Thursday, March 31, 2011

Color {Favorites: Part 2 of 4}

When I think of Ethiopia, I think of color - and lots of it!
While I would probably complain loudly if my neighbor decided to paint his house teal or purple or pink, I found the color choices in Ethiopia to be just beautiful!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Top 5 Hot Spots {Favorites: Part 1 of 4}

There were three things I didn't like about our trip to Ethiopia.
1) Using the internet was a patience-building activity
2) I had to take 75% of my photos from the inside of a moving vehicle
3) It was impossible to order a cocktail

Other than these very minor inconveniences, I loved, loved, loved every minute of our trip.

Last March, when we first learned that new laws in Ethiopia required adoptive parents to travel twice, I thought the world was ending. I was devastated by the thought of meeting my baby and then leaving him and I was terrified of the extra expense that would be incurred by an additional trip.

But now I know better. This extra trip was not a burden. It was a blessing.

Not only did we get to meet our boy earlier than we would have under the old system, but we got to do, see, and experience things that simply would not have been possible had we been packing everything into one trip.

I want to share every. single. bit of our trip, but I just don't think that's going to be an attainable goal for this distracted and slightly overwhelmed mama.

So for now, I'll start with my five favorite spots in Addis Ababa.

1) The Korah Leprosy Hospital - As part of their physical therapy, men and women with leprosy are taught to spin, knit, weave, and embroider. Not only do these activities help them maintain their physical dexterity, but they also help them earn a living - and their work is beautiful! (Travelers advice: Don't shop in any of the street shops until after you have visited Korah. Believe me, you'll regret buying a scarf from anyone else!)
2) Entoto Mountain - Just a short drive outside of the city, Entoto mountain is full of beautiful views and eucalyptus infused air. After breathing exhaust fumes for six days, we felt like we had entered a completely different world! We skipped the museum tour at the top and continued on to the backside of the mountain where we saw open pastures and grazing sheep. (Travelers advice: If you have old tennis shoes, take them with you to give to the women carrying loads of fire wood down the mountain. They will be oh-so-grateful.)
3) Ark Cafe - We drank LOTS of coffee in Ethiopia. It's just what you do. Our favorite spot for macchiatos was the Ark Cafe located right next to the Lion Zoo.
4) The Merkato - Ethiopia boasts Africa's largest open air market - it's were the locals shop and the tourists get pick-pocketed - and I LOVED it. The Merkato is crawling with activity - gridlocked traffic, live animals, people, people, people, and every piece of merchandise you could possibly want to purchase. We visited twice and our driver, Solomon, helped us purchase all of the items necessary to host our own coffee ceremony, even down to the raw coffee beans. Though I put up a good fight, Solomon absolutely would not let me walk around the Merkato and he only let me out of the van for about 10 minutes. It's like he thought I would stick out or something. :)
5) Kuriftu Resort - This beautiful resort was located about an hour outside of the city. The drive alone was worth the visit as we got to see what life was like outside of the bustle of Addis. Kuriftu is the Broadmoor Hotel of Ethiopia and we enjoyed a great lunch and kayak ride around the lake. (Travelers advice: If you are looking to relax a bit during your stay in Ethiopia, plan to spend 4-6 hours at Kuriftu. They have a full-service spa, hookah lounge, and places to relax by the water.)

Three Hundred Sixty Two

Three Hundred Sixty One

Three Hundred Sixty

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

You gotta fight..for your PAARRTAAAY

This week, I'm spending part of my spring break visiting my sister in Ft. Collins.

Having graduated from Colorado State University 8 years ago, I'm swayed to believe that Ft. Collins is the greatest college town in all of America.

The party that raged next door all.night.long leads me to believe that there are others here who also feel that this amazing town deserves to be "celebrated."

In their honor - and as a glimpse into my future - I present to you the following.

Why Having a Toddler is Like Being at a Frat Party


10. There are half-full, brightly-colored plastic cups on the floor in every room. Three are in the bathtub.

9. There’s always that one girl, bawling her eyes out in a corner.

8. It’s best not to assume that the person closest to you has any control over their digestive function.

7. You sneak off to the bathroom knowing that as soon as you sit down, someone’s going to start banging on the door.

6. Probably 80% of the stains on the furniture contain DNA.

5. You’ve got someone in your face at 3 a.m. looking for a drink.

4. There’s definitely going to be a fight.

3. You’re not sure whether anything you’re doing is right, you just hope it won’t get you arrested.

2. There are crumpled-up underpants everywhere.

1. You wake up wondering exactly how and when the person in bed with you got there.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday, March 14, 2011


On Friday, we visited three different orphanages and I haven't stopped thinking about them since.

I'm not going to describe to you the conditions or the smell or the sadness. I really do believe that the caregivers in these homes are doing their very best and I don't want to make it sound like they aren't trying. And honestly, I saw some of the same things within the walls of the orphanages as I did out in the middle of town.

Runny noses, bare feet, and torn clothes are just normal here. These things don't indicate a child's happiness or a reveal family's status. Most children here just don't have much.

But here's what got to me about the children in the orphanages - they think they don't matter.

Within seconds of pulling through the gate at the boys' orphanage the frenzied excitement told us how much they LOVE visitors. And the girls, oh those sweet girls, clung to our waits and held our hands tight as soon as hurried introductions had been made.

Please, listen to my song.
Please, play futbol.
Please, take my photo.
Please, help me read my school lesson and play a hand-clap game with me.

Please. Notice. Me.

At ten or twelve years old, these children are still hopeful. They are thrilled that 15 ferenge came to see them and I do believe that they feel our love - that on some level they know that we care about them.

But one morning, these little girls and boys are going to wake up and say to themselves, "You know what? I. Don't. Matter. What difference does it make whether or not I get an education? Who will care if I disappear? Who will I disappoint if I become a prostitute?"

This realization may come gradually - slowly building in their minds each day - or it may hit like a ton of bricks. Either way, the day a child asks WHO CARES? and the answer is NOBODY is the day that child's life changes for worse.

The main - and perhaps the only - difference between a child living in the orphanage and a child living in a tin or mud home is that the child living in the orphanage has no family. No mother or father, aunt or uncle, grandma or grandpa to say, "I value you. You are important to me."

This difference is HUGE.

Since we've been here, Mark and I have asked each other often, "So, what do we do?"

I've said it before, and I believe it even more now, adoption is not the solution. Many orphans (dare I say most?) are not eligible for adoption and many of the children who I saw on Friday will never, ever experience a family. But somehow, we've got to show these children that they matter - that they are important to someone and that someone cares deeply what happens to them.

Thankfully, I saw evidence all around the orphanages that showed me that other families who have come before me believe this also. Families who met these electric children and said, "You know what? YOU. DO. MATTER."

A library full of books donated to the boys - I value your education.
New computers with internet - I want you to learn about the world.
New playground equipment for the girls - It matters to me that you have fun.
A box of new shoes delivered to the toddlers - I care about your health and safety.

I know these are just things. Material possessions that will one day fade and be destroyed, but they send a message that is so much greater, a message that is perhaps not conveyed to these kids in any other way.

I wish I could hold each of their faces in my hands, look into their eyes, and say, "You are of utmost importance. Learn. Grow. Thrive. Be something."

But I know I can't - so I will continue to support projects that send soccer balls and buy goats and provide school uniforms and will trust that my Heavenly Father will use these gifts to capture children's hearts and enfold them into His family as his very own valuable, precious children.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Things went just fine at court yesterday. Mark and I and three other Gladney families entered the judge's office together. The judge checked our passports and then she asked us a series of simple questions.

Have you learned about Ethiopian culture?
Have you met other families who have adopted from Ethiopia?
Have you met the child you wish to adopt?
And do you still wish to adopt him?
**ahem** Yes
Do you understand that the adoption is permanent and cannot be reversed for any reason?

The whole thing lasted about two-and-a-half minutes, but I'm pretty sure that our lives were forever changed in that office.

We also learned that our boy's mom did indeed appear yesterday to relinquish her rights.

So that's it. We belong to eachother. We're hooked for life.

Now, to just get that letter and get. him. home.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Court Day

Sometime while you are sawing logs tonight, we'll be going to court.

We will stand in front of the judge and promise to take good care of our boy for the rest of his life.

So, as you drift off to sleep tonight, know that good things will be happening in Ethiopia while you snooze.

And say a little prayer for that letter if you think about it.

Monday, March 7, 2011

I'm in love with a short, chubby guy with curly black hair

When we walked into the baby room, I was afraid I wouldn't recognize him.

I shouldn't have worried.

I saw him the second I rounded the corner - peeking up over the top of his crib fussing. I bee-lined for him, stepping over two little butterballs playing on the floor.

I immediately swooped up my boy and I think I shocked the pants off of him because he stopped crying.

We studied each other's faces for a few minutes - I cried and then he cried. I handed him to Mark and there were more tears and more curiosity.

The room was very crowded - there are nine babies who call it home plus three or four caregivers who spend every day there. We squished down onto the floor with the boy and played with all of the babies. Some wanted to crawl all over us, while others wanted to look at us and cry. Our boy just sat there and stared. The photos we have been receiving in updates do not betray him. He. Is. Very. Serious.

Thanks to a stuffed panda and Mark's ability to make it fly, we did get a few laughs out of him after about 45 minutes. He gave us big open mouthed grins as the panda flew in to attack his neck and he rejected the panda when we placed it in his lap - we think he was disappointed that it wasn't flying. It's like he was saying, "Well, what good is it if it is just sitting there."

The hour went fast, but it wasn't too hard to leave him. Sad, yes, but not hard. He has good care, a good routine, he is eating well, and is surrounded by people who love him. It actually felt very comfortable to leave him there.

We'll spend another hour with him today (Tuesday) and then see him again on Friday.

In the meantime, we're drinking coffee and eating sugar cane and getting to know the seven other adoptive families who have joined us here.

It's been a wonderful two days.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

While you are sleeping

Tonight, while you are sleeping, we will be meeting our boy
and kissing his cheeks,
and counting his toes,
and measuring his eyelashes, because I swear they are six inches long.

If all goes as planned, he should be in our arms at about midnight Colorado time.

So, all you mamas who are up in the middle of the night "playing" with your little ones, know that you'll have me for company tonight. :)


We landed at 8:00am and hit the ground running.

I love it here.
I feel very safe
and welcome
and happy
and we might never come home.
I'm kidding.


Friday, March 4, 2011

Three Hundred Thirty Seven

A little funny for you

All of the travel planning and packing and dreaming about my boy has been a little distracting.

In fact, I may or may not have unloaded an entire dishwasher of dirty dishes into my cupboard on Wednesday.

And the other day, I definitely stepped into the shower with my underwear on.

I can't wait to have my brain back.

Three Hundred Thirty Six

Three Hundred Thirty Five

Thursday, March 3, 2011

So, wait, you mean you're not bringing the baby home?!?

Tomorrow - yes TOMORROW - we are boarding a jet plane bound for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. *Side note; we're taking the "red-eye" out of Denver. Saying that makes me feel like such an important jet setter. "Yeah, I'm so busy and in demand that I have to do my traveling in the middle of the night. It's no big deal. Psshh."

After being in Ethiopia for about 24 hours, we will meet our boy.

I can wait to feel his weight in my arms. To hear his voice (we're pretty sure he'll either be screaming in fright or laughing at us.) To get a good look at that hair and those eyelashes. I am over-the-moon excited. I really am.

But I'm also dreading this meeting a little bit.

That sounds harsh, I know, but the truth is that after three visits with him, we have to leave him and return home without him.

We were discussing this over dinner one night in a busy restaurant. As I explained the fact that we have to leave our baby and the reasons why, my 10-year-old nephew let out a giant "THAT SUCKS!!" for the whole restaurant to hear.

And you know what? I couldn't agree more.

But we have to follow the rules, rules that we have to believe are in place to protect the children being adopted. So we will meet our boy, go to court to do our part in finalizing his adoption, and then

We will come home and wait for the news that we have been given an Embassy date - an Embassy date where they will issue his Visa and say, "You're"

And we might wait 3 weeks or 12 weeks or forever.
(Okay, it won't be forever, but letmetellyou, it's going to feel like forever.)

So again, we face both joy and sorrow as we continue to pursue our boy. All week, we have been swinging between thrilled and stressed and excited and overwhelmed and just plain sad.

And let's remember that there's more of this to come - lots more - I can't wait to tell you all about it.

And I flat out cannot wait to pinch my boy's cheeks. If you've seen his latest picture, you know about the cheeks.


How You can Pray while we're away

If you think of it and are willing and able, we would so appreciate your prayers over the next two weeks.

And if it's not too much to ask, I have one very specific request.

Would you please pray for a letter of approval from MOWA?

I won't bore you with the details, but basically, this letter will be the last item needed to complete our file and have it submitted to the Embassy. Our file needs to go to the Embassy in order for our boy to get his visa and he must have a visa before he can come home.

So, in a nutshell, Letter = Embassy= Visa = Bringing Baby Home.

This letter is a pretty big deal, people, and right now its causing some hangups for several families in our agency. Perhaps you could include all of these families in your prayers too.

Thank you so very much.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Three Hundred Thirty Four

Three Hundred Thirty Three

I've got diapers comin' out my ears

Thanks to some careful planning by my lovely shower hostesses
and the overwhelming generosity of many, many people,
we will be traveling with 1,200 diapers.

1,200 diapers to donate to the care center that has been loving our boy for the past 8.5 months.
And lets not forget about the 4 cans of formula, 8 bottles of hand sanitizer, 400 wipes, 10 pairs of shoes, 2 bibs, and 1 tub of baby clothes that we also get to pass along.
We are so, so thankful to all of you who have enabled us to bless the care center that has gone above and beyond to provide excellent care for our baby.

I continue to be overwhelmed. Seriously. God has surrounded us by such wonderful people.

Oh, and in case you forgot, we leave for Ethiopia in 3 days.