Friday, April 9, 2010


We met our baby this morning and are totally in love, she is too. The attachment went better then we could have ever expected.
The nannies called the families up one by one to meet our babies and we were first. We walked into the room with a dozen babies all over the floor and Semenesh stood out immediately. I picked her up and she looked at Kelly and me without any concern. When we took her downstairs everyone clapped and then the next family was called.
Downstairs she was full of smiles and laughter. She's very ticklish.
It was the most amazing experience. The feeling can best be described as ten families giving birth to their babies at the same time. The room was full of joy.
We look forward to tomorrow when we get to spend more time at the orphanage, learning her schedule and routine.
We're in heaven.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Taking it all in

Yesterday was full in our attempt to learn as much as possible about the culture and history of Ethiopia. We have another full day today so I'll sum it all up in a few words.

Orthodox church where Haile Selassie was crowned. Coffee break. Shopping/Bargaining. National Museum, 'Lucy'. Tej (Ethiopian honey wine). Cigar by the pool. In bed 7pm and awake at 12am, still suffering from jet lag. Our massages should be great today!

Tonight is the night we arrive at the guest house and meet Semenesh in the am!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

10% plus 15%...

We arrive in Addis yesterday morning, 10pm pacific time. We were exausted after 28 hours of traveling and no more then six hours of sleep between us both. It was so nice to arrive at the Sheraton and relax by the pool after a delicous Indian meal. We decided to go to sleep at about 4pm because Kelly fell asleep while drinking his banana milk shake.
This morning we were outside enjoying the sunrise and listening to the morning prayer that echoed from the mosque below our hotel garden. We are trying to take in all the sight, sounds, and smells of our daughter's birth country.
After the sun rose we enjoyed the most amazing continental breakfast. They had fresh juiced blends, a table full of fresh baked breads, omelets made to order, a table of fresh cheeses, and anything else you can think of. The cappacino was also amazing, made with delicious Ethiopian coffee. We do feel a little out of place at the Sheraton, with all the asian buisness men sitting around us, but we're taking advantage of the accomidations non the less. Everything we buy here is so expensive and then 10% plus 15% is added to it. We're wondering why they can't just tell us the full price.
We are about to leave for the Marketo, the largest open air market in Africa, and hope to find some better deals.
That's all for now... we'll have more advantures to share later. LOVE YOU JUDAH!!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Uncontainable Joy!!!

Judah and I were running out the door this morning, in our usual morning rush to get to lil' seeds on time, when the phone rang. Because I lack of ability to ever just let a call go, I ran back in and answered it. On the other end was my FAVORITE person to hear from at this time in my life... my adoption specialist! I am always dying for an update, or more news about our travel. I however did not ever expect to receive a call like this.
"HELLO," I answered in a hurried voice.
"Hi, is this Anna?" said my specialist. "Do you have a minute."
"Of course," I answered (I will always make time for a call from her).
"So" she said, "I have you and Kelly down to travel on the 7th of April, and I wanted to tell you that I emailed the final paperwork."
I couldn't believe it! We were actually being bumped up? Not back? This was an answer to prayer that I never even prayed for. If you know anything about international adoption, this is a total miracle. Nothing other then a gift from God. The best way I could ever ask to start my day.
"Well" I told Judah, "when we get home we're gonna need to rip our chain in half!"

Monday, March 22, 2010

The 'Chain' of Events...Our Countdown Begins

Today, big brother Judah completed a chain to countdown several very significant events in our near future. The chain is filled with encouraging words and reminders for prayer, as we live out these next few weeks in joyous anticipation. 21 days until the US Embassy receives our final paperwork... tentatively, 28 days until we board the plane...32 days, and we will be holding Semenesh in our arms... and finally, 40 days until the siblings meet! Let the countdown begin...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Simple Things...

Sometimes it's the simple things that can bring us encouragement or inspiration. Maybe it's just because everything we see, during a trying time, reminds us of what we're going through. Whatever the reason, I recently found encouragement under the cap of my "Honest Tea." There have been so many difficult changes throughout our journey. We haven't been given an option but to accept the "winds" and grow from them. Our family has learned patience and perseverance as we've adapted to these changes.
I'm realizing that I need to look at adoption more like a birth. When I meet with a woman and go over her birth plan, I always remind her that it won't go exactly as planned. In the end the goal is a healthy baby, not a "perfect birth". I guess adoption is the same in the sense that our goal is also a beautiful, healthy baby. We had a different plan in mind. Our perfect adoption plan included traveling through different regions of Ethiopia and enjoying the beauty of our daughter's country. Because of the new Embassy regulations, we will now only have one and a half weeks notice before travel. Our plans are changing and our time in Ethiopia will now be cut in half, but our reason for going is still the same. We will meet our long awaited daughter face to face, and bring her home to join our family!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Roller Coaster of Emotions...

The same day we receive the birth certificate, we also receive this...

Change in Processing Timeline for Adoption Cases

March 5, 2010

The Department of State shares families’ concerns about recent media reports alleging direct recruitment of children from birth parents by adoption service providers or their employees. In response to these reports, the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa has implemented some changes to adoption visa processing. Adoptive parents should be aware that an I-604 (Determination on Child for Adoption, sometimes referred to as “orphan investigation”) must be completed in connection with every I-600 application. Depending on the circumstances of the case, this investigation may take up to several weeks or even months to complete. Therefore, adoptive parents should not plan to travel to Ethiopia until they have confirmed with their adoption agency that their visa interview appointment has been confirmed.

Adoption agencies submit case paperwork to the U.S. Embassy for review before the Embassy schedules the immigrant visa appointment. In some cases the I-604 determination could take several weeks or more from the time a case is submitted to the U.S. Embassy to the scheduling of a visa interview appointment. We understand that in such cases this will result in a longer period before parents are able to bring their adopted children to the U.S. However, this additional scrutiny is required to ensure that the adoption is legal under both U.S. and Ethiopian law. The U.S. Embassy will work with adoptive parents and their adoption agency to ensure that each case is processed in the most expeditious manner possible in accordance laws and regulations. Families should continue to work through their agency to schedule immigrant visa appointments and answer questions regarding pending cases.

If families have concerns about their adoption, we ask that they share this information with the Embassy, particularly if it involves possible fraud or misconduct specific to your child’s case. The Embassy takes all allegations of fraud or misconduct seriously.

When will we meet our baby? I guess God only knows.

We recently found out that our agency already uses this form and it will not effect our process in any way. Because of questionable adoption practices within other agencies, Ethiopian and U.S. Embassy changes are becoming more frequent. It is a very important responsibility for everyone who plays a part in international adoption to make sure the best interest of the child comes first.

Semenesh Kelly Larson

Kelly has always wanted a daughter named after him, and because of Ethiopian tradition, his dream has now come true. In Ethiopia, babies are given a first name and then take on their fathers name as middle and last. We received the birth certificate today, with our daughters new legal name, Semenesh Kelly Larson. It's becoming more real every day.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Social update

We received a much needed social update today for our baby girl and were excited to see that she has gained a little over 8 lbs. in these past three months. Semenesh is now 14 lbs. and 22 inches. The update educates us on all of her little habits, like sticking her tongue out when she sleeps (pictured above). What a sweet little angel. We are so blessed to have her as our daughter. Adoption is a beautiful thing.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Family of four...

Yesterday morning our court case was passed in Ethiopia! We are now the legal parents of Semenesh, and Judah is officially a big brother. Our family is completely full of joy.