The days on the long road of one families Ethiopian Adoption

This blog started out as a way to record the twists, turns, highs and lows in my families journey to adopt siblings from Ethiopia. Now our children are home and we have just finished celebrating our first year as a family.

I'm Kimberly (or Fendesha), an adventurous person who aspires to be a vagabond- but for now- I spend all of my free time travelling and my down time thinking of travelling. I'm a mom of 3 (the oldest being my gorgeous canine companion), a IT project manager, and on occasion I find myself the primary writer of this blog.

Happy Reading and thank you for stopping by.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Ethiopia Teaching and Orphanage Assignment details

Today I learned about my Teaching and Orphanage assignment in Ethiopia. I leave Boston on March 10th. The gift of being able to go has already awed me. Reading my assignments today and seeing that I am have the opportunity to use this time wisely and perhaps make a difference, even if it's just for a few weeks, is emotionally overwhelming at the moment.

Teaching Assignment: I will be here for the first 8 weeks.

Lemlem Primary school is a poor private school, funded mainly by the monthly student contributions (50 Birr on average). The average class size is 50 students, but volunteers here can teach alongside one of the teaching staff if they have problems controlling the class or explaining an activity. The school buildings themselves look quite nice and are clean and airy, but facilities here are basic – lots of overcrowded classrooms with simple desks, benches and a blackboard. But what they don’t have in equipment, they make up for in atmosphere!

More about Lemlem School from the website above:
  • Lemlem School was established to provide basic education to minors who's parents suffer the effects of the recent War and or the massive AIDS epidemic. All students that attend either have been deprived of one or both parents, have injured or sick parents, or parents with little or no sustainable income. Lemlem School exists to make educating these students a reality.
  • Opportunities for girls are very limited in Africa, especially in education. Most girls drop out after the 7th grade. Without proper education, many become sexually active, and a high percentage contract AIDS/HIV. If they remain in school and at least graduate from the 12th grade, their prospects for a happier future increase. studies show that they are more likely to improve the lives of their own children than comparably educated boys.

Care Home/Orphanage Assignment: I will be here for the last 2 weeks
Kidane Mihret is a care home and school that is attached to Kidane Mihret church, and is run by nuns. The school is open to the poorest children from the surrounding area, and the care home (they don't like the word orphanage!) is home to about 165 orphans. Many of the children are adopted at an early age, since the church has good links with both the Ethiopian and Foreign Catholic church. Despite this, many of the children are not able to be housed - sometimes due to the high prevalence of HIV in Ethiopia; around 30% of the older children here are HIV+.
The home also cares for some disabled children, and has a small kindergarten that the younger children attend during the day.

more info:

The final 2 weeks of my stay in Ethiopia will include a 14 day visit from Denis. It's so exciting that he'll be flying out to join me. I am hopeful that he will have an opportunity to visit the places that I volunteered and the host family that I will be living with. After meeting these individuals we plan to travel to the north part of Ethiopia and visit their historical sites.

We will return home on June 8th.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Ode to Ms. Mulder

Mulder brought many years of happiness and smiles to her daddies and all who got to know her. You will be missed "sweets". "Go Padoo"...

Monday, January 28, 2008

Going to Addis and Misi's going to college

It's almost official- I'm going to Addis for 3 months to teach basic English and work in an Orphanage. Oh my Goodness.

Now that it's "real" or "more real" I'm getting nervous. Oh my! I'll let you all know when I receive my assignment. Now the realities sink in- squat toilets? Cold showers? fleas? parasites? boiling water?- It's all a lot to think about when you are use to our pampered daily lives. I have a feeling I'm really going to miss "squeezing the Charmin"! I can just hear the border patrol now!- Pardon me Mam- but are you planning on selling all of this toilet paper or do you believe we do not have it here? -laugh. At least it's not I don't have to worry about the weight of my suitcase- ha ha. It reminds me of when our Exchange Student from China Unpacked. Some of the items she brought with her just made me giggle because she wasn't certain if we would have them or not. And of course, we did.

Denis is such an amazing guy- backing me up- all the way.

We were in North Conway this past weekend Snowshoeing and we stayed one night at the Adventure Suites Hotel- in the Showtime room. It was so much fun! I thought it would have been a little cheesy-but it wasn't. They've done the room very well and we had a great time- spent all night up watching movies-laugh. It was a great Birthday for him.

We also heard from our friend in X'ian China - Misi- that lived with us for a year. She was accepted to Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China. CONGRATULATIONS MISI!!!! We are so happy for you!!!
Maybe on my way home from Ethiopia we'll stop by and visit with you. Unfortunately- we won't have the kiddos yet- this whole adoption process is such a long one! Oh my...

Have a great day all.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Playroom Crazies

So- what do you do when you have over a couple of years to pine the arrival of your children?
Well if your anything like my husband and myself you plan, plan, plan oh and then plan some more. We decided last year to change our formal dining room into the coming children's play room. So- we put up an 0-gage train track around the room. Chhooooo Chhooooo. Hind-sight it's quite loud but very entertaining. Two weeks ago we took the train track down and painted the room. Then we stenciled a jungle scene on the walls. There's now elephants peeking around doors, monkey's hanging from trees and giraffes standing tall. It's surprisingly enough coming out very well.

Soon we'll stain the train track boards and get those back up. In all it's taken a year of talk and so far 2 full weeks of busy busy busy-but hopefully by the end of this month we'll be hopping on down to Ikea to purchase a few storage fixtures and our play room will be complete.

The bedroom- now that's another story all together. Do they really need a bedroom? Currently it's our spare room. It's sad. We have all this beautiful furniture but no room for it in the house we have.

Humanitarian Work in Ethiopia

I have been doing some soul searching which you can tell if you real the post prior to this one and have decided that I need to go to Ethiopia for a couple to a few months.

So last week- I started what looks a bit like a campaign in my house. First sold the husband on this idea, review the likely cost, and then convinced myself I could really do this. Now that I have the buy in on all parts-now I've reached the hard part.. finding an opportunity that is a good fit. Further defining my goals, narrowing my expectations, finding others that have been there done and chat with them a bit and finally- deciding when to go (now-how does now sound- quick before I chicken out).

After a few phone calls and several days of research I'm finally (hear the impatience here) making some headway. We'll see where these few leads get me-but I am at least receiving some responses. Stay tuned!! :-)

I'd say my family would be "surprised".. but really- the decisions I make concern them sometimes but surprised?? Nah- they stopped being "surprised" by me years ago.

Oh-- and on a personal note- I cut my hair short --shorter yesterday-- and have decided to dye the back a dark brown and add more red into the front on the next apt. Is this an early mid-life crisis? ha ha

Thursday, January 10, 2008

"Waiting" and why am I so pissy??

Warning- this blog is not PC... If you are reading this - expect to be outraged -not happy with that? move on- I haven't sugar coated my feelings or altered them for the public arena here for a change ...

Okay- so it's been a wimpy 7 months that we've been waiting, add 3 more on for paperwork, and 12 more on for picking an agency and another 24 for the "time to be right" and viola you have your real total but to make us all feel better the agency's start when it's all done. For us that was 7 months ago on January 5th.

On this date that like planning for your wedding date- is etched in your skull- they add you to this "magical waiting list"- only catch - no number -so the list is really in their heads not yours. Unlike your wedding- there's no "count down". Your friends will get pregnant, have babies and it feels like they are going to graduate while you.. wait wait oh and have I said ..wait..

It's a magical list -like the north pole. You just have to believe the toys really are made there- and that they are the products of elves- not child labor- really. They won't tell you the place you hold in the list - just the promise that chrismas will come and you will get toys. Or if you can't relate- how about .. It's more like a Scandinavian line. Ya know- they all crowd the counter and are fairly polite to one another as they smash up toward the front of the "line". can't relate- now this is an experience- go to Oslo airport the Friday before Christmas- and have the privilege of the "Scandinavian" line. Just put your funny people watching hat on... it's entertaining if you conjure up the right space/time giddiness (that could be it's own blog entry but I'm busy venting here).

Back to the agency (ours is actually from what I hear pretty informative compared to others) know exactly how to capture you. They keep inviting you to these calls or send you emails to which you wait on the edge of your seat for- and on the calls and in the emails they tell you "nothing, nothing, nothing". Of course- they want to tell you something- so they tell you the same thing but in a more creative format-of course no one comes right out and says "that's the same answer you gave last week, I thought I'd be cleaver and assume you didn't understand it and re-ask but please stop treating me like I can't handle the information because of some "random" experience you've had and just tell me-- Where do I stand in your Freekin line? What is the criteria of the people ahead of me? Just answer- "We are seeing our number of applicants more than double, we don't have enough kids for the demand- hold your damn horses or don't ask for an infant..." Oh wait... I know.. Knowing the number just causes more stress because people can move around and your number will change. Ugh- well at least if my number changed you could email me that- and it would be a "valuable" email.

It's almost like people at the Agencies are all news anchors before becoming social workers. They Captivate you into staying up for the 11:00 news and then spout hype and garbage at you in the form of "updates". (don't make that face-you know you have all felt that way at least once- especially if your house gets any of the Fox "news" channels). Anyway- this is not a rag on the agency or the news.. the fact that the agency is handling un-surmounted demand for international adoptions- or on the media- even though they publicized the celebirty adoptions we all want babies... That's the real problem. There are lots of children- it's just there is a huge line for babies...

It's just that we're all waiting "as one parent put it and it so cracked me up that I just have to repeat it" .. we're all waiting (including the agency) for the "magical mystery bus" to pull up at anytime of the night and deliver children who have been relinquished from their families. How incredibly stressful it is to say this and think about - perhaps for you to hear it family-but what we're all so damn anxious for - is for a "magic bus" with the right formula of children to - beep it's horn and drop off recently relinquished children into an orphanage... so we can come an scoop them up and give them the "American dream". It's heart breaking.

That image I have had of "helping the world" through adoption- it's totally crap now. There are so many people "in line" or "on the list" for children that my "we are the world" syndrome you heard me harp about since I was in 6th grade is CRAP... IN fact there are so many families that a want to adopt now that it's increadably selfish of me to still want to do this. So- even though I've wanted this for what feels like my whole life (thank you Michael Jackson- for this torment)- and wanted and waited for the right time for this to be one of the ways I really make a difference- it's now time for the harsh reality of "trends"... yes.. Adoption has become popular and instead of acting earlier in life and being a leader- now I am a follower- dragging children out of his/her culture so I can fulfill my dream of adoption while rocks are thrown at me by the native culture and the orphanage hides my hideous selfishness while I am there.

There now- doesn't that leave you feeling nice and fuzzy inside?? And to think- I can freekin have kids!!! Ugh!!! Perhaps I should just decline the referral and feed the family that relinquished the children tons of cash... Wouldn't it be better? Or just plain move to Ethiopia. The day we stabilize their internet- I might just do that... By that time- they'll need internet security - won't they?

Is there really anything else to think about? I've already reached the point where we just smile and grin and try to say "we're adopting with enthusiasm" and to people we know- Yeah, we're still waiting-but we're soo cool! We're busy, we're Hip (don't burst my bubble here just go with it)- We're Hip, and we're active. So why am I so damn pissy? Isn't this what I wanted? I've a determined woman - successful- and I'm getting what I wanted- so again- "why am I so damn pissy?" ahhh the world is a strange place...

I'm queen of "done it all" and dragged the dear husband a long for every joyous moment of it- I mean when you read " I wish we had or could have, should have, would have" .. man we've written the book... There are a couple of things outstanding- basically the house. So- If I have could have, would have, and might have done it all- and more.. Why am I so damn pissy?

I hate it when people ask about the adoption, I hate that I haven't "improved" my career while I "wait"- okay-so change of plans..change of perspective.. we focused on Ethiopian cuture, cooking and meeting people (looking forward to continuing this), we've met adoptive families and gotten "involved", we've enriched our lives with Church and local friends, taken romantic trips and family related trips, we've gone out with the guys/girls respectively. We're getting fit and we've taken a gaggle of parenting classes. I read a "wish we had done before starting a family list" today- and we've done everything that is not house related.. so what's left??

Let's see:
Plan a trip and surprise him on his Birthday with it-- Local or far??
Go see girlfriend
Denis go away with Guy friends
finish the basement (hire somebody)
paint and stencil the play room
buy kids furniture (??)
find a place for all of the furniture that doesn't fit in my too small house (we downsized and now we're having a family???)

Okay-I think I've sufficiently exhausted you all.. and for now- I'm no longer "quite as pissy" thanks :-).

Tollhouse Cookies in Norway

Ever bake in another country? Determined to have something "very us" while in Norway during our Christmas celebration- I decided to make Tollhouse cookies from scratch. So - It began with 4 trips to the grocery store for some very familiar items.. First - vanilla (extract drops instead- think rum or orange to visualize), then chocolate baking bars (land of no chocolate chips it seems), then brown sugar- man no one had brown sugar and the stuff we did find- ???? think it was white granulations with molasses poured on them-etc) for the rest- thank goodness for pictures on packaging.

Since I now have grocery shopping experience in Norway-Has anyone been to one? It's almost like they've hidden the good food until Russia attacks or something. I mean for a country that war rated the best place to live for many years- you'd expect the grocery stores to be like heaven on earth. Instead- think WWII bomb shelter- It looks like Ikea-but not as clean- you can see the rafters and wires still hanging in most. Oh and by the way- while you are there-how about some Ice skates, underwear and a blanket for your bed?? Somewhere in all of that you will find Vitamins-etc. They are more like Pik N Save or Save A Lots for any of you that have adventured on the wild side of American grocery stores. I mean they are far worse then Price Chopper- my personal fav...

I'm now convinced having been to both Norway and Iceland in the past year- Iceland has moved up on the list of best places to live knocking Norway to #2 because they have sexier grocery stores. I know I'm sounding like quite the fatty patty here :-)- but really- I just dig visiting a cultures grocery stores. So, to the King and Queen of Norway-please note that in my shallow little opinion- (your stuff is so darn expensive "think literally whole paycheck")- Norwegian citizens should have a nice market to buy their groceries in. After all - it's pretty much a mom's big night out isn't it??? At least that's the horror stories people like to say tell us 'non-parents'.

Okay- enough of my tangent- back to the Tollhouse Adventure:

Convert the recipe to metrics (should have done this before going to grocery store) - don't forget the temperature to set the stove (190C) (Conversions have never been an easy task for this lazy American) and then mix them and start baking. Sounds fairly simple doesn't it??

So we start with chopping up lot's of grams of chocolate from a large bar- oops we seem to only have 1/2 the grams we need-darn- oh well not going to grocery store for 5th time- continue on.. add "vanilla" extract (a few dashes), mix in some flour- at least the bag looks like flour, hmmm more ingredients.. let's see.. is that margarine or butter exactly(still not sure-but it's yummy)..
Now it's literally an entire day later.. the batter is complete and stove is warm.. we taste the cookies... Something was missing.

Oh I know, I know..It must be that store bought everyone's too busy holiday flavor.. so we took a bag of "better crocker" pre-made cookie mix that we brought with us and dumped it in this batter. Ahhh- just right. And the x-pats at the party- couldn't get enough of the cookies. They had "missed" them so much! Laugh. I on the other hand. am going to go make some home made cookies. A few words of advice.. when you want something to taste like home- even though I'd hate to ever admit this- bring a box mix :-) and the crowd will go wild. Ha ha..

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

2008- The year we become parents?

So- Do you think we will receive our referral this year? We are hopeful or well- we expect that it will happen. We're holding steady on our age request even though we partially think we're nuts but if we increase it the referral will come sooner. I still have a few things to complete before that date comes. We paid off my car this past week- Wooo Hooo- now that Focus is on Paying off Den's car. Can't wait to say that we've been able to do that too! I am hopeful that we will have no car payments the first couple of years of our parenting experience. Not sure why it's important but for some reason it is. We've also started putting together additional ideas for the playroom. This coming weekend we are going to paint it and the following weekend we are going to stencil it. We're also dropping by Ikea to pick up a little bit of furniture for it- and voila- it should look like a playroom by early February. Something we're both pretty excited about accomplishing. Once that is complete we are going to tackle the kids room. That should be a fun February project. Hopefully by march- the Train set and the lights will be completed in the play-room as well-but we'll just have to "wait and see" on that one as it requires an electrician. Sometime during all of this the contractors will start on finishing our basement. By June our house will be ready for the kiddos I'm guessing and hopeful.
Our trip to Norway was fantastic. Lot's of family time and down time to relish. The flights were even a bit un-eventful- which is unheard of for December holiday travel - just a few delays and we didn't get sick- hurray!! We are excited to be home and doing our own thing again.. and to be with our sweet geneva again. Only a little more holiday activity to complete and we will have our feet solidly planted in the new year. going to run - literally- so gotta go. Happy New Year.

Meme Stevens- Beautiful Song- get Kleenex

Oh the places I've Been (and might go again)