Thursday, February 28, 2008

On the Way Home!

We are just a few short hours away from heading to the airport!  We soon head to the office to pick up Musse's passport & visa, have a little dinner - then we're off!  It is funny to say, but we are a little torn about leaving.. The people here are just fabulous, both the other families in our travel group and those who live here.  We finally feel like we got into the groove of Addis a few days ago and have really come to appreciate it as a fabulous place.  The growth/development that is happening is at a sprint speed - we have seen noticable progress on a few construction sites near the house, new roads have opened and others are nearing the paving stage.. in just over a week.  We have enjoyed some delicious food(!), experienced the art of the coffee ceremony and felt the rythm of the traffic.  I learned to make injera, mesir wot, shiro wot and a few other dishes and can't wait to try myself at home!  
Hope you all have enjoyed reading; we are exhausted, but thrilled, are looking forward to our own bed and a hot shower and most of all, can't wait for you to meet Malakai Musse. 
Love to all, 

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Flight info

Ok, here's our flight info.....
Arriving in ATL on Delta flight 1673 from Dulles on Friday at 12:40pm
Just in case anyone was wondering.
Cant beleive today is the last day, once we got the kids...time just flew by!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

What a Great Day!

Hi All! 
Well, after a sleepless night we had a wonderful day.  We went this morning to the care center for the goodbye ceremony and to finally take the kids with us permanently.  Then we had the embassy appointment this afternoon, which couldn't have gone better!  We were at the window for about 2 minutes and that was it - he's got a visa.  Now we have just been back at the guest house eating dinner and just playing with all the kids.. Kai is a dream.  He napped a little, ate a little and is as content as a bug in a rug.  He loves the Bjorn (thanks Val!) and at this point really is THE perfect baby.. now lets see how our first night with him goes :)
So glad we are over the hump of all the legalities and this boy is not only ours on paper, but ours in our hearts. 
Love to all, can't wait for you to meet Musse!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Middle of the Night Update

Hello All! 
Virginia here, 2:30am Ethiopia time and I am wide awake for some reason.. Have been sleeping ok actually, not great, but ok & tonight I think the stuffy nose/sore throat finally got to me.  The air here is so dry that I have had a mild bloody nose most days and so dirty that along with the blood is dirt black as night. Besides that, the weather is about perfect, high 70's mid day and chilly at night and the am.. 13 months of sunshine they claim, and I believe it.

This has been such an emotionally exhausting trip for all.  Heather, you were right when you said your travel group was important, ours has been amazing. Get ready Erin!  The other American families we are traveling with are incredible, and to have them experiencing the same with us is so comforting. 

Meeting Musse's (He isn't quite Kai yet) mom on Sunday was simply unexplainable.. All I can really say about it is that she loves him more than I do right now, it was the hardest decision of her life and she knew exactly what she was doing.  She is so strong and intelligent and why I was born into privilege in America and she was born into poverty in the forgotten but beautiful land of Ethiopia I will have to ask God, b/c only He knows.. The faith in God that she has is humbling, there is much I could learn from her.

Musse is absolutely beautiful and we are falling more in love every moment we spend with him.  Tomorrow am is the goodbye ceremony at the Care Center and we will have him full time from then on - eeeek!  We head to the US Embassy after lunch to get his visa.. The visa most Ethiopians would do anything for.. The guide that we had our first few days in country is putting his hope in the lottery system, and you know what, honestly, he would contribute much more to our society than I do, but he will most likely never get the opportunity.  He is everything you would want in a friend, neighbor, brother and more.  The people here are absolutely beautiful, the kindest and happiest I have ever met.. I just wish for them that their opportunities matched their hearts and hard work.

We went to Ahope today (monday)... The comparison between the care Musse is getting and the conditions at Ahope are in stark contrast.  CHSFS is a wealthy organization here (& doing many wonderful things in the community), Ahope is surviving, just like the kids that come to them.  Moms, this is where your donations went, I think you would have made the same decision, it was more heartbreaking than anything we have seen.. and it was nothing that money wouldn't solve.  Thankfully, the WHO is providing all the ARV's (anti-retro vials) needed to keep their HIV+ status under control and besides some skin conditions, most are healthy and happy and those kids were just beautiful.  This organization is doing much with their very little, trying first to keep kids with their families, providing the drug cocktails they need and feeding/clothing/schooling them.  They take in the abandoned found by the police, never turning one away (about 75 kids right now).. the women who work here are saints, they must be.  And if anyone is looking to sponsor a child or for an organization to give to, please check out AHope.. 

I'm going to try to go back to sleep now, love to all, sorry so melancholy.. that's why Ben's been posting most of the trip.. I just haven't really been up for it.. This is such a hard journey - thanks to all who have been there for us! 

Kiss your kids and your spouses, and then kiss the ground and thank God you are an American.  Africa is a wonderful place, everyone needs to come here in their lifetime.  The people are hopeful, happy and grateful, but we are abundantly blessed, specifically with opportunities those here will never have.. and me, I often forget that.

Love much, Gin

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sunday-The trip down south

Hello Everyone!
Wow, where do I even start?
Today was INTENSE!!!
We got to meet Kai's birth mother and we are both physically and emotionally drained!!!
After a 3-4 hour drive, breathing in dust and diesel exhaust the whole way down(I think I have the black lung), we finally arrived in Hossana(i dont think i spelled that right).
We all sat down in a room and waited for our turn, Gin and I ended up being called first.
We walked into this small concrete block room, no larger than 12x12, and as we walked in, Musse's birth mom was walking in at the same time.  You'll see in the pictures later on that she is a quite short, she maybe comes up to my should...maybe.
It was so emotional from that point on that it'll be hard to communicate that via email/post.
I'll try and hit a few of the highlights:
She named him after Musse(Moses) from the Bible.
She was very concerned that we would raise him up to love God.
Both her parents are/were Orthodox Christians, she is a Christian but not Orthodox, I would love to know more about that story but the translation was a bit difficult, especially when discussing denominations.
We had her write a note to Musse in our notebook, so precious!
I had put together some pictures of him from the last update we got before we left to give to her. I kinda saved them until the end and she saw it she immediately kissed the photos over and over...not a dry eye in the room, heavy stuff!
Other than that, we had asked a number of other questions and she was so good about answering everything.
We left confident that she was happy with Musse's new family.
I'll leave you with this last note:
We asked her if she had any dreams for him when he grows up, she said she would like to see him become a doctor.
So, here we are, completely exhausted, but tomorrow is a new day.  The first half of tomorrow we are bringing the kids back to the guest house and will spend that time with them here. We're all looking forward to that! Should be a great time.
Ok, I'm off to bed, and it's only 6:30pm.
Until next time,
all of our love,

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Saturday Update

Salem! (That's "Hello" in Amharic)
Things are going very well here.
Today we met with Musse's Doctor, Nurses, Head Nanny, and Social Worker. We got to ask questions and they gave us all of his med. info.  It was a great meeting, you could tell from their faces that they all love him very much and will be sad to see him go.
We spent the rest of the morning with Kai, we got to the care center just as he was eating, he napped in Gin's arms for about 30 minutes and then woke to his usual happy self.  He's such a joy to be around!
We've just finished lunch and we have scheduled to do some shopping this afternoon, then later tonight we will have dinner and a show at the Crown Hotel.
Tomorrow is the big trip south to the Hosana region where we will meet his birth mother, we are so excited about this!!!  It will be a long day so we may not have an update until Monday.  It's a 4 hr. drive each way.
Ok, time to share the connection :)
ps. love the food at the guest house, they are taking very good care of us!

Friday, February 22, 2008


Hi all!
Ben has been updating the last few times, so I hope I am not duplicating.. I only have a few minutes until we head back to the care center to see Musse..  He is AMAZING!  I can't wait for you all to meet him, you are just going to die!  He is just so happy, content, healthy, easy, etc etc..  We just can't believe how blessed we are already.  All the nannies just dote on him and you can tell they adore him.  He laughs all the time for them, we are still working hard to get him there though :).. When we met him yesterday, it was just surreal.. Gotta go.. so sorry, more later.  Love to all - Gin

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The 1st meeting!!!

Hello everyone,
Greetings from Addis Ababa!!!
I'll try and keep this short as the connection is dial-up and we share the computer with 3 buildings.
Today we arrived early at the CHSFS offices, just after noon.  So all of the families from last week were still here, that was great, we got meet them and get lots of advice for the week ahead.
Alright enough about that, after hanging out at the guest house for a few hours we were taken to the care center where we met Musse(Kai) for the first time!!!  We are so speechless at how beautiful he is, he's amazing.  He didn't cry at all, laughed many times, and he finally fell asleep as I(Ben) was holding precious!  We cannot wait to see him tomorrow! You are not going to beleive how gorgeous his eyes gosh!!!  He's perfect!
Can you tell we are in love?
The trip before we got to CHSFS was amazing, everyone has been sooooo nice, and willing to do anything for you.
No pictures for now, we're working on it though.
We'll post again soon, maybe tomorrow.........
Love to all,
Ben and Gin

Sunday, February 17, 2008

We're here!

Hello friends and family,
Just a quick note to you all to let you know we have arrived here in Addis Ababa safe and sound.
I'm writing from the guest house we are staying at through Wed. night.  Then we will move to our agency's guest house on Thursday. The people here are wonderful, so nice and have been excellent hosts.
That's all for now, getting ready for our guide to come pick us up.
Hope to have pictures in the days to come.
Love to you all,
Ben and Virginia

Climb to the top of the charts! Play the word scramble challenge with star power. Play now!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Just about Finished Packing

I can't believe that I pretty much packed myself for almost 2 weeks in a carry-on!  We had a little room left in Kai's suitcase for a few extras and then put the Bjorn in as the final touch.. I can't wait to use it, and yes, I've been practicing :)

We also got a HUGE update on Kai yesterday!  He is just beautiful and looks so happy and healthy.  He is up to 12.5 lbs, has great chubby thighs and eyes that draw attention.  The report details his day, what he is eating, some milestones, his adjustment and how he interacts with the nannies and other babies in his room.  I keep reading it over and over and will probably start highlighting on the plane! :)  

We'll try to update asap.. probably no computer access until Thursday/Friday though..

Love to all, and thanks so much to those of you who called to wish us well.. you warmed our hearts!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I've been showered!

My wonderful neighbor Kelly & sister-in-law Soraya, generously threw me a shower last weekend and it was perfect. We collected so many donations that they would not all fit in our 3 suitcases! over 150lbs! The rest will go over with a friend traveling at the end of the month.

My Mom sent a card and donation so special to me that when I opened it I was just overwhelmed. She has been so supportive in this whole adventure, and is almost as excited as we are to meet Kai. Ben & I are so fortunate to have the parents we do.. The four of them are consistently some of the biggest blessings in our lives.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

We're On and Packing!

We did get the final word yesterday that we are traveling this weekend! So we booked our tickets, hotel for the first few days and I am finalizing the tour company itinerary today. You really can plan a trip to Ethiopia in less than a week!
Thanks to all for the wonderful donations, this is just some of much we have to bring over.

Monday, February 11, 2008

This is Crazy!

Well, we are still hoping to travel this weekend, but unfortunately, we are still tentative and won't have confirmation until tomorrow.. Tuesday.. and we would be leaving 4 days later! That is the CRAZY part. So, I am going to book our tickets today b/c the hold expires today and hope that it all works out. I know that our agency is trying their best get us an Embassy appointment, but as of now, we don't have one, which is why we can't know for sure.

What a roller coaster!


Friday, February 8, 2008

Tentative TRAVEL DATE!

I just can't believe it! We were given a tentative date of Feb 21st! Which means that since we are planning on traveling early to see some sights that we will actually be leaving on the 16th, which is
Next Saturday!!!
We will get confirmation on Monday, and if we can't go in this group then our date would be the 28th, which would mean leaving on the 23rd..worse case scenario.

Malakai - Momma's Comin!


Finally! It's here and we couldn't be more excited.. Well, actually, I will be much more excited to finally meet our little boy!
Our agency contact said we would hear from her later today with our travel date.. so stay tuned! I am trying to ready my heart for an early March date..even though I sooo hope it is Feb 21/28!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Political Surprise

With all the swirling talk of Super Tuesday and my personal confusion on who I want to be in the White House next year, I decided to take a test to see if the internet can help me decide where I really stand. I was definitely surprised:
Surprised b/c generally I would have thought of myself as a Republican (even though I know it is so COOL to be a democrat and vote for Obama -Ha:) i {heart} Heather and Erin!) I am for smaller government, pro personal rights and less legislation. I do not like huge government spending on social programs that are merely a handout without education or guide to independence. BUT, I am for helping people who cannot help themselves due to poverty, disease & lack of education, though programs need to start solving the root problem, not just throw dollars at it. I am for corporate responsibility while also recognizing that multinational companies provide millions of jobs.. so I wouldn't want them legislated out of business.. I think the fair tax for our country is a great idea, eliminate the IRS and those billions alone could get us out of debt. (not to mention the decrease in headaches across the country). We spend so much as a nation on material goods it might do us well to have to think twice about it.

Anyway, I thought it was interesting to see where the 2008 candidates stand:

Looks like I should have been campaigning for Dennis Kucinich after all. All the others aren't really THAT much different from each other.. Maybe that's why I was so confused on who to vote for, even after watching a ton of debates..

This is my favorite one:
At least I am closer to the Dalai Lama than George W.

Take the test Here

Monday, February 4, 2008

Park Fun

I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon with my 8yr old niece and I decided that since she did not have PE today (as most days!) that she needed some time outside to play and run, & so did Norman, so we were off to the park. We walked Norm for a good bit, skipping along the paths (when was the last time I skipped?) and then went over to the playground for some fun. We played tag, got good and dirty and out of breath and then it was time to go. On the way out we passed a man with his son and Kalli said "I think that he is a hockey player on the Thrashers! He has the same beard as one of the guys" ?ok, really? Kalli has gone to several NHL games with her dad, has the player yearbook and knows her favorite player's stats. She would know, she's not pulling my leg, so I asked if she wanted to go back into the playground and get a better look. "Sure!" So we hang from the monkey bars about 10 feet away from the guy and I ask her, "So, what do you think?" "I don't know" she said, a little timid. So we headed out of the park back towards the car and I notice his t-shirt on the way out, NHPA in big letters.. NHPA.. what could it be??? National Hockey something.. So we drive out of the parking lot and it hits me, National Hockey Players Association! "Kalli! Your right! He is a player! Want to go back?" "Yah!" She exclaims, excitedly digging through her 3rd grade backpack for a pen and paper. She came up with a giant blue marker and a sheet of binder paper. He definitely was a player and was glad to give her an autograph. She was so excited she was screaming and singing for joy the whole care ride, continuing on as she ran inside up to her room to grab her player yearbook. The first words she said after gaining her composure were "Can I call Daddy?"
Eric Boulton #36
(notice the "beard" that she recognized :)

In Hopes of a Birth Certificate

Finally, today, two people have received the Birth Certificates for their kids, & hopefully more are coming. We got through court 18 days ago and are waiting for this essential piece of paper in order to get our travel date, which should be right around the corner! It is beyond frustrating that it is taking this long, we were hoping for a 7-14 day turnaround. Everything in general is just taking much longer than we first hoped. When we started this process families were home in 9-12 months. As long as we get home by the end of this month (please God!), our process will be 14 months from start to finish. I really feel for families in China adopt programs, they are now up to 3 years..

We also found out last Friday that a few families who were scheduled to leave over the weekend had their trips delayed due to USCIS (nothing they did or can do) and that the delay could be up to 60 days! Our hearts just break for them and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it all weekend.. They were packed, booked and ready - leaving in 2 days to meet their children and !BAM! nope, no go, back to waiting.. ugh.. Really, this process has made me have to just throw my arms up in the air and say, ok God, whatever, whenever.. I know you've got us covered, just help me endure it.. and then I look at the photo of little Kai on my desk, and I just know he is sooooo worth it.... We are SO close!

Love to all -

Friday, February 1, 2008

The 8

For Laura

8 Things I'm Passionate About:

  1. Learning new things
  2. Loving those around me
  3. Growing Spiritually
  4. Giving
  5. Good Food
  6. Laughing
  7. Health/Wellness
  8. (not passionate yet, but working on it) Exercise

8 Things I Want To Do Before I Die:

1. Skydive/Ski/Snowboard
2. Live in a big old country house
3. Learn to speak another language
4. Become good at meditating
5. See my children grown and happy
6. Stop biting my nails
7. Travel to Africa (soon!)
8. Adopt at least once more

8 Things I Say Often:

  1. Umm, ok
  2. No way!
  3. What?
  4. I'll be ready in 5 minutes
  5. I'm hungry/cold/thirsty
  6. Go to bed (to Norman, when he drives me CRAZY!)
  7. You're driving me crazy!
  8. It's trafficky

8 TV Shows I've Recently Watched:

  1. LOST
  2. 1000 Places to See before you Die
  3. Friends
  4. Oprah
  5. Football (almost over! :)
  6. CSI
  7. The Dog Whisperer
  8. ummm.. I'm reaching now..

8 Songs I Could Listen To Over and Over (in no particular order and off the top of my head):

  1. Trouble (Ray LaMontagne)
  2. John Saw that Number (Neiko Case)
  3. I Want You to be My Love (Over the Rhine)
  4. Bittersweet Symphony (The Verve)
  5. Rainbows in the Dark (Tilly & the Wall)
  6. Sons and Daughters (The Decemberists)
  7. Hoops (The Chemical Brothers)
  8. The Joshua Tree album.. I can't pick just one (U2)

8 Things That Attract Me To My Friends:

  1. Positive
  2. Hopeful
  3. Honest
  4. Transparent
  5. Like to Laugh
  6. Don't put me in a box
  7. Love their spouses
  8. Trustworthy

8 Things I've Learned (or been reminded of) This Past Year:

  1. I have the perfect husband for me
  2. I have to much stuff
  3. It is ok not know what you want to do with your life.. it's the now that counts
  4. The path to adoption is hard & long
  5. Not everyone is as excited about adoption as I am
  6. Where did last year go?
  7. People are very generous
  8. God is so patient with me

8 People I Think Should Do "8":

  1. Heather
  2. Chevella
  3. Autumn
  4. Christina
  5. Quinny (private blog)
  6. Erin
  7. Dauray
  8. Pat