Saturday, July 23, 2011

Meeting our Sponsored Child

 Last Friday, we had the opportunity to meet our sponsored child. We began sponsoring Tariku last summer through Compassion International.  He's between 8 and 10 years old. Birthdates are not generally kept up with in Ethiopia, so we don't know for sure. He was wearing a sharp looking suit.  We complemented him on it, and he told us that he got it with the money we sent him for his birthday. (Which was only $30.)  When we began sponsoring him, he was unable to attended school because of the financial strain that his family was under at the time.  In his first letter to us, he asked up to pray for him to be able to go to school. So we did. And he attends school now. He told us that English is his favorite subject, and he likes math too.  He looked so much different from the boy we saw in the first pictures from Compassion last year:
Here he is being instructed on how to operate a hand-crank flashlight that we gave him.
We gave him a backpack full of school supplies and other items.  His favorite gifts were a soccer ball and a calculator.
Tariku was escorted by two Compassion personnel. They brought him to the guest house we were staying at.  After we gave him his gifts, we had to wait for a little while for a car to pick us up and take up to an amusement park. While we waited, I showed Tariku how to play Angry Birds on my phone. He caught on very quickly.

Tariku had a lot of fun at Bora Amusement park. He wanted to play air hockey with both of us.

He won tickets at some of the games.  Here he is counting the tickets with a park employee.
He chose to get a package of colored pencils and a bouncy ball with his tickets.
Next, we rode the swing ride. I was pretty nervous about getting on this dang ride. James has gotten sick on these kinds of rides before. I mean we were in a country that probably doesn't have any sort of safety regulations, and I doubt that this ride had been serviced in the last decade.  But, we rode it & we lived to tell about it.

We had lunch at the amusement park, and this was the only meal I had all week that I did not like. We all ordered hamburgers.  There was a lot of seasonings in the meat that I did not care for at all. I'm not ever sure that they were made out of beef. It could have been goat meat for all I know.  Tariku wanted to pray in English before we ate, and he did a good job!  He fed both James and I a bite of his food. This is an Ethiopian tradition called "gursha." We both returned the gesture.

During lunch Tariku told us a little more about himself. We learned that he plays the drums for the younger children at his church. He told us that this was his first trip to the city and he rode a bus from his village to the city.  It was his first time to ride a bus.

This was by far the best day we had on the trip. I'm really thankful to Compassion for setting this visit up!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Back from Ethiopia

We got home Sunday from what should have been our court trip. On Tuesday last week, just before we went to the orphanage to meet Baby M, we were informed that our agency had just learned that Baby M has a half-sister who was adopted to the US two years ago. The half sister was adopted through an different agency. The other family family was informed about our situation, with the two failed referrals and they were informed that we were willing to do what we could to keep the girls in touch. Both agencies were both in favor of us proceeding. We asked if the other family would be given the option to adopt Baby M, but our agency dodged that question. We were told that we should go ahead and meet Baby M. So we did. We held her, played with her, and fed her. She even fell asleep in my arms. We took a bunch of photos and James shot a lot of video.

We were supposed to go to court on Thurs. Three people from our agency came to the guest house to talk to us & we knew that they probably had bad news. They informed us that the other family had chosen to adopt Baby M, and there is nothing we can do. Our agency’s country director is the one who told us, and he wept as he spoke to us. He has worked in social services for many years, and he said that this was the hardest day of his career.

Our agency gave us three different children to consider. Two boys and one girl, all under one year of age. We spoke with a pediatrician on Thurs. and went through all the medical records for all three children. The girl is the healthiest one, although the two boys are in fairly good health too. We got to meet all three children while we were there. Over the weekend, our agency sent a team to the hometowns of two of the children. They conducted investigations over the weekend to see if there are any issues that could cause problems with the adoption. On Monday, they will send another team to do another investigation. Within two weeks we should know if they are any problems. We are not certain that we even want to give this other try, it depends on what the investigations turn up. Our agency's stateside office should have the results of the 1st investigations sometime today. The staff is confident that they can get our case submitted to court before the court closure in August, however it is unlikely that we will get another court date before the end of Sept.

These past two weeks have been extremely difficult. We are not pleased with the way this disaster transpired or with the way James and I were treated by a particular social worker while we were in Ethiopia. Baby M never should have been referred to us.  The staff in Ethiopia found out about the sister early enough in July that we could have canceled our trip if they had told us right away. They decided to sit on the information for a little while and allow us to go ahead and make the trip. Our agency's stateside staff is not pleased about that. There is a lot more to this story that I'd like to share, but I feel that it is not appropriate to share all of the details publicly at this time. I will say that if you are pursuing and Ethiopian adoption through our agency, to proceed with extreme caution. (Unless you know me in some capacity outside of the blog, you don't know what agency we are working with. I have removed their name from all of my posts.) I will be more than happy to give you an earful if you talk to me.
We now have been through three failed referrals, and are wondering what else can go wrong. I'm at a place where I'm tried of investing my time, energy, and heart into adoption. I'm tried of praying about adopting a child & I'm tried of asking others to do the same. I'm tired of printing out photos of little girls that get referred to us and putting them up all over our house, just to throw them in the trash a few months later. I'm tired of mailing photos of another little child off to our parents, just to have to make another difficult phone call to them telling that we won't be bringing that child home either. I'm tired of getting every one's hopes up.

I wish I could rewind the past two years.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Donations and Toys for the Orphanage

 We are taking some toys with us that will we use while we are visiting Baby M at the orphanage.  I got a dozen of those little beach balls from Oriental Trading $6.  They are only 7 inches wide, so they will be good for little hands.  I also the little toy dinosaurs and the little plastic Slinky's at Oriental Trading. The other items in the photo are a package of bubbles and a package of plastic links.
These are donations.  A few outfits, diapers, (cloth and disposable) and a Jenny Jumperoo.  The orphanages seem to be in need of weight bearing toys for the little ones, so I hope they can use this.  We are also taking a bunch of children's underpants that my parents donated. We've had several people give us monetary donations for the orphanages.  We will use that to buy formula while we are in Ethiopia.  Thank you to everyone who has donated!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Photo Book is finally finished!

 We will be able to leave a photo book for Baby M that will be given to her after our case is approved in the Ethiopian court.  I wanted to give her a little photo book that she could play with, and I got this one at Babies-R-Us.  Thanks to my friend Dana for the recommendation.  There is a pocket on the front for a small photo, so I put a photo of Baby M in that so the book could be easily identified as hers.

I just finished this today.  I've had months to get this done, so you'd think that I would have gotten done before now, seeing that we leave the day after tomorrow.  "Last minute" seems to be our modus operandi around here these days.

The book holds only 6 photos, and I had a hard time narrowing it down.  I decided to put photos of people that she will probably see very soon after she comes home.  I have another small photo album that I will take on our second trip that has more photos of our extended family.

One more photo, just you can see the Amharic font on the photo a little better.  Amharic is the national language of Ethiopia.  I was stumped as to how to do this, but James showed me how.  Thank you! I found this website Amharic Dictionary, which was very useful.  You type in an English word, and it will show you the word in Amharic.  I copied that into a Word document and saved it.  Then I pasted the text from the Word document into photoshop.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

We're getting to meet our Compassion Child!

James and I sponsor a 10 year old boy in Ethiopia through Compassion International.  We started sponsoring him last summer.  We'd hoped for a long time that we'd get to meet him during one of our upcoming trips to Ethiopia.  As soon as I found out when our court date would be, I emailed Compassion to see if we could arrange a visit with him.  Compassion requests that you give them 8 weeks notice to plan a visit.  We had less than a month's notice for our court date, and I was not really hopeful that it would give Compassion enough time to plan a visit.  We'd only have one day where we could plan a visit, and our sponsored child would have to be driven to Addis Ababa, where we will be staying.  He lives very far away from the city, and for us to travel to see him, we'd have to spend the night in a rural part of Ethiopia. We were also concerned that it would add $$$ to the cost of our trip.  Compassion replied to my email with further instructions regarding what we needed to do to plan a visit.  We'd have to pay $70 for background checks in order to proceed.  It seemed so hopeless, that we felt like it would be a waste of $70. We decided not to bother with it.

Two days later, someone from Compassion called me to see what was going on.  I was impressed!  Compassion is a big organization, and I thought no one would pay us any attention if I didn't respond to their email. I explained my concerns to her, and she assured me that they would do everything that they could to arrange a visit for us.  I went ahead and filled out the necessary paperwork and waited to hear back from them.

We found out last Thursday that we will be able to met our young man!  We will have to pay for his transportation, a translator, and meals. but it's going to be less than $50!  Compassion is going to drive our guy to the city & he will spend the night there with an escort from Compassion.  Our visit will take place at the Compassion field office in Addis Ababa. I'm sure this will be his first trip to the city, and it might even be the first time he's ridden in a car. We are really looking forward to meeting him. I'm really thankful that Compassion was able to arrange this for us!

We were given a list of suggested gifts for him, and I hope he doesn't find it overwhelming.  Here's what we're giving him:

School supplies, a soccer ball (you must deflate these for the airports), toothbrushes, toothpaste, a metal water bottle, a hand crank flashlight, a photo album, a Cardinal's hat, and hand pump for the soccer ball, and a Jansport backpack.

My aunt gave a Jansport backpack when I was a freshman in college, almost 13 years ago.  I've become sentimentally attached to it because my aunt passed away unexpectedly right after I got married.  She loved to travel, and she was a nurse.  I think she would be pleased to know that the gift she gave me has was with me through pharmacy school and in Haiti on a medical mission trip. It has lasted me through college, pharmacy school, and trips to Mexico (twice), St. Thomas, D.C., Florida (twice), NYC, Yellowstone, Haiti, and now I'm taking it to Africa.  My mom did have to sew one of the straps back together once because Daisy chewed it apart, but it had not affected the usefulness of the backpack. I hope he is able to get as many years of use out if his!

My mom and dad sent us a little money to get him something, so I got him two Cardinal's shirts. (Thank you!)
Compassion also recommended taking a gift for his family.  So we are taking towels, serving spoons, and soap for them.  We used some money that James' parents had sent us for our trip to get those items.  (Thank you!)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Learn a little Amharic

Amharic is the national language of Ethiopia. Since we are leaving for Ethiopia very soon, I wanted to try to learn a few more words and phrases in Amharic.  I found several YouTube videos that I thought were rather helpful.  You are shown the word in Amharic script, and then transliterated into Roman letters, and the word in English.  The pronunciation is given at two different speeds.  Here are a few of the videos:

There are several more videos like these.  Just go to YouTube and search for Amharic.  I've also been using a smart phone app called "You Talk Amharic," which has been helpful.  The app cost about 10 dollars, and it available for iphones and androids.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Test Post #2

Here's a picture of our Daisy.  She's happy in this photo.  She is not happy right now.  She is ready for these fireworks to be over with!

Preparing to travel

This is a test post.  I'm typing this post from my email account, and hoping that it will post to my blog.  Blogger is not accessible in Ethiopia, and I'd like to be able to blog a little while we are there.