Saturday, September 30, 2006


I remarked recently to a friend how our children are ours for such a short while and how important it is to rejoice in every moment possible with them; yes, even the times when they use their sibling's scalp as an art easel.

I had no idea how those very words would come back to sit with me, like a raincloud with no breeze in the sky. A very sweet and very small baby girl at Baby T's orphanage died yesterday with a family here in the US who already loved her so much.

They had never held her. They had never kissed her. They had never heard her cry. They had not sat stroking her soft baby face and marveling at the goodness of life. They hadn't even had the chance to spend a night, exhausted and sleep deprived, with their child who just wouldn't sleep. I can only imagine the grief they are feeling tonight. But I can know the love they have for this child, who lived 10,000 miles away and whom they never met. And the worry, oh the worry, of the waiting parents whose children also wait in a place where medical care is the exception-not the rule.
So tonight, when I go to bed, I will pray one more time for H and Baby T., for the family who lost their precious baby yesterday, and for all the families and children who still wait to be together; and I'll make sure I stop and kiss the four miracles asleep in their beds that I have had the gift of borrowing from God for just one more day.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Art Lessons

Tonight, P and Dad were at a guitar fundraising concert so I decided to take the girls out to the mall. We planned to ride the merry-go-round, eat ice cream and do a little shopping.

While we were in the changing rooms at GapKids, I looked down and noticed the back of N's hair had a slight reddish hue to it. Since she had stitches in the exact same place a few months ago, I suddenly panicked.

I turned to C and said, "Oh no! N's hair! What happened?! It has red in it!"

She replied, "Ooohhh, yeeaah. That's marker."

I calmed down and asked, "Marker? How do you know that it's marker?"

She said very plainly, "Because I colored on her head with a red marker today."

Oh. Of course. Why didn't I think of that.
A FREE family event!

In times when you need a small fortune to do many family outings-particularly if your family members are many-this event is a welcome surprise!

On September 30, 2006, for one day only,
museums across the country will join
the Smithsonian Institution in its
long-standing tradition of offering free
admission to visitors.

You can check for a participating musuem in your area here.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

When it seems that all hope is lost...

Rely on the other traveling families who are adopting from Ethiopia.

We were thrilled yesterday to receive in the mail one of the disposable cameras that we placed in H and Baby T's welcome bags. Adoptive families send the cameras and then pictures are taken there and the camera is mailed back to the family to develop and have more pictures of their children. Sounds like a great concept, right? Well, in theory, it is; and, in theory, communism works, too. So, even after the warnings from other families that cameras were not returned or pictures were of every other child at the orphanage except theirs, we still believed (when the camera arrived) that we would have pictures---27 of them to be exact.

So, this afternoon, after taking N and CB on an outing to the Children's Museum and for lunch, we stopped and dropped off the camera for one hour processing. Needless to say, it was a full 6 hours later before we were able to return and claim our pictures. It should have clued me in when the total was 38 cents for the pictures, but I held out hope. I ripped open the package only to find two very blurry, very dark pictures that may or may not have been taken of our baby. I handed off the photo cd that came with our negatives to P with the hopes that if a picture was on there our own personal geek squad could find it. No dice.

Sadly, I came to terms with the fact that the prospect for new pictures was bleak. There haven't been many families traveling during the court closure and the first families traveling will be traveling with us. But, just when it seemed all was lost, two families just posted pictures from their recent trips to Ethiopia and guess who we ended up getting pictures of after all???

Finally, in something blue!!!

Is he always sleeping?

Nope! Not always--Better rest while you can, little man, your big sisters can't wait to play with you!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Almost Open!

Our adoption agency is reporting that their lawyer in Ethiopia believes the courts will be re-opening on Monday, October 4th after the court closure around the Ethiopian New Year (where they rang in 1999! a few weeks ago-but that's a story for another post.
We are optimistic that next week should bring us some news about our official court date and then hopefully after that our embassy date. Once the embassy date has been set, then we can begin making travel arrangements. There are 10 families in our group, I believe, and only 3 embassy dates can be set per week. Our agency's appointments are on Wednesdays. We just don't know how they discern who of those 10 families gets one of the first embassy dates so that could stretch our wait out a few weeks longer than anticipated, but again, we're optimistic. (Jer 29:11-Go Aunt A!!) Here's to good news in the coming week and a Happy 1999 to you all!
Accidental Adoption

This comes from another adoptive family. Hope you get a laugh!

Have you ever noticed that you hear all the time about "accidental"pregnancies, but never about couples who experience "accidental"adoptions?Can you imagine:Honey, sit down. I have some news for you.What is it?Well, I don't know how to say this, so I'll just come out with it. Iwent out to the mailbox today and ... well, we got an I-171H.A what?!? An I-171H? As in, we're going to have a(nother) baby?!?It looks that way.But how? We've been so careful! I put away all the blank I-600Aforms. Didn't you hide our homestudy update?Of course I did. But don't forget, there was that one night...What night? (pauses) Ohhh, that night. But it was only once. We werejust messing around. I didn't print clearly. I didn't even use ink!(pauses again) But it was kind of fun.(giggles)It was, wasn't it? I'll never forget how cute you looked getting yourfingerprints.So now we've got our I-171H, eh? But that doesn't always mean you'lladopt, does it? I mean, shouldn't you see the agency or something,make sure everything's okay?I already did.And?I'm five documents along.Five documents! And they're all notarized, certified andauthenticated okay?Just great. There was one small scare when the agency couldn't seethe Notary's middle initial, but it showed up just fine under themagnifying glass.Thank God. And you, honey? Are you feeling okay?I'm feeling fine. As long as I know you're happy about this.Happy? I'm thrilled! It's always a shock at first when something likethis happens, but of course I'm happy.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Inside Scoop

These are the remaining photos from their welcome bags, showing the inside of the house (or at least the parts most relevant to them). Hopefully, we'll be finished with out basement remodel before H and Baby T are home, but for now these are the most used rooms aboard the ark!

The family room and main deck on the ark.

The galley and center of most on board meals.

The, and I mean this literally, poop deck. If you look closely enough, the little pooper is asleep in her crib.

The crew's sleeping quarters.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

For the out of towners

Some of you have requested photos of the "ark" and all the rooms on board. These are actually photos taken (by Uncle N and Aunt A) that we used to create a photo flip book to send in H's welcome bag. Hopefully, it gave her and gives you who haven't been here, an idea of where we live:

The outside of the ark!

If you look really carefully off to the East, you'll see CT. No kidding, folks, it's that flat in our backyard!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Follow the signs

The handwritten sign found on a pile of dirty clothes tonight in daugher B's room after prayers.

"These clothes are dirty."

Just in case I was wondering.
First Dates

I've been thinking about the perception of our home and what H and Baby T will think about it (to some extent the actual structure itself, but moreso the people it contains) when they arrive home, hopefully before Thanksgiving. **Hopefully, there will be an update on our court date and subsequently our embassy date as the courts should be gearing up to reopen any day now!**
I've mentioned to a few people the strange sense I've had lately about the first meeting with H and Baby T, but especially with H because she is no longer a baby. I'm going to assume that with Baby T, as with all my babies, we'll be given a "grace period", so to speak, whereby he'll think we're just grand as long as the food going in maintenance matches the food coming out maintenance; until such time as he joins the ranks of his older siblings in wondering, "Just HOW did I EVER wind up with these two knuckleheads as parents?" Anyone who is doubting me, clearly either never was or does not currently have an adolescent child (or more) living with them. Our resident adolescent has taken to watching his mom and dad do something just short of catastrophic embarassment and quickly responding, "And they're going to let YOU ALL adopt. Geez!"
But at least with him, we started at the beginning and had our "first date etiquette" in play for a while while we got used to one another. I find myself wondering, as one might do before going out on a first date with someone upon whom you REALLY want to make a good impression:
"Will he like me?" "Whatever will she think of this hair? I mean curly and red---scary! Not to mention all those little dots all over your face." "Will I say the right things?" "What if he doesn't like me?" "I don't really sound like THAT, do I?" and did I mention, "I really hope he likes me!" Except this isn't just a first date with the opportunity to give a phony phone number at the end and never see them again---it's a first date for keeps, which ups the ante quite a bit in my book. My hope is that we'll both venture slowly into this relationship and not scare each other off, maybe be "friends" for a little while, and see how we like it. Perhaps by the time Baby T is just starting to wonder how he found his way on to this particular ark, his sister, H, will be coming into a new kind of "grace period" the kind that comes after knowing someone for a while and accepting them for who they are and loving them freckles and all.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


Unfortunately, this scene is not terribly uncommon in my home. I'm starting to wonder WWET? (What would Ethiopians think?)

Searching for life

I don’t know if you have heard about this site, but it is a great thing. Thanks, F, for sending this along for the blog. Look for it in the links as well.
Next time you want to do a Google search use It gives the same search results, but every time you use it, their agency donates money to pro-life charities such as.... EWTN, Priests for Life, Human Life International, American Life League, Population Research Institute, Project Rachel, Sisters of Life, Human Life Alliance, The Women's Center of Chicago, Children of the Rosary, etc... My dear friend, F, who has been around since the 6th grade also informed me that it was started by two Catholic guys, both married and from Chicago--one of whom has SEVEN (yes she put it in all caps!) kids---and thought for some strange reason that we might relate. Hmmm, I wonder whyever she thought that. I mean we might have known them if one of them had SIX kids(Unless she knows something I don't!) Thanks again, F!!! We love you!
God bless you and have a great day!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Blink and you might miss it

In anticipation of our two new children, we took a look at our current pace of life and decided to do some downsizing. First off, because we just aren't as young as we used to be (pause while Dad chimes in with, "You're HOW old???") Secondly, because the sheer volume of activity starts to increase exponentially, I believe, once you begin running zone defensive parenting and can no longer accomodate the man-to-man defense. But mostly, because that's not why we decided to become parents and have a family.

We believe that God is a God who enjoys a good laugh, in the same way that a parent chuckles when they go to Open House night at school to find the letter their 2nd grade daughter has left tells all about her "rainbow shirt" except she's forgotten the "r" in "shirt". (Not that WE'VE ever had that happen) So when we jokingly said during our pre-cana class that we thought we'd have a dozen kids we're beginning to wonder if God isn't using this to give us a spelling lesson of sorts.

But this is not about the number of children we, or anyone else, ends up parenting. This is about answering what Stephen Covey calls a "higher yes." That is not that what you choose to do is more or less important or can quantify your time as more or less busy than others, but that you have prioritized certain things, things that God has specifically placed on your heart, and so for you other things can wait while you answer that call.(Thanks again, C, for sharing this concept.) As we finish the room renovations around the house (trust me when I say the outcome of the ark project would have been radically different if Noah had to deal with the Building and Zoning people in our village) and the medical preparations and educational plans, etc... we've needed to ground ourselves in what and why we follow the path set forth in front of us and when I read this today, I was again reminded why.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Need a lift?

Are you looking for a quick way for a prayer break during the day? My friend, C, sent this along as what she referred to as a "bite sized bible study". It is a daily meditation, provided by Regnum Christi and sent directly to your email each day. It also follows the lectionary so that it matches the daily Mass readings! You can sign up by clicking here and filling in your email address on the right hand sidebar. Thanks, C, this one's a keeper!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Not as lame as we thought

We're back! We had a wonderful weekend trip away. We stayed in a lovely, historic, hotel Friday night and spent all day out out and about on Saturday.
We actually didn't arrive at the hotel until about 10pm on Friday night, after coming from a Couple's Scripture Study at church. We had been pretty frazzled trying to get out of the house on time and make sure we brought everything we needed with us and that the kids were fed and their aunt and uncle had phone numbers, soccer schedules, medication schedules (remember the strep?) and --we can't forget--pizza money! We had been planning to sit and have a leisurely meal of pasta with homemade meatballs and sauce, garlic bread and garlic roasted broccoli and to chat with Uncle N and Aunt A before we left, but when we found CB standing next to the water cooler saying very loudly, "I'm sorry, Mommy! I'm sorry!" the best we could do was send the bigger kids for towels-lots of them-and quickly grab a few bites of dinner before rushing out the door. It must upset the forces of evil (yes, Lizardo, I said "EEEvil" as in the "fruits of the devil") so much that when a couple is trying to spend some time renewing and refreshing their marriage the vibe around the house gets pretty weird. As a matter of fact, just as we were leaving, Uncle N said, "The mojo around this place is so bad that if you get home and your house has burned down, don't--blame--us." Yikes! I am here today to tell you that the house is still in one piece, as for Uncle N and Aunt A, though, I'm not so sure.
Since we had basically missed dinner, though, we decided at 10:30 PM (yes, my old married friends with children, they still have a 10:30 PM!)to go out to eat. It was such a strange feeling to be going OUT at that time. We enjoyed the whole weekend along those same lines: going and coming as we pleased, stopping at stores that didn't pipe High School Musical in over the sound system, and eating at places where they didn't serve our dinner in a bag with a toy. As our final stop for the night, we went out for dinner. It was to be our last uninterrupted meal with adult conversation and not one trip to the restroom the whole time! Except that to our suprise,we had stumbled in to a "take your children to dinner night" where as we listened to the families laughing and enjoying each other's company, we smiled and realized that's why it was so good to go away--because it was so much better to come back home.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Feeling the baby kick

Over the past few weeks, I feel like I'm hitting the second trimester. We've seen the ultrasound pictures, if you will, and survived the morning sickness of worry over completing paperwork and receiving a referral. We've been at the point for a few weeks, where we really feel good. Things are all falling into place as they should, we've still got that mid-pregnancy energy and all seems right with the world. Funny thing about the second trimester, though; it (for me) has always been the point where the baby's kicks start to be recognizable. For me it is a sure sign that the baby is starting to put his or her two cents in and make sure to get mom's attention---especially when everything else has quieted down. This particular event passes without note for everyone else, even my husband will still look at the baby (who is now 2) and say something like, "Wow! I just realized we have four kids!"
I hadn't anticipated the kicks of adoption. Oh, they're different all right, but they serve the same purpose. When we received these photos of H and Baby T opening their "Welcome Bags" that we made them, I felt the first kicks. It was like a sudden realization that the kids in the photos who we have been loving, praying for, worrying about and missing were REAL. kick. kick. kick.
Then the kids saw the pictures and CB, I'm pretty certain, felt a kick when she realized that the sparkle shirt on H and the Bears sleeper on Baby T were the clothes she held in her little hands and lovingly helped place in their welcome bags. After looking at the picture for a while, okay maybe a LONG while, it dawned on me that they were also holding the photo albums we made them both on their laps. kick.
It has happened a few more times since then, usually when all is quiet and I'm alone with my thoughts, which is rare, but they're already getting mom's attention in their own little ways.

Friday, September 15, 2006

NY Times article

In our referral paperwork, both H and Baby T are reported as being Ethiopian Orthodox Christian. H even has memories of "going to the church and lighting candles at prayer sessions and attending Sunday school classess."
As the statistics go, about half of all Ethiopians are Orthodox Christian, about half are Muslim and a small percentage practice other religions.
This article is from this upcoming Sunday's NYTimes. It is from the travel section, but gives such great information about the country and the history of Orthodox Christianity that I thought it was worth a read. Thanks again, Mom for sending it!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

One of the many reasons why we love them

Who you ask? Who do we love so much? Why Uncle N and Aunt A, of course. Well, okay, you might say, but why mention them specifically? I mean in a family with a combined total of 12 siblings there are many aunts and uncles to love---not to mention the unofficial aunties and uncles we've amassed. But this particular reason, this particular weekend that these particular two are drawing special recognition has to do with their offer to spend Friday night and Saturday day with our kids. So, my dear husband of 13 years and I are escaping away for the night and the following day taking comfort in the knowledge that they are in very capable hands. We figured that this will be our last chance for a little while, at least, (note: last night alone--not including time spent in the hospital after births of babies #3 and #4--was in Winter 2001--thanks Mom!) to get a chance to eat dinner in more than 15 minutes, wake up without the courtesy of someone crying for breakfast, oops I mean an alarm clock, and have an intelligible, uninterrupted conversation with each other. So thanks again, N and A, for your kindness and service-laden love. We love you! and we promise to return on Saturday!!!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Feeding Frenzy

Thanks again to A and S, we are so grateful for these little glimpses into H and Baby T's life in Ethiopia.

The mealtime report from S was:

"Baby T was extremely displeased, letting everyone know that it was time for his lunch. The nannies were literally running to get his bowl of food--and the minute they put a spoonful in his mouth, he was content!"

No one has told Baby T yet, but with 5 siblings, those kind of survival skills will come in handy!

(Below, finally with food!)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

New Pictures!!!

Many thanks to A and her husband/photographer, S, who sent us these pictures of our kids from when her husband traveled to visit their darling daughter, who is a nursery-mate of Baby T!

Just a couple of our little guy who seems very interested in the camera or cameraman. He seems pretty content---possibly because he is wearing a gender neutral outfit instead of a pink or flowered one. (All the kids at the orphanage share ALL the, blue or flowered in his case!)

This is a picture of H (on right) with her best friend at one of the going away parties at Layla House, our agency's orphanage.

And in other news...

We've got another case of strep in the house! N started her round of antibiotics last night. Please someone tell me that the end is in sight--and that mothers are given a natural immunity to strep at childbirth!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Where were you?

I received a call from my friend A, who is as close to me in spirit as she is far away in distance. She was just calling to reflect on the events in our nation 5 years ago. She commented how each generation seems to have a definining moment, an event in their history that eclipses all others and leaves a permanent mark on the memory (think JFK, think Pearl Harbor, etc...) She remembered that day, with us as recent transplants to NY, how she couldn't reach us on the phone (the phone lines were basically jammed-but she didn't know that) and how she called and called until she and I talked that night. I remembered how I was stuck in my locked down 2nd grade classroom with 23 , (then 22, then 21, etc...) blissfully ignorant 7 and 8 year olds until their ride home arrived. I remember not knowing where my kids (just P and B at the time) were and hearing rumors that the bridges across the Hudson had all been closed to traffic, leaving my husband and I on opposite sides of the river, or so I thought. It is amazing to me that it has been 5 years since that day and that we have 2 new children since, and soon to be 2 more who will know this story from only what they read in their History books. After some consideration, however, I think my friend A had it right. We owe it to our chidren who weren't there to remember. Our children will know this story from us. They will know where we were and how out of control that day felt and how we worried for each other and waited until we could simply hear one another's voice. They will know it because we will take the time to remember and reflect and share it with them. So, my question to you all, what do you remember from that day? Where were you? What will you do to help your children know this horrific yet heroic event in American history is more than a lesson in their History books? And a thank you, A, for reminding me to never forget.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Group A and Strep

Seems as though we've come down with some cases of strep throat here on the ark. It's just the regular run of the mill strep from what the doctor says so the group A in the title is actually referring to some good news on our adoption front:

We have been assigned to the first group of cases (hence the 'A') to be filed in the Ethiopian courts once they reopen after the New Year's holiday. There are, I think, a total of 10 families in our group whose cases will be heard some time in mid-October. We haven't been given the actual court date yet, but once that is assigned, our agency will begin setting appointments at the US Embassy for H and Baby T. Given the past histories of traveling groups, it seems as though travel will occur sometime around mid-November which would bring everyone home in time to celebrate Thanksgiving.
And a little child shall lead them

Okay, well he may not be so "little" anymore, but "the boy" (who is now bigger than his mom when she graduated from college!)found this video clip about the work in Africa of the organization ONE all by himself. Personally, I think he's just worried when I started this blog that I might actually learn how to use the internet all by myself and it shocks and frightens him---along with other family members who shall remain nameless.

It makes me proud of him, not that he is trying to one-up me in computer savvy; which he has already done, but that his conscience led him to this story and he felt it was important enough to share with us so that we could share it with others.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Just like me

Shortly after we accepted the referral from our agency over the phone, we received, by mail, the "official" referral packet. It contained a few million more papers to sign and return, but it also contained the photos of our kids which we had only seen via email at that point. I need to point out that EVERYONE here at the ark from big to small had ALL seen the pictures--even down to N (known by many as Frances). When we first saw the photos on line we all oohed and aahed appropriately and despite our printer quality; printed out these first photos to share. Now, I have known for some time that our printer was not of the highest quality, but it got the job done; or so I thought until the day the real photos arrived in the mail. As I opened the packet and went to share the photos with the kids the conversation between our 3 year old, CB, and I went something like this:

Me: Oh look, here are the pictures of Baby Thomas and Helen (showing first the baby's photo)

CB: (smiling) That's Baby Thomas.

Me: Yes, and here is your big sister, Helen.

CB: (sudden look of shock on her face) Mamma, Helen is BLACK!

Me: (probably with the same look of shock on my face) Well, yes she is. That's how God made her. Her skin is a different color than yours or mine.

CB: (shock now fading to a three year old's disappointment) Mamma, but I want her (now pointing at her arm) to be just like me.

I smiled at her and reminded her of the many people she knows and loves who don't look exactly like her and after a minute she smiled and said she was going outside to play with the kids. But as I watched her run off, it struck me that what she said may be at the heart of people's hesitance towards adoptions, particularly those of the transracial kind. How will we connect to this child who is not born of us? who maybe looks different than us?

When each of our four birth children was born before they were even a week old people commented on how much they looked like my husband or I. I don't think anyone means anything by it; I think it's almost a reflex to seeing a new baby. "He's so cute. He looks just like his dad!" or "She's adorable. I'll bet she looks just like you as a baby!" And honestly, as a parent, there is something innately satisfying and, perhaps even a little vain, in seeing the children who are only here because, as Brad Paisley puts it "all because two people fell in love."

But somewhere along the line, we decided that family meant more than the same gene pool. As a matter of fact, we've seen four times what our particular combinations of DNA produce and it may be a good idea to bring a few better, I mean, different chromosomes to the table (just kidding P, B, CB, and N-we love you just as you are).

And now we're hoping that when Helen and Baby Thomas arrive that they don't look at us and think, "Boy. I wish they looked just like us."

Friday, September 08, 2006

Here they are!

We're pleased to introduce Helen Marie, age 8, and Thomas Bedilu, age 6 months; joining our family via an international adoption from Ethiopia. These are the referral pictures that we received when we accepted their placement at the beginning of August.

Our dossier arrived in Ethiopia at the beginning of June, just about one week after these siblings arrived in our agency's orphanage. We were hoping for the referral of an infant, but were also "open" to a set of siblings and when we received the phone call about these kids, we just knew they were it!

Why The Ark?
For those of you who don't know the story of Noah and the ark, here's a brief summary: Noah, faithful follower of God and certifiable senior citizen, married with three kids is commanded by God to build a giant, wooden ark to survive the destruction of all mankind (and animal kind). Short of Noah's family and the pairs of every kind of animal brought on to the ark (land animals of course; water animals just stayed in the, well, water) everything would perish. So, 100 years (or, for the sake of argument, a REEAALLY long time ) later the ark is complete, the flood comes and Noah's family survives the storm so to speak. A rainbow comes out and God promises "never again!"

But, what you ask, does this have to do with us? Well, for those of you who know me from HA mom's group, you'll know that during our last year's scripture study we talked about this story at one point from the perspective of Noah's courage to do what God asked. I mean really, if YOUR neighbor just up and started building a ginormous wooden sailing ship in the back yard with the promise of a great flood and then, when the animals started to board...well, at the very least, you might not have invited Noah and his family to the next block party, or perhaps you'd alert the neighborhood association about this eyesore "parked" in the yard or as a last resort, call in the authorities about the crazy old guy living next door.

So, in our scripture study, we talked about being brave and doing what we felt God called each of to do, whether it was met with strange looks or comments from others. (Not that anyone would look at a family of 6 and look strangely at the parents for adding two more children by-dare we say-conscious choice) And we asked each other the question, "Are you building your ark?" to which my friend, AM, quickly responded, "Ohmygosh! You guys are TOTALLY building an ark!" I am pretty certain she meant we were answering our call and not that we were the crazy neighbors next door.

So our story is either brave or crazy, but either way, we're building the ark.