Sunday, February 21, 2010

Back Home Again in Indiana

Good morning from the good old USA everyone!!! The journey from the guest house to our home took a grueling 31 hours to complete. Isaac slept through almost all of the time in the air. He only cried a little bit (unlike the dozens of other babies on the flight) when he was hungry and then once fed went right back to sleep. Leigha and I were able to get a little sleep on the flights but were exhausted when we got home. We had a wonderful greeting at the airport--especially from Owen, Abe & Sam. They are still bouncing off the walls with excitement over their new brother. I need to go spend some time with the boys, but I promise more posts (and more importantly more pics!) when things settle down a little (warning: this my be a while)!!!


Friday, February 19, 2010

Signing off from Ethiopia

Hello all for the last time from Ethiopia! We will head for the airport in about an hour and (if all goes well) be at our house for supper Saturday night. We are tired and ready to get home. We took a tour of a coffee factory today & it was great fun. We walked right through the cleaning, sorting, grading, and roasting operations.

I took a quick afternoon outing with one of our in-country guides to buy a pair of soccer shoes for one of the boys involved in our guide's ministry for street children. It was fun to see the excitement when he got to pick out the pair he wanted. He only owned a pair of crocs and lives on the street, but because of the financial support and guidance he gets from our guide he is enrolled in school and supports himself by selling gum to tourists.

Isaac is still grumpy today, I think mostly because he is exhausted from crying about all last night. Hopefully he will crash for the long trip home.

Leigha and I really want to thank everyone who has followed along on our little blog and sent us notes of encouragement--it really makes a big difference when we're so far from home. I hope to see lots of you at the airport, but if not there we'll see you at home!


the 3rd day

We had a rough night last night. Isaac didn't not want to sleep alone. Ben or I pretty much held him all night. I'm hoping this isn't a pattern. I think he'd needed some extra comfort, until last night he had only got up once each night to eat and then went back to sleep. With Abe and Sam they both seemed to have melt downs on the third day and this was Isaac's third night with us. It seems to take them that long to understand this is really changing and I'm not sure I like it.

We spent the morning at a coffee factory getting a tour and then sampleing the coffee in the shop. Ben really enjoyed the seeing the process.

We start the journey home tonight. Please pray for us as we travel. It's been a good trip, but we ready to be home.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Meeting

Note: I received two posts from Ben & Leigha, so be sure to check out the first post as well...

Hello all! This has been one of the most challenging days of our lives. As we loaded up to visit Kid's Care Orphanage (where Sammy lived for 7 months) we were told that we would be meeting Isaac's birth mother this afternoon. We traveled to ET a few days early in hopes of meeting her, but now that it was really going to happen. Neither Leigha nor I was 100% sure we wanted to. But first thing's first...

Our trip to the orphanage this morning was awesome! It hadn't changed much in the last 2 years. It was still home to way to many children and the most amazing women who love them more than I can describe. Even in the frenzied excitement of our visit, there was a feeling of peace and serentiy that was palpable. The kids were so happy to get some candy and other treats from some of the families, and to have their pictures taken (and them to look at themselves on the screens of digital cameras). I pulled out the camcorder and one of the older boys broke into a sweet dance routine! The attention I paid to him prompted other kids to come show me their moves. I wish Abe could have been here to show them how it's done! The best part of the orphanage visit, though, was seeing a 7 year old girl in our group reunited with her friends and nannies in the orphanage. All of the kids in the orphanage were so obviously and genuinely happy that she had finally reached her family. It was also great to see some of Sam's nannies that we met 2 years ago. They all still remembered "Mickey, Mickey, Mickey," and we gave them some photos of Sam that we brought along.

From the orphanage we went to lunch and then back to the Guest House to meet Isaac's birth mother. We went up to our room and watched out the window for her arrival. When she came Leigha went down & I stayed behind in the room with Isaac. We wanted to make sure that she wanted to see him (which of course she did) before we brought him down. I won't share much of her story here, because her story belongs to her and to Isaac. Communication with her was very difficult because she barely speaks Amharic (the prodominant language in ET) and we were speaking through a translator who speaks English and Amharic. Leigha and I both felt so stupid because, under the crushing weight of the emotion of the encounter, we couldn't think of to say or ask. She was very shy and had difficulty looking us in the eye. She held Isaac for most of the encounter, but then after a little while she told us she was ready to hand him to us. She was obviously extremely sad, but when we asked her how she felt at this moment she said "happy."

Unless you have been in such a meeting, you cannot imagine the unspeakable bravery and strength it takes for a woman to make the decision she made. For a long time I have had a heart for orphans, but honestly it's pretty easy to "feel" for them. Today I learned the hard lesson that behind most of these orphans there is a birth mother who had to make a decision a thousand times harder than any decision that any of us will ever face. Sometimes people comment on what a wonderful thing it is that we adopt, or how noble the financial and emotional sacrifices that we make in the process. I have always said that for us adoption is a strictly selfish act because the joy and blessing that we get from our kids so far greatly outweighs the minor inconveniences we experience in the process that the notion of us doing something noble "for those poor kids" is laughable. Today I learned that the hard and noble part of adoption comes long before we even enter the picture. It is simply tragic that conditions in the world are such that the best (or only) option for millions of women is to give their precious babies to an under-resourced institutional orphanage in hopes that their childrent might simply stay alive, and if their broken hearts can still manage to dream, that their children might someday live happy lives in happy homes. It is difficult to imagine that many women are even capable of such dreams given the utter sadness and struggle of their own existences. As the meeting with the birth mother drew to a close she told us that she was happy that Isaac would have a good home and asked if it was OK to hug us. A friend of ours took a few pictures of Leigha, Isaac and me with the birth mother, and then she walked through the gate and we will never see her (and she will never see Isacc) again.

On a happier note, we are now headed to Gelgela (the orphanage where Isaac lived for a couple of months). We have never been to this one, so I'm REALLY excited to go check it out and to tell the nannies thanks for the amazing care they have given Isaac and all of the other kids who come there.

We are all ready to come home, and are excited to start that journey tomorrow evening. You all are going to love Isaac, and we can't wait to see Owen, Abe & Sam and introduce their new baby brother!


Embassy - check

Hey everyone, all our paper work went through today at the embassy. We're on track to come home on Sat. as planned. Ben has been very sick today, he thinks it was something he ate. He is better now, but please pray his strengh returns quickly. Isaac is still doing well. He is wanting held quite a bit, I'm sure he's needing some extra comfort to get through all the transitions. Better go he isn't sleeping so well tonight.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

They've got him!

Gotcha Day has been amazing! He's cooing on the bed right be side me. It's so unbelievable and yet very real all at the same time. This is my son whom I am well pleased. Adoption is such a gift from God and it's amazing. I can't count the number of times people have said, "oh your doing such a wonderful thing" but the blessing is always on us. Yes he gets all the riches and blessings of a christian home but the blessing our children bring to us is so much more.

So far he has been very happy and easy going--let's hope it continues. He's had a bottle, a bath, and some cereal. Soon we'll be off to bed. He is still a little congested and coughing some, but he seems to feel good.

Barbara sent me an email of the boys reaction to seeing the pics sent yesterday, here it is:
Sam was first. When he saw Leigha, his face lit up like a Christmas tree and he said my Mommy. He liked the ones of Isaac taking a bottle and then sleeping. He says he wants to hold the new baby and make him laugh.

Owen came through the room next and sounded very adult when he simply cooed "Aaww" at each picture of Isaac. He noticed that it must be warm by how you were dressed.

Abe was next. He climbed on my lap and studied each picture carefully as he grinned from ear to ear. He wanted me
to keep scrolling down so he could see more. At the end he said "My eyes are wet."

Love you all, can't wait to bring him home!

Today is the Big Day

Today is Gotcha Day and I can't wait to get my hands on that little guy again. He seems very laid back and went to us easily. We were able to get him to smile and play a little too. It was such an awesome experience. Sammy's favorite nanny brought Isaac out to us and we had quite a reunion with her and several other nannies telling them about Sammy and showing them pictures of him and describing his fasination with cowboys.

Last night we went to a traditional ET dinner with music and dance. Ben loves all things Ethiopian--ate alot of injera (ET bread). Last night Ben said, I should have been born in ET, I love the food, slobbering on babies, and running. Ethiopians are very affectionate. The nannies from last time greeted Ben and I with a kiss on each cheek. The men often hold hands walking down the street and it means nothing other than they are friends. This cultural difference is great for the children at the transitional home. The children are very well loved. Being a nanny here is a difficult job, because they truly love the children for on average of three months and then they let them go and do it all over again each time and new child comes from the oraphanage.

Owen, Abe, and Sam your going to like your new little brother. He likes to wrestle gently. Can't wait to see everyone.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Meetcha Day!!!

Today is the day we've been awaiting for! We met Isaac Ababe Singleton for the first time this afternoon. He is precious, beautiful, fat and happy! Even though we've experienced this moment a couple of times before, it was still indescribable and more wonderful than we could have imagined. It took Leigha about three-fifths of a second to shift into hardcore mommy mode. I think he had just woke up when he came out of the transition house to meet us. It didn't take long to coax the most beautiful smiles from him. He has the fattest cheeks (and arms, and hands, and thighs, and knees) you've ever seen! He were allowed to spend about 3 hours with him, and he didn't cry once. Leigha fed him a bottle after which he instantly became milk drunk and passed out on her lap. There were six other families with us--all first time adopters. It was great to see them experience the moment of meetcha. A few of the kids were a little scared at first, but within a few minutes everyone had started to bond. I should probably write some more about today, but the pictures tell a better story and that's what you all are tuning in for anyway... Enjoy!!!


Guest blogger note - I cannot resist the temptation to gush over this family and this child. Have you ever??? He's perfect! Ben and Leigh, you amaze me.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Tomorrow Is The Big Day!

Tomorrow after lunch we get to meet our little Valentine. We looking forward to it with great excitment. A few more families have made it to the guest house where we're staying. It's amazing how quickly adoption can bind different families together. We are very close to our travel group from Sammy's adoption and we look forward to connections that will come from Isaac's adoption. Something about meeting your kids together for the first time some how bonds you together for life.
We will keep you posted, please continue to pray for us and our meeting and bonding with Isaac!

Stir Crazy - Ben style

We were starting to get a little stir crazy staying the guest house. There was only one other family staying here, and they left on an overnight trip to the countryside to meet their birthmother. A new family from Louisville got in last night, and we met them this morning. We just go back from lunch with them and it seems like they're another set of instant friends (just like the crew we traveled with last time). Lunch was my best Ethiopian feast ever--featured chicken wings (pretty American, but delicious), goat kebob, some crazy orange potato soup, and the leftovers of Leigha's fish (and I mean whole fish--skin, heads, tails and all). I could have sat there all day making a pig of myself, but our new friends' little girl was ready for a nap.

We have been more or less stuck in the guest house as we are waiting for a new time to meet our birthmother. I had really hoped to find time for a trip to the countryside, but that looks fairly doubtful now as we will get a lot busier tomorrow when we will be meeting Isaac for the first time. It was such a long wait, but now that it's here it still seems so surreal that the big day is actually almost here.

We went to church this morning at a place called Internation Evangelical Church. It is where most of our adoptoin agency staff goes, so it seemed like the natural choice. We felt right at home and had a great time there. The music & sermon were both great and was very similar in style and format to our own church. The pastor was a North Carolina native, which was a surprise to us. There was a great mix of people there--about 60% Ethiopian and the rest were from all over the world. It was a great experience and I highly recommend it to any other travelling families.

The weather is cooler than it was two years ago and brief showers have blown up each afternoon, which is rare this time of year. The electricity flickered a few times during yesterday's showers, which would not surprise anyone who has looked at the electrical grid (frought with pirated electric lines going to nearly every shack along the roads and alleys). We have about 4 TV channels in the room, and there is usually something in English on 2 or 3 of them. Some of the stations switch from network to network (say from Al Jazeera to BBC or from a Suadi Arabian channel to Nickelodeon) throughout the day, so there is always hope for finding something familiar. I have been seeing commercials for 'Got Talent' for a couple of days now, so I'm hoping it's the American version so I can get my fix of the Hoff. Did I mention that we were getting stir crazy? I think it is starting to rear it's ugly head in my ramblings here, so I better quit for now...


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Africa Time

We spent the day laying low waiting to hear if a meeting with the birth mother could be arranged. We got word around noon that we would meet the birth mother today at 3pm. Well 3:00 came and went and a worker from America World came and informed us that the driver that was to pick up the birth mother had shut off his phone, so no meeting today, but we will try again tomorrow or later in the week. She assured us that indeed it would happen. I guess if it's meant to be God will bring it together. This seems to be typical of life in Ethiopia. Things come together in their own time and they really can't be rushed. Our last travel loving referred to it as Africa time.

We are having a little bit of trouble posting on our blog and friend and from our former travel group will be posting for us. Thanks Merica!

Leigh also says:
Hey all, since we're having trouble accessing our blog you will have to use our email to communicate with us. We have a friend posting for us via email but we are unable to read your posts. So if you would like to talk to us email us at

Happy Bithday Abe!!!

Today is Abe's birthday. He's six today and he's in love with all things Star Wars. We had a great Star Wars party before we left complete with a green light saber birthday cake. Abe was excited to have his birthday near Isaac's home coming. It's strange to think today we could be meeting Isaac's birthmother and Abe's birth mother is probably even now wondering about him and what his future holds. We are so grateful to the birth families that now belong to our family. So many often say to us, how can they let go of their children, but I often wonder could I do the same if I were in their position. Would I have that kind of sacrifical love giving up a son or daughter because I know I couldn't provide for his or her basic needs? I am sadden that so many all over the world face this decision everyday. Although we do not know much about any of our children's birth families. We know that many birth families choose to place their children in orphanages in the hopes that their children will have a hope and future beyond anything they would be able to give to their children.
So it's with mixed emotions that we face this day, uncertain what it will bring, but either way it will bring an unimaginable loss to Isaac's mother. We are honored to have him as part of our family and we feel great honor to be called his mom and dad.
Happy Birthday Abraham, we love you and miss, have a good birthday buddy!

Friday, February 12, 2010

We made it!

We made it to Ethiopia! Our flight out of DC was delayed 4 hours, and then we sat on the plane for an hour and a half while the push truck spun its wheel on the ice trying to get our plane away from the terminal. Once we got going, our flight was great--the plane was almost empty so there was plenty of room to lay down and sleep. If you ever get the chance to fly on Ethiopian Airlines I highly recommend it--the service is great! Ethiopia has changed a lot since we were here two years ago. It looks like there has been a lot of economic growth--the constuction sites now have workers and materials on them (last time they were all deserted) and there are bigger and better vehicles in the streets. It's about 9:30AM at home, but it's 5:30PM here which means we'll go to bed at about lunch time. I think it will work out fine as we are both tired from the trip. We're staying in a guest house this time instead of a hotel. It seems like a nice place, and we've already met a couple from Frankfort KY. The weather is nice here--it's been raining some the past few days which is rare. It's about 70 degrees and feels like it's going to rain. Our arrival was much less intimidating this time--it almost felt coming home in a way. We are anxious to meet Isaac, but that isn't scheduled to happen until Monday. We are hoping to meet his birth mother tomorrow, but as far as we know those arrangements have not been finalized yet. I am also hoping to find time to take a trip into the countryside to see some of the surrounding villages and agriculture. Thanks to all who have been praying for us. God truly did move a mountain (of snow in DC) to get us here on time. More to come later...


Thursday, February 11, 2010

so far so good...

It's 3:15AM and our 6:00AM flight isn't cancelled. We're going to head for the airport and see what happens!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Flying Tomorrow?

We're gonna try. Our flight is at 6am tomorrow and it hasn't been cancelled yet, so hopefully God willing we will be on our way bright and early tomorrow. We'll keep you all posted. Thanks for all you prayers. Owen is better and in-country plans are finalized, keep praying for Isaac and our flight plans.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Pray for Isaac

We just got an email from our agency. Isaac has pneumonia. They are treating him with antibiotics and we pray he is better soon. Owen our oldest is also sick with the stomach flu. Our flight got changed this morning due to the bad weather in DC. We are also having a hard time confirming our in-country plans because our agency is also in the DC area and has been closed for the last two days. Long story short the war wages on and we would appreciate your prayers. We know God is faithful and just and he has called us to this task and he will equip us for the task at hand. But as we forge ahead it would be a blessing to know others are petitioning the Lord on our behalf.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Family Dolls

Family dolls you say? What are family dolls? Well let me explain. Our agency has asked traveling families to bring a few items that were needed for the transition home (the place our children live once they have been assigned to their families). One of the items they requested were sets of family dolls so the children could role play with the psychologist what they've been through, and the transitions yet to come. In other words, great toys to help the children deal with what they've been through and what is yet to come. Wonderful I thought I'm going to be sure and take some family dolls, so I check Wal-mart (the go to store for rural southern IN) they've got nothing. So I began the on-line search, they were quite pricey and then add in shipping and they were very expensive, but I really wanted to take family dolls. I thought it's important and key tool to help children transition into their new homes. Monday I set out on a mission to gather a few more items needed for our trip and I decided to go to a neighboring town because I knew they had a store that might have the much coveted family dolls. Well if you know me very well, you know I like a good junk store, so I on the way I stopped at my favorite junk store and what did I find? You guessed it FAMILY DOLLS!!!

Not one set but two, one in black and one in white. Could it get any better you ask? Yes it can! I got them for the low, low price of $12. Now I tell you all this not because it makes a great story even though it does, but I tell you this because I am continual amazed at the working of the Father's hand in every step of our adoption. He knew what those children needed and he provided and I am blessed to be a part of his plan. If you haven't jumped fully into all the God has planned for you, don't wait, I'm sure he has a set of family dolls waiting for you somewhere along the way.

Our travel date is fast approaching. We leave Feb. 10 and return Feb. 20. We plan to post every day while in Ethiopia so tune in to read more about our beautiful new son Isaac and our journey to bring him home and pray for Grandma, Nana, and the two Paps as they wrestle the troops at home! We are so blessed to have a family that embraces adoption and helps us along the way.