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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

back and a hospital visit

The week in Colorado was fabulous. Seriously, with 23 people under one roof, it had potential to be disastrous right? :) More on the trip next post. After being gone for 8 days, we came home, crashed and the next morning Moody, Abe and I headed to Cooks for a 24 hour EEG. We have been having more concerns about seizure activity with Abe and our new neurologist (guess I haven't shared that story yet, will another time) felt that he would really benefit from being monitored for a full 24 hours. He was curious to see if one of his sleep issues related to seizures.

Moody and I hated watching him have to get so many electrodes glued to his beautiful head of hair, he pretty much hated it too, but was a serious trooper. My mom came to the hospital to bring us dinner and then went home to be with the kids. Abey got a little sleep, but it was hard for mama with the bright lights on (so they could continue to video monitor) and the hourly visits from the nurse.

We will have the full report next will take that long to get the glue out of his hair! :)
Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Pray each of you have a very Merry Christmas as we celebrate the birth of Christ, our redeemer, our King!

Enjoying the beauty of Colorado, time with family and no internet. :)

Look forward to catching up next week!
Saturday, December 19, 2009

last day- a long day!

(about to hop on a plane so this post is unedited and long)
As is often the case in Ethiopia, you learn to be flexible! Moody had many patients lined up for him to work on this morning at the Luke Clinic, but we got a call about something else and Belay happened to say, "we will see you at the office at 9 for the meeting with Eyasu's uncle, ok??" We knew several other families had birth family meetings, but we thought that because the uncle had made so many additional trips to Addis to resolve the ID issue so we could pass court, that he would not be making the trip to meet us. We were thrilled to be wrong.
9:00 just happened to be the time Moody was scheduled to see his first patient. A few phone calls later, we were on our way to meet Eyasu's uncle. We felt so blessed to be able to have this meeting as meeting Abe's birthmom is one of the hardest and most rewarding things that we have ever done.
I don't think I have shared much of our little mans story and I feel the need to as it shows the amazing grace of our Lord, and the incredible resiliancy of a child. Below is the picture of Eyasu coming into care- he was about 23 months old. He weighed 16 lbs. 16. 16 pounds is the average weight of a 6 month old. Abe was TINY at 5 1/2 months old and weighed 13 lbs. Eyasu was clearly severly malnourished and very sick. I do not write this to sensationalize or criticize the uncle. He is my hero. He realized that he simply couldn't care for this beautiful child any longer. His brother passed away when the brothers wife was pregnant with Eyasu. Then his sister in law died when Eyasu was only 4 months old. He stepped in and took Eyasu and his older siblings, even though he already had 4 children of his own that he was raising alone. He is a farmer, and he was doing the very best that he could with his current situation. He loves him so much that he sought out help. This is the sad, sad reality of Ethiopia. This country loves their children- SO MUCH. They often have no other option, but adoption. How I pray this isn't the case in years to come, but today, with 6 million orphans in Ethiopia alone, it absolutely is necessary. Here is the sweet man that raised Eyasu from infancy until almost 2. He is from Sidamo so the translation went from English, Amharic, Sidamo and back again so getting questions answered took time, we were more than happy to wait for the answers. He simply wanted us to know that Eyasu was loved very much, and he desired that Eyasu be raised in a Christian home and receive a good education. We assured him of both and promised to send pictures. He smiled through his crocodille tears and Moody just held his hand. What a gift. Eyasu didn't appear to recognize him at all which made me sad, but he was happy to give him a kiss when asked. :) We raced from there to the Luke Society Clinic where Moody was going to help out several patients with dental needs. We didn't have time to get Eyasu back to the guest house, so he sat in the car with Yoftahe for a minute while we got Moody settled. This clinic is in a very poor area and services those most in need. Moody met Dr. Wondossen this summer and I was very impressed with the clinic immediately. You could just feel such warmth and love as you walked around the grounds. Getting ready to hand out toothbrushes, tooth paste, bubbles, stickers, toys and candy to the kiddos! Always such a blessing to give in this way. The kids were so grateful. We had some bracelets and candy left over and the women were so excited to be given treats as well. This is how I left my fabulous spouse, he leaned in and said, "pray for me, pray that the Lord would guide my hands as I am about to do my first extraction since dental school. " What a guy. I love his love for people and seeing him get to use his gifts in Ethiopia fills me up!
This was the drive down the road to the Luke Clinic. Yes it was that bumpy. :) Yoftaye and I ran Eyasu back to the Bejoe where Miss Betti was waiting for him.This beautiful woman is Betti. She was one of Eyasu's caregivers. One of the many things that I love about Gladney is that they often hire orphans that are about to age out of the orphanages. Many of the nannies are from Kechene, and they love these kids as they GET these kids. They know what it is like to be an orphan, to not have a family. Miss Betti came to take care of Eyasu a few times while we were there. We love her!

I just thought this was hilarious! Makes me love Ethiopia so much more.
We went back to get Moody and apparently he did really well. :) He did that extraction and the dear woman had to sit in an office chair to have her tooth removed.
Next Moody and I got to meet with the Glimmer of Hope staff. Glimmer of Hope is an incredible organization that was started by a couple from Austin. My brother in law helped us get this meeting and as typical Ethiopian hospitality- they met us as they were literally in the process of moving offices. charity:water is a large partner with their work as are many others. We were impressed with their model and ability to get the work done in an efficient manner. Overall it was an encouraging time together. This is the awesome painting we bought at Markush, a cool art gallery/restaurant on Bole Road. Great local artists sell their work there and the food is yummy! About to leave the Bejoe for the last time (this trip anyways). We can't say enough wonderful things about this guest house. With all of our bags packed, we headed to a cultural dinner with several dear friends. It was so much fun and Eyasu loved every minute of it. Next stop,the airport. Our flight didn't take off until 2:35 am so we had some time to kill. He was a big fan of the luggage carts and not so much a fan when we had to say good bye to it. :) As only the Lord could orchestrate, a dear friend was on our flight from Addis to Frankfurt. He had been in Yemen and ended up being a huge help on our layover in Frankfurt. Thanks Mike! Airplanes are fun! It was long but oh so worth it. Click here to see the homecoming video if you haven't already!

Off to Colorado for a week of snow, skiing and family! :)

Merry Christmas.
Thursday, December 17, 2009

day 4

We started the day with another yummy breakfast and game of soccer at the Bejoe. The guards there are just precious and played with all of the kids really well. Apparently our group at the Bejoe wasn't typical as we had 6 kids there and only 1 was an infant. The kids did really well together and it made for a fun week.
We had a caregiver come to the guest house so we could go with Michael and Jana to The Missionaries of Charity orphange in Addis. I had heard about it several times before and knew they took care of the least of these among the orphans in Ethiopia. The dear nun that took us around said they only take those children that have no where else to go, often finding the children left outside their gates.

I felt that with Abe and his special needs, this was something we should visit and see about any future involvement there. I was clearly NOT prepared. I simply wasn't prepared to see my son in that environment- to see his face on all of the kids with cerebal palsy, the kids in chairs or lying on the ground. I was overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with the number of children in the home, with the love these nuns, nannies and volunteers are giving to these children that will never know the love of a family, the privilege of therapy multiple times a week, just overwhelmed. I was so disappointed at myself for not being able to get past that and just love these kids. I did smile, hug and take the time to feel there tight, stiff muscles, see their longing for more, but I just couldn't get past thinking where Abe might have ended up if the Lord hadn't in His goodness given him to us.

We had a beautiful conversation with the nun that showed us around, told her Abe's story and she showed us two gorgeous children that had been adopted and returned to the home after the reality of their condition set in. It broke my heart in two. She showed me child after child that was "crippled" and then the healthy infants that have all been placed. I asked about the kids chances of finding homes that aren't "typical" and she replies, "no one wants a crippled child". She had no intention of being crass, she was simply stating a fact.

I was so overcome with gratefulness that we didn't know about Abe's brain injury before we traveled. I would have never thought we had the strength as a family to raise a severely special needs child- how could I possibly have known that in fact ABE WOULD STRENGTHEN us as family. The Lord would use him to teach us and bind us together in a way that we could have never forseen. Though it is very hard, it remains very good indeed.

I love what this home is doing, loving these kids, stretching their stiff muscles, talking sweetly to them, feeding them and clothing them, but the number of kids there and their needs is staggering.

Prayerfully one day I will be able to return there and it not be so personal, so emotional and be used better to really demonstrate love to them, but I guess it was too soon. I must still be more raw than I was aware of- if you think about these kids, pray for them, for the woman caring for them too.

After being wiped out emotionally, we went with Yoftahe for a bit of retail therapy. We had several things in particular we wanted to bring home from this trip and we were on a mission. :)

We left our shopping trip to go to the embassy for our embassy appointment. Everything there went perfectly! Praise the Lord.

One of the best blessings of the trip was going to meet the Thorne's beautiful daughter. She is so precious and tiny. We delighted in showing her the photo album that Pam and crew put together for her. The nannies were so happy to see Leul and tell Yanet that he was her brother. What a priceless moment. I love that we will have the gift of watching this child grow up as we adore her forever family and feel so grateful to do life with them! They are headed there soooo soon to bring her home and we can't wait to see her again.

Unfortunately the fumes and all of the driving wore me out this day, and I couldn't wait to go to bed! We had to pass on the cultural dinner but we experienced one the next evening. More on that tomorrow.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009

day 3

After a remarkably good nights sleep we woke up to a stirring boy. He was a little wide eyed at first and then ready for the day. He wanted his new clothes on- especially his converse tennis shoes. :) I guess Moody and I said "good morning" several times because he literally threw open the door to our room and pronounced "GOOD MORNING" very clearly to the guard. We were starting our day cracking up!
We headed upstairs to another fabulous breakfast courtesy of Marta. Eyasu was so happy to eat his eggs. We then were able to play around a little bit with the Breedloves and McKees and then everyone headed back to Gladney for a coffee ceremony.

I was nervous to how Eyasu would do going back so soon and had our fabulous driver, Yoftahe, explain that we were going back to visit but would return to the guest house later that day. He seemed ok with that plan as he had a huge grin on his face the entire drive!
Once we motored around the above herd of cattle, we made our way back to the transition centers. Eyasu was happy to get out and ran right to his special mother. Wow! These incredible women. They love these kids as their own, nurture, and prepare to leave. I was so overwhelmed knowing that she had cared for our Eyasu for over a year. She loved him and the love he had for her was evident as well. What sacrifice they make for these kids.
(Sidenote- Eyasu was a double orphan with his first mama passing away when he was only months old. More on that with our birth family visit, but just referencing the fact that this beautiful woman, cared for my son as his mama before I could get there! We will forever be grateful to her. Eyasu loves to look at her picture and say her name. I love that.)
In his traditional outfit given to him by his very special mother!
A very sad goodbye to a very special little friend. We are praising the Lord as she now has a forever family of her own. Eyasu loves talking about her.
I think Eyasu was known by all of the employees. Everyone at all the transition homes knew his name and wanted hugs and kisses good bye. He was happy to oblige. Again, I think indicitive of the incredible Gladney staff and the fact that he was there longer than normal.
Belay and his sister Genet. She runs the Bejoe guest house and is an impecable host. She makes your home away from home the very best! I highly recommend staying there if possible.
After our time at Gladney we headed to our sweet friend Fifi's new home. It is very close to the Gladney care centers and it was such a privilege to see her in her new place. Her kids are growing up so much. Eyasu played really well with his new buddies. It was so surreal being there, in Ethiopia, and watching our new son play with dear friends of ours. The Lord has a way of making the world so small sometimes. :)
This was Eyasu drinking his first Miranda. My kids loved these drinks when we were there picking up Abe and Eyasu's reaction wouldn't have disappointed them one bit. He had a huge grin on the whole time. We returned to the Bejoe and had several guests come to hang out with us. A neice of a fellow Orthodontist in town is there and we took her some things from her family. Courtney is a precious young lady, living in Addis, doing full time ministry. It was a blessing talking to her and hearing about her life in Ethiopia. I wish I had a picture of her.
Our friends Matt and Nikki Ness had their friend Alazar come visit and share what he has going on in Addis currently. It is always a gift to hear of those actively living out the gospel.
We ordered take out with the other Bejoe families and called it night! Great day, great day.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009

day 2- meeting eyasu

Thanks for the motivation to keep plugging along with the trip updates! I had someone ask about the shirt I had on yesterday (well you know, yesterday on this here blog) and you can find it here. You may recognize the hand pic in her header. She was given permission from Kristin to use. :)

We woke up (well didn't sleep all that well actually, jet lag, butterflies and all) and were excited to get moving and head to meet our boy. We were told the night before that due to a meeting and another family flying in that morning, that we may not be able to go get Eyasu until after lunch. We were thrilled when Travis called that morning to ask if we could be there by 9:30!! Of course. We ate a fabulous breakfast at Bejoe with our new friends, Paul and Stacey, and then we were off.

The drive to Ayat was amazing. Just being back on the streets of Addis filled my heart- the people, the buildings, the cows, goats and occassional discarded horse simply made me smile. We got to the Gladney care center and immediately I could hear all of the kiddos playing in the yard. I had no idea what to expect with a toddler. I prepared myself for tears, kicking, screaming and this is what we got- pure joy!

It was just one of those moments. Eyasu had been asking when we were coming for weeks. I think since he had been in care for 13 months, he had seen this happen time and time again for all of his little buddies and he knew this was HIS TURN! He obviously remembered meeting Moody this summer as he ran straight to him.

We hung out for awhile with the kids, spent some time in his room and then he was ready to move. He was so excited to go in the "beep beep". He got really quite driving back to the guest house though. He clearly had so much to process! He had watched the scene play over and over with his friends, but had no idea what happened after they got in the car and drove away.

Mommy and Eyasu in the room he spent so much time!
Silly daddy!
Eyasu loved the nannies and I think the feeling was mutual! :)
We headed back to the guest house to begin the rest of our lives together. Immediately we were able to see the wonder of toddler adoption. So many firsts happened that afternoon. I brought a sippy cup with a straw for him. He watched me put juice in his cup, put his mouth on the straw and then nothing. He got really frustrated as he knew the juice was there, but he had no idea how to get it to his mouth. It never occured to me that he had never drank from a straw before! :)

I wish I had Moody and I on video trying to teach him how to drink from a straw. We were shrugging our shoulders as we were making sipping noises with our mouths- comical I'm sure. Moody then showed him it was like kissing as he puckered his lips. That was it. He got some juice and the look on his face was priceless. Watch for yourself. :)

Our sweet friends, the Funderburks, are currently living in Addis and working for Gladney, came to visit us. Eyasu got very upset when he first saw them and was clinging to Moody. Poor little guy only knew them from the care centers and was worried they were coming back for him. It breaks my heart! We had several of the ladies from Bejoe explain to him that we were friends and they were only here for a visit. He relaxed and we all enjoyed playing in the yard together.
After a full day it was time for a few more firsts! He was terrified of the potty and the bath at first. He said he thought he was going to fall in the potty and the tub looked so big filled with water. :) He got used to both, but it just further showed me just how much transition this precious little one was going through. We had a few tantrums that first day, but wow overall the day was so far above and beyond our wildest expectations. He had Moody and I in stitches most of the day. He is a character for sure. The only downside was knowing just how much the kiddos at home would have eaten this day up! :)
After a really good brushing from dad, we were all off to bed. He did great going to sleep and Moody and I simply marveled at the incredible blessing we were just entrusted to raise! God is good.

Monday, December 14, 2009

day 1

I realize that we have now been home for almost a month, but I want to document the trip as scrapbooking isn't my gifting. :)
We had a tearful goodbye at the house with the kiddos- they were excited for us to go get Eyasu, but sad we were leaving. I rocked Abe one last time to sleep and had a big ugly cry putting him down for his nap!
So the luggage was ready and we were off, minus one cute Issy! Our precious friend, Jamey, met us at the airport to send us off! She is such a gift- one true and faithful friend. Thank you for walking this with me and I can't wait to send you off to Ethiopia to get your kiddos one day soon. :) This is the pitiful picture we took of me on the plane ride over! I was terribly sick the entire flight. I had a HUGE carryon with several magazines, a new book and I was fired up to watch any and every movie shown-- I can't sleep on flights, sad but true. Well, needless to say the magazines and books stayed closed and I only partially watched one movie. Not the most pleasant way to fly around the world, but I was thankful it was the way over and not coming home! Thinking positively here. :)
We finally arrived in Addis and I was so happy to be back- it just felt like coming home. We were greeted by our sweet friends and the amazing Gladney staff.
Our fabulous driver, Yoftahe, took us straight to the Bejoe! I can't say enough about this home away from home. They do EVERYTHING to make your stay pleasant. We loved being here and would highly recommend any traveling families to stay there if possible. More on the Bejoe later.
All I wanted to do was go to sleep and wake up feeling better. Praise the Lord, I did!
Day 2- Meeting Eyasu.

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"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from becoming polluted by the world." James 1:27
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