Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Our Trip To Ethiopia Day 4 - Tuesday

This sling was perfect for us!

Little miss busy body

Just pure sweetness..

A 10 second power nap

This morning we went back to the HOH, the agency run place Annsleigh has been living at for the last 6 months. We went there so we could review important paperwork for our visa appointment which had been moved up a day! YAY! I put Annsleigh in her sprout pouch sling for the first time. She loves it & falls asleep in it. I have got to recommend some kind of sling or pouch to hold the little ones. It is so much easier to hold onto her in the bumpy brakeslamming van rides. One time, out of the sling, her little head bumped into the railing in front of us when in the first row of van seats, even as I tried my best to hold tight to her. The slings as also great for the excursions and museum trips later. They do like to be held and with it, both of my arms were free to pull up and climb into the vans and squeeze into them, as well as get out of them with a baby. My muscles were sore by the time we came home from this exercise. Anyway, when we got to the HOH, Annsleighs nurse came up to her again....Annsleigh reached for her but this time I did not let her hold her. I felt like it really confused Annsleigh, plus made me sad...Once again, as soon as we got out of the van at the HOH all the older children come up smiling and giving hugs and kisses. I cannot wait for all of them to go to their new homes...HOH is wonderful, dont get me wrong....they do love the children and all the adults know all the childrens names and likes and dislikes and personalities, but it is still an orphanage.....older ones especially look like they are in ragged clothes. The older kids just stand around outside. There is a heap of bikes piled up in the of the parents ask if they can ride them. They say yes.....we pull them out and all the kids start playing. Just seemed like the workers there dont try to engage the kids in any kind of play or even encourage it. Those bikes were piled up for a while. Anyway, all this observance occurred while all us parents just stood around wondering what to do. Then we were led upstairs so we could sit or whatever until it was our turn to go over paperwork....finally our turn comes. We reviewed our I-600 and I-864 papers and income tax forms. We are told how to fill in the sections that pertained to Annsleigh and did so. Then we were told verbatum how to answer questions that would come up tomorrow at the visa appointment. 1. What happened to birth parents.....mother relenquished due to no income...father unknown.....2. Was this the child referred to you?.....yes.......3. Have you had any personal contact with this child prior to this trip? Do you plan on visiting birth parents?....yes....then we will be told we can have no further contact with birth parents and no gifts given. Thats it! Ok....easy enough. Everyone gets asked the same thing...Cool.... After this, Brad and I were exhausted and went back to the Melkam Guest House and rested as Annsleigh would have it.:) She fell asleep in the sling again while in the van..We skipped the excursion to the National Museum as it looked like we all could get in a good nap....or so it seemed. Annsleigh woke up wired and bouncing off the walls! She takes like 10 min power naps ready and raring to go go go!!!! She unpacked all our bags and tried to tear down the headboards as Brad and I were zombies laying around the room....We discovered she likes those little banana puffs I happened to bring along despite hearing from other families that these kids this age dont know what to do with little cheerio bites....YAY! Glad I brought them. She wanted to take them herself (she has a pincer grasp.....YAY!) but I took over and told her to let momma do it now. She also likes to hold her own bottle...but the same thing....I told her to let momma do it now. She is non stop eating these banana puffs. Hilarious! Sticks her tongue way out to catch one off my finger....She is extremely busy when she is awake...never still & silly too. When she poots, she smiles and scrunches her nose! She finally fell asleep when it was too late for a nap 7:00PMish. Its very hard to learn what your toddler like baby wants and needs to go to sleep. She fights it and fights it. The HOH staff do not tell you anything about your baby and her likes/dislikes or routine at all. Does she like to rock? Pat the back? Go to bed with a bottle? Just lay down? Seems like they could give a little info on the routine. This was very hard for us. We fell asleep also when she did and knew it was gonna be hard when she woke back up. And she did...up at 11:00PM. She is quite cute when she wakes up.....she sits straight up with eyes clothes and swaggers back and forth and flops back over a few times before she actually wakes up. She always wakes up smiling...which is fabulous :) But it was very very difficult now to get her back down. We gave her a bottle and she sucked it dry. The only way we could get her down this time was with her laying down on the bed while we held the bottle and she sucked it empty.... something we really wish we brought but didnt because supposedly these kids dont use pacifiers, dont have pacifiers and dont know what to do with pacifiers...was A PACIFIER!!! And they dont sell them here. We just had to take the nipple off the bottle and let her suck on the plain nipple.....BAD BAD BAD! As far as all American standards go and my better nursing judgement.... but we had no choice. Finally after much fretting and rubbing her eyes and ears....she went out....and so did we....end of day 4. Whew!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Our Trip To Ethiopia Day 3 Part 2

Court yard/driveway at HOH where kids play

View from second floor HOH
My first pic with Annsleigh

Brad's first pic with Annsleigh

Finally! A nap in our room!

Finally we get to the HOH. It is not in a good area...and the picture in the CHI booklet is very very deceiving.... there are no signs up front to let you know you are there.... there are big trucks parked all along this small road. And if you want to call it a is dirt and holes. Very very bumpy. Men urinating freely outside the gates of the HOH. Well, the gates open and in we go..... When you drive in there is baby laundry drying on the lines above the concrete driveway. That is also the only place the older children play. A concrete courtyard so to speak. There is a metal merrygoround type of playground toy on the right but it always has laundry drying on it. As soon as you get out of the van the older children come up to you smiling and hugging you and they just dont want to let go. I just want to bring them all home, except for the fact that fortunately I am sure all these children have waiting families or will soon. They are precious. One little boy about 2 was playing with a yoyo and doing tricks like walk the dog with it. He taught me how to do that! He must play with that thing all day long. Anyway.... We are led to the stairway and Almaz, a familiar face from the CHI booklet, stands at the top of the stairs. I hug her. She leads us up to the upstairs room on the left corner & tells us she will go get Tihune. I am emotional & nervous. Will we recognize her? ( In some of her pics other families took for us it did not really look like her so you cant help but wonder this)...Will she cry? Will she like us? When we get into the room where you wait to receive your baby there are already 2 families in there united with their babies. Jorga and Clint have baby Ruths sitting on a blanket on the floor playing with her. So glad to see her sitting up!!! Rachel and David have Jacob and he is glued to his new momma. How precious! Then we see Almaz pass by the window carrying a baby!!! Is that Annsleigh???? As soon as she walked in with her that was all she wrote! There is no doubt that precious buttercup was our Annsleigh! They had her all dolled up in a bright buttercup yellow jumper dress and even a yellow headband!.....Boy, she is GORGEOUS!!!!! Brad did grab her first simply because he is taller than me and could reach her......but he kissed her cheek and had her just long enough to hand her to me.......we both held her and teared up....she didnt even cry....but we did...She is not crying!!! We were told she is very serious and leary to go to others. We dont see that. We spent the next 1 1/2 hours in that room playing with her...amazed at her abilities.....this child being in an orphanage that long and she is not the least developmentally delayed...This is what we learned about Annsleigh in the first hour together......random.....She is amazing! She smiles alot! She scrunches her nose up somethimes when she does a silly smile! She giggled for us! She can crawl! She can stand all by herself! She has 2 teeth! She pooped and I changed her! She needs to hold on to something while we change because she is busy!!! She is perfectly normal "down there". (No FGM thank God). She babbles alot! She is so animated! She is like a toddler...Then Almaz gave us a can of Promil formula and a box of wheat/milk cereal and a box of honey/wheat cereal. All the instruction we got was feed a bottle every 3 hours and cereal at 9 AM/ cereal at 6 PM. Thats it?!?!? For an 11 month old!!!???!!? Wow!She has some eating to catch up on!!! We just missed her 3PM bottle :( Oh well, by this time, there was another family there united with their 2 beautiful new daughters aged about 7 and 10 maybe. We were all given the choice of leaving to go on a city tour. One family went...the rest of us stayed so we could bond with our babies.. We couldnt keep our eyes off of Annsleigh. She is sooooo healthy. We kiss those cheeks and lips! Annsleighs nurse came up to her and reached for her. Annsleigh cried for her and went to her. Her nurse hugged her and hugged her and cried holding her. When I reached for Annsleigh she did not want me. This was hard to take. I took her anyway and the nurse let go.... I saw how much they loved each other, but now it was my turn....her nurse asked if we would be back tomorrow... I said yes.... and she left. As soon as the city tour returned with the folks that went, we loaded up in the van to take Annsleigh with us to the Melkam. crying....and she fell asleep on my shoulder on the way. I teared up holding her as there were beggars coming up to the van windows, some already familiar to us....When we got back to the room I carried Annsleigh heart was racing and I was winded....oh....that was the altitude change I read about. I laid her down on the bed & she napped. I took pics of her and watched her sleep & we phoned home with the good news that she was in our arms safe & sound & healthy! She she woke, we bathed her, fed her and us and went to bed. She felt asleep very easy this first night with a night.....Addis sounds like any big music from 10:30PM - 1:30AM, dogs barking, cats fighting....airplanes over head....this was the noise at night at the Melkam....then....before daybreak....rooster crows and prayerful chanting....Annsleigh awakes....but that is the beginning of day 4!

Our Trip To Ethiopia Day 3 Part 1 - Monday

Just when we fell into a deep sleep the wake up call rangat 6AM. We were dragging out of bed then realized what our task was for the Annsleigh!!!! Adrenaline kicked in! The airport shuttle scooted us over to the airport in no time. We were there in no time, at 7:15AM. One thing to know about the Dubai is humungous.....very very wide open the walk to the gate was very very long. When we got to the gate we saw Rachel and David again and also met Jorja and Clint who are also adopting thru our agency. Their little baby girl who is 10 months old needs to head to surgery day after they return, and I always thought our agency should have/could have expedited their case more than they did. They also have had lots of horrendous issues getting this far as they were caught up in the abandonement issue months ago. Anyway, we talked with them until boarding time. It was great to meet them. The flight quickly boarded & it was a quick 3 1/2 hour flight that felt like no time at all(any flight seemed short compared to the 14 hour one the day before). We landed in Addis Ababa at about 11:05. I teared up, got emotional already.....we were in our baby's country....being this close to our precious baby. God has brought us on this amazing adventure that we never thought would/could do. I did not experience my first impression out of the airport as others horrendous traffic, diesel smell, pollution, shortness of breath due to altitude...what I experienced was beauty. As soon as we exited the customs area, the Melkam Guest House owner Zeyedeh and his 12 year old son held my name up looking for us with friendly smiling faces. Actually, everyone this entire trip so far has been very polite & friendly. As soon as we walked outside, there is a mountain range. Beautiful! Birds chirping. No smog. Fresh air. It felt good out. 68 degrees partly sunny skies. It was a quick van ride to the Melkam Guest House only about 4 miles away. When we got there Brad napped while I freshened up and unpacked a little bit. There was less than 2 hours left til we get picked up to be taken to the House of Hope (HOH) where Annsleigh has been living for the last 6 months. They picked us up at about 2:30PM at the Melkam. From here on, I have a very very different impression of Addis Ababa now. We drive along & I see masses & masses of people what we would call "loitering" in every square foot of space along the roads in what should be sidewalks. Some laying down as if to sleep amongst the chaos. Piles and mounds of trash everywhere. Some children and adults digging thru it. Thousands of people with mats laid out on the ground with their produce lined up and displayed on it. Sometimes its fruit/veggies sometimes metal trinket odds and ends. Thousands of people with shoe shine mats set up everywhere. Shoe shine? They are wearing sandals! They are washing shoes/sandals amongst the filth. And there are women everywhere carrying extremely heavy loads on their backs...straw/bundles of sticks/ water bottles full. Mobs of people walking everywhere as if everyone is very busy.....Doing what? Loitering and hanging out while the women work....Hanging around...and the masses & masses of people cross the street whereever and anywhere they please. There is alot of hand holding/arm holding amongst men. Is this to be safe to cross the street? Or just good friendship? Or is it something else? Crossing the street is next to impossible, but they do it anyway. Let me try and describe the streets. The streets are packed with about 4-5 cars or vans wide in each direction, with motorcycles squeezing in between. I would say bumper to bumper, but that is not accurate. That would be too orderly. Its all cock-eyed traffic cutting off and squeezing in. Horns beeping like crazy....smell of smog is all the mayhem....there is no one giving anyone else "the finger", or pulling a gun or knife out. They are courtiously random in their driving and pedestrian crossing. Pedestrians just walk out in from the the moving vehicles and look right at the driver and just continue to slowly swanter across in no hurry and come literally within inches of being splattered. They just look at the van like, my own time. They are not afraid of being hit. Poverty is obvious. Beggars up to the van made me just cry. Boys my sons age in beautiful young girl with her hair braided beautifully begging at the van. 3 more arms come in the crack of the window. One blind man, one man with him. A couple other men. A young woman with her baby wrapped around her, both thin looking in rags...begging at the window. Brad was handing out $1 birr left and right and bubble gum to the kids. I cried....Its very easy for these people to pick out the vans full of white folks. They know we have the handouts....Its hard not to give....The crippled has no down on the ground, with shoes on his hands to walk along....1 man sitting on his shirt on the ground amongst the heap of chaos 1/2 of him burned almost in a straight line down his hair and face. 1/2 hair missing. 1 man with football sized tumors all over his back which was shirtless. 1 armed men, 1 legged men....crutches.....wheelchairs.....GOD!!!!! I see now why it is so hard for someone to describe this! One little boy about 2 sat in between adults asleep on the sidewalk......he was just watching traffic go by. All in rags....I cant help but wonder how long before they realize they cannot take care of him and put him in an orphanage? .....2 children walk down the street. The boy was wearing a hat made out of a cardboard box. Then, amongst all this are clean and well dressed folks & children adorably dressed & well groomed, some of them with backpacks like they were coming or going to school. .....

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Our Trip To Ethiopia Day 2 - Sunday

Hotel in Dubai

One day just turns into the next while on the flight over to Dubai, or no matter what route you take. As soon as we landed in Dubai it was time for bed, and we had no bed to sleep in because our travel agent made a mistake. And we used a travel agency to avoid any mistakes. Go figure. We called our agent immediately when we landed and he told us to approach the Emirates desk and book a room and he would reimburse us. Easy enough. (By the way, we rented an international cell phone thru verizon and it worked great the whole trip!). We went to the Emirates desk, got our room paid for. Note to self......always take extra money with you! This was $150 we did not plan on spending! By the way, we did not need a transit visa, which some folks said they needed. The Dubai airport is beautiful and very very clean. We got a hotel shuttle van to pick us up....when we walked was stifling....hard to breath through the thick hot humid heat. All our American soldiers based there earned even more respect from me. I thought back to the Gulf War & how hot it had to be by the burning oil army fatigues.....unbearable! They dont know how they did it. Well, the shuttle ride to the hotel was quick, but it might be the drivers lead foot that got us there like that....and then uses the breaks at the last minute. Sometimes I wondered if they drove like that on purpose just to make you feel even more glad that you finally arrived at their destination. Another note to self.....Dramamine tomorrow! We got to the Almanar Hotel....very very nice 3 * hotel. It had a kitchen in it complete with stove, full size fridge, microwave and washing machine. It had chandalier lights above the beds. Funny thing.... we felt soooo stupid.....when we got to the room we did not know how to turn on the lights. None of the switches turned on the lights. We felt too stupid to go down to the desk to ask how in the world do you turn the lights we searched and searched in the dark. I picked up the phone in the bathroom to call the front desk but couldnt see to dial thank God because I really hated to ask them how in the world do we turn these lights on....Then, in what I thought was a night light on the wall was actually a thing plugged into the wall that had a slot for your room key to go in. We slid the room key in, and what do you know? Lights on.....for about 5 seconds.....then off again. Note to self......dont just swipe the room key through it.....leave the room key in it....lights will stay on......then you can turn the lamp off with the switch by the bed. Its actually a very good idea. That way, when people check out, they have to have all the lights turned off. Anyway, I am taking the time to write so much about even these silly little details because had someone else written about it, we wouldnt have fumbled around in the dark for 20 minutes completely exhausted. (This is how I am going to tell our whole story. I am going to mention anything that might be helpful for the next families. And I am going to be brutally honest in some of it. Some of the journey is quite confusing and strange. Stay tuned for that.)Now,....the lights are on.......we were both exhausted and thought it felt great to shower and go to sleep. We both slept sound about for about 3 hours and then woke up feeling like we were ready to go get our baby. We had no clock in the room and did not know the time. I looked out the window....still pitch black out.....we were awake and hungry. We did call home with our cell phone. We got to hear our little Bradleys voice. That was sweet. By the way, he was no longer missing us. He was at his cousins house doing fine. They had to get him out of the pool to talk on the phone. And he was quick to say HI! Bye! I love you! Gotta go swim! That made us feel better. We also found out it was only 1:30AM. We could not go back to sleep. We talked about Annsleigh....wondered if she was crawling yet....had teeth yet....would she like us?...thought about her sleeping soundly ....only 1 more night without her.....we turned the lights out and couldnt growling stomach kept me up. So we went around the hotel to find a vending machine.....never found went to front lobby of hotel and asked where the vending machines were....they didnt have any....looked at us like we were odd. Another note to self.....vending machines must be an American we went back to the room. We found snacks and drinks in the fridge in the room.....with prices like $15/Red Bull, $10/small bag of pretzels!?!?!? Wasnt THAT hungry! So..........Brad went to bed....fell asleep and I started to write this journal. This is the end of day 2.....running into day 3

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Our Trip To Ethiopia Day 1 - Saturday

Sept 12, 2009 Saturday - We left the house at 8:50am for a 12:55pm flight. Too early! We sat at the airport for 3 hours. But we spent it with Bradley, Pa and NeNe because they wanted to see us off. Bradley was fine until about 30 min before we said good bye. Then he cried & cried & cried already missing us. We tried not to cry but we both teared up. We sure do miss that little fella. Then we made it thru the baggage x-ray & metal detection without a glitch. Patted myself on the back for packing within regulations. WHEW! First hurdle done with no problems. And none of our checked bags were over 50 pounds. 3 checked bags....1 full of food for us to eat (Brad is kinda a picky eater & I know will not eat the Ethiopian food and we did not want to be rude not eating what they cooked), 1 full of Annsleigh's things & 1 full of our clothes. We also had 2 carryons plus our laptop. Once we made it past security checkpoints we found our was a very quick & watched the TN VOLS game in the airport restaurant/bar. VOLS lost by the way. We then went back to the gate and now there were a ton of people waiting to board. We were definitely the minority now. Mostly Arabs. There was another caucasion couple....could they be another CHI adoptin couple? THEY WERE!!! Here is where we met David and Rachel (Rubin) When I met her I felt like I knew her because we both had been communicating on the CHI yahoo group for sometime now. They are adopting 11 month old Jacob. Annsleigh's boyfriend!!!! This was when we were informed that we did not get an email announcing that our Visa appt had been moved up a day to Sept 16!!! I hope its true!!! We talked and got acquainted until ready to board. At the boarding gate it said the Temp for Dubai was 106 tomorrow! Wow! Now thats hot! It was a full flight. 14 hours. We flew Emirates and its the only way to go. As comfortable as possible. All seats had their own screen and remote control for 600 different channels......movies (good oldies...latest name it), TV shows, music etc..I loved watching the cockpit view of takeoff and landings. And the view from the camera beneath the plane of the terrain down below. When we got to Dubai, he had an 8 hour layover & we were supposed to have a room included in our fee. We were told as we were trying to find our seats that we did not qualify for the we could do about it now. We were on our way no matter what...may not have a place to stay... but we were on our way. Seats were still very tight and uncomfortable to try to sleep in but we expected that. They sure made sure you didnt go hungry. Offered food about 4 times during the flight. It was VERY long. But the 600 movie/TV channels helped alot. The only way I could sleep was by putting the tray out in front of me & putting the pillow on it slumped over & Brad then leaned all the way over on me sideways, put his pillow on my back and tried to sleep. That worked until the seat in front of me reclined and woke me up hitting me in the day ran into the next during the flight. Thats all for day 1.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My busy busy little bee

My sweet sweet Annsleigh is a very very very active and busy little girl. If she is awake, she is on the go! Busy busy busy. We already decided she will be a busy little bumble bee for Halloween. She is no doubt keeping me very very busy and unable to blog yet about our trip. Promise its coming, but wanted to get a new pic up here of her and her brother. When the family met us at the airport, we had her dolled up in her Ethiopian ethnic dress and wrap. How adorable is this? As you can tell, Bradley is madly in love with her. Very protective of her. Hope to blog my journal of the trip very soon.

Monday, September 21, 2009

We are back!!!

We were able to come home we are back!!! And exhausted....promise I will post what we did and saw everyday. But, for now I've just gotta say that Annsleigh is just perfect! She is sooooooooo happy. Thank you Jesus! Smiles everywhere....giggles everywhere! Bradley loves her so much too! Now gotta try and get this angel to bed. She just woke up from sleeping on the plane for about 6 hours and its 12:42 AM soooooo.....wish us luck!

Friday, September 11, 2009

We are off to Ethiopia!!!

One last post before we leave! We are super excited and so ready to go. Annsleigh, HERE WE COME!!!!!!! We leave tomorrow AM and dont think blogging will be too easy while we are gone. But, will update when we can!! Will be back on the 22nd. Keep us in your prayers!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Somebody Pinch Me!

Will somebody pinch me please!!! I just cannot believe that in just 1 week, our precious little one will be in our arms. It still just doesnt feel real. The bags are almost completely packed now, we have our tickets, but I still just cannot believe it. And no matter how much I have studied and read everyone elses blogs as they journeyed to Ehtiopia to bring their little ones home, I still have to say I dont know what to expect. When she is placed in my arms....what will it be like? When she sleeps on my shoulder...what will it be like? Her country....what will it be like? Her personality....her teething....her sleeping habits.....what will any of it be like? All I know is has got to heavenly to have her in my arms....feel her breathing, watching her sleep. I know the rest will all fall into place. Brad always likes to make bets with people. Yesterday he asked me heads or tails? I said for what? He said to see who will hold Annsleigh first. I said I didnt want to pick! But I did...I lost...but I told him it will just have to be both of us...I'll hold her bottom....and he'll hold her top!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Everything is done and ready to go!!! That is as far as the agency is concerned. (You can see how NOT ready we are!!!) Sweet Annsleigh is completely ready and waiting for us to bring her home. We just booked flights to leave on Sep 12. For anyone wanting to see us return at the airport, we will return to Nashville on Sep 22 at 3:04pm!!!! Wow! I havent been able to think past the adoption once.........until just now. :) This is truly amazing. Now, please just pray for our health before and during our trip. Brad is sick as a dog right now with a stomach virus. Maybe we can get all this out of our systems before we leave. H1N1!!!! PLEEEEEZE!!!!!