Day 4

Everyone slept really well from about 7pm to 6am. (Yes, that includes Zach and me, we’ve been so exhausted!) I took the large bed with the kids and Zach took the twin bed by himself. It felt really good to cuddle up to the boys last night and this morning.

When we woke up we knew we had about 6 hours to entertain them. We are not allowed to take the boys out and about in Ethiopia. Some Ethiopians are not fond of seeing their babies leave with Americans all the time (which you can understand) and walking them around town could be seen as “parading” them. When we were here 2 years ago this was not a problem but over time Americans have not been respecting the culture (they cover babies completely, etc) and it just looks/is disrespectful. We understand this rule but are severely limited in ways we can entertain the boys.

After breakfast we went up to the room in hopes of letting the boys watch a cartoon while we both showered and got ready for the day but the power went up as we were climbing our many flights of stairs. Hmmmm. We did as best as we could but within a few hours Tomas was literally so bored he was cleaning our room. Yes, cleaning our room. Straightening out the shoes, making our beds, etc. So Zach and I bit the bullet and wrestled for the next few hours.

At noon it was time to make up the car and head to the embassy. As we were telling Tomas it was time to get in the car he said, “Car, America?” “No, not yet Tomas”. We wonder what he thinks America will be like? Streets of chocolate? Seats of cheese? 🙂 We got to the embassy no problem and sat in the waiting area for our names to be called. We were the first group there but after about 30 minutes more groups came. 2 years ago we were the only group the whole time, I think this is a testament to how many more agencies are working in Ethiopia now.

When we got to the Visa window the woman (American) was really great. We had to sign off saying we knew these boys and wanted them with everything we had which was absolutely no problem. 🙂 She then asked us if we thought there was any fraud in this case. Knowing the details of the boys’ story has made it that much easier to say we have no doubts there was no fraud. We feel very blessed that we can say that with our conscience clean.

Stamp, stamp. “Ok you’re done” she says. And that’s that. They’re Klipschs! We got their original birth certificates and saw their passports, their Visas will be done and able to be picked up in the Holt office Thursday morning.

After that we headed to the Hilton to confirm our flights. We were there for only about 20 minutes but when we were walking out Tomas says something to our driver Tsegaw (Seg-au). Tsegaw starts laughing. “You have a very smart boy here. Tomas says, ‘They took me to America and brought me back to Ethiopia?’” The Hilton is very nice but if that’s his only expectation of America I think we’ll be just fine. 🙂

During the day we had a knock on the door and an Ethiopian was there asking for Tomas. He said that Tomas needed to go next door to the care center to the administration. We were a little worried and confused so I sent Zach (having just gotten out of the shower). When Bini and I joined them a few minutes later Zach explained that he walked in to 4 nannies and the head nurse almost in tears missing Tomas. The head guy hadn’t seen Tomas yesterday and missed him, he needed to see Tomas. 🙂 So Tomas was given sunglasses and lots of hugs and kisses and sent on his way. I can’t tell you how good it feels to know for the last year and a half they have been so loved, so well cared for. God is good for sure, especially in this case.

After the Hilton is was just home for dinner. We gave them their first showers, which they loved. I personally loved lotioning them down, it’s a fun way to bond with them somehow. We decided after that to head to our other travel mates who are bringing home 2 little girls to watch a cartoon before bed. It felt like the longest day ever but when we were about to say it’s bedtime it was only 6:30. Ok, 1 more cartoon. 🙂

Zach was in the big bed with the boys this time and me in the smaller. We are just loving these boys, I can’t even tell you. They are so smart, so funny, so beautiful.

So, so thankful tonight as we get ready to give goodnight kisses to the newest Klipschs.

Love to you,
Tesi

(No pictures today, the embassy won’t allow it so we didn’t even bring our camera anywhere!)

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Days 3 and 4

Early wake up call this morning so that we could be on the road to Durame by 7am. The trip was to last about 6 hours with most of the road paved. This was the same road that led to Hossanna when we went 2 years ago so I was really excited to get out of the city and see the country again.

The ride there was terrific. I was so happy we got to see this country during dry season (last time) and rainy season (this time). It is even more beautiful than I remember. The trip surprised a lot of our travel mates because most people think of Africa and think of dessert for miles and miles. Ethiopia is not like that at all. It is green and lush and just absolutely beautiful. Zach took some amazing pictures with the camera but it really is hard to capture.

Passing through Shinchicho was perhaps the toughest for me. This was Tariku’s home village. It was hard picturing our little guy who was probably consuming his weight in pizza at that moment, playing naked soccer with his friends. Or carrying younger siblings on his back. It was hard picturing him running to the car yelling “ferenge” (white man) and waving frantically at the car. But that’s exactly what he would’ve been doing, if he wasn’t dead, if he wasn’t with us. This is a really tough concept to wrap my head around. But I see Tariku’s eyes in all of these kids and it makes me miss him so much.

When we were getting to Durame we were amazed at the view. We were pleasantly surprised at the hotel in Durame. I’d heard such awful things (people told me to think of it as camping) but it was a nice hotel. The bed was definitely hard, we thought perhaps we were sleeping on the box springs, and the toilet didn’t flush unless you poured the water from the red bucket in the toilet. But, it had a toilet, it had a bed, it had a TV and a fridge and ours had a balcony with a view we would pay hundreds to see in the States.

We had time for lunch before meeting some special people. Meals here take fairly long as they make each meal one at a time. Very delicious though. We were all anxious to meet the special people so we struggled when lunch was running late to not press our American anal time deadlines on the Ethiopians.

After we met the special people we came back to the hotel to kind of release a little steam (i.e. drink some St. George’s beer). Zach and I were happy to see another Ethiopian we had been waiting to see was already at the hotel. We talked to him for awhile, which was definitely one of the best parts of the trip.

After dinner we just went up to the room to process a bit. Zach and I had some great moments trying to figure out the toilet (which we didn’t until the morning). Our travel group slept surprisingly well but that could’ve been because of the emotional stuff we had all been through or because we had all taken advantage of Tyelenol PM/Zanax. 🙂

Up early again to head back to Addis Ababa. We had split our group with one group (the one who had brought kids from home) in one van and the other group (kidless for now) in the other. Our group (the kidless) had a lot of fun with the driver and media guy. We taught them lots of American things. Their favorite was by far the beef jerky, their least favorite might have been poptarts. 🙂 After eating the poptart they were begging for water. 😉 Mesfin, the media guy, turns and says, “We love this group, we will always remember you.” Mesfin was great at answering all of my questions and pointing out different things about the country, a blessing to be sure.

We got back to Addis and had just a few hours to take showers and prepare our rooms to bring the kiddos back to the hotel with us. Zach decided to lay down and I decided to go shopping. We went to a little bead shop. This shop was terrific. Over 30 women who used to live on the streets now make the stuff in the shop. All proceeds go to them. One of the women was very proud that none of them live in the street anymore, they all have homes and are able to eat finally. I was more than happy to buy lots of goodies from them. 🙂

Then, time to pick up the boys. Zach and I were both half excited, half nervous. I remember the first night with Tariku when we had nothing to do but look at him. We had toys, sure, but we couldn’t communicate with him so there was a lot of staring and then giggling. This proved to be true for us and the boys as well. We gave them a few thing, which they hoarded and counted a number of times. Then it was downstairs for dinner. Tomas eats like Tariku, which is to say, more than any little person should probably eat. Binyam barely ate anything but did enjoy the granola bar I gave them when we returned to the room.

Sleep was actually pretty great. We put them down a little after 7 and they had no problems falling asleep. At one point I heard them talking in the middle of the night but then Tomas scooted down to the foot of the bed and fell right back asleep. Everyone slept great until 6am which I think is pretty amazing.

Now to breakfast.

Today we hang out a lot and then head to our embassy appointment which is the final step to the boys becoming ours. We are incredibly excited about this. I find myself wanting to come home now that the boys are with us. They got to talk to our 3 at home and it sounded like everyone was excited. Makes me want us all together so badly!

More later. Much love to you!

Another update…more pictures!

Day 2

This morning Zach and I went with another family to a shopping centre. We decided against going to the National Museum again since we’ve been before. It was nice to be able to go shopping and think about the gifts we were getting and the people they would go to as opposed to our last shopping trip in ET that was so cutthroat we just started throwing stuff frantically in bags. 🙂 Our driver we hired gave us a really awesome tour/running commentary on the country on our way to the centre. Most of it we knew already but his language was so colorful (even explaining the reason why boys and girls are given their Christian names at different times-because Eve was to blame for the fall of man and thus women wait longer for their Christian names…they also, in case you didn’t know, have menses and childbirth because of their tempting ways). 🙂

After the shopping trip we came back and both fell asleep, we seem to be struggling a bit more with the altitude this time around. Going from the flat plains of Iowa to the mountains of Ethiopia is harder on this body than I remember!

We just got back from hanging with the boys. To be quite honest, it’s exhausting. This is because we are all in the same room with the other kids in our travel group and so everyone is running around distracted. It’s really hard to hang with the boys when there’s so much else to do! We did notice that they kept coming back to us, which we think is a really good sign. Tomas, at the beginning of our time, wants nothing to do with me. He shrugs his shoulder at me and only gives Zach love. But I take him away from everyone else or read a book or wrestle him and by the end he has no problem holding my hand and sitting on my lap. Binyam appears to have fallen in love with us. One of our travel group peeps said “Binyam has the best personality of all the kids, I think.” I think he’s on to something.

Both boys are just supremely smart. I taught Tomas how to take pictures and he sat on my lap for quite some time taking his own pictures, a photographer in the making? Then he looked at the back of the camera and knew just how to play the pictures back to me. He then identified everyone in the picture. Tomas loves seeing his brothers and sister at home. The way he says “Dailah” melts my heart.

Though our time with them is fun and exciting, we are looking forward more to the time we will have with them in our hotel when we can come back into our room and just start the parenting part of this. Zach described our time in the care center with them as a play date, and that’s an appropriate description I think.

Tonight we go to the Crown Hotel for the cultural dinner and dancing. Though we’ve been there before we plan on going again because it’s terrific authentic Ethiopian food and just a fun atmosphere. Plus we have a better camera this time around (thanks Frank) and hope to get better pictures of the dancing.

We are starting to miss the kids and look forward to Tuesday when we have the boys in our care. We plan on calling home then so the kids can talk to the boys.

Tomorrow we leave for our trip south to Durame. We are looking forward to seeing the countryside of Ethiopia again and meeting various people who have touched our hearts. We will be staying the night in Durame so no blogging tomorrow.

It will be a long day tomorrow but one that typically makes the entire trip worth it.

Love you Trysten, Tariku and Dailah!





An update from Tesi…with pictures!!!

Day 1

Woke up to a breakfast of French toast, terrific rice and an egg/peppers combo. So good. Oh, and lots of coffee. I had forgotten how great this country is when it comes to it’s “buna”-coffee.

After breakfast we were off to the Holt offices for orientation. Too hard to sit still when we know in an hour we’ll be meeting our babies. In fact, I’m not quite sure what they said in that whole meeting.

Finally, time to meet the boys. At the care center they have the families sit in chairs surrounding this large area rug. On the area rug they put a few stuffed animals. The plan is to have the child/ren come to the stuffed animal in the middle and then the adoptive parents (APs) get to look at them and then say, “He/she is ours”, something to that affect. We were about last in line so I snapped a few precious pictures of the APs first meeting with their babes.

Then it was our turn. The nannies led Tomas and Binyam down the stairs; Binyam was slower so the first person we saw was Tomas. I think I started crying when I heard Zach say, “Ohmygoodness, it’s them”. So surreal to see these boys in the flesh. Zach and I immediately got down on our knees and moved towards them. At that time Tomas ran and jumped into Zach’s arms and Binyam hesitantly came into mine. We did the ole’ switcheroo and Tomas tackled me with probably the biggest cheek kiss I’ve ever had and a “Hello mommy, I love you” (clearly prompted). 🙂

We had just 1 precious hour with them so we tried to soak everything in. What we learned that first hour about Tomas: he can sing the Barney song, which is annoying when American kids sing it, totally cute when Ethiopian ones do. 🙂 Tomas understands an incredible amount of English. He doesn’t really speak it well, or use it but when we talk and hand gesture wildly he almost always comprehends it. Also, he likes to laugh when he speaks Amharic to us and we clearly don’t know what he’s talking about. We also realize why another travel group nicknamed him “Mayor Tomas”; boy does he have a run of the place! Walking wherever he wants, entering rooms and then just leaving. The head nurse pointed to one toilet and said, “That is kids’ toilet”, she pointed to another toilet in a different room, “and that is Tomas’s toilet”. So if that tells you anything…One of the first things he said to us was, “My family, America, brother Tariku”. Meaning, “my family is here, let’s go to America so I can see my brother Tariku”. It was precious. He was excited to go get the photos we sent him and point out each family member. He struggles with saying Trysten but has got Tariku and Dailah (and of course mommy and daddy) down pat.

Binyam, oh Binyam! He was just really shy at first. He didn’t say anything for the first 45 minutes we were there, probably. We would play with him and then when he clearly wanted us to do something we would say, “Say ‘please mommy’” and he would just lift his eyebrows (how Ethiopians say “yes”). After a bit of that he finally learned he’d get it sooner if he spoke and started to talk. This opened the floodgates and he could soon be found mumbling, “Please mommy” to himself and then giggling. Binyam/Bini fell down and started crying at one point so I scooped him up and just kind of rocked him while walking around. Until this point he would have his body kind of far from me if I held him. After a bit of walking he slowly let his chest fall on me, then his arms went slack and then finally he rested his head on my shoulder. It was a super sweet few minutes. After that, he was a cuddler, running and climbing onto my lap. When it was time to leave he kept looking back at us with his puppy dog eyes, hard to leave that one!

Lunch at the hotel and then off to do more paperwork at the Holt office (more paperwork!). After that, finally we get 2 good hours with the boys.

Tomas during this time would stray less, and stay longer with us. I ticked him off once (we brought water bottles for them and he lost his so just grabbed the closest kids’ and I made him give it back) and he tried giving me the silent treatment. I pulled him on my lap and when he made eye contact with me I just gave him a quick command “ishi (it’s ok), sami mommy (give mommy a kiss)” and then he liked me. 🙂 He clearly prefers Zach, always going to him first. Thankfully Zach is good about pointing him towards me too. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that Zach can throw him in the air and I, despite all my hard work in the gym, find him to be too heavy. He is tall, but I think Trysten is still taller. The head nurse described Tomas as “easily distracted” and Zach and I would have to agree wholeheartedly. He reminds us so much of Tariku that I called him Tariku at least a handful of times, jeesch. He hesitated a bit when we were leaving but, for the most part, I think he is enjoying his last few days as king of the castle. 😉

Binyam went right for us this time. Cuddled onto our laps and stayed around us the whole time for the most part. If he went to get a toy he would bring it back to us (unlike this morning when he would just wonder off to play by himself). He kept dragging nannies over to “introduce” us. Binyam talked nonstop and would try to get me to understand him with all his might, poor guy. The head nurse described Binyam as “full of concentration” and, again, she was right. He could stay with the same toy the whole time, unlike his brother who cycled through a good 200. 🙂 You can constantly see the wheels turning on this one. Binyam has an incredibly infections laugh, at one point he and I were laughing so hard we both had tears and I have absolutely no idea why. There’s a decent chance he just said, “I can’t believe I got a crazy-woman for a mom!” Whatever it was, it had the both of us on the floor holding our sides, a precious moment amongst many precious moments.

At about 6:15pm we headed back to the hotel for the night. I am writing this at 8:30 our time and Zach has been asleep for an hour. 🙂 I will not be posting this until tomorrow, but I want to write it all down while it’s still fresh.

We just talked to the kiddos at home. Trysten told me he prayed for us to not get sick on the plane and that he was sorry to hear I still threw up. My sweet baby. Tariku was excited to hear Tomas knew his name. Dailah just asked to talk to Binyam and when I couldn’t produce she was no longer interested. I miss those three incredibly already and can’t wait to have the family together in just 7 days.

I guess I should end, this being the start of my 3rd page on Word. This time around in Ethiopia I find myself anxious to get the boys in the hotel with us. I know so many of the behaviors we saw in the care center will change even as early as their first few days with us in the hotel. I am biting at the bit to learn everything I can about them. From what we can see so far, we know God hand picked them for our family (which is messy and complicated and-a lot of times-completely incomprehensible because of the tremendous amount of loss that took place for them to be “ours”). It’s easy to get wrapped up in the adoption part of this and forget about the God part of this until you get here and meet your kids. It’s a God thing, it really is.

Time to go snuggle up to this hubby of mine who has, again, earned the nickname “child whisperer” kids freakin love him. I kinda do too.

Love to you all.

Quick blog to answer a few questions, I sent a bigger one to my sis-in-law “guest blogger” with a few pictures. So that should be coming whenever she wakes up in the Heartland of America. 🙂
 
Until then, yes I am using internet at the Union Hotel. We have had no issues and only a few power outages since being here. It’s actually not that slow and works quite nicely actually.
 
The beds at the Union. Yes they are hard, but honestly Zach and I haven’t had any problems sleeping whatsoever. I think any of you coming here should find the same. Different than what we’re used to, but really nice compared to what we were imagining. Oh, and we are in room 301, Beth, which means we get to hike up a number of flights of stairs. Whew!
 
Tera, I think it was, they actually spell “Binyam” 40 different ways here. 🙂 They pronounce it mostly “Bin-yam-ay” which apparently is kind of a pet name-to add “ay” to the end of a name. Or “Bini”.
 
It for now, some cultural stuff this morning that Zach and I have already done so we’ll probably visit Kolfe for Nicole Anderson and then walk around the city a bit. This afternoon we meet with the boys’ doc to ask questions and then love on the boys.
 
Love and hugs,
TL


The New Busy think 9 to 5 is a cute idea. Combine multiple calendars with Hotmail. Get busy.

Just finished breakfast. Oh my how I’ve forgotten how great the food (and the coffee!) is!! We are 3 hours away from meeting the boys. Butterflies in my belly, love in my heart.
 
Union Hotel is amazing. Our room is huge, the shower is nice (and hot, woot!) and, of course, the Ethiopian people do not dissapoint. I love this country.
 
Will post after we meet the boys and will hopefully be able to have sister-in-law post pictures.
 
It’s just after 12:30 there, sending good night kisses to my babes in Iowa who (hopefully) have been sleeping for some time.
 
Thank you to my siblings for taking such great care of them during what we hear was an actual tornado touch down!
 
Much love,
almost seriously a mom to 5


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We Made It!

We made it! 12:31am Addis time and we’re here. Flights were ok. Lots of turbulance and avoiding storms right over Addis. This meant I filled 2 puke bags with…well, puke. Not good times.
 
But we’re here at the hotel. The boys are sleeping at the care center mere feet away. How I wish I could pole vault the wall and give them sweet dream kisses. Tomorrow, just a few more hours.
 
I’m not sure how I can put into words what it feels like to come back to the country of some of your children’s birth but it is something that’s for sure. We are so happy to be back to a place that feels a little bit like home.
 
Thanks so much for all of your prayers and love. I get all of your comments emailed to me so we read each one of them.
 
Off to brush teeth and dream dreams of two little habeshas we get to hold in a few hours.
 
Love from Ethiopia,
Tesi


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