Saturday, May 30, 2009

We're off!

As hard as it is to leave Lleyton behind, we know he is in good hands. We are excited to get to the airport and begin this 36 hour trip to Ethiopia. Wish us luck!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Emotions of adopting an older child

This adoption has been much different than Lleyton's adoption. There are a few reasons for that. I believe the biggest reason for us is that Parker is an older child. We have found that the unknown that comes with adopting an older child is sometimes frightening. Although we are extremely happy to be traveling to Africa to meet him and bring him home next week, we are also quite apprehensive about how he is going to react to us? How is he going to interact with us? How will he feel about getting on that plane with us and leaving Ethiopia far below? How will he handle leaving a country where nearly every person looks like him and coming to place where no one in his school will look like him? Some of these answers will come quickly and others will take time.

We have talked with many families who have adopted older children from Ethiopia since deciding on Parker and each of them has had a different experience. Although each family has a different story, each family agrees that their decision to bring home an older child was the right one.

The emotions I have felt since getting the call last week that our Embassy date is June 2nd have been all encompassing. I have felt moments of excitement, moments of trepidation, moments of wonderment, moments of joy, moments of sadness, and many more. With each emotion comes a feeling that Sara and I are two of the luckiest and most fortunate people in the world, as we are getting to do things and go places and help children in ways we never could have imagined, all while forming the family that we have yearned for for years.

Hopefully the moments of trepidation and fear will be laid quietly to rest after getting to Ethiopia and meeting our son. Hopefully he will fall head over heels in love with us and welcome the new life we have in store for him here at home. But if he doesn't, we are prepared to deal with whatever comes our way. As I have said numerous times on this blog and as I said many other times during this adoption and Lleyton's adoption, we are preparing for the worst, and hoping for the best.

I am not sure the moments of sadness will go away anytime soon. After all, Parker is leaving the land of his ancestors, the only land he has ever known, and he is leaving many loved ones and friends behind. I am just praying that Sara and I will be able to comfort him in his moments of sadness and grief. My fingers are crossed that he will instantly love his new family here, and I am confident he will as it would be very tough not to, but we don't want him to forget those that he is leaving behind as he joins us. After all, those are the people that have forged him into the beautiful little boy that we have heard about from those that have been fortunate enough to meet him.

Just as our fears and concerns are very real right now, so is the excitement we feel about getting to Ethiopia and meeting this child that we have come to love so much through pictures and videos. Our journey to adopting and bringing Parker home culminates in less than a week, and then so begins our new lives as a family of four with Parker and Lleyton together. Wish us luck!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Lleyton Day

In honor of this being the last weekend with just Lleyton, we deemed today Lleyton Day. We did our best make the whole day about Lleyton. Yes, everyday is Lleyton day, but today was extra special.

I woke up this morning with Lleyton and we laid and watched Elmo for awhile and then we headed downstairs to make his favorite waffles. After breakfast we just hung out and played in the house. Then it was time to unveil the new bounce house that we got for Lleyton and Parker. We figured that the boys wouldn't need to be able to speak the same language to enjoy a bounce house, so we splurged and bought them one. Lleyton had a blast breaking it in for his older brother.

After a corn dog and some juice, our little man laid down for his nap. As usual, he woke up invigorated. So after working on our throwing and catching, and riding his bike around the house, we went to feed the horses. It is a new group of horses this year, but don't worry, Lleyton likes them just as much. The boy is fearless. This year there is a really big horse in the group and Lleyton had no qualms about feeding her apples and petting her.

After visiting with his horse friends, Lleyton found enough time to help his mom pack Parker's suitcase. You can see that he favors packing stuffed animals over clothes.

This evening we took Lleyton to his favorite restaurant, Fazolis. The boy loves spaghetti, and he especially loves Fazolis spaghetti. After dinner we had more plans in store for him. We made a quick pit stop at Walmart to pick up a few things for our trip and made our way to the park. Lleyton loves the park. And as much as he loves the park, he hates to leave the park.

We then coaxed him into the car and we were off to Graeters for some strawberry chip, Sara and Lleyton's all time favorite ice cream.

And what better way to wrap up the day than with some bubbles in the backyard.

We had a great day. Next weekend at this time we will be in Addis hopefully sleeping before we get up and go meet Parker.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Ladies man

It's no wonder we are always hearing about the little girlfriends that Lleyton has at school. He is so darn handsome.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009



Monday, May 18, 2009

Thinking of my little man

As of right now, Parker should be residing in Addis, after a long drive from Kamashi to his temporary home in the capital city of Ethiopia with his friends. It makes me feel so much better that he was with his friends during the journey from Kamashi.

He was to be tested for TB today and the results should come on Wednesday. As long as the news is good, we could very well be traveling across the globe a week from this coming Saturday.

I can't seem to get Parker off of my mind. I just can't wait to meet him and bring him home and introduce him to Lleyton and all the rest of his family.

Here are few more pictures of our little man.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Late breaking developments...

Our adoption agency has a chat each Thursday night and I usually join after watching The Office. I always pose the question to the adoption coordinator if she has any new news and tonight she did.

Here's the latest...Parker should have received his new birth certificate today. His official name as of today should be Lelesa Matthew Ritzmann, we will be changing that to Parker Lelesa Ritzmann, but that is neither here nor there. He is slated to travel to Addis this weekend, be tested for TB on Monday and we should have the results on Wednesday. If the results come back good, according to the agency director, our Embassy date should be June 2nd. WOW!

That is coming up really soon. I pride myself on trying to stay calm and cool, but I am thinking that this could be a hectic couple of weeks if all goes well. This time 3 weeks from now we could be fast asleep (hopefully) on the other side of the globe with our new son with us.

What needs to be done b/w now and then? A lot. Vaccinations for Sara and myself and even Lleyton, as they recommend anyone that will have very close contact with Parker be vaccinated for Hep A. Booking our flights. Getting the house ready for our new little man. Updating our insurance to include Parker. Packing our bags. Packing our donations. Packing a bag for Parker. And many other things.

I am a bit overwhelmed thinking of it right now, so I think I am going to sleep on it and begin really preparing tomorrow and hope we get the good news next week.

I could be coaching a youth soccer team this time next month. WOW!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Having fun with our new camera while we wait patiently

Along with the waiting, wondering, pondering, and hoping, adoption also comes with many unknowns. One of our biggest unknowns right now is when we are going to be able to travel over and meet and pick up our little boy. As it turns out, the post I had a couple of weeks ago about Parker moving from Kamashi to Addis was not accurate. We have come to find out that he has yet to move to Addis. The reasons for that are a little blurry right now (one of the unknowns). We have heard that it is partly because he has not received his new birth certificate, and until he gets that, there is no rush to get him to Addis. We have also heard that it was because he was going to be traveling with a mother that had to get to Addis for court, but she did not end up going. So, for whatever reason, Parker is still in Kamashi.

Today marks 3 weeks since we passed court and with each passing day that we don't hear anything it seems that our travel will be delayed even more. We don't know that for sure (another unknown), but it seems more and more unlikely that we will be traveling at the end of this month. With that being said, I am going to remain positive and hope that we will be assigned the June 2nd embassy appointment we have been hoping for.

The process in Russia, although longer and much more involved, seemed easier to understand. I can't seem to get my hands around the process in Ethiopia. When do we find out when we are going to travel? Who determines that? When does he need to be tested for TB? There are many more questions, but I just can't type them all.

I don't want to come across as unhappy with this process. It has gone much quicker and smoother than we could have imagined. We could be one of the families that continually has to endure not passing court for the most trivial reasons (I feel very badly for those families and certainly hope that each one of them gets to experience the joy that goes along with getting the good word that they passed court very soon). We have been very fortunate thus far and are just very anxious to move forward and get over to Africa and pick up our little boy.

So what are we doing while we wait? We are beginning to organize our donations. The response to my request for donations for Ethiopian children has been overwhelming. We are now try to accumulate enough suitcases so that we can get most of these donations over on this first trip.

While doing that we are also having a heckuva time taking pictures of Lleyton with our fancy new camera. We invested in an SLR camera and it is fantastic. We wanted a nice camera to take with us to document our trip to Ethiopia. Here are a few of my favorite recent pictures of our little man.

Bath time fun.

He fared a little better on a Bobcat than I did the last/only time I was on one, as I ended up in the emergency room.

Not sure if this picture is cute or disturbing, as he kind of reminds me of Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight in this picture. You be the judge.

Don't tell Parker, but we are planning on getting him a bike for his birthday in July, so we decided Lleyton would love a bike as well. He can't get enough of it.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Remembering our first trip to Russia (11/17/07 - 11/22/07)

As we wait for word on our travel plans to Ethiopia, I can't help but reflect back on our trips to Russia. The Russia program requires that you make at least two trips over, one to meet the child and the second trip is to go through the court process. We also had to make a 3rd trip to bring Lleyton home, as the 10 day waiting period between court and the Embassy appointment was not waived.

Our trips to Russia will certainly go down as some of the best times we have ever had. The experience of leaving the land that you are used to and so accustomed to and heading to a completely unfamiliar place to meet a child that you have dreamt of for years is quite surreal.

We were told from the beginning to expect the worst yet hope for the best. We did just that. We were told that the moment your child is handed to you, although incredibly joyful, may also be quite sobering, as many of the children are malnourished, or constantly sick, or just not able to interact the way they have in your dreams. That insight from others that have been through the process proved to be very valuable.

After the long trip that led us from Cincinnati to NYC to Moscow, and then from Moscow to Samara on plane that seemed unfit for the skies, we were welcomed into the orphanage that housed the son we knew so little about. Thank goodness we weren't expecting a bouncing baby boy, because instead poor little Gorsha (Lleyton's name in Russia) was quite sick and sad looking.

After playing with him and getting to know him as much as possible, we retired to our hotel for the evening to soak in the fact that we just met our son. We ventured back to the orphanage the following day to find our little man was feeling much better. What a difference a day makes. (This is my favorite picture of all time.)

Following our second play date/get to know you session with our little Gorsha, we had to say goodbye to the little man and we set off on a journey back to Moscow. Since we chose to stay at the orphanage a bit longer, we were only able to get back to Moscow via train. It was an experience unto itself. 15 hours on a train is bad, but 15 hours on a train in Russia is something I don't need to do again. I am still trying to figure out what they served us for dinner, other than the Baltika #5, which, although warm, was a rather enjoyable beer.

I could recap every detail of this trip. From not being able to figure out how to cross the street in Moscow, to each of the sleepless nights, and to the interview/interrogation we were subjected to by the lady known only as "Coffee Talk Lady" due to her uncanny resemblance to Mike Myers' Coffee Talk character on Saturday Night Live. But I will spare you all of the details.

More reminiscing to come...

Monday, May 4, 2009


Lleyton wanted to post a Happy Birthday sign for all to see. His Mommy is now the big 30! Please look past the little mullet coming off of the back of his head, that happens to be a very popular style haircut in both places Lleyton has lived in his life, Russia and Kentucky.

He really enjoyed our trip to Kokomo on Saturday, especially the birthday cake at Great Grandma and Grandpa's house.