Monday, November 4, 2013

Adopt Without Debt

Wondering how to adopt without doing into debt? Julie Gumm's book "Adopt Without Debt" is only $2.99 for the e-book BUT… only until midnight tonight (Nov. 4)!!

Find it here:

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Tucson Music Event

If you're looking for something fun to do in Tucson this weekend, here you go! My art agent shared this with me... "Bill and Marie are wonderful musicians…they have traveled with some amazing artists…Phil Collins, Anita Baker, etc…we have heard them a few times at Saddleback and other places around San Diego, LA and Orange county."

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Gotcha Day!!

I'm way behind, but we FINALLY were able to bring our son home from Ethiopia! Our Gotcha Day was May 27 and we came home June 1. Jaxson has been adjusting well.. better in fact than I ever imagined. Communication has not been an issue like I thought but it did help that I learned a few Amharic words to get by. In just a week, he is picking up English and can say & identify our family and a few objects. He can sign "please" and "thank you", has an infectious smile and a mischieviousness at times. Nate loves his little brother and is enjoying being the BIG brother.

I will write more about our trip later but for now, here's pics!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Patience Required

Our adoption agency in-country staff has told the US Embassy that our son's finder could not be found. They are requesting that the Embassy either interview the police officer involved or the orphanage where he was first taken to. Please pray that the Embassy accepts their request so we can move forward with this. Thanks!


Well we just found out we have the adoption glitch we were hoping to avoid. The U.S. Embassy wants to interview the person who found our son (to make sure everything is legit). The problem, is that when we traveled to Dire Dawa, the police officer could not find her. She was no longer at the "house" where he was found. So basically, this means we wait...

1. We wait for the Embassy to finish searching for the person who found Misbay.
2. If give up searching for her, they may decide to interview the police officer & review the police report
3. If they decide that's insufficient, our case will be sent to Nairobi for orphan processing

We have no idea how long this will take but we were told it could possibly take anywhere up to 6 months. Praying it doesn't take that long. Our adoption agency said they've never had a case thrown out from the Embassy so we just have to be patient (something I'm not very good at!)

Thanks for your prayers!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Ethiopia Adoption Trip #1

We just returned from a 2 week trip to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to meet our son! After being approved in Ethiopian court, he is now ours!! We will return to Ethiopia in a few weeks to bring him home for good.

Addis was quite the culture shock, even though we've been to other countries outside the U.S. Tucson is a city with a small town feel. When we drove into Addis from the airport, we were overwhelmed with culture shock. Our first impression was a mix of broken sidewalks, trash, markets, pollution and grey buildings mingled with nicer restaurants. People poor and well off walking together, sharing the streets with tons of cars, burros and sheep herders. I had seen photos of Addis but nothing prepares you for the sights, smells, and sounds that hit you. We scanned the streets looking for some kind of "normal" that we could relate to but not finding anything. It took a few days for us to begin getting used to our surroundings.

The people we encountered at our TDS Guesthouse, in the restaurants, shops, and church were very friendly. Ethiopians have a graceful air to them. They are a slender people, stand very straight, walk and talk calmly and gracefully. To me they all looked like models! In fact, I felt under dressed in my casual cargos and capris when we went to the restaurants & cafes.

Walking around Addis is an experience. We stuck out like sore thumbs and were always approached by the many peddlers or beggars. Pickpockets are frequent on the streets (and our area was considered a safe area for walking). Trying to take photos out on the streets invites more people to hassle you or beggars so the majority of my photos were taken from our van or taxi.

One thing we quickly discovered is that the coffee in Ethiopia is EXCELLENT. In fact, I haven't found anything as good in our neck of the woods back home. That's one thing I'll miss for sure!

Meeting our child and spending several days with him was a mix of emotions. He is nearly 2 and understands perfect Amharic...but no English. Imagine this... he has had a structured schedule for the last several months in the transition home. Every day he does the same thing, goes to the same areas...except for one particular day. He wakes up from his nap, but instead of going to the playroom like he has every day, he's taken to a strange room where he's given to strange people who are saying things he can't understand. Then he turns around and sees the nanny leaving the room. Now it hits him that he's alone with these strangers and he's immediately frightened.

It was impossible to do any kind of bonding with our son while he was at the transition home. They take excellent care of him and the other kids and he's very attached to his nannies. He cried every time we came to visit but would calm down and play with us...until a nanny came in the room and then the cycle would start again. The people at the transition home were very friendly and the kids there were so much fun. They taught me a few Amharic words and phrases and loved playing with us.

On the day we went to court to be approved for adoption, we had just crossed the street when a truck snagged the power lines in front of the courthouse, and snapped the power pole. Sparks zapping and people scattering everywhere! It was quite the excitement. We waited in the court room with people from Canada & Germany who had been waiting 5-6 years for their kids. One of the family's at our guesthouse were from Ireland and just got their daughter. It was awesome to be united with other countries for the same purpose.

We also took a side trip to Dire Dawa, Ethiopia to visit our son's hometown and his finding place. That was one of the highlights of our trip and we loved the tropical, small town feel of Dire Dawa. It also helped give us some closure on his past...something we didn't have with our first son's adoption from China.

It was a great adventure and we're looking forward to bringing our son home in the next few weeks!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

STUCK Documentary

WOW! I watched the "Stuck" documentary this week. Very eye-opening film about what we personally experienced with both of our international adoptions, red-tape hurdles with intl adoption, & several highlights of Ethiopia. People often ask us why the process takes so long. Most people have no idea what is required of families when they adopt. It is difficult to explain because there's so much to the process. However, this movie explains it better and goes beyond with footage from orphanages and interviews with families.

Unlike the U.S., many countries do not have a foster system. Although the foster system here has its pros & cons, at the very least, children have the opportunity to be in a family unit. In many countries, because there is no foster system, children...many orphaned or abandoned, live in crowded orphanages where they have little to no physical contact/touch, affection from their caregiver. This greatly affects their physical and emotional development as a person. And because of bureaucratic red tape, these children are stuck for years in these conditions rather than being placed with a family.

I HIGHLY encourage everyone to go to this movie!! Well worth your time. It's playing all over the nation on different dates.

TUCSON friends: Mar 21, 5:30pm at Tower Theaters.
PHOENIX friends: Mar 22 at Harkins Shea, Scottsdale.
Or you can purchase a download of the film online at:

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Snowy Awesomeness

Snowflake on my nose

I looked out the window today to watch the rain (yes, those of us in the desert do that), and had to do a double take. I couldn't believe what I was was SNOWING!! In my 44 years of mostly living in the desert, I have never seen it snow. We've always lived in the lower know, the ones who get the 110+ degree weather in summer. Not only was it was snowing but they were big white flakes coming down heavily and blanketing our grass. For us out here, that made it a GREAT day!!
View from our street

It's sticking!

Grass is turning white!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Ethiopia in 2-1/2 weeks!!!

Today we got our long awaited court date for Ethiopia!!!! March 18 we go before the Ethiopian judge to be approved to adopt our boy. And better yet, we will finally meet him a few days prior!

I'm glad we have a little time to get things ready before we leave. I've been working like mad on a bunch of art for clients (who always need it "now!") and trying to get as much done as I can before we take off. Internet service is similar to the '90s over there and no WIFI. It will be strange to go backward when I depend on the internet so much for my job and communicating with family!

We will also have the chance to see the city our son was born in (about 7 hours from Addis Ababa) and tour the orphanage there. Currently, he's in a transition home in Addis Ababa. I'm very excited to experience the culture there,  not to mention get some great coffee. haha!

So until then, we are crazy busy until we leave! Yay!!!!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Gung Hay Fat Choy! Happy Chinese New Year!

I'm so glad we're fortunate to have a chinese cultural center here in Tucson. Every year we go the center to celebrate the Lunar Festival - Chinese New Year. Every year the crowds seem to get bigger and more than the center knows what to do with. ha! Last year we made the mistake of playing all the kiddie games first (which was like being pushed around in a super crowded Fantasyland at Disneyland). By the time we decided to eat lunch, the lines were crazy long, we missed nearly all the cool entertainment and they ran out of most of the food!

This year, we got wise and headed straight for the food booths, saw a lot of the performances and totally skipped the kiddie games. The weather this year was freezing...ok, maybe not to the rest of the nation but definitely to us! Compared to last year when we were sweating in the food line and getting sunburned. We had a fun time and had some awesome chinese food. Here's a few pix for you.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Our Adoption Update

It's been awhile since I've posted about our pending adoption. The orphanage director had a court date on Jan 21, basically to say that "J" is available for adoption and was referred to us. Now we are waiting for MOWCYA (Ministry of Women, Childrens Affairs) in Ethiopia to submit an approval letter to the Ethiopian court & get our court date to travel. Originally, that was supposed to happen now, however, we just found out that MOWCYA is backed up in paperwork and trying to get ahead. So no court dates for the adoptive parents are being issued until they can do that.

That means we are basically in limbo until MOWCYA gets to our case. We have no idea when that will be or how long it will take. Please keep us in prayer for this process to move quickly!

In the meantime, we received 2 new photos of our J! He is looking happy and healthy and is 20 months old now. We are trying to learn Amharic (or really, "I" am trying to learn since Don has pretty much given up!) as he does not speak a word of English. Neither do the nannies in the transition home so we will definitely have a language barrier. Nate is picking up a few words too but so far he only seems to remember, "Wait!", "Stop!", "Bird", "Night Night", & "I love you". haha.

We are not allowed to post photos until we go to Ethiopia & the judge says "He's yours", but here's a few glimpses of our little guy. Until then,