Friday, May 28, 2010


Anna has been home almost two weeks now. I would have liked to update sooner, but it has been a zoo around here - really! Scott has been home, which always adds another ring to the circus here, Eric's parents came out from Oregon for a visit (planned long before the timing of the adoption), we had several doctor appointments for Anna, dentist appointments for all the kids, Eric was sick for several days, and the older kids were getting ready to leave for camp this summer. Scott, Amy, and Katie are all working at Camp Westminster for the summer. I was quite sad to see them go - they left on Wednesday and will be gone until the end of July (although the girls will be home for some of the weekends).

Overall I think things are going well. Welcoming an older child into the home was much harder than I anticipated. I knew it would be hard, but there were several days where I questioned what we had done. It didn't have to do with Anna being some very difficult child - it really is more my own sin nature and wanting to have my comfortable life back. This process has highlighted some very ugly areas in my own heart. Certainly Anna does bring difficulties, but my issues are much bigger.

Anna seems to be a very happy child. Her excitement when she makes some sort of connection is infectious. We have several of the Signing Time videos and she loves to watch them. She has made much more progress with the sign language than the actual spoken language, but at least we are learning to communicate in some sort of fashion. She enjoys puzzles and card games, is fascinated by the phone, and loves to watch food being prepared. She has some definite opinions and can be quite stubborn in certain areas (ie. food) so that has been challenging at times.

Medically we are in the midst of gathering information. The orthopedic we saw said that he can fix her, and he also commented that we saved her life bringing her over when we did. Her curve is so bad she is shrinking. We are waiting to get an MRI and a CAT scan and then he will make the decision on surgery. He said that something needs to be done sooner rather than later and commented that we were going to become great friends. Inside I was thinking I don't need any more friends, especially in the medical field, but I am so very thankful for the medical care that we do have here and fact that there is hope for Anna. Of course ultimately that comes from the Lord and we continue to look to him as we tread this new path.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Good News

This morning we took Anna to see her cardiologist - Dr. Vincent. I have to tell you a little about Dr. Vincent as he is a pretty special doctor. We first met him during one of Abby's early hospital stays. It was the weekend and Eric and I went back to CICU to visit her. As we walked in, there was a man standing next to her bed who was dressed in a Hawaiian shirt, jean shorts and flip flops. He launched into details about Abby and what was going on. I had no idea who he was and as he talked I just continued to stare and wonder who in the world this strange man was. Finally I blurted out "Who are you?" He calmly responded "I'm Dr. Vincent". I wasn't impressed and at the moment was happy to know that Abby had a different cardiologist and this was only the guy on call. I soon came to think very different of Dr. Vincent and was happy to have him in Abby's life. He was on call at the time of one of her most difficult surgeries. It lasted into the night and the details coming out of the OR were not good. In fact she set the record (at Egleston) for surviving the most times being put on and taken off the heart lung machine in one surgery. Of course at the time no-one thought she would survive and it was very tense. She made it out of surgery and went to CICU where no-one know what would happen during the night. Eric and I spent the night in the waiting room and in the morning went in to see Abby who was miraculously still alive. One of the nurses pulled me aside and told me that Dr. Vincent had set up a folding table next to Abby's bed and had slept on it all night. It brings tears to my eyes even now to think of it.

So fast forward 12 years and I contact Dr. Vincent's nurse through a nurse friend that we have stayed in touch with. I tell her about Anna and that we would like Dr. Vincent to be her cardiologist. We get an email back from her that gave us Dr. Vincent's cell phone number and a message from him to call anytime. I called him last week to tell him Eric was picking her up and they would return Saturday evening and could he see her at some point. He tells me he is heading out of town Sunday evening, but that he would see her Sunday morning before he left. I thought of what a wonderful doctor to see us on the weekend when he is heading out. We are blessed.

We took her in this morning and Dr. Vincent did an ECHO of her heart. He commented that her repair (done in the states two years ago - not here in Atlanta) looked "pretty darn good". He said it wasn't perfect and that she may need a valve replacement in the future, but for now her heart looks good. That was wonderful news and an answer to prayer. From some of the reports we had gotten, we were thinking that something might have to be done soon. Dr. Vincent will do a full exam in the next couple of weeks, but we are thrilled at the good news, especially as it allows us to look into her other medical issues. Her scoliosis is much more pronounced than we expected so we will be seeing an orthopedic next.

As far as adjustment things are going well. We have certainly had some bumps - adopting an older child is much different than an infant! But overall she is doing well.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Friday, May 14, 2010

Day 4 and 5

I can't wait to get more details and see pictures of all the things they have done. I really cannot put much explanation into what they have done as I just don't have the complete picture.

They had their embassy appointment on Thursday. It came very close to having to be re-scheduled as the embassy said that they were missing some vital form. Belay was able to step in and find the form! They were then able to go ahead and finish the appointment and they got Anna's visa on Friday. Another answer to prayer!

Thursday afternoon they were able to hook up with the soccer ministry that we had collected the jerseys and balls for. Scott was able to play with them and it sounded like he had a great time. Eric was able to meet the Youth For Christ Staff in Ethiopia (I'm not entirely clear on how they are related to the soccer ministry), and he enjoyed connecting with them.

Thursday evening they went to some sort of cultural dinner with music and dancing. They all had a great time - Eric said Anna loved all the music and tried to imitate the dancers.

Friday was a very busy day. They went to visit Anna's previous orphanage so that Eric could talk to the doctor that has treated Anna for a majority of her life. That was a very beneficial meeting. Then they went to the last orphanage Anna was in so that she could say goodbye. After that they visited 3 state run orphanages. One of the orphanages is for older boys and Scott was able to play soccer with them. A couple of years ago the estimate of the number of orphans in Ethiopia was about 5 million. The number of orphans that they saw just in these visits was a drop in the bucket compared to that, but it was very overwhelming to them. It was very difficult to see rows and rows of cribs and beds and so many children without families. A hard day...

But most wonderful of all they are headed home!

And speaking of home - all the kids are still alive and the house is still standing so I'd say that it was a successful week on my part!

Name Change

Eric has been investigating issues with our daughter's multiple names. A couple of issues have surfaced while he has been there and after consultation with Belay (the head of the Gladney in-country operations) he decided to just give her an American name and we will put an Ethiopian name as the middle name (which one has not yet been determined). So henceforth she will be called Anna. Belay explained this to her and she seemed happy about it, so that is what we are doing.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Day 3 P.S.

Do you remember Imelda Marcos and all her shoes? Well that is Scott! I think he has more shoes than all the girls in the family put together. So guess what he was doing when I called yesterday - buying shoes! I asked him why he wanted to buy shoes in Ethiopia and he said "how cool is it to have shoes from Ethiopia!" I can think of cooler things to bring back, but for Scott it is shoes!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Day 3 in Ethiopia

Today was the day that they visited the Gladney foster care facility. Here they took part in a traditional coffee ceremony where a woman roasted coffee beans over a pit, then crushed them with a type of pestle and mortar set, mixed with the water and then served (this is the short "its midnight and I'm tired" version). They were able to deliver the care packages to the soon to be adopted babies. Amy changed both babies into their new little outfits and Eric took pictures and video which we will send to the parents. Amy commented that Baby E was enthusiastic and happy and Baby D was also happy but seemed to have more of a quiet disposition. She enjoyed her time with them.

Eric was able to get two doses of antibiotics into Tigist so I pray we will see improvement and especially that her condition would not worsen.


Tigist has had a pretty hefty cough since they have been there. Eric was able to get it checked out today as they were at the Gladney Facility, which has a doctor. She unfortunately has pneumonia. Please pray that she would heal.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Day 2 in Ethiopia

Today was a free day just to be used for more "family bonding". Eric has been quite reachable by phone, but conversation is somewhat difficult due to the connection. So I don't get near the details that I would like. Scott is keeping a journal so I am anxious to read that when they get home and hopefully get more of a sense of what happened.

They took a couple of journeys out today. First they drove up Entoto Mountain which gives a view of Addis from the top. Something about that didn't seem to go right, but I never did get the details. They also visited Alert Hospital Souvenir Shop. Alert Hospital is the only leprosy hospital in Africa and the people who have been treated there make things to be sold in the souvenir shop. Eric seemed to really like that place. I know they picked up some things, but I don't know what and he even mentioned he might go back for a few other things. I associate leprosy with the Biblical accounts of it and forget that countries still struggle with it today. Last they went to visit a little boy who was recently referred to some friends of ours. This little boy has some medical issues and our friends are praying about whether to accept the referral or not. In the providence of God our trip came only a few days after this referral. They asked if Eric could swing by and just take a look at him which Eric was able to do. He took some video and was able to talk to the nurse there. The boy seems to be doing well and we were glad to be able to do this for them.

The guest home where they are staying is suppose to have internet, but it is not working (I suppose a typical Africa thing). I am disappointed to not be able to see any pictures, but we will have lots when they return! Also when I talked to them last, Eric and Amy were reading by candlelight as the power was out (another typical Africa thing). They have all commented that it is just so different from anything they have ever seen.

Nigisti seems to be doing well. Amy says she gets nervous when they go out - probably wonders if she is being returned to the orphanage. She also seems to be quite picky about her food! Eric says she is very friendly with them, but shy around others, and seems to have a good attitude. Communication is difficult as she doesn't understand English at all, but they seemed to have worked out some good hand signals. All in all I think things are going well.

Monday, May 10, 2010

While We Were Sleeping

A lot can happen in one night! When I headed to bed last evening Eric, Scott and Amy were on the plane from London to Addis. By the time everyone here was up they had landed in Ethiopia, checked into the guest house, gone to the orphanage, picked up Nigisti and were all back at the guest house together.

I know on the blog I have switched back and forth between Nigisti and Tigist. Her given name is Tigist, but it doesn't appear she was ever called by it once she was in the orphange - Eric is looking into this further. Anyway apparently Nigisti was ready to go! Eric talked to one of the sisters at the orphanage asking if Nigisti was having anxiety about leaving or was sad about leaving anyone in particular and the sister was very emphatic that Nigisti was ready to go. I think that since she came to the States for surgery she has seen another life and she is ready for that to begin. They spent the afternoon at the guest home just doing things together to get acquainted which from all reports went well. The last time I talked to Eric I could hear her in the background laughing hysterically. I asked Eric what was going on and he said Scott was throwing pillows at her! I am sad not to be there, but I am excited for the time that the 4 of them have together. Plus, in our family its probably better for her to meet siblings a couple at a time! All of us might be a little overwhelming. More to come....

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Adventure Begins

Eric, Scott and Amy took off last night on their first leg of the Ethiopian journey. They were flying to London where they will catch another flight to Addis. It was unbelievable how much stuff they took. We were required to take $200 worth of humanitarian aid. We took hand sanitizer, diapers, clothes, and play dough (we were given a list of things they needed). Then we had 50 something soccer jerseys, 16 soccer balls and two pumps! The place where they are staying, The Ethiopian Guest Home, partners with a ministry to reach street kids through soccer. Eric talked to Dave (he is the one who started the guest home and he lives here in the states which made making arrangements very easy) about whether Scott and Amy could take part in the ministry while they are there. Dave said yes that would be great and he mentioned that if we could round up some soccer jerseys that the kids would really love that. I knew soccer jerseys were something we could handle as we were a soccer family for years; however, I didn't realize the extent of what we were going to get. One of Eric's co-workers and fellow soccer mom gave her daughter the job of rounding up some jerseys. She did great - came up with almost 40 very nice jerseys. Then my sister, who coaches two teams, came up with about 15 more. Then we got a money donation which was suggested to us that we could use it to pay for the extra luggage fee. I thought I would pick up a couple of soccer balls and then use the rest of the money towards the luggage fee. Eric and I stopped by a soccer warehouse we used to frequent and the owner upon hearing what we were doing sold us some very nice balls for very cheap. So I spent all the money on balls and pumps. I figured it was a chance to get a bunch of balls for them at a very low price. Then of course we had all of Eric, Scott and Amy's stuff plus clothes for Tigist and some games and other things for her to aid in bonding. We also had two small care packages to take to soon to be adopted children.

The first leg of the flight was on Delta and they only allow one bag each, so we tried to stuff as much as we could in 3 large suitcases, plus one large duffel bag which held part of the soccer stuff. We figured the suitcases were over the weight limit - which they were - so we had to take stuff out at the airport and pack it into another duffel bag. The lady at the counter was unimpressed with our letter stating that we were carrying humanitarian aid which asks them to waive the extra luggage fee or reduce it. (Our adoption agency provides the letter and says it works sometimes and doesn't work sometimes.) So Eric was preparing to pay and she tells him "no charge"! She said since Ethiopian Air (which they take out of London) allows 2 bags, she will allow him two bags. In the whole scheme of adoption expenses it is a drop in the bucket to pay extra luggage fees, but on the other hand when money is flying out right and left it was a nice little blessing. A second blessing is that Delta was able to check the bags all the way through to Addis. It was questionable that they were going to be able to do that, but they did. This allows them to possibly see a little of London as they have an 8 hour layover there. Without worrying about luggage they are hoping to run out and see a couple of things. We thank God for these two wonderful blessings to start the trip with.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Georgia Tech Spring Game

The Georgia Tech Spring Game was the weekend before last. ( It took me awhile to get the pictures up.) Unfortunately the weather was horrible and the game had to be called in the 2nd quarter due to thunderstorms. But thankfully Scott got some good playing time -even had a few tackles.

Scott's fans in the stands:


Not so posed

Afterwords we had a bunch of people over for burgers and hot dogs. We were having too much fun to get many pictures - only one of a couple of Scott's goofy housemates and a couple of the cousins!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Grace Turns Two

Some pictures by Katie:

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Ethiopian Food

My foray into Ethiopian cooking has been met with mixed success. The first thing I tried was entitled "Ethiopian Sloppy Joes". It was so spicy that no-one would eat it. Even Eric and Amy, who love spice, could not tolerate it. Unfortunately this did not set a good precedence for trying anything else Ethiopian. Everytime I get the orange cookbook down (from which the Sloppy Joes came) all the kids cry "you're not making Ethiopian food again are you?" I did manage to find a cabbage side dish that everyone seems to like and I have also tried a few chicken dishes which have turned out okay. So when Eric and I told the kids we were going to an Ethiopian restaurant last evening we were pretty much met with groans. But we persisted and headed out. At first I wondered if all the kids were going to leave hungry, but after getting used to the idea of the different food all of them did quite well and we did manage to find food that they all liked - except for Grace.

This is pretty much how Grace spent the meal - rubbing the food off her tongue and saying "hot". She left somewhat hungry!