Thursday, December 31, 2009

It's already next year in Addis Ababa.

I'm a weepy mess.

It's crazy.  I keep telling myself to pull it together.

I found out yesterday that the package we sent to our little girl was not able to be delivered.  The kind people who were taking it to her for us had the great misfortune to have several pieces of their luggage lost- as in really lost and not found while they were in Ethiopia.  Can you imagine?  It must have been very frustrating as one of the bags had all the mom's things in it and another was full of humanitarian aid items for the foster care center.  And much less important than any of those things, our little package was also inside one of those bags.

The things inside the bag are replaceable and Rebecca has already agreed to take another package for us when she goes to pick up her baby girl in 10 days.  (Thanks!)  But it was just such a huge bummer to me.  I had been picturing our girl with that little puppy and with pictures of us and someone sitting down with her to explain that these were her brothers and this was her mommy and daddy...  Okay, crying again.

Really, more than for her, the package was for US.  It was for us to feel a connection to her.  I mean, she's 2.  She might like the puppy, someone might put the clothes on her, she might flip through the photo book... but then she'll be off to play with her friends and do her 2 year old things.  The idea is really just for US to feel like she can hold in her hands something that we have held in ours until we can all be together and hold each other.

But no big deal, right???  She'll still have something from us in less than 2 weeks, so why all the fuss, Gayla???  Take it down a notch or two for Pete's sake!!!

But I just keep looking at her pictures- in particular the one where she is frowning at the camera and there are tiny tears starting to form in her eyes... and I read the referral report about her where it says she is "a very courageous girl" and I know that that really means that she is frightened and scared and unhappy, but doing a fair job managing it all.  And I just WEEP.

Okay.  Time to change my focus.  Tonight my husband and I are running a 5K at midnight ("Race Into the New Year"- I blame my friend Jill for getting me into this insanity) under a blue moon (2nd full moon in a month- very special!  especially on New Year's Eve!) and tomorrow we will start the year 2010- the year in which we will get to add a daughter and sister to our family.  We will hopefully get an update about her from our agency on Monday or Tuesday of next week, and hopefully be finding out about her court date within the next few weeks as well, and Rebecca will take our package and possibly even pics of our girl in a couple of weeks.  So... I need to focus on those positive things, right?  If my girl can be called "courageous" after all she has been through, surely I can hang in there too.

It's already past midnight in Addis Ababa.  My girl is sleeping her way into the new year.  Is it possible to miss someone you've never even met?  'Cause I think I do.

Welcome 2010.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"Baby Book"

Hey fellow adoptive fams... have you found a good version of a baby book for your adoptive child/children?  I've only found one and I wasn't crazy about it.  Of course I will scrapbook stuff for our girl, but I have an actual 'baby book' where I recorded stuff for each of my boys and was wondering about getting one for her.  Ideas?  Suggestions?

Monday, December 28, 2009

12 Months

Last year around this time found us praying about where we were to adopt from. I clearly remember the day in January 09 when we knew. For reasons that I don't really understand and cannot begin to explain, the day we knew we were to adopt from Ethiopia found me flat on my face in my dining room crying out to God. Literally. Laying on my hardwoods flat on my face. I just fell out of my chair and onto the floor and began weeping. I don't know what I was really going on, but it was like something in me was mourning- DEEPLY mourning. It was an ache. I truly don't have words for it. Nothing like that has ever happened to me before. Was I crying for Africa? Was I mourning for my daughter-to-be and all that she was going to lose in this year? Was I facing my own fears of transracial adoption and all it would entail? It was all of that and more. I may never know all that was going on in that moment, but it was deep and spiritual and powerful and real.

But that time on the floor crying out to God set the stage for this journey. We have been blessed beyond reason by people who have supported us and our adoption in so many ways- from donating money to holding garage sales to listening to me talk about it incessantly... It's truly been amazing - the support we have felt. Just incredible. I feel like so many people have literally held my hand through the whole thing. Even something as simple as moms on the playground after school just asking me about it and really being interested in my answers- that has meant so much to me.

From paperwork to wait list to referral... it's been an amazing 12 months. God has also used this time to create a deep and significant healing in me- one that I am so glad to have dealt with before we got news about our girl! His timing is amazing- such a gift.

And now here we are. We know her face. We know her name. We know a bit of her story. But I have to tell you... now that the initial fervor of excitement has worn off, it's just not enough. I need HER. My girl. Here. In my house. In my arms. I am completely crying as I am typing this because I just want to KNOW her! It's not enough to look at the same 7 pictures over and over... it's the strangest thing, but I long to hear her voice. What does she sound like when she talks? When she cries? What does she look like when she smiles? What makes her laugh? Is she ticklish? WHAT DOES HER LAUGH SOUND LIKE???

Okay, I seriously had to just take a break and get myself together. I've stopped crying. For the moment. But, this is hard. Sometimes I look at her referral snapshots and just melt. But honestly, other times I look at those same photos and just think "There is a little girl that I do not know" and feel nothing. My agency is due to give me an update on her soon- I'm thinking by the beginning of next week surely. I need an update. I need more information. I need to see more photos.

But mostly I just need my girl.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


I dreamed about her last night. It was fuzzy and short and just images seemingly randomly put together, but there she was... my little girl... in my foggy dream.

I dreamed that the wonderful family from Houston who is taking her a package was giving it to her and she was so animated! She was doing the cute little leg stomping dance that my boys would do at the age of 2 when they were really excited about something- you know, kinda like running in place. It wasn't necessarily our package she was so excited about... but she was happy. And that was fun to see.

And best of all...

...when she smiled she wrinkled her nose.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Other Stuff

Christmas time is the PERFECT time to get our referral. It has enhanced everything about this season of rejoicing for me.

We are sending a little care package to our girl via a family who gets to go get their child the week of Christmas! I'm not sure how much she is told/understands about her new family, but in the package I sent a little outfit, a photo book with labeled pictures of all of us, and I wanted to include a little snuggly toy for her. Here is a photo of the items:

Explanations: it has to be small so that it will all fit inside a gallon sized ziplock bag so as not to impose on the family that is taking and delivering it for us. And the clothes: not really so very excited about what I finally settled on to send her, but the cute fleecy things I bought would NOT fit in the ziplock, so I knew I had to keep the clothes small and simple. And in case you are wondering about long sleeves and long pants, Addis Ababa is in the mountains and the days average between the upper 60's and 70's, and at night it can get into the upper 40's. I have been f-f-f-freeeeeezing this week in Tulsa, so maybe that made me err on the side of being warm. The photo book is a little baby-ish looking but it is durable and sturdy and really, I doubt she will think it's baby-ish at all. And then the toy...

I did not love that little pink elephant thingy and it definitely IS baby-ish... but it was the only cuddly thing I could find that would fit inside the baggie. But en route to the Fed-Ex office I impulsively decided to swing by Kiddlestix to see if I could find a better snuggly for her. I looked at all the girly stuff- dolls, kittens, cutesy-cute things... but none of them seemed right. I almost got a kangaroo w/ a little joey in it's pouch, but then I saw this little guy:

And I knew it had to be hers!!! No, it's not girly or fluffy or pink, but it has such a sweet and comforting face... it was right. So I did the switcheroo in the car and now the package with this sweet little puppy is on it's way to the family who will deliver it to our little girl! I am hoping that they have the chance to snap a few photos of her opening everything. That would be awesome!

Now... on to other things.

We went to Garden Glow at the Philbook- which I totally love! The boys made ornaments that we sent to my brother in Iraq and other ornaments for the birds to eat.

Every year I have the boys paint a new ornament. Next year our girl will get to paint one too!

And yes, that is the tree skirt that Ben is wearing AS a skirt. Crazy boy! :-)

The tree has a few new things this year as well. (That's the Ethiopian flag on, you guessed it, a hair bow!!!)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Answering a Few Questions...

I have had SUCH a blast showing my baby girl's picture all over town. For the first few days I had to stop myself from whipping them out to show her cute face to random strangers and check-out people.

Most of the people who read this blog ON the blog are fellow adoptive fams, but this blog also uploads to Facebook and most of the people there have been wondering about the process. Many of my Facebook friends have been wondering when they can see pix and when we get to go get her. So, here's the scoop:

I'm not allowed to post photos online until she passes court in Ethiopia. Right now we are waiting to hear when our court date will be. So for you out-of-towners who just don't want to wait that long to see her sweet-but-unsmiling face, email (or FB message) me your address and I'll make sure you get a Christmas card! Of course she is adorably and prominently featured. :-)

Next, lots of you have asked about when we get to go get her. Well, the process is as follows:
1. Tons of paperwork (check)
2. Get on the wait list (check)
3. Get your referral (check!!!)
4. Child gets a court date in ET and hopefully passes through the first time. (Usually takes 2-3 months from referral date to get first court date.) If they don't pass the first time, they get a second date, etc...
5. Child gets a date at the US Embassy in Addis Ababa (usually 2-6 weeks after passing court)- and we travel as a family to take her to this appointment and bring her home!

So... we are waiting for #4, then of course #5!!! The earliest we could travel would be mid-March (but that would really be dream-land) and the latest it would be around the beginning of June.

I'm sure I'll remember to keep you posted. ;-)

So that's the scoop. Thanks for sharing our joy!!!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Here's how it went down...

So. Yesterday I was at work at my fantastic-totally-provided-by-God-to-help-pay-for-our-adoption job as a curriculum coach at Glenpool Elementary where I was helping some 4th grade teachers with some fluency testing. I had slipped my iPhone into my pocket (on silent), even saying to myself, "Sara is NOT going to call today, but just in case..." At around 11am, right when I had a boy in the middle of a 1 minute timed read, I heard my phone beep signaling that I had a message. I let the boy finish his read and then I slipped the phone out of my pocket to see who had called just in case. IT WAS AN (817) NUMBER!!! That's Ft. Worth which means THAT'S GLADNEY!!! I totally started shaking. I told the boy that he did a great job, but his teacher was going to have to finish up with him, sent him back into class and stuck my head into the classroom. The sweet teacher could tell there was something wrong with me and came quickly to the door. "I think I just got the call... my adoption call... my referral call..." At this point I was crying and she was telling me to "Go! Go!" and I was telling her that I didn't finish testing that boy nor did I record his scores but there they were and she could record them and she just kept saying, "Go! Go!" So... I started running through the halls. I stopped long enough to tell my friend Edna that I had gotten the call and that I was leaving and for her to tell the Principal that I was gone and who knows what else I said. I was completely bananas AND I HADN'T EVEN LISTENED TO SARA'S MESSAGE YET!!! So... I finally got into my little office, listened to the message I had been waiting for for 4 months 3 weeks and 2 days, quickly called her back to say that I was so excited and that Mick and I would meet at home within the hour and call her back. I grabbed my purse and my coat and RAN to my car, dialing Mick as I ran. He later described my call to him as "hysterical" and not in the "ha ha I get such a kick out of my wife" sense. ;-) I was shaking so much so I thought the best thing I could do would be to distract myself further and make a bunch of calls while I was driving. (I know, I know. You don't have to tell me.) I called my "team." My essentials. My peeps. The ones I would not make it through this life without. And if I didn't call them directly I instructed them to call each other. So thankful for these people. Andrea (one of my essentials) had agreed to come over and take pictures of the event and funnily enough we had just talked that morning about how I needed to make sure I was wearing waterproof mascara on the day of the call b/c she wasn't photoshopping my streaky eyes for me. ;-)

(BTW... I know this is long and you totally don't have to read all this. I'm writing it down so that I remember every detail and can someday share this story with my girl. :-)

So. I arrived at home to find my house in complete shambles! 2 baskets of unfolded laundry in the living room, the boxes where we store the Christmas decorations had not been put away, breakfast dishes all over the kitchen, boy's toys and craft materials strew about everywhere... a real mess. I was in such a manic state I literally RAN all over my house cleaning it and shoving the Christmas boxes and laundry where they would not be seen. I seriously looked around my house 1/2 an hour later and was amazed to discover that I had completely cleaned the living room, dining room and kitchen. Then Mick arrived, then Andrea arrived and being the artistic person that she is she completely re-arranged my dining room so that we could sit at the table but use the natural light from the kitchen to light the photos.

I think you will agree, she did a great job! There are lots more great pix, but since I am doing the ugly cry in most of them, we'll spare the internet and just save those for the scrapbook. You are welcome.

It was an amazing, moving, exciting, life changing experience. And at the same time it felt completely surreal. The most beautiful moment was after the call while Mick and I were getting ready to go eat lunch and I pointed at the sweet face on our computer screen that we had been learning about for the last 1/2 hour or so, the face that belonged to our new daughter- I pointed at that face and said, "Mick- what do you think about all this?" And Mick, never the person most prone to verbosity, said with big tears in his eyes, "I think... I think she looks like she's ours."

And that's when I melted into a puddle on the floor and literally had to be mopped up and squeezed into a bucket.

I told him that was the most wonderful thing he had ever said. And we just held each other.

But then he was hungry and so we went to lunch. I am not lying when I tell you that ALL DAY from the moment I looked at my phone and saw that area code I was completely manic. I was bananas! It was like I was drunk!!! We went to lunch at Hideaway and got the yummy chicken florentine pizza... and at one point while I was chewing Mick said, "This is really good!" I thought for a moment about the food in my mouth and replied, "I honestly can't taste it."

After lunch I scurried to Walgreens to print out copies of the photos so that I could start showing off my little lovely. I was so bonkers that the photo dude must have thought I was an idiot. He practically had to punch every button for me. I then decided that I had just enough time to run to Kelly's house and show her my baby girl before I had to pick the kids up from school... but I was wrong and I was 15 minutes late picking them up which meant that although it was great and important that I got to show Kel, it was a big huge bummer that I missed the pick-up-on-the-playground crowd at school because I love those gals and I couldn't wait to show them my pics!!!! Never mind... I made up for it today by getting to school early and staying late. :-)

I had to go to the office to get my boys b/c that's where they take abandoned children whose irresponsible parents haven't picked them up from school and so after I finally got to them I pulled them aside and said, "Boys! Remember when we talked about how one day soon someone was going to call us with news about our baby (that's what they have been calling her for months now) and that they would send us pictures and we would know her name and all that? Well today was that day! And here is a picture of your new sister!!!" I showed them a photo and Jack took the picture in his hands, gasped and said, "Our sister!" Ben looked at the photo, then looked at me and said in a dead-pan voice, "Is she a boy?" ...and that pretty much sums up my children. :-)

The rest of the day was a blur as I just stared at those photos and read and re-read all her info. My parents came over to see the photos and we went out to dinner to celebrate... but again, I didn't really taste the food. And it was Thai! ;-)

Today I woke up and the first thing I saw were her photos which I had stuck around our bathroom mirror. ...And I just smiled.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Today was the day that I met my daughter!

My beautiful daughter who is 2 years and 4 months old.

My beautiful daughter who, although she isn't smiling in ANY of her photos, has the most lovely eyes and kissiest lips I have ever seen.

She is real, but this only seems partly-real. I've cried so much I am exhausted. I am overwhelmed!

She's my girl.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

waiting and UNOFFICIAL hope

I don't know why I didn't discover this sooner- it must have been God hiding it from me to maintain my sanity. So many of my fellow Gladney bloggers (who I freely admit to online stalking) have referred to it several times over the past year, but somehow I never looked into it for myself. Until now. What is it that I am referring to? Say it with me Gladney bloggers:

The Gladney FBI UNOFFICIAL list of, well, EVERYTHING!!!

It's unofficial, but it places you in order according to your wait time and and your gender and age preferences. So since I discovered this list last week I just can't stay away from it! And here's why...

According to this UNOFFICIAL list, WE are the next family waiting open to a girl between 18-39 months!!!

So what does that mean? Well, officially it means nothing. There could potentially be many families NOT listed on that site who are actually "in front" of us. But Gladney does not do the number thing like many other agencies do. They just give the average wait list times and in many ways I can see how this could work to keep families from getting too anxious about their 'turn.' BUT... now that I have discovered this list and know that UNOFFICIALLY we are next in line for a girl in that age range... well...


ps- I'm not sure which phone our case worker will call from, but if she calls from her direct line, it's ringtone on my phone is "My Girl." :-) So call me, Sara!!!

Selam! G'day! Hello!