Two and a half year olds don't recognize shifting clocks to Standard Time. That's right. Sunday morning when the clock says it's 5:30am, Mebratu's internal clock says it's 6:30am and time to play......with the loudest toy he can reach from his closet. The funny part (not really) is our internal clocks welcomed the extra hour of sleep.
We learned two lessons this morning - one old, one new. The new lesson is we are looking forward to shifting clocks back to Daylight Savings Time when the clock shift works to our advantage! The old lesson we re-learned is to better place toys in his closet (i.e., the loud ones on the top shelf).
We had our first Social Worker visit yesterday and it went very well. She helped us update our package after we moved here so it was good to see a familiar face. She will be coming back two additional times for the required 6-month and 12-month reports. Ethiopia requires three Social Worker reports for the first year: 3, 6, and 12 months after arriving home.
She was amazed that Mebratu feeds himself without wearing most of the food, can drink from a real cup, and mimics everything I (David) do.
Yes, it's been a while. Today happens to be our 11th Week Anniversary bringing Mebratu home. He has kept us busy. What's kept us busier is my ship has been at sea for a while since we brought him home. Of the 77 days we've had Mebratu home, I've only been home for 34 of them. Alicia has done great as a single parent! My mother visited as well as Alicia's good friend Andi which greatly helped. We even had a date night thanks to Andi!
We've learned from friends of 2-3 year olds that nearly all of our challenges are the same as anyone with a 2.5 year old. We also admit that part of the challenge has been figuring out what he's been used to. The other challenge is what he wants actually changes from minute to minute. One morning he wants the banana peeled; the next morning it's Armageddon when we peel it for him. Luckily, we're through most of that phase. All three of us - make that four of us when counting Chloe - our 9-yr old dog - have adjusted well. It seems like Mebratu has already been a part of the family forever.
We have a great church just a few miles from our house. We have been taking him to Sunday School for a couple of months. He has done very well and I'm glad we started him early. From what we've read, it takes about 6 months for separation anxiety to take hold so we're about halfway to that point, and he doesn't mind it when we leave him.
We have already submitted the first report through the adoption agency. We will have three more reports due over the next year and then one yearly until he turns 18. That's the requirement from the Ethiopian government, and I kind of like it even though it's extra paperwork for us. It shows how serious Ethiopia takes its children.
The past two weeks have been great and a learning experience. We think Mebratu is doing very well. He seems very fickle on what he wants. One day the small glass of milk is okay with breakfast, the next day he screams with unbridled terror. After talking with a couple of parents of two-year-olds, we've learned that is typical for this age. He almost sleeps through the night - usually getting up in the middle of the night and getting back to bed easily when one of us tucks him back in. He naps for about two hours in the afternoon. We quickly learned that going without a nap is not a good idea - make that a living nightmare. He eats nearly everything we give him. (Thanks aunt Laurie for the great monster bowl!) Food is clearly an important issue for him. Most of his meltdowns involve food.....or going to bed. Speaking of bed, he has taken very well to the bed Alicia picked out for him. We've learned that if we sit in the room after putting him in bed, he falls asleep in about five minutes. Let's just say that not sitting in the room after putting him in the bed elicits a more emotional response.
While I was at sea last week, and my mother came for a visit to help Alicia. She was invaluable to say the least. In the first week he was home, he started to help me around the house and now even mimics what I do. I'm sure his enthusiasm for folding clothes won't last into the teenage years. His English is getting better, but I'm afraid that the first word he probably learned was "no." We look at a picture book before going to bed, and he now repeats what I say when he points to something in the book. All in all, we think he's doing well and we have to remind ourselves (sometimes multiple times daily) that he's only 2 and we've only had him for two weeks!
We leave tomorrow for our Embassy Appointment and to bring Mebratu home!!!!! This is insanely quick and quite out of the ordinary. Because of the short notice and because I have to be back at work soon, we're not taking a layover either way - flying straight there and back. The trip back is when we'll be desperate for your prayers! We'll travel through 5 different airports and spend 29 hours in four different planes.......all with a 2-year old who has never been on a plane and doesn't know us at all. It's all about survival!!! The Navy will have me at sea for most of September and October. I e-mailed the embassy and explained my Navy requirements and asked if they could review our paperwork and take our appointment a little ahead of the normal schedule. I received a very luke-warm response and thought nothing of it.......except when our agency called us Tuesday and said the Embassy contacted them and will see us on the 11th.....of August!!!!
Alicia has been baby proofing the house like crazy; I can barely open the door to the garage now without practice. I finished installing two baby gates and one car seat. Chloe was especially helpful in supervising the baby gate installation. Thanks to Alicia, Mebratu's room has been ready for a while.
Internet connectivity at the Guest House won't allow us to update this website, but Facebook works great. If you want to keep up with our adventure, Friend Request Alicia (Alicia Rowland).
We certainly learned quite a few lessons for the next time we travel to Ethiopia. We wanted to list a few of them for the families who have yet to travel. 1. Take a small back pack and pack it like you're not coming back until the evening when you leave the Guest House each day. In many cases, we didn't come back to the Guest House until dinner time. Be sure to take lots of snacks to give the children on the street. Here's a picture of the Transition Home! 2. Ensure your shopping day is early in your stay. Ours was the day before we left, and we wish we had more time to look and maybe come back to a few things instead of having to make the decision right then and there if we wanted to make the purchase. 3. Write down questions ahead of time for the medical doctor and child psychologist. Talking with them at the Transition Home was very helpful, and your mind may be a bit distracted from meeting your child that you'll need to refer to your notes!! 4. Bring your laptop computer. The internet connectivity is VERY slow, but everyone had luck updating Facebook. The connectivity was so slow that we couldn't bring up our blog to update it so we were glad to have Facebook. Don't even think of e-mailing pictures to your friends; the available bandwidth just won't support. 5. Use the laundry service at the Guest House and save on suitcase space. All laundry is done by hand! Our clothes were returned at the end of the next day. I included a few pictures of our room and suite at the Guest House. 6. Bring an adapter for the electrical outlet. We just took a transformer (as a backup to the transformer already in the comptuter electrical cord). The plugs on the transformer fit the wall outlet, but the outlets are recessed so you'll need a plug adapter to fit into the recessed outlet. I hope this makes sense. I should have taken a picture! 7. Don't worry about bringing lots of food. The breakfasts and dinners at the Guest House were great. Do buy bottled water out in town because it's way cheaper than at the Guest House. Since you'll use bottled water for everything, to include brushing teeth, you'll go through lots of water during the 7-day stay. 8. If you can afford it, plan an overnight layover both coming and going. We thought it helped with the jet lag and just made the long flights a little more manageable. We realize it makes the trip longer, but it's 30-something hours straight to and from the West Coast. We highly recommend Frankfurt. The hotel is connected to the airport, and we were in our room less than an hour from walking off the plane (that includes customs and passport check). I included a picture of the Sheraton lobby - very nice! 9. Bring warm PJs. The nights are a little chilly and there's no heat in the Guest House. We asked for an extra blanket and that helped a lot. 10. Speaking of chilly nights and mornings, bring hot chocolate if you're not a coffee or tea drinker like me. They have hot water at breakfast and it would have been nice to have something to warm up with in the mornings. 11. Many folks slept in ear plugs because of the barking dogs and rooster. The rooster must be blind because he started crowing at 3am (well before sunrise). The dogs did bark but we didn't think it was that bad. We didn't use ear plugs and slept great. Jet lag is going to get you up early anyway for the first 2-3 days. 12. Don't worry about fancy clothes for the court date. I wore slacks and a collared shirt and Alicia wore cotton slacks and a collared blouse. It's a rather informal experience and very quick. We were in the Judge's office for about 2 minutes. 13. After you get your ticket at the Addis airport, you'll complete an immigration form and then proceed through the passport check. Pick up a few extra immigration forms for next time. The next time you come through this airport will be with your child and the more you can do ahead of time, the better. 14. As I mentioned in my last post, if you're over 6 feet tall, Ethiopia Air really has no legroom. Ethiopia Air flights are cheaper but potentially very uncomfortable!
After flying to Ethiopia, it seems like it's on the other side of the world. That's because it is! We planned a long layover in Frankfurt so we could check into the hotel (which is at the airport) for a nap and shower. That was heavenly! We were lucky enough to have time to include a layover on the way back as well. Here are a few pics from Frankfurt.
We were directed to check in for the Ethiopian Air flight 3 hours early at the Frankfurt airport. We thought that was a bit excessive until we saw the line! If the line looks like it extends to the horizon, that's because it does. The legroom was a bit disappointing for me but Alicia had no problem. Fortunately, the flight was "only" 6 hours. We met Mebratu a couple of hours after landing in Ethiopia. We were quite exhausted when we finally got to our hotel room later that day. The room had its own bath and shared a small kitchenette and sitting room with another bedroom.
Mebratu has been at the America World Transition Home. The home has a medical doctor, a child psychologist, and a lot of loving nannies.....and also endless laundry! And oh by the way, they do all of it by hand! I've included just a couple of pictures from our driving around Addis Ababa. The city is like all big cities except there are no driving rules, no car exhaust controls, and plenty of goats and donkeys.
We've been married for 13 great years! David has been in the Navy for 17 years as a Surface Warfare Officer. Alicia has been a fantastic Navy wife who has gotten them through seven moves in 13 years, to include Indiana, Japan, Rhode Island, and California! We have become expert packers and unpackers!
We have partnered with a company that specializes in Fair Trade coffee (JustLove Coffee) which has a great selection of coffee beans - to include Ethiopia, the original source of the world's coffee beans!
When you order a bag of coffee (or other items) through our web site shown above, we receive a portion of the proceeds. Most bags are $12.95; shipping is $5.
We'll periodically update our expenses to date in our timeline below. Our initial goal is to finance the plane ticket for our son when we bring him home from Ethiopia. So join our journey!
The Other Member of Our Family
Chloe is the other member of our family.
Adoption Timeline and Expenses
09 Sep 09: Applied to AWAA \
25 Sep 09: Accepted into ET Prog.
08 Oct 09: Rcvd Paperwork via Eml
28 Oct 09: Home Study Orientation
Expenses to Date:$5,494.57 16 Nov 09 : Home Visit #2
19 Nov 09 : Home Visit #3
25 Nov 09 : Final Home Visit
04 Dec 09 : I-600A Form to USCIS
Expenses to Date:$6,558.75 14 Dec 09 : USCIS received I-600A
19 Dec 09 : Home Study Finalized
21 Dec 09 : Finalized HS to USCIS
05 Jan 10: Fingerprinted by USCIS
03 Feb 10: Received I-171H
04 Feb 10: Dossier Sent to AWAA
Expenses to Date:$14,331.50
19 Feb 10 : Dossier to Ethiopia! 05 Mar 10 : Moved to CA
12 Mar 10 : Met with Soc Wkr in CA
18 Mar 10 : Fngrprntd for HS Updt
Expenses to Date:$15,419.06 13 May 10 : Rcvd Referral!!!!!!! 20 May 10: Updated HS to USCIS
Expenses to Date:$21,330.86 02 Jun 10: Rcvd Updated I-171H
13 Jul 10 : Notified of Court Date
Expenses to Date:$25,876.14 23 Jul 10 : Meetcha Day!!!!!!!!
26 Jul 10: Court Date
10 Aug 10 : Gotcha Day!!!!!!!! 11 Aug 10 : Embassy Appt.
Expenses to Date: $34,272.08 15 Aug 10 : Finally Home!!!!!! 06 Nov 10: 3-Month Rpt / Visit
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