December 18, 2006

Hi all,

Sorry I have not posted yet, and will post the whole story but must wait a bit until I have brain function. We still seem to be on Ethiopia time, so I'm running on about 1.5 or 2 hrs. of sleep a night. Not enough. Hopefully will have more energy and powers of concentration in a couple of days. Meanwhile, the little one is a treasure and adores her big sister. The big sister adores her baby sister right back, but is experiencing some jealousy issues. Hmmmm. More later. Here are a couple of pictures to tide you over! The christmas one is one of 10 that are either blurry, girls looking like refugees from a mental intitution, picking noses, fighting, etc. Oh well. Will try again later. haha The first picture is at 2:30 am the night we got in from the airport! They sure look better than I did!

November 30, 2006

November 09, 2006


Yep, it's true. Finally, after a million new gray hairs, we got a call today telling us that we must be in Addis on the 4th of December for an embassy appt.

Here's the kicker.... now, don't get me wrong - I am supremely grateful for dates. However, because of the delay we are now traveling during the high season for Ethiopian travel. Flights are mostly completely booked leaving us with the choice of paying nearly $1000 more per ticket for business class or staying 2 weeks. Honeybun is so upset at me leaving and after a looooooong talk with a child psychologist, we've decided to streeeeeeeeetch our teeny finances and take the higher fare. I can't be traveling on Honeybun's birthday. Just can't do it.

I am grateful for my 2nd daughter, can't wait to get my mommy hands on her, can't wait to see the girls united finally, and love both of my princesses, but I cannot wait to be done with our agency. I'm so very disappointed in their practices of late and their disorganization. It makes me sad to know that the children are suffering due to their cavelier attitude.

On a happier note, here's a picture of Honeybun after carving her very first pumpkin, and one of Sweetpea just 2 weeks ago taken by a wonderful mom that went to get her own child!

November 02, 2006

Frustration Mounts

Amazingly, I'm still incredulous that this process is so frustrating. Though I went through it not a year and 1/2 ago, I somehow expected the experience to be similar. It isn't. As you know, this time its been fairly challenging financially for us and we are doing everything we can to make it doable. That said, I had a conversation with the agency yesterday. I have reserved tickets for me and my sister to go to Addis on the 25th of November. (The agency had previously told me that it was 90% chance of going to Ethiopia then.) After a discussion with our travel agent, who can get us a missionary rate to Addis and back, I found that without at least 2 weeks notice I'll get reamed for tickets. When I called the agency for a more solid idea of whether that date was it, do you know what they told me? That they really wished they could be more helpful, but they would not know anything until the Ethiopian staff called them. That they did not expect a call until November 13th. NOVEMBER 13TH!!!!!?????????!!!!!! I calmly asked her if she was aware of our situation, and that we were trying to save as much as possible........etc. etc. etc. She said, as I heard paper crackling in the background, that there was nothing to be done and I would have to just wait. I'm sure I had steam rising from the top of my head and broke down in tears after cutting off the call. I was, unfortunately, in the parking lot of Lowe's so had to pull it together. I'm so tired of keeping my game face on and 'going with the flow' that I could scream! The agency has changed so much since last year (when my dear friend left the agency), and now I feel like we're just a check to them. It's a sad sad way to feel when your child or children are at stake.

Got more recent pictures, though, of our little Sweetpea. Here she is. I so want to hug her.

October 20, 2006

Postponed again.

I was informed by the agency that I will not travel until the 25th of November. Yep, that's right - Thanksgiving Day. Can you imagine the delays, crowds, and cost involved in traveling on the holiday? I tell you, I am counting the minutes until this is done and I don't have to deal with anyone about my child anymore. I'm sure you can imagine what nasty thoughts are whirling around in my overtired/overly frustrated/over everythinged brain. When I explained that she has bonded to a nanny there and, according to a psychologist I spoke to, the longer that she is there at her age and developmental stage and more securely bonding to the nanny, the more adjustment issues she will have here. Nice. My poor little girl. She will not spend Thanksgiving with us giving thanks for her, nor will she spend her 2nd birthday with her big sister.

October 18, 2006


Sorry to have been silent for so long. It's rather amazing that life can spin out of control in a mere 48 hours if you let it! Certainly not bad - out of control, just frustrating/procrastinating/getting-nothing-done-though-I-seem-to-be-busy out of control. I've also decided not to refer to my darling daughters as #1 & #2 (seems a tad chilly), and so from this day forward DD#1 will be called Honeybun and DD#2 will be called Sweetpea. Just so you know. :)

First a quick update: I have a tentative travel date of November 10th, and though I will try like heck to make travel arrangements that can be changed I won't hold my breath quite yet. I must admit that it kind of ticks me off that the agency only gives a couple weeks notice, as the ticket prices then are HUGE. I tried to make my case with the program director yesterday, but was pretty much spitting into the wind. Anyway, there you go. A few families are going in the next 2 weeks, and they have very kindly offered to take some pictures. I miss my little daughter! Honeybun has decided that Sweetpea will share her room (she knows that we painted the blue sky/grass & flowers motif just for her and does NOT want to give it up!), so we will have to cram 2 twin beds into that one. Of course nothing else will fit besides the 2 beds, so thank goodness there are built in drawers in the wall! We'll see how long Honeybun and Sweetpea will want to share.

A reader has asked me to tell a bit about adopting a pre-schooler, so here are a few thoughts. Before adopting Honeybun, I thought that an "older" child would be too hard, come with too much baggage, have trouble attaching, etc. but I'm happy to tell you that thus far none of that has come to pass. Honeybun is very well adjusted, bonded to us like cement, and seems to be relaxed and unpacking her baggage a bit at a time. Puffing out my chest, raising my chin, and smiling that self satisfied smile, I feel that some of this success is due to the way we as parents have tackled the whole situation. While we have never been the types to go for new-age parenting (ie. co-sleeping, long explanations for discipline, no TV, etc.), we have settled in to a modified team approach to family life. Everyone has a say, we have family discussions, all are able to make their opinion known, etc. but in the end we as parents have the final yea or nay. This has worked for us because Honeybun is a very emotionally mature child, and is very articulate. That said, she is a typical 5 yr. old and is trying out all the usual bossiness, anger, selfishness and crazy energy. We feel that since she was 3 1/2 when we went to get her we were able to communicate better as she was old enough to understand a bit about emotion and vocal intonation. I like that she was her own personality when we met her, and so brings Ethiopian-ness (if I can make up my own word) to our now 2 continent family.

Since she was old enough as well to know and remember her family, we had been afraid that the separation would be too traumatic blah blah blah. However, we sort of fell into a modified open international adoption that I would very strongly recommend to anyone adopting any age of child. At first Honeybun's language challenges didn't enable her to pass along anything, but only a few months after her arrival, she began telling me stories of when she lived with her grandmother. I've written these down so that she'll have them as she grows, because memories fade and already her inner "scrapbook" is almost too faint to access. Our invitation and openness about her memories has been good for her I think, as she now knows that she can speak freely about it to either one of us. We've worked hard at combining our families, and always talk about our Ethiopian-American family, send piles of pictures and holiday gifts to Ethiopia, and have recieved several cherished packages from our Ethiopian relatives. Notice that I said OUR Ethiopian relatives. It has been crucial for us to relate to them this way, and so we've become as attached to them as Honeybun is. I'm so looking forward to seeing them when I go to get Sweetpea! Well, enough patting myself on the back. It has worked for us, and I hope will continue to. I keep a journal of sorts where I have been writing Honeybun a letter each month or so telling her how I feel about her, things she's done or said that I want her to remember, etc. When she's a teen and going through the angst of being a teen/being adopted/being different than most of her white friends, it might help to be able to read about how deeply she has been loved from the moment I held her and how proud I am of her/her heritage/our family.

October 02, 2006

Time's a wastin' and I'm just procrastinatin'. With prose like that, I can't imagine why I'm not a published author.

Ok, last night I dreamed that the agency called and gave me 2 weeks to travel to Ethiopia. Needless to say, I woke up in a cold sweat mathematically working out in my head how I will fit 4 rooms worth of stuff and furniture into 2 rooms. I exaggerate a bit, but I still have our "library" set up with all the books and junk that goes with that in the girls' new playroom. That one needs to be cleaned out, painted light pink with yellow woodwork and Tinkerbells. Their new bedroom is still serving as home office for me, and needs to be cleaned out, painted (same theme as DD#1's former room: blue skies, grass border, dragonflies, ladybugs, flowers, etc. with white clouds and glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling), and furnished. We have a small cape so you can imagine the challenge of fitting regular human sized furniture into matchbox sized rooms. On a good note (albeit a somewhat 'detail oriented' one), I am nearly packed for the trip!

I also decided to shed my extra poundage or at least get into reasonably good shape so that I won't pass out when required to carry my new 27 pound weight around for a week. It is now that I have become best friends with the Three Musketeers. They are delicious. They, however, are not helping me with my goal. It's hard to lose when your friends only want to feed you.

September 21, 2006

The Countdown to Travel!

Well, we finally got the medical report from Ethiopia regarding DD#2's recent illness. She had a "hyperactive airway" (english translation = wheezing) and was given Ventolin. Don't know alot about that drug or the whole situation other than that, but our pediatrician reassured me that there's nothing to worry about. Anyway #2 was never in the hospital, thank goodness, but just treated there.

So, everything is in to the agency, we were approved by US CIS in a record setting 4 days, the dossier is off the Addis Ababa, and we are just waiting for a travel date. I'm so excited to go to Ethiopia again, but wow will I miss DH and DD#2! I'm not sure that I will be able to be away from them for an entire week, but since I will be an ocean away guess I'll have to adjust. haha Now I'm looking for a cellphone that I can use from Ethiopia and am having a very challenging time. Hmmm. If anyone knows anything about this subject, I'd love to hear it! Packing up donations, etc. and have collected some lovely/fun decorations for the children's homes. The coordinator at the agency told me that the walls are stark and the babies have nothing in their cribs, so at least I have something specific to look for. I've been looking at the baby einstein mobiles (nonbattery operated), but good grief those things are expensive!!! How do you guys with babies do it?

September 07, 2006

I'm very scared. Our agency just called to let us know that our sweet DD#2 is sick. She may or may not have been in the hospital (now in the children's home) and they don't know any other details. I just want to go and get her NOW. Please send positive and healthy thoughts her way?

September 05, 2006

Why is it that when I decide I must lose flab and get into shape, it is right then that I eat more? I came to the conclusion (albeit late) last week that I must get into shape so that I don't pass out carrying our newest darling daughter home from Ethiopia. That very same day I ate an entire package of Twizzlers. Is it some biological defect where the word 'diet' or 'excersize' signals my brain to stuff as much fattening food as possible into my gaping maw? Is it a physio-psychological defect caused by exposure to Twinkies and Spacefood Sticks as a child? Or, sadly, is it just a severe lack of willpower on my part? I'm leaning towards the latter. I type this as I sit waiting for a double batch of fresh blueberry muffins to finish baking.

On the adoption front, we go tomorrow to get our fingerprints done! Yay! DD #1 is very excited at the possibility of fingerprints, due to watching Harriet The Spy 12,000 times. Hoping that we are approved asap! We are still trying to clean out our homeoffice, which will soon be the girls' room. It's turning out to be quite a job, as we are a family of packrats. Really, how much craft supply stuff does one family need? Not more than 3 boxes surely. So this week is the week to finish cleaning out the room. Then next week we will paint. DD#1 has decided that it must be a duplicate of her old room: blue walls with white clouds, grass and flowers along the bottom, butterflies and dragonflies on walls, and stars on the ceiling. Wish me luck.

Now, on another subject... a friend of mine brought up an interesting subject on her blog about when another girl or girls are mean to or don't like your daughter. This is a subject close to my heart as I was one of those girls that others were mean to and I know that my daughters, only because they look different than the lilywhite folks around here, will experience it as well. Fortunately I was able to 'turn the other cheek' so to speak, and just move on to my other friends. I can't tell you that it didn't hurt though, and frankly even now I can feel the sting of those first rejections. I've tried to raise DD#1 (and will try with DD#2) with a strong sense of self, compassion for others, and the ability to stand up for herself. I continue to try not to react with anger or beligerance when faced with a negative comment or action. We've both tried to be nonjudgemental around her, which is sometimes hard because we have been judgemental in the past. DD#1 is such a beautiful and pure soul that I would rather kill or be killed than to snuff that, and I will fight tooth and nail not to let others do it either. That's why I want her to have a sense of who she is and what is important. We've faced a bully already (hard to believe that it was in preschool, but guess they're everywhere) and I've gotten her to see that he must be in pain or sad to have to make others feel so bad and to be so mean. I hope that is the right way to handle it. Any thoughts?

August 31, 2006

YAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Got our fingerprint appointment for next week! Time has been running up to a month for approval, so everyone cross their fingers please. Here is another adorable picture of our littlest girl.

August 30, 2006

I know, it's been way too long since my last update and even that was rather pathetic. Have to admit, I've never been very good at waiting so this waiting to go to Ethiopia is practically killing me! We've sent everything in to the agency and are now waiting (yes, that horrible word again!) for US Immigration to approve and fingerprint us. Wouldn't you know that our last fingerprints just expired?! Now, generally speaking, one would think that fingerprints would not have changed in a year, nor would a fairly boring couple from rural NH have spent that year honing our skills as white slavers or international jewel thieves. Our tax dollars hard at work.

So, in the mean time...I am trying to wade through all the junk/stuff/crap in our office (soon to be the girls' bedroom: pink with Tinkerbell on the walls) so that I can paint it next week. I hope you are crossing your fingers for me since I will need all the help I can get to focus and finish it! Well, I will add some more details later, but am preparing for a playdate with the very popular Nicholas this morning. Must shower and convince the Princess to change out of her cheerleader pajamas.

Here are a few more pictures of our new daughter that a very lovely and generous friend (Julie) took while she was in Addis last week. Thanks Julie!

August 15, 2006

This is our small video montage of our newest darling, coming home in October! More on that later, but take a look at our sweet Freweyne at View this video montage created at One True Media
Kaly's Baby Sister, Freweyne.......

July 15, 2006


We are counting down now to mid september when the Ethiopian courts open. I should say that we are counting down until all our paperwork is in to US immigration for approval and then the package is off to Ethiopia for court procedures. Truly, we can't wait to see our new little girl and DD#1 is waaaaaaay too excited!

Meanwhile, life goes on. Yesterday and today were spent at the beach with a Quebec family we met at the beach last summer. They come every year and we have daughters the same age. They are lovely people and we all wish they lived a bit closer. The picture at the top is of the two girls jumping waves. Next summer we will have two daughters jumping waves with their canadian friend!

July 10, 2006

My video montage of DD#1's first year home

She's a joy. We're in Heaven. And now I've set it to music! :) (Just click on 'Our Kalkidan')

View this video montage created at One True Media
Our Kalkidan

July 09, 2006

About the Life Book thing...

Forgot to tell you about that! As a bookbinder, I am planning to hand bind the Life Book myself. I am, at this point, using a program called Storyteller to create the book, but so far am just playing to see if it will take shape the way I "see" it. It begins with the photos we have from DD#1's family and will be about her life with them including the few details we know. She has told us some memories that I'll include in italics. Then will include a letter I wrote to our child before the referral and the referral picture we got of her. Will put in some of our preparations for her, trip tickets, etc., emails that we sent home while we were there, photos of Horizon House and all the people there, etc. and photos of her first year at home. I will put narrations on each page and perhaps quotes from family. The intention is for it to be flat pages and not the scrapbooking type, as I want her to be able to look at it until it falls apart! I hope to have DD#1's book finished by the time we go to Ethiopia for DD#2.

If you've done a Life Book for your child, please tell me what kind of stuff you're doing or have done.

July 08, 2006

Preserving our daughters' heritage and Lifebook creation:

I've been asked many times what we are doing to help our daughter keep her heritage, know more about her biological family, and give her something of her own that chronicles her life before us. Very good questions all, and these are subjects that every adoptive family wrestles with. We chose to be very open about the creation of our family, and I think it has worked out very well. DD#1 asked me if she grew in my tummy, and I said no. I said that she was my child and God told me where to find her; that her Ethiopian family was our family too and that we all loved her so much; that we are lucky to have such a large family now in 4 countries! We make and eat Ethiopian food often, talk about Ethiopian art and culture, express pride in Ethiopia and that our family is Ethiopian, and play Ethiopian music in the house and car. We've also maintained a close relationship with her grandmother in Ethiopia, sending small gifts that DD#1 has made, drawings, and many many photos. She, in return, has sent us letters and cards which we cherish and will put in DDs' books. Many adoptive moms-to-be seem to get sort of freaked out about having to share parenthood, and feel that their role as mom might be threatened if they maintain any relationship with the biological family. Those thoughts did go through my mind before my daughter arrived in my life, but now I see that in my eyes, in her eyes, in the eyes of the law both here and there and the eyes of her Ethiopian family - she is my daughter and I am her mother. The open appreciation of the love and care her Ethiopian family gave to her that we show both to our daughter and to them has only solidified our roles as her parents.

Also, I began writing her letters in a blank journal book about a month after she arrived. I've been telling her about things she's said and done, memories of Ethiopia she has told me, our feelings about her, etc. My plan is to give the book to her when she is 16 or whenever she needs to peek into my mind and heart for guidance or stability.

Well, due to a 2nd comment on my blog (which I was absolutely sure that no one ever read), I guess I must post a little more often than once a month! haha I must admit that I find it hard to put into print the thoughts that are racing around my head. Never could keep a diary or journal really, as I was always afraid I'd write something that would hurt someone's feelings if they read it when I was dead. How "middle-child" is that?!? Ok, so here goes....

Darling daughter #1 is such a miracle. She is constantly amazing us, her extended family, friends, the many acquaintances she collects every day, etc. with her increasing compassion, joy, love and downright smarts. (Any opportunity Daddy and I had of spelling "secrets" is now gone with the wind. She spells. She adds and subtracts. We are in deep trouble.) Just when I think that I will literally explode from loving her so much, I feel like something injects more. Mommyhood is amazing and very very humbling. It can also be frustrating, which you've been telling me all along. :) She is 4 1/2, which explains alot I suppose, but man o man I am not looking forward to next year when she is 16!!! We asked her if she wanted her baby sister to come and live with us, and she got tears in her eyes. Yes yes yes! Thank goodness. While I'm very glad we organize our family as a team where everyone gets a say, I don't know what we'd have done if she'd said no thanks! Now she's planning on having dollhouse bunkbeds, like our friends built for their daughters (Thanks alot! You know who you are!!!!). Hope we can squeeze them into the room!

Darling daughter #2 (in the photo above) is FINALLY in the baby home, thank goodness! She had been sent back to her grandmother due to a positive Hep B test, but subsequently had a negative test. Why they would send her back to an unsafe environment I don't know, but she is there now so I will concentrate on that. We are toiling away trying to get our paperwork done, but I fear that it won't be in time. You see, the Ethiopian courts close in August until mid-September so it looks like we won't travel until October. Breaks my heart that our baby will have to wait that long, but I guess it gives us more time to stock up the cash we'll need for the final payment to the agency and travel costs. She is absolutely adorable and looks quite a bit like her big sister!

May 26, 2006

Only a quickie, and will write more later, but we got the news today that Freweyne is now at the baby home and available for adoption! EEEEEK! Better get our ducks in a row with all the paperwork and $$$ QUICK! Very very exciting!!!!

May 04, 2006

Quick update, as per orders from reader. (You know who you are, darling! :))

Sadly, the agency refuses to decrease the fees. This, as you know, may be a deal breaker, but we will toil on to find some way to finance Freweyne's homecoming. I was told by a very spiritual person today that we were meant to be a family and to trust that the $$ will come. Hmmmm. Powerball is not complying. We are still trying though, and wading through the paperwork yet again.

April 21, 2006

Spring has sprung and I find myself looking at babies with a renewed interest! Good grief, I thought after our loooooooong struggle to find Kali that a baby in our house was not a possibility. Now here we are fighting tooth & nail to bring Kali's sister home. From what I can see, 16 months is a pretty cool age and one that Kali will love to "mentor". LOL Still in the paperwork stage as we must fill out all the forms, get all the certified copies, etc. again. Well, it's worth it if this works, right? I am searching out all kinds of ways to make the financial aspect work. The latest is that I have become a rep for Planetjill, a line of photo jewelry based in California. Very cool that I can work from home, sell by wearing my own pieces, have parties, or people can order from the website and give my name (Beth Gallagher) as rep. By the way, the site is just in case you're interested! (wink wink...)

Well, too pooped to pop as my Nana used to say, so must twirl off to bed. Will write more tomorrow!

April 17, 2006

Well, not much to post today. We had a fabulous Easter (Kali's first), with the beautiful "princess" Easter dress, egg hunt in the morning, special prayers for spring/faraway Grandma/everyone that is sick or lonely (Kali's ideas), the try at church, and brunch out. Kali was so happy I thought she'd fly right off the face of the earth. This is Kali in her dress and hat. The pink flower on the hat doesn't really show, but she kept taking the hat off and smelling the flower!

On the adoption front, we've finished our subsidy form for the agency and will send it tomorrow. Hoping for a big one, but will settle for anything at this point! This week will begin work on gathering all the documents AGAIN for the agency requirements. I really have to admit that I'm a little p.o.'d that they cannot use the very same ones we submitted just last year for the first adoption, but will bite the bullet and do it all again if I must. I suppose I might as well order 5 certified birth certificate copies at once so I can cover all bases for the next few years! (Laughter with a tinge of hysteria...) The agency has very kindly asked the Ethiopian program in-country if they will reduce the fee for us, so cross your fingers. I hate to do that as I know the $$ goes only to the upkeep of the orphanage, but will have to donate later instead. So, now is the bookwork stage. Hopefully it will go quickly so that we can get Freweyne home faster. I haven't mentioned any of this to Kali. I just don't want to rock her boat needlessly if something stops this from happening, but in the car the other day - out of the blue - she said "I wish my sister could come live with us." Floored me! She just might get her wish!

April 11, 2006

Well, I've been told to let you see me, so here I am. Warts and all. Ok, no warts, but a fairly obvious double chin and more than a few gray hairs!
Welcome to my blog. Sounds a bit odd, I must admit. Sort of like, welcome to my mind (which at this moment is a vast wasteland...).

For those of you that may not be PPSers or know me otherwise, my husband and I adopted our darling daughter from Ethiopia exactly one year ago last monday. Having gone through a few years of tragic loss, decision making and money gathering, we were amazed and humbled at the culmination of our struggles. Kali is a gift from Who/Whatever is there looking over us. She is what makes the stars sparkle at night and the sun shine so brightly. Her laugh is the sound of a million drops of soft rain falling on silver bells. Can you tell that I (we) are totally head over heels in love with our daughter? We both thought that we knew deep love, as we have it for each other and our families and friends, but we've been heaved into that other existence now. The one where you would kill or diefor your child without a thought for yourself. Needless to say, we have been living in paradise for the past year and feel unbelievably lucky to have done so.

So. Imagine my suprise, horror, and heart stopping shock at recieving a letter from Kali's only living relative insisting that we take her baby sister immediately. After a couple of weeks of grinding research, we have discovered that indeed her beloved grandmother is gravely ill and will not survive very long. This situation leaves Kali's sister in quite a precarious position as there is no one to care for her when their grandmother passes away. Side note: The grandmother is a lovely & very elegant lady that we both immediately bonded with when we met her in Ethiopia last year. In the face of desperate poverty and living conditions that most in our very fortunate country cannot even imagine in our nightmares, she is a very religious woman that instilled deep compassion, spirituality and moral values in our daughter, and loves her granddaughters beyond reason. When she passes out of our lives, she will leave a gaping hole behind her.

We are trying as hard as we can to adopt Kali's sister as soon as possible. So, at the suggestion of my posse, I begin this blog to update all of you that can put up with my posts on our journey for Freweyne (Kali's 16 month old sister in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia). Frankly the suggestion was a wonderful one as I think "talking" about all of this may just keep me sane! The cost of international adoption, as some of you may know is frightening. Especially so after going through it only a year ago. We haven't even paid that off yet, and now are wondering what we can sell to make this happen. Have come up with a few ideas, some good - some not so good, and will run them by you soon.

I want to thank my PPSer girls from the center of my heart and soul. I cannot imagine life without you all, and your generosity bowls me over. There are not enough words to describe your value to me, my husband, and our daughter. As I sit here typing and sipping a lovely spanish white wine from a Mickey Mouse paper cup (dishwasher blew. $#!^), I raise my "glass" to you.
This is a test, it's only a test.