24 July 2010

We Made It!!!!!!!!

We're finally here! The flights were on time and went well. We flew from San Diego to Chicago to Frankfurt for a layover (long enough to check into the Sheraton at the Frankfurt Airport) and then to Addis Ababa. For anyone traveling from west of the Mississippi, we definitely recommend incorporating a layover in your itinerary. It helps with the jet lag. Ethiopia is 10 hours ahead of the west coast and 7 hours ahead of the east coast.

The trip started at 4:08am. That's when we showed up at the San Diego airport. We made a mental note for next time that the ticket counter folks don't even show up to work until 4:30am! Here's Alicia enjoying the early morning. We packed 3 suitcases with about 1.5 of them being donations for the Transition Homes.

After a brief layover in Chicago, we headed to Frankfurt. We lucked out to have two seats on the side by ourselves, and we flew United and had Economy Plus with extra legroom. We arrived at Frankfurt at 5:45am. The airport was deserted which allowed us to get through customs and passport check in less than 30 minutes!

The hotel room at the Sheraton was great, but to be honest, the fact it had a bed was what we really cared about! We took the train to downtown and surrendered to fatigue after a couple of hours. Luckily, we set the alarm because we may have slept through the flight!

Internet connectivity is limited here so our next post will be about our Frankfurt adventure and the our first day in Ethiopia.

17 July 2010

We Are Going to Ethiopia!!!!!

We got the call four days ago that our Court Date is July 26th. We leave in five days!!!! I was out at sea on my ship when Alicia got the call from AWAA, and she had arranged the flights and hotel stops before I had gotten home. We will fly from here to Frankfurt for a brief layover and then fly into Addis Ababa. We'll layover in Frankfurt on the way home as well. We like Frankfurt because there is a hotel in the airport so we don't have to go through security (we hope) - super convenient! Even though we haven't flown through Frankfurt before, we are trying this because we don't want to fly straight through (35 hours each way), especially when we bring back our son. Alicia has a tough time sleeping while sitting in a chair while I usually fall asleep before take-off.

Speaking of bringing our son home, we won't travel back to get him until the U.S. Embassy completes their investigation. That's the final verification of all the T's crossed and I's dotted. We've been told to expect to bring him home anytime from 4 to 12 weeks after the Court Date.

We expect to take a zillion pictures and videos during our 7 day trip. We've heard that e-mail connectivity over there is okay but no phones (unless you pay a fortune for an international cell phone) and limited internet connectivity. We hope to keep friends updated through Alicia's Facebook page. We've heard we'll have better luck with that than trying to post to this website.

I assume command of the USS CURTS (FFG 38) tomorrow morning (July 17th) so this is truly an exciting week!

07 July 2010

All of the Paperwork is In!!!

The court finally got the birth certificate and we should have our Court Date soon! We have been told to expect a Court Date sometime during the last week of July or the first week of August. Based on families who have recently received their Court Dates, we expect to be notified only a week ahead of time. Everything in country is arranged by our adoption agency; we just need to get ourselves there! Because of the short notice and this is a peak travel time for Europe and Ethiopia, the plane tickets aren't exactly cheap.

We will land in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia's capital) and remain there for our entire stay - about 6-7 days. Our adoption agency has a contract with a small hotel (www.yebsabi.com) and we'll have a driver to take us anywhere we need - for both he Court Date and to see some tourist sites. We have followed numerous families who have traveled, some as recently as a couple of weeks ago, and our adoption agency has everything required in-country down to a science. We have no doubt we'll be well taken care of.

We have managed to send our son three care packages with families who have traveled in the past month either for their Court Date or to bring their child home. The pictures (to include two short videos!) we've gotten from them are priceless, and we are super-anxious to share some of them with everyone. Evidently, he's quite the ham!

03 July 2010

Home at Last......and Adoption Paperwork Update

2,961 miles. 46 hours and 15 minutes. That's how long my Garmin told me it took to drive from Newport, RI, to San Diego. Yes, I finally finished my Navy schooling and am home. I'm here for a week and then head out to sea to meet my ship. I'll only be gone for about a week or so, but unfortunately, Alicia has gotten used to this routine over the years. The good news is once I return, I'll be home for a while before heading back out to sea again.

Here are some observations from my trek. Instead of driving 46 hours straight, I took five days to get across country.
-- In case it's been a while since you were on I-20 between Oklahoma City and Flagstaff, there's still nothing.....except for Amarillo. There must be 1,000 hotels in Amarillo.
-- Not having Alicia with me certainly made the trip seem longer, but it let me do what all guys need to do on long road trips.......set a new personal best on the shortest pit stop - especially the ones where all three are required -- gas, food, and bathroom.
-- I had been on the road for only 15 minutes leaving Amarillo when a large SUV passed me on I-20. It was big enough to have a third row, which this family needed as every seat was full. The back row had three teen or almost-teen children and they all looked as if they were on their way to the dentist - i.e., not happy in the slightest. This was at 7:15 am.
-- I stayed overnight in Phoenix and the weather was HOT! 103 degrees at 3:30 pm when I arrived. The breeze was blowing but it was so hot it felt like I was standing inside a hair dryer. For folks who say the "dry heat" is not as bad and humid weather, I've just got two words -- hair dryer.

We are still waiting for a Court Date to travel to Ethiopia. The challenge continues to be obtaining a birth certificate. That is the final piece of paper the court is waiting for. There have been a number of families who have traveled for their Court Date recently, and a few have taken pictures of our son. We can't wait to share them with everyone once we pass court!

We also purchased a bed for him. Alicia wisely decided on a single bed because he'll be around two and a half when he comes home. We still have a few finishing touches for the nursery but nearly everything is set. We'll post pictures once everything is set.