Happy Everything!

Yesterday was such a great day that I was super-woman. After getting the unexpected call from CHSFS that Zenabu's case somehow made it through court on Thursday, things went from terribly awful to amazingly incredible in a snap. (Feeling bi-polar is a regular occurrence when you're adopting.) I especially wanted to have a great day with Carver and Lily. They've done a lot of TV watching this week while their mother stared at blank walls and cried. So I packed up the swimming things and we hit the big indoor pool here in town. Water slide, wave pool, lazy river. We swam like fishes for hours. Everyone was happy. Then, because today is my 11th wedding anniversary, my mom watched the kids last night so David and I could go out on a date. There was so much to celebrate, I let David pick the restaurant! Aren't I super???? And when he said he wanted to go to a steakhouse, I only gagged once. He got his week's quota of red meat, and I sat with stars in my eyes thinking about happy anniversaries, happy adoptions, and happy families. Happy Everything!


How It All Adds Up!

This one boy...

Plus these four people....

Equals our new family. HE IS OURS!!!! Going to get him April 20.


Major Distraction

To be honest, yesterday was one of the lowest of my lows. Trapped in the court system in Ethiopia for the 3rd time (but who's counting). I was so tired, emotionally and physically, that my brain was mush. I didn't think I'd be able to quit thinking about all the drama and get some sleep. Well...I was pleasantly surprised! As I was getting ready to tuck Lily into bed, I noticed that a helicopter was hovering low somewhere nearby. Really low and really nearby. I looked out the window and saw the helicopter searchlights shining on my front lawn while a car I didn't recognize was pulled up in front of our house. At that moment, three police squad cars screeched up to our house and approached the car with guns drawn. Uh...hmmm. We turned out our lights, calmed the kids down, and watched the drama unfold. There were two people in the car and they both fled---over our fence, through our backyard, and over the other fence! They were gone in just a few seconds, but the police stayed for several hours. So did the helicopter. It hovered for at least 20 minutes with our house completely lit up. The officers left their cars, with lights flashing, on the street while they searched our front and back yard with their flashlights. Carver kept yelling, "This is awesome!"

To me, the funniest part was that the whole neighborhood and anyone driving by our house had to think we were raving ax murderers or cocaine suppliers. It looked like the police were there to arrest us. And truly, we live in the most boring neighborhood in the universe, so it was a random, one-in-a-million event.

But it sure helped me not think about court delays in a certain country.



When we began this adoption a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I had expected it to go well. We've adopted twice before, and David and I felt like adoption pros. But how wrong I was. As things went from bad to worse, I began to rely on other people in adoption-land for help and support. As much as people in your life try to empathize with you when things are hard, there is a giant chasm of "you-just-don't-get-it" that I feel at their words. Two women who have also gone through a lot in their adoption journeys are Heather and Anne (see my links section). Heather's adoption saga just came to an end, and it was a nightmare. But each day I checked her blog--knowing that someday, something had to go right for her. And it did. She inspires me and has encouraged me every step of the way. If she was able to persevere, I can too. Anne and I don't know each other--we've never spoken, except to each leave a polite comment on each other's blogs. But I discovered Anne's blog last year and was so drawn to her and her family and their quest to bring Hayat home. Her wit and down-to-earth attitude left me inspired many times, and when she finally had Hayat in her arms, I actually cried!

So here I am, on the verge of either a mental breakdown or able to see this thing through. I will see it through. Even though Zenabu's case was denied--again--and I don't know when this will end, I can't give up. He's my son and he's part of our family. We ache for him. And if anyone is reading this blog and has also experienced some kind of setback in their adoption dreams, I hope I can somehow be an encouragement to you to keep going. Do not give up!
How To Live In Limbo

I have not slept in 2 days, hence the sunglasses which are hiding my bloodshot eyes. As I have not heard from CHSFS today, my suspicion is that Zenabu's case did not make it through court. I was tempted to rant and rave about how unfair this is, but my heart is with Zenabu today...who has been living in an orphanage for too long. He's the one that has the most right to complain. It's most unfair to him. I understand the courts in Addis wanting to make sure all the details are squared away as fas as paperwork is concerned, but the piece of paper they want--in my opinion--does not warrant this much of a delay. I think what's most anxiety inducing is that our fingerprints for immigration expire in 9 weeks. I feel like a time-bomb is ticking away, and I do not want to re-do those fingerprints! So for now, I will continue to pray for my little guy...and I will visit my happy place. I like to see some of the sweetest babies in the universe. Want to come with me? Click here.


No News...

Good grief! I hardly know myself anymore. I have been reduced to a hand-wringing, eating-out-of-the-carton, absent-minded, phone-vigil woman. CHSFS emailed today (after I sat quite rigidly by the phone for 4 hours) that their contact in Ethiopia hadn't called yet with the news about court cases. Uh--okay. I can tell you I slept for all of 4 hours last night. I kept waking up and looking at the clock and figuring out what time it was in Addis. So...I don't know what happened yet with Zenabu's case. Hopefully someone will call CHSFS tonight (when it's the work day in Addis) and give an update. Lindsay told me she'd call as soon as she heard anything. Right-o. Back to my carton of comfort.


Is The Third Time A Charm?

Tomorrow (Tuesday) is Zenabu's next scheduled court date. This is the third time his case will be presented, waiting for approval. I hardly know what to do today. The weather is nice, so we're going on a picnic at a local park. I'm picking up a work project (I'm a freelance editor) so I'll try to distract myself with work. The hardest part will be trying to sleep tonight. I'm just praying that my anxiety level not build up to volcanic proportions. CHSFS is great about calling the second they have news (good or bad) so hopefully tomorrow I can update my blog with good news. Please be praying...


Let's Play A Game...

Can you answer this question? What chore is Cathy doing this afternoon? Is it:

a) reading a book
b) cleaning the carpet where a child puked last night
c) shopping for new shoes

If you picked "b" you're a WINNER! Your prize? The satisfaction that you don't have to clean my carpet.


When A Wait is Good

One of my favorite verses in the Old Testament is Jeremiah 33:3--"Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know." I don't profess to know all the reasons why this adoption has been such a rough journey for us. But a lot of good has come out of it too. Things that I didn't know but have become more clear as time moves on. The longer we've had to wait, the more comfortable we've become with adopting an older child. When we started this process, we said age 2 would be our age limit. Months and months went by, and we began to feel more excited about a child older than 2. Zenabu is almost 3 and a half (although I suspect he's closer to 4. It's hard to know because they don't mark birthdays the way we do in the United States). Another great thing that has come about is that I would do this again in a heartbeat. In 2 or 3 years, when Zenabu is 5 or 6, I can see us adopting a 4 or 5 year old. And if you had told me a few years ago that I would be at a point where I would be willing to adopt an older child from Ethiopia, I would have laughed in your face. But this journey--though hard and painful--has stretched and grown me in ways I never expected. Why wouldn't we do this again? Why wouldn't we adopt an older child? It's so exciting to wonder about what we don't yet know.


Cooking--Part Two

When we received our referral information for Zenabu, we were given a lovely photo (which I will post the second his case makes it through court) and some brief documents about his health and development. At the bottom of one document, it said his favorite food is injera and wot. I think (other than the picture) that was what made me feel most connected to him. When Carver was 3, he would have said quesadillas. When Lily was 3, she would have said apples. And now I know the favorite food of our new son!

If you don't already know, injera is a flat, pancake-looking bread that is made from teff (a grain). You make the batter and let it ferment and sit and do its magic, then you pour it out onto a large, circular griddle. You then serve the injera with the protein part of you meal around it or on top of it. Ethiopians traditionally use their hands to eat with, and injera is most definitely a finger-friendly food. You tear a piece off and scoop up meat and sauce and eat away. Another tradition Ethiopians have that I adore is they feed eachother. It shows care, love, and friendship. I look forward to sitting with Zenabu at our dinner table and putting morsels of food in his mouth. When he finally feels comfortable with all of us, I will celebrate the day he reaches his sweet hand out to put food in our mouths.

Okay--now here's the hard part. Injera is a science. You don't get a recipe and mix everything up and voila!--perfect injera. And as much as I love to bake, I have given myself the grace to bow out of this one task. I found a fantastic website that will let me order injera and the spices necessary to make doro wot so that Zenabu will not have to rely on my failed injera attempts to eat his favorite food. How amazing is the internet, anyway? With a few clicks, I can have authentic injera shipped to my doorstep for my family. Of course, if it's not very good, Zenabu will let me know and I will have to quickly come up with a plan B.

One woman that has completely amazed me is my cyber-friend Heather. She is in Ethiopia right now picking up her new son and daughter. They're a little older, and Heather has spent a good chunk of time getting injera right at her house so she can make her kids' favorite foods too. If you click on her link on the sidebar, you can see her step-by-step instruction in her blog. But if you want to sample a little injera and don't know how to make it, go to ethiopianspices.com


Cooking--Part One

First of all, a HUGE thank you to all the people on the CHSFS forum who responded with such empathy and love to my post there. I cannot tell you how great of a support group I have on that forum. And now...for something not really adoption realated: cooking. My first nemesis is my oven.

It sits there in my kitchen and every day at about 4:00 pm it starts taunting me that I need to make dinner. I absolutely hate to cook. I love to bake (go figure) but I hate to cook. It's just not my thing. I would be perfectly happy with a salad every night. But I am not the only person living in this house so I don't get to choose that. Apparently I'm mostly responsible for the dietary needs of three other people (soon to be four other people). One of those three people feels he must have a giant slab of meat at every dinner. Another of those people thinks American Cheese in a flour tortilla is haute cuisine. And the third is pretty happy-go-lucky. Last night I made chicken pot pie (one thing I can make well) and I realized that when Zenabu gets here, I will need to increase the size of all our meals. Not a lot...but enough that I'll have to switch off auto-pilot in the kitchen and think about making sure all my meals feed 5 people.

My other nemesis when it comes to cooking? This sweet face!

He's really cute, I know, but please refer to the above paragraph where I mention American Cheese and tortillas. Enough said. All in all, though, I do a decent job of making sure everyone gets enough fruit and veggies, protein and dairy, and fill in gaps where necessary. I am a little nervous about Zenabu coming when I think about food. His paperwork says his favorite food in the whole wide world is injera and wot. Eh hmmmmm.


Our Timeline

Someone left a comment on my last post that since I didn't have to wait long for a referral with CHSFS that I should not be so hyped up about not getting a travel date yet. And I totally agree with that...if that were the whole story. But some people may not realize what this entire adoption has been like for us thus far, so I thought I'd post our timeline.

July 2005--Decided to adopt from Ethiopia
July 2005--Sent in application to our first agency/Sent in application to home study agency
Feb 2006--Homestudy FINALLY done after horrible delays. Took 7 months (usually takes 2)
Nov 2006--Left first agency after waiting 9 months for a referral. Agency misled and lied to us.
Nov 2006--Switched to CHSFS
Nov/Dec 2006--Had to redo all our paperwork/homestudy/dossier.
Jan 2007--Approved with CHSFS and officially waiting. Received our referral in 3 days. We are very thankful, but the referral process with CHSFS is about the only thing that has gone smoothly for us. In about 4 months we will be at the 2 year mark of this journey. It shouldn't have to be this way, and I would never suggest to anyone that this is typical of how it is to adopt from Ethiopia. It's not. It is generally a smooth process. We have hit just about every snag there is. But am I still overjoyed to be united with Zenabu? You bet. Can you blame me for aching to get him here where I can hold him? I hope not.
Not A Good Day...

Three families with our adoption agency got their clearance to travel today. I am trying so hard to be happy for them. I really am. But all I did was cry. We've been waiting a month longer than them to travel, but they get to go before us. I am just so, so tired. I am tired of waiting and I am tired of having what little hope I have left in me smashed all over the floor. It just plain stinks. Zenabu's case isn't even scheduled for court for another week, and I really have no guarantees it will go through then. What's a mom to do?


Getting Ready

My husband David is a bit of a bicycle fanatic. He loves to mountain bike (and has all the scars and broken bones to prove it) and he's the bike magician at our house. Guess what he bought me for my birthday last year? Yep...a bike! A retro 1969 Schwinn Cruiser. This is a photo of him getting Zenabu's bike all ready for him. This is the bike David bought for Carver when Carver was about 2 and a half. I balked at the price, but David assured me it was a good investment and it would last forever. He knows the good bike brands and bought it at an honest-to-goodness bike shop. Well, here we are 6 years later and this little bike is going strong. Carver rode it forever, then Lily rode it, and now it's getting ship-shape for Zenabu. I can't wait to see those little legs pumping away on it.


Sunday Here...

It was so beautiful this weekend (upper 70s) I actually dragged out the kiddie pool and let the kids splash around. Other than a really bad meltdown from she-who-must-not-be-named, we had a very relaxing weekend together. Church this morning was beautiful, and so many people encouraged me to hang in there--that they're praying for me--that I feel I can face another week. And the best part is, while it's late Sunday afternoon here in Colorado, it's almost the start of the workday on Monday in Addis, Ethiopia. Maybe court is underway even as I write. So here's to good news about Zenabu this week.


Braids and Bugs

I spent most of the morning braiding Lily's hair. It takes about 5 or 6 hours total, so I break it up. I begin on Friday night and get the back done, then on Sat. morning while she watches cartoons, I finish the sides and top. It's absolutely fantastic when I'm done, because other than keeping her scalp moisturized, I don't have to do a thing to her hair for 3 weeks! Who knew a white girl like me could learn how to do braided extensions, but I have. Lily loves her braids and to me that is the best part. She feels incredibly beautiful and happy with her hair when it's braided like this. It is a balmy 70 degrees in Colorado today, so I am headed out to the sandbox for some digging with 2 cutie pies, and then we have a jam-packed day that includes looking for bugs, riding bikes, swinging, grilling burgers, and whatever else we feel like doing. David has nothing scheduled, so we get to be together as a family until we can't stand it anymore. Who knows, this may be one of our last weekends together as a family of 4. Once we get Zenabu, we'll be 5. I'm just leaning on God for His timing.


Conversations With A Pharmacist

I was at the store tonight to drop off a vast array of prescriptions to be filled, and the pharmacist was quick to notice they were mostly travel meds. The anti-malaria pills must have been the big tip-off. He wanted to know where we were going so I told him Ethiopia. His eyes got big and just out of curiosity asked why. I explained that David was going to pick up our son. Have you ever seen your pharmacist melt? I have. He just gushed over me. The cashier came over and gushed too. They had all the fun questions like how old is he? what's his name? how long will David be there? when did we get our referral? I found myself getting excited all over again. They had the awesome response you hope you get when you share your news that you are adopting, and I got to talk about my current favorit subject: Zenabu. It was so fun, in fact, I didn't even bat an eye at the total cost of all those travel meds. Blimey!


I don't advise self-medicating with food, but man was this chocolate good today!

It's a four-letter word, but at least it's appropriate. I got home to a blinking answering machine and heard Lindsay's voice asking me to call her. She's our contact at CHSFS and is handling our adoption case. I actually thought (silly me) she was calling with good news that Zenabu's case made it through court and that we could travel. No such luck. His case is delayed again due to some documentation the court feels they really need. They need a little bitty piece of paper that tells them the area Zenabu lived in before he was relinquished. That's it. We're not the only family that's stuck with this problem, either. There are 4 or 5 others. Lindsay said the courts used to overlook it if this certain paper was missing, but lately they've been cracking down. I can't tell you how discouraged I am today. We have been through so much with this adoption. We have hit every possible problem I can think of, it is crazy that we are one of the families "stuck" in court still. At least Lindsay didn't seemed concerned. She said the document will come--we just have to wait for it. She hopes we'll be able to travel in mid-April. But that is a month away from now and it feels like an eternity. I hate this!


guardian angel

David and Carver made it home safe and sound last night. It wasn't until they were on their way that I had the terrible visions of David lying on the slopes with a broken leg. Skiing just 2 or 3 weeks before you travel to Africa may not have been the wisest move. Nevertheless, they came home after an incredible day together, and I know a few guardian angels that had their jobs cut out for them yesterday. Carver is surprising us with his snowboarding abilities. He's really good.

Today I did something that I hate to do. It was really, really awful. I went to (drumroll please) Wal-Mart. Yech! I never set foot in that store because it drives me bananas. And why shop at Wal-Mart when there is a very lovely Target just down the street? I shouldn't complain, though. Someone was very generous and gave us gift cards to Wal-Mart, which I used today to purchase the items David will need to take with him to Ethiopia. Things like anti-nausea meds., hand sanitizer, travel toothpaste, et. cetera. My cart was pretty full by the time I was done, but I feel confident I was able to get just about everything he'll need. The fun part was buying colored markers (100 of them) for the children at the care center, and lots of stickers for Zenabu to play with on the airplane. It warms my heart that in just a few weeks, David is going to an amazing country in Africa where he will meet our son. Words just can't express all that we're feeling.


almost time to start planting...

That's me with my father, a long, long time ago. I bet I was 3 years old. We lived in New York and it was our first house. There was lots of black dirt, and my dad loved a project! I do remember this afternoon together with him, and I treasure it. My dad has been gone almost 4 years now, and it hurts as much today as it did the day he died--it's just that you learn to function through the pain. It is unfathomable to me that we are about to adopt our 3rd child, and my father will not know our son. Zenabu will have no memory of my dad. My dad doesn't know that we've added another child to our family. I hate it! But I'm thinking of my dad fondly today. The weather is getting warmer here, and in a week or two, I'll start my seedling indoors. My dad would be so proud. I'll add a photo of part of last years crop. And I can't wait to let Zenabu help me with this year's garden.
girlie day

The boys in the family left early this morning to go snowboarding. Always looking for a bargain, David saw that a local car dealership was offering free lift tickets if you came in and test drove one of their cars. Completely up for the challenge, David went in a few weeks ago and did the test drive. When they got back to the dealership, the sales-dance began. I think the conversation went something like this:
"Sir, I'd like to tell you about some of the excellent features in this vehicle."
"I'm here only for the free lift tickets."
"I understand, sir, but first if you'll allow me--"
"I'm here only for the free lift tickets."
"The gas mileage alone is--"
"I'm here only for the free lift tickets."
"Financing is an option if--"
"I'm here only for the free lift tickets."

The salesperson finally gave up, and David left with (you guessed it!) free lift tickets. It's a beautiful day here in Colorado so I know David and Carver will have a wonderful day together. Lily and I plan to do a whole lot of nothing, including a walk to the horse stables, playing in the sandbox, making brownies, and goofing off! Hooray. I hope you have a wonderful day too.


a day at the zoo...

No school today, so my friend Ali and I took our kids to the zoo. Lily and best buddy Bailey got to giggle together and actually look at the animals while Carver and best buddy Noah ran around, wrestled, and generally annoyed the animals. What fun!


the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day!

CHSFS emailed today to inform us that Zenabu's case did NOT make it through court on Feb. 28th as planned. We don't know why. It's just life and there are delays. His case is now set for March 13th. I am devastated because this really throws off all hopes of travel over David's spring break AND David's sister being able to travel with him. She still may, but I don't know if she can get the time off work. Oh--and lest you think I am sooooo super-spititual with giving up snacking for Lent...today's bad news sent me into a downward spiral toward a carb-induced coma. I am taking my bloated self to bed now.
please ring!

the phone really, really needs to ring today with good news for travel. we are getting down to the wire here. last night i slept about 2 hours because my mind was racing in circles about how much we have to do before david goes to ethiopia, and how little time we will probably have to do it in. the packing and the paperwork is overwhelming. so if our agency would call today with the news that our paperwork is through the courts in addis, that would be a good thing.


how much?

something kinda sad happens when you turn 35. your metabolism slows down. i've slowly begun to realize this over the last several months, and i am not happy about it. last week i decided to start seeing how many calories i ate in a day, and looked for ways to cut out what i really don't need. but something happened along the way, and i've begun to think about the millions of people on this planet that have 300 calories a day--in a bowl of rice, for instance--and that's it. for the last 5 days, i have only been eating a small breakfast, a tiny lunch, and a normal dinner, and no more. i drink a lot of water and hot tea, but there's no denying the fact that my tummy feels empty. i feel so fortunate to have so much food in my house, and access to food all around me. the u.s.a. is so focused on food, in fact, you really can't go very far without it staring you in the face. i usually don't take part in lent, but this year i am challenging myself to eat the bare minimum and live with hunger pains as so much of the world does. at least i know when lent is over, i can eat whatever and whenever i want. others are not so blessed.


have you met my friend bono?

i know it's self-serving, but where else can i post my all-time favorite picture? yes, that's me about 2 years ago (with short hair). i'm completely obscuring david's face. he's behind me with the baseball cap and blue shirt. we got to meet bono (lead singer for u2 for those of you who have been living under a rock the last 20 years) before a concert. i'd like to tell you i had a very meaningful conversation with him, but i'm pretty sure i only had a tiny bit of drool coming out of my mouth. i made pointless hand gestures that i wanted his autograph, and he signed my shirtsleeve. so why do i care so much about a rock star? he's been a very influential person in my life. he's championed the causes that have pierced my heart. he's the reason behind product red (see my link inspi(red)). he's a major reason people are waking up to the aids crisis in africa. and i believe god is using him to spread the message of the poor. please watch his speech at the naacp awards last night. http://sandiego.cox.net/cci/entertainmentvideonews
rock on, bono!

two really wonderful things happened yesterday. we received an email with updates on zenabu. even though ethiopia is having trouble with broadband, their turtle-paced dial-up is slogging along, so they do have some communication. when your child is on the other side of the world, living in a care center (albeit a great care center) you spend a lot of time awake at night wondering "how is my sweet boy?" so to get an unexpected email with a copy of a report that shows zenabu's latest milestones--well, it's a cause for celebration! zenabu is now 36 inches tall and 30 lbs. he interacts great with others and also enjoys playing by himself. they've said he has a "quiet" personality. huh? wonder what that's like! he's healthy and doing well--praise god!

the other wonderful thing that happened yesterday was that the women from my bible study threw a shower for zenabu. this is an incredible group of women that i've been close to for 5 years now. we've been through a lot together--and they've supported me through this entire crazy journey. they have told me again and again that they feel like they're getting a little boy too! so you can see carver and lily standing in front of lots of cute boy clothes, and the other picture shows some of the haul zenabu received. zenabu is so blessed and he doesn't even know it yet. all these women that fussed over the cutest little details for him--like socks and shoes and hats and toys and clothes, clothes, clothes. sweet cards telling him how they've prayed for him and are so excited to meet him. wow.

it was a great night.


3 year old boys

i've been trying to remember what little boys are like at 3. i have an 8 year old boy now...so it's been a while. i was looking through old photos, and i found this treasure of carver. this is how i remember a 3 year old boy. wanting his face painted every single day, trying to ride a bike with training wheels, laughing, giggling, and rolling around in the grass a lot. sign me up!


it just started snowing here in Colorado, and it's really snowing in minnesota where our adoption agency is located. the agency is actually closed today because of the weather. folks, we're talking minnesota--land of the vikings--so you know it has to be bad there. i am sad because this means no phone call today with news for travel. i'm trying not to get anxious. the bible clearly says, "be anxious for nothing" but does that have to include waiting for the phone to ring so you can book a flight to go pick up your son? gak--i guess so. still, i have a lot to look forward to this weekend. david is gone on a men's retreat so i have the t.v. all to myself after the kids go to bed. friends from my bible study are having a party for me tonight in honor of zenabu. and carver has a big event tomorrow that we're all looking forward to. i'll try to keep busy not thinking about our quiet phone...