Friday, February 27, 2009

Hard to imagine

One of the pictures that I posted on here as well as a story I heard regarding the water, or lack there of, in Kamashi led me to do some more research on the conditions in which people in areas like Parker lives in have to endure.

I encourage you to take a moment and look through this website and, if possible, help this great cause.

http://www.charitywater.org/whywater/

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Exciting news from Ethiopia

We have had a string of a couple of days with good news coming from Ethiopia. We found out yesterday that our paperwork has been translated and is due to be submitted to court tomorrow. What does that mean? Well, once your paperwork is translated and submitted to court, they give you a courtdate. In adoption talk, a courtdate is almost like a birthday. Once our case goes to court and passes, we are officially the parents of that beautiful little boy. So our fingers are crossed that a court date will be set soon. We have been told not to expect the court date to be any time before late May. But that is OK, we just want the date set.

The other good news involves Parker. Our social worker and her husband passed court just last week and were slated to travel to Ethiopia to pick up their twin girls in the middle of March. Their two girls come from the same village that Parker is from. We learned today that they will have the opportunity to travel to that village, Kamashi. After playing a bit of phone tag with her this afternoon, I got confirmation that they would, in fact, be making the trip to Kamashi and they would be happy to take as many pictures as possible. The other good thing about them traveling to Kamashi is that our adoption coordinator will be traveling with them, which means that she will be able to hand deliver our care package to Parker. It means the world to us that our coordinator has offered to take this package for us to Ethiopia. We can't wait to see the new pictures of our little boy and it will be great to know for sure that he knows that he is being adopted by us and he will have pictures of us that he can look at while we wait to go get him.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Too much to drink?

We just arrived home from raiding the clearance racks at the Gap for Parker and from the looks of things, Wendell may have gotten into the liquor cabinet while we were gone.


Monday, February 23, 2009

Kamashi, Ethiopia



Our little boy, Parker Lelesa, is from Kamashi, Ethiopia. Kamashi is part of a larger region of Ethiopia known as the Benishangul-Gumuz Region and is about a 14 hour drive from the capital city of Ethiopia.

From everything that I have read and pictures that I have seen, Kamashi is unlike any area I have ever encountered. According to one source, in 2004 none of the 67,000+ inhabitants of Kamashi had access to electricity. That has changed to some extent, due to the construction of an orphanage in Kamashi. The orphanage was constructed in 2006 and has room to accomodate up to 500 children. The orphanage is equipped with electricity, plumbing, classrooms, and a bed for each child.

We are under the assumption that Parker is now, or soon will be, one of the fortunate children living in the orphanage until the time that we pass court. At which time he will be moved to our adoption agency's transition house in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. Once we arrive in Ethiopia we will be taken to the transition house to meet our son.

This process that we began as an effort to grow our family has become much more than that. The more we read, the more pictures we see, the more we feel that we need to be giving back to people in need. We have been fortunate enough to grow up in the United States with families that loved us, free of diseases, in homes with electricity and plumbing, with schools that we took for granted, and with every other luxury that we have become so used to. This journey has changed us. We find ourselves talking about how we can give back. We ask each other: Is it enough to adopt one or two children from there? Is it enough to sponsor a child or an orphanage? Should we save money and travel back to his region on a mission trip? How can we provide the most help to those in need? These questions have gone unanswered to this point, but we will find an answer and follow through with it. We owe it to Parker to try to help those left behind as he makes his way into a life as a member of our family.

Pictures I have found from Kamashi















Old friends reunited

Sara, Lleyton, and I jumped in the car on Saturday afternoon and ventured up to Indianapolis to visit with Lleyton's friend from Russia, Roman, and his family. We all met at the Children's Museum and let the little boys run wild for an hour or so. Lleyton really seemed to enjoy himself.

One revelation we had while at the museum was that Lleyton may have a future in football. Although very slight, he is quite impressive when running through traffic without getting knocked down, almost Barry Sanders like. He sees a hole and he hits it without thinking too much. He has great instincts.

After enjoying Lego Land and the carousel and the hall of mirrors, we had had about enough so we hopped in the car and headed back to Roman's house. While the little boys played, the parents enjoyed reminiscing about days past in Russia and we even enjoyed a couple Russian beers. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the Baltika #3. I remember enjoying it in Russia, but I figured that was because it was the only option that I had. Not true, as it is a tasty treat even a half a world away.

It is nice to have Roman and his family so close. Those two little boys share a pretty cool story, having come from the same orphanage in Russia, and both making the trip around the world and ending up so close to each other. We are planning on getting these little guys together more often.

Here are a few pics of the little guys hanging out together.





Friday, February 20, 2009

Things I can't wait to do with Parker and Lleyton

- Give them their first golf lesson
- Take them to a Reds game
- Watch the Masters with them
- Play HORSE in the driveway with them (after getting a bball goal, of course)
- Toss a baseball with them
- Take them to an Indiana basketball game
- Kick a soccer ball with them
- Take them to a Florence Freedom game
- Take them to the circus
- Ride bikes with them in Kiawah
- Go Christmas shopping for Sara with them
- Be a chaperon on a field trip with them
- Help them with their homework
- Take them to Disney World

The list is endless, and as you can see, it is sort of sports themed. I have been fortunate enough to have gone to some really cool sporting events in my day. At the time, I didn't think those events could have been any cooler, but thinking about it now, having a son or daughter to take with me would make it even better.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Lleyton's message to Parker

Due to a surprise snow overnight, the trip to daycare this morning was extremely slow. It took Lleyton and I over 45 minutes to go the few miles between our house and his daycare. Since we had so much time on our hands, we made a video for Lleyton's future big brother and best friend.

video

Monday, February 16, 2009

Our care package for Parker

Our adoption coordinator has so graciously offered to deliver a care package to Parker Lelesa in Ethiopia. She will be traveling from Florida to Ethiopia at the end of this month. Sara, Lleyton and I have put quite a bit of time into putting together a package for him. We were limited to a 2.5 gallon bag, but with Sara's creativity, we were able to fit quite a few things into the bag. Sara created a very nice photo album for Parker that will hopefully introduce him to what he has waiting for him once we are able to bring him home.

We are so excited for this process to move along. We know, having done it before, that there can, and will, be undue delays along the way, but we are certainly hoping for the best.

We have simply fallen head over heels in love with this little boy that lives half a world away from us in a land that we would have never dreamt of having the privilege of traveling to. Strangely enough, we have had this feeling before. Our feelings for this little man that we have never met but for a few pictures and a video continue to grow stronger as the days pass.

Sara and I both feel overwhelmingly fortunate to be in a position to do what we are doing. To be blessed with Lleyton last year and hopefully bring Parker home and into our family this year, we couldn't be happier.

Here are a couple pictures of our care package to the little man...





-Parker, if you are reading this, your cousins Cole and Will wanted to say "Hi". They are very excited to meet you. Both of them asked if they could send a shirt over to you in the package and Pop sent one too. They all hope that you enjoy your new clothes and they can't wait to meet you.

Updates on Parker Lelesa

From what I understand, our documents were sent off to Ethiopia today. They should arrive there sometime this week and be translated and then submitted to the court. The courts are running very slowly right now, so it looks likes we probably won't have a court date until sometime in May. Disappointing, yes, unexpected, no.

While we wait we are beginning to put Parker Lelesa's room together. We spent some time this weekend dreaming in the Pottery Barn Kids store in Kenwood. We are just going to make it a habit to call the outlet each week to see if they have any sales that are worthy of the hour long drive. We have had quite of bit of good luck in that store, so hopefully that luck doesn't run out now.

I am sure time will fly, especially with Lleyton keeping us as busy as he does, but it is going to be very difficult to wait knowing that our little man is living in less than perfect conditions. We both know that we made it through the wait before meeting Lleyton, and we will make it through this wait as well.

We did get new pictures of our little man that were taking maybe as recently as last week. He is cute as a button. I am contemplating wallpapering the walls in my office with his pictures. I wish I could post his pictures here for all to see, but I am unable to do that. Ethiopia says that I am not able to post pictures of him in a public environment until he is officially ours.

Picture a darker version of Lleyton, with same striking brown eyes. He is a very handsome little boy.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Remembering Russian winters

Due to the fact that the orphanage thermostat was seemingly set to 90 degrees, I am not sure that Lleyton ever realized how cold it was outside during those long winter months in Russia. Lucky for us, it was very cold here a couple of weeks ago and we got our fair share of snow. So much snow that Sara and I both got snowed in one day so we did what every good parent would do, bundle up Lleyton and head out to play in the snow. It was deep enough that Lleyton really couldn't navigate very well through it, but I think he enjoyed himself nonetheless. Here are a few pictures of our experience.





Monday, February 9, 2009

IT'S OFFICIAL!

Sara and I will be welcoming a little boy into our family. We couldn't be happier. Lelisa is approx. 5 years old and we hope to be able to travel to meet him and bring him home sometime this summer. Keep your fingers crossed.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Brothers for Lleyton?

Sara and I entered this adoption process with every intention of adopting one infant boy. Though that was our intention, this process has led us to a young 5 or 6 year old boy in need of a home, in need of a family to provide for him, in need of the love that we believe we can offer.

The Ethiopia adoption process is much different than the Russian process. One main difference is that in Ethiopia you can adopt a second child for a very reasonable fee. With that being the case, we are now leaning toward adopting this particular older child (he is somewhere between 5 and 6 years old according to our adoption agency) and then head back over to Ethiopia to adopt an infant boy when one becomes available. We are currently on a waiting list behind a few other families waiting for infants.

This decision would enable us to bring the older child home hopefully sometime in the middle of this year and then head back over to Ethiopia to pick up the little one sometime next year. All of this is speculative at this point, but we are leaning towards this option.

It is tough for me to put into words how much thought Sara and I have put into this decision. It has been on my mind for weeks straight. We recieved a video of this little boy a couple of weeks ago and we watch it almost every night. He seems like a wonderful little boy.

I do not claim to be the most religious person you will ever meet, but I can't help but feel that maybe there was a reason that Sara and I decided to switch agencies. Without having switched agencies we would have never been introduced to this boy in need of what we are offering.

We have been told a little about the child. His father passed away, his mother has disappeared and he is currently being cared for by an aunt who can no longer care for him. He lives in a village about 14 hours outside of the capital city. He has been on a list of available children since about October 2008.

As we have learned, more and more families are traveling to Ethiopia and adopting multiple children. I have had the chance to speak with two different families over the past couple of days who have recently brought home older children from Ethiopia. Neither family has run any difficulties that couldn't be easily managed.

Sara and I are well aware of the concerns that this decision has raised in those closest to us. We understand these concerns, share in some of the the concerns, and have given alot of thought about how we would deal with various issues that we may face after bringing an older child into our home.

Decisions usually come easy to us. We are kind of fly by the seat of our pants kind of people. We make decisions and go with them. This one is a bit differrent. We are constantly weighing what is best for our family. What is best for Lleyton.

There is no doubt in our minds that we have what it takes to parent three children right now. There is enough of our attention and love and caring to go around to Lleyton and two other boys. Honestly, the main concern at this point is financially. Can we adequately withstand the burden of having two young children in daycare full time while having a third in Kindergarten or First Grade. If that wasn't our biggest concern, our decision would have been made a couple of weeks ago.

The decision is very near. Actually, I think we may have already made the decision...details to come.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Times Square here he comes...

That guy claiming to be the Naked Cowboy who wanders around Times Square better watch out...