Wednesday, August 29, 2007

We're home!!!!

One of our first nights at home. Jake was really hoping that Grace could sleep with him! By the way... I love this picture because I can see the same big, beautiful round eyes and great curly hair of both of my kiddos! God has a great sense of humor. :) He settled for feeding her and knowing that her room was right next door to his and that there was only a wall that separated their beds from one another!! He's one special little guy!
Big brother Jacob is as proud as can be!! He is quite the lover and helper. On June 20th, we received our referral of a 7 week, 4.3 lb. baby girl. It was the call we had been waiting for, but quite the surprise of such a young little one. Were we a bit nervous?? Yes. Did we believe, however, that this was the baby girl that God had chosen for us? Definitely! Was it hard to be half a world away from such a small little peanut and just trusting God and the special mothers that Grace would be OK? You better believe it! But..... God IS good and we have the most precious, amazing little girl we could have ever dreamed of!!!
And look at her now! 4 months, 9.9lbs. and doing great! She's been melting the hearts of everyone that meets her. She's a love!

OK- back to Ethiopia. One of the families in our group stayed at the Sheraton. Here I am with Grace on their balcony. Quite a view! We (and the other 2 families) had a pool party at the Sheraton one afternoon! Thanks Hausams!!!

One of our many lunch outings. This was at Kaldi Coffee Cafe. A total Starbuck's remake-- right down to the black outfits with green aprons on all the employees!

The happy moms and their kiddos!!
The most amazing "Special Mothers". These 2 ladies gave Grace all the love, attention, and food that kept her healthy and happy. (I think Grace was held most of the time!!)

Lori is an amazing woman!!! She and her husband adopted Hope. Prior to coming to Ethiopia, she was nervous about having a daughter since she has only raised 2 sons (age 16 and 20). Does she look apprehensive now?!?! Lori and Hope look like they've been mother and daughter their entire life. God has blessed them both!

Mike made a little friend at one of the orphanages.

I know most of the Ethiopia adoptive families have read "There Is No Me Without You". Well, a book should be written about this most amazing, Godly woman as well! She's the director of Hannah's Hope and the most incredible woman, with a heart and vision for the orphans of Ethiopia. It was an honor just to be able to spend the week with her. Mike and I feel indebted to her for Grace's life!! She's the one that took in Grace from the Government orphanage and saved her. God's glory shines through her!

Our group!! I know people travel together in groups to pick up their kiddos... but I think we had the best group ever! We had so much fun together. Our trip was truly blessed because of the fabulous families that we got to share it with.

More stories, pictures, and adventures to come. This is all I could do tonight!!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

One More Day To Go.

Wednesday Morning August 22 to Thursday Evening August 23, 2007

Wednesday morning, after eating breakfast at the Hotel, Almaz met us and we walked over to the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital. This hospital is specifically for woman with injuries from child birth. After the visit we went back to Hannah’s Hope and piled into the van to go out for lunch. We had lunch at a Starbucks’s clone (same colors and similar logo) and then headed to the Sheraton for Swimming. I managed to finally upload some pictures from the Sheraton, but I had to use a tricky backdoor method because Ethiopia blocks blogspot for censorship reasons. The Sheraton is the ultimate contrast in a land of many, but the pool is warm. As an impending thunderstorm loomed in the distance we headed back to the hotel for rest and dinner. As you can tell now that all the official business is done we’re just mostly hanging out. We managed to go to bed early around 8 PM and that was great until a South African army unit moved into the hotel at 11 PM. It was quite loud. Apparently they’re headed to Sudan as part of the UN force. Thursday morning we shared a hotel buffet with the soldiers and then we headed out for souvenir shopping. We hit an indoor and an outdoor market and then lunch and an art gallery.We also received our orders of Ethiopian coffee to take home with us. We’re back at the hotel now and later we’re going out for traditional Ethiopian food with music and dancing. I walked up the street a little while ago and bought some more of the local baby formula called “NAN 1” for Grace. She’s been a real trooper as we drag her all over Addis all day. She loves to talk and smile and is sleeping well. We are looking forward to getting her back home and settled in. We’ve been very fortunate with the weather here as it is the rainy season. We’ve had a consistent pattern of wet nights and dry days since we arrived. Tomorrow is our last day here in Ethiopia and there is not much scheduled. We’ll mostly wrap up, pack up and say goodbye. Our flight is a late night 10:40 PM departure from Addis, so we’ll have a late checkout from the Hotel. We’ll probably squeeze in one more update tomorrow but no more pictures until we get back. Pray for smooth flights back with Grace as they are 9 hour and 10 hour flights. God is good. Bye for now.

The Redman’s

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Finally some pictures!

The view from our hotel room facing south.

The entrance to Hannah's Hope orphanage.
Mom and Dad with Grace for the first time.
Grace's crib at the orphanage.
Sleepy grace in her new hat.
Grace chillin' with her dolly.
Little miss smiles lights up the room.

That's all for now. Time for a swim in the pool at the Sheraton.
-The Redman's

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

We're Halfway Through and Having Fun

Monday Morning August 20 to Tuesday evening August 21, 2007

Monday turned out to be a very long day. Our embassy appointment was scheduled for 3 PM. We left our hotel late in the morning and headed over to the orphanage. We all loaded up in the van and headed over to the Sheraton to finish our paperwork and have some lunch. The Sheraton is pretty much a palace/fortress in Addis. We all grouped together in a lounge area off the main lobby and finished up our paperwork for the impending embassy appointment. We ate lunch at the hotel buffet and then headed out for the US embassy. We parked across the street and left anything unnecessary behind since we had to get through multiple security checkpoints to get in. Once we were inside each family waited until they were called up to turn in their final documents, swear under oath that everything they signed and submitted was true and sign a few final signatures. Once this was completed each family received the court decree, Ethiopian birth certificate and other documents for their child. We all congratulated each other as each family completed their appointment. Actually, after all we went through to get to this point it was a rather anti-climatic clerical finish, but it was the last important step to get the children back to the US. The actual Visa and Ethiopian passport would be issued the next day (Tuesday). After leaving the embassy we headed to Enat Alem which is one of the government run orphanages that children come from to Hannah’s Hope. We visited with the children there and were treated to an Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony. By now it was quite late in day and we headed back to the Hotel after dropping one family off at the Sheraton. Traffic was incredibly bad and we got to point were we couldn’t get anywhere, so we backtracked and went around the other side of town. By the time we got back to the hotel (way past dinner time) everyone was burnt out by the long day and diesel fumes from traffic. Suzi went up to bed with Grace and I went down and had a late dinner with the other families. Grace had a good night and fed at 1 AM and then not again until 6 AM. Tuesday morning We slept in and it was probably the best night of sleep yet. We were scheduled to meet with Grace’s birth mother later in the day. It was a late running morning and we went to the orphanage and hung out until we could go to lunch. We stopped by the Sheraton to pick up a family at 1 PM and then went to lunch while Almaz went back to the embassy to get all the final Visa documents. We ended up staying at the restaurant for several hours as Almaz was delayed at the embassy. By the time she arrived back we were late for the meeting with Grace’s birth mother, so she arranged an alternate meeting location. Meeting Grace’s birth mother was difficult to do and she wept when she saw Grace again. Almaz translated for us and she received a letter and photo album from us. As difficult as this was we knew it was important for us, Grace and her mother. We were able to take some picture with her as well. After the meeting we all headed back to the hotel. Today was the first day we didn’t feel run down by jet lag. We gathered with the other 2 families staying here and we shared dinner at the hotel. Grace apparently has a gift for projectile vomiting and she has exercised it several times now. The most recent required a tablecloth replacement by the staff here at the hotel. We’re experimenting with different formula and are now trying the local brand call “Nan”. She is doing well and smiles a lot now even in her sleep. This is a change even from Sunday when we first picked her up. It is looking fairly certain that we will not come home early on Wednesday, but stick with our current booking to fly back on Friday. We’ll also be staying at the Union Hotel and not moving to the Sheraton, so internet access will continue to be a challenge. We had a huge rain/thunder/lighting/wind storm roll over us tonight. The rain was blowing sideways and the thunder and lightening were intense and loud. Tomorrow is a very light day of shopping and a pool party at the Sheraton. We are also visiting a local hospital. Technically we have completed everything necessary for the adoption and entrance for Grace back into the US. The lack of available flights means we will be hanging out in Ethiopia until our scheduled flight on Friday. God is good and we look forward to seeing everyone when we get back.

The Redman’s

The Journey So Far...

Ethiopia Journal
Sunday Morning August 19 to Monday Morning August 20, 2007
This is my first chance to write down our experiences of the last 48 hours. I’ll catch up from our departure in Seattle. It was an early Friday morning as we headed down to SeaTac to catch our flight. We were thinking international flight so we left allowing 3 hours lead time at the airport. Well, of course of first flight was a commuter turbo prop flight to Portland, so we had a few hours to kill. Check in went smooth and I made sure our baggage was checked and tagged for delivery all the way to Ethiopia. Security was moving quickly and we had no problems getting through other than their interest in my myriad of laptop accessories. I did enjoy the “lemming effect” of everyone going to the longest line for security while we walked over to the shorter one. After a little bagel breakfast we hung out and Suzi bought a doll for grace at Fireworks. At around 11 AM we boarded our little plane and headed out (on time) for Portland. The flight went smooth and fast. We made it their in 30 minutes. After a long walk to the other end of the terminal we checked in for our Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt Germany, the first real leg of our trip. We had been booked into what is affectionately called “friendship seats” aka middle two seats in the middle four seats. The gate agent was able to hook us up with exit row seating (massive legroom) which is nice for a 10 hour flight, which leads us up to the 10 hour flight from Portland to Frankfurt. The plane was an Airbus 340-300. As far as 10 hour flights go, it was smooth with little or no turbulence, but other than that it was pretty grueling. Neither one of us really slept and they didn’t play a good movie so we watched “Night at the Museum” on my laptop. 10 hours later we land in Frankfurt. We got off at Gate 52 and our Next flight departed from Gate 53 right across the hall. This was convenient, though we found that we were trapped in a gate area with security checkpoints on both ends. We did manage to find some bottled water in a caviar shop on the concourse. We also caught up with the other 3 families who are part of our travel group. We were all catching the same flight to Ethiopia from Frankfurt thought they connected from different flights. We thought we were boarding from a gate but they ended up herding us down some stairs and drove us in a bus to the other side of the airport where a shiny Airbus A330-300 was waiting for us. We climbed up the stairs to the plane. We didn’t have exit row this time, but we did have the outside seats in the 2 wide row. This was another long flight, about 9 hours. I figured out how to get sideways in my seat this time and as far as I can remember I managed to sleep somewhere in the 2 – 3 hour range. After about 5 and a half hours we had a refueling stop in Khartoum, Sudan. I mostly liked the gun placements on the runway and how they told us not to take any pictures. After about a scenic hour of sitting on the tarmac we took off again and headed for our final destination, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This final leg was about 3 hours. We were able to see the Nile River from the air and it was dark as we approached the city light of Addis. After a thankful touchdown at Bole Airport we collected ourselves and headed for customs and baggage claim. Our arrival time was a little before 9 PM local time. The first stop was a small room to get our Visas. After handing in a card we filled out on the plane with our passport and $20 we rubberstamped our way into the country. I exchanged $20 into 180 Ethiopian Birr at the bank branch and after one more run through a customs checkpoint we were in baggage claim. Of course the truest sign of a successful journey is if all your luggage makes it to your destination. As we approached the conveyor with growing anticipation we could see that some of our items were already making the rounds. As I counted 1,2,3 and 4, I knew that we, as well as our luggage, had made a successful journey halfway around the world. We then hade to lug it over to the final x-ray station and have it scanned one more time before we could get out. Everything went through smoothly, except of course they wanted to see all my laptop accessories again. It must look very interesting under an x-ray. We escaped through the final doors and into the public area where our representatives from AGCI were waiting for us with signs that had our names on them. The weather was nicer than we expected and it was actually dry with a crescent moon visible on the horizon. We collected up all 4 families and headed to our hotels in mini-vans. This was our first taste of Addis driving and it was as expected, not for the faint of heart. Rule #1- pedestrians do not have the right of way under any circumstance. Rule #2- the horn is a communication device. The more you use it, the better communicator you are. We arrived at our military compound, I mean hotel, and we unloaded people and luggage. By military compound I mean a gated, walled and topped with razor wire and spikes guarded compound. This is actually the norm in Addis. It seems to be a city of walled compounds unless you live in the tin and wood shacks between them. Our hotel is the “Union Apartments Hotel” which was selected for us by the AGCI staff due to its close proximity to the orphanage. The staff is very eager and what they lack in skill they make up for with enthusiasm. The unloading and delivery of baggage to the room was a bit “keystone cop’ish” with people and bags going everywhere. (I’ll do a full review of this Hotel later) We got two of ours to our room and managed to track down and retrieve the other 2 from another room upstairs from us. The room was big with a single king bed and windows facing to the south and the street. We settled in and I hooked up all the adapters and converters for the 220 volt power here. We fired up our hot pot and boiled up some water for a late night dinner. Suzi had some oatmeal and I had chicken top ramen with some salmon tossed in. We settled in about midnight for some sleep and acclimation to the jet lag and altitude. Around 4:30 AM the mosque started blaring its morning prayers over their PA speakers. Then around 5:30 some boys began playing soccer in the street. Good morning Addis. Today was they day to see Grace in person for the first time. We got downstairs after 7 and did a little email on the blazing fast dial-up computer here. Breakfast is served and include here so we had some omelets with ham and cheese and toast. We ordered cappuccinos but apparently that’s only steamed milk around here, no coffee included. After discovering this we ordered coffee as well and then put a little cappuccino in it. After breakfast we got ready to see Grace for the first time. Almaz, the orphanage director, met us at the hotel around 9:30 and we walked the short block through a cobblestone alley to the orphanage. When we arrived they opened the front gate for us and we stepped into the courtyard where the children were playing and waiting. One of the couples in our group is adopting a 10 year girl and she ran to both of then and kissed and hugged and greeted them with big smiles. We waited in Almaz’s office while she went to get Grace. With all the kids and activities outside we didn’t last in there very long and we were outside when Almaz brought Grace to us. She is petite, beautiful and very snuggly. It was nice to finally see her and hold her after months of only photos and a video where she was sleeping (just like a still photo, hmm). Everyone stayed and played with the children and took videos and pictures for each other. Our next stop was church with children in tow. We went to the International Evangelical Church which is one of the churches Almaz attends. After church Almaz took us to a nice Italian restaurant with very good food. They had these great little mini dinner rolls and I filled a Ziploc bag full of them to take back to the hotel. I got to ride shotgun in the front of the mini-van on the way back to the hotel. Driving in Addis is never boring. The best way I can describe it is like some kind of real life version of Frogger. We spent the rest of Sunday afternoon resting at the hotel. Around 6:30 PM we met with one of the other couples and walked over to the orphanage to go out to dinner with Almaz. We had the option to stay in, but being the party animals we are we decided to eat out. The four of us met Almaz and our driver Dan and drove to a Chinese restaurant. I opted for cashew chicken and rice and Suzi had chicken noodle soup. Grace took her usual bottle (she’s a hungry little peanut) and then slept in a little basket we brought for her while we traded stories at the table. Prices here are very reasonable; the ticket for dinner for 6 was 180 birr, which is about $20. (earlier for lunch we fed 14 people for $90) After a very long day we retired back to the hotel, did a quick (not really, dial-up) email update and up to our room. Grace had a couple more feedings (the kid is hungry) and we passed out a little later. I started this update yesterday, but now it is Monday morning here in Addis and the sun is just coming up. Suzi is feeding Grace right now and I’m typing this by LED lantern light. Today we go over our visa paperwork for Grace with Almaz before the U.S. Embassy appointment this afternoon. We’re going to head over to the Sheraton and work on it there. If all goes well we should have her visa tomorrow and then she is all set to come back to the USA with us as an American citizen. We’re going to scope out the Sheraton today and I have a feeling we’ll be moving there soon. We’re also trying get out of here sooner. We’re still scheduled to fly out late Friday evening, but we’re going to try for a Wednesday night departure. We think it’s currently wait-listed but we’re going to try. If not, we’re definitely going to the Sheraton soon. Grace is smiling and happy this morning. That’s all for now, God is good.

The Redman’s

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Sneak Peek

Our sweet baby Grace... who we're off to pick up in 3 days!!! Could she be any sweeter??

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Squeezing in all that I can!!

It's the last weekend before we leave, and I decided to join my business partner, and friend, at the Kingston Farmer's Market for our very first market with our pails. In April, Chalonn and I started a business called "Fetching Pails". We've been having fun with it and were finally able to get into a Farmer's Market before the end of the summer. We're hoping to do some craft fairs this fall/winter and then hit the Farmer's Market circuit next summer!! Check us out at

Me and Chalonn

Shopping, packing, shopping, packing....

The countdown is on!! We leave in 5 days to go and get Grace!!! A group from our agency (Travel Group 4) is there right now and I've been getting a few emails with tips of what to bring! A rain jacket or umbrella is a must! The weather forcast is 68 degrees and rain (slight rain, heavy rain, showers, rain). The orphanage is a block from our hotel so it will be fun, but wet, to walk there. Packing, however is a bit tricky. Grace is packed for-- lots of clothes, formula/bottles, and diapers. But all the other stuff..... ughhhh..... the list is a mile long! We're preparing to really not wash much-- with all the rain, nothing really dries there! So, the challenge is on to keep all of our stuff (plus donations) to 4, 50lb. bags!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Future Rock Star

OK- this isn't adoption related... but we've got time for some fun while we're getting ready to travel!! So, last weekend we went to Tall Timber Ranch (the church camp where Mike counseled the Sr. High and led music for many, many years). It was the camp's Staff Reunion. Mike was going to sing one of his infamous camp songs during the skit night and Jake decided he was going to perform too. Well, he's hooked on "Meant to Live" by Switchfoot and watches the video and practices his air guitar routine in his room daily(with the door closed because he says he doesn't want anyone watching his practice!). Being that he's in a very shy stage right now (he's 3 1/2) we didn't really think he would get up on stage... but we were wrong!!! I think we have a future rocker on our hands!!

**Just had to add that I think Jake is totally obsessed with Switchfoot! He now combs his hair like the "Switchfoot guy", he doesn't want me to cut his hair (it's curly and it just gets huge and poofy if I don't cut it), and whenever anyone comes over to the house, he makes them watch one of the many versions of the "Meant to Live" video that he has on his computer!! Seriously, doesn't this happen at 15, instead of almost 4?!?!?


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