Saturday, February 6, 2010

Family Blog

The purpose of this blog was to document our adoption journey and all of the blessings and challenges that it entailed. Now that Johnny is safe at home, I will not be posting as regularly on this blog and will continue to post updates about our family of four on our family blog. I may still use this blog from time to time to post questions or thoughts about adoption but it probably won't see much activity. Thank you for following our adoption and if you would like to continue to follow our family go to:

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Quick Update

The Pell family is doing ok. The Tuesday after we returned from Ethiopia Johnny had a fever and was a bit fussier. Then on Friday evening Emma our two year old came down with a fever of 103.5 which continued through Sunday evening. We took her to the doctor and she tested positive for the flu (probably H1N1). We think this is why John and I were so sick while in Ethiopia. Emma ended up with a double eye infection, ear infection and horrible fever. These past few weeks of sickness and transition have been challenging. Getting up with a 6 month old every two hours is challenging, getting up with the 6 month old and a sick 2 year old is exhausting. My sister came to visit with my 4 month old niece this week which was a wonderful way to distract from the frustration of our sleepless children.

Except for the night waking, Johnny is doing great. He is happy unless he is hungry or tired and loves being held and cuddled. He is sitting up on his own and has even gotten himself into the crawling position a couple of times while reaching for a toy. While my sister was here, we noticed him whining for us and not for her when he was hungry or tired. There was a definite difference between mom and dad and his Aunt Heidi. We are so thankful that he has already started to show signs of attaching to us in a way he is not attaching to others. We know that we still have a long way to go to build trust with him but he is doing so well.

We having taken him out a bit on short errands but have spent most of our days at home so that he is not overwhelmed by all of the new sights, sounds and smells in our world. He seems to love people and lights up when someone has come by to drop off a meal or say a quick hello. By the way, thank you for all of you that are bringing us meals. What a difference the evening is when we don't have to worry about dinner. It has made for stress free evenings during this transition. We have such wonderful friends!

We are hoping that this week will be free from illness and we can start to get in a routine. With a little more sleep I think we just might be able to do this........

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ethiopia Trip Day Eight (Saturday)

Our flights were seamless and we made it home on time. Here is a picture of Johnny and his daddy at his first McDonalds at the airport in Germany. He did great on his first plane ride. He slept, played, ate and made eyes at the flight attendants.

Then we were home!!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ethiopia Day Seven (Friday)

Addis Ababa Airport

As we previously posted, we did not make it out of Ethiopia on Thursday as we had expected. We ended up spending a lot more time in this airport than anticipated. We got to bed around 3:30 in the morning after not getting on the plane Thursday night. We were both still sick and at this point completely exhasted. We decided that it would be a good idea to head to the airport to check in really early to ensure we would be able to leave and wouldn't have any further visa problems. We got to the airport around 3pm and no one from Lufthansa was there to check us in. They are only in their office from 11:30 at night to 2am every other day when the flights leave Ethiopia. Wes, our driver and translator, was able to find a phone number for the Lufthansa office in Addis Ababa and called to verify if they would let us on the plane flying through Germany. She said no. We would need a visa. The German embassy was already closed and wouldn't be open again until Monday. Almaz called them as well and talked her into agreeing that we should be let on the plane but told us it would be up to whoever was at the ticket counter that night.

We both just felt we HAD to get home that day. The trip had been hard and getting stuck there was just that much harder. We decided we were just going to buy new tickets on a direct flight through Ethiopian airlines for $2,500 and fight for a refund from our travel agent when we got back. We were in line with our card ready to pay when Wes ran up and said the director of Lufthansa called him back and said we could get on the plane and that he would leave a note with the ticket counter. We decided to trust the director and had Wes take us back to our hotel. We arrived back at the airport at 11:30 pm and had no problem getting on our flight. The woman at the ticket counter had our name and put us on the flight.

It always seems that once you are through a difficult time, you are able to look back at the good that came from it. For us, it was the day we were able to spend with Wes. We were both starting to feel more like ourselves and really enjoyed the time spent learning about who Wes was and how he came to be at Hannah's Hope. We both said it was the moment we began to really understand the beauty of Ethiopia and the passion of it's people.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ethiopia Trip Day Six (Thursday)

Day Six – We go home today! John woke up with whatever I had yesterday and stayed in bed while I took one last trip to Hannah’s Hope to give out the stickers and candy we had brought with us. Tibebu got one last chance to say goodbye to his special mothers and I got to spend some more time with the older children. Hannah’s Hope is an amazing place. I really have nothing but great things to say about anything I saw while at Hannah's Hope. The special mothers give one on one attention to each child and jump to their every need. I can not imagine how difficult their jobs are for them. They are dealing with constant transition and children coming from all different backgrounds and languages. They do it with the ultimate grace. The new orphanage was clean and brightly decorated. Almaz, the orphanage director, was everything everyone said she would be. She is a beautiful no nonsense Ethiopian woman that has a heart of gold for these children. She knew them all by name along with descriptions of their particular situations. We all felt truly blessed to have had our children so well cared for prior to coming home.

Front of Hannah's Hope
Tibebu's Crib while at Hannah's Hope

One of Tibebu's Special Mothers

Infant Boys room at Hannah's Hope

View from upstairs balcony at Hannah's Hope

Downstairs Play room at Hannah's Hope

Middle Courtyard

Another special mother of Tibebu's

Older girls room


Johannes and Wes with Tibebu. They are on staff with Hannah's Hope as well and were so great during our trip.

Tibebu's first bath with Mommy

Ethiopia Trip Day Five (Wednesday)

I will have to try and get John to write about Wednesday as I didn't make it out bed all day. John took care of Tibebu for the day and then went to the Traditional Ethiopian dinner in the evening with the others from our travel group. I was so sad to miss this as everyone said it was their favorite part of the trip. There was food, singing and lot of dancing.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Ethiopia Trip Day Four (Tuesday)

This morning we woke up at 7 and got ready to go do some shopping. The plan was to drop the kids off at the orphanage as the government urges families of adoptive children to not take them out in public while in Ethiopia. I think this is mostly due to the potential of some bad press.

We dropped off Tibebu and took the ride through the city to a market where we power shopped for an hour and a half, trying to find whatever we could that we thought might be important to him later in life. The market was very similar to markets I had been to in other countries with many similar items.

We did our shopping then ate at an Italian restaurant. This was clearly a very fancy upscale restaurant for Addis Ababa.

By this point we had gotten to know our travel group pretty well so it was fun to have a day out without the kids to get to know eachother better and swap stories. Came to find out, day three was a hard day for most of us. Transition is hard. Taking care of a baby is hard. Transitioning and taking care of a baby in a foreign country is really hard. All of us ladies had had breakdowns on day three and four. Whether it is the lack of sleep or the strange food or the lack of comforts, these days in Ethiopia have been difficult.

This morning, I sat on the bed crying to John that I didn’t feel well and Tibebu was snotting, couphing, drooling, ect. John looked at me, coughing, drooling, snotting and said, “Well what do you think he thinks of you?” I am having a hard time distinquishing between being in this foreign place as being hard or adopting a child as being hard. It is probably a little bit of both. So many emotions are swirling around in my head and this is the day they decided to come tumbling out. It was a good day for a break from the kids. We are so thankful to be with a group of parents going through the same things as we are.

We got back to Hannah’s Hope to pick up Tibebu and found him freshly bathed, eating his bottle and falling asleep for his nap. He is very loved among the special mothers and their faces just light up when we come into the room with him. He had no problem coming back with us and seemed happy to see his strange white parents again.

We got back to the hotel, played a bit then John and Tibebu went to bed and I met some of the other ladies in our group for drinks and French fries (the only thing on the menu that I could stomach at this point). It was great to hear more about their lives and their children.

I went to bed feeling like a cold was coming on and woke up with a high temperature.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Day Three in Ethiopia (Monday)

Day 3 – The night went better than expected. Tibebu slept well but woke up every 2-3 hours to eat. They feed the babies on demand at the orphanage so they eat all the time He woke up at 5 ready to play. He doesn’t seem scared of us anymore and takes comfort in seeing us when he wakes up. We got ready, skyped with Emma and Yaya and Pappy and Meemaw and Papa, ate breakfast, and then were off to the embassy.

The ride to the embassy took about 45 minutes. We drove through the city of Addis Ababa to get there. You can tell the people take pride in their city as the streets are well paved and clean. The smog is very thick. I didn’t realize how lucky we were to live with clean air until driving through this city.

We got to the US Embassy and they started calling the names in our travel group. There are 8 other families traveling with us. Three others picking up babies, two families picking up toddlers, and three families picking up older children.

They called our name and we went upstairs to a window. She asked us a couple of questions regarding the adoption such as did you know the mother beforehand? Is this the child that was referred to you? She then ended our meeting by telling us that this adoption was final and there were no “give-backs”. Really? You mean this isn’t just a trial run? She informed us that we could pick up his Visa in the next couple of days and we went back downstairs to be with our group. That was it. That was the last official thing we had to do while in Ethiopia.

Tibebu did well on the trip to the embassy. He doesn’t seem overwhelmed by new sights and sounds which is good because he is going to be bombarded with them in a few days. Our travel group finished and we headed back to the hotel. They dropped us off, we had lunch and went back up to our hotel room hoping Tibebu would take a nap.

The food: John and I are normally pretty easy going when it comes to food. We like being adventurous and trying new things. The food at our hotel has been very difficult for us to eat. There is a spice that goes in Ethiopian food that they put in all of their entrees. Spagetti becomes Ethipian Spagetti, tomato soup, the same. The only thing we have found that we like is the French fries, go figure. I think the lack of food is starting to wear on us. We wish we had brought more snacks to hold us over until we returned to the states.

Monday night was a rough night. I (Sarah) started feeling sick around 6pm and got in bed early. I had a headache, stomach ache and fever. The smog on the ride to the Embassy triggered my asthma making it harder to me to breathe. We think that triggered some altitude sickness. I drank two liters of water, took some asprin and felt better in the morning. John took on the baby duties that night and Tibebu woke up every 2 hours again. We are already ready to get home.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

How Are We Doing??

I thought I would write a quick post on how we are doing now that we are back in the states. I will be posting more about our trip soon but for now a quick update will have to do.

Johnny is doing wonderfully. The first night home he woke up every two hours to eat, then three, then four and last night he went a solid six hours between feeding. He is still having a hard time sleeping from around 4am to 7am but progress has been made.

Emma loves her baby brother and he definitely loves her back. He gets a huge grin on his face whenever she comes in the room. He seems to have gotten used to being in our house and is even doing well sleeping in his crib. Emma and Johnny are sharing a room and as of now seem to be taking well to each other as roommates. Emma doesn't wake up when Johnny cries to be fed in the middle of the night and Johnny doesn't seem to be bothered by Emma's many excuses to stay up during her bedtime routine. We were planning to have him sleep in our room until he settled in but the crib seems to work better for him. He lets us rock him to sleep and just loves to cuddle prior to sleeping.

Johnny is a vibrant six month old that is actively teething. We know this by the enormous amount of drool that comes out of his mouth all day. For those of you that know Emma well, you will know that this drooling problem is Emma's worst nightmare. When she walks in the room she immediately asks for a kleenex to wipe his face or insists that we do it for her. She has been slimed a couple of times while hugging and kissing him and has needed several shirt changes due to her baby brothers drool. As long as his face is clean, she is all over him. With drool, she is a bit more careful with her hugs and kisses.

My parents left today to go back home to Washington. They were a huge help with Emma while we were gone and also with our transition once we got home. We have been sticking to John and I being the only ones to feed and put Johnny to sleep so they weren't able to help us with this but Johnny loved playing with his Yaya and Pappy and they were able to give Emma the attention we couldn't give when we first got home. We are just now feeling caught up with sleep (at least as caught up as you can be with an infant) and ready to have two children. We can't thank them enough for all of their help these past two weeks.

I will try and post some more pictures soon along with my journal entries from our trip to Ethiopia soon.

Monday, January 18, 2010