Monday, April 28, 2008

GPS Coordinates...

I did not put the coordinates of any "exact" house but if you want to see a satellite image of the neighborhood where the Gladney Foster Care centers are, it's easy. Copy & paste these coordinates into Google Maps or Google Earth:
9° 1'30.10"N , 38°52'35.16"E

Ayat house, Hill Bottom restaurant, and the 3 Gladney foster care houses are all within a few hundred yards of this GPS point. If you pan out you can see the airport and other parts in the city. This neighborhood is about a half hour ride out of the downtown, which was actually an enjoyable ride (people watching etc).

Brain Dump - Travel

Contributed by Farmboy:

Before things get too far away in my mind I thought I'd post some suggestions regarding our time in Addis.

Eating out \ Restaurants:
First off all, since we were staying at Ayat house, we ate at home much more than I expected. Packing for travel out to Ethiopia was tight, but here's what we brought that was great to have: Peanut Butter, Nuttella, Ramen Noodles, Instant Oatmeal, Crackers, Candy. Some things we did not bring that I would advise: Cans of Spaghetti sauce (can opener), Gatoraid Powder, Garlic Salt. Things we bought that were quite edible from the stores: Eggs, Cheese, Yogurt, White Bread, Popcorn, Spaghetti Noodles, Ramen Noodle equivalent, Bananas, Apples.

We usually ate breakfast at the house, and a couple times a later dinner at home. Most days we were running around at lunchtime and ate out often with the other families and in country staff. Our favorite restaurant was Blue Tops. We loved the Spring Chicken and the Fish Cutlet. Also, you can get a huge plate (a meal for a kid) of French Fries there for 10 Birr ($1). Top View was also a good place to eat, the Dragon for Chinese, and we liked Rico's for pizza. The cheese was more of a goat cheese there but it was pretty normal pizza. To give you a feel on prices, here are our bills after tip for 3 adults & 5 kids: Blue Tops 350 Birr ($35), Dragon ($25), Ricos ($25), Lime Tree ($30) Dreamland ($30), Top View ($55). Coffee is very dark - think espresso, add some sugar, then some more sugar - then it is very good.

Ayat House
If we have not endorsed staying at the local guest houses enough yet... let me once again plug the Ayat house. As mentioned above we often ate at the house. We could have eaten out every meal but found eating at home more relaxing, easier, & it is cheaper. It is not a hoax on the price ($40 a night). This is a VERY nice house and very clean. It's tile or carpet, and cleaned, almost to our embarrassment every day. A queen in the master with a crib, another room with a double bed and a 3rd room with 2 twins. The twin beds are a quite hard. We were offered the house at $40 USD a night. Since we had 8 people, we paid him $500, although he did not ask for extra. We also gave Zimmit, the young lady who cleaned the house every day $100 for her efforts. She is up early and works 6am-5pm, then goes to school till 9pm, then cleans up after we went to bed - amazing. She is 20'ish and I think she makes about $50 a month on standard pay. I wanted to ask her to please stop cleaning so much for us.

Some perks: I went out to ask Wagayu a question one night around 930pm, he invited Buttercup, my Mom, and Me into his room for a beer and some snacks. We spent over an hour just talking to him about his family and Ethiopia, life and so on... there was no charge on that... TV with Dish had around 10 English Channels (and camel racing) with a highlight being "Tom & Jerry" every night from 9-10pm. Our 3 bio kids loved it and we could relax. They did a coffee ceremony for us on Sunday, washed and ironed our clothes, and gave us advice on where to shop in the market. Wagayu also lent us a cell phone to make calls to in country staff with rechargeable minutes. Wagayu has one electrical adapter, I think he would like someone to bring and "donate" another one to his cause.
Oh, yeah, a downfall, I guess, but we were pretty flexible about it all, power does get shut off occasionally. At the Ayat house, one full day we did not have power, with the power returning at 8pm. It was really no big deal for us, and since we knew this happens ALL over Addis all the time, we felt we really had nothing to complain about. Just an FYI.

We got most of our souvenirs at an Evangelical Church. I think it was called the International Evangelical Church sale or something like that. This happens only the last week of the month, but if you are there, definitely go. I found the goods for sale there were awesome, better selection than the market places we went. Also it was very nice that the merchants were all in the courtyard of a nice church. It appeared that these merchants were also specifically selected by the church so I enjoyed supporting them. We entered the church with 2300 Birr ($230) and left with... 1 Birr. Many of you may be more comfortable here since there is no bartering ... the prices fixed although some of the merchants would lower prices when they saw you interested in something.
The 'Mercado' was very cool to see, but we did not walk around the big area... our driver did not say exactly why, but I think it was because we had the 5 kids with us. We did go to some smaller areas and bought some more goods there. Here the prices are negotiated, and our driver Solomon did most the work. It went something like: "Blah, Blah... Blah?... nah nah blah... Blah blah... Nah, Blah, Blah" Ok, it's 100 Birr - we start to walk away... Ok, 90 Birr. sold. I think its fun, others hate it. Get ready to see some beggars here too... you will find some more persistent than others. I was caught more than once with no small bills in hand and had nothing to give people quite a bit.

Weather \ Clothes
We are from Michigan, but I found the temperature very comfortable. I always wore short sleeve shirts and did not pull any sweatshirts out of my suitcase. Also, if you stay at Ayat house, they do your laundry so you don't need 10 pairs of t-shirts, underwear, socks etc. Make your own decisions here, but We over packed.

I spent $2500 USD for 8 days (8 people remember) as follows:
lodging - 500, + 100 tip for Zimmit
transportation - 1,000 (van, plus tip)
food- 500
souvenirs - 500
* We got $100 USD converted at the airport upon our arrival. 9.5 - 1. We did use the "black market" to exchange money in Addis. Not sure exactly how risky that was, but we got 10 - 1 there. We paid Ayat and our driver in USD.

Accessing Internet was harder than expected. Lime Tree restaurant was very slow, Hilton connection was pretty good ($6 for 1/2 hour) Ayat is 30 minutes out of the city and we never tried any place close to get online. Type up any emails and compress any pictures before you get online and you should be in good shape.
We did opt to take the family swimming one day at the Hilton, although we had heard mixed reviews. Cost is about $10/person (70 bucks for our crew) but we hung out there for about 4 hours, so felt we definitely got our money's worth. All the kids loved it and since the water is hot spring fed, it was warm (think bath water) and no one got cold and stayed in it for hours. We did get sunburned, even with 30 block sunscreen, so watch out for that. Bio kids only complaint was there was no diving board. The surroundings are lovely.
Hope this helps any upcoming travelers. And our number one phrase for the trip:

Saturday, April 26, 2008

two GREAT days

Yes, we are in the throes of adjusting, but I must say these past 2 days have been awesome considering the massive changes our family is going through. We are slowly starting to figure out their personalities, their limit-testing, what is fear, grief, attachment stuff, and what is just plain 4 yr old naughtiness.

They TOTALLY want to learn English, trying to repeat almost everything I say. I took them grocery shopping yesterday, and they needed to repeat every item I put in the cart (several times...). Amazingly, they have already put 2 words together in some make-shift sentences. Man, kids brains are incredible!

For those of you contemplating traveling soon, I have 2 suggestions (so far. . . actually I have about 100, but will spare you an exhaustive post).

Suggestion One:

Stay at the Ayat House, or there is also a house next door that is also supposedly just as nice. There is plenty of room, even for all 8 of us that were there. You can cook your own breakfast and the occasional dinner when you are weary of restaurant fare. You may have the special treat of sharing a beer with the owner, Waguyu. Now mind you, I don't like beer anyway, and this beer was warm, so an EXTRA special treat (think - - - gag). But the conversation was awesome and Waguyu is always open to answer all kinds of questions, which we were more than willing to ask. Zimit (the housekeeper) will do your laundry and actually iron your underwear (just like I do at home. . . ). Also, you may think BUGS when traveling to Africa, and I have been to parts of Africa where the bugs were the size of mice (gag, again). The Ayat house is VERY clean and I think I saw 2 or 3 flies the whole time, and no other bugs, just in case that is a major concern of yours. And the price is unbelieveable. $40/night for a family of 4, or $60/night for 5 or more.

Suggestion Two:

If you have older kids (ours are 11, 10 and 8) and are thinking of traveling with them, we would say, GO FOR IT. Yes, the airfare is a hefty chunk of change, but the in-country costs are relatively low, and if you stay at the Ayat House, you wouldn't have to get an extra room or anything, keeping costs way down. Our kids played SO well with the twins, and had the limitless energy kids have, never tiring of piggy-back rides, playing tag, doing handstands, headstands, tickle fests, you name it. Our kids are your average kids, yet they traveled extraordinarily well, really couldn't have asked for it to go any better. Yes, they lived on french fries and spaghetti at the restaurants, but who cares? So, I bet your kids could do it, too!

Well, the post is complete, after many disruptions from a twin wanting a hug, a twin needing to be wiped, a twin wanting a banana, a twin needing a shoe tied, a twin needing a nose blown. Yea, disruptions! That just means the twins are FINALLY here.

OK, here we are on our first family vacation, touring Washington DC. Actually, we got the sweetest gift from our blogging buddy, Kristy, who lives near DC. We had a 9 hour layover at Dulles, so she came to pick us up and we did a whirlwind tour of the main attractions. AND we got to eat at McDonald's, a major highlight for our bio kids (and their mom), as they found themselves dreaming of double cheeseburgers and fries several times while in Ethiopia.

Thursday, April 24, 2008



Home at last.

Jambo and Kume are currently crashed on the floor in our room. No other place was going to do for them last night. I think we are going to SLOWLY figure this all out.

Thanks for all the comments while we were gone. So fun to read just now.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

DAY 2-3-4

Things are going well… We have now been able to visit the older kids' orphanage twice and the infant and younger kids' center. We had a coffee ceremony that was very fun to see and the coffee was quite good. Most of the coffee here is about 3 times stronger than “our” coffee and they drink like 3 ounces. We took lots of pics and held many babies. CoffeeMom, we held your boys for an HOUR during the coffee ceremony... He is a cutie (THEY ALL ARE) and is doing well.

J&K are doing well - Kume clearly attaching to Sharon more, while Jambo to me. We went the embassy yesterday and all went well. One Gladney family from NY needs to go back today because some medical info was missing. How about this: AFTER (thankfully) our interview with the embassy, Kume threw up all over her clothes and Sharon's leg… which is pretty much where Kume sits when we are out. We are not eating any traditional Ethiopian food but are going to a dinner tomorrow.

Today we are at the Hilton enjoying the pool. J&K are loving it. Jambo did drink some of the pool water and coughed it up. Not sure if this is 100% new to them or not. I would guess so. Our days are not too busy, thankfully, and we are eating at the house quite a bit more than I expected. Yesterday, while Buttercup was at Ayat house (Awesome btw – more to come when we are at home), Farmboy took Jambo and CJ to get Jambo's haircut and exchange money… Turns out we did it on the BLACK MARKET… are we adventurous or WHAT! Actually our driver went while we stayed at the “barber” - a hole in the wall with 2 nice guys and 2 seats.

IS this funny? Sharon has called Kume “NABOO” more than a few times. Hopefully we can laugh about that now and later. NABOO is our cat.

We are finding internet access hard. Yesterday no power, othertimes so slow our emailing times out. Maybe we will try one more time before we leave… maybe.

Love to all!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


8:30pm - Jambo and Kume are currently sleeping in our bedroom. For the night? We will see….

In a word: Wow.

Let’s say a lot has gone on in the last 54 hours... tidbits… We’ll try to keep it brief.


8am (hour 1) – Take off from Buttercupville… 2 ½ hours from Detroit and the first leg of our flight…

11am (hour 4) - 9 suitcases, 9 carryon’s dragged to the ticket counter.

2pm (hour 7) Another adopting family on the same flight. The Lindell’s, Michigan Adoption group friends are traveling to pick up their infant boy… Here… we… GO!

4pm (hour 9) Arrive, Dulles International. We know we either need to go left or right… or follow the Lindell’s. We take the l-o-n-g walk to the end of terminal D. Oh you ARE! Us too! It is apparent that if you are on this flight and you are not Ethiopian, you are adopting. I think at least 7 families including our “I must be in the back row” blogger pals: expandingthealbertsons. We were disappointed that Shumacher’s missed the Dulles connection but they made it out Monday night.

8pm (hour 13) Off on flight 501… Our kids did unbelievable on the flight. We had 6 seats together but we were offered 2 others to use as well which had working movie screens and reading lights. A huge blessing to spread out and totally crash… CJ claimed he stayed awake the WHOLE flight… the digital memories show otherwise. Z got sick towards the end. CJ asked if she was going to keep the barf bag as a souvenir. Very nice, big bro.

6pm (hour 28) 4 minutes to landing Z, hang on.

7pm (hour 29) Entry Visa, Currency exchange ($100), Immigration, baggage scanned ~again~ to leave the airport… This was a huge bottleneck with one security scanned running for the 300+ coming off the flight. This was a tiring hour…

8pm (hour 30) Travis picks us out easily. 6 white people buried in luggage, that’s us.

9pm (hour 31) Ayat house. Sweet, better than I even expected, very clean, very friendly, nice furniture, table for 8, beds for 6 plus a crib. We got a mattress from Travis, so we’re sleeping 8 for $40 a night baby! Take that motel 6.

12am (hour 34) Hot shower, bed

4 am (hour 38) Farmboy wakes up… hmm, this could be bad. Thankfully, after a couple hours, sleeps until 8.

10am (hour 44) Kaldi’s for breakfast... Machiattos to drink.

11am (hour 45) THE GLADNEY FOSTER CARE CENTER for older children. “~Jambo, Kume~… Mama & Papa…” Around the corner, under the clothesline, into the house to a room full of excitable kids, Jambo and Kume come forward stiff and apprehensive. Kume holds still a minute, then…THEN…, cries. Travis & the caregivers comfort. Jambo is first… Handed off to Farmboy… he’s doing well, smiling. Kume remained pretty overwhelmed and apprehensive, but she decided to snuggle/cling to Buttercup in the end (it’s SO nice to have a snuggler again). Can’t really put it all into words. We just met our newest children…..God’s plan all along.
We took lots of pictures there. Hint, the kids LOVE to see their pictures in the digital display on your camera. They definitely came to life after seeing themselves and their friends on the screen. My screen was actually kissed more than a few times. Once in the car, our bio kids were INCREDIBLY awesome at goofing around and having fun with the twins. GREAT ice-breaker.

12pm (hour 46) Lunch at a Chinese restaurant. Jambo & Kume ate, Jambo ate, and ate, and ate… both are decent with forks and knives. Jambo knows how to skip the veggies, passing them to Dad.

2pm (hour 48) Back to the Ayat House. Jambo seems really comfortable, or is just flying high with the excitement of chasing and being chased by our kids. He’s full of life. Kume is really soaking it all in. Quiet, cautious, finding it safest by Buttercups’ side. She’s smiling a lot but seems to be more nervous than Jambo. Over the night we broke out the fine china and had canned Ravioli and grilled cheeses. Jambo found the doorbell or ringer, and is growing familiar with the word “no.” It’s hard to discipline during a chorus of cheers and laughter from the other kids. Kume is joining in, turning off the lights and making a run from Dad.

7pm (hour 53) Travis arrives with the mattress.
Kume is spent, Jambo settling down. It was quite a day for them too, for sure. Kume is quietly crying as she lay in the crib. Farmboy lies on the bed near her. Either comforted or just too tired, gives up within minutes and falls fast asleep. Jambo too, Farmboy slips out and day one comes to a peaceful end.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Answer: About a year

Question: How long did your adoption take?

Looking back on our timeline our first home study was April 10, 2007, one year to the day from today. Young Action would probably point out that this was a leap year so it's ~actually~ 366 days but for the rest of us, it's close enough.

What a ride this last year was. We started with nothing in mind, only looking for God to close doors if we were not to continue going forward. Haiti once came to mind. Then we talked through here, and there, them, and these, and those. We almost selected 2 unrelated children, TWICE off waiting child lists. Changed countries, changed agencies, got impatient, got surprised, got scared, made friends, saved money, paid money, found tax credits, lost paper work, scanned documents, watched notaries sign stuff, authenticated stuff, FedEx'd stuff, and found out my fingerprints were important enough to take, three times.

We found out there was such a thing as an I-600A and the all important I -600, quite different from an I-864 not to mention the I-864A, 1040's, DS-230's, and the precious I-171H. And everyone knows about the visa 37 cable, right??? Letters became places like the USCIS, NVC, FBI, MOWA and a Foreign Embassy suddenly seemed to care who I am.

On another note, we finally bought some new luggage yesterday. Yeah, we kinda do things that way. But I am thrilled to say we also got almost all our packing done last night.

And this, as we know, is just chapter one.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Taking requests....


Any of you that have referrals and want us to take some pictures for you and give your children some love from you, just let us know. We would be honored to do that for you. Just give us their names, ages, and location. You can email us using our link on this blog.

Oh, yeah, and Kristy, I won't forget our super top secret mission. :)

We just got this picture today:

Kume has seen our family picture (that is what she is holding in her hand) and she is still smiling. A very good thing.

Yes, they don't always smile. Thanks to Lori Rooney for giving us a shot of reality. Hope my lap is big enough!

I love his hair!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

I DO like green eggs and ham!

In just 9 days we take off for Ethiopia. Nothing is ~done~ but most things are started. We have 9 suitcases spread all over our house and more are on the way.

Tonight while I was at work, Farmboy whipped up Green Eggs & Ham... Kind of a new adventure quite possibly to convince the kids that food that looks a little different than we expect might still taste OK. What a great object lesson. What an AMAZING man... wait a minute - who snuck into my post and added something?

The camera does NOT do these eggs justice... a fine grasshopper green.

Action overcame his fears and ate like a champ!

... and I will eat them in a house and I will eat them with a mouse... And I will eat them here and there. Say! I will eat them ANYWHERE!

I might even eat them in Africa!

Just a little longer!!!
(back to Buttercup's post)


We leave in 9 days, and finally get to meet Jambo and Kume and expand our family in just 11 days! I was going to say "complete our family" but I have learned never to think things are completed until God says they are completed. I used to think we would only have 2 children, that's it, a boy and a girl. Good, got it. Now we are done. Well...

We are about 1/20th done with our packing. Actually, the only things packed are Jambo and Kume's clothes and all the meds we could possibly need while there (I think). We are taking our 3 bio kids and Farmboy's mom, too, so we will be a nice big bunch. We get to stay at the Ayat House, and I have heard some great things about it, so am thrilled it will work for our family.

Thanks again to Becca Albertson for offering to watch our kids on the plane so we can get some rest. :) Wow! What a dear! That is SO awesome!!! Let's all give her a hand.

There, now that this is public, how can she refuse???