Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Most recent photo.

She looks so much older! Ughh!

Waiting & Kolfe

We are still waiting for our file to be submitted to the US Embassy. Once that occurs (hopefully this week), the Embassy will give us one of three responses in a few weeks (let's pray for #1):
1)  Looks good! Come bring your daughter home in two to three weeks.
2)  We have some questions about this and that, please resubmit after you find the answers, if you don't know the answers, then we will forward your case to our office in Nairobi to review. This could delay your homecoming for weeks or months.
3)  We are going to forward your case to Nairobi and then possibly to Rome.  Be prepared to wait several months.


 Emily recently wrote an article about our experience with the Kolfe Orphanage in Ethiopia. 

We adopted our first daughter in January of 2008.  On that trip we fell in love with our daughter, the country of Ethiopia and the boys of Kolfe.   During our visit, we followed Gladney’s itinerary and visited several attractions along with three government orphanages.  Little did we know the impact the orphanages would have on us.  You may think you are prepared, but until you actually have a chance to see things with your own eyes, do the impressions take hold.  It was a very emotional trip, ranging from pure joy to heartbreaking sorrow—the type that stays with you and makes you want to be a better person. 
            We had heard of Kolfe, a government-run orphanage, from other people’s blogs and the conditions in which the boys lived.   At that time, it was the home of approximately 150 boys, aged 8-18.   Each boy had their own cot and blanket, but little else.  Some of the older boys had a trunk with a few possessions that they kept under their cot. 
            We were immediately welcomed by the Kolfe boys when we arrived to their orphanage four years ago.  They were eager to show us where they slept, their school work, and a tour of their home.  I normally associate the word `home’ with a cozy house, loving parents with endless hugs and kisses, warm meals cooking in the oven . . . Their home consists of bunkers with rows of cots, and they do not have open arms of parents waiting to hear about each day’s trials and successes or cookies cooking in an oven after school.  What their home does have is an incredible supportive brotherhood.  The boys of Kolfe are some of the kindest, most wonderful young men we have ever met.  Despite not having material belongings, they have a strong support system among each other. 
            The boys’ genuineness made such an impact on us that we wanted to do something for them, but we did not know what.  Hearing that the boys rarely have a chance to eat meat, we decided to buy a few goats for a dinner the next night.  Our dinner turned into a feast and quite a treat for the boys.  The boys enjoyed Cokes, injera with the stewed goat, and bananas.  The word “grateful” does not adequately describe the boys’ response.  By the end of our trip when we had to say goodbye, we had gotten so attached to the boys that I sobbed.   I was sad because I did not know if we would see them again.  I was sad because many of the boys thought I could come back despite me telling them we didn’t know if we could.  I was sad to leave them at the orphanage and to feel like I wasn’t able to help them.
            We are now adopting our second daughter, who we hope to bring home soon.  When we got our court date, the first thing we wanted to do (after meeting our daughter), was visit Kolfe orphanage again.  On this trip, we decided to bring our oldest two sons, aged 9 and 7.  We especially wanted to introduce them to the boys of Kolfe.  Having been to Addis Ababa before, we immediately became the unofficial tour guides for the other adoptive parents who were in Ethiopia at the same time for their court dates.  We shared our past experience with the Kolfe boys with three other families and our desire to throw them another feast.  They decided to follow us to see what was so special about these Kolfe boys. 
Our first night, we took the other families to visit Kolfe.  I think they were like us when we went to the orphanage the first time—uncertain of what we would find at the orphanage and surprised by the genuine warmness of the boys.   They were also surprised by the boys’ surroundings of the orphanage; however, the boys would never let on to the fact that the only thing they have is each other.  Our first revelation was bittersweet.  We were surprised to recognize so many of the boys we had met four years earlier.  I don’t know why, but it never occurred to us that we would see so many boys that we had met before. I guess we had hoped they had found adoptive families or miraculously found a better life.  We were met with huge embraces from several them, and they even remembered our names.  A few even went and retrieved pictures of us they had saved that we had taken and given to them on our previous trip.  Our second revelation was how many more boys there were living at the orphanage now.  There are approximately 250 boys now.
We had explained to our two sons that Ethiopians are very affectionate with each other, and that the boys of Kolfe would be no different.  Several of the boys embraced our sons, thrilled to meet the sons of Scott and Emily.  We immediately went to their soccer field to begin a friendly game of soccer, or as they say, football. 
It was on the soccer field that the biggest impact of the whole trip occurred.   I already knew the boys only had each other, but I had never really thought about how they really did not have anyone else.  Our seven year old, Bryce, got hurt on the field and immediately looked up to Scott and I on the sidelines and ran to us for comfort.  With tears in his eyes, he just wanted a hug to know that everything was alright.  The play temporarily stopped as several of the boys rushed to his side to hug on him and rub his back in comfort.  It was then that I realized that this is what they do.  They comfort themselves in times of hurt.  They comfort each other in times of pain.  They comfort themselves because they have no one else.   I had to choke back my tears because I did not want to have to explain that I was crying for them, not my own son, who was fine.
With a combination of the three other traveling families and friends from home, we held another feast this year, only much larger, seeing that there were so many more boys.  This time an ox was required instead of the small goats.  The boys sang and danced for us, showing their gratitude.  The feast was wonderful and very meaningful for the boys, but we would like to make an impact that lasts longer than a full tummy. 
The boys understand the importance of education and are very proud of going to school.  Unfortunately, the opportunities are few, especially if lacking any higher education.  We have donated the last couple of years to help out through Gladney’s scholarship and tutoring program, and we wish we could do more.   The boys of Kolfe deserve so much more than what they have.  They have impacted our lives in a way that is unimaginable to those that have not met these awesome young men.  If you ever find yourself in Ethiopia, a visit to the Kolfe orphanage will do more than change your life.  It will alter your view of humanity forever.  If you would like to find out more about what you can do to support Gladney’s efforts in helping these young men at Kolfe and children at other orphanages in Ethiopia, please go to  We hope, along with Gladney, that these young men will have a brighter future with your support.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The remaining step.

This family traveled with us in Ethiopia. He is a much more descriptive writer than I am. This is his latest post on our remaining step to bring Kidist home.

Introducing Kidist Olivia Lydick!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Last day

Because of Emily, Oscar and Bryce's school, we basically compressed the normal 7 day trip into 4. Oscar and Bryce did fantastic but after the prior days we needed a bit of a light day for our last one.

Well, light with the exception of the whole court thing... We had court today, where were went to the govt office to appear in front of the judge as a condition to adopt our daughter. The judge 1) emphasized the importance of us learning Ethiopian culture (check), 2) made sure we had support from our family (check), 3) made sure we fully informed our kids of the adoption (ha.. check), 4) made sure we realized that once we confirmed with her of our intention to adopt that our daughter would be legally our child under Ethiopian law (check) After getting through those, she announced that our daughter is ours. Wow. Emotional.

Now we have to go home until the US embassy reviews the case and issues our daughter a visa to come home. Hopefully this will be painless and quick. Best case is likely one month before we return to bring her home. We wont focus on the alternative cases unless we get there.

Orphanage visit and thoughts on Kolfe


Kebebetsahay Orphanage:  This is a govt run orphanage that we visited 3 years ago as well.  I would guess that the age range is newborn to about 3 years old.  On our last trip this was probably the toughest hour that we spent in Ethiopia as it was merely a large 50 x 100 ft building filled will cribs. In each crib there were 2-3 children and the room was earily silent.   The 4-6 caregivers on staff would keep up the best they could for feeding and changing but the ratios did not allow for them to get ahead.  Fortunately, there have been some large donations primarily by a Spanish city (can't remember the name) to build a new building last year. While the ratios (caregiver to child) are still poor, The conditions were markedly improved. Photographs were not allowed this time and there were still moments that tore at our hearts.  This will be where the majority of the formula that we brought over ultimately lands.   A recommendation for those visiting:  pick up some green coffee beans at a roadside vendor 120-150 birr / kilo to give to the caregivers. They were so appreciative of the gift of a kilo of coffee that they invited us for a cup. Their coffee time is the one break they get from the very difficult work they do. 

Kolfe Feast:  we arrived at Kolfe at about 4 pm. The boys and I played soccer for about 2 hours off and on with the Kolfe boys.   The best players were incredibly humble in showing off their skills but never shooting on goal, rather they would always pass to our sons or the younger Kolfe kids to even the play. About a 1/4 of the boys were playing barefoot or in sandals and expertly sliding on the dirt pitch.  When it was dark, they shuffled us and the other Gladney families to one of the buildings.  They had set up an area with music and chairs lined up. I think there were about 150 of us in the room all crammed in sitting on top of each other. It was wonderful.  They presented us with cheers, coffee, popcorn, and oranges. They thanked us for the feast and we prepared for the meal. It was difficult to get served first but to decline would have been rude I think.  I also believe that they had a separate pot for us perhaps filled with the prime cuts. Humbling....  After we were served the boys all lined up and filled their tummies. After the meal we gathered back in the room for dancing and more celebration. Naturally, they required all of us to dance in front of the group. Fun times. The dancing and singing climaxed about an hour later with the boys doing different chants from two different circles. A bit hard to explain, but we asked our driver, and he said it is common for wedding celebrations to do the chants and such.  We were exhausted and ultimately headed back towards the guest house.   P.s.  for those visiting, coffee beans for the Kolfe cooks....

Further thoughts on Kolfe:
While the feast was fantastic, unfortunately it is kind of a "drop shipment" of aid that likely will have more impact on us than it will for them unless we use it as a way to continue to support the Kolfe boys in a more meaningful way.  I know many families (Gladney and otherwise) have helped to sponsor children for Kolfe with education or direct adoption. In talking with the Gladney folks, it is very difficult to logistically sponsor individual boys.  I.e. you bond with a boy, and want to help fund that specific boy's education.  Take that scenario and multiply it by 50 people wanting to sponsor:   On the surface it sounds good.  However, the more outgoing boys tend to get several sponsors and the quiet ones get left in the shadows.  This is why Gladney has centralized the approach for families to donate specifically to the Ethiopian scholarship program and let their local Ethiopian staff figure out how to best distribute the aid.