Friday, July 30, 2010

#5 Ethiopia

Thursday 7/8/10
journal excerpt...
busy busy day!
To start the day Bristol finally got to open the card from her Padre that had been in the missing suitcase. I cried the nite he drove over after work to bring it to me. He let me read it then sealed it. It was moving to read his words and thoughts to Bristol... His love for her, a granddaughter he had yet to meet but had prayed for this entire time, poured out in his quick note. Bristol didn't cry when I read it to her but I'm sure she will some day:)
This gate.
This gate marks the entrance to the place where our daughter spent several months of her life waiting on God to choose a family for her and then bring that family over to finally hold her and love her forever.
This gate stirs in me emotions hard to keep down.

For about 3 hours this morning we hung out at the Transition Home where Bristol has lived since early April. We loved on the nannies there and they loved on our babies.

We loved on the other precious children who are there awaiting being united with their forever family. We saw the nursery Bristol was in during her stay and her crib. The crib she was in for each and every pic we received of her the past couple of months.

We saw all the clothes hanging on the line, including the pink collared outfit Bristol had worn in one of the pics we had held on to as we waited to come pick her up. I had an immediate sadness come over me as I stood by this bed that held our daughter for the past few months. I felt such relief she was out of that bed. It wasn't that the bad or place was bad it was just that she spent so very much time confined there. And I was even more overcome when she was placed back in it...I wanted to grab her out and reassure her she didn't have to stay there in it anymore...but she so nonchalently stood there and was fine...

We saw kids in "school".
We watched the nannies wash dirty cloth diapers in a stone "sink".
We watched a hair washing in a bucket.

Back in early '09 when we decided to make t-shirts as a fun project announcing our adoption I prayed over what verse to choose for Bristol. I know that it is not ironic that the exact verse is painted in one of the nurseries at Bristol's transistion home. I had to capture a pic of it. It was such an affirmation from the Lord.

We felt so blessed to "observe daily life" at the transition home. It was wonderful to be a part of their day and see how it was for Bristol.
Bristol fell asleep on me around noon and her nanny came to tell me it was lunch time. They go on a schedule and she wasn't concerned Bristol was asleep. I told her I wanted to let her sleep a wee bit and then I'd bring her up to be fed. She wasn't too sure about this:) Later we did go upstairs and another precious nanny helped feed her and pour on the love.

The nannies here are amazing but still the babies spend lots of time in their cribs just chilling. I am so glad to have Bristol in our arms and seeing the world. The nannies are sad to see the children in their care leave- it is bittersweet- they know they are going to a life of love, hope, adventure but they have cared for them and became so close to them. They asked questions about America and life here. They smile and laugh and speak in high pitched tones that the babies love. These women are treasures. One told me they take care of the children b/c they love Jesus... Now that is a testimony!

After our lunch we hit our next stop...the U.S. Embassy. It was raining and so we were greeted at our van with boys holding umbrellas (yes...more tips). We were there about 2 hours waiting for our grand total of 5 minutes standing before the glass window talking to the embassy folks. It really wasn't a bad wait- I can't complain. We received the infamous sealed packet we were to travel home with and only let the officials in the U.S. open and Bristol's birth certificate and other necessary paperwork. Boy oh boy...this official business feels good.
Tonite we called our kids back good to hear their voices. Only 2 more sleeps in Ethiopia, 1 sleep on the plane and then we are home and united as a family.

And is going to be a big big emotional day...we meet Bristol's birthmom...

Monday, July 26, 2010

our photo shoot

photo shoots with 4 kids.
you never know what you're gonna get.
in our case it was success.
seems that everyone was in the cheesing cooperative mood.
and yes...we did pray that smiles would abound and the wild week of injuries would abate.
and so...

we are so blessed by the greatest photographer EVER...
Jadie @ jadie thomas photography never ceases to amaze me!
thanks jadie for everything!
these are a few to get you started.
please click here to go see the rest
it will take a second to upload then it will play a slideshow...
i promise it will make you smile:)
oh, and Lanie...the dress is perfect:)

Friday, July 23, 2010

#4 Ethiopia

Wednesday 7/7/10

thought i'd just share tidbits from my journal entry to start off...

Today we played with the other kids here at HOH2 and each family completed paperwork with the most patient, always kind...Fikr.

Joey is actually with him now on an excursion for more formula and rice cereal to last us until we get home and get Bristol checked out by our pediatrician. I am resting here in our courtyard feeling the warm Ethiopian sun on my face while I journal and read. Bristol is napping. She is a champ at sleeping for us.

I continue to be amazed at the people here in Addis and at HOH2. Genuine, humble, precious people. Something that stands out...Joey and I have been struck by their desire for cleanliness. Appearances are valued it seems. They are shining shoes that will end up in a muddy or dusty hole with the next step or cleaning car tires that will be right smack dab in the mud again as soon as the car pulls away. The ladies here want the babies faces clean after meals and are ready to help out. The women are covered with not much skin showing. Most everyone smiles at you and by all appearances are friendly. There are men dressed in suits just walking the streets or at their jobs that don't require this type of dress at all. The people here draw me in. I want to watch, to love. Oh my, This journey is just so incredible. So beyond words.

About Bristol...she does awesome in highchair, crawls well, pulls up, stands holding finger and even accidently alone for a split sec, knows what she wants and can be a spitfire. She is one smart cookie who doesn't miss much (like hiding what she thinks is a good toy for her to chew on behind me and her crawling around me to find it). She loves her mommy and daddy already. Responds to name...Bristol. Likes puffs. Enjoyed her first sucker with daddy...wasn't sure at first but caught on. And of course this wasn't her mommy's idea but daddy thought it would be good for bonding:)

Baby girl, we fall more in love with you every day and thank God he gave us you...

Wednesday afternoon we toured the Ethnic Museum in an old palace in Addis and again experienced the streets of Addis by taxi. I am never disappointed in our taxi sites and experiences:)

But our highlight was realizing that the chicken we found in our courtyard just so happened to be the same chicken we would be eating later. Not a fan. Not a fan. I like to think my chicken dinner comes from a magical place at the grocery store that has nothing to do with the feathered friends we see clucking around. eek. Joey was so fired up about the chicken that if the van wouldn't have been pulling away he would have been "the slaughterer". again, not a fan. Our cook was beyond excited Joey wanted to do this and it brought great laughs to our Ethiopian friends but like I said...the van was leaving... so he missed the opportunity. Not sure I could've taken pics of this experience anyway.

Another day in a place that will never leave my heart...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

#3 Ethiopia

Tuesday 7/6/10

We had 2 new kids meet their forever families today. It is so amazing to watch the bonds begin to grow. We now have all met our children and everyone is staying at the House of Hope 2 Guest Home. There are 11 of us total (4 of them our adopted children).

Today we went to The Lion Zoo.

Hence the name, the place is full of lions. Lions that live in a concrete paddock with iron bars and then a rickety old chain link fence. Lions that you can touch if you so please and even stick your hand in their mouths and tempt then if you please (as did one gentleman in order for us to get a good pic and for him to get a tip).

Side's all about tips for pictures, tips for keeping people from bothering you by hitting them with sticks in the market, tips for shining your shoes or holding your bags or what the for just tips!

Back to the Zoo... I bet I am safe to say some animal abuse groups with have fits if something like this ever showed up in the States. It's not that they are abused, I never saw that, it's just they live in tee tiny concrete quarters.Cage after cage after cage of pacing lions we stared at and took pics with... a sad life I must say.

There were several other animals at the zoo...some monkeys, a baboon, caged ducks?, some kind of antlered deer like animal (forgot the name)...and that was it.
Load 'em up and move 'em out for the next adventure...

The Zoo was quite an experience...not sure I'll ever actually get that up close with a lion again.

After a lunch and a rest break we headed to the National Museum. I could not believe all the amazing artifacts, some dating back to the 3rd century. There was an emperor's throne, a crown, money, utensils...display after display of things dated further back than my mind wants to comprehend. It was here we were shown the bones of "Lucy". In case you haven't heard of her she was featured in the news and National Geographic as being the oldest remains of human ancestry...kind of like an ape that walked on 2 legs and much too involved in the whole evolution talks that I do not believe in. Anyway, it was very cool to be up close and personal with her bones and with those bones of "the earliest child" Selam. Once again, way to ape and not so much human. Joey got our guide going on this topic...just a hard pill to swallow...funny!
Lucy bones
Emperor's throne

(Joey, Bristol, Eden and Angie and I taking pics...touring together today)

We enjoyed our excursions today but I decided that long van rides on dirt roads with huge random potholes and diesel fumes and erratic driving (not necessarily on our driver's part but just in general) leave me teetering on being car sick. It was always a blessing to see the gates of our guest house.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

#2 Ethiopia

Monday 7/5/10

Bristol slept all nite our first nite together. Which didn't seem to amaze anyone there, as they say..."Ethiopian baby full belly...sleep all nite." I pulled her into bed with me for her early am bottle and she slept and drank and i dozed. She awoke a bit later smiling. Melt my heart:)

Late yesterday eve my newest Nashville acquaintance, Gina, arrived (yep...crazy stuff...she and i used the same agency, put on the wait list same day, were referred daughters side by side in orphanage , and are now in Ethiopia at same time to get our daughters, AND will actually fly back to Nashville on the same flight)!!!! Gina brought her sister Angie and these ladies were a hoot. So glad we were able to share this time with them!

Gina's precious baby Eden surprised us Monday morn when she showed up with her Nanny at our guest house. I can now say with experience meeting the children you have prayed so long for is beyond amazing.

We also met Tseguy this morning. He is in charge over here and is such an incredible man. He brought phones we could buy and also cardds with minutes. Yeah...we could call our kiddos at home. It had been 3 days since we had talked to them. This was a nice treat!

(me, Bristol, Tseguy, Eden and Gina)

This afternoon we went on a van tour of the city of Addis.

Best description...people (millions...walking all hours of the day...I've never seen so many people just walking the streets) and fumes (disel fumes), taxis everywhere (again -packed with people), lots of honking and cutting off -but yet everyone seems quite cordial about it.

Addis was a city like nothing i had ever seen. Lots of construction started but left undone. Goats and cattle grazing in the median. Homeless, blind beggars, children on the streets. Beautiful people, people in the depths of poverty, genuine and kind hearted people, proud people.

It's hard to describe. I want to go back.

(Just a small remeinder of home...though I don't go to Sally's Beauty Supply at home it was a refreshing reminder)

We enjoyed getting to know our Bristol and her country today.
I want to remember it all for her. Lots of pictures and journaling (thanks Aunt Tiff for the journal back at Christmas time... I saved it just for this!)

A big first for us tonite...Bristol's first bath with me. She did great. Didn't really play but didn't cry. She was just taking it all in.

This would be the nite Joey would go back to the airport to hopefully find our lost bag. We had tried calling the past few days but the line was always busy. Our driver, Fikr, takes him around 7 to the airport to pick up our newest adopting friend, Meg, and to check for our bags. I stay back with Bristol (she's s dreaming in her bed) and of course, w/in 30 mins of him leaving we lose our power. dark. dark. dark. Flashlights are a must. Joey arives several hours later with a story of meeting a man with an incredible heart for God and mission for orphans and with our bag! Praising God...we have clean clothes!


Day #2.. amazing. Each day is so full of blessings.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

#1 Ethiopia

details details...

so we left home for Ethiopia on Friday 7/2. fly fly and more fly...

we arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia about 7pm Ethiopia Time. we only had 2 bags and 1 of them was a no show. big bummer, but we manage. everyone said we'd get our bags Monday nite?! crazy God moment happens next...the first person we see after coming out of the secure area in the airport is Sumer Yates (a missionary from our area who just recently moved with her family to Addis to work in Korah- the leper colony). God is so good! we got her phone number and told her we would met up with her later in the week. then it was on to our guest house for a shower and bed!

awoke Sunday morning 7/4 bright and early (like 4am ish...tossed around until 7ish). Met the staff, enjoyed bfast, and the sites and sounds of Ethiopia from the upstairs balcony...poverty, crazy big satelite dishes on shanty homes, dirt and muddy roads, cattle roaming the street, clothes lines, some type of little store, kids playing. people wandering and working...

this would be the day we would meet our daughter. we weren't sure it would happen on Sunday considering this was most of the staff's day off, but it did. around 9:30 am on 7/4/10 we met our Bristol for the first time. words can not explain. the little angel we prayed for was finally forever in our arms. this baby girl who comes from nothing is now ours to love and provide for. i didn't cry like i thought i would. i think i was just so caught up in the moment and checking her out and soaking it all in so i wouldn't forget a thing and the joy was so great...

the nanny just handed her to us with mimimal instructions (she couldn't speak English) about a 6 oz bottle and box of rice cereal and that was it. Bristol didn't cry or fuss...she just came to us and stared at us with a serious expression. we loaded back in the van after some pics and Bristol fell asleep immediately on me. when she awoke she was still just checking us out, we played with her, changed her from the big kid pullup she had on to a diaper, fed her a bottle and the bonding process began..

after our yummy Ethiopian lunch, Bristol goes down for a nap. when she awakes she is a new baby. she was given the label of "serious" from her nanny. well, nope...not anymore. she starts laughing and playing, touching our faces, crawls around a little, responds to name "Bristol", shows us how inquistive she is, and makes us fall more and more in love with her. and a fave thing of mine...the coke in a bottle with every lunch and dinner:)

tidbits from the day...she goes to nap and bed without a hitch. sleeps like a champ! she sits in her highchair and eats her cereal no prob. doesn't cry. shows us her bubbly personality. very busy during- but doesn't mind- diaper changes.

remarkable day. blessed day. emotionally draining day. easy transition.

it honestly couldn't have been any more perfect.
God has answered our prayers.

Bristol is in our arms and it feels so good!

Monday, July 12, 2010

to get you started...

here are a few pics to get you started on our journey of Bringing Bristol Home...

this is Ethiopia.

i have never seen anything like this country.

poverty, destitution, yet such amazing and beautiful people.

i am forever changed by the country of my daughter's birth.

and now for Bristol...
this is today on her first day home exploring her bedroom.

she is more beautiful, more remarkable than words. she has transitioned so easily into our family. she loves her siblings. she spends lots of time on her big sissy's hip. she plays and crawls all around us. she sleeps like a champ. hardly cries and really that is just a whine when she is hungry or tired. is actually a social butterfly. she responds to "bristol" and to her ethiopian name "askedech". is an easy baby. rode in her first carseat EVER and slept in her crib in her new room last nite without a hitch. she has the cutest dimple in her left cheek. and gorgeous eyes. she is perfect!

she had an incredible welcoming committee celebrating her arrival to America...thanks everyone for praying for us, loving us, taking care of our kids back here while we were gone, and for coming to welcome her HOME! (i know our welcoming crew got better pics than me of our arrival...send me those pics! and post them too if you want!)

above is the kiddos first morning together as a fantastic foursome!

out of the entire world (literally) God chose HER for our family.
and we are forever blessed!
what a gift from God and we are overjoyed to have her home.
can't wait for everyone to meet her.

more pics and the day by day details of our adventures to Bristol in Ethiopia coming soon:)