Monday, August 30, 2010

A Resource for Adoption Families-Packing List!

Ashlie’s Packing List for Ethiopia

Baby Items:

Easton's Clothes: (diapers are in plastic bags)

My Stuff:

Donations for Children and AWAA Staff/Nannies:

What I took on the plane with me:

(This was my packing list before my stay. Please refer to the previous post for things to add to the packing list)
I have this in a Word Document Chart- Unfortunately, I can't post the chart. I can email it to you, if you would like! Just email me:
Items Packed
4 Bras
15 pairs of Underwear
5 Pairs of Capri’s (black Calvin’s, Khaki, White, Teal)
7 t-shirts (All Adoption T-shirts)
1 pair of jeans
Nike and Yoga pants
5 shirts (button up travel shirts)
Camis (white, nude, black)
Belly Band
Zip-up Hoodie
4 bottoms 4 tops
Rain Jacket
5 pairs of socks
Bathing Suit (haha, who knows!)
Ring on wedding finger
Africa Necklace-
Silver ball earrings
Africa Hat ☺
Long sleeve shirt
Long skirt

Items Packed
Sperry Black
Pink Crocs
Nike Sneakers
Flip Flops

Items Packed
Eye make-up remover
Make-Up (foundation, power, bronzer, mascara, eye liner, eye shadow, blush, lip liner, lip stick, lip gloss)
Face wash
Hair Brush
Hair ties and clips
Contacts and case
Eye drops
Eye glasses- Coach and back ups with case
Perfume Spray
Nail Clippers
Chi Flat Iron
Blow dryer (Yebsabi Guest House has one)
Deet Bug Repellant
Prenatal Vitamins
Vitamin C Drops
Carmex Lip Gloss
Travel size toilet paper

Items Packed
Blow up neck pillow
Eye cover
Socks/slippers for plane
Circulation Socks (dana?)
Ear Plugs
Pillow and Blanket
North Face Backpack
Snacks and Bottle Water

Easton Aschenaki
Items Packed
3 Month Outfits- 6
6 Month Outfits- 4
Baby Wipes
Bottles- drop-ins
Drop in replacements
Formula- single packets, just incase, will buy Bebalac brand there
Pacifiers (2 or 3)
Blankets (3 or 4)
Baby Carrier
Baby Benadryl
Baby Tylenol
Sleeper outfit
Diaper rash cream- Desitin, Butt Paste
Dirty diaper plastic bags
Burp cloths
Avent, Gerber, or Playtex bottles (with refill drop-in bags and 4 nipples)
Teething ring
Teething Gel
Children’s Thermometer
Children Scissors for Nail clippings
Rubber gloves
Formula Holder- 3 departments measured
Infant Vitamin Drops

Guest House and Technology
Items Packed
2 Power Cords
International Converter
Paper Towels
Towel (from home)
Laptop and charger
Nikon Camera
Camera Memory Cards
Camera Charger
Camera Flash
Batteries Rechargeable
Rechargeable thing for batteries
USB Cord
Flip Camera
Blank DVD’s to burn
Flash Drive (8gb)
Duct Tape (little bit on a dowel)
Zip Ties
Rope (clothes line)
Zip Lock bags
Playing cards
Book light
Batteries and battery charger
Baby books- What to expect when expecting
Laundry Detergent (washing in sink)
Trash bags
Pens, notebook, stickies
Clorox wipes
Alarm Clock
Hand sanitizer
Dish Soap
Hot Pots!! (for heating food and bottles)
Lint brush travel size

Items Packed
Crackers- cheese and peanut butter
Beef Jerky
Granola Bars
Cliff Bars
Drink mix
Mac and Cheese cups
Ramen Noodles
Soup Cups
Fruit Cups
Raisins, yogurt covered
Almonds, cashews
Canned veggies
Spaghetti O’s
Canned tuna
Canned chicken
Spoon, fork, knife
Canned beans
Dried fruit

Items Packed
Punching balloons
Gifts for the Guys- 4 Adidas shirts
Gifts for Nannies- spa
Glow bracelets
School supplies
Shoe shine for Robel’s kids
Snickers for Robel and Guards
Socks for Robel
Deodorant, toothbrushes and toothpaste for nannies
Underwear for toddlers boys and girls

Items Packed
Copies of Passport
Tickets with itineraries
Vaccination Proof
Tax return copy-serious!
Passports w/ yellow cards
Contact Lists- phone numbers and emails
Credit Card
Credit card copies
Driver's licenses for ID
Driver's License copy
Health Insurance card
AWAA Travel Info
I-600 Copy
I-864 (Not sure about this, was on another list)
Adoption document checklist
Dossier Copies

Items Packed
Spendable Money $700 (AWAA recommends for 1 week) Crisp and news, must be before 2004- For a 2 month stay about $1500.00
My Visa $20
Easton’s Visa $404.00

Items Packed
Saline Nasal Spray
Allergy Medicine
Rx Antibiotics???
Rx Scabies Cream Elimite
Lice Spray and Medication
Rx Internal parasites
Infant Motrin
Infant Mylicon??
Antidiarrheal medication (e.g., bismuth subsalicylate, loperamide)
Cough Suppressant
First Aid Kit
Altitude sickness meds??

Souvenirs to Buy
Items Purchased
Traditional Ethiopia Clothes
Scarves for gifts
Baskets (Mesob)
Wooden animals
Salad Tongs- lots of these for gifts
Ethiopia Crosses
Drums or rattles
Beaded Necklaces
Coffee- from the Coffee Factory
Clay Coffee Pot (Jebena)
Silver jewelry
Music Tekeste Getenet
Kids books in Amharic

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Resource for my Adoption Friends!

(Make sure you get a roof top picture of your new family!)
Ashlie Fulmer’s Recommendations for Traveling Families, Especially those who plan to have an extended stay. Contact
Facebook: Ashlie McFarland Fulmer

I would love to help you prepare for your stay here. I'm not really sure where to start though.
Let me just start rambling and see how it goes:

*Ethiopian Visa!!!! This is a VERY serious issue!! Get your Visa stateside- you have to send your passport to the Ethiopian Embassy in DC. AWAA is going to require families do this in the future. Reason being-you can only get a 30 days Visa upon arrival into the airport. You can then renew it once for another 30 day Visa. After that, you MUST leave the country! Please make sure you research and make a plan for your Visa. I had to go through the Ethiopia Courts, pay penalties, and then was only issued a 10-day Visa and forced to leave. There is nothing the Embassy can do to help, so learn from my experience.

My Travel Arrangements: All of our travel arragements were done by MKI Group Travel. I encourage everyone to shop around for the best price! Let the agent know that you are shopping around and you wil be amazed at how much money they can save you!
Mike Snyder
MKI Group Travel
1769 Lexington Avenue N #391
Saint Paul, Mn 55113
800-732-4806 x 702
fax (800)732-4806

Feedings: Here's my procedure- I brought Playtex drop in bottles (3 nipples and 3 boxes of 100 drop ins). I also have 2 Avent 8oz bottles. Lastly, I have Easton's bottle from the TH. I use all of them everyday! He goes through about 7 bottles a day. I save the drop-ins for times I'm out and about and then use the other bottles around here. (I don't like to use the plastic drop ins because they are bad for the environment but they are very convenient when you are out and about- easy cleaning) I was worried that Easton might not just take any nipple, I have heard Mom’s say that you would never change a baby’s bottle. I’m thankful that he takes any bottle I make for him!
All the bottles are given warm at the TH. Luckily, if we are out and about Easton will take a bottle made with non-refrigerated bottle water. However, when I’m at the GH I like to give him a warm bottle, I think it makes him happier and soothed. Here’s how I do it- I use the water boiler (info below) to boil bottled water. Then I have a large stainless steal thermos (A must have! Bring one!) I put the boiling water in the thermos and then seal it tight. It keeps water warm for 8 hours. So then, when I make a bottle I pour a little hot water in the bottle, then add bottled water. =) One Mom mentioned that you could make up a pitcher of formula and refrigerate it- If you choose to do this you would want to bring a pitcher.

Formula- When we got Easton my hubby Ryan went out and bought 7 cans of Bebelac 1. (This is the formula that the infant babies are on. You can buy it from a grocery store here. It’s about $7.40/can- can’s last about 3 and a half days) All of the baby’s poop in the infant room is like yellow rice (not sure if it’s a good thing but my Mom wasn’t a big fan of it) When I had Easton at the Guest House for about a week he was fine with the Bebalac formula and had the same poops. Then a week later he had horrible diarrhea. (He ruined all his clothes, even when I would put 2 diapers on him!) Stacy Sweeney (super Mom of 9) made a suggestion that I change his formula. She thought that he might be Lactose Intolerant or he just needed a better formula. She had 3 cans of Parent’s Choice (Walmart Brand) “Sensitivity”. I made the switch! I’m happy I did!! =) I would suggest you bring a couple options. I’ve heard another good option is Parent’s Choice “Gentle”.

Cleaning bottles- The GH has a water boiler that I use, however, not every room has one, since I've been here so long I got it when there weren't many families, now some Mom's don't have one in their room. You might want to bring one or just plan on sharing. My Mom and I originally brought a water boil (from Bed Bath and Beyond I think). It works GREAT for boiling water for the thermos and cleaning. I used Dawn Foam Dish Soap (a family left it with me and I completely fell in love with it). Bring a bottle cleaner! I didn’t have one and had to use a toothbrush! =) I hand wash the bottles as I boil tap water. When all the bottles are clean I pour boiling water into each bottle, swish it around and the pour it out. I then put all the nipples into the water boiler, with the left over boiled water, swirl it around and pour it out. I put a towel on the night table and that was my bottle making station. I would put all the bottles and nipples on the towel to dry. (see picture above)

Diapers: Bring as many as you possibly can! We purchased diapers at the Friendship Supermarket but they were Chinese and Arabic brands and I wasn’t impressed with them. They were expensive too!!! I seriously think it would be a better decision to pay for additional baggage with the Airlines rather than buying diapers and formula here in ET.

Nannies, AWAA staff-
Okay, I’m not sure if you are coming before court or just for court until Embassy~ If you come before court and you are going to the TH everyday you are going to want to build relationships with the nannies. If you come for court and then take your child back to the GH you probably won’t get to know them very well. However, if you are planning on being at the TH often you will want to show appreciation =) I brought daily “goodies” to the nannies, cooks, cleaners and AWAA office members. There are psychologist, doctors, nurses, guards and lots of other people you will see daily. I would have my driver stop of Kaldi’s (like Starbucks) to pick up trays of cookies and pastries. I would bring Snickers Bars, Candy and Granola bars to show my appreciation. (And because I’m kinda a suck-up an wanted them to like me and make me feel welcomed when I came everyday for a month) I also took picture of Easton with the nannies and I printed them off. (There are lots of photo printing places around town). Photographs are a HUGE thing in ET. The nannies cherish them and I honestly think it was the BEST gift I gave. I also have little gift bags for the nannies. I only brought 4 so I waited a week, to see which day I wanted to give them. (There were 3 nannies that I really connected with, they invited me into the room everyday and attempted to talk with me) My gift bags included lotion, nail polish, perfume samples, lipstick, and a manicure set (all girly things).

(this is the picture I printed for these 4 nannies)

Kaldi’s Coffee- Yummy!!!!! You can get a tray of cookies for a few dollars.

Across the road from the TH is the AWAA office. I brought cookies for the office and bags of snickers =) I also picked up a flower arrangement of beautiful red and orange roses (for $3.50) to give to them.
David (Driver)- Adoption T-shirt (He wasn’t my driver, I had another one but I saw him almost everyday =) He has a daughter, I think around 14months, and a baby on the way. Not sure if it’s a baby boy or girl though.
Job- (travel Coordinator) Adidas Jersey from Dick’s Sporting goods, about $15.00 (I had a coupon)
Yonas - (travel Coordinator) Adidas Jersey from Dick’s Sporting goods, about $15.00 (I had a coupon)
Mulay- (AWAA staff, he takes the pictures for the referrals and runs the family “meetcha and gotcha” days) Adidas Jersey from Dick’s Sporting goods, about $15.00 (I had a coupon) He LOVES Snickers or anything chocolate.
Robel- (travel Coordinator) Adidas Jersey from Dick’s Sporting goods, about $15.00 (I had a coupon)
Fortuna- (I wanted to do a Boston Spa Gift Certificate but didn’t get around to it. This might be a great thing to consider) Gift Bag with girly stuff, lotion, lipstick, nail polish, etc. Adoption T-shirt and Adoption Necklace
Duni- (Would have LOVED the Boston Spa Gift Certificate) Nine-West necklace and Bracelet, Adoption T-shirt and Adoption Necklace

Yebsabi Staff- I also purchased a flower arrangement for the Guest House. They were very appreciative.
David-(cook) Adoption T-shirt, chocolate and tea (I had my driver take me to a place that sells Ethiopian Tea. It was very inexpensive and they had Cinnamon Tea, Green Tea, and lots of other flavors)
Day Manager- I don’t know her name, it’s very hard to say, but you will know who she is! Adoption T-shirt, chocolate and tea
Housekeeper- The same women cleaned my room everyday~ I would give her things all the time! =) Like little shampoo bottles, chocolate, granola bars! She accepted everything very graciously so I would encourage you to show gratitude to her!

Alazar: 251-911-62-26-76 or 251-911-37 60 91 (give either of these numbers to the Yebsabi Guest House and they will call for your) Alazar is the “owner” of a couple of cars. I only had Alazar as my driver on Sundays, every other day I had Samuel, David (not AWAA David) or Oneto. I always called Samuel though!

Okay, here’s what I did~ When I first came to ET I had my transportation arranged through AWAA office. I paid about $600 for 2 weeks of Full Day transportation. Then after that I was on my own! I worked out a deal with Alazar to be picked up at the GH at 8:30 every morning and then taken to the TH. Then I would be picked up around 4pm or 5pm and taken back to the guesthouse. I paid $11 USD/Day for this service. I kept track of everyday day, in a Word Document, then paid him a big lump sum. I printed out the document on the Yebsabi printer. (They aren’t too fond of this but I only asked 2 times =)

A Full days service is 400 Birr (about $30.00) a Half Day Service is 200 birr ($15)
Whenever I was paying for a full day I would make sure I got a lot of use out of the car. For example, when Ryan was here this was our schedule:
9am- Pick up, Kaldi’s for coffee
10am- Coffee Tour
11am-3pm- Transition House
3pm-4pm back to GH for showers and change of clothes
5pm- Boston Spa for Massage
7pm- Dinner at Mankush =)

Alazar told me a trip to the grocery store would be 100 Birr ($7USD) I never needed to g but you could easily call him for a ride.
I had to call him for lots of little trips to get Easton’s passport picture done and take him to the doctor.

Day trip to the Countryside- Ask Alazar specifically to go to the Gourge and Debre-Libanos. (See pictures of our trip below) Ryan and I both feel that this was a highlight of our trip! We didn’t take Easton, it was before we passed court, but you totally could take a baby. The roads aren’t bad and the views are amazing! It cost $100 (I was given a discount because I had used Alazar for a solid month! Don’t be scared to ask for a discount). I can’t insist enough that you get out of Addis to see Ethiopia in its natural beauty. Pictures to PROVE it!

Laundry: I brought Tide Packets of laundry detergent and washed my undergarments in the shower everyday. (I learned a lesson to wash as you go, don’t wait to do it all at the same time. The guesthouse isn’t a big fan of hanging up clothes to dry in your room. They actually told me that they will dry my clothes for me. This was helpful when Easton was sick and he went through tons of outfits per day. There is a sign that says “do not wash cloths in sink”. I used the shower instead! =) I honestly only had my jeans, capris, and skirts laundered 1 time during my 2 month stay! I brought 14 outfits and just recycled them. That means I wore each outfit about 4 times each. I brought body spray and don’t think I smelled!! Ha-ha =) It’s not terribly expensive to do laundry but it does add up. Here is what I did to dry my clothes. I don’t think the GH loved the idea of this so you might want to do something more discrete….I had clothesline and just tied it up by the window.

Note: If you hand wash cotton, like baby pants or onesies, you have to be careful of the moldy smell. I tried hard to get the cotton things dried but sometime no matter what I did it left the moldy smell.

Food- I brought all of my own food for lunch and dinner. Breakfast is the only meal included. The dinners are yummy but they cost $7.00. Unfortunately, they only include an entrée. If a full meal, like appetizer, bread, soup or desert was included I would probably have eaten it more often. Since I didn’t feel like I really got my $7.00 worth I really stuck to my own food. You need to ask for permission from the Yebsabi Guest House to use the Microwave, in the kitchen, in the lobby. I’m sure you will be staying in the cheapest single room, there is a fridge but NO microwave. If you use the Microwave in the kitchen I suggest you try and plan around the times David (cook) uses it. I tried to make my dinner around 5pm, so that I didn’t interfere with him . If you bring anything that can be saved, like soup or canned chicken I would suggest Aluminum Foil.
Here are the best things that worked for me:
1. Healthy Choice- Fresh Mixers- they are not frozen- obviously- they are 300 calories and yummy! I would have an Italian one for lunch and then an Asian one for dinner. They worked great! (they also don’t weigh very much) See picture below
2. Soup- I brought tomato soup, chicken noodle, and some Santa Fa Chicken Soups~ Very yummy and easy~
3. Mac n Cheese- instant packets
4. Combos, Granola Bars, Cliff bars, variety pack of crackers
5. Canned Fruit- little snack packs
6. Oatmeal Crème Pies- because I love them!
7. Huge bag of Trail Mix! I ate it all!!!!!
8. Canned Chicken and Tuna
9. 2 boxes of Ritz Crackers
10. Loaf of bread, peanut butter and jelly (you can buy bread here, if you have a driver ask them to stop at a bakery for you)

Easton’s Clothes:
(See Packing List)
I would definitely suggest you bring atleast 10 outfits and 10 sleepers. (If you have room bring more because it will be less laundry you have to do) I learned quickly that you can’t re-wear baby clothes due to spit up… Also, bring jackets that you can use with any outfit. I used socks a lot but not shoes. (He was only 4 months old) I set aside an outfit for Embassy and a Welcome Home Outfit. I also set aside enough diapers, wipes and formula for our trip home.

Baby and Mommy Needs:
1. Changing Pad- like a vinyl one! I didn’t have one and it stunk! Being a new mom I’m not so good with changing Diapers! I would lay a receiving blanket down and then change Easton on it. However, sometimes I would get poop on the blanket and then have to clean it. A changing pad is VERY necessary, especially when you are out and about. At church there is a place to change the baby but you need the pad for a clean surface.
I used the vanity in my room as My Changing Table ☺
2. Clorox Wipes to clean the changing table (pad) and other things
3. Hangers! The GH has like 5 in each room, I had Ryan bring me 10.
4. I brought a backpack from Kmart, like $25.00 to serve as my purse, baby bag, and everything else! I took it EVERYWHERE with me, ALWAYS!!!! Inside my backpack I had ziplock bags with different things in them. In one bag I had diapers and wipes, another had a change of clothes, another had formula and bottles. (Make sure you have the formula divider for traveling, it’s great)
5. Bottle Water- You can buy it right beside the GH, there’s a little hole in the wall to buy cases of water! (it’s much cheaper than the water in the GH Fridge)
6. Febreeze- Everything is damp in ET. Febreeze was nice to have to keep things fresh smelling
7. Baby Carrier- Baby Bjorn is the best!
8. Diaper Rash- Desetin or AD Ointment- lots of babies at the TH have diaper rash
9. Ink and paper for foot and hand prints:
10. Oil for baby’s hair-I’ve heard Almond or Apricot are good, not sure what to recommend yet, I need to get home and try it out
11. Incase of Chicken Pox I had Ryan bring Caldamine Lotion (the pink stuff)
12. Zip Lock Bags, Grocery Bags- I use these for organizing Easton’s clothes, taking food down to the microwave, and organizing food. You don’t have any counter space and only 4 drawers so zip lock bags were perfect for me. I put all his onesies in one, then another had his sleepers. The super large ziplocks were great too.
13. Vitamins!! If you aren’t a big vitamin person now is the time to be!! ☺ I am on Prenatal but I have taken them everyday and honestly believe the boost in my immune system has kept me healthy! Get a strong daily vitamin or even a mix for water and take them everyday! You won’t be getting fresh veggies and fruit here so you need to make sure you are serious about vitamins
14. Flavor Water Packs- I didn’t use these before Ethiopia but now I love them. I have the Crystal light ones, along with Kool-aid, and Poweraid. They have been a treat for me! The Fantas, Sprites, and Cokes are $1.00 at the GH and it’s really not worth it. It’s cheaper to use the flavor water packs
15. Tea- I brought some tea but then asked families to bring me more! It was my nightly tradition to go downstairs and have a cup of hot tea and socialize. Vanilla Chi Tea was my favorite, thank you Faust Family!
16. Blankets! Being a FL girl I only had receiving blankets and I really wish I had brought warm, fluffy baby blankets. Especially during the cold nights. The crib (carriage thing) that the GH gives you has a sheet and comforter but I liked to lay a receiving blanket down first and then use my own blankets for Easton. Here is the crib they gave us:

17. Baby Aveno Bath Wash and Lotion- Johnson’s baby shampoo- The GH will give you a washtub, just ask for it!
18. Cute Hats and Beanies~ I enjoyed dressing Easton up for Pictures~ It gave us something to do during the day.

19. Boppy and 2 covers- I love the boppy and used it for every feeding. I even took it to the TH everyday. I’m not sure if I will pack I for bring it on the plane with me. It would be great to have but I’m worried about carrying Easton, backpack, painting, carry on and boppy!
20. DVD’s- I bought some DVD’s off of the street and really enjoyed watching them during Easton’s naps and at night. I would recommend you buy them here or bring some. The TV in my room has CNN, an Arabic Station (plays American Funniest Home Videos and 2 times a week re-runs of Friends, 2 and half Men, and the Office), and a FOX Series channel that played reruns of the show Numbers, Greek, and The Biggest Loser
21. Pedialyte- Incase of Dehydration. You will see little blue bottles in this picture. They were a donation that Stacy Sweeny brought me. They were a lifesaver and I suggest that all parents bring them. When I took Easton to the Pediatrician for diarrhea and vomiting he gave me a prescription for a salt like powered to mix with water and give him in a bottle. (this was exactly like Pedialyte) Easton thankfully took it but if I would have had Pedialyte for infants I would have saved a trip to the doctor!
22. Souvenirs to buy- Here are some things I bought =) We also bought a ton of wooden spoons to give as gifts.

23. The cylinder you see in the picture below is the painting we bought from Mankush Art Gallery and Italian Restaurant~ I am so thankful that we decided to purchase it. We didn’t go crazy with souvenirs but instead made one big purchase that will last a lifetime for our family. (Picture below of painting)

Our painting- it’s rolled out on a table, it’s pretty big. This is what the village Easton was born in would look like, Wolayta Sodo (or so we have been told) When we took our day trip to Debre-Libanos we saw many of the things in the painting, such as the Teff (for making injera), Donkeys, and basket weavers.

Our Trip to the Countryside:

Monday, August 23, 2010

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Final Post from Ethiopia

I have watched so many families come to the Guest House, meet their children and then complete the final step of heading to the US Embassy for their appointment. TODAY IS OUR DAY!!!!

I am extremely grateful for all of the people who worked hard on Easton's case to make this day happen. When I think about the timeline and the possibilities that could have happened, I am amazed! For example: If I would have known my Visa was only good for 30 days I would have renewed it in time and received another 30 day Visa.

What I learned is that tourist in Ethiopia can only be in the country for 60 days. My 60th day would have been 2 days ago!!!! I would have been in quite the predicament and most likely would have had to leave Ethiopia without Easton. Or another scenario, if I would have gone to the US Embassy just a week earlier to renew my Visa I would have only been issued a 10 day Visa and would have left the country last week, again without Easton.

Even my best laid plan would have been failure, therefore I know, for a fact, that God is in control. He is the one who has orchestrated this adoption and our FAITH in Him will deliver Easton and I home on Saturday. So here we are, after 63 days, waiting to head to the Embassy. I have learned so much during my time here, however, I'm not quite sure how to properly express my feelings toward the experience. I think it will take some time, after being home to gather my thoughts and articulate them.

For now, I sit here and dream about seeing my precious husband again. What an AMAZING man to go through this journey with. He will be a wonderful father and I cannot wait to put Easton in his arms Saturday night. I know how much happiness Easton is going to bring to his life and I'm anxious for our days of lying around the house watching football, stroller walks around our neighborhood, and pool parties with friends and family.

I have one more night here in Ethiopia and I'm trying not to wish it away. There are many things I will miss about Ethiopia but for now my focus is to get Easton home to establish our family. I love you all and thank you so much for your prayers and support! Hopefully, the next blog post will be about our homecoming!!!

Love, Ashlie and Easton

Friday, August 13, 2010

Great News from Africa

Dearest Friends and Family,

This morning the US Embassy Accepted Easton's Paperwork! Praise God! This is truly a miracle and I'm still in amazement that my Visa tragedy has turned out to be a HUGE blessing!

Speaking of the Visa Tragedy, I have yet to blog about it. Basically, I was under the impression that my visa was good for 60 days. This was the information given to me by my adoption agency. When I was ready to renew it I gave my passport to one of my adoption agency's staff and he told me it was expired. He was going to draft a letter that I would take to the Immigration Department to renew it.

On Monday I went to the Immigration Department and was told, after 3 hours, that I would have to appear in court on Tuesday morning and they took my passport! On Tuesday morning I went to court, to be told to return at 1:30pm. When I returned I waited 2 hours, among Ethiopian prisoners and other law breakers, and then was taken into a room, told to be silent, and put my back against the wall.

The judge asked me if I was guilty and I said "Yes", she read me my charge and then issued me a fine of 1,500 bir ($110 USD). I thought that was going to be the worst part, boy was I wrong!!!!

On Wednesday, I returned to the Immigration Office, still without my passport, thinking I would finally be able to get my Passport back and purchase a 30 day Visa. I went into an office, waiting about 45 minutes and then was told that I may only have a 10 day Visa. I was holding Easton and as tears started to well up I said, "Sir, may I please have a 30 day Visa, I am waiting for a US Embassy date to obtain my son's Visa to take him home." He said, "No, 10 days only!".

I pleaded again and he agreed to let me speak to his Boss, the Director of Immigration. I went to the top floor of the building to a lavished office, with huge leather doors, fresh flowers and a flat screen TV. My translator wasn't allowed to accompany me, so Easton and I went into the office to beg for an extension. The Director insisted that I may only have a 10 day Visa because I broke Ethiopian Law. I excused myself from the office, stepped outside and sobbed.

I called Ryan at 3:30am and could barely get my words out. He assured me that we would work it out but at that moment all I could picture was me going home without Easton and Ryan having to come and get him. I was devastated. I went straight to my adoption agency's office to search for help, unfortunately, there was nothing that they could do to change the Immigration Department's decision. However, to my complete satisfaction, they started working with the US Embassy to see if Easton's paperwork could be submitted, reviewed, and approved! This is where we are today!!!!

The embassy will review his file and either give us clearance or possibly ask for more documents. There is very little chance that they will want to do a full out investigation but it is a possible. I have Faith that we will get clearance either today or Monday morning!!!!! =)

There is an open appointment next Thursday, the 19th. This is when the US Embassy interviews me and I bring Easton to them. They will ask about Easton's past, when we met him, and information on his case. They are checking to see that my knowledge is the same information presented in the paperwork. Checks and balances. It is typically a formality, all families that I know of have passed the interview. Then on Friday I will receive Easton's Ethiopian Passport with his American Visa inside. Finally, on Friday or Saturday night I will fly out! We are working on details now.

I will keep you updated and appreciate all of the prayers, well wishes, and thoughts you have offered us. Other families, who already have Embassy Appointments for next week, fly in tomorrow. I will have great company to make the next week pass by. (All of these families have already been here for court dates, they are great friends to Easton and me!)

xoxo Ashlie, Easton and Preston

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Our Status In Ethiopia

Well, I know that God's time line is ALWAYS better than my own, so I am peaceful today knowing that I will get home on the exact flight and time that God has already determined. We will NOT get the August 18th Embassy date, due to a paperwork error (not our fault). We are hopeful for the September 1st Embassy Date now. I want to be home so bad but honestly, we are okay! We have enough food, diapers, wipes, and love to make it 30 more days! I will NEVER, EVER take a dishwasher, washing machine, or stove for granted!! Half my day is spent washing clothes in the sink, boiling water to sterilize bottles, and making food.

I am relaxing a lot here too, every time Easton naps, I nap too. I really have nothing to complain about, except really missing the people I love!! Hopefully, Ryan is holding up well. This must be so hard on him. Having is brand new son and pregnant wife on the other side of the world must cause loneliness and longing. I often think about my best friend Lindsey who's husband is a Marine. He was in Kuwait when their 1st child was born and now she is pregnant and he is in Afghanistan. I seriously, I have NOTHING to complain about!

My pregnancy is going great, I feel good, am eating well and am growing bigger!! (Since I don't have a scale I have no idea how big I actually am!) I'm going to an OB at the Korean Hospital tomorrow at 10:00am for a Prenatal visit. My hopes are to get an ultrasound and hear baby Preston’s heartbeat. My fellow adoption mommy and friend Deanne is going to come with me. She has been a great support here. She is adopting 2 girls, 8 and 10 years old, and is staying for a few more weeks until their embassy appointment.

Motherhood -- I've been a stay-at-home Mom for the last 15 days (ever since we got Easton on the 21st) and I LOVE IT!!! I’m really surprised that more of my friends didn’t share how wonderful it is for your life to revolve around your child!!!! I love every moment with Easton!! I love washing his bottles, bathing him, boiling water for his bottles, washing his clothes in the shower, EVERYTHING!!! It can only get easier once I get home but for right now it fills my days and nights with pure joy. I hope I never loose this feeling! One of my favorite moments is waiting for him to wake up from his nap. As he starts to stir I sit beside him and just wait for his eyes to pop open. He looks at me and then a toothless smile flows across his face. It’s priceless. I can't wait to get home to enjoy him even more!

I appreciate all of your prayers and support! Right now I am dreaming of the day Easton and I walk into the Tampa Int’l Airport to meet our friends and family! Just imagining it brings tears to my eyes. I know the day will be here soon!

Hopefully, Ashlie

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Amazing Mission Trip

I'm back!!!!!!! My week at the Ethiopia Guest House with the Visiting Orphans Mission Trip was amazing, challenging, and life-changing. I have many stories and experiences to share but I am still internalizing a lot of the things we saw and people we met. One of the most burning sights and smells are the rows and rows of cribs, filled with babies and toddlers at the Mother Theresa's HIV orphanage. There were over 450 orphans, all who are HIV positive and have essentially no chance of adoption. When I looked into their faces I couldn't help but think that God's love for each and everyone of them is the exact same as His love for our baby Easton. Regardless of their sickness and abandonment they are children who deserve so much better than what they are receiving. It breaks my heart =(
I posted a documentary on my Facebook page of the Korah village. The village lives off of the landfill, finding their food and items to sell. If you get a chance, please watch it. Easton and I (with Kevin's help) went into the houses that surround the dump. It was unbelievable to see the conditions that families live in. Despite the lack of basic needs, the people were so generous to open their homes to us.

I am happy to be back to the Yebsabi Guest House (internet works and it's more like a hotel). Unfortunately, I said goodbye to my Dad and Best Friend Kevin. No more visitors coming but there are lots of adoption families here this week. After this week I will have 2 other Mom's who are staying until their Embassy Appointments. It is so nice to have other Mom's to talk to everyday. Whenever I hear people in the lobby I rush down for some socializing! Last night I went to see the movie Inception with 3 other families. I brought Easton along and he slept through the entire movie!!! He's such a good sport!

Easton: He is doing WONDERFUL!!! I am praying for his health, he has been very healthy, only fighting a little cough and congestion. One of the baby girls who went home last week has Chicken Pox now. I'm just waiting to find one on his belly!!! He has been exposed to so much and I'm praying that God continues to protect him.
Preston: I feel great, with good energy! I can feel Preston kicking and moving, mostly at night. He is GROWING! I'm sure you can tell from the pictures that gaining weight isn't a problem!! haha =) I was a little worried about my calorie intake, considering that I am eating a lot of crackers, Cliff bars, Mac-n-cheese, and Soup. I ate out with families and the mission trip team whenever I had the opportunity~ I'm dying for some Chipolte, Bonefish, and Chick-fil-a!!

Prayer Request: We have reason to be hopeful for the August 18th Embassy Date! I obviously want to come home so bad that it hurts!!! I feel like Easton and I need to be home. I'm sure I'm just being emotional today but my tough mindset has left me right now and I'm feeling a little lonely. It's probably just because this is day #1 of being alone. Please just say a special prayer for the possibility of the 18th. If we don't make the 18th it will be September 1st. Either way, I know it's God's timing and we will be home soon!

Here is a precious video of "My Boys"

I love you all and cannot wait for you to meet and hold Easton! He will melt you heart!!!
Hugs, Ashlie