Links on Adoption and World AIDS Orphan Day, Plus Random Updates


May 8th, 2010

Several blogs I follow have posted very interesting articles or links to topics surrounding parenting, adoption, AIDS and a few others. I’m not going to try and rewrite what they have already stated much better than I ever could. Instead, I’m just going to link like crazy and give credit where credit is due.

Yesterday was World AIDS Orphan Day. I have mixed feelings about this day. It’s an important day. The world needs to know how serious this issue is but it can’t be summed up in one day. The kids are around and need our help the rest of the year. It’s an overwhelming task to try and help them all. Start small. Help one.

In the year 2000 there were 12 million orphans in Africa and more than twenty-five percent of those lived in NIgeria and Ethiopia. Eleven percent of all children in Ethiopia were orphans.

By 2010, between twenty-five million and fifty million African children, from newborn to age fifteen, would be orphans. In a dozen countries, up to a quarter of the nation’s children. The numbers were completely ridiculous.

Twelve million, fourteen million, eighteen million-how could numbers so high be answers to anything other than “How many stars are in the universe?” or “How many light-years from the Milky Way is the Virgo Supercluster?”

Who was going to raise 12 million children? Who was teaching 12 million children how to swim? Who was going to sign 12 million permission slips for school field trips and pack 12 million school lunches? Who was going to by 12 million sneakers that light up when you jump? Backpacks? Toothbrushes? 12 million pairs of socks? Who will tell 12 million bedtimes stories? Who will quiz 12 million children on Thursday night for their Friday morning spelling test? 12 million trips to the dentist? 12 million birthday parties? Who will offer grief counseling to twelve, fifteen, eighteen, thirty-six million children?

(Except from There is No Me Without You by Melissa Faye Greene)
note: Not all of the orphans she is referring to are orphans because of AIDS but even if it’s only 12 children instead of 12 million, it’s still 12 too many.

An excellent post by Erin of Full House, Full Hands, Full Hearts on World AIDS Orphan Day

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If you are considering adoption, you have adopted, you know someone who adopted or any combination of the above, please read this post on love and adoption by Tonggu Momma.

And another post on adoption from Fugitivus (If you can’t handle swearing, skip this one.)

These aren’t the typical sunshine and roses articiles about adoption. They are very real. Adoption is not perfect and is never the ideal situation for a child. It is the last resort. And yes, it can go wrong. And it’s important that people know all sides of adoption. I can’t stress this enough:  All adoptions come with grief and loss that is very real.

If you have an afternoon, read Yoon’s Blur. She’s an adult adoptee, who, in my opinion, does an excellent job discussing the good, the bad and the ugly points of adoption.

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And a few random updates.

  • You can still throw your name into the hat to win Kevin’s awesome book.  I’m giving away 2 copies and so far there are only 10 entries so if you are one of those people who never wins anything, you’ve got a really good shot of winning this time around.
  • My school did a fundraiser for charity:water last month. Pretty proud of the elementary school, they brought in almost $400.
  • There are less than 20 days left of school. That is such a nice feeling.
  • Fun things I have planned for my class: An ice cream party (because they brought in over $60 for charity:water), making our own playdough, making rainbow crayons from the broken bits of crayon, making one of those paper chains for counting down the days in school, cleaning out the classroom (cleaning isn’t that much fun, but if you say it the right way, you can convince a kindergarten student anything is fun).
  • Went to Feed My Starving Children tonight. My group packed up 34 boxes of food. The entire group packed 194 boxes (or something close to that). It works out to enough meals for 114 children to have one meal a day for a year. If you want a fun family activity, go check it out.

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I think we’ll call that good for the randomness tonight. I really don’t think I should be allowed to blog after about 9:30 at night. I’ll try and make a little more sense next time around.

By the way, Happy Mother’s Day. If you haven’t called your mom yet, go do that.

Some Dork Turned His Tweets Into A Book (and you could win the book)


May 4th, 2010

And the winners are: The Schroeders and Jessica. Congrats.

addition_300x300

The dork is my husband and the book is a collection of tweets about adoption, the kids, water, and life. And I’ve got 2 books to give away.

And the best part for every book that is purchased $2 will be donated to charity:water to build a well in Ethiopia.

Here’s how to win a copy of the book:

1. Leave a comment. Yep. That’s it.
2. If you tweet/facebook/blog about the give away, leave a second comment (with a link to where you posted it) and you get a second entry.
3. Donate to charity:water. For every dollar you donate, you’ll get another entry ($5=5 entries). Come back here and let me know you donated – we’re going on the honor system here people. If you don’t want to share how much you donated just e-mail me abbyhendricks at gmail dot com and I’ll put the appropriate number of entries in the hat.

Entries close on May 10th at 5 pm CST. Winners will be drawn by Lexi and Milo.

Good Luck!

Meeting Milo – Day 7-10


March 29th, 2010

Tuesday, March 24 – Friday, March 27

The last 4 days were pretty much a blur, so you get them in one big blog post.

Tuesday was two important things.
1. The Goodbye Ceremony at the Care Center.
2. Our embassy appointment.

The Goodbye Ceremony was a bitter-sweet moment. The nannies love our kids. Love them. And so I’m sure the worst part of their job is handing them to their new parents and watching them walk out the door. But for us, the parents…well, we’re bringing our kids home. No more leaving them at the Care Center.

All the children at the Care Center participate. The toddlers and older sing songs they have learned. The nannies dress in traditional clothes and bring our children down, also in traditional Ethiopian clothing. There is a coffee ceremony and cake. The children who are leaving put their hand print into a book that is kept at the Care Center.
It really is a celebration for the new families being formed.

Milo in traditional Ethiopian ClothesTuesday ET Clothes

Afterwards we headed home for a quick lunch, changed the kids out of their fancy clothes and headed to the embassy.

And, I’ll be honest. The embassy is dull. You go through a pile of security, wait in a stuffy room and just hang out until your name is called. Then you head up stairs for your appointment which takes about 2 minutes. It’s all official and important stuff but it’s government paper work. Plus, I didn’t feel good that afternoon which made it worse.

Back at the guest house, we repeated our activities on Monday. Stare at Milo, play with Milo, take a million pictures of Milo.

Wednesday, March 25

There were no activities planned for that day. Just hanging out with the kids. Which we did. Well, I did. Kevin was sick.

Hanging out outside the small guest house.
Tuesday Outside

Attempting a group shot with 10 kids and 1 big brother.

Tuesday Group

Thursday, March 26

Crazy busy day. Kevin had to go to the CHSFS offices to pick up the embassy paperwork. Suitcases needed to be packed. Carry-ons reorganized. Pictures of Milo needed to be taken. Planes needed to be boarded. We were going home.

What Milo did while we packed.

Tuesday Packing

Saying goodbye to Lily, the guest house dog.

Tuesday Lily

Luggage from 3 of the 9 families in our group. If you’re curious ours were the 3 on the end with the green bag on top. We also had another backpack and carry-on.

Tuesday Luggage

Friday, March 27

Two airplanes, three continents, and 26 hours later, we were home. All four of us were finally together.

Tuesday Family

Meeting Milo – Day 6


March 23rd, 2010

Monday, March 23

After Sunday’s emotionally exhausting trip, Monday was a calmer day. After breakfast we went to the Care Center and got to bring the kids back to the guest house with us. It was nice to have him “home” and to take pictures. And yeah, we took a couple hundred that day.

Riding back on the bus.
Monday 1

Hangin’ with Dad. (yeah, he was wearing size 18 months shorts. Right now, he wears size 18 month pants.)
Monday 2

First family picture
Monday 3

Hangin’ with Mom (we changed his clothes…he’s now wearing size newborn)
Monday 4

True to form – he’s asleep.
Monday 5

After lunch we had to bring the kids back to the Care Center. This was probably the hardest drop off. It was one thing to play with him in the living room of the care center and then walk him back upstairs but to take him out and back “home” and then have to bring him back….that was hard.

Later that day we visited a few different places. We went to the National Museum. It was interesting but as one mom said while we were there, “this stuff is nice to look at but really, I just want my baby.” Yeah. Me too.

We visited a hospital. It’s actually the hospital that takes care of any of the sick children from the Care Center.

We visited a school. That part of the day I enjoyed. We got the general tour. The arena. The court yard. The classrooms. And then I started talking to the finance director and he was showing me their storage room, asking me about curriculum, telling me about class sizes…it was a very interesting conversation. Remember how I talked about wanting to teach for a year in Ethiopia.

This is where I picture myself working – Children’s Home Academy
school 1

The arena.
school 2

The court yard surrounded by classrooms.
school 3

A kindergarten classroom. (It’s about a 1/3 of the size of my current classroom but has about 25 kids.)
school 4

Going to check out the supply room.
school 5

The supply room. This was the supply room for the entire school.
school 6

After that we headed home for dinner and to relax.

Meeting Milo – Day 5


March 22nd, 2010

Sunday, March 22.

Today we were up way too early. We made sandwiches, dressed in nice clothes and boarded the bus for the 3-4 hour drive south to Hosanna.

Many of the children in the care center were born in the Southern region of the country. This is where they were relinquished into care. After a short stay (a couple weeks or a month or so…I think it varies case to case) the children are transferred to the care center in Addis Ababa where they wait for their new family.

Addis is a typical city – busy roads, lots of buildings, college, schools, museums, hotels, people, shops and restaurants everywhere.

The Hosanna area is not. It’s what you picture when someone says, “Ethiopia.” It’s round mud huts. It’s people walking cattle down the road. It’s farm fields. It’s people collecting water in yellow cans from almost dry rivers.
hut 1 cattle
hut 2 false banana

We made this trip for several reasons.

  • To see where our children came from
  • To see some of the projects (like the bakery and school) our money was helping fund.

CHSFS School

  • To see the orphanage and meet the nannies who cared for him before he came to Hosanna

Mussie 1 Nanny Mussie 2

  • And most importantly to meet people who were significant to his life in Ethiopia.

International adoptions in Ethiopia are unique because they are not completely closed adoptions. Adoptive families are able to meet people who were a part of their child’s life. For each family this could mean something different. Some people meet the birth mother, some the birth father. Others meet aunts or uncles or grandparents. Some meet all of those people. Some people meet an older sister or brother who cared for the child after parents have passed away. Some meet the man or woman who found their child.

The meetings are emotional to say the least. What do you say to a person who is giving you a child? You want to ask a thousand questions but at the same time all you want to say is “thank you” over and over again.

Who we met and the information exchanges is something we’ve decided to tell Milo before we tell anyone else. And we are going to let him decide who gets to know this information. It’s not a secret or something we are hiding from people, it’s simply part of his life – his story – that is completely his. We want him to have ownership over that piece of his life.

After we finished our meeting we had our picture taken so they could take a picture of Kevin and I home. We write a yearly update that includes pictures and it is sent to the offices in Hosanna and they have access to those letters and pictures if they wish.

A little later there was an entrustment ceremony. The meeting was emotional but this….welll, I’ve never cried so hard in my life. All of these special people are on one side of the room and the adoptive parents on the other. They said a prayer for us and we did the same to them. There was much crying and hugging and kissing and then it was time to go.

We got back to the guest houses around dinner time. And we were all overwhelmed and exhausted. Since we had power that night, we decided to do something that required zero thinking. So our group watched School of Rock. Nothing like a little Jack Black to lighten the mood.

You’ll notice I said nothing about Milo…the care center is closed on Sunday. It’s the only day we didn’t get to see our baby.

Meeting Milo – Day 1 & 2


March 19th, 2010

March 20th is the day we met our son for the first time and March 27th marks 1 year home as a family of four. I don’t think I really blogged about our trip – in detail. So here it is. Day by day.

March 18th and 19th were spent on a plane. We left our house around 10:30 in the moring to catch a flight from Minneapolis to Washington, D.C. I actually thought leaving Lexi would be tough (and it was a little sad to say good-bye) but I think because at that point she had zero concept of time and we had given her a present she was pretty much “Bye. See you later.” And off we went.

We landed in DC around dinner time and waited for our flight to Ethiopia. We took a “direct” flight. We flew from DC to Ethiopia with one stop in Rome to refuel the plane. They don’t let anyone off the plane because it’s only about 45 minutes or so before you’re back in the air.

We landed in Ethiopia Thursday night around 8ish. Honestly, I have no idea what time it was. It was dark. And we got back to the guest house around 11? That’s about all I remember.

The airport was probably the worst part of the trip. There are guys who work at the airport and will offer to carry luggage for a tip. Not a big deal. Except the guy who tried to help us was completely trying to rip us off. I had gone through customs before Kevin (he was exchanging money) and while I waited for him, I was gathering up our luggage. Between the two of us, we had four huge suitcases, two backpacks and a small carryon suitcase. Anyway, the guy saw me waiting with the luggage and started loading it on a cart. I told him no because my husband was coming and he basically pretended not to hear/understand me. I finally found Kevin and the guy tried to tell us the tip was $5 (american) per bag. Um. No. Luckily we found our guide who works for CHSFS and he told us how much to tip the guy and then told the guy to go away. But it wasn’t a very fun way to start the trip.

Things got much better after that. We headed out to the bus with the rest of our group. Most of us were exhausted from the flight but everyone was still pretty excited because tomorrow morning we were meeting our kids. When we got back to the guest house they had packets of information for us. Itineraries for the week, name tags for at the care center, and updates on our kids.

It was a really good thing that I was completely exhausted because otherwise I would not have been able to sleep. At all.

Barefoot on April 16th


April 15th, 2009

On April 16th go barefoot.

Go barefoot to help people understand how important shoes are.

Go barefoot so people know that some kids can’t go to school simply because they don’t have shoes.

Go barefoot so people know that one million people in Ethiopia have a disfiguring and debilitating disease from walking barefoot in volcanic soil.

Go barefoot to remind people that in many countries children walk miles for food, clean water, and medical care.

Go barefoot so you can remind yourself how lucky you are to go home and pick which pair of shoes you’ll wear tomorrow.

A lot to say but not sure where to start.


April 1st, 2009

Now that we are back home and not sick and not jetlaged I’ve been wanting to write about our trip and having Milo home but there is so much to say, so much to share, I’m not quite sure where to start.

First of all, thank you. Thank you to the people who brought us stuff for our rummage sale. Thank you to the people who bought stuff from the rummage sale. Thank you to the people who sent donations towards Kevin shaving his head. Thank you to the people who prayed for us. Thank you to the people who asked us about updates and listened when we were excited about updates and when we complained about wait times. There is no way we could have done this alone. So thank you.

About Ethiopia.

Ethiopia was amazing. It’s how I pictured it to be and completely different than I thought it would be. I can’t really explain it but even though I’d never been there before, everything felt very familiar. When we go back (and we will go back at some point) I want to see more of the country. Our trip was obviously focused on Milo so there wasn’t much sight-seeing or touring. What we saw was mostly out the bus window.

We went shopping at a small mercado. It was obviously designed for tourists. Then we drove through the real mercado. The small mercado was one or two streets of shops, all containing similar jewelry and wall hangings and clothes. The real mercado was huge. Single streets devoted entirely to textiles or shoes or cleaning products or clothes or electronics.

Hosanna

We drove down to Hosanna and saw where Milo lived when he was first brought into the care center. Up until recently, children were relinquished to a care center in their local area and then after a few weeks (sometimes months) transferred to the care center in Addis where they waited for a family. While we were in Hosanna we met one of the nannies who cared for Milo. We showed her a recent picture and she was very excited to see how happy and healthy he looked.

Hosanna is “the country”. It’s about 3-4 hours south of the city and looks like the pictures you see of Ethiopia. There are wide open spaces and traditional round mud and straw huts. There are donkeys carrying yellow jerry cans to fill with water and young kids driving cattle down the road.

The CHSFS bus makes the Hosanna trip every Sunday so I think we were an event for the kids along the way. They ran to the edge of the road, waved and wanted us to take pictures.

The Plane Ride

Let’s face it 20+ hours on a plane just sucks. But it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. It was typical plane seats with minimal room and food that was pretty bland. The ride home however was great. We lucked out and got the bulkhead seats and a bassinet which meant we had leg room and Milo could sleep in a bed. And jet lag wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

Milo

Milo seems to be adjusting to life in Minnesota pretty well. He sort of naps in the morning, takes a decent nap in the afternoon and only half wakes up at night for a couple of bottles. And by half wake up, I mean he wakes up, cries and then can barely keep his eyes open to eat.

It’s been fun getting to know him. He’s smiley and happy and for five months old is pretty good at letting us know what he wants.

He likes to be held but is content to hang out on the floor and play with toys.

He thinks Lexi and the dogs are fascinating.

He sucks both thumbs at the same time.

He thinks being naked is really funny. And bath time is a blast.

Along with being naked and bath time he also thinks that spit bubbles, burping, blowing raspberries and chewing on his burp rag are also amusing ways of passing the time.

He took to a bottle right away and gets MAD if he not being fed as soon as he starts to fuss for food.

He likes to be bundled up in blankets and is a total sweat bomb when he sleeps.

He likes riding in his sling. He seems to prefer the ring-sling over the others but I think it’s because he’s a little too short for the other ones.

More updates will come. Like I said – lots to say but not sure where to start.

Leaving Ethiopia


March 26th, 2009

Today is our last day in Ethiopia. We head to the airport in about 8 hours. It’ll be sad to leave but I’ll be glad to be back home in a familiar place with both my kids.

I’ll be posting much more later but for now here’s some highlights:

· Going to Hosanna to meet people who are an important part of Milo’s life.

· Watching the nannies take care of the kids

· Hanging out at the guest house (with candles because of zero power)

· Watching School of Rock

· Going to Metro Pizza (it’s almost as good as Punch Pizza)

· Playing with Lily, the dog that lives at the Guest House

· Finally taking Milo home on Tuesday. No more saying goodbye at the care center.

· Beautiful weather. In the morning it’s a little cloudy and breezy and about 70 degrees. It gets hot around lunch time and then the evenings are cool again.

A couple of things I won’t miss:

· Flies.

· The cats. Seriously, two cats somewhere in our neighborhood would sound like it was a fight to the death every morning around 2ish.

If everything goes as scheduled we should be home by about 4:30 pm on Friday. (We’re leaving Ethiopia at 10:30pm Thursday). See you then.

We’ll be in Ethiopia in 3 weeks!


February 25th, 2009

We got our birth certificate and our travel date today! We are leaving for Ethiopia on March 18th.

That’s three weeks from today.

In three weeks I will finally get to hold my baby boy.

This means that all of the waiting is over.

There is an actual date of when we will get to meet our little boy.

3 weeks.

Only 3 weeks left.