Saturday, December 26, 2009

Introducing Yunnie!

My Mother in Law is an amazing seamstress. She sewed Samson this doll with matching pajamas. The doll is beautiful and very professionaly made.

At the care center in Ethiopia, the nanny's called Samson - "Yunnie", a shortened version of his birth name. When we were first home, Samson called himself "Yunnie" all the time, which was fine by us because we were happy to keep that name around for a while.

But just in the last few days, I noticed that he started to refer to himself as "Samson" all the time even though we still sometimes call him "Yunnie".

So when he opened up his Christmas present from grandpa and grandma and it was this amazing doll that looks like him, I asked him, "What do you want to name your new doll".

Without hesitation, Samson said, "Yunnie".

The girls received new nightgowns from grandma for Christmas too:

And more pictures...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Here is this year's Christmas letter. More pictures and updates on our family coming soon!

Christmas, 2009

Dear Friends and Family,

We now know first-hand the joys of boys! Our family traveled to Ethiopia in August to bring home our new son and brother, Samson.

Samson will turn 3 in February. He has an inquisitive personality and wants everything, including his own car, set of keys and cell phone. Rightly so, we are a little nervous about what he will want when he is 10. His personality is both demanding and charming at the same time. He is also all boy, with endless energy. He will kick anything that resembles a ball and likes to wrestle with family members. We are so lucky to call him our son and brother!

We feel extra blessed to have the three girls to help ‘mother’ him. We joke about how he came home from Africa with 4 mothers and one father.

One of those mothers is Lauren, our oldest daughter. She is in eighth grade and will be 14 in February! We are so proud of her accomplishments academically, musically and sports-wise. But most important, we are proud of the path she has taken in life, which has kept her humble and has formed her into a very nice young woman with admiral character.

Olivia is our next oldest or as she likes to say, “the kid in the middle”. She is 10. We admire her gift of imagination that she expresses so well in her writing and drawings. She is our story teller and always ready to give the family a good chuckle. Sometimes during a birthday celebration, she will surprise everyone with a poem or a memoir showing her creative and positive thoughts of the birthday person. Olivia and Samson share a similar look in that they both have dimples on each of their cheeks. Oh, and they both have brown eyes.

Avery is our youngest daughter, 6 years old, in the 1st grade and makes a great playmate for Samson. She has a sweet and vibrant personality. She is also a very talented little gymnast. In Ethiopia, she got quite the stares because of her light complexion and blonde hair. She loves school and likes to read stories to her new brother.

Steve enjoys the challenges of his job as CFO for a local company. Samson adores him as his father. Each night when Steve returns home from work and Samson hears the garage door open, he goes running to greet his daddy.

I (Tammy) am a SAHM (Stay at Home Mom) and would not want my life to be any different. I love my job as wife to my husband, mother of our children and keeper of our family nest.

Our cups are overflowing with God’s blessings to our family. We hope this Christmas Season you too find God’s abundant blessings from the benefits of being adopted into His family.

With Love,
Steve, Tammy, Lauren, Olivia, Avery and Samson

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Special Day!!

Yesterday, December 16th, was our court date for finalizing Samson's adoption. I was not near as anxious about this court date as I was while we waited to hear news of him passing court in Ethiopia exactly 6 months ago on June 16th. The court hearing was uneventful in itself but this indeed was a very special day for our family.

The reality of the day gave me such a feeling of peace and relief. The reality that all of our legal paperwork is final; the reality that he is now ours in the eyes of both the Ethiopian and US courts. This is the end of one part of our journey to our son - we crossed the finish line, so to speak. But it's only the beginning of much to come and much to look forward to.

Samson and I began our day together by taking out his traditional Ethiopian clothes for the first time since we returned from our trip. These were the clothes the Care Center had him dressed in for the going away ceremony. The events of the day, when he came into our arms forever, flashed through my mind as I stared at these beautiful clothes. I prepared to sit down and tell him stories of that day, like when he drank from a bottle of pop; like when the girls held him tight in the back of the bus; like when we chanted his name when he paraded down the stairs with the nannies and other children; like when he got his hand print in a book at the Care Center.

But before I could say anything, Samson looked at the clothes with an inquisitive look and said, "Mommy, what's that?"

I said, "These are the clothes you were wearing when you joined our family".

Still a little puzzled but with a look of a little recognition, pointing at the clothes, he asked again, "Mommy, what's that?"

I said, "These were the clothes you were wearing when you cut the cake at the care center?" (It's tradition for the oldest boy and girl being adopted each week to have the honor of cutting the cake together)

Then he said, "Meazi, mommy?" "Meazi cut cake?"

Meazi was the oldest girl adopted within our group, therefore, helped Samson cut the cake. We have shown him video of this just a couple times but it's been a while. The clothes must have jogged his memory. He remembered his friend all on his own! He remembered cutting the cake with her. This was already an emotional day for me, so when he spoke his friend's name, I lost it!

Then all the way to the courthouse he kept asking, "Mommy, where is Meazi?"

I said, "she is home with her mommy and daddy".

He said, "Mommy, is Meazi OK?" 

I replied, "Oh yes, Meazi is OK. She is better than OK. She is home with her family who loves her dearly and takes very good care of her."

This was the conversation all the way to the courthouse.

My handsome boy who officially became my son!

The family waiting for our turn in court.

The judge declared Samson ours forever!

After the court hearing, I returned the girls to their schools and Steve, Samson and I met at a favorite local restaurant where Samson enjoyed chicken strips and fries. He was extra happy yesterday. I truly believe he understood the importance of this day. The rest of the day, he gave mom a lot of extra attention, hugs, kisses and smiles.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

We have a court date

in the US to finalize Samson's adoption! In the eyes of the Ehiopian court, he is ours but not in the US. Our court date is next Wednesday, December 16th. He has been our son in our hearts and minds since we passed court in Ethiopia on June 16th but next Wednesday, it will be official.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The meaning of Christmas

I found this video on another blog. I love how this song, 'Christmas with a capital 'C' spells out the true meaning of Christmas and how the recognition of it becomes lost when it is thrown unde the umbrella of 'Happy Holidays'.

Friday, December 4, 2009

When you don't have coffee beans...

Samson and I drink coffee together each morning after delivering his sisters to school. I drink mine in a special mug from a local potter, he has his coffee in a miniature coffee cup. I prefer grinding my own beans but sometimes we brew grounds that I purchased because they were a great price at the store. I brought home 12 bags of whole beans from Ethiopia but guess what?! They are almost all gone. So, I've been substituting inexpensive grounds to make my beans last longer.

Most mornings we come straight home after dropping the girls off at school. However, the mornings I need to do a long grocery run, I sometimes go through a drive thru for a special coffee treat. I almost always order a small, skinny, vanilla latte. I have done this enough that Samson has figured out what I'm doing, thus feeling a little left out since I'm ordering only for myself. So, now he says, "Mommy, can Samson have skinny too?"

Some people may see this as odd that a 2 year old would enjoy coffee in the mornings with his mom. When we were in Ethiopia, we learned a few things about Samson and his heritage. One of those things is that his birth family had coffee trees. We were told that all family members, down to very young children will drink coffee each day. Unfortunately, because of a severe drought in Ethiopia, many families did not have a coffee crop this year.

So, do you know how Ethiopians drink coffee when they don't have coffee beans? THEY CRUSH UP LEAVES FROM THEIR COFFEE TREES AND BREW THE CRUSHED LEAVES IN THE WATER INSTEAD. I will not complain about not having coffee beans to grind for my coffee again.

Why even bother drinking coffee if its only source is from crushed coffee tree leaves? First of all, a simple known fact is that Ethiopia is known as the birthplace of coffee. Coffee serves as an integral part of their social and cultural life. Brewing and drinking coffee each day is a strong Ethiopian tradition. 

A traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony is considered a mark of friendship or respect and is an example of Ethiopian hospitality. We had the opportunity to attend two special coffee ceremonies in Ehiopia. The first was after our birth family meetings and again at our guest house on the day we were departing.

Almost all ceremonies, as was the case for both of ours, are performed by a young woman dressed in traditional Ethiopian clothes. The ceremony begins with the roasting of the beans over a tiny charcoal stove. When the beans are ready, the woman grounds them with a mortar. Then the grounds are stirred into a black clay pot called a 'jebena'.

The coffee is served in cups and offered with sugar and sometimes cream. For each of our ceremonies, we were also served tender-kernelled popcorn.

Like, I mentioned, I am running low on my Ethiopian coffee beans and I wish to purchase more. I forgot to mention that any Ethiopian coffee that I have tried has been the best I've ever had. So good that I really don't enjoy any other coffee as well but again, I'm not going to complain. Anyway, I want to purchase some more real soon. And since I probably will not be traveling there in the near future, I plan to order from one or each of these sights that come highly recommended. The beauty of this coffee is that it is fair trade and it supports orphans in Africa.

Check them out:
Saints Coffee

I do feel a little conflicted, however, when I can order Ethiopian coffee beans by the click of a few buttons and a family in Ethiopia is relying on coffee tree leaves for their coffee. Coffee is not something to take for granted anymore.