Friday, May 01, 2009

We're HOME from Ethiopia

We're home!!!!!! We have had some major computer/internet problems since arriving home so I apologize for taking so long to update. Not to mention we brought home a little guy during the busiest part of our school year who likes to be on the move ALL the time. :)

I cannot even stress how AMAZING this little guy is and how wonderful it feels to have everyone under one roof now. His adjustment, at least so far, has been incredibly smooth. It's like he has done this before and is a professional already! ;) Bonding is going really well. The trip was exhausting but not bad. Neither Tara nor I got sick or jet lagged. That's a success in itself! :) Emirates was like flying on a cruiseliner!!!!!!!!!!! It was AMAZING!!!! I HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend it. They fed us NONSTOP and all the food was delicious. I have craved it since we got home. Can you believe that? Craving airplane food??? lol Nuts I know. ;) We had an overnight flight to Dubai and then an overnight layover (they put us up in a hotel for free). We were able to shower and feel well rested for our 4hr flight to Ethiopia.

We had too much luggage for the trunk of the cab. HA HA I have been in gocarts bigger than the taxis there. ha ha Cabs are unbelievably cheap there. We never paid more than $16 and that was for an entire day of shopping.

Next stop: The orphanage of the cutest little guy in all of Africa! ;P We arrived at the orphanage and were waiting in the director's office for a while (the children were napping). I saw litle heads peeping out at us. They must have told Behailu we were there (they all excite in this kind of thing) because next thing I knew, this GORGEOUS little boy sneaked in beside me and just stood there beside me until I noticed him. ;) What a thrill to see it was Behailu!!!!!! The first thing I noticed was how tiny he was compared to how his pictures portrayed him. He was 6 wearing a 4T. But he wasn't light. He felt so solid for such a tiny kid. I wanted to just scoop him up and eat him up but I knew he had to have so much going through his little mind. I cannot even imagine being that age and having to leave with people I had never met who didn't even speak my language. So I let him direct the hugs and kisses. Luckily Ethiopians are lovers by nature and I got lots from him. :)
He had to show me his bed. He was so proud of it.As soon as we were back at the guest house, Behailu took his stickers and picked off all the red hearts and put them on my arm. I fell in love, hook, line, & sinker!We stayed at Addis Guest House ( We HIGHLY recommend them. Everyone there was WONDERFUL. Every little need we had, they accomodated. They had a great little area for Behailu to play soccer and the best staff ever for him to play with. They played with him for hours. They translated for us when he was feeling sad (or naughty). They even got a taxi to go out and get whatever food our hearts desired. They have suites - living room, bedroom, spacious hall, and a private bath. Each room has it's own dial up internet access but you must stay on the first two floors for that. We were originally on the 4th floor and it didn't have internet. They moved us without a problem.
These are some of the amazing folks at the Addis Guest House! Im so glad they were all working the day we left so we could say goodbye. The guy above with Behailu was the sweet young man who played soccer with B for hours on end when B was having a meltdown or just overwhelmed by the transition. After a while we realized he thought the hotel was our new home. He suddenly didn't like the idea of being adopted to such a kid UN-friendly place. lol The staff was able to explain this to him in Amharic. Soccer was definitely his therapy for the days we were in Ethiopia.
The nice courtyard where B could play soccer. Those plants took quite the beating.
We drank a LOT of these. ;) I think B was drinking a lot of them behind my back too. Apparently he knew that was naughty and would take a big swig of it when I wasn't looking. Doesn't he realize mommy is a professional at sneaky kids??? ;)

Behailu's first night no longer an orphan. ;) He took full advantage of the jelly beans and remote control.

Mommy is CRAZY about her little guy!

Sweetest story about this day. The first day or two, Behailu hoarded food and toys really bad. He just didn't realize they wouldn't be taken away and that they were available forever. Well we didn't say much about it because we knew the reason behind it. The 2nd day we returned to his orphanage and notice he had been hiding food (cereal bars) to sneak to his friends at the orphanage. He wasn't just hiding them because he didn't know he would have food tomorrow but he was hiding them because he wasn't sure his friends would have food tomorrow. SO PRECIOUS!
Ethiopia was AMAZING! The poorest of poor was safe, trustworthy, and kind. No one seemed bitter of their circumstances. Everyone loves everyone. There was a car wash, and goat market in front of our guest house. We watched them work their fingers to the bone during the day. It was also considered a "nice neighborhood" at night because everyone would go to their homes that to Americans looked like scrap pieces of trash found around the city. These people are so grateful for everything they have. EVERYONE should experience this at some point in their lives. We are so spoiled as Americans. We should be able to live happily with much less.
Our view from our window.

We were invited to our facilitator's home for a traditional meal and coffee ceremony. HEAVEN!!!!!! the food was UNBELIEVABLY amazing! The coffee....well we drank a TON of coffee this week. There's nothing like it. It's SO GOOD! I don't even like coffee!!! Ethiopian coffee is so much better than American coffee. :) The ceremony is so interesting to watch. This was our facilitator's wife, Hana, and Behailu. Hana runs Sele Enat, another orphanage. That orphanage was such a wonderful place to be. So full of love and happiness even if they live on very little.
This was the day we were shopping (notice B was big on dressing himself). It choked me up to see this because I realized how easily B could have become this boy. A homeless street kid having to shine shoes just to eat (several didn't even have this much and had to beg for money for food). God chose B for our family and I am SOOOOOO grateful he didn't end up here. It's almost too much to even think about. :(
On our way to the airport to go HOME!!!!!!!! There's no place like home. ;)

We got bumped to business class on the first leg on the way home. WOW is all I can say. ;) (B is pouting here)
Another step closer to DADDY and my other sweet babies! We kept telling B, "THREE Aeroplans.....DADDY!" lol
How cute is my little luggage rider?

at JFK waiting on our last flight...felt like forever!
FINALLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! DADDY AT LAST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was so happy to see John and Kemry (the other kids stayed home to decorate the house for a party), but I don't think anyone was as excited as Behailu to get his daddy FINALLY! :) He made a mad dash to him, jumped in his arms, and gave him a big hug and kiss. Kemry was like, "Wait a minute! You are only supposed to be in pictures and this is my daddy too!" lol
So here I am.....36hrs of straight travel with no shower and only 2 hrs of sleep. Beautiful I say.
It's like he was ALWAYS her big brother....he knew just what to do.
The next morning we packed picnic lunches and headed to the soccer park as a family. He's a soccer STAR. My other kids loved watching his fancy moves.
BROTHERS......Behailu fits right in! It's so odd because it's like he has always been here. His adjustment is UNBELIVABLE! He is doing so well. Kemry is a little bit jealous and Karson loves him but he is sometimes too rough for Karson (who is my gentle sensitive boy lol), but the transition is better than I could have ever imagined.
Meeting Great-Grandma (Mammaw) for the first time.:)

He does this every second he can be outside...he obsessed with mastering the bicycle! this is pappaw ford (my dad) helping him.
Everyone loves Behailu so much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He is doing so well and our family is adjusting beautifully. We are so so so grateful God chose us to be his forever family. GOD IS SO GOOD!
p.s. we met some AMAZING friends on the way to Ethiopia in NYC (Natalie and Sheri with her gorgeous children) and some AMAZING friends on the way home in Charlotte (Hannah and her gorgeous family). I will post more about them later. They were too special to brush over. :) Also, TARA is the PERFECT travel companion!!!!!!! I couldn't have taken a better person with me. She was like the perfect lifesaver at all times. I cannot repay her enough!

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akinsfamily said...

Congratulations! I am so glad to hear that everyone is doing so well. Welcome home B and family!!!!

Vanessa said...

It's so wonderful to see you all together as a family!! Many blessings are still to come!!

Sarah said...

Congrastulations Cash Crew on your gorgeous new blessing! I hope his transition continues as beautifully as it has so far! What a fabulous journey!!

Debbie said...

Great pictures, I can't wait to talk to you on the phone!!!! And hear all about it!!!

He is adorable.... great looking grandkids are on the way for us!!! :)


DJ Holly Rock said...

Kelly and family...congratulations!!! I'm looking forward to follow B's "new" life!

Eastiopians said...

Beautiful Post Kelly! Thank you for sharing about your time in Ethiopia. What an amazing experience with B, the guest house, and the staff. Wow! I am over the moon happy for you, B and the rest of your family! How does he feel about having an American name? Will you all be able to make it to the May picnic or is that too soon to be out and about? I can't wait to see him in person. Your cup runs over Kelly...what a beautiful family you have. He is so handsome!

Happy Happy Joy Joy!


Beth's Homeschool Blog said...

Okay, I'm crying. Such a beautiful post and pictures. Thank you. God Bless your family!


marley girl said...

Okay.. I'm crying too! What a lovely post and a beautiful boy!! Thanks for sharing (now I can stop obsessively checking your blog like a crazy stalker ;)

--Jenn in Canada

Blog Owner said...

Welcome home Behailu! So glad that your are loving your new family. I'm so happy he is doing so well, Kelly.

Mary Ann said...

I am so happy to see your post! I am so excited for you all! Welcome home little guy to your forever family! I loved seeing all the happy pictures! He is adorable!

Laurie said...

I have tears in my eyes I'm so happy for you all! What a precious, special boy he is and very handsome! So glad your trip was wonderful and praying for each day to be smooth sailing!

Paula said...

Wow! Tears! I am so happy for your family! We've been checking everyday to see if you had time to post about your trip yet. :) And, good news while you were gone... we passed court! We are leaving in three weeks to begin the journey to bring our twins home. I hope they start out their new life with us as well as Behailu has started his with all of you. God has blessed you. :)

monica said...

he looks like himself! he is such a nice boy! told you he can play soccer!!
I am looking forward to skyping with you and the girls on skype. The sisters will be here too on sunday. that would be a perfect day!! big hugs! Monica

Malia'sMama said...

Yea!! Sooooo wonderful to see the pics, and that he is adjusting beautifully! Congratulations!

Kerri said...

Yay!!! I'm all teary eyed with happiness for you all! I love the pics of your gorgeous boy! Glad things are going so well.

Christina said...

Teary eyed and oh so happy for you guys. Welcome home Behailu!!!

Robyn said...

What great pics!! He is adorable!! Congratulations and welcome home!!

Our Family of 5 said...

I love all the pictures Kelly. His personality really does shine right through..

Jillian and Crew said...

YAY!!!!!!!!!!!! Sooooo good to see you all together!!!

Sara said...

Oh, I love hearing these details ... he is SO PRECIOUS. I LOVE hearing about his run and jump into dad's arms and how he stood beside you at the orphanage until you noticed him. Oh, I hope I can meet him sometime!


Kristy said...

OH Kelly, I have tears flowing down my face!!! What a sweet blessing! God is so good!! I'm glad all the transitions are going smoothly for you guys! Congratulations!! :)

Donna said...

Congratulations! Another beautiful child in your family. The travel stories and pictures were great!


Anonymous said...

Congratulations! So excited for B. and your family - what a blessing!

michelle said...

what an amazing journey is all I can say! LOVED all of your sweet stories, I am so bringing boxes of cereal bars when I travel : )

Congratulations to all of you, may God continue to bless you and your family abundantly!!


jill marie said...

Congratulations! He is just so handsome! Thank you for posting such sweet pictures for us to see! WONDERFUL!

nora said...

Loved reading about your journey! Congratulations! Your family is beautiful.


Wow, Kelly! Really, that is all I can say. I am tearing up reading your post and seeing your photos. Chris and I have been feeling the pull very strongly to Ethiopia and are mailing the agency application in today to start the process of an older child adoption. Prayers for continued ease of transition period and much love from the west coast!