stuff is for an American child, but I think we are over the limit!

Here is an online photo album with a few photos from the last 24 hours.

There will be many adjustments for all of us to make in the days and weeks ahead -- keep praying!

Update from Ethiopia

(Note: This was an email update we sent out on Feb 22th while in Ethiopia.)

Hello All,

Things are great here in Ethiopia! What a great joy it is to meet two new children and begin to get to know their personalities. They are both beautiful and delightful young children. In American terms, K.D. is "all boy". He loves physical play and listening to music but dislikes meat and vegetables. F.G. is always studying us and mimicking what we do, wanting to learn our culture and what to do quickly. She is also a caretaker and we expect she played this role with the younger children at the care center. Her type A personality has her making her bed before she gets up in the morning with attention to every single wrinkle. What fun it is to get to know our children! We learned that K.D. means "you are my reward" and F.G. means "perfect". It's fun to know what their names mean. We haven't yet tried to explain to them about the American names we are considering, but hope to do that at some point.

On the one hand we wish we could stay longer to drink up more of the Ethiopian culture and on the other hand we wish we could go home today to see our family and start in on establishing a routine with our new children. It is certainly hard to convey the range of emotions we have experienced over the last few days – joy as we enjoy our kids and think about their future to grief as we catch a small glimpse as to what the future holds for many others. It will take some time to process all of the experiences we are having.

Yesterday we visited both the Hilton (an extravagant oasis where our kids got to swim for what appeared to be the first time) and AHOPE (an orphanage with over 70 HIV positive kids). Life in Ethiopia is a life of contrasts.

Attached are two photos. One is of the four of us before we went to the embassy and the other is the kids sitting on the steps of the guest house.

For His Glory,

CrazyD and CrazyMom

First Photos from Ethiopia

(Note: This was an email update we sent out on Feb 19th while in Ethiopia.)

Hello Friends and Family,

God has been so gracious to us! We have just completed our first day as "hands on" parents to F.G. and K.D. and what a day it has been! The good part of the day began at 10:15 am when we pulled up the drive at the CWA care center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and were ambushed by 20 sweet children, two of who clung to us like monkeys and kissed our faces repeatedly—the two calling us Mom and Dad. Sweet, precious children!

We stayed at the care center with them, playing, taking pictures, doing some paperwork and eating lunch until around 1 pm. Then we said our goodbyes and headed back to the guest house where we played inside and out the rest of the day. Both kids are bright and affectionate. F.G. is more reserved and polite and seems very mature – likely a bit older than 7. She enjoyed the memory game and UNO cards and made some detailed structures with play-do. K.D. is a chatterbox and all in a language we don't understand, but adorable nonetheless. He loves the cars we brought him to play with and the sunglasses, of course. Both kids (all 3 really – our friend's little guy too!) also are very attached to the CD players we brought for them. They'll really like them when we get some music in Amharic to which they can better understand the words.

We've had a great deal of language help from an older missionary couple who help run the guest house. They are a blessing indeed! We'd appreciate your continued prayers for the remainder of our trip.

CrazyD, CrazyMom, F.G., and K.D.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Off to Ethiopia; Emotions Run Wild

So here we are less than a year after we decided to adopt one young child from Ethiopia, getting ready to board a plane on Saturday to go meet and bring home two older children. All of the emotions that I feel - excitement, anticipation, love, trepidation, and inadequacy are all reaching a crescendo so that I almost feel numb. This day which has seemed frustratingly long in coming has now abruptly arrived and I feel unable to savor it fully.

And then there is THE EVENT to both anticipate and dread - meeting the children for the first time. Of course my rational brain places no stock in the significance of this event. Whether they cry, run and hide or leap with love into our arms will have no predictive power for the long years that lie ahead. And yet my selfish prideful heart wants the first meeting to be dreamlike, perfect.

And if I am asking the question, "Will they like me?", what must it be like for them? They must be wondering the same plus filled with even more fear as the unknowns are far greater for them then it is for us. They have no need to worry, of course, about our love for them. It is just a shame that it will be so long before we can communicate that to them in a language they understand. God's Word calls us to love in "deed" and not just "word". How interesting it will be when the only avenue that will be available to us is "deed".

May God grant us safety in our travels and the grace we need to pour out our lives in love for our new children as well as the many other Ethiopian people we will meet.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

I am the Filthy Rich

In America we often speak of the lower class, the middle class, and the upper class. Then there are the filthy rich. I can hardly imagine what it must be like to be Bill Gates or Warren Buffet and to have your net worth measured in billions. While the lifestyle may be foreign to me, I do know who they are and as I stretch out my hand to point my finger at one of the filthy rich, God stops me short and reminds me of the three fingers pointing back at me.

I am the filthy rich. I live that unimaginable lifestyle.

  • There is never a question of whether or not we will have enough food to eat in my home, only whether we will eat until we are full or stuffed.
  • There is never a question about whether or not we will have clothes to wear, just which ones we will select from our overstuffed closets.
  • There is never a question about whether or not our kids will have a clean, soft, dry bed to sleep in, just whether or not it will be made when they crawl in.
  • There is never a question about whether or not we will have outstanding medical care, just whether we will to go to the doctor, the urgent care center, or a hospital.
  • There is never a question about whether or not our family will have access to the finest prescription drugs in the world, just whether we will fill the prescription at Giant Eagle, Meijer, Kroger, or CVS - all of which are within a mile of our home.
  • There is never a question about whether our family will be homeless, even if our home were to burn to the ground today, only how long we would be in temporary housing.
  • There is never a question about whether or not there would be anybody in the world to care for our kids if my wife and I were to die tonight, only which family and friends from our vast support network would step in to care for them.
  • There is never a question about whether or not our kids will get a good education, just whether it will be public, private, or home school.
  • There is never a question about whether or not we will have clean water to drink, only whether we should get a drink from the refrigerator, water cooler, any number of faucets in the house, or one of two hoses from outside. In fact, I have water sitting in the toilet bowls of my home right now that is safer to drink than what many in the world will be drinking today.

What I have is unimaginable to many in the world. I am the filthy rich, flooded with the world's goods.

And I am cut to the quick by God's word. I John 3:17-18 says, "But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth."

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Cold Day by Miss Bookworm

Cold Day
by Miss Bookworm

On a cold day-
it's a bold day-
when you're huddled up inside,
you feel the drawn-out power of
a good book in a land far away.
It grabs you and swirls you to your destiny,
while outside the winds howl fierce.
But you don't feel it, 'cause you're far away,
fighting powerful dragons
or exploring a cave-
never knowing, never caring, never giving a thought
to the winds though they blow fierce
nor the snow as it swirls around
trying ever so hard to get your attention,
but not you- no, 'cause you're safe and sound
now rescuing your princess, or finding a fortune
now drifting so gently, so gently, to sleep.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Kids Writing About Adoption

We had the opportunity to have a "writer's workshop" on adoption today since school was cancelled. Miss Bookworm's writing is in the previous post. Here are what the others had to say.

What Little Foot had to say.

I am going to Ethiopia and I bet we will have a good time there. I can see Ethiopia right now. They have dirt roads. They have fresh grass, but a little of it is dead. Some people are weak and some people are healthy.

(Editor's Note: The square in the picture above represents "all of Ethiopia" and the brown is a dirt road.)

What Buddy had to say.

When I think about adopting, I think about the kids. It might be hard to know when they have to go to the bathroom. They are probably going to be amazed at how much food we have. It will be about a month for them to learn our language. They will be scared because they don't know us in person.

What ED had to say.

Excited About Adopting!

I am excited about adopting because it will be cool to have two Ethiopian children in our household. They are really cute. I am also a little nervous because I don't know how to act around them. It will be hard getting used to having them around and communicating with them. Our family is so different. "We are marching to the beat of a different drummer."

F.G.'s Diary

(Editor's note: Our oldest daughter wrote a fictional diary today from the perspective of F.G.)

by Miss Bookworm

January 14, 2006

It is about 2:00 p.m. I am waiting to be interviewed by a person from America. I am being interviewed so people in America can see if they want to adopt me. I am up next. The person asks me to sing a song, to count, say my name, and say "Hello America!" Then she gave me a stuffed animal. Now it is time to go home. I live with my parents and my older sisters. I hope I can be adopted!

July 2, 2006

Today I found out I am being adopted! I am so excited! I am also very sad. This means that I will have to leave my parents and sisters. But I am also very lucky. Not everybody gets to be adopted and I will be in a better place. Some Americans called the Meyers are adopting me. They sound so nice and yet I really don't want to leave my family especially since both my parents are very sick, but I guess it's for the best. All the same, I can't wait to meet the Meyers!

August 4, 2006

I went back to the person from America today. The Meyers have sent me a bag of stuff. They sent me a shirt, markers and a notebook, bubble gum, a doll, and a photo album with pictures of the family, the house, and another Ethiopian boy! One picture of the house had white stuff on it. The lady told me that the white stuff was called snow. The Ethiopian boy's name is K.D. He is going to be my new brother also! I got to meet him today! He got a bag full of stuff too. This is a day I will never forget!

January 21, 2007

Some people came to my house today and took me to an orphanage which was in the capital city and was a whole day's drive. I think they moved K.D. to the orphanage too but I haven't seen him yet. I am going to miss my family very much. I wonder if K.D. has any family living still. I think he has to have at least one person because he was living in a house but it could have just been a neighbor. I wonder what American food tastes like.

January 27, 2007

Now I know that K.D. is here. I've seen him a couple of times. The food here is pretty good but there's nothing like homemade injera and doro wat. In the rooms we stay in there are beds and chairs and a table even though we eat our meals in a big room. There are about five kids to a room. There's a boy section and a girl section. The people in the orphanage are very nice to us but I still miss my family. I'm glad K.D. is here. At least I have one family member here and a very kind and considerate one at that!

February 13, 2007

My new parents are coming in a week! My new American siblings are staying at home until my new parents come back with K.D. and me. I wonder who they are staying with while my new parents come to get us. I am so excited and sad. It feels like my emotions are playing a long game of tug-o-war in my heart. I can't wait until they get here!

February 20, 2007

My new parents came to the orphanage today! They got K.D. and me and took us to a missionary home. We are going to leave in about five days. Then I will get to see my new brothers and sisters. All the same, I am glad K.D. is here. I am glad I can talk in my own language to him. I learned that he has a dad who is still alive but is sick like my mom. My dad died about six months ago. At this point, I think excitement is beating sadness in tug-o-war. I am so happy!

February 25, 2007

Right now we are on a plane headed to Ohio which is where the Meyers live. The plane is so high up! It is very pretty up here. I have never been on a plane before. It is a long trip and I am getting bored. I think K.D. is too. My new parents brought lots of coats because they said it was really cold in Ohio right now. We are only a half an hour away and I feel like dancing! I am getting hyper. Watch out Mom and Dad here I come!


We have finally arrived! We are at our new home. Man this place is huge! Some old people are here. I guess that's who was taking care of our new siblings who are, at the moment, crowding around us. I can see they are almost as excited as we are if not as excited! The old people are excited too. I learn that the old people are our new grandparents. I have never seen anybody so old! Almost everybody in Ethiopia dies before they get this old. I am so happy that we have finally arrived!

March 5, 2007

Mom and Dad are going to home school us for a while so we can learn the language and stuff like that. I think this is going to be fun!

March 11, 2007

Home school is going well. But the exciting thing is that today we went to the store! Never in my life have I seen so much food and clothes! I think I am going to like it here in America!

Friday, February 2, 2007

Other Ethiopian Adoption Blogs

On this long road to bringing home our two new children from Ethiopia, I've been on a bit of a mission to learn all that I can about the process, the travel to Ethiopia to get the kids and the adjustment process after we have them in our home. A huge source of information and encouragement has surfaced in the wonderful world of blogging. A few blogs I read fairly regularly are listed in the margin.

I only discovered Joy Portis' blog recently. She was in Ethiopia this past week to bring home her two new girls, a baby and an older girl, 9-10 years. Her blog is full of pictures and commentary about the trip and PRICELESS glimpses of F.G. and K.D. in the background of some of her photos.

I have been reading Erin H.'s blog on transracial adoption since October when she was in Ethiopia getting her 10th child (her 2nd adoption from Ethiopia). I love all the information in her blog and am inspired by her passion and love for children in need.

Burakayae is a blog that has been addicting on a variety of levels. Her journey to bring home her two kiddos has been long and hard and isn't over. Meanwhile, she's learned Amharic and perfected her injera-making skills.

The Ethiopian adoption blog is interesting reading too, with an emphasis on a wide-variety of topics related to parenting Ethiopian children, including hair care, attachment issues and lots of other good info!

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Photos of Our Kids

We pulled together the photos we have received at various times of F.G. and K.D. We hope you enjoy them! (Just click on the photo below and you will be taken to a web album where you can view the slide show.)