Aidan Birhanu Miller Robinson

Sunday, May 29, 2011

One more thing...

Happy Birthday sweet Aidan. You're 10 months old today!

Days 2 and 3 back in Ethiopia...

I slept well my first night in Ethiopia. I think it really helped to divide up the trip with layovers in New York and Dubai. Liam said that he woke up about every 2 hours, but for the most part he slept well too. Part of the issue is that Ethiopian beds are EXTREMELY hard. We were kind of used to this because Korean beds are similar in that they don't give very much. However, Ethiopian beds don't give AT ALL. It's like sleeping on a hard wood floor with a rug on top.

I ate a bit of breakfast and then since we were up so early, we got a fresh start on the day. We didn't get to adventure out of the guesthouse on our last trip (mainly because we had spent most of our time traveling south to the Durame), so this time Liam and I decided to walk around Addis a bit to "see what we could see".

Addis is very safe, but the one thing that you have to worry about is panhandlers and pick-pocketing. It's understandable in a third-world country, and honestly, the little children that approach you for money, break my heart. It's dangerous, however, to give them any, because a few children crowded around can quickly escalate into a mob situation.

We visited the largest church in Africa, an Eastern Orthadox Cathedral. We were able to take pictures and tour the inside. It was awe-inspiring. I don't know about you, but I love old churches. This one was only about 6 years old, but the feel of it was old. The stain glass windows showed scenes depicting Christ's life and several of the painting were of the disciples and stories from the Old Testament. Up front there was an altar that led to a room of the back that was called the "Holy of Holies". Only the priests were allowed in the room. The scenes above the alter were that of Christ's birth, the Holy Trinity, and Christ's transfiguration and ascension into heaven.

After our tour- our guide turned out to be a runner, so as you can imagine, he and Liam had quite a bit to talk about- we found a little shopping center to browse around. We wanted to visit the National Museum, and since we had no idea where it was, we flagged down a cab.

The National Museum of Ethiopia is quite large (about 4 stories) and it's biggest boast is that it contains the skeleton of Lucy- the oldest "person" whose remains have been uncovered. She's estimated to be around 3.3 million years old. The rest of the museum was interesting too. Ethiopians are very proud of their history, mainly that of prehistoric times.

Terry, our cab driver, had waited for us while we were in the museum. He next took us to do some shopping.

The first place was in a traditional Ethiopian market with little huts housing goods of all kinds, especially Ethiopian clothing. I bought my nephew and nieces all traditional outfits. It's hard to choose, because their are no sizes, so you have to guesstimate how big or little you need to buy. I know the one that I bought Ava is too big, but that was the smallest they had. After getting it back to our hotel, I think Ella's might be too small. So, I hoping that at least Jake's is the right size.

After, we went to the Friendship Center which is their equivalency of a shopping mall. We just browsed the stores, but didn't buy anything.

We had Terry return us to our hotel, ate dinner- where we met Jennifer and Aaron who are here for court, and just "laid-low" a bit.

I thought I'd get some sleep, so I laid down at around 4:30pm and my 2 hour catnap turned into 5 hours. I woke at 9:30pm and was up until 4:30am and slept until 8:30am. I had been so proud of myself that I had accustomed myself to Ethiopian time, but clearly I was wrong.

We met SEVERAL families here for court in the morning and planned an impromptu lunch and shopping get together. Since Liam and I had already experienced Ethiopia we gave several suggestions for things to do. Liam had also made plans to meet with an Ethiopian man that ran track and field for Liam's old coach in Ireland. After asking the front desk to make arrangements for a taxi, all 9 of us (with 2 more meeting us at the restaurant) piled into the taxi.

After our lunch at Top View Restaurant we had thought to go to Entoto Mountain, but it had been raining, so we knew that we wouldn't have a very good view. Instead we made plans to return to the two places that we had gone shopping the day before. I bought Aidan two traditional Ethiopian outfits in different sizes, Kirk and Joy and Nichole and Jason Ethiopian crosses, and Lindsey an Ethiopian shawl.

We returned to the guest house and some of the friends that we had met the day before (from the yahoo board) had returned from making the journey down south to Durame, so we decided to eat at Yod Abyssinia- a traditional Ethiopian restaurant that we ate at on our first trip. I sat NOT watching the dancing and listening to the music, because all I could think about is that I'M GETTING MY SON TOMORROW!!!

Now, it's nearly 10pm and I'm experiencing a mixture of excitement and feeling like I'm going to throw-up. Earlier I returned to find a crib in our room, so it's all seeming very real now. This is my last night without my son!

Please pray that Aidan accepts Liam and I and has an "easy" transition. I'm off to bed now, but will try to post pictures tomorrow. Love you all!

Friday, May 27, 2011

We're Back!!!!

No place will ever mean as much to me (besides home, of course) or hold as many fond memories as Ethiopia. I'm so excited that we're back. This journey of our story is nearly over and a whole new adventure will soon begin.

We arrived yesterday morning around 11:00am (it's now 5:00am on Saturday morning). But let me begin with Tuesday, May 24th.

We arrived at the airport at around 9:30am just to discover that our flight had been postponed for an hour. Jake, Ella, Ava and Nichole were there to see us off. As much as I was looking forward to seeing my sweet little man again, it was so sad saying goodbye to "second babies", though Jake would take great offense to me calling him a baby.

We checked in all of our luggage and luckily everything weighed in under or around the 50 pound mark. We took one huge suitcase of donations for the orphanage, 2 large suitcases of Aidan's things, and then one suitcase of Liam's and my belongings (Aidan's spill-over items managed to find their way to this bag). Our carry-ons consisted of a small suitcase and bag each of things that we considered necessities (one outfit each, some items for Aidan, our adoption notebook full of all of the important paperwork over the last year, etc.).

Our flight left at 12:30pm and flew into Atlanta, Georgia. From there we had a couple of hours to kill, so we had dinner. Note to self: when ordering a chicken sandwich in Atlanta, expect to receive fried chicken still on the bone, 2 slices of bread, lettuce and tomatoes.

After Atlanta, we flew on to New York. When we boarded the plane we discovered that we had been upgraded to First Class. This was my first time ever riding in First Class (I know, pathetic). Let me tell you there is NO COMPARISON! I had a lovely woman who popped by every 5 minutes to ask me if I needed anything. The chairs were made of leather and nearly folded all the way back into a bed. Even though the flight was only an hour and a half, I slept nearly all of it.

Since we spent the night in New York, we collected all of our baggage and rode the airport shuttle to the hotel we had already booked. The rooms were very small; only about the size of a walk-in closet. I'm exaggerating here, but you get the picture. There was enough room for a full-size bed, small dresser and table. We literally had to crawl over our suitcases to get into bed. I couldn't help but think that some poor chap was probably renting the same size apartment for around $1500 in New York. Made me thankful for my spacious-in-comparison, yet cozy home with a mortgage about half the price.

The next morning, we got up early (5am!). Our flight was leaving at 11:30am, but Liam insisted that we arrived no later than 6:30. :) Delta and Emirates' scales are a bit off of each other, so we had to maneuver some of the donations around so that the bags met their weight requirements. Once checked in, we ate breakfast (McDonalds!) and waited about 2 and a half hours to board our flight. Imagine that. :)

The flight to Dubai is 12 hours from New York and there was no First Class this time. I was sardined (and when I say sardined, I'm not exaggerating) between Liam and a very nice Nigerian woman. Our new friend apparently loves Ballywood movies. She watched about 4 during the flight and each time a song would come on (these movies are all musicals) she would say, "Oh, my G-" in her lovely accent, clap her hands and start dancing from side to side, singing along. This, unfortunately, made sleep rather impossible. She really was very friendly and my only other chief complaint is that low-rise jeans and an undone belt when you are rather voluptuous is perhaps not the best fashion choice. Each time that she got up, which was quite frequent, NOTHING was left to the imagination. Oh, my poor hubby.

The staff at Emirates is so friendly. We met a nice young man named Sam, originally from Syria, but had spent most of his life in England. He currently lives in Dubai and answered all of our questions and gave us great tips on what to do while we were in the city.

Dubai is like no city that I have ever seen or experienced. It's in the middle of a desert, but it's immaculate. The buildings literally gleam in the desert sun. We rode the metro to our hotel and their was not even a gum wrapper on the ground. Nothing was out of place. It was really amazing. The staff at the airport are so helpful too. When we approached one man to ask for help, he took us on a two hours Odyssey around the airport, taking us to the money exchange, the ticket booth, found us internet service, the baggage check office, and finally to the metro station to help us buy tickets. All of the information staff were men and their uniforms are (and forgive me Chugthai, because I do not have the right terminology) full white Muslim attire from head to toe. Around the top of their head scarves, they wore a black tassel that hung down their backs. It's really a very crisp and clean uniform and looked like it would keep then cool in the heat. Aw, the heat. I've never experienced anything close to the heat of Dubai. Imagine a blow dryer set on hot, blowing merely inches from your face and you would begin to get the picture of how hot Dubai is in the summer. Liam did the conversion math for me, and it was about 125 degrees. This poor little gal from Missouri was nearly cooked alive!

After checking into our hotel, which was VERY NICE, I slept for about 3 hours and then we ventured out into the city. We spent less than 24 hours in the city, so there wasn't a whole lot that we could do. We went to the Dubai Mall, which is the largest mall in the world and saw the Burj Kaliffa (the largest building in the world). There's no way to even describe the enormous size of this thing. I imagined that the Tower of Babble looked very much like it, with it's spire stretching into the clouds. All of the architecture in Dubai was impressive. No two buildings look the same and shapes of every imagination are on display. Pyramids, upside-down cones, ones that resemble boat sales. You name it and Dubai has it! I imagine that the world's most talented architects make Dubai their home. With over 80% of the population living in Dubai being foreign, this is very likely true.

The greatest part of Dubai was meeting some of Liam's former neighbors from Ireland. Elaine and Amanda had the best stories to tell about Liam. They both work for Emirates airlines and their stories of traveling all over the world were so fascinating. We went out to dinner and had a great time. The musical fountain show outside of the mall, is truly amazing (I'm using that word a lot, heh?). Don't worry, I promise pictures are soon to follow this post, because words just do not adequately describe the beauty.

So, that brings us to Ethiopia. Our flight left at 8:30am, so it was another early wake-up call for us. One of the great things about Emirates Airlines, though is that we were able to re-check our baggage the day before. So, other than our carry-ons we had no baggage to worry about. When we boarded the plane, we discovered that we were once again bumped to First Class. I'm not sure what Airline gods shined down on us during this trip, but it was wonderful. Liam and I were like two kids in a candy store. The chairs reclined all the way down into a bed, complete with foot rest and massager. And of course, complimentary drinks were served and a very nice breakfast. I felt like a queen! The only disappointment? The flight was only 3 hours long.

Our first day in Ethiopia was like coming home. There's no better way to describe it, and all of my fellow adoptive parents most likely will concur. We met up with Erin Sibley, who's also here for embassy, Cami Brudenthal and Autumn Perkins, both here for court dates. We all know each other from the Yahoo forum. We decided to go to the leprosy hospital together. The main reason that foreigners go to the hospital is to buy things that the patients and nurses sale. We bought a traditional coffee set, salt and pepper set, and sugar bowl all carved out of wood. Everything together cost us about $15-20. I only ever thought of leprosy as an old biblical disease. The fact that there are still people in 2011 suffering from this curable infliction is really heartbreaking. We also visited AHOPE, which is a wonderful organization that cares for HIV+ children. I read about it in There Is No Me Without You. We brought a few donations and learned more about the program and the services they supply. From there we toured the facility and visited with some of the kids. There's no more humble experience than sitting on the floor putting together jigsaw puzzles with sick, and in some cases (though far less, with programs like AHOPE) dying children and seeing them smile up at you. It puts all the small problems that you may experience in you life, into true prospective. We visited the baby room and saw a little boy that had been brought to AHOPE nearly dead 3 months earlier, but that under their care, was flourishing. On our way home, we stopped off at the coffee shop and I bought my parents, Des, Andy and Megs some good, Ethiopian coffee. I'm not much of a coffee drinker, but since coffee originated in Ethiopia, how could I leave without buying some?

We ended our day with dinner at Advante, a lovely Italian restaurant a couple of blocks from Jemimah Guesthouse, with our group. It was the perfect end to a beautiful day.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Less than 24 hours...

Until we leave to go get our son. I can't believe it!!!!!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Packing, packing, and still more packing...

So, as you can imagine the last few days have been filled with TONS OF PACKING. Not only am I packing for our trip, but with it being the end of the school year, I'm also packing up my classroom and tearing it down for summer. UGH. Major. Stress.

I think it's kind of comical that I'm trying to fit Liam's and my belongings into one suitcase, while Aidan's things already take up two suitcases and are flowing into our carry-ons. How can one little guy require so much stuff. I guess this is an omen of what's to come, right? The largest suitcase is for the donations that I was unable to fit into our baggage on our last trip. Everyone has been so generous in their giving. I'm truly blown away.

Only six days to go, and then we'll be on the plane (well, really many planes) that will take us back to our son. So stinking excited!!!!!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Travel Dates!!!

Got the confirmation email at around 3:30 this afternoon that we have an Embassy appointment for Aidan on May 31st!!!! After calling my dad, sister and of course, Liam in stunned excitement, Liam came to my work so that we could book our flights. We were told that we had to be in Addis by May 29th, so that would have us leaving on or around May 27th. Unfortunately, with our short notice, all flights were booked from May 25th-28th. So, we're leaving May 24th from Springfield, Missouri. Since my last day of school is also the 24th, this should be interesting. :)

We fly into New York, but because the next flight does not leave until early the morning of the 25th, we'll spend the night in the city. From there, we fly to Dubai and then onto Addis, arriving on May 27th!

I'm not sure yet whether we'll take custody of Aidan on May 29th or 30th. Normally, families take custody of their adopted child on the Sunday before the Monday Embassy date. However, since Monday is Memorial Day, our Embassy date has been set for Tuesday, May 31st. I'm really hoping that we'll still take custody of him on the 29th.

After a seven day stay in Ethiopia, we'll leave the morning of Friday, June 3rd and arrive in Springfield the evening of Saturday, June 4th (around 8:30pm) WITH OUR SON!!!! We'd love for everyone to come and welcome Aidan home, so if you are able, we'll see you there. :)

I can't believe that we're only a week from making the journey to bring our son home!!!!!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Embassy Clearance!!!!

The news that we have been hoping and praying for is finally here and it came in the form of a very short email waiting for me when I awoke this morning...We're approved by the U.S Embassy to travel to bring Aidan home!!!!!!

I immediately called my parents and emailed some friends and, of course, posted it on Facebook for my 500 nearest and dearest. I emailed Jenn and Stephanie when I got to school to see when our appointment date might be. Jenn emailed me back to say that May 23rd is full, but they are trying to get us an appointment for May 30th. This would mean that we'd be leaving sometime the week of May 22nd- two weeks!!!!!

I'm so thrilled and happy and nervous and overwhelmed and FREAKED OUT! Finally, what we have wanted more than anything for the past year and a half (and in truth, for the past 5+ years since we began trying to have a child) is here! We're going to bring our child home in 2-3 weeks! Aidan is coming home, finally, he's coming home! I can't believe it!!!!!

Praise God!!!!!! Aidan we're coming with all the love in the world guiding us on our way! Mommy and Daddy are finally on our way to bring you home!!!!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day

Mother's Day wasn't nearly the day of dread that I had been expecting. I think it really helped hearing the news of our embassy submission last week, but also I just kind of realized that this is my first Mother's Day...Aidan here, or not here, I'm still a mommy and I'm not going to let ANYTHING spoil my first official Mother's Day. Sure, next year will be better, but I'm excited that we're so close to bringing our little boy home.

How did I spend the day?
I went to church and then out to eat with my family. Unfortunately, Liam's sick right now and stressed with finals, so he stayed home to study. After lunch, my sister and I decided to go see a movie (Something Borrowed) and then went out to dinner. It was a great day!

Here's my post on Facebook:
Happy Mother's Day to my incredible mom and beautiful sister. I hope that I can be half as successful at this motherhood thing as you both. I love you. Praying for my grandmother on the first Mother's Day after losing my aunt. Thinking of my mother-in-law, who is responsible for raising the most amazing man and my best friend. We love and miss you, Marie. Longing for my little A. In such a short time, you have already brought me the most immense joy and have finally made me a mommy after so many years of heartbreak. Thinking of the woman that made it possible for you to be ours and praying for her happiness and health. We are eternally grateful. Happy Mother's Day to all the mommies in my life.

And finally, in honor of Aidan's birthmother this Mother's Day, a poem that I'm borrowing from the Holt yahoo group:

Once there were two women who never knew each other.
One you do not remember, the other you call mother.
Two different lives, shaped to make your one...
One became your guiding star, the other became your sun.
The first gave you life and the second taught you to live it.
The first gave you a need for love, and the second was there to give it.
One gave you a nationality, the other gave you a name.
One gave you a seed of talent, the other gave you an aim.
One gave you emotions, the other calmed your fears.
One saw your first sweet smile, the other dried your tears.
One gave you up ... that's all she could do.
The other prayed for a child and God led her straight to you.
And now you ask me, through your fears,
the age old question unanswered throughout the years...
Heredity or environment, which are you the product of?
Neither, my darling angel¦ neither.
Just two different kinds of love.
~ Author Unknown ~

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


I still can't believe in (hopefully) less than a month we'll be in Ethiopia with our child. The whole day has been so surreal. Aidan will be with us, and then forever ours, in a matter of weeks. The last year of waiting, and longing, and praying comes down to this moment...Aidan is ours! I just can't believe that it's finally here! Nor do I have any real comprehension of how this little boy is going to change our lives completely.

Please pray that our case will be approved quickly and easily. I'm thinking that we'll receive travel dates in the next week or two, but with all the recent delays, it's hard to predict. One thing is for sure, though. We're finally on our way the bringing our sweet boy home.

FINALLY (Oh, Happy Day)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We've been submitted to the U.S embassy!!!!!

Based on other's experiences/timeframes, we should hear sometime next week that we've been approved. From there our agency will request an interview and let us know our travel dates. We could travel as soon as 2-4 weeks from now! Oh, happy day, Aidan. Mommy and Daddy are coming to bring you home!!!!!!

For since the world began, no ear has heard and no eye has seen a God like you, who works for those who wait for him!
Isaiah 64:4