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.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Battle of Adwa

This song and Gigi's quick explanation are an excellent start if you are not familiar with the Battle of Adwa (which happened in the month of March).

You can hear Gigi's pride in her voice when she speaks of  her Ethiopia's victory. 

Friday, March 26, 2010

Debritu reads to mommy...

We read books to Debritu when she is going poo poo on the toilet.  We'll today- she heard me going poo poo and brought in a book.. then she ran out of the bathroom and brought in a stool... next she sat down on the stool, opened the book and started reading me one of her stories.  When I finally realized what was going on- I couldn't help but laugh and be absolutely delighted!!!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The kids-One Year Later 3/23/10

I met our future children 1 year ago today.

It's 5 minutes long and combines 3 videos.
One year ago today - I met Habtamu and Debritu.
6 weeks later- they would become our children.
Tonight I will upload they look like today.
(These videos were taken to send to Denis so he too could share in this moment).

Friday, March 19, 2010

Becoming a mom- 10 month update

This past year has been more challenging than I had anticipated in so many ways.  How can I possibly summarize what it's like to go from being a successful independent and fairly selfish woman to a broke mom of two toddlers and a housewife.   

First thing that comes to mind is that there are many things I have not finished that I started a couple of years ago (or longer) that are very important to me: I still have to finish the paperwork for an NGO I'd love to open, missed going to Ethiopia this March-so much that I break down in an awful fit of tears that I can't live any part of the life I use to have.  I've gained too much weight even though I'm active at home with the kids- I'm way less active than I was before they came and I'm home all the time so I eat more.  I still remember what my life was like before they came to live with us - and miss it a lot and since I love what I do for work- I really miss it.  I actually miss meetings-laugh- those things I dreaded, miss the city commute and the energy of hopping trains in the morning and the time for personal peace and quiet.  I miss quiet walks with my dog, running with my running buddies at lunch time, going to the gym to lift, a clean and quite house to come home to, the independence of staying out late. I really miss-watching movies when I want to, having dinner regularly with friends, or having time to research the market or new technologies.  

I thought I was ready to be a parent- in fact I counted the days for a few years before that blessed day- and now that it's happened sometimes I wonder why I was in such a hurry to give what we had up.  One of the biggest things I miss - Having money- man kids are expensive!!!!

Now, to say these are big parts of myself that I miss would be an understatement.  But it is not to say that I don't enjoy being a mom or having a bigger family.  The kids make me laugh every day, and it is so much fun to watch them grow.   Since the suns come out and their 6 full weeks of rotating colds seem to be over for a bit-I've had more time to be reflective-and here's what have taught me about myself.  
  • I have a huge desire to finish some of the things I started when I was younger and didn't finish- mostly because I want them to see that it's okay to stop something-but if it's important it's never to late to get back to  it.
  • Sometimes you have to give more of yourself than you may have wanted to or imagined you'd have to, to get what you want out of a project (say raising children for example).  But you'll have many beautiful moments and much joy that had you not allowed yourself to stray from your path you'd have never experienced.  I've been really good at making my own path in life-but it's always been a challenge for me to say on anyone else's for any length of time.
  • I'm comfortable "outside my box"- in fact I prefer to live my life that way-love the adrenaline and excitement  an unpredictable life presents.  The children restrict this- but I still enjoy retreating to my "discomfort zone" now and then by doing something unpredictable.  It's just now a days- I find my adventures closer to home rather than hopping into a plane.  I do miss having the money for my pilot lessons, however. 
  • Patience- I'm becoming more patient as the year goes on, and less frustrated and angry. When they first arrived (for the first many months) I got angry, frustrated, tired and cried much more than I do now.  There are a lot less shower cries...
  • I've learned how to play again.  Something I struggled with in my Teaching in Ethiopia.. It took me many months and I'm still not great at it- but I'm better at understanding what helps the kids learn and what is fun for them-not what I think is fun-and I've learned to enjoy it.  
  • I've learned more confidence too.. something I really needed both for my professional career to grow when I do return to work, but also for my family.  I no longer judge how well I'm doing as a mom by what others are doing or what they are thinking-but I have learned that I am different than many mom's and similar to other moms, and it's taken me awhile to find people who are "similar" to my "style" as well as lot's of time to understand my parenting style and of course that like everything in our lives will forever be evolving and developing.  
To hear "I did it, mom" and "mama, come", "up, mama" and that frighted cry that says "mama the night" that only you can console.. They swell my heart now- and they sound different than they did.  They warm my heart instead of feeling like Ughhghghg.. and I respond more naturally now.  

This list could go on and on- and if I has time away from the kids-perhaps it would be even well written and a more "meaningful" post but for now-with my 2 year old hanging off my arm biting me, pulling at me and kissing my arm while saying- mom, mom, maaaammmmeeee...this is what I've got to give and well.. although it's not perfect..It's good enjoy-laugh and smile. 

Happy Spring!!!!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

preschool -a leprechaun -and a pot of gold

I was at H's preschool today and he was out of the room preparing for his spring concert, so, I went into his classroom.  While I was waiting, I played with some of the younger children in his class. Here is what I learned today:

A leprechaun visited the school today, but apparently leprechaun's don't like people, so, he was hiding from them.   They looked everywhere to find this visitor and decided that he must have been in one of the bathrooms.

I asked if he left a pot of gold (trying to keep a straight face) and one of the boys said-with a serious reply- no, not yet- but we'll check again later.


Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Friday, March 12, 2010

It's Silly Weather Day

It's been a superduper silly series of outfits this week... 

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Concerns regarding the required changes to Ethiopian Adoption process

The latest laws passed down from the Ethiopian Government as I've just heard have me confused, concerned amongst other emotions.
A few details:

I have to say that I find the adoption agencies keep people so closeted from the real Ethiopia because of their fear of how the culture will "handle' it- and vice versa -hoping to not "rock" any boats as we've been told over and over again. So, I'm confused by the "governments" decision to require these adoptive families that the agencies keep "hostage" - in the country for longer periods of time.

When we adopted- The agency made it particularly difficult for me to visit with my children while in country and I had to follow some rather ridiculous rules that put me at danger in order to protect the children.  Ie: travelling at night alone-or don't come. So I never did get to visit my children after a work day.  We had made arrangements, signed papers and made many phone calls while in the states to get permission for one specific person that I lived with to be able to assist me. They assured me it would be fine.  In the end-this person was allowed only once to visit with me (in 2 months).  While in country, I was never was invited to the baby house to meet these people at their offices.  The agency only communicated with my Husband in the states and he would call me in Ethiopia.     The above examples are what I'm concerned about-there is clearly a disconnect between the Ethiopian office and the US office at times.

But if you take the following item for example- this one is typical of Ethiopian Culture-there were many times the children would be at the doctors- with no explanation as to why and I wouldn't be able to see them again for 3 days unless I traveled alone after work (in the dark- not suggested as a foreigner) or called in sick to work.  Unless you understand the culture and know that these types of things happen-this above example would make you very angry as a foreigner.  But this later one didn't bother me-because I knew the children were in wonderful hands-being taken care of- and that this is just how Ethiopia works- sometimes you won't be told things and other times you will.

That brings me to the question of -what are they going to do with the families that decide to stay for a month or two rather than fly back or forth?  We almost selected Kazakhstan because we preferred this method of adoption for bonding reasons with our children-but found that our agency (although they also worked in Kazakhstan) did not have the ability to handle our request to do this with our Ethiopia adoption. So, how are they planning on handling this??

I guess most families will just stay onsite and enjoy being with their children day in and day out-but why-why won't the agencies encourage these families to volunteer teach or visit an NGO while they are there??? Go visit the challenges of the country- learn while you are there.

Third- I don't talk much about the actual adoption process any longer on my blog-but sending a bunch of people into Ethiopia that are not prepared for the poverty, the lack of "conveniences" and telling them they need to come and go a couple of times is not acceptable to me.   Locals hear foreigners that are adopting complaining about the "lack of conveniences" so many times.  The agencies are clearly going to need to do a better job preparing people for the conditions in Ethiopia- even if they don't have to "experience" them while at the orphanage guest houses.   It's amazing to me- one woman in our group was upset there was no air conditioning in the Embassy.  She was sheltered by the discomforts of being in the country at the guest house and had no idea that the embassy was running on generators that day as that area of town had no electricity or water.  The locals that hear these discussions have no idea that you as a visitor is being sheltered by the difficulties of everyday life in Ethiopia.

To that note- the sheltering of the visiting families by the agencies-does not allow people to really understand the local situation-and thus we often do not sound understanding or compassionate when we are in public situations.  The thought of what locals will think and hear if these same families are being forced to be in a developing country worries me for the future of adoption and for the reputation we will have in the country as adoptive parents. If you have the opportunity of visiting Ethiopia and seeing her beauty- you really should want to be there or as the agencies do- be cared for while you are there- but more than one "protected" visit concerns me with out awareness or education toward the local situation on exit from their host housing.

In my 8 months in Ethiopia- I met more foreigners that didn't like being there than foreigners that did enjoy being there.  Most individuals from the west find the extended discomforts difficult to handle.  The cold showers, the rotating electric and water schedules, the muddy conditions during the rainy season, the respiratory infections you get from the dust during the dry season,  open sewage, the transportation shortage because the gas stations are closed due to non-delivery of petro, or that there are sometimes public-bus bombings or other dangerous events (etc),  there can be a lack of bottled water because the "bottling factories" sometimes run out of bottles or that Coca could not import their product due to lack of US so there is sometimes a coca cola shortage.

Personally- at this moment as I try to absorb the new requirements- I find this disturbing- for many different cultural reasons. I ache for the waiting families that are looking at their finances in this already expensive experience.  I'm sick at the thought that the children will sit longer in the orphanages as required court dates will increase the wait-as agencies will likely begin to make groups that travel 2x together.. ughhhh.-and I am concerned for Ethiopia- and her sometimes challenged perception of foreigners and international adoption.

Although on the upside, perhaps this will require the agencies to actually begin to introduce us adoptive families to the Ethiopian Culture beyond that of a cultural dinner, a museum visit and a long drive that includes a Sheraton style hotel stay.

Let me put a bug in your ear- try to Volunteer or meet people while you are there. Volunteering would really help add a "benefit" to the adoption experience both for the country and the families.  After all the country needs assistance and you are there to bring home the children they can no longer support for one reason or another.

It seems if you the government of Ethiopia are going to require people to be there- and you allow the the agencies to require a "facility donation" for those lavish resorts you keep your adoptive guest in-that you the government of Ethiopia can also require "volunteer" work from the visiting families.  How bad could it be if  rather than keeping the adoptive families in the agency guest house and hiding them from the culture- instead with this plan the adoptive family could experience some of the culture while adopting Ethiopia's children.

Okay- a little off the mark there...but can't say this entry was as boring as my most recent -ha ha.  Perhaps saying what you are really thinking is the key to all of this... that my blog is really missing.

It's Silly Hair Day

It's letter S week at H's pre-school-and everything is Silly Silly Silly!!! 

Publish Post

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

It's Super Silly Sock Day!!

Check out those giraffe legs and crazy socks.. 
(yes, he's wearing pantyhose over his trousers-laugh)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

It's Backward"s" Day at Habtamu's school

Habtamu dressed backwards for school today  :-)  - 
Can't believe he has to go to the Dentist like this after class. -laugh!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

With an Eye toward the Ethiopian Elections...

The ability to register to vote in the Upcoming May elections is coming to a close. So far registration for the elections this year is low.
The public's past experience with politics has created a wariness by people as they are not forthcoming in political discussions with foreigners. It is common practice with-in the populace to not speak with others regarding their political opinions as families and their members have been beaten or imprisoned for their views or actions during election time.  This is understandable when you include the turmoil that the people of Ethiopia have experienced in the recent memorable years including but of course not limited to their oppression during Derg rule and the shooting during "peaceful" demonstrations in the even the latest election.  To learn some basics High level infomation about Ethiopian politics visit this site: 

some basic history (from site above): 
1889-1931 Absolute Monarchy
1931-1936 Traditional Monarchy (In practice, still an absolute monarchy)
1936-1941 Italian "Occupation"
1941-1955 Traditional Monarchy (In practice, still an absolute monarchy)
1955-1974 Traditional Monarchy
1974-1984 Military Regime
1984-1987 Military Regime & [De-Facto] One Party State (WPE)
1987-1991 One Party State (WPE)
1991-1995 Transitional Government/Multiparty Transition
1995-        Emerging Democracy

As the Elections near the NEBE (National Electoral Board of Ethopia) is going to host a website -although it is likely to be "scrubbed" and clean as this is a government agency (and the government controls the media)  it will likely describe the parties-it's candidate along with his/her qualifications and platforms.  The good news is that when launched (sometime this month)- it is suppose to be published in Amharic and English.

Let's hope for few deaths, excellent reporting and for a strong turn out by the registered populace!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Habtamu -Wow- look at the growth!

I came across a pair of pants today that Habtamu was wearing the first week we had him. 
He was in 2T- Now he's wearing 5T... 
Here is the Difference since May 5th of 2009 -(Today is March 6th 2010-10 months later).  
Thank goodness for my Sister-inlaw and her graciously giving us clothes for him!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

tying a knot at the end of my rope and hanging on

Our kids have been home from everything they attend "mostly" for close to 6 weeks now-with the occasional break.  

They have been sick-either with colds, staff resistant infections or some other nutty health related reason and I am going completely insane. Warm weather pllllllleeeeaaaassseee come soon!!! 

Thank goodness I got to go to Chicago last weekend- as I came home to one of Habtamu's molluscum contagiosm "wart things" on his face completely inflamed to the size of a golf ball. NO Joke.  These things have been the most challenging part in terms of health in our adoption adjustment.  Can I just say how much I hate them!!! Debritu's finally went away in August and Habtamu's are still hanging around. Sure wish they were not on his face!  He's been home all week as we've been going to the doctors every other day- in hopes that the swelling in the tissue will reduce and they can operate on it to relieve the liquid pressure under the skin.  Not that I'm thrilled to have his face operated on by any means.  

He seems to be regressing and having a bit of trauma around the pain associated with this experience.  He's displaying an array of behaviors we have not witnessed since he first arrived- bursts of undefinable crying fits, emotional instability, clingy and then removed.. he's even playing games using Amharic that we haven't seen in months..  This week has been the hardest for him and for us (hardest in a long long time that is).  

Debritu is doing really well at the moment- her colds are currently gone (thank goodness they are taking turns on their illnesses) she is just fully blossomed (I hope) in her terrible two's and is challenging everything we try to do with her.  She's a very strong willed girly girl being raised by a bit of a tom boy-laugh.  Never did I see the day where I'd enjoy a tea party, painting nails, braiding hair, and trying on different shoes.. but she loves it all.. if it's girly- it oooozzzesss out of her-laugh.  Truly enjoyable outside of her temper tantrums... she's just as moody as Habtamu these days-laugh.

sorry- I haven't posted in a while- I'm busy tying a knot at the end of my rope and hanging on.. wish me luck!

Meme Stevens- Beautiful Song- get Kleenex

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