My Baby Boy All Growed Up

So today was a tough day as a momma…my baby boy went off to day camp. 😦 We packed his bagpack last night and this morning he ate a good breakfast and was ready to tackle his day. He went to work with Zach because day camp doesn’t start until 9 and Zach goes in about 8. So he got to hang out with his daddy for an hour. Zach said when he dropped him off at the day camp place and saw Trysten head out with the other kids he almost cried. It’s a good thing I wasn’t the one dropping him off, I’ve been a bit emotional lately and I would’ve embarrased both Zach and Trysten, I’m sure. So his activities will last from 9-4 and include things like hiking, swimming and arts and crafts. Zach said he’s doing well but at lunch time (corn dogs and tator tots) he was asking if it was time to go home yet. 🙂 That’s my boy, he really does miss us. He kept saying last night and this morning..I’m really going to miss you guys when I’m at camp. Little does he know I’ve thought of little else today. It is interesting because, as a whole, I would consider Zach and myself pretty laid-back parents. But we have been nervous wrecks about this week at day camp! Perhaps control issues are to blame?

Dailah started waving over the weekend. As in, on purpose waving to say hello and good bye. Although interestingly enough, she does it backwards so it looks more like a full-handed “come here” but it’s extremely irresistable and deserving of lots of hugs and kisses.

Father’s Day was wonderful. Zach put off going into work for just enough time to go to breakfast with us. It felt like we were spoiled with so much daddy time! After these last couple of weeks, I have newfound respect for single moms. I know I’ve said it before, but it’s not even about raising the kids on your own, which can be tough. I just miss talking to him at night and things. I am blessed with easy kids so my reasons for missing Zach are mostly selfish. 🙂

Tomorrow marks exactly one month until our adoption classes. I can’t wait! I’m excited to learn (as most of you know, I’m a bit of a junkie when it comes to that) but perhaps even more excited to really give the process a jump start. I’ve finished another book which brings the total to 8 (!) adoption-related books since May. 🙂 I know, I’m ridiculous. But I get crazy when I’m excited about something!

I have been doing so much research, budgeting, etc and had figured out a way to give my 30 days today. Alas, it didn’t happen after talking with my favorite hubby. He talked me into a few more months so we can save for the adoption. I know these kids will be worth it, but I am REALLY looking forward to starting a new chapter in my life! Be praying for my sanity the next few months and for us to continue finding ways to pay for this adoption!

Anyway, I’ll post pictures of the well-captured first day of camp as well as just other cute ones as soon as I can download them to the computer. Until then, peace, love and happiness!


So am starting to try to learn a few words in Amharic, the national language of Ethiopia. The title of this post is Amharic for “mother”. I don’t do phoentics really well, but if I were to try, it’s pronounced like eh-MY-ay. Is that right, Leslie? Anyway, I’m trying. The only problem is, our children could come from a remote part of Ethiopia that doesn’t speak Amharic. Then all of this would be for not….but I’m still considering them learning at least part of the language so they’ll have ties to their culture that way as well. Besides, how cool would it be if I could speak (kind of) 3 languages….okay, okay, 1 languague and bits and pieces of two others.

So it’s been a great week. We were finally able to see some of Zach the last couple of nights before all of us went to bed, which has been refreshing (for everyone, I think) since he’s worked so late recently! We were able to go swimming in the camp pool on Tuesday night (it was beautiful, more pictures to come) and last night Zach brought the kiddos to watch me play sand volleyball with folks from our small group (apparently should have practiced!). Anyway, it’s been a great week and tonight we get to go mini golfing–without daddy–with the Klipschs.

Can’t believe this weekend is Father’s Day. I’m going to have to dedicate a post to all the daddy’s in my life soon. They are all so wonderful, especially my own “Papa John” and of course my husband. I call my husband the baby whisperer because kids love that guy. There’s something about him. I think they can sense his overall contentment and peace. It’s awesome.

Anyway, it’s also been an exciting week on the adoption forum. 6 people have gotten referrals, including one couple from Pleasant Hill, IA. So it’s been awesome reading about them hearing of their newest child for the first time. It gets me excited for when we get to that point. Though I have absolutely no idea when it will be, it really can’t come soon enough. I’m crap (ca-ca) at this patience thing.

I’m also still studying for my ACE Personal Training certification. I’m not sure why I constatly pick the hardest way around things. This is really tough material! At least this way I’ll be confident in my knowledge and skills once I’m actually training people. I also learned that I undoubtedly was born with more fast-twitch muscles than slow-twitch. I always use that as an excuse when people try to get me to compete in long road races. “I’m a sprinter” I say, “I have fast-twitch muscles, not slow-twitch!” Turns out I was right all along…Oh sweet intelligence!

So here’s to a (hopefully) relaxing Father’s Day weekend. I’m attaching a few professional pics of the kiddos. Man they are attractive people (too bad I don’t have pictures of their insides, I bet they’d be ever MORE beautiful!)

Selam (Peace)

Too Sexy For This Shirt?

I had to write that title because it reminds me of one of the reasons I’m looking forward to staying at home with me kiddies…Trysten will never hear that song until he’s old enough to go looking for that undeniably fantastic band that is Right Said Fred. He came home from daycare a couple of months ago singing that song. When Zach asked him where he heard it, he said “school”. It prompted my always attentive hubby to call the daycare the next day. This led to the Director sending out a memo stating all listenting materials must be okayed by her before they are heard in the classroom. It pays to know the boss!

Last night on our way home Trysten was counting. I was listening closely and was surprised when he hit 100!!!! I was so proud of him, giving him high fives, doing my in-car dance. It was all fantastic and I called Zach and said, “Trysten counted to 100!” For the rest of the car ride he tried telling me he counted to 0 and all he wanted to do today was count to 0. No matter how much I tell him 0 is actually where you start, etc, etc, he just likes 0 for some reason. What a weird kid.
Dailah has recently reminded me why I sported that atrocious pixie cut when Trysten was exactly her age. She yanks, pulls and slurps my hair like it’s her business. Especially when I’m giving her the nighttime bottle. It’s like she goes to sleep better knowing I’m in pain. I don’t get it but when I tell her “no” and put her hand down, she thinks we’re playing a game and smiles and laughs like it’s the best game in history. How can I say no to that? But seriously, I haven’t been tempted to cut my long locks in quite some time but I’m toying with the idea now. Shhhh, don’t tell my hubby.
This weekend Dailah had her first belly laugh. I’m talking hysterical laughing-make everyone come watch-light up your week-kind of laugh. All I had to do was juggle (really, really poorly) a plastic cup and she thought it was the funniest thing ever done. It makes me feel good to know I don’t have to try nearly as hard at making her laugh as I do the adults around me.
And seriously…they are getting rid of Burke on Grey’s Anatomy! Boy I liked his character. By character I mean on the show, obviously in “real life” he left a lot to be desired with regards to that word.
Okay, this blog started as an excuse to post pictures but somebody give me a podium to stand on and I’ll talk your ear off! Happy Tuesday every body!

Grandma Dawson

Had a great weekend at the lake. It was Dailah’s first trip and Trysten’s excitement was palpable for the past week as he remembered all the fun we have whenever we go. They are in the final stages of an addition so there was painting and things going on but it was a whole lot of fun, just as I remember. We even had our dear friends, the Hilsabecks, come out to say hello. It was awesome getting to spend some time with them.

I also got to visit my newest second cousin, Dawson Lee Bertran. As soon as I download his pictures you can see just how cute and charming (true to his name!) he really is. It was nice seeing all of my cousins and things and of course getting to hold baby Dawson did the heart good!

On a more somber note, my sister, my cousin and I visited my Grandma Dawson yesterday. She is 95 and has Alzheimer’s, among many other diseases, etc. Last week she went to the hospital and on Tuesday (the 5th) the doctor said she wouldn’t last 48 hours. This prompted my uncle from Texas to come say good-bye. As I’m sure you noticed, she is still living and beating the odds. She has congenitive heart failure so it is only a matter of time. At this stage I’m truly praying God takes her soon so she doesn’t have to go through a lot of pain when the time does come.

It is such a weird thing, relatives dying. Truth be told I was not extremely close to this Grandma and it was due in large part to her not being totally interested in a close relationship (even though we lived just 5 miles from her my whole life, and at one point we lived next door!). She didn’t always have the nicest things to say and would sporadically call me by my younger brother’s name (though to be fair, I was sporting an unflattering pixie cut at the time).

But she was my Grandma. It’s hard at this stage because I find myself not feeling the “right” to be sad. At some point you tell yourself that you shouldn’t feel sad seeings you never really had that great of relationship in the first place. But perhaps that’s why I am a sad. Some part of me not only mourns my inevitable loss, but also the loss that’s been there for 25 years. I just don’t know much about her. I know things only from stories from my dad or uncle (mostly my uncle). Grandpa Dawson died in a tragic drowning accident when I was quite young and the memories I have of him are there perhaps only because I’ve seen pictures. When we asked Grandma to write her memoirs she had just two entries, neither one was altogether interesting.

As a Christian I am excited for her new life after she dies. Her mind and body will be restored and she will again be renewed in God’s image. Not the image I saw on Sunday. Not the old, 85lb lady wasting away on her bed. Not the lady who doesn’t recognize her granddaughters and certainly not the lady who can’t say anything that comes out clearly. I feel so sad for my dad, who I’m sure can’t remember the last time Grandma expressed a whole lot of love or gave him a hug that every child needs from his/her mom. I hope he (and my uncles) can come to terms with the fact that their relationship might have to be built in Heaven where there will be no more anger or resentment getting in the way of a truly remarkable relationship.

Either way, here’s to my Grandma. The lady that called me “my smiler” in a few of my birthday cards. The lady that gave me Red Hots when I would come over to do laundry. The lady who made amazing pies and attempted to show us how before her mind started slipping. The lady who gave the world my dad and my uncles. The lady who somehow knitted such a tight relationship between her sons, they blessed me with my close relationships with my cousins. The lady who taught me how to sew. The Grandma who constantly reminded me to zip up my coat on a cold, Iowa winter day. The lady who survived the Great Depression, WWII, the death of a fiancé, the death of a husband and the death of her mind. The Grandma who asked if I was wearing white at my wedding. The lady who did crossword puzzles and had Christmas at her house. To the lady who (hopefully) gave my dad the ability to weather any physical storm and live a long, long life.

PAC and Motherhood

Fantastic adoption news….One of the ladies from our awesome agency just wrote an email letting me know that we will be getting our invitation to PAC at the end of this month. We will be attending classes on July 19th and 20th. Woohoo! The classes take place in St. Paul, MN and go from about 12-5 on Thursday and 8-3 on Friday. From these classes we will learn valuable information about things like: transracial adoption, transcultural adoption, sibling adoption, toddler adoption, bonding, etc. After that we will have homework that needs completed. Once we turn in the homework to our social worker in Cedar Rapids, we will get all of our homestudy dates set up. This is where the process really starts getting going and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

Of course, with all of this is the question of, where in the world are we going to come up with the cash? Well the good news is, the bulk of it is not due until we get a referral. The bad news is there is still a pretty good chunk of change that we’ll need to continue in the process. If you have any creative ways of coming up with it, let us know! I am working on getting something together so I can start selling quilt blocks to people to create our childrens’ homecoming quilts. On those quilts, whoever buys a block, can write anything they might want. A love note, a Bible quote, what have you. I think it’d be a great way to get people involved.
On a lighter note, I love motherhood. Though last night got a bit stressful as Trysten got something in his eye (according to him, it was a rock) and Dailah wasn’t going down without a fight (and massive amounts of vomit on her freshly laundered sheets). After a good piece of birthday cake and a quick beer I felt much better. 🙂

I love babying my kids from time to time. Last night was Trysten’s turn since he had the aformentioned substance in his eye. I got to hold him a lot more and he brought his Batman blanket down so we could snugglebugs on the couch. Man he’s fun to snuggle. He’ll let you rub his head and his legs, or whatever. It’s awesome. Sometimes I find that I probably wouldn’t ever stop if I didn’t force myself to put him to bed. It seems we are mutually taking advantage of the situation and hope the other doesn’t find out about it. It’s great fun, really. At camp, the counselors nicknamed him, “Hawk” (seeings he’s recently went back to his mowhawk). I like it and love that my son is included in the fun. Starting June 18th he’s going to go to Day Camp every day for 8 weeks. It’s going to be awesome, he’s going to have so much fun. Of course I’m not feeling nearly as anxious about it seeings I have a good feeling they will be taking extra good care of the boss’s son. Thanks, honey!

Dailah doo (as the daycare teachers call her) is precious. Every morning they’re talking about her constant smiling and laughing. They said the other day that she looks like a Cabbage Patch kid (which could be why I love her so much, I always did love those things). Course they then went on to explain yes, she does look like a Cabbage Patch kid, but perhaps one with a constant stream of snot running down her face. Alas, it’s true. But she smiles through the snot bubbles and it’s all good.

In the end, after my various methods of coping and taking 10 deep breaths after the hard day I was having, I was happy to hunker down and snuggle with my husband who shared my equally hard day and love for those darn great kids.

I Love Birthdays!

My birthday yesterday was fan-tabulous. I awoke at 6:30 to my hubby’s smiling face saying, “Happy Birthday.” Then Trysten ran in and gave me some good snuggling time. A couple minutes later Dailah joined the group with her crazy morning hair and beautiful smile. Giggling and wiggling her hands (which of course I interpreted as Happy Birthday!).

Went to work and got an hilarious card from my co-worker, Kathryn. Zach met me for a yummy cup of coffee and my brother-in-law, Frank, took me to some amazing Mexican food and great conversation for lunch.

Then last night we had about 15 of our friends and family out for a BBQ. Though we had to discourage any lawn games for fear of people being lost in the prairie that is our backyard, we all had a great time. I went to bed (at 10:30 no less!) amazed at my egg-cellent life, yet again. I seriously might have the best life in history. My friends and family are absolutely top notch. With just limited amounts of alcohol, I had the best laughs in the entire world. It even prompted me to make “laughter, on my birthday” comments throughout the night. But really, truly, I thank all of our dear friends for making my birthday the absolute greatest.

I went to bed also reflecting on what my Papa Frank says a lot about his life and his awesome career at the Y. “In a secular sense, none of this makes sense.” And I find that true in my world as well. To take my life outside of God and the blessings He’s given me, none of it makes sense. It’s too good to think I could’ve had anything to do with weaving it all together. There’d be WAY too many coincidences in my life (the first of which would be actually meeting my husband again and MARRYING him!) to get where I’m at. So I fell asleep last night just constantly saying “Thank you, thank you” to a God I don’t see physically, but can see and feel every single day. What an awesome pillow to sleep on!

Quarter-Century old and Tassimo!

My weekend:

Friday night with my hubby was just as I remember from 5 years ago when we were just kids in Iowa City. We went to Buffalo Wild Wings (the offer to go somewhere nicer and more romantic was there, but I love beef so we went with that!) and then to Knocked Up. Both were good but I must say they had nothing on the company I was with. 🙂

Saturday was my day to sleep in (until 9:30, can you even believe it?). When I woke up I had a message from my Realtor. She was just heading to the people who put an offer on the house. Could she come over and have us sign everything? Abso-freakin-lutely! So it’s official. It was a good offer (especially in the present buyer’s market) and we are happy. Now bring on the packing! After the offer was official I banned cleaning for at least a week and it felt oh-so-glorious. I went to toast my hubby with a nice cup of coffee but found our coffee machine had broken. We decided we would head into town and do a little shopping. This brought us to Target and to TASSIMO!!!!!!!!!!!!! For those that don’t know, Tassimo is a coffee machine that delivers coffee in a direct pipeline from heaven, I kid you not. I won’t go into detail here because it will prompt me to leave work early to go enjoy a cup of cappi but let’s just say we might need to buy a king sized bed so our Tassimo can sleep with us at night. We also got to celebrate my mother-in-law’s birthday. At the restaurant we were celebrating in, my daughter said, for the first time. MAMA! SHE CAN SAY, “MAMA!” Woohoo! Oh yeah, and my dog’s 3rd birthday!

Sunday sent Zachary to work and me and the kiddos to church/small group. It was awesome as usual. Even cooler was what I learned in my small group. Did anyone know that Paul originally brought the Gospel to Africa through ETHIOPIA??? I had no idea but felt some odd sense of pride in that. Interestingly enough, Paul also brought the Gospel to Europe at about the same time. Last night I had a dream that my ancestors and our kids’ ancestors preached the Gospel hand-in-hand together. Then they were up in heaven cooking up our connection. Cool dream. As a side note, I also dreamed we found $5,000 randomly. Here’s hoping that both dreams come true, and quickly! Oh yeah, and Dailah decided to say, “TT”! (This is what we call Trysten). So she can now say, dadda, mama and TT with clarity. Everything else sounds like shriekeing!

Today I got to work with an email from our adoption agency asking us when we could attend the PAC classes. I’m hoping Zach can talk to his boss and see if we could go the July dates. I realize he just started and it’s busy season for camp but I do think this is a HUGE step in the adoption process and needs to be attended to immediately. So we’ll see about that.

Also, I’m listening to Melissa Faye Green’s book, “There is No Me Without You” on CD lately. For anyone who has any interest in reading a REALLY FANTASTIC BOOK, please go out and buy/rent this book immediately. It gives an amazing voice to the African/Ethiopian people and is just a beautiful testimony to the power of one person.

And, I’m turning a quarter-century old tomorrow. It’s crazy to think I’m going to be 25. Crazy because I’ve been married for almost 5 years, have 2 kids and possibly 2 on the way. And, as my brother-in-law so wittily reminded us, we will be on house #3! 🙂 Anyway, special thanks to my mom who gave birth to me AND gave birth to me ON HER BIRTHDAY! So happy birthday to my momma bird as well!

Oh, and I’m attaching a picture that was on the front page of a section of our Quad City Times. That kid under the huge hand is my favorite son, Trysten. That huge hand? Yup, that’s my father-in-law, Frank’s!

New York Times article about adoption from Ethiopia

In Ethiopia, Open Doors for Foreign Adoptions By JANE GROSS and WILL CONNORS

Published: June 4, 2007ST. PAUL —

Ethiopia was not on Mark and Vera Westrum-Ostrom’s list when they first visited Children’s Home Society & Family Services here to explore an international adoption.

From Ethiopia to Minnesota Ukraine was first, because of their family heritage, until the couple discovered that the adoption system there was chaotic, with inaccurate information about orphans’ health and availability. Vietnam was second, after they saw videos of well-run orphanages. But the wait would be at least a year and a half.Then they learned about Ethiopia’s model centers for orphans, run by American agencies, with an efficient adoption system that made it possible for them to file paperwork on Labor Day and claim 2-year-old Tariku, a boy with almond eyes and a halo of ringlets, at Christmas.

From Addis Ababa, the capital city, they traveled to the countryside to meet the boy’s birth mother, an opportunity rare in international adoption. And at roughly $20,000, the process was affordable compared with other foreign adoptions, and free of the bribes that are common in some countries. It is no wonder, given these advantages, that Ethiopia, a country more often associated by Americans with drought, famine and conflict, has become a hot spot for international adoption.

Even before the actress Angelina Jolie put adoption in Ethiopia on the cover of People magazine in 2005, the number of adoptions there by Americans was growing. The total is still small — 732 children in 2006, out of a total of 20,632 foreign adoptions, but it is a steep increase, up from 82 children adopted in 1997.Ethiopia now ranks 5th among countries for adoption by Americans, up from 16th in 2000. In the same period, the number of American agencies licensed to operate there has grown from one to 22.

The increasing interest in Ethiopia comes at a time when the leading countries for international adoption, China, Guatemala and Russia are, respectively, tightening eligibility requirements, under scrutiny for adoption corruption and closing borders to American agencies.

Ethiopia’s sudden popularity also comes with risks, say government officials there and in America.“I don’t think we’ll be able to handle it,” said Haddush Halefom, an official at the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, which oversees adoption. “We don’t have the capacity to handle all these new agencies, and we have to monitor the quality, not just the quantity.” Capping the number of agencies is one solution. And that is what some international adoption officials in the United States are now urging the Ethiopian government to do.

Of concern is the ability of agencies to handle the rising demand, which may have contributed to a recent mix-up involving two families sent home with the wrong children by Christian World Adoption, an established agency, although relatively new to Ethiopia. That case prompted inquiries by the State Department and the nonprofit Joint Council on International Children’s Services in Virginia, a child welfare and advocacy organization, and the adoption agency itself, said Thomas DiFilipo, president of the joint council. Officials at Christian World Adoption did not reply to e-mail messages or telephone calls. But Mr. DiFilipo said the agency was reviewing its procedures and has hired immigration lawyers to resolve the mix-up.The consensus, Mr. DiFilipo said, is that the mix-up was “an honest mistake.” But, he added, “This could be the byproduct of a staff handling 35 placements when they’re used to handling 20.”

Children’s Home Society & Family Services, founded in 1889, began working in Ethiopia in 2004. The agency completed about 300 adoptions in its first three years in Ethiopia, and expects to complete that many in 2007 alone. Along with Wide Horizons For Children in Waltham, Mass., the society is credited with helping Ethiopia create a model for international adoption. Ethiopia, with a population of 76 million, has an estimated 5 million children who have lost one or both parents, according to aid organizations. Many African nations have outlawed or impeded the adoption of their children by foreigners. Ethiopia has welcomed American and European families who are willing to provide homes for children who have lost both parents to AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis or starvation, or who come from families too destitute to feed and clothe them. (The adoption process includes routine screening for HIV infection.)

Two elements distinguish Ethiopia’s adoption system, according to dozens of experts. One is the existence of transitional homes for orphans, in the countryside and in the capital, with services and staffing that are rare in the developing world — paid for by American agencies.

Not long ago, Sandra Iverson, a nurse practitioner from the University of Minnesota’s international adoption health clinic, the first of its kind in the United States, was invited to visit the Children’s Home Society’s Ethiopian centers. She arrived with a neonatal otoscope, to diagnose ear infections; the Red Book, the bible of pediatrics; and scarce antibiotics. She left confident that Ethiopia’s orphans enjoyed unusual care. “You don’t hear crying babies,” Ms. Iverson said. “They are picked up immediately.”

The other signature of the Ethiopian system is that adopting families are encouraged to meet birth families and visit the villages where the children were raised, a cutting-edge practice in adoptions. Some agencies provide DVDs or photographs that document the children’s past.Russ and Ann Couwenhoven, in Ham Lake, Minn., recently showed one such video to 6-year-old Tariku, one of three children they have adopted from Ethiopia. The boy seemed proud of the beautifully painted house he had lived in, they said, and the uncle who had sheltered him for as long as he could. Linda Zwicky brought 2-year-old Amale home five days before the Memorial Day weekend, with a letter from the child’s grandmother that described holding the motherless infant at her breast even though she had no milk.

Sometimes such vividness is too much. Melanie Danke and her husband, of Minneapolis, adopted 6-year-old twins and a 3-year-old, all siblings. One of the twins “would work herself up until she was inconsolable” looking at photos of the aunt and grandmother who raised her, Ms. Danke said. So she has tucked the photos away for now.

David Pilgrim, vice president of adoption services at the Children’s Home Society, said the agency spends $2 million a year on its Ethiopian facilities.At the main transitional home, on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, a staff of 170 care for about 120 children, ensuring that the children have consistent contact with adults, which experts say mitigates the most damaging psychological effects of institutionalization. During a reporter’s recent visit, the two terra-cotta buildings where the children live, usually for no more than a few months, were spotless, with staff members scurrying to pick up toys and food spills as they hit the floor.The transitional home has a primary school, open also to local students, where the children begin learning English. There is a medical clinic with two full-time doctors and 10 nurses. Down the road is a guest house for adoptive parents, who also can stay in a sleek hotel.

The children also enjoy the services of a “laugh therapist,” Belachu Girma.“These kids come here and are very depressed at first, all with their heads down and not talking,” Mr. Girma said. “I come in and try to help them relax.” There was laughter also at the nearby guest house, more of the nervous kind, as American parents waited to take their children back to St. Paul from the Horn of Africa.

Araminta and Jason Montague, from Atlanta, who picked up 17-month-old Natan last week, compared their experience in Ethiopia to an earlier adoption of a girl from China (where Americans adopted 6,493 children in 2006). “Our daughter was in an orphanage with about 300 children and she was very dehydrated,” Ms. Montague said. “We were never told her origins. Her sheet just said ‘Status: Abandoned.’ ”

Some parents anguished, as did Karla Suomala of Decorah, Iowa, when she arrived in Addis Ababa to adopt 5-year-old Dawit and his 21-month-old sister Meheret. “It’s hard to know what the right thing is to do,” Ms. Suomala said. “Should we just give all the money we’re spending on this to the children’s mother?” Ms. Suomala and her husband, David Vasquez, had already spent time with her.“It was obvious the birth mother loved her children,” Mr. Vasquez said. “She said to us, ‘Thank you for sharing my burden.’ ”

Alessandro Conticini, the head of child protection at Unicef Ethiopia, is one of many who believe that international adoption is a good thing but must be “part of a larger strategy” that focuses on keeping children in their families or communities, with the help of humanitarian organizations.

Indeed, the Ethiopian government has taken the unusual step of requiring foreign agencies to provide social services and document the results. As a result, agencies like Children’s Home Society and Wide Horizons have built schools and medical facilities — including one for HIV-infected children. But Mr. Conticini, of Unicef, worries about the mushrooming number of private adoption companies that “are not properly regulated by the government” because two different ministries are involved and working at cross purposes.

At the State Department, visa applications for children adopted from Ethiopia are getting extra attention, said Catherine M. Barry, deputy assistant secretary for overseas citizens services. “We will very quickly see if patterns are emerging,” she said, “and we will intervene in a timely fashion with anyone doing less than quality work.”

While the governments collaborate to protect a delicate adoption system from the perils of growth, adoptive families arrive each week in Addis Ababa to ease their children into new lives. Last week, these included Mr. Vasquez and Ms. Suomala. While she had no trouble escorting Meheret from the orphanage, Dawit refused to budge, so Mr. Vasquez carried him toward the gate. There, the child grabbed the bars and would not let go. Mr. Vasquez considered prying his hands loose and thought better of it. Instead he told Dawit that it was O.K. to cry.

Jane Gross reported from St. Paul, and Will Connors from Addis Ababa.


We got an offer on the house, we got an offer on the house! And it’s a GOOD offer. By good I mean we won’t be paying anything. We won’t be walking away with anything either, but that can be expected for only living in the house for 2 years. What this means is that I’m one step closer to staying with my babes and helping people reach their full physical fitness potential! I love life, I love God, I love everything (but will miss my house). Please, oh please don’t let it fall through! Anyway, hope you all have as good as a weekend as I’m going to have!


This one won’t be near as long because people think I’m lying or exaggerating when I talk about Zach. I just wanted to include a few more pictures and talk about the amazing man who gave me those two beautiful kiddos.

Zach is truly all the things I’ve written about and more. I couldn’t have picked a better husband and I’m just so lucky to be traveling this life with him. I was telling my friend, Shannon, that as a mom I’m always hoping my kids will go above and beyond anything I’ve accomplished. Be smarter, more athletic, better parents, etc. The one thing I’m not sure they can surpass, though I hope they can meet, is their choice in a life partner. If they find anyone they love half as much as I love their dad, they’ll be happily married individuals.
Tonight my betrothed is taking me to an early birthday date. We will go out to eat and to a movie and I’m so excited. It almost feels like when we were first dating! I picked out my clothes (still not too revealing, a girl’s got to make the guy work a bit!) and am thinking about little else all day. I love that I still get that way with him. Except for this time we get to come back to a house with two beautiful humans that are a product of our love together, what a blessing! Oh, and we also get to drink legally now which is pretty cool.
So here is to my husband of almost five years. May we always be the best couple we know! Love you hons.
And I also added a picture of all the Frank Klipsch the III’s. What you can’t see in this picture is the night before. The night before we were celebrating our Papa’s awesome honor (an honorary doctorate from St. Ambrose University for being the most kind, generous person this Quad City community has ever seen, well that’s what I say, they call it “Public Service”). Anyway, it was on that night when the wine was flowing freely that I commented, and I quote, “We might be the best looking, funniest, smartest, most humble people with the best hearts here.” Though I can’t speak for myself with the last two, I think we did come close to the rest at least that particular night. Look at that picture and try to disagree with me. 🙂