Monday, March 28, 2011

Mount Entoto

We took a nice 45 minute drive up to the Entoto Mountains, the highest mountains in Addis and site of Menelik's former capital, which provides amazing views of Addis. While we were driving up the mountain we noticed young and old women, as well as some children, bringing Eucalyptus branches down the mountain to their homes for firewood. Most of these wood bundles weigh around 50 pounds! Some people have donkeys that help them carry the wood, but the majority of the women have only their backs to carry this wood. It is truly an incredible site! As we drove up the mountain the smell of Eucalyptus was so sweet and refreshing. Some people refer to this area as the "lungs of Addis." It was a gorgeous drive!

Located on top of the Entoto Mountain was a beautiful museum which displayed artifacts of the history of Menelik the II and Selassie. At the end of the presentation the guide looked to us and said "this is not only our culture but now your culture too", Vivi couldn't help but get tears in her eyes. It was a very tender moment, we feel blessed to be here to experience everything in abundance. He bowed in respect and we did the same.

Next to the museum is the first church of Addis Ababa, Entoto Maryam Church, which hosted Menelik's coronation in 1882. Behind the church is the very historical place where Menelik II resided and built his palace, this is also where Menelik II and Queen Taitu founded Addis Ababa. It was wonderful to walk around the area, observing the intricate detail on the church, as well as enjoying the fresh air and unbelievably beautiful landscape and view of Addis.

Entoto Maryam Church

Menelik's Palace

"Happiness always looks small while you hold it in your hands, but let it go, and you learn at once how big and precious it is." ~Maxim Gorky

Sunday, March 27, 2011


T.I.A. This If Africa is a common phrase we hear. We had heard this phrase while we were the US however we regularly hear this phrase while being in Ethiopia and know we understand why. So here are some pictures of the common sites we see here, as well as some common "themes" here in Ethiopia, Africa.

~ As our driver, and good friend, says "Anything is possible in Africa."

~ In African time people start the clock according to the sun. So when we say it is 3pm in the afternoon, they consider it to be 9pm. Also, even though meetings might have a "start" time, it doesn't mean that is when the meeting actually starts.

~ Instead of a neighborhood dog there is a neighborhood donkey that roams around.

~ People are not required to have car insurance, if you get into an accident you try to work it out with the other driver. Or, like the other day, when someone hit a cow he had to pay the farmer for the cow.

~ The majority of the policeman stand on the streets and just whistle/wave down a car to give a ticket (we have only seen one motorcycle cop), and believe it or not the people actually pull over!

~ There are policeman with rifles everywhere, and you are not to take pictures of them or any government buildings, banks, or any embassy.

~ It is not uncommon to have a sugar or gas shortage. During the sugar shortage you will see a long line of people waiting for a ration, sometimes waiting hours. During the gas shortage you are rationed sometimes to only 200 birr gas.

~ The Christians and Muslims get along, in fact during the Christian holidays the Muslims will watch over the Christian neighbor's homes while they are gong, and visa versa.

~ It is not uncommon to see a goat strapped to the top of a truck or taxi, especially during Fasika!

~ Despite the struggles everyone is loving to each other and there is a very big "community" feeling which is displayed through their interactions.

~ As we found out, if the freeway is closed in a certain direction there aren't any warning signs or lights, instead just 6 huge boulders placed in the road right next to the exit. Good thing our driver was paying attention!

You will frequently see people selling vegetables and items off the side of the road

All the kids wear uniforms to school

The kids are so affectionate to each other. It is not uncommon to see boys holding hands even, all the kids love to laugh and play together.

The vendors/stores are spread throughout small and large neighborhoods.

There are churches throughout the city, often two different denominations across the street from each other.

Ethiopian Orthodox Church

A view of Addis from Entoto Mountain

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed” ~Gandhi

Friday, March 25, 2011

Adventures in Laftu

We love the neighborhood where our guest house is located in, Laftu, a district within Addis. We are located right across the street from a private school. Every morning and throughout the day we love hearing the kids singing and playing on the playground. The kids usually sing America songs like, Bingo, Jingle Bells, or Edelweiss. We enjoy watching the kids coming and going from school, all dressed in their uniforms, and they LOVE to wave up at us (we usually stand on our balcony)! The other day all the kids on the bus were opening their windows to wave at us, while one kid couldn't get is window open and became so upset. Once we made a point to wave specifically at him he gave us the biggest smile.

Laftu is a wonderful neighborhood, very safe and we enjoy our daily and nightly walks. Although it is only about 15-20 mins from downtown, it is considered the rural area of Addis. The other day we took a walk and noticed that there were two young girls following us around the neighborhood listening to our every word and giggling. When we realized that they had to turn the other direction we both turned around and waved, they responded with the biggest wave and a huge smile. You would think it would be intimidating to walk through the town being the only Americans, but it was a wonderful experience. We make a point to say "Selam" to everyone, with the kids usually saying "hi" (they love to speak English). The roads occasionally get muddy due to the recent rain or sewer run off, and they are always uneven, but it is an experience just to walk around. We love watching the beautiful Ethiopians pass us, some with a huge smile, while listening to the beautiful Ethiopian music blasting from various stores. It is a wonderful feeling to feel completely safe in the neighborhood. With the help of our friend, who has been here several months, we have found some delicious local places to eat! We usually eat shiro with injera, while drinking a "cold coca" in the bottle, it is so delicious and only $2.50 including tip. We look forward to future adventures, especially with Baby "M". Ethiopia already holds a very special place in our hearts!

Our trips into town will be an entire separate post but we are loving the entire experience and here is a picture of us downtown.

Standing in front of the Lion of Judah statue

“In this bright future you can't forget your past.” Bob Marley

Friday, March 18, 2011

Korah, a life changing visit

What a life changing experience! We had heard about Korah, a city that houses the poorest of the poorest, people with HIV and Leprosy, some with their only food source being the nearby city dump. Our driver stated that 3/4 of the people of Korah sift through the garbage for their food. It is a heartbreaking situation. Here is a site that talks about the history and here is also video

We heard that we could buy some goats and take them to Korah to help feed the people. Se we gave our driver 2500 birr ($150) to go to the market to get some goats, he went by himself to avoid us getting the "white tax". So our driver, Baby, arrived back at the house with five goats in the back of the van and off we went. The people were so grateful for the goats and we were told it would feed 200 people! We talked with the woman of Project 61 who is helping to provide care of the people of Korah. We enjoyed talking to the children and taking pictures because they love getting their picture taken.

First, we toured where they provide some shelter for children who don't have a place to stay. We also met some lovely women who were making beautiful beads. They are truly talented and take such great pride in their work.

As we walked through the community we met people of all ages and everyone was so friendly. We saw people working on building new structures for the community as well as people just trying to survive the day. As were walking we couldn't help but think about how much wealth so many countries have and that just giving a little here would go such a long way.

We eventually passed the hospital and arrived at the place where the women make yard and beautiful products, their talent is simply amazing.

We plan to return in a few weeks, as we were told "people only come to Korah once and never return", with more goats and to buy more incredible items. We conveyed our respect to these beautiful people and told them how beautiful they were and their products. It was a life changing day!

“You are the embodiment of the information you choose to accept and act upon. To change your circumstances you need to change your thinking and subsequent actions." ~ Adlin Sinclair

Please ask yourself how you can help the people in great need! 

The Village of Korah from ReFocus Media on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

National Museum

Our first official outing was at the National Museum in Addis on monday morning. It was incredible to see so much history! The museum houses contains numerous relics and archaeological artifacts starting from prehistoric times to the modern day. It was amazing to see so much history!

Notice the dice!!!

Over the years we have been learning of Ethiopia's history and culture through our love of Bob Marley. Therefore we were beyond thrilled to actually see Selassie's thrown and crown.

Haile Selassie's throne
Selassie's crown

Pete next to the Lion of Judah statue

A statue of Haile Selassie

Traditional old dress

The famous Lucy
The Ethiopian culture is so rich and we plan to only continue to learn about this amazing culture and keep this culture alive in our family!

“Those who know nothing of foreign languages know nothing of their own.”
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

All about Baby M

On Wednesday we went to meet with our attorney to discuss our case, which is typical for every adoptive family before court to ensure that all the necessary paperwork is in the file. We were suppose to meet him at 2:30 pm and when we arrived the secretary said that he had an emergency meeting with the adoption organization, which he had been in all day long. We anxiously waited with other families with our attorney finally arriving at 5:30. He was so apologetic, and of course we knew that this meeting was not in his control, and we were just so happy to be able to review our paperwork before court. Our attorney is such a wonderful man and we feel so thankful to be working with him!

Today was court, where we will testified to the judge for our love of Baby M and our promise to be her parents for life. The judge asked us why we were adopting from Ethiopia, how we had prepared ourselves for this adoption and for any identity issues that she might have when she is older, and how do does our family feel about the adoption. We were not nervous, we were proud, we know this is our journey and continue to have the mindset to have faith and move forward. We do know that we passed our part of court. We won't go into the details about the outcome of the adoption meeting, the situation with MOWA or court now, but we will keep you posted as to the results over the next couple of days. We need to allow the adoption agencies to update the adoption community first before we talk about what the current status is with Ethiopian adoptions and our case, although there is some good and bad aspects, it seems the future of adoptions looks positive. We also feel very good about our case! It was a good day ( :

“You block your dream when you allow your fear to grow bigger than your faith.” 
~ Mary Manin Morrissey

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Our first two days with Baby M

As we drove across town to the Toukoul orphanage our hearts raced! We have been looking at Baby M's picture for several months, knowing that she will not know who we are, we wondered how it would be to finally see this beautiful face in person for the first time! Our dear friend Steph came with us so she could videotape our first moments together as a family. The drive to the orphanage seemed to take forever but there was a was a holiday for the Orthodox church and church had just happened to get out as we passed through town, so we were able to see TONS people wearing the traditional gowns, holding umbrellas with the view of the stunning church in the distance.

As we approached the blue gates our eyes filled with tears, we have been waiting for this moment for a very long time and it was fast approaching. As the gates opened we couldn't wait to hop out of the van. We went into the office and checked in, giving our daughter's name and our family name. We were told to go across the yard/parking lot to the room beneath the baby dormitory. As we sat there waiting for our child we couldn't focus on anything else. Our eyes were glued to the door. Finally we saw a line of nannies coming our way, each holding a precious child. We immediately saw Baby M and jumped up to meet the nanny. She handed Baby M to us and we couldn't take our eyes off of her. Not only was she the most beautiful baby we have every seen, but she had the sweetest disposition. Of course we took tons of photos (you don't even want to know how many) and took turns holding our daughter. We were in disbelief, this day had finally arrived. We brought a tigger rattle which she enjoyed holding, hearing the rattle, and chewing on tigger's ear. As she gazed into our eyes our hearts completely melted. She quickly grabbed our fingers and glanced into our eyes. I am sure she was wondering who these people where who were staring at her and watching her every movement. We gave her kisses on her head and hands, and rocked her back and forth. Close to the end of the visit she fell asleep in our arms (yes we even took turns holding her while she was sleeping), it was absolutely precious. Soon, the nannies returned to pick up the children. We said thank you in Amharic "Ame-segi-na-lew" and "God Bless" as she took Baby M away. Then we told the coordinator how blessed we felt to be adopting Baby M, that we promised to love her with everything we had, and that we were so thankful for the love and care they have given our daughter. We also promised to keep the Ethiopian culture alive in our household, and she was very pleased to hear that we were staying the duration in Ethiopia (between court and embassy). It was simply magical! To celebrate we went to the Lime Tree for dinner, which was delicious!

While we slept that night it poured with a huge thunder and lighting storm, it was very loud but we enjoyed listening to it! Although we woke up to no power we were so thankful to be here. We woke up at 5am and couldn't go back to bed because we were so excited to see Baby M again. We heard the peaceful chants/prayers again which we love. Eventually the generator kicked on so we could at least take a shower (still no power until noon) before we left. Our favorite driver, "Baby", took us back to Toukoul to see Baby M again around 9:30. As we sat in the room waiting for Baby M again we were just as excited and hoping that she would remember us. As her nanny brought her into the room we immediately embraced this precious child again. She is such a joy, and we feel so lucky to be her parents. We enjoyed almost two hours with her and loved every moment (even the toots)! Soon the coordinator brought in a scale and Baby M was the first to be measured and weighed, she is about 13 pounds and 24 inches long. She looks healthy and is very alert! Baby M kept starred at us the entire time and eventually fell asleep in our arms once more. It was surreal, we truly can't imagine our lives without her! Soon the nannies came back to take the children and we once again said thank you and god bless!

We went to the store at the Toukoul orphanage to start buying her 18 little presents, with the plan to give one to her on every birthday. We also plan to buy her some wedding gifts (we know it will be decades but we want to get these beautiful items while we are here).

Tomorrow we will be meeting with our attorney to talk about court on Thursday. Please pray and keep positive thoughts that we will pass court and therefore gain custody within the following days. We have to say again what an incredible experience this has been already, the adoption and staying in this incredible country. Everyone is so nice, as Baby said "everyone hear loves Americans", we feel so honored to be here.

“You must be my Lucky Star, 'cause you shine on me wherever you are. I just think of you and I start to glow, and I need your light, and baby you know. Starlight, starbright first star I see tonight. Starlight, starbright make everything all right.”

Monday, March 14, 2011

First two days in Addis

We arrived in Addis and were pleasantly surprised at the smooth arrival process. As we stood in line for immigration we couldn't help but notice all the beautiful people and gorgeous Muslim gowns, each embroidered and unique in their own way. Immigration was quick and we loved hearing the sound of our passport being stamped! After we waited over 30 mins for all our bags, we walked through the doors hoping to see staff from the guest home. We were delighted to immediately see our translator, Henock, it felt like we were seeing an old friend. He gave us a huge smile, big hug, and said "Welcome to Ethiopia."

As we drove through the city we took everything in immediately, the beautiful flowers in bloom, half built building, people socializing everywhere and then of course the unfortunate abundance of poverty. Our hearts ached for these beautiful people who struggle on a daily basis. We hope to be able to give back as much as possible while we are here in this incredible country. We would compare the drive in the city to the driving style in Jamaica, lots of honking, more cars than lanes...lets just say it was a ride in itself!

When we arrived at the guest home we were welcomed by all the wonderful staff! After we checked in and took a short nap we walked outside to enjoy the cool breeze. Soon we found ourselves in the street talking with all the local kids. They were eager to speak English, and show off their dancing skills to the Black Eye Peas! Pete played soccer with the boys for quite some time while Vivi took pictures. After the last game a group photo was taken, with the kids immediately rushing to see the picture completely knocking Vivi over, they all were fascinated with their picture! It was quit a funny and memorable moment.

We are staying at the guest home with our dear friend from Oregon who is waiting to return home. We have also met some other wonderful families. It is such a supportive and happy environment. We feel so blessed to be here! Our guest home is right across the street from an elementary school. We woke up this morning to the beautiful sunrise and the lovely sound of the nearby prayers from the Orthodox church it was so peaceful. Soon we could see all the children arriving at the school wearing their uniforms. Several waved up at us as we stood on our balcony. We loved hearing the children play and singing songs. It was a perfect way to start the morning!

Currently we are waiting for our ride to the orphanage where we will meet Baby M for the first time! We were hoping to go this morning, but we had to wait until we were approved to go. We can't wait to see those blue gates of the orphanage and those beautiful big eyes staring at us.

“Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph.” ~ Haile Selassie

Friday, March 11, 2011

Off to Washington DC

It was an early morning! Our flight left at 7:30 am and so we were at the airport at 5:30 just to ensure everything went smoothly! We held our breath as the agent weighed each of our bags (remember we had to repack all of them due to being over by 5 pds per bag). We soon laughed and took a sign of relief when she weighed in two bags at 49.9 (the limit is 50 pds), and two at 45 pds! We were happy to have a calm and uneventful check in process. The flight was pretty smooth, except for a few rough moments of turbulence. We had plans on going into the city tonight, but in all reality when we got to the hotel we just wanted to relax and prepare for tomorrow, we are almost there our precious Baby M!!!!

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Moment in time

We are about to embark on the next step of the biggest journey of our life! As we prepare to leave Portland and head to Ethiopia we reflect on this moment in time of what we are looking forward to, as well as what we will miss about home. There are too many things to list of what we are looking forward to in Ethiopia, just as there are too many things to list of what we will be missing from home. However here are a couple just to name a few....


An Ethiopian sunrise and sunset

Holy Trinity Cathedral

Blue Nile Falls in Bahir Dar

Toukoul...where we will meet our daughter for the first time!

Your feet will bring you to where your heart is." ~ Irish Proverb


Of course our amazing family and friends who have stood by us during our Journey of Love! We simply can't list you all, but you know who you are, thank you and we love you!

Our adorable pets who, although they will have company while we are gone, will be sad to see us leave. Here are our beloved pets with their ever evolving nicknames...

Good Girl


The Rock



And last but not least....

Our beautiful city, Portland

“We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.”
 ~ Frederick Keonig

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Packed...Weighed...and Re-packed

Someone wanted us list our entire packing list, but we thought we would spare you. Although, that might be a mixture of interesting, boring and a bit tedious...since our list is quite comprehensive! Keep in mind we only get two checked bags up to 50 pounds, and 1 carry on item under 15 pds each. It seems like a lot of room to work with however, just envision what we will need to live in a third world country for up to three months...for ALL three of us (including Baby M's needs: food, diapers, wipes, etc)! We had all of our bags packed with our necessities and then weighed them...each bag was over by at least 5 pounds. So we re-packed, re-weighed and now we are ready to get on that plane! Today is our last day to finish all those loose ends, but we feel prepared and ready for the next step of this journey!

We also had to prepare our house and animals for our up to three month departure. Although our friend will be providing the attention for them for three months, we set aside what they will need over the next three months.

We are all ready...for the long trip and for the arrival of Baby M!

"Don't forget to pack your courage for your journey to greatness.”
 ~David Weinbaum"