Friday, May 27, 2011

The End of the Beginning...

Our Embassy trip was wonderful and now that we're back home it seemed more wonderful than ever. We were told on a Wednesday morning that we needed to be at the Embassy the following Monday morning at 9 a.m. Everything we had been planning for was finally coming to fruition. All the toys, clothes, "child proofing" we had done was about to be put to use. Yet all of a sudden we felt rushed to "get things together".
We had only been waiting 6 weeks. Throughout the adoption process you are always waiting for the next thing. This was our last waiting for our boys and we were ready for it to be over. So when we got the call it was some of the best news we'd ever heard but we really didn't have much time to think about what was about to take place.

We bought our tickets that day and on friday we were on our first flight. We arrived in Addis, Ababa on Sunday morning. It felt like we had just been there. Once again we were greeted at the airport by our lovely hostess Agie. She took us to the Guest House to get situated and then we went to get our boys.
We had been going and going since friday afternoon. I just remember praying. Praying they'd remember us and hoping they'd be the same sweet boys we left a few weeks prior. I was hoping Abram wouldn't be bitter or sad that we had left him but would trust us and know that this time it was for good. Our prayers seemed to be answered when we opened the gate to the transition house and saw our little boy standing there with a toy.
As soon as we made eye contact he smiled. He stood and waited for us to come get him. We walked over, Tony picked him up and he gave him a big hug. He couldn't stop grinning and neither could we. We then took him to go get his baby brother Ellis. When I first saw Ellis I was shocked to see how much he'd grown since we'd seen him last. Immediately he smiled, I picked him up, and our family was complete! There was an overwhelming peace and joy that came from holding them and knowing we would "Lord Willing" never have to let them go again. It was a good feeling.
We stayed and played with the other children for a while and then had the boys say their last goodbyes. We were surprised at how many children were gone that had been there before. We were happy that they were not there because that meant that they had already been brought home to be with their families.
The next few days went by fast and I'm so thankful that they did. This trip unlike our last trip the Guest House was full of other families adopting. One of the famillies was a Dad and his little girl Rebecca. Rebecca was friends with Abram. They came from the same village, orphanage, and transition home. It was fun to see them interact. They spoke to each other, shared toys, and shared food even if it came out of their own mouths. They were buddies. We ended up traveling back with Rebecca and her father and plan on staying in touch. They live only 20 minutes away and may be friends for life.

Staying at the Guest House those last few days in Ethiopia have made us very grateful to be home and to live where we live. We had a very small room in the Guest House with a shared bathroom and a toilet that wasn't working. With the end in sight it wasn't hard to rough it for a few days but helped us see al the luxuries that we have. Starting our family in Ethiopia has made it 100 times easier raising them at home. Even though it hasn't been easy, I am thankful for where our boys are from and for how our journey has began. Right now they're sleeping in their beds and it couldn't feel any better. Even though it feels like our journey is over we know it has just begun and what a crazy, fun ride it's going to be. Hope to update more soon!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Room is Ready!

Well...tomorrow is the day we get to go get our boys and we never have to take them back! I guess it was time to officially finish the room. So we finished it today and here are some pictures to share!

My friend and her mom made these awesome Map Blankets for both of the boys. We thought they'd be nice decorations!
The Abram and Ellis signs came from a shower for the boys.
This was the laundry bag I used in college that I painted for their room.

My friend and I painted these canvases for their room as well. I wanted some scripture to be readily available in time of need!
Some little gifts for the boys.
This is the puzzle we used that raised a LOT of money to bring our boys home. It has the signatures of everyone that helped bring them home from donations to showers!
Their little Book Nook.
Ellis' bed that we are excited for him to soon be sleeping in!
The toy box, also used as a nice bench. One of our smartest additions to the room.
So that's all for now. Thanks to everyone who has helped us and made special things for their room! We are soooooo thankful to the Lord that they will be here within a week to fill it!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Our Packing List

I found a packing list on a blog and it was one of the most helpful blog posts I'd ever seen. As I begin packing for our second trip I thought I'd review my original lists and post them on the blog. Maybe they'll be useful to someone else someday. So here was the list for the first trip:

5 Outfits for each of us.
Nice outfits for Court Date
1 Light Jacket and Sweatshirt (Didn't need either went in April)
Shoes-wore sandals and Tony wore tennis shoes the whole week.
Airplane outfit to be reserved for home (not necessary, they did our laundry)
Baby Clothes (sleepers, onesies, etc.)
Should've brought pull-ups for Abram.
Clothes and shoes for Abram (2 yrs. socks, lots of undies!
Swimsuits for each (not necessary)
Baseball cap for Tony and Abram

Scabie cream (didn't use)
Children's Antibiotics (bought while there, definately needed!)
Children's Tylenol (used)
Cold Medicine
Thermometer (used and needed)
Children's Anti-Diarrheal (we used it)
Melatonin (used to sleep the first night there)
Allergy Meds
Cold Medicine
Had shots and Malaria Medicine (didn't need in the city)

Face and Hand Wipes
Clorox Wipes
Hand Sanitizer
Sunscreen (didn't use)
Bug Spray (didn't use, we stayed in the village)
Shampoo/Conditioner small tubes
Cocoa Butter (used for boys)
Toothpaste and 3 Toothbrushes
Brush, Flatiron, hair dryer and ADAPTER! (adapter very important)
Children's Vitamins
Adult Energy Vitamins
Nail Clippers
Qtips (very important for the boys!)
Leave in conditioner for boys and pick.
Wash clothes
Baby Washes
Small towels
Regular towels

SNACKS: (took more than needed)
Instant Oatmeal (didn't use)
Fun Candy (didn't use)
Chewy Granola Bars
Dry Soup Mixes (nope)
Mac and Cheese (nope) They cooked for us!
Ramin Noodles (nope)
Paper Bowls
Roll of Paper Towels
Plastic Forks and Spoons
Animal Crackers
Fruit Snacks (awesome!)
Fruit Cups (awesome!)

Bouncy Balls
Blow up Beach Balls
School Supplies
Paperwork (Dossier, passports, I-600A, and copies of everything!)
Swiss Army Knife
Waterfilter (not used, had bottled water the whole week)
A little detergent (didn't use, they did our laundry)
Line to dry things (nope)
Paper with Words in Ahmaric (helped us communicate with Abram)
Flashlight (a must, especially when the power goes out and you need to change your baby at night!)
Camera and Chargers (make sure to bring adapter!)
Video Camera
Pack with Ziploc Bags
Wal-mart Bags

Coloring Books
Blow-up Balls
Cars and Trucks
Bear and Blanket for each boy
Butt Paste
Baby meds (gas, tylenol, GRIPE WATER, cold, benadryl) only used Gripe Water.
Baby Wash
Hat and Jacket
Rice Cereal
Pacifiers (should've brought an assortment)
Bottles and variety of nipples
2 different types of Formulas
Baby Spoons
Dirty Diaper Bags

And there's the list!

Tony's Letter to Abram

Tony wrote Abram a letter on our flight to Ethiopia. I'll let the letter speak for itself. It's titled, "Unstoppable.":

Abram, (Praying in 5 days I will call you son!)
Your Mom and I are sitting next to each other on the plane. Millions of thoughts have been running through our heads. What will you be like? Are you ok?, Do you smile? How will you react when we take you from the transition home? What happened to you and your baby brother Sitota? Will we meet your birth parents? How will you react when we leave you at the transition home? Will we pass our court date? How long till we can come back for you and your brother...etc. The list goes on.
Above all those questions I have an inexpressible excitement to hold, kiss, play, feed, and stare at you. We have been looking at pictures of you since December (over 4 months). I can't wait to meet you. After this week we should know the answers above so we can talk about them one day me and you are together.
As all of these thoughts were flooding my head I decided to do something mindless and watch a movie on this 7.5 hour flight. The movie is Unstoppable with Denzel Washington (we will watch many movies with him in it). It's about a runaway train that has the potential to cause serious desolation as it goes through the cities of Pennsylvania. As this 10 ton train is going with nothing stopping it things are being detroyed, lives are being taken, and fear is filling the hearts of the people.
This train reminded me of the great force and catastrophe that is happening with the 147 million orphans in the World. 5 million from Ethiopia alone. 5 million orphans is a hard force to stop just like the train. It is destroying children's identities, value, purpose, and most of all their lives. You are an orphan and this train is coming to you and your brother. Wanting to destroy you and leave you hopeless with no last name and no family to be apart of.
In the movie 2 men risk their lives to stop the train. These men discovered how the train could be stopped but what they discovered is it would cost them their lives. They knew their lives were worth putting on the line for the sake of serving others. When risking all that they had, THEY DID IT! They stopped the train.
My lip was quivering, tears forming, and my heart was pounding throughout the movie. Although not the same it reminded me of the many months of hard work and waiting we've spent trying to stop this train of 147 million orphans in the world.
Your mom and I know we can't rescue all of the orphans but we know we can stop the train for 2! We are willing and committed to lay our lives down for you and your brother for the rest of our lives.
Ultimately it's because Jesus Christ has came and stopped the train (sin) which was going to destroy us by laying dow His life so that we might live. Your mom and I are so thankful Jesus rescued us from the sin train that it moved us for you! Because of what Christ did for us we want to be the same for you. Stop the train of 142 million orphans for 2 orphans Bruike and Sitota. May you never feel the weight of the train as Abram and Ellis Wells!!! We love you and are so grateful for what the Lord has in store for us. You are a blessing and I'm so thankful that one day soon I'll be able to call you my son! I pray God would mold you into a man that lays His life down for the good of others! Praying you would be a train stopper!
Trainstopping! Love, Tony...Soon to be Dad.