Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Double for Your Trouble

"Double for Your Trouble" was a really great sermon that my pastor preached more than a year ago. He talked about how we all have periods of time when we are going through. He urged every member to wake up that next Monday morning and to declare that for everything that they had lost, God would give them double for their trouble.

The very next Monday I followed his instruction. It had been a very difficult business year but something started to change that Monday morning. I got a new client project that was exactly double the rate of pay and at the same time it doubled the miles in my commute. We had a good laugh about that and my pastor said that we had to learn to take the good with the bad. More than that you had to be able to fight through those low points and wait on what would come with great anticipation and patience. I think about the children that I wait for as double scoops of all that is right and true. I know, too that they and their families will get double double for their trouble.

You can't get double if there is no trouble so when I received an early morning email telling me that I was getting double the expected contribution towards my adoption fund, I should have known trouble was lurking somewhere. As the day progressed things took a turn. It turned out to be a tough day. It was a tough week. Even with that it caused me to remember that no matter what, there is double for every bit of trouble that we experience along the way. Sometimes knowing doesn't make it better and you wonder what to do. What do people do when they don't know what to do? What do we do when we don't have all the answers and only hope, faith and a fervent belief that "all things work for good?" On a day like today I just play a song that has gotten me through many rough times.

Work List: Garage Done!

Drum roll please.....Today I actually completed something on my list. Well, I didn't complete it Luke the handyman and good friend did it for me.

Why is the garage a child hazard? I bought the house new or prebuilt about 12 years ago. I don't know if the carpenters were drinking on the job but their very long nails pretruding out from in between all of the studs. Nails up high and down low. The didn't stick out far enough for you to catch yourself on them or anything but over the years I've used a few to hang a set of extra keys, brooms or whatever.

I couldn't take a chance on what the kids might do if given the chance. Now I don't have to worry about it. I know the pictures aren't great but thanks, Luke!

Working on the List

Waiting. I'm just waiting and working on my list.
  1. Clean the kids room down to the floor and walls. - Not yet.
  2. Hold a garage sale. Let a hauler take away everything else. - This weekend.
  3. Clean the carpet throughout the house. - Someday.
  4. Paint the children's room and their bathroom. - Before I clean the carpet.
  5. Clean their linen closet to the bare shelves. - Before I travel to Ethiopia.
  6. Dry wall the garage it is an absolute child hazard as it is today. - Tomorrow.
  7. Wishlist for shower. - Growing daily.
  8. Begin purchasing things that they will need. (It's been hard holding off). Still hard.
  9. Plan the itenarary for me and my dads first visit to Ethiopia. - Can't even think about it.
  10. Visit a couple of my final choices for schools. Make a choice. - The list has narrowed.
  11. Choose, order, purchase their bedroom furniture. - See below.
  12. Decorate thier room - choose bedding, wall stuff all of that. - After furniture.
It's difficult choosing some things without knowing if I'm having two girls or a boy and girl. I've decided that I like very high headboards and dark wood. Too feminine? Too masculine? Neutral?

My light wood choices but not high on the list.

3 variations of the same style. It will probably be one of these.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Prom Queen

How do I get pulled into these things? All week a friend of mine has been talking about going to the high school prom. Her son is a sophomore at the high school (not attending prom), so I thought she was just taunting him in some way. Well, yesterday at about 3pm I got a call from her saying that the Prom Moms were in a pinch and they needed another prom chaperon.

S: I said that I have a friend. That would be YOU. Can YOU...? Would YOU...? I think we can have fun.

Me: Are you serious? You are really going to the prom? I thought you were making that up? When is it?

S: Tonight, at 9:30. We have to meet at the high school and then we are heading to Chicago for the prom and the prom after party on the Spirit of Chicago.

Me: We are leaving at 9:30? What kind of prom is that? That sounds like a grown folks parties when you don't leave home until after nine.

We did a lot of laughing about it. This is my BEST friend. She is actually much more like my sister. She is my children's Godmother. She agreed to be their legal guardian. She has agreed (without hesitation) to keep my children when I am on business trips. She is traveling with me to Ethiopia to bring my children home. You guessed it...I said...

Me: I don't have anything to wear to the prom. My hair is not done, my nails are not done...

S: All the moms are just wearing pants suits. You don't have to be dressed up like it's your prom. Wear your cute black dress.

Me: What dress?

S: I don't know exactly but I know you have one that's cute. You can do it. (One of our favorite phrases to encourage each other). We will have fun. (We always do).

I decided that after all of that I would get dressed and go. I thought me and my friend would hang out at the prom, sing a few songs and dance on enough records just to embarrass ourselves. It was very different than what I expected.

I didn't get home until 4:00 AM!

We got to the school at 9:30 and learned that my friend and I would be separated once we arrived in Chicago. The kids were already at the prom, we were the second team of chaperons from 10 - 11pm. Then we were split into teams to take buses to the after party.

Each Prom Mom was responsible for chaperoning her own bus! I was given a big list, clipboard, markers, and a flashlight. We had to check kids onto the bus, pass out tickets, check them off the bus, and then back onto the bus for the long, late-night ride home. I was on bus #10 and she was on bus #6 with her own group of teens headed to the cruise boat. We boarded the 3-floored ship at MIDNIGHT! The parents walked the ship, we commented on all the dresses and oh my the dances. The kids partied like it was 2009! We boarded the buses at about 3AM to head back home. We were all wilting, the hairdos had drooped, the girls makeup had smeared, they were all walking around in bare feet. It was a long night, 425 kids and it was only about 45 degrees outside. I was told that we had to make sure all of the kids on our bus had a ride home before we could leave.

Let me say it again, I got home at 4AM! In a week I've been from preschool to the prom. All I keep thinking is that when my children are old enough for the prom, I will be too old for all of this. LOL

Friday, April 18, 2008

PreSchool Momma

Direct application is the best experience. It is the best teacher. I got an urgent call last night from a friend that had a work meeting she could not miss. It happened to be on the same day that they were having parent day in her son's pre-K classroom and the day that the school was going to talk about transitioning to kindergarten. She asked if I could go in her place and of course I said that I would. When I picked him up for school this morning he was so excited that it was a "bring your mom, your dad, your grandma or your auntie to school day." He has adopted me as his Auntie Valarie and said that the day was for anybody who loved him and could go to school with him today.

As a first time expecting mom it was definitely an experience. I walked into the room with little chairs and had to sign in as the "parent" for the day. I decided not to sit in the teeny tiny chair but rather sat on the floor. It wasn't bad but getting up was brutal. The first part of the morning was watching the teacher in action. She was pretty amazing. They teach at the concept level linking date, time, weather, words, songs, and pictures. I learned that the Spanish word for cricket, spelled c-r-i-c-k-e-t is also grillio in Spanish. Next we went to a separate room where they talked about what the children should know before kindergarten and gave strategies and tips for getting them up to speed over the summer. It was funny that I know these parents must know that I am not the mother but they welcomed me into their circle and one woman wanted to take me down the hall to show me the kindergarten room and assure me that Mrs. Remus is a fabulous kindergarten teacher.

I went back into the room with the kids and helped them make caterpillars. I was a big hit with a couple of the kids that wanted to show me every step of their projects. I know my friend thinks that I was doing her a big favor but I loved every moment of it. I am looking forward to doing all of these things with my own children.

Thanks, friend!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Lady in Waiting

If you haven't noticed I am over the 100 day mark waiting for my referral. I'm not one who was in a rush for the referral as I have so much to do to prepare. I'm probably like many of you though, the more time that I have the more I will find to do.

Here is the list of things that I still need to do before the children arrive. This is not in order of priority.
  1. Clean the kids room down to the floor and walls.

  2. Hold a garage sale. Let a hauler take away everything else.

  3. Clean the carpet throughout the house.

  4. Paint the children's room and their bathroom.

  5. Clean their linen closet to the bare shelves -- almost.

  6. Choose, order, purchase their bedroom furniture.

  7. Decorate thier room - choose bedding, wall stuff all of that.

  8. Dry wall the garage it is an absolute child hazard as it is today.

  9. Make a list for my friends of the things that I need in preparation for my adoption shower.

  10. Begin purchasing things that they will need. (It's been hard holding off)

  11. Plan the itenarary for me and my dads first visit to Ethiopia.

  12. Putting things together for their referral gift and family visit.

  13. Visit a couple of my final choices for schools. Make a choice

I know that there is more but this will keep me a busy.

The Contractor Cometh

Okay, I was feeling great about all the serious cleaning and purging that I was doing. I had a contractor in here the last two days. He came to take care of what I thought were minor projects that I didn't finish before the homestudy. A couple of years ago I (that is "I" as in "I" did it all buy myself) put down a wood floor in my home office. I didn't know how to do the trim and molding -- I can't do everything. It didn't matter that much but I can just see my children getting their fingers stuck between the floor boards and the wall. Since I work primarily from a home office I'm sometimes in here 12 hours a day. So, I fianally had the contractor come and do it for me and put up folding doors from my office to the storage room. Little did I know that he would have to MOVE EVERY SINGLE THING out of my office to do it. Now every book (and there are many) has been taken off the shelves, my bookcases sitting in the middle of the family room floor, my office equipment is spread out on the couch, it looks like a bomb has exploded. Well, he is now finished and I have to put it all back, it will take a little while to do that. The work does look good though and even makes my floor work look better.

My office is directly off of my downstairs family room. Right now it is separated by the standard six-panel door. The next project is a glass french door on the office. That way, if I am in here working or taking a business call I can at least close the door but still see the children. More importantly they can see me. I am just imagining them pressing their little face and putting their hands against the glass. I wouldn't have it any other way.

SPECIAL NOTE: The contractor is a really nice guy and understands the needs I have and the need to balance the costs. He made me an offer to list out all that I need done. He will allow me to pay him 50% and the rest "as I can". He also said that just to help me out he will come in two weeks to move all of the furniture that is currently in the kids room out into my garage for the garage sale. That is a big help -- remember, there is an 8 foot bookshelf in there. Thanks, Luke!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Clean Up Woman

"Clean Up Woman" was a Betty Wright song that my mother used to play over and over. Today it is just me trying to get my house ready for the little ones. The goal right now is to get the kids room down to carpet and walls. The room that they will share has been an upstairs den, my first home office, the guest room, and then my mother's bedroom.

Even though I've cleaned the room several times, it still looks like my mother lives in there. Her books are still on the shelves, her jewelry boxes are on the dresser, her computer is still hooked up and her figurines are still around. This is the last hoorah for all of that. I remember when I was getting ready for the homestudy, I got so tired that I just stored things in the rubber containers and stacked them in the closet. Now I am going through them and really throwing things out. The room also has it's own bathroom and before the day is out I am taking down the shower curtains and stripping it down to the sink, stool, and shower.

The last couple of weeks I've gone through every closet in my house (except the kids linen closet) and thrown away every old/useless item. I don't even have that feeling of wanting to hold on to things. I want it all GONE! In my area you can only put out your one designated trash container. Everything else has to have a prepaid sticker. I feel like I'm single-handedly funding the city fund with all the stickers I've bought. A friend of mine convinced me to have a garage sale. Now, I'm more excited finding more things to get out of here. There will be some great bargains -- I'm pricing this stuff to sell, sell, sell!

I've made soooooo much progress but I still have a little ways to go. I've come to the realization that over the years I've bought too many gifts that never made it to the intended person, too much "brick-a-brack" that I've never used, and have far too many items hanging in the closet, in drawers and in the trunk of my car with price tags still on them. Now, I just have to figure out how I'm going to get that 8 foot bookcase with the connected desk out of the kids room.

Words From an Ethiopian Father

Here is a long interview of an Ethiopian father that has immigrated to the United States. More specifically the father is Oromo and was interviewed by Bridging Refugee Youth and Childrens Services. At the end of the article there are links to information for raising immigrant children. I was surprised to find that many of the resources also come in Amharic.

Here is little from the interview. Read the complete article.

We try to teach our language to our children by speaking Oromo at home. Before we came to the U.S., the children spoke Oromo perfectly. Now, I speak to them in Oromo, and they respond to me in English. Some of the Oromo values that I want to pass on to my children are respecting family, elders, and each other. When you respect elders, you maintain the connection between the generations; if you lose that, the generations are disconnected. If you are in a meeting and an elder enters the room, everyone will stand up out of respect for that elder. We will also kneel down when greeting an elder, or kiss the shoes of an elder – some people think this is backwards, but it is showing respect. I also want my children to love their country of origin – the language, food, dress, and ways of greeting. In Oromo culture, we give big hugs when greeting each other. How we dress is also important. For ladies, their skirts should come down to the ankle. We have to respect how we look and how we dress.

One of the resources was an article on Raising bilingual children.

Ethiopian Teens Speak Out

Ethiopian Teens talk about life in the US and how it compares to Ethiopia. Click here to read their comments. I've copied one the statements below:

Michael Firrisa (12th grade – in USA)

I came to America when I was seven years old. I think America is the greatest place to live, it isn't in anyway perfect, but it sure beats other places. America is very different from my birth place, Ethiopia. In the US your rights are respected most of the time and you are treated like a human being. In Ethiopia the government treats you however it pleases, and if you think the police in America are bad you haven't got a clue as to how serious it could be. I remember the first day I arrived in the US; I wanted to go back to Ethiopia immediately. I missed my relatives and friends I left behind. Now, Ethiopia is just a vague memory, there isn't much I miss except my family. I lived here for ten years so I have been accustomed to America, and it has become my home. My parents on the other hand pray for the day when things get better so they can go back. My mom always tells me, "You have lived here most of your life so you stay, but as soon as you get a good job we are going back home." I really couldn't care less about going back, and if I do I can't live there. I have forgotten how to read and write the language, and people poke fun at my "foreign accent" every time I talk. It would be strange for me to readjust all over again. Everyday of my life I thank God that I was given an opportunity to live in America and come at the young age I did. I see many people, not only Ethiopians, who struggle because they came when they were older so they have a lot more difficulty adjusting.

The thing I love about America is that a person can achieve wonders with just a dream and some hard work. I always ask God why I was the one who was given the opportunity to start a new life here, out of all the people who lived around me. I guess I just have to wait and see. I just hope it is something special that benefits me and the nation that has become my home.

Ethiopian Jews Imitate U.S. Blacks

Just sharing an article that I found that talks about Ethiopian teens and their search for identity in Israel. The draw strength from African American culture.

The Article:

JERUSALEM (AP) -- Batya Tadela, a 16-year-old Ethiopian immigrant to Israel, used to be hurt and insulted when people called her ``kushi,'' a Hebrew word commonly used to refer to blacks. But now, like many young Ethiopian immigrants weathering tough times, Tadela has found an unlikely source of solace, pride and identity -- America's black culture. The fact that most of these Ethiopian teens have never visited the United States or even met a black American doesn't prevent them from embracing rap music and hip-hop fashion, along with sometimes misguided stereotypes gleaned from MTV, movies and news reports.

``It's a form of protest,'' Ethiopian lawmaker Addisu Masala said of teens who identify with American blacks. ``When a child feels that he's not wanted here, he looks for an alternative identity.'' Younger Ethiopians see in black American culture a vibrant energy and a chance for success against the odds. ``When I see American movies that show a lot of blacks succeeding, it makes me feel good,'' said Shmuel Batla, a 22-year-old cook. ``If he can succeed, so can I.''

The full article.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Ethiopia the First Choice for Adoption

I've read several post recently from families that chose Ethiopia after they had pursued adoptions in other countries. I'm just curious how many families chose Ethiopia as their first choice.

Let us all know what other countries that you considered.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Looking for Amharic Speakers

Sometimes I just stumble on some interesting stuff. Here is a list that shows where Amharic is spoken around the country.

Check it out.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Blessings Abound

Here are two of my favorite Clark Sister songs. It's easy to think about what we don't have and maybe the wait seems longer than it should be, but I'm reminded to think of how blessed I am, how much I have, and how only by the grace am I even fortunate enough to wait.

Blessed and Highly Favored

Never let a day go by and not realize that we are blessed. Don't take it for granted that we are here today. Just know that we are blessed and highly favored. [My favorite part] Think about it for a moment. It could have been me, it should have been me, it would have been for me if it wasn't for the blood... But grace and mercy, mercy kept me...

Livin' A Blessed Life

I'm livin' a blessed life... I can speak to mountains,they will be moved. I can speak to dreams, they will come true. I can tell my troubles to get away. God gave me the power to make my day. I'm no longer walking on sinking sand, I'm just steady resting in my father's hand. I'm blessed when I come and when I go. Every day I'm living in the overflow.

Taxi Cab Confessions No.2

A very nice cabbie picked me up for my ride to the airport. When he learned that I was headed home on a flight to Chicago, he told me that he was considering moving here. He had never been to Chicago but had a friend that was encouraging his move. He had lived in New York, Boston, and was considering Florida.

Cab Driver: Boston can be a very prejudiced place, but I don't think it is so much prejudice about color. I drive a taxi and I can tell you that the most prejudiced people are men and women. Men, when no woman is listening say terrible things about women and women say the worst thing about men. I think that is who is prejudice.

I guess that summed it all up. I instantly fell in love with him. He was someone that I'd like to have over for dinner or talk to on the phone.

Cab Driver: People say that people in New York are crazy. Crazy is better than prejudice. At least they are educated. I think all people should become educated that will lead to less prejudice.

My driver told me that he was 62 and had three children. His 25 year old daughter is in law school and the 29 year old graduated from the university. The 27 year old son works in satellite communications in London. I told him that I was sure he was very proud of them.

Cab Driver: I am proud of my girls. My son not so much. He can do anything he wants, go where he wants, make a lot of money however he wants. But, in my country of Pakistan it is more difficult for women who want to educate themselves. My girls still live there and they've done well. For their education, I am proud!

He told me that the girls lived in the US for only a short time, hated it and returned to a place that they knew would be more difficult for them. I wrote this because, it is also the thing that stood out for me about the children in Ethiopia. I know many adoptive parents point to the tragedy of AIDS and malnutrition as reasons for choosing Ethiopia. For me it was when I read that 60-80% of the children would never go to school. That statistic was highest for girls.

Like my cabbies, I think that education is key. I just couldn't imagine a child growing up where an education was not guaranteed.

The Ethiopian Adoption Dilemma

I read this article by Mohammed Adow. It is a couple of years old but I still think that it is relevant and a good read for parents adopting from Ethiopia. Here are some excerpts or you can read the complete article.

Aids impact

Apart from abandoned children, there is also a steady increase in the number of Ethiopian children becoming orphans because of Aids.

Strict watch

But Hadush Halifom of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs says that though adopting from Ethiopia may be easy, the government keeps a strict watch on orphanages that keep children for adoption. Ethiopia's adopted children rarely have the chance to return to their birthplace.


In a country where she looked different from most other people, Hannah says that it became too common for her to answer all kinds of questions about her looks - such as how she washes her hair. She adds it was not always easy to tell her adoptive parents about the trouble she was getting. "Somehow white people have a mentality of black people that they are poor, can't think and that the only thing they know is dancing and singing," says Hannah. And how does Hannah view adoption in general? "I am not saying adoption is bad or should be stopped, but it should not be as easy as it is today," she says


Hannah's biggest concern is that there are no guidelines for black children being adopted by white families. She says that it is a psychological disaster for the child if the family doesn't talk about the colour of their adopted child's skin. "It is because of the neglect of the issue of identity that you see many adopted children going down the drain despite getting the best food in the world," she concludes.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Taxi Cab Confessions No.1

I just came off a week of business travel and had several interesting taxi rides -- interesting in a good way. There were a couple that made me laugh out loud.

Cab Driver:
(As we made it to the first corner) What about the politics? I know you must know and understand what is going on in America and the politics and I hope that you know about this man Obama!

This driver was from Somalia and has been living in the US for six years. He told me that he lived in Kenya as a refugee for 11 years before coming to this country. We had a fun conversation about "the politics" and then ran through the normal particulars. I mentioned that I had no children but was adopting from Ethiopia. "Adopting" was a word that he did not understand. So he told me a story.

Cab Driver: Do you know what happens with children there in Ethiopia? My friend was traveling through the country, he boarded a plane and it was filled with Ethiopian children and white parents. They went there to buy the babies. You are not buying these children are you? Can you really buy children in Ethiopia?

He took an extra long time at the stop sign so that he could turn around and ask me the question. I assured him that I was not and that I had gone through a long process to prove myself worthy of adoption. I rattled through the list about fingerprints, the FBI, paperwork, and immigration. He shouted, "You will be their sponsor!" It seemed like that made more sense to him so I told him that he was exactly right.

Cab Driver: That is how someone should come to this country. My parents sponsored me and now you will sponsor these children. I think this is wonderful thing. Blacks in America have done so much, they've come so far, they are very smart and filled with education. This children will live with you and you can make them strong like the black people in America! This will be a better country for them if we vote for Obama. He will do more to make this country better for all the people.

He seemed very happy with his statements and kept smiling and nodding. At this point I was sure that we had circled the area a couple of times, I think it was maybe to extend the ride. Then he asked me if the children would live with me forever. I told him that they would.

Cab Driver: You are a good lady and I can tell that you are educated. You will make a wonderful home for them of this I am sure. I must say that people here in America have been so generous they are always willing to help their people. I am glad that you will do this thing.

When I got out of the cab he told me to be good to the children and to "remember the politics".

Original Court Date: April 18, 2009
Final Court Date: May 18, 2009
[607 total days & 165 days w/IAN]