Thursday, December 23, 2010

Referral-versary (December 23, 2009 / December 23, 2010)

(word borrowed from Gayla Friend Gower)

One year ago today we saw the lovely face of our daughter. Nothing could have prepared us for her beauty! We were taken aback by her lively eyes and her head full of hair. We laughed over her spunk and cried over how tiny she was.

We had gotten the call that there was a baby - a three month old little girl - on December 22, 2010. There were a couple of things to consider with her referral, so our caseworker gave us some information to read and wanted us to email her the next day to say whether or not we wanted to find out more about the little lady.

We got the emails with all of the information and spent the evening reading and pondering what we saw. We called a pediatrician and asked advice.

On Wednesday, December 23, 2009, we alerted our caseworker that we, indeed, wanted to pursue the referral of the little girl.

About 2pm in the afternoon, she called. I was at work, finishing the last minute details before our holiday break. Charlie was at his office doing the same. We coordinated our times; I went home. I got my laptop out and placed it on the kitchen counter. Kristin, the caseworker called, and conferenced Charlie in. She then sent a couple of emails thru at 2:36pm. I opened the first one right away and (of course) scrolled to the bottom to see the photos of our daughter, smiling, laughing, inviting me in to her life. Kristin was talking in the background - I am sure it was of importance, but I has skipped to the end - to the good part. When I saw her adorable face, I let out a gasp and starting crying immediately.

What a doll! In no way could I have been prepared for this moment. I was dizzy with excitement!

We went over the paperwork. I am sure, again, that Kristin was telling us important things, but all I could do was stare at her photos.

Kristin wanted us to think about the decision and get back to her. Charlie drove home, and we didn't really have to talk much about it! She was already ours. All the talking had been done the night before.

At 3:31 pm on December 23, 2009, I wrote:

After discussing the information we received, we are thrilled to officially accept the referral of Hayat! We look forward to proceeding with the next step!
Thank you for everything!

We are so excited and honored to become the parents are such a special little girl!

Little did we know how special she really was.

We thought that 2009 would be the best Christmas ever! The day before Christmas Eve we "met" our daughter. We placed photos in frames to give to our mothers as Christmas presents (we didn't tell them about the referral until they opened the gifts.)

Boy, were we wrong?! This Christmas we have this sassy little girl hunting for the Elf on the Shelf. We have a funny little daughter dancing every chance she gets. We have a doll who calls for "Mama" when she is sick in the night. We have a cutie who screams with terror when she sees Santa. We have a smart baby girl who "reads" to us with much expression and gusto.

Tonight we began the Christmas celebration with my mom, sister and niece. Zadie was gorgeous in her fancy dress. She laughed, dug in the gifts that weren't hers and played with the boxes that were. She eventually decided that she, indeed, loved the Weeble Playhouse from my sister and brother-in-law and then played with it. She also cried because she has had a tummy bug and is cutting those mean ole 12 month molars. But, she is special. She is smart and strong. She is lovely and loving. She is funny and fabulous!

One year ago today we fell truly, madly and deeply (thanks Sabrina) in love with a beautiful little girl from across the world. One year later, no one could have prepared us for the love that we have for her now.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Zadie Turns One

I sit here tonight with a million emotions -

Our baby girl is hardly a baby any longer. She is a walker. Walking is what she defers to. She was toddling around this afternoon after dinner, trying to keep up with the big kids. She could hardly hold up her tiny head when we met her. Now she literally runs around. That makes me proud.

Tomorrow is her birthday party. She will officially be 1 on Monday, 9/27. People are coming from all around to mark this milestone with us. We will have cake, music, games and fun. That makes me happy.

Asaye, from Bridge of Hope in Gonder sent us an email today that says he will also "be at her party". He plans to light a candle for Zadie and pray that she is the "happiest girl in the world" on her birthday. He took Zadie into the children's home and had the forethought to call Gladney. His work in Gonder is amazing, and the good people there kept our baby healthy for the first several weeks of her life. That makes me grateful.

Somewhere in Gonder, Ethiopia, a young lady must be thinking about "this time last year". What was she thinking and feeling then? Was she scared? Was she sick? Was she overwhelmed? What is she thinking and feeling this year? Is she sad? Does she have regret? Is she proud of her decision? She may wish she could give her first born a birthday kiss. This makes me feel sad. Sad beyond words.

Also, in Gonder, is a lovely older lady, the birth mother's great aunt, who took Zadie to Bridge of Hope. She was brave. She was selfless. She was strong. This beautiful lady chose the name "Hayat" which we will honor by keeping it as her middle name. Hayat means "long life". I know she had hopes and dreams for the beautiful little baby she relinquished nearly one year ago. This make me feel responsible.

Today at Primrose, my work/Zadie's school, we had our annual celebrating cultures day. Zadie wore the dress given to her by her "special mother" at the coffee ceremony at the Gladney foster care centers. Last time she wore it, we were in Ethiopia. We were just getting to know the precious little lady. This makes me nostalgic.

So, as I sit here, thinking about Zadie's birthday, the emotions are running rampant. I look forward to celebrating her life with family and friends tomorrow. I hope we never forget all of the little "miracles" that had to happen to bring us together.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Can you believe it? Last Friday was our 2nd post-adoption visit with our social worker. To put your minds at ease, these two visits have been a breeze. Out social worker wants to see Zadie, asks a list of questions, chats for a bit and then she's off. Of course, I go into a teeny tiny frenzy each time she's set to come. Guess it's only human, right?

So, now we are setting off into the world of readoption. Readoption a process that will make Zadie a US citizen, with all rights and responsibilities. She came in to the US with a visa and was given a green card a few weeks later (and may I say, the passport, visa and green card photos are the CUTEST things I have EVER seen!).

To be honest, I am BURNT out on paperwork. I can't seem to scrounge up enough energy to start this process. You guys remember the chasing, the organization, the notarizing, the never ending pile of papers!!! I heard one lady call it the "paper pregnancy". Dang, that's right!

You guys who are now traveling two times will (I am pretty sure) be able to skip this process. Good for you!

But, here we go. This has GOT to be less painful than the initial paper chase, right????

By the way, Zadie is WALKING!!!! All over the place. Like she owns the world. And we will celebrate her first birthday this month. Updates on that later.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The House is a Mess; Our Home is Complete

How do they do it? Really. You know, those moms who have a full time job, a spic and span house, dinner on the table every evening and still manage to wear makeup. Don't tell anyone, but I kinda hate them.

I haven't cooked one meal this week. Tonight I actually called the pizza people from work with a delivery that arrived about 3 minutes after I walked in the door. Not so long ago I planned menus, cooked every night and put laundry away within 24 hours of completing it.

But, can I tell you - I am happier than ever. Who cares that we are housebound after 7pm because Zadie is asleep by then? Who cares that we may never see a first run movie until she is 5 years old?

Zadie is such a stinker. A little character. Her smile makes this mess a home.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Changes on the Horizon

We've had our first post-adoption visit from our social worker. It was a breeze. She was in and out and very kind and uplifting. It seems that she followed that post- adoption paperwork that Gladney sent, asked the questions and then met Zadie (who slept through nearly the entire meeting!).

The one thing that came out of the meeting has been a dread of my going back to work. Let me clarify - when I say go back to work, I mean, to the preschool that I help run where Zadie will attend. She will literally be 20 feet from my desk in her first classroom, but it seems like it will 200 miles away. She and I have spent nearly every waking moment together since April 26th. We eat together. We laugh together. We play together. We nap together.

Back to the social worker - She just reminded me that I should get Zadie used to the new classroom. I know this. When I tour and enroll new families, I tell them this. You know - "She needs to understand that you trust the teachers." etc. But for some reason, I had not been following through. We have been to my school at least once a week since our return. But I hadn't made a point to let the teacher help her up when she falls or to feed her. It's so strange, but NO one has fed her since we met except for me, Charlie and a few bites from her cousin. And now she will eat lunch everyday with a few other babies. So, I think it may even be more important for her to know that Ms. Shannon is a very nice lady who can take care of you while mommy is away.

You know, it's kinda like the doctor who smokes - it's hard to take your own advice.

I think I am struggling with the new mindset. We have been working so hard on attaching. She definitely knows that I am her mommy and that Charlie is her daddy. We have been insanely protective of bath times, feeding times and bed times. We want her to understand that this is her home, and we are her family. And now she is going to spend the better part of her day with teachers and friends. In other words, I have to share my little treasure!

Don't get me wrong - I believe in our school. I think the children who spend time with us are prepared for kindergarten, for life. They are problem solvers, thinkers and sharers.

But this attaching time has been precious. So precious. I treasure every laugh, every feeding, every poopy diaper. I treasure every moment at the pool, every dance we've danced.

And now, I enlist the teachers' help in making our little Zadie Hayat even more confident, thoughtful and ready to be what she was meant to be! (Oh, I and I will be watching and listening from my desk ;) )

Sunday, June 27, 2010

2 months as a family (and a little reflection)

As we celebrate the 2 month anniversary of being a family, I find myself looking back to Ethiopia. A family who is traveling for court and another family traveling to bring their son home have agreed to carry some photos and cards to the children at the orphanges and to the in-country staff.

While I has looking through the MILLION photos we have of children at the orphanages, my heart was breaking. The young men at Kolfe were amazing. Polite, thoughtful, ambitious. I told one boy at Kolfe that he had very good English. He said, "No ma'am. I don't. I need to practice." Then I responded, "Have you heard my Amharic?" Seriously, his English was spot on! He wanted to work to be an engineer. Their dreams inspire me!

At the younger children's orphanage, my heart was won by one little, filthy, stinky boy who only had the use of one arm. (He's in the photo above - we can't show faces of the children in the orphanages). I would guess he was 4 years old. One of the ladies in our group was passing out candy. She gave him a lollipop, and having one arm, he couldn't open it. I knelt to open his candy for him, and that was it - we were bonded. He held my hand. I carried him. He laughed. Somehow he got another piece of candy. And, while we were touring the facility, one little girl was lying in bed. I am not sure that she could get up, but her face was smiley and beautiful. My little friend willingly gave her his second piece of candy because she didn't get one. Our hearts broke. This little guy has nothing. Looking through the photos today, I see that his shoes were worn out and probably 2 sizes too big. His pants were probably two sizes too short and about 100 years old. But he gave away a treasure!

Then, as we were leaving, this little guy followed us to the car. He held onto me so tightly. We hugged and kissed. Then hugged and kissed some more. One of workers had to pry his hand off mine. Then he just sat down and bawled, I mean broken hearted wailing. Driving away, my heart broke. I think of his very often, and the photos broke my heart today.

We saw so much loss. So much need. So many little faces who just want a family.

As we were touring the baby room, which was desolate - way too many babies, many without diapers, in a small room, Travis reminded us of the story of the starfish. You know the one - the little boy throws starfish back in the ocean. Someone told him to give it up, that his efforts don't matter. And he replied, "It matters to the one I threw back."

Boy, are we thankful for Zadie Hayat. She loves us. We love her. We laugh together. She comes to me for comfort. In a public place, she holds tighter to her mother. I mean, we are thankful for the progress she has made. I hope we are wise as we continue our attachment. I just really want what's best for the little piece of love.

But, I can't stop thinking about all of those children. All of that need. What is my responsibility? The question haunts me.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

One Month Home! (and a little drama)

Can you believe it? We have been home for one month! And, honestly, we can't remember life before Zadie Hayat made us a family.

She has brought many smiles to our hearts. And in the past couple of days, a couple of tears to our eyes! No, no, no - not her exactly. And she is fine and healthy, but we've been at the doctor a few times this week.

One thing that I wish I knew before it happened was the TB drama. The embassy immunization papers don't list bcg vaccine on the chart, therefore it is not listed on her immunizations. And, once a person has been vaccinated against TB, they will always test positive for exposure to the disease - which we knew. But, when Zadie tested positive with no record of her immunization, our pediatrician's office went into a frenzy. Our doctor was out of the office on Friday when her test was read, so we had another doctor. He was not so familiar with our situation. He wanted to call the health department right away, and have me report Zadie and let "the health department make decision on the next step". Next step?? I kept thinking - Like quarantine? I even asked the nurse if he meant quarantine. She laughed, but then she said, "Not right away, I mean not just yet."

The very kind and sensible nurse talked the doctor down, and sent me to the hospital with orders for a chest x-ray. Ok, now I was back on familiar ground. This is what we were told would happen next. Once we were in the lab, and poor Zadie was placed in some sort of tube with a bicycle seat that scared the mess out of her (and this is supposed to be bonding time, right?), the radiologist ran into the room to tell us that there was a spot on her lung and that there would need to be another x-ray. This is when I panicked - a spot??!!??

So, the very gentle x-ray tech and I put the doll-baby back into the tube thingy - with more screaming and kicking and looks of broken heart, "Mommy, how could you?" They took another x-ray, and then sent me on my way. I tried and tried to get information from the x-ray tech, but she kept saying that she wasn't allowed to give any information. But she did take me behind a glass and whisper that the radiologist looked very relieved with the second x-ray.

Later that evening the nurse called to say that everything was fine, that the spot on the first x-ray was not on the second one so we were in the clear. But I still have to go to the health department this week to report my child, but at least I have a clear chest x-ray to take with me!

I say all this to say, come on! We need to have proof of the vaccination! Charlie spent quite a long time on the phone with our case worker discussing how to fix this. I mean... Really.

I suppose that we could have refused the TB test, but she is going to school with me in a few weeks, and the doctor would not have released her to go without it. I am not sure if this a universal experience, or it is just a NC thing, but Zadie and I were both exhausted after the drama of the day.

Having said all of that, she is a doll. A gem. Perfect for our family. She laughs generously. She smiles often. She is easy going, and she loves her mommy and daddy. She sleeps. I mean, how would we even ask for more? We couldn't. And we won't.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Trip to Gladney Foster Care Center

On Wednesday morning of the week we were in Addis, the families and the children visit the foster care center. This is our first outing as a family, and, as our trip unfolded, it was my first trip thru Addis Ababa.

Once we made it to the foster care center, it looked exactly like I thought it would. We have all seen photos from many coffee ceremonies and many photos of our children in foster care. Everything looked like I thought it would until we got upstairs. The rooms where the babies slept were much smaller than I thought. They were happy, sunny places, but quite a lot smaller than I thought they would be.

We barely made it through the door of foster care center 1 before the special mother came and swept our little lady away from us. We ran into her a few more times, and each time the special mother and Zadie were playing and talking to each other. The care was evident between them. Zadie also had been dressed in her adorable traditional clothing.

The caregivers were all friendly. The children seemed happy and healthy. The older children were laughing and playing. We enjoyed moving room to room meeting the children, laughing with them. Giving hugs and kisses. Taking photos for moms and dads back home and delivering a few packages.

We made our way back to the coffee ceremony. The coffee was yummy. Popcorn topped off the ceremony. Then, when we were about to leave, Travis said, "We need to get Hayat (that's our Zadie) back, right?" She had not made it back to the coffee ceremony. When the special mother brought her back to us, the tears began to flow. My tears. Charlie's tears. The special mother's tears. She sent us away with blessings. Charlie and I gathered ourselves, and headed out. As we were walking to the cars, Charlie happened to look back. The special mother was standing on the balcony watching us walk away. She had tears in her eyes. My tears began to flow again. But knowing that our daughter's sweet, loving nature was nurtured by these caregivers is priceless.

The morning was such a lovely one. We saw the two beds where Zadie had slept while she was in Gladney's care. We even have her sweet little name card that hung over her bed. We met so many people who had taken care of our daughter. We also were able to thank the special mother who had developed a special relationship with Zadie over the months.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Zadie in Africa

Zadie's daddy posted many new photos of the little cutie in Africa on our mobileme. Click here to enjoy!

Monday, May 10, 2010

First Moments of Bonding

I tried my best to go in to the first days of bonding with no expectations, but I asked Charlie about 3 million times, "Do you think she is gonna love her mother and father?" And each time I asked, tears would well up in my eyes.

After the crazy day of trying to get to Addis from Gondar, we didn't know if we would meet Zadie Cakes on Monday night after the trip or if we'd have to wait until Tuesday morning. After our driver picked us up at the airport, we used his phone to call Travis who would tell us when we'd meet her.

Travis asked about our trip, chit-chatted a bit, THEN, he told us that he was waiting at the Bejoe house with our daughter!!! So, after all the months of waiting we had about 3 minutes to get ready. The emotions we big! But I can't describe them. Joy? Yes. Fear? Yep. Nervousness? Heck yeah. But there was no time to formulate.

We pulled up to to house, jumped out. I can't remember the walk into the house. I just remember opening the door and seeing the smallest little person sitting on the knee of a smiling man.

Somehow she ended up in my arms. Travis was snapping photos. Charlie and I had talked about not crying and being too emotional so that she wouldn't be scared. That conversation kept running through my mind. I had tears, but I kept laughing and laughing. I must have been bouncing her, because at one point Travis said, "Now remember, she just ate. I wouldn't bounce her too much."

Then somehow she ended up in Charlie's arms. The sight of the two of them together made me cry. But I kept thinking - I want her to think that we are sane people. So I held it together.

All of this happened in about 4 minutes. 4 minutes that changed our lives forever.

(the photos were taken over the next 2-3 days - and, by the way, she does love her mother and father!!!!!)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Life at the Bejoe House

Our first few days as parents took place at the Bejoe House in Addis Ababa, ET. It is a modest house, surrounded by a wall lined with barbed wire and manned by a guard (as is most residences in Addis), but it is a place of comfort and love.

We happened to travel with two great families - the Mullins and the Kopchas. They only added to the wonderful atmosphere of the Bejoe House.

Each morning the ladies made a delicious breakfast. They set the table for us, served us just like mom would and then held our babies so we could enjoy the nice breakfast in peace.

If you leave a random piece of clothing on the floor, you will find it hanging on the line out back after the ladies of Bejoe have HANDWASHED it and hung it out to dry.

When I was sick, the sweet ladies offered to make me plain rice to help settle my tummy.

Each night we had turn down service.

Once I washed Zadie's bottles in the kitchen. When the manager of the house found out that I had washed the bottles myself she put her foot down. From then on out, we had clean bottles delivered to our room on a tray.

The small yard is immaculately kept with green grass, lovely flowers and crisp landscaping. It was lovely to sit outside in the California like weather in the charming yard chatting with the other families and playing with our new children.

Ethiopia was an adventure. Bejoe House was a home away from home.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


And we're home...

We arrived at RDU yesterday around 3:30pm to meet both grandmas, grandpa, a few aunts and uncles and one super cousin! After we deplaned, we snuck into the family restroom at RDU and put her traditional Ethiopian dress on to meet everyone. She was so cute!

Little Zadie Hayat slept from Addis to Amsterdam in the most extraordinary fashion. She could have qualified for a contortionist! This was an overnight flight so i thought this might happen and luckily is did... From Amsterdam to Detroit though, she stayed up the majority of the time but took a few naps. From Detroit to RDU, she really crashed hard. At this point, it was 10pm her time so Leanne and I both thought that she had been excellent under the circumstances. She met everyone and was a really happy little girl.

After all of that excitement, she crashed hard. She ate a new bottle and crashed out just after 5pm her time and slept until about 1am.

Very special thanks to the lady at the KLM desk in Addis Ababa. We had good window seats and I didn't notice a change until we boarded in Amsterdam. She had moved us to the bulkhead/bassinet seat and this made a huge huge difference! No one reclined into our space and we had plenty of room to move around and make the trip home... We didn't use the bassinet at all but just being on the bulkhead made the trip so much more enjoyable!

More later, we're still unpacking... Zadie had her first bath at home this morning and we conditioned her hair so the back isn't so crazy from sleep!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Last Night in Africa

We start our journey home tomorrow. I just can't believe it's almost over.

Our sweet little lady doesn't know what' s about to hit her!

I have loved every minute of this trip - well except for that 24 hours of torture that we call mystery disease.

Gondar was amazing. I think I learned more about myself and the world in those two days than I have in years. What a welcome to Africa. It was heartbreaking to see the hospital where our little girl was born. Never have I seen such need. It was uplifting to see the orphanage where Zadie was first relinquished. The man who runs that place is as close to a saint as I have ever met. He loves children and his town so much. We plan to get involved in some way to support this amazing, uplifting place full of hope.

Addis Ababa is a mix of old and new. You can see a 5 star hotel beside a herd of goats being led to slaughter on just about every street corner. The best coffee I have ever tasted with little children begging outside the coffee shop.

We plan to bring Zadie back once she is old enough to understand. What will Ethiopia look like then?

But for now, leaving will be bittersweet. The journey has been amazing.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

A Different Sort of Day

Today we visited an Ethiopian resort. Gorgeous. Abundant. Amazing. The crazy part is the resort is juxtaposed to deep poverty. Welcome to Ethiopia.

The bonding is continuing. What a sweet pea. She is definitely letting us know what she wants when she wants its. And her daddy comes running! Isn't that the way it's supposed to be!?!

I handed her over to one of the ladies who works in our guest house for a photo of them together. Zadie started crying. Then the sweet lady handed her back to me, and she stopped. The lady commented that it was amazing that she has bonded with her mommy so quickly. Priceless!

Friday, April 30, 2010


So much has happened!!!

1. Zadie Hayat Williams is perfect. She is a doll.

2. We have visited Gladney foster care centers. Wonderful places! Met Zadie's special mother and cried many tears.

3. I (Leanne) got deathly sick. But it lasted about 24 hours and now am back to nearly normal.

4. We had our embassy appointment. It was a breeze. Travis and Joanna were such great supports. (I threw up in the trashcans while waiting to be called.)

5. Met Zadie's birth mom and great aunt. Very special. Priceless.

6. Visited 3 orphanages. Very overwhelming. One little guy followed us to the car and cried and cried when we pulled away. He didn't know where we were going but he wanted to go with us.

I will fill in with more details later, but for now all the waiting for Zadie is done. She is perfect. A doll. A sweetheart. We are blessed beyond words.

Monday, April 26, 2010

She is Perfect!

We visited our sweet little lady's hometown during our first two days in ET. It was a wonderful experience that has changed us forever. Gondar Town is full of kind, generous people who taught me so much about myself. We visited the hospital where Zadie was born, which was unlike anything I would have been able to imagine before setting foot in that room. The filth, the lines of people waiting, the hopelessness. We visited the orphanage where she was first relinquished. It was a wonderful place of hope - more about that later. Then we visited one of the poorest places on earth. People who have nothing. Nothing. And who have no hope of anything.

Our plan was to fly back today, meet Zadie at 1pm or so.

But, our flight was delayed in Gondar by 3 hours! And when we called the agency to tell them about the delay, the first reaction was that we would do placement tomorrow, but my motherly instincts set in. AND, when we pulled up to the guest house where we are staying in Addis Ababa, Zadie was waiting in the living room!!!!! She is perfect! She is tiny, and her hair is crazy and her smile is contagious, but she is PERFECT!!!!

She fell asleep on my chest, then took a bottle from me, the peed on her daddy, then fell asleep on his shoulder.. so all in all... we are on our our way to parenthood!!!!!

WE ARE IN LOVE WITH HER. Photos to follow.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Well, everything that you've heard about Amsterdam is true! It's dirty, old, rambunctious, seedy (hahaha), but it's also full of the nicest people you've ever met!

What a lovely stop over on our way to Ethiopia. We are having a blast. Many more photos available at our gallery. (See the link in previous post.)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Departure time

So we are a go...

As of 11am, it looks like Plan A is still in effect. With any luck, at 9:35am (GMT+2) tomorrow we will be in Amsterdam and half way to our baby girl!

I am not sure how much access we will have, some have reported issues with blogger while in Ethiopia while others seem to get it to work 'okay'... Just in case it doesn't, I will also try to post updates at of our adventures! Hopefully between the two, we will be able to keep everyone updated.

See everyone on the flip side!

Charlie and Leanne

PS: We have a whole REI huge bag FULL of care packages and will deliver them all to those little ones waiting for their parents to come and get them...

Monday, April 19, 2010

Volcanic Ash - Plan B


so with activity in Iceland affecting our whole 'world' right now, rather than be passive, I got proactive and started looking for alternate plans. At this point, money isn't really what matters, it's getting to where we need to be, to meet our daughter and to make our Embassy date... It didn't take long for me to return to my original idea of flying Emirates. This will take us from JFK in NY to Dubai and then to Addis Ababa without too much of an issue with the floating plane-killing ash...

This morning, after seeing more non-response in the EU and Delta/KLM canceling more flights for tonight (to land in Amsterdam on tuesday), I called Delta and made sure I understood my options. My original suspicions proved true. I called Emirates, found out my options there.

10 minutes later on their website, I have 2 adult tickets and 1 infant ticket ready to go on Emirates. Emirates has a $200 refund penalty, so call this my $400 hedge bet on our flights. We'll either fly Emirates and get a refund at Delta (if they cancel our flights) or we'll fly Delta/KLM as originally planned and it cost us $400 worth of insurance in the form of cancellation penalties on Emirates.

So honestly, I am really really hoping that the Delta flight to Amsterdam is canceled on us (afterall, the volcano puked more ash today too). This will make things easier for us for sure. We'll take the day, drive the ~500 miles from Raleigh to New York and with any luck, make our long-haul flight without issue. Only real down side is the road trip home with Zadie. Its bad enough she had to get stuck on a plane with us boring people, now she is stuck in the back of my car with her mom that loves her too too much!


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Volcanic Ash?!?!?

'The best laid plans o' mice and men often go awry.' Robert Burns

Who would have thought it? Volcanic ash from Iceland would have any bearing on our Ethiopian adoption?!?!?!??!

We are set to leave on April 21 (Wednesday - that's 4 days away). We are supposed to fly through Amsterdam, where we were going to spend a couple of days, then head to Addis, then to Zadie's hometown (we really need to make this flight), and then back to Addis Ababa where we meet our little sweet pea on Monday, April 26th. BUT, the flights through Amsterdam are delayed INDEFINITELY, and KLM has already posted that flights will be disrupted through April 23.

So... what to do??? If KLM would just CANCEL our flight, we could get our money back and buy some tickets to fly through Dubai, then on to Addis. And, as luck would have it - ha ha - Emirates Airlines has a "Visit Africa" special, with Addis Ababa as one of their destinations for a handy dandy price. But, the kicker is, we would really like KLM to cancel the flight so we can get our money back. Buying two sets of tickets will hurt, but, believe me, we are talking about it seriously.

But, for real, VOLCANIC ASH from Iceland. Really? That's what we are dealing with here. What can we do?

As for now, still waiting for Zadie...

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Gift from Oklahoma!

We got some wonderful photos of Zadie today! What a gift! Katie and Michael took some wonderful photos of her - how special!! Katie also let us know that she was being held by caregivers both times they visited the foster care center where she lives. That is such a comfort knowing that people are loving, holding and taking such good care of our sweet pea until we can get there. (We will be holding the little piece of love in 17 days!)

The closer we get the more excited we are, of course, but we are also beginning to talk often about how this journey is going to change us. As we read the blogs of those of you who have just returned, we are beginning to realize the depth of loss, the dire need and great poverty that we are about to experience for the first time in our lives. Our priorities are already changing with Zadie on her way, but I believe that we may well be on our way to a paradigm shift on this trip.

But for now... we are still waiting for Zadie.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

in-country flights booked!

Last night we finally booked our in-country flights on Ethiopian Airlines. (side note: it was damn expensive!) We're going to visit Zadie's birth region and the orphanage where she was before arriving at the gladney foster care center. Our hope is to be able to help fill in some gaps for her later in life about her life story...

Two weeks from today we will begin our travels!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Care packages and photos!

Hi Everyone,

The single greatest event during the waiting period for me was when someone returned and had taken a snapshot (or several) of Zadie and emailed them to us. Seeing a fresh perspective of her life, her world and just seeing more of her meant everything to us.

Well, time to pay it forward. If you want to send a care package to your child, please email me and let me know. I'll send you our mailing address. Also, while I plan to take pictures of all of the children I can and are allowed to, I don't want to miss anyone. If you can tell me your child's name, their foster care location and any other details that would help me, I would love to take many many photos for all of the waiting families.

For care packages, I'd like to have them all by 14 April as I am a bit worried about transporting them all! This will give me time to optimize packing!

For photo requests, I'll take those up until we depart and if I can get to email while in country, I will continue to check for requests.

ccwilli3 at gmail dot com



Saturday, March 27, 2010

Flights are booked!

Our flights are booked! Infant in arms looks so good to us on the itinerary!! April 29 is our embassy date!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Welcome to the family, Kid!!!

Kristin called at 10:41 EST. We passed court!!! Our embassy date is April 29th.

We are THRILLED!!!!! What a day!!!!!!

And now we can introduce to you: Zadie Hayat Williams.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Tomorrow, Tomorrow...

How in the world am I supposed to sleep? I have a full evening planned for myself, running to and fro, getting stuff done that needs to be done. Charlie is out of town on business, and he is running ragged. But while we are sleeping, and in the early hours of our time here, our little Zadie could legally become our daughter!

Our court date is TOMORROW!!! I know, I know, I know... there are multiples of things that have to go right, which means there are multiples of things that may go wrong, but what a monumental day!!

Send us your happy thoughts, your positive wishes, your prayers, whatever you have!!! I can barely contain my excitement/nervous energy/worry.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Another Shower for Zadie Cakes!

The girls I work with schemed, manipulated and downright lied to me and got me to a favorite restaurant (which I thought was a quiet dinner out with 2 girls for one of their 40th birthday). Once I arrived - after a LONG day at work with NO makeup, mind you - I realized that it was a fabulous shower for Zadie!!!!

It was wonderful! It was luxurious! They spared nothing! The food was wonderful. The drinks were even better (and how many expecting mommies can sip sangria while opening their gifts?). The decorations were gorgeous, and the gifts were extravagant!

I was overwhelmed by all the thoughtfulness that went into this party! I had the time of my life. I laughed and laughed. It was great to be surrounded by ladies who are so supportive, and people who I know are also waiting for Zadie.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Court Date! March 26th!

We are thrilled!!! What a day of celebration!! We heard around 11:45 EST today, so we were pretty worthless for the rest of the workday. (I hope our co-workers don't read this.)

Then we heard all kinds of great things about Zadie - she's growing, bearing weight on her little legs and almost rolling over.

We can't wait to meet her!!! And the "boom bands" are playing!!

updates galore

So the court date wait is over. We finally received our court date today.

On top of that, we received new measurements, a new development chart and an updated photo. Our little angel is progressing nicely and gets cuter everyday!

For all the families that are waiting for referral or a court date, it does get better and just hang in there. I can only imagine that passing court followed by seeing her in person can top how we feel today.

And yes, we are celebrating with a little California Cab from one of our favorite St Helena wineries! Cheers!

Monday, March 8, 2010

10 weeks and counting

Still waiting for Zadie...

Wednesday of this week will be 11 weeks since we accepted the referral that we are waiting to hear about a court date. I know the in-country staff is working very hard for us and little Zadie, and for this we are most appreciative.

We are hoping this week will be the week we finally hear about our little girl officially being ours!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Wisdom in the Silliest of Places

March 2nd is Dr. Seuss's birthday, and many schools will celebrate "Read Across America Day". As we were preparing for this day at my school, my friend found this excerpt from Oh, The Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss. She was really cute, because she was reading the story aloud to me and just stopped. I asked her to print it out, and then I said, "Oh my goodness. There is an entire section about waiting."

She remarked, "Yeah, I know. I was scared to read it to you. I thought you'd cry." She was right, and she would know because she is also an adoptive mommy. A silly, ole Dr. Seuss book (which we all know are never just silly) gave me such hope and encouragement on a dreary day of waiting! Thank you, Dr. Seuss and E'Lise!

Here's the excerpt:

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they're
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And IF you go in, should you turn left or right...
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it's not, I'm afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused
that you'll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across
weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place...

...for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

That's not for you!

Somehow you'll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You'll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.

And believe me - the "boom bands" will be playing on the day they call with a court date. They will play a little louder on the day we pass court, and they will be playing FULL blast when we see our sweet Zadie's face!!!!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Beneath the Lion's Gaze

A good review from NPR, as always.

Maaza Mengiste, an Ethiopian born writer, writes about a crucial time in Ethiopian history with interesting perspectives.

Small excerpt included on the NPR site page:

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Crib Fit for a Princess

It's ready! The crib (from the godparents) is assembled, the linens (from Grammy) are on the crib, and the handmade afghan (from Grandma) is ready for use, now all we need is our sweet baby girl!

Tonight, while we were working in Zadie's room, we were reminded of all the people that already love our little sweet pea.

By the way, our update from Ethiopia said that our little girl is "the apple of many a caregiver eye" because of her smile. We are itching to see that sweet little smile in person!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Baby Shower for Zadie!!

I can't believe it - I had a baby shower! My bestest friends, Sabrina (the official godmother) and Rachel threw a BLOWOUT of a party!!!

And I was spoiled!!!! I can't believe the mountain of gifts that was bestowed upon us. Zadie got a crib from her godparents, a wipes warmer and a car bottle warmer (what - who wants cold tushies and milk???) from Rachel and a million gifts from other friends and family. I was overwhelmed by their generosity.

The most touching part of the evening was every party attendee also brought a humanitarian donation. While Zadie is being spoiled with dresses and tutus and stuffed animals and lots of love, it was very touching to remember those children who don't have forever homes.

You ladies are remarkable. Charlie and I are forever grateful to you!

Monday, January 18, 2010


What can one say that will do justice to Martin Luther King, Jr? In a word, Nothing.

In History, in hindsight, it often becomes obvious that particular individuals were ahead of their time. Dr King is certainly one of these individuals.

Growing up in the south, things are different. The history for this region of the US is marred by repeated injustice and inequality between people of African descent and those of European origin. People that reside elsewhere in the US, for the most part, don't understand this. But it's different. The tension is still here and only in time will it break, but its worth the fight and in time equality will win. I have always admired Dr King and sought to learn more when I was growing up. I knew very little about him as his life story would only be told around his birthday or during February, aka, black history month. As I grew up, made my way through college I learned more. I got older, started traveling extensively and saw more of the world outside my borders, I learned more. I now understand that some people fear what is new or different from themselves. But are we really so different? I sit here today, still not fully realizing the impact that Dr King has made on this world, never mind this country. But for what I do understand, I am eternally grateful.

I stand on the rim of fatherhood, just waiting to jump in with both feet. I wait for the arrival of my Ethiopian daughter, not knowing what life will have in store for her. What will she have interests in? What will she grow up to be? Whose life will she make a difference in? Before she has even arrived, she has already touched our lives. I wonder how many lives she will affect, how many she will change, just by being. She will change the world for a lot of people, they just may not realize it yet. Growing up in smalltown, USA, I didn't realize the affect Dr King would eventually have on my life, in retrospect, I can see it daily now.

While I cannot control the opinions of some that may judge my daughter solely on the color of her skin, or the texture of her hair, I can rest easy that their opinion of her will no longer box her in and determine who she is. Her life has upward mobility, without bounds. She can be whatever makes her happy. She can play with kids that aren't just like her, she can learn about others that aren't like her, she'll never be 'different', only not exactly like everyone else. I really dislike 'different', see, to my engineering mind, different implies separation from the mean by some distance. But what is average?

So on this day, we celebrate a man for the changes he has made in others' lives, a man that was imperfect, a man that believed what only a few ever thought was possible, a man that had the courage to speak when others did not know they could have a voice.

Dr King, nearly 47 years ago you exclaimed to us on a stage such that no one will ever forget, that you had a dream. As it was then, it is still difficult but we're still working. For as long as there exists one that shares your dream, we cannot rest. We're still dreaming Dr King...

Monday, January 11, 2010

Paint Zadie's room - CHECK

We spent the better part of both Saturday and Sunday this past weekend painting Zadie's room and bathroom. Fast forward to 2 coats later and honestly it looks fantastic. We'll likely have to do some final touch ups tonight, but otherwise it's done!

This weekend we are going to Ikea for some misc furniture, then we should be able to post some pictures!

Since posting about our referral, we've met quite a few other families either about to travel, just got back from travel or are waiting for their referral as well! Good luck to all of you and hopefully we'll see some of you in-country!

Friday, January 8, 2010


It's true! The day has finally arrived, (actually some time ago)... We think we have notified everyone who needs to know, so updating the blog is now the mission.

On 23 December we had our official referral from Gladney! We received all of the vital details and photos of our adorable little baby girl. She was just shy of 3 months old at referral and we are thrilled! She is the cutest little baby girl I have ever seen (yeah, I'm not biased)...

We've returned our paperwork to make it official and now we are just waiting for our Ethiopian court date... We're painting this weekend (or was it the Ikea run?) and rapidly preparing for little Zadie (still not her real name) to come home...

To all the families that might be traveling, say hello to our little girl for us!