Sunday, December 30, 2007

Embassy Day

* The whole reason we are in Ethiopia the week before Christmas- our Embassy appointment. It went so smoothly, it was barely memorable. But man did it feel good when he said "This visa has been approved." The best thing about the embassy appointment was Anna's most fabulous party dress and the after party snapshot.

* Thursday also featured a visit to the orphanage where Anna started out. Her Ethiopian mom brought her to the orphanage at 2 days old. It was bittersweet to visit and know that we wouldn't get to meet her first mom- she had disappeared shortly after relinquishing Anna. We did get to learn a few tidbits about her mom, and felt so fortunate to have a photocopied picture of her. We also figured out the reason behind Anna's Ethiopian name, Etagegnehu, which means "I found a sister." We were puzzled at first because in our referral, it said that Anna did not have any siblings. Our coordinator in Ethiopia told us that a child might be named Etagegnehu because the mom is young or doesn't have any sisters of her own. We learned that Anna's first mom was both young and was an only child.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Our Trip Part II

Today I don't have the patience for paragraphs, so here is a laundry list of more of our trip.

* We were thrilled to participate in our first coffee ceremony. This takes about 2 hours and begins with the roasting of the beans. Here the cook is fanning the fire that the green coffee beans are roasting over. The cook brings the pan of roasted beans around for everyone to smell before the next step. After roasting, the beans are ground with a mortal and pestal and then boiled over the fire in a hand made coffee pot. The final product is served in tiny tea cups and is thick and dark and so tasty! They always served us 2 cups. I was surprised that we were served this coffee EVERY DAY after lunch while we were there. It is so much work, something we would never do here. Tsegay said that Ethiopians do this every day (usually after breakfast) and sometimes twice a day. Needless to say, life is much slower in Ethiopia.

* Much to Brian's delight, Anna took immediately to napping on Dad's chest. This is one of Brian's talents in life. God certainly made him perfectly for rocking a baby to sleep.

* We called Anna by her Ethiopian name while we were in Ethiopia. Mostly just because that's what everyone else called her. The first thing we asked when we got to Ethiopia was how to pronounce her name. They told us it was difficult to pronounce even in Amharic. So here goes: Etagegnehu, etta-GAIN-you, or etta-gen-YOW, or e-TA-goo for short. Don't be surprised if you here us saying TA-goo in a high pitched voice. Thats an even shorter form of her nickname.

* The staff at HOH told us how serious Anna is, and how difficult it is to get her to smile. But we found a sweet little girl that smiled when we paid her attention and called out her name. The staff attributes this to her finally being united with her family. We'll take that, even if it is just flattery!

* The HOH staff were amazed how much Anna looks like her dad. They were polite and said it was the eyes that made them look like family. We all know it's really the lack of hair.

* Ethiopians don't take their babies out in public until they are about a year old. We got double stares since we were white carrying a black, nearly newborn baby.

* Hooray, Anna slept until about 3am last night, only waking up for feeding, not to play with Mom and Dad. After spending a few hours awake, she is back asleep.

* Ernie asked the other day when Anna was going back to Ethiopia. Not out of malice, or jealousy. He was just wondering.

Friday, December 28, 2007


I just got done with my last post and realized I hadn't posted any pictures. So here are a few.

Mom after rocking Anna to sleep the first night

Tuesday morning, Dad making Anna smile

Nanny Latai, giving Anna a bath

Our trip Part I

Anyone notice at what time I am writing this post? Midnight . . . what other time is there? I can't wait until its unusual to sleep from 5 to 11pm and then spend a couple hours catching up on chores before going back to bed! Right now we are still trying to flip Anna's schedule, although we have found it pretty easy to get back to US time ourselves. However, it seems that around 11pm is morning in Anna-land. Good thing she's cute and smiley when she wakes up!

So here's the first installment of our time in Ethiopia. We arrived in Addis Ababa about 10pm on Monday night. We were driven to House of Hope, the transition home where Anna has been staying for the vast majority of her life. We were brought to our room to deliver our things and then brought to the baby room to meet Anna for the first time. We walked in and there she was in her nanny's arms. Wow! She looked just like a baby. Of course, being Mom, I got to hold her first, and passed her on to Dad later. It was easy for us to fall in love with her, but she held out a little on us. That first night she wasn't really interested in looking at us. She came around the next morning as we bumbled our way through feeding and dressing her, and getting ourselves ready, too.

We spent most of Tuesday at HOH, just getting to know Anna. We took a short ride out to tour the city. HOH is truely a home away from home. At times, I was convinced it was even better than home! Where else do you get to stay in a nice cozy room, have someone cook your meals and clean up after? My favorite phrase that week was "Dinner is ready." A close second was "Pancake or omlet?" It was easy to see how much everyone at the HOH loved Anna. We had to practically arm wrestle the nurse for the privelege of feeding and holding her! It was very cool to see everyone there pitching in with the little ones. It would have been unusual if a toddler wandering through the courtyard didn't meet with smiles and hugs from the guard, cook, coordinator and various nannies. I was pleased to see that boys everywhere are the same. Rowdy, loud and fun! We had many opportunities to play and sing and run with three little boys staying at HOH. It made me smile seeing Anna so interested in the boys. I couldn't wait for her to meet her big brother.

More later, bed is calling.


Monday, December 24, 2007


Hello friends,

36 hours of travel and 2 lost bags later (thanks United), we made it home! Due to some schedule changes, we got back a couple of days early, so we get to spend Christmas morning at home instead of on an airplane. It was an amazing trip - more details in the days to come. Time to rest...

Brian, Noelle, Ernie, and Anna

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ethiopia Update

Hello friends,
We just wanted to drop a quick line to tell you all we made it here safely, and that Anna is as wonderful and perfect as we expected.  We have mostly been taking it easy so far, hanging out at the House of Hope and getting to know our new daughter.  Anna does everything you would expect a 4-month-old to do.  She enjoys watching everything going on around her, likes her tummy time, wakes up Mom and Dad in the middle of the night, spits up quite frequently.  Everyone here says she is very serious, but we've gotten a lot of smiles out of her in the last day.  I guess she was just waiting for her mom and dad to get here from America...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Leaving Tomorrow

Hi all,

Tomorrow is the day! We leave at 7:30 AM (thanks for the ride, Dad), and arrive in Addis Ababa Monday night. We will be back in the evening on Christmas day.

I'm not sure if we will be able to post while we are over there, but we will do our best. Thanks for all your support in this journey - next time you hear from us, we'll have met Anna!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Travel Dates

Hi friends,
We've got our Embassy appointment confirmed for December 20th. This means we are leaving the 16th or 17th and returning Christmas day! Merry Christmas to us!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Talk About Labor Pains

Okay, no real labor pains for this family, but we've gone through mountains of paperwork, a marathon of waiting and still face 30 hours of travel with an infant to arrive home. When starting this journey, I didn't know that our adoption "labor" would also take a more literal meaning: the nearly interminable labor of making my first quilt! I'd like to place the blame fair and square on Courtney, who last year showed me the most beautiful quilt made by her sister. Inspiration is a dangerous thing. For the last three months I've been slaving away my evenings and nights quilting like a mad woman. After all my complaining, I asked Courtney if she thought I was crazy for even considering making another quilt for a friend. "No!" she said, "That means you're a Quilter!" I didn't see that one coming.