Thursday, July 30, 2009

From our Congressman about the adoption tax credit

Please contact your Congressman/woman about HR 213 and the Haitian adoption law proposal TODAY!

Dear Troy,

Thank you for contacting me about a proposal to change the current adoption law in Haiti. I appreciate knowing your views as the parent of an internationally adopted child.

Like you, I strongly believe every child deserves a permanent and loving home. Unfortunately, laws in other countries often complicate and prolong the adoption process for American families who want to provide permanent, nurturing homes. As a member of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, I will speak with my colleagues and the coalition chairman, Representative James Oberstar, about urging Haitian government leaders to consider the new adoption law proposal. I will also bring this issue to the attention of my colleagues on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

You may also be interested to know I'm a cosponsor of H.R. 213, which will make permanent the tax credit of up to $10,000 for expenses relating to certain domestic and international adoptions. Under current law, the tax credit is set to return to its original level of $5,000 in 2010. H.R. 213 is pending consideration in the House Ways and Means Committee. I recognize how important the adoption tax credit is to removing the financial barriers to adoption. I will urge my colleagues on the committee to act quickly on the bill.

Again, thank you for contacting me. As always, if I may be of assistance to you or your family, please don't hesitate to call on me.

Stay in touch,

Member of Congress

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Week in Review

I figured I better recount the past week+ since I've been slacking... man, you 'real' bloggers, I don't know how you do it!

Last Friday night, we had friends over for dinner. These friends are special friends as they have adopted their daughter (domestic) and are now on the waiting list for another domestic adoption! Adoptive families have an instant bond ... especially Christian adoptive families because of the call of God on their lives. We could not get Silas and Kate to get a great pose together....

The best picture I could get of Silas and Kate! I think Kate's mom and dad have a better one so we'll have to get it from them.

This pretty much tells the tale of trying to get a picture of them together ... each going in their own direction :)

The mommies lovin' on each others' babies

Saturday Amber and I took Silas to the park. Our road dead-ends into the park which is so fun and convenient for us. It's so easy to walk down there and watch a little league game or play on the playgrounds. Silas loves watching the other kids play ... that's our observant boy!

Having fun in the tunnel

Lovin' the slide

Behind the 'window' of the play area ... at least there was no glass for him to streak there :) ... the boy loves rubbing his hand on our windows and making them squeak.

We then went to church that evening ... our church does Saturday night service as well to make room for folks on Sunday morning ... we actually like going Saturday night now ... it took a little while to adjust but we know that if our seats our open on Sunday morning, that's 2 more people that can know Jesus and turn their lives over to him!

Right before leaving for church.

We had nothing planned for the day on Sunday ... which was real nice. We hung out around the house, I mowed, and we got a few cute pics of Silas.

Hanging out with his monkey ... this is the monkey we sent to him in Ethiopia ... he LOVES it. I'm not sure if it's something that is a security for him or not ... but anytime he sees it, he's gotta love on it.

One of his favorite positions .... upside down!

Chow Time!

Bath Time!

I also took pictures on Sunday of things we don't have stored away from our shopping day in Ethiopia and totally forgot to post them on the Shopping Day post ... so here they are :)

Amber's purse

Salad utensils

Giraffes for his room

His Ethiopian outfit that he's wearing tonight for his Baby Dedication!

One of his hats

Another one of his hats

Sunday late afternoon we had a meeting for Silas' baby dedication at church. We decided to put him into nursery for the first time ... they said he cried some but they got him calmed down. Not that we want to know he cried but it is good to know that he is/has bonded with us and he's sad when we're not around. We're excited for this opportunity to go before God and publicly declare our intentions of raising Silas to know Jesus. We want him to know Him very early in life so he can make the decision to follow Him and understand the plan Jesus has for his life.

On Monday, Amber's mom (aka, Mammaw) came down for the night as she was flying out Tuesday to Texas to visit her son (Amber's brother) and daughter-in-law. It's funny how her flights seem to always leave from Nashville now. Some little Ethiopian has something to do with that, I think :)

Silas and Mammaw

On Tuesday Amber had him hanging out in his room. Since he is still sleeping in our room, he's not up in his room much yet, especially since it's on the 2nd floor. We plan to transition him to his room next weekend so hopefully he likes his digs, his crib and actually sleeping on a mattress rather than in his pack 'n play.

Happy boy in his room

Still not sure what to think about the monkey bean bag!


Being a 'big boy' on the bed we have in his room for when we sleep in there with him (I'm sure we'll need to be in there more than he needs us in there)

On Wednesday night, Amber's dad (aka Pappaw) came down to visit. He had seen Silas only for about an hour on July 4th, so it was great for him to spend a few days with him!

Pappaw and Silas


On Friday, we had a friend in town that wanted to meet Silas (oh, and see us too! :) ... we totally get that we are backseaters now ... Silas is the star of the show now ... we know, we think he is too! :)

Meghann and Silas

Saturday consisted of play time in the morning and then we went to Long Hunter State Park. We had never been there before but knew Silas would love seeing the water. We did a 2 mile walk around the Couchville Lake and then headed back home for a nap and church. This was the first 'real' time of putting him in the nursery for service. Our church has little screens to show your child's number if they need a parent to come to the room. We never saw our number pop up ... not for not staring at the screen enough :) They said he cried off and on which we figured he would do. We went and grabbed a bite to eat and finished it off with some ice cream ... Silas loved my nutter butter peanut butter cup ice cream :)

Pappaw and Silas getting some play time in before his nap and going to the park

"I love playing with Pappaw!"

Pappaw, Silas, and Mommy after our walk in the park

Today we got up, had breakfast ... Silas is a fan of pancakes which is a good thing in this house :) We said goodbye to Pappaw, had some playtime, naptime, lunch, and then went for a walk in the park.

Saying goodbye to Papaw.

THE STARE-DOWN! I think Silas won...

An afternoon nap (wish all these naps included me!) before our Baby Dedication at church. Wow. Thirty-nine babies were brought to the LORD tonight. Amazing. Absolutely amazing. We love our church and the focus and resources they (we) put on the children of the church. They are not the church of the future ... they are the church NOW! It was great ... we met a couple other adopted families dedicating their kiddos. The Lord has laid it on our hearts to start an adoption small group at our church so we're hoping to start it in September. A few families we've talked to about it have been excited so that is just confirmation of God's invitation ... I can't wait to see what God will do through that group.

The three of us at church ... with Silas in his Ethiopian outfit!

Introduction of Silas on the big screen

Pastor Jim annointed Silas and prayed over him. We LOVE Pastor Jim ... he is head over all the children ministries and his heart for children is second to none. Every week he sees us, he asks us how 'his boy' is doing ... when we went up on stage, he said he was hoping to get to pray over Silas (Jim and our Senior Pastor were both praying over the babies) ... we were happy too ... he is a great man of God.

Silas wasn't into the prayer much ... he enjoyed just looking out at the congregation. He was very good though for the service ... especially since it was supper time for the boy.

Right after the Dedication, we drove to the airport to pick up Amber's mom/Mamaw from her visit in Texas. She's staying the night tonight to get more Silas time before heading back to Indiana tomorrow.
Silas is doing so great ... there is no one except our LORD that we can thank for that. Silas is bonding great ... his bottom two teeth seem to be pushing further up each passing day ... he's eating everything we give him ... we haven't found anything he doesn't like :) ... he's taking less of his bottle which is great too ... means he's getting more full on food. He's slept through the night the past 2 nights ... that may have been from playing hard ... but hopefully said food is staying with him longer. He's getting quicker with his commando crawl. He's getting up more and more on hands and knees (thanks to his therapy sessions with his mommy). He can actually pull himself up kinda on our coffee table ... this has led to a couple 'falls' and head bumps which have scared him but not really hurt him. A minute of crying and he's ready to try again :). Thank you LORD JESUS for our son!

Whew, ok ... think I'm caught up ... at least for a minute! I can't believe August will be here this week ... crazy! Where did July go!?!?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Teeth & Giggles

Silas had his bottom 2 teeth poke through recently...I was just looking at them tonight as we did our nightly routine of bottle, "brushing" his teeth (gums) with his "toothbrush" that came in his Red Cross medical kit (he loves doing it himself) and noticed they are even more pushed through than a few nights ago (when these pics were taken).

And we all know our boy loves the water ... well, he had a giggle-fest this past week with Amber splashing him and him splashing himself. It was really tough not to get baby booty in the video but here's a small sample of him enjoying himself in the tub (we have over 7 minutes of this type of video!) This is the most we've ever heard him flat-out laugh ... we were loving it ... and could watch the video 1000 times :)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Shopping Day in Ethiopia


We were up around 6:30am on Tuesday, Silas' normal awake time. Silas slept pretty good and was in a pretty good mood waking up. Praise God! We got ready and went down to breakfast. It was a very similiar spread to what we had on Monday ... crepes, coffee, eggs, toast ... but no good french toast.

We were all to meet at Hannah's Hope (HH) at 9am to leave our kiddos and hop on a bus to go on our shopping excursion. At about 8:50am, no one was in the lobby of the hotel so we wondered if we were late so we took off to HH ... just the 3 of us. It was kinda surreal making that walk back to HH with Silas this time ... walking through the gate WITH him. Well, we weren't left behind. We were the first ones there! We felt kinda bad for leaving the other families at the hotel.

We reluctantly give Silas over to one of his special mothers. T, the boy who we have the mp3 of his family for him to listen to, came up to me and pulled the pull-back car I had given him on Monday. I think he was very proud of it and wanted to show me he still had it and he was definitely grateful for it. I was mad at myself for not having our ipod with us. I just prayed that I got to see him again before we left. I didn't know what his school schedule would be and if we would be able to see him again.

We were told by a previous traveling family that one of they guys at HH liked peanut butter crackers. So we had a bag of PB crackers, trail mix and some m&m's to give to him. I asked Julie our case manager if she'd seen him and she wasn't sure where he was. We couldn't find him before jumping on the bus so we just kept the bag to give him later. As Julie is getting on the bus, she tells me that my guy is there. Sweet! So we were able to give him the goodies and I think something was lost in translation but you could tell he was very appreciative ... he didn't know what to think!

So we left for shopping. Driving was crazy as usual. It was unreal to see all the 'sights' along the way. It was definitely an eye-opening experience to see the stores along with the people. There were so many people along the street. It makes you wonder where they were all going.

The view out the front of the bus

A furniture store

We get to the shopping destination and are told we have an hour to do our shopping. We had heard this from previous traveling families and were told to make a list of things we wanted to buy. We had no idea what we wanted to buy. We knew we wanted to get him a traditional outfit or 2, a drum ... but that was about it. We were also told about the 'bartering' side of buying things. We weren't really sure about this knowing the needs of the people ... we decided to play it by ear to see costs of things and decide once we started shopping.

Shopping consisted of alot of store-fronts along really one road. We decided to go to the far end and work our way back. That way, as we bought stuff, we would be walking towards the bus and not having to carry the stuff as far. The first shop we went in was ran by a beautiful woman. We ended up buying a few things from her ... Giraffes for his room, sandals to him when he's a few years older, a little drum.

Amber with the owner of the first store we went into

As we walked in and out of shops, the owners were definitely wanting you to go into their shops. They would ask you to come in and take a look. Not in a pushy way like we experienced in Jamaica on our honeymoon but just in a 'salesman' sort of way. We bought a small stool for him, traditional outfits, Amber got a purse (she's kicking herself for not buying more). We also bought alot of things to give him later in life that I won't go into detail here because Silas will read this some day :) We decided to not really barter unless we bought multiple things from one place. I mean, the wooden giraffes were like $4 U.S. , Amber's purse was $4 ... I just couldn't barter for those kind of prices.

As we walked along the streets, children would come up to us. Some asking to shine/clean our shoes, some trying to sell the little pack of Kleenex or little packs of gum, some just asking for birr (Ethiopian money). It was so sad ... you wanted to help them all. And the same kids would follow you on the street ... as you went into a store and back out, they would be there. We would secretly give birr here and there to kids ... if it was made known, it would have been chaos ...

As we finished shopping (that hour went quick!), we walked back to the bus with our purchases. We had thought about buying an Ethiopian map as many men were selling them on the street. One guy kept coming up to me trying to sell me a map. It was just a standard wall map you could buy from anywhere ... he wanted like $25 US dollars for it! I just couldn't justify spending that so we ended up not getting a map ... I think we'll just order one online.

I had taken a backpack full of the peanut butter crackers, trail mix, and m&m's to hand out to kids. I had decided to wait until we were about to leave because of the chaos it could bring about. I stand on the corner, open my bag, and start handing out to kids. In a matter of seconds, kids and kids and kids galore. All grabbing and ripping things out of my hands. I should have know there would be no order to this. It was kinda sad because a store owner comes out with a stick and 'threatens' the kids to back up. I guess they have these sticks to keep them from begging/etc in front of their stores. As I'm handing them out, Julie comes up with a boy and asks if I have anything left. She said he was real sweet and had been trying to sell a pack of gum to her the whole time. I did and gave him alot of what I had left. He was so grateful. I run out of snacks and hop back on the bus. The gum boy is on the other side of the street eating away. Every time I'd look over, he'd smile big, show me his snack, and wave. Wow, the heart of a child. I tried to get a good pic of him but every time I did, an older boy would stand right in front of him.

Julie's 'gum boy' eating his crackers. Only picture I got of him because the other guy kept standing in my way.
We leave the shopping and head to an Italian restaurant for lunch. We had heard about this place from other families and knew there was an opportunity to buy hand-painted canvas pictures there. So we arrive, sit down, and order our food. Julie order some foccacia bread for an appetizer and it was so good! While we were waiting for our food, we walked around the restaurant looking at the paintings. We were given a price sheet when we walked in but were told the prices were 'high'. Apparently the owner had the banker coming that day for appraisals and he had adjusted his prices. He told us things would be discounted. Well, one painting stood out to me. Amber didn't quite have the same feeling. She thought it was nice ... but expensive which it was. I told her I'd think about it during lunch. We had ordered the prosciutto & onion pizza. Wasn't bad but pretty bland. I also had 2 cokes during lunch ... I drank mostly bottled water but it was a nice change to drink a coke every now and then. The picture was in my sight during lunch and I couldn't take my eyes off on it. The colors were so vibrant they'd knock you down. The painting was outside of a church. It had people standing outside and it was raining so they had their umbrellas out. It was amazing.

So I kept internally debating. And debating. And debating. I ask Amber and she says 'whatever you think.' Gotta love that response. :) We knew we were going to the Fistula Hospital tomorrow and we were told by a family that they had paintings there too. Julie asks for the check and that was the call to action. To buy or not to buy? No other family was going to buy anything. I go up and look at it again ... talk to the owner ... and pull the trigger! I decided to buy it. I know that others have said if you're debating something to do it because you'll regret it later. So he takes it down and they take it off its wooden frame and put it in a tube for us to be able to bring home. We are now both glad we bought it ... it will be an unreal piece to give Silas some day.

We pay and leave. Kristi decided not to go shopping with us but wanted some pizza so we got one to-go for her. As we left, there was a store that some families bought some spices, etc. As we were standing there with Kristi's pizza, kids came up to ask asking for some food. It tore me up. Not that we were there with her pizza, but that we, as a travel group, probably just threw away a pizza or 2 in leftovers that we didn't eat. That truly defined the American culture to me. So wasteful. I was so mad at myself about not taking the leftover pizza to give to them.

We hop on the bus and see that Johannes had picked up our coffee. 22 pounds worth! We had at least twice the amount of any other family but it was going to be our gift to family and friends. We ride back to the hotel to drop off all our purchases and then walk back to HH. Amber goes upstairs to get Silas and she was up there for a little bit. It gave me time to play peek-a-boo with Paul & DeeDee's girl who was in the adjacent room to the bottom of the stairs. That girl is amazing. Amber was taking some time so I head on upstairs to see what was going on. We got pictures of each daytime special mother with Silas. I'm so happy for these because these were the only still pictures we got of them and they are GREAT!

This was his favorite special mother.

The men of Hannah's Hope love the children so much. It was so great to see!

We leave to go back to the hotel. We pretty much just hung out in the lobby and outside the rest of the night. We ordered supper ... we both got cheeseburger & fries. We were told by other families the cheeseburger isn't beef ... it's more like ox or something. It definitely was more gamey but I liked it ... Amber didn't care for it too much. The fries weren't that great but we were not expecting a whole lot.

Hanging out on the steps of The Union Hotel

Mr. Observant

We went upstairs for bath and bedtime but mommy had to have Silas try on a few things....

First, she had to get in some play/tickle time

One of his new Ethiopia hats

He had so much more fun with bathtime than he did the day before. This was right after the bath and chewing on something, of course.

So we took this outfit with us with this hat. The thing was like a skull cap on him. Boy has a big head. I think he may still have a circle indentation around his head from this hat. His hair may never grow the same :)

Wednesday was definitely the busiest day we had .. between birth-family meeting, playing at Hannah's Hope, paperwork meeting, visiting the Fistula Hospital, and the traditional dinner, it was a long but great day. Hopefully, that will be written about soon!