Sunday, March 25, 2012

A one minute microwave cake!

 Today at the store, we saw this! It's an add one egg..put in the microwave for one minute cake.
We laughed, but just had to try it. 


The instructions....

 This is what was inside the box. It actually makes four cakes..all for only ¥8...a little over $1

We mixed the egg into a "paste"



Added the mix


And one minute later had a cake...


It looks discussing, but is not all that bad. It will be a good snack for the boys!


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Spring!


We went outside today to enjoy the amazing weather! The boys were so happy to finally find a tree they can climb. Most of the tree's in the city are new, young ones...so to find one strong enough to support them was a treat!









Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Ethiopia and China Comparison

On our first trip to Ethiopia in 2009, we felt more like we were in China than in Africa.  It seemed as though everywhere we looked, there was something that was a mirror image of the land we call home.  On this trip, we made an effort to see Ethiopia as it's own place and soak up it's unique culture...
BUT...
the similarities were still striking.

Here's a look! 

Livestock in the Most Random Places
China--you can't see it, but there were all sorts of critters running around here
Ethiopia-sheep, goats, cows



 Construction Coverings
China--The covering serves as a covering until the building is ready to be "unveiled"
Ethiopia--it also serves to keep the debris from falling


Modern Malls
China

Ethiopia





Satellite Dishes
China
Ethiopia





Juxtaposition of Open Space and Mass Humanity
China
Ethiopia





Traffic
China 
Ethiopia





Sidewalks
China
Ethiopia--We've heard the sidewalks actually come from China





Bug-eyed Busses
China
Ethiopia



Tin Housing
China
Ethiopia





Other things we saw in Ethiopia
that remind us of China

We'll be working to find the comparison pictures sometime soon.
See the Chinese characters?  Yep, that's in Ethiopia!
High-piled trucks with someone sitting on top
Walk-over bridges in Ethiopia are actually built by and fashioned after the Chinese
Sifting through dirt to make concrete

Why isn't she home yet?

Let me preface this with YES! SHE WILL COME HOME!  We just have to wait for a while.

The current average time between court and pickup is anywhere from 3 to 5 months.  We have been told to expect 5.  Either way, that puts us traveling sometime in the summer!

So why does it take so long?  "She's legally yours."  "You are being forced to abandon her."  "They can't make you leave her."  "What right do they have?" These are all things we've heard, but here is why...


THIS IS THE SAME NO MATTER WHAT AGENCY IS USED.  After we pass court, there are a lot of steps that must happen and it takes one in order to do the next.
-the Women's and Children's Office must write various letters at various times  requesting certain documents be issued
-a court decree must be issued
-a new birth certificate must be issued with the adoptive parents' names on it
-an Ethiopian passport must be issued 
-documents must be translated and authenticated at various times
-an appointment with an US Embassy approved doctor must be scheduled
-a medical exam complete with lab work must be completed
-a medical report must be written
-all of the above paperwork (plus MUCH more) must be submitted to the US Embassy
-the US Embassy must accept the paperwork (very often they want something to be edited)
-the US Embassy has a certain number of days to open the file, then more to review it
-The US Embassy usually requests more information.  They do an investigation to make sure that there is no corruption going on in the adoption process.
-The US Embassy must invite the adoptive family to come back for a visa interview
-An entry visa is placed in the child's Ethiopian passport

If you think about the US and how long it takes to do ANYTHING (get a new Social Security card, get a copy of an already-existing birth certificate, schedule a doctor appointment, wait for lab results, etc), it's totally understandable why it takes so long! 

No, you're not going crazy.  We didn't have to do it this way for the boys.  The basic reason is that in 2010, we didn't have to appear for the court proceedings.  Court and everything else listed above all happened while we held on to their pictures.  So while the wait is likely to be torturous, we are so blessed that we got to kiss our baby girl in the middle of all that waiting!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Happy Birthday Baby Girl





Happy Birthday Alyia Bontu. 

Mommy and Daddy are so honored that we got to celebrate your birthday with you. 
You are so special and we love you so much.
For a long time, we prayed and wondered if our family was done after your brothers joined our family. We finally decided that we were not, and began the process that would bring us you! We prayed for you daily, and wondered what you would be like. From the first moment we saw your picture, we knew that you were the right one for us. We can't wait till you are home, and can join this family forever. 
We love you so much, and are honored that we get to be your Mommy and Daddy!

Happy First Birthday!

Monday, March 12, 2012

All about Alyia Bontu

While we were in Ethiopia for court, we had the privilege of visiting our daughter.  In fact, she stayed with us for 4 nights.  We spent a total of about 5 days with her.  It's so interesting to get to know a child--your own child--when they come with an already developed personality.  It's just so much fun!

Here are some of the things we learned about Little Miss Alyia

~She is a happy baby


~She is a quick learner

~She really is a smart girl

~She LOVES water


~She is inquisitive

~She gives kisses by nibbling on your nose


~She can now walk 7 steps

~Any reflective surface is a definite source of entertainment


~She is VERY protective of her sippy cup

~She can say Mama, Addy (Daddy), hi, and boo

video

~She will have no problem defending herself against her two big brothers

~She is a girlie-girl...our princess


~She is nurturing

~She likes to flirt with Daddy

~She likes to cuddle


~She is a little musician

~She only cries (okay...screams) when she wants a bottle






Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Two Sides Of Adoption...

The next few posts will be about our trip to Ethiopia for court
Thursday March 8th, 2012 was a special day for us. After months of paperwork, staring at a picture,  and dreaming of our little girl, we had an appointment with the Ethiopian Adoption Judge. We would be interviewed by her, and if all went well, named the legal parents of B.

This is the side of adoption that most people see. The newness, the bringing the baby home. The excitement, and the new found hope for the child. This is a side that we experienced in 2009, and it was wonderful. 

But there is another side....

On that same morning, just abut when we were supposed to leave for court, an Ethiopian-Muslim woman and her four kids arrived at out Guest House. The kids were clean, well fed, very polite, and very friendly. Because of that, no one gave it a second thought.  The waitress made them breakfast, and they ate it quietly, and went outside to play soccer with the other foreigners who were there. 

But soon we heard the real story from the Ethiopian employees. This lady's husband had died the month before, she had no money, and in fact was there to relinquish her children. She was waiting for the In-Country Coordinator (who was at the courthouse with us) to take the children to the care center. She was planning to say good-bye to her children. At the same time we welcomed ours.  We came back after court, and saw she and the children were still there. Both the Mom and children had stopped crying, resigned to their fate.  

When we walked into court, it was not a traditional courtroom. It was essentially a DMV waiting room, off the Judge's chambers. We all sat in chairs that ran along the wall. While were devouring the police reports and background of our girl, we were oblivious to the Ethiopian women who were being called one by one in the same Judge's chambers that we were scheduled for. We soon realized that each woman was being called in to tell the Judge that they wanted to place their child for adoption. They were all crying, and had the same empty look that the Mother at our hotel had. 

We saw the tears in their eyes, while at the same time we had tears in ours. Theirs were of sadness, and grief for the children they were leaving behind. Ours were of joy, and excitement for the future.


In our adoption classes we have to take, we talk about the triangle, the three points being the child, the birth family, and the adoptive family.  The triangle shows what all three parties gain and loose from the process of adoption.  But we tend to only look at the good and ignore the fact that we celebrate only because another family grieves; our joy comes only because of another's tragedy. 

Fortunately, the woman with the four kids, ended up not relinquishing them.  The Coordinator sat down with her, and discovered her major need was money. Clearly she had the ability to care for them, if only she had the money. So our agency told them that instead of sending the kids to America, they will have someone from American sponsor them to give them the money they need each month to survive. The family began their long journey home--a journey the Mom had expected to take by herself. 

So while we celebrate and welcome a new daughter into our family, 
our prayer is that we will always remember the sacrifice of a family in a small city in Ethiopia.