Wow - what a moment. After so many people told us how lucky Sophie is to have us, I can say yet again how lucky we are to have Sophie. Although my political opinions probably wouldn't have changed, I am so blessed to be watching history unfold with an entirely different perspective. I underestimated how I would react at this moment - I am emotional. My daughter will not have to question what she is able to achieve. As first stated over 200 years ago, we are infinitely closer to "all men [being] created equal." No matter who you voted for, or what political opinions you hold. You have to be in awe. Yahoooooooooo!
I just saw this on a poster on the news - don't know exactly who to thank for it.... Rosa sat, so that Martin could walk, so that Obama could run, so that our children can fly!
I have been tagged by Jen (who I can't wait to meet because she currently lives with her family in my hometown)! It may be hard to read the above, but here are the 7 random/weird things about me.....you asked for it!
1 - All four of our children were born within 4 ounces of each other - 7 pounds and 14, 13, 10 and 11 ounces (in age order). I think that's all my body (and obviously Sophie's birthmother's body) could take b/c they all arrived at totally different times - Matthew was 2 weeks early, Katie was on her due date, William was 3.5 weeks early and Sophie was 8 months late ;) The later they came, the faster they arrived. Katie was the shortest labor with 2 hours from first pain until arrival - no time for drugs on that one!! Sophie, of course, was the longest ;)
2 - I have known three of my closest friends for a total of 79 YEARS! I met them in nursery school, 8th and 10th grades. Even better is that I have a girls' weekend away with two of them this coming weekend - yahoo!
3 - I am physically incapable of burping. I am not polite, I really wish I could do it, but I can't. My mother says she wishes I could have as an infant. I spent hours of my childhood getting lessons from my friends' older brothers to no avail.
4 - When I am very hungry or very hot, I am NOT NICE. The two problems with that are that I really dislike air conditioning and I have a very big appetite, therefore, I am hot and hungry often.
5 - When I can see or hear the ocean I am VERY HAPPY! The ocean always makes me feel at peace with everything around me. For the first 18 years of my life I lived about 2 miles from the ocean. For the last 5 years of my life I have lived within a half mile of the ocean. I cannot move farther than the ocean again. There is nothing better than the sight of the sun bouncing off the water or the sound of waves crashing - however little they may be.
6 - OK, I wasn't going to put this one, but I can only think of 6 others, so here goes. My belly button is OFF LIMITS. My kids think I'm crazy, but NO ONE (including me) may touch it. It hurts! I think the OB that delivered me must have made some sort of umbilical cord mistake - I'll never know, but stay away!!!
Wow, has time flown. A year ago last Friday, we met sweet Sophie for the first time. A year ago from this coming Thursday, we brought her home to meet the rest of the family. As I read the blogs of others who have traveled recently, our trip to Ethiopia seems like it was just yesterday. I remember so many faces and stories and images of the country. We are really looking forward to the day that we can all return as a family of six. We don't know when the right time will be, but I'm sure we'll figure it out when the time is right.
We were lucky enough to join many other Gladney families in NYC last Thursday night. I was so happy to see Belay again. Of course he remembered "Yordie" right away. I wish that she had felt a little more comfortable so that he could hold her, but she was a little overwhelmed. It was so nice to see how many local families are in process, and of course so nice to see so many children home forever. I even saw one older girl who I remember from Kechene. I think that she held John's hand the entire time that we toured the orphanage (all the girls were obsessed with his very straight hair!). She was so sweet. We weren't allowed to take pictures there, but her face has stayed with me this past year. I was thrilled to see her at the dinner. Although she didn't remember me, at least I know that she has found a forever family.
My first and second graders! A tiny subset of our big, fun bus stop
Off to preschool
And with school, comes activities.
Our first karate lesson (he was a natural - shocker)
And the first time as catcher Happy 6 Katie! All the girls from her class came for waterslide fun. You have to love 80 degrees in mid-September (otherwise, they would have done some pretty lame crafts led by the most unimaginative mom ever!)
By now and we're all settled into school and doing great. The transition from 3/4 day kindergarten to full day 1st grade is still happening (tired and cranky, anyone?), but we're getting there! We try to go easy on activities in the fall, but hockey is about to start full force, so that keeps us busy! Sophie is walking like a maniac (after finally starting at 19 months!). I think her favorite word right now is hungry - she fits in well :)
I hope you are all enjoying the beginning of fall. This is by far my favorite season - the weather couldn't be more perfect - enjoy!
Sophie, Katie and I were so happy to celebrate the anniversary of Sophie's referral with over 40 other Ethiopian adoptive families in Hermosa Beach, California last weekend. I cannot explain how amazing it was to meet these families and see these beautiful children together with their families. John and I had actually met several of the kids in Ethiopia when we went to pick Sophie up. Having "met" so many of these families via email and blogs it was so nice to actually meet them in person and be able to spend some time with them and watch all of the kids interact.
I am so grateful to Drew & Carey for organizing and hosting this enormous crew. Not only were they so generous by spending days of their lives organizing such an amazing weekend, they were able to set up photographers to capture the fun. I have a short slideshow of the weekend below, but you can visit their blog for all of the pictures that their photographers took. Finally, they also gave me some extra adult time by lending me one of their babysitters so that I could put my poor, exhausted East Coast girls to bed early and rejoin the adults after dinner both nights. Thank you guys - your rock star status has elevated even higher in my eyes after meeting you!
It's so hard for me to believe that we saw this precious little face for the first time a year ago. We can't imagine life without her.
Back on June 7, 2007 I was two days away from my first triathlon - the Mighty Montauk in Long Island. The timing was perfect - I trained from February until June - basically the exact time that I was also preparing our documents for the adoption. Along with being mom to 3 kids, it really helped pass the time. I have run many races, but this was the first time in a swim and bike race and I was really nervous. I trained by the book so that I knew I'd be prepared. I spent hours in the pool, on my bike and on the road thinking about what our newest family member would look like, what the circumstances would be that would bring her to us, what Ethiopia would be like, what it would be like if we could meet her birth family. There were days that I really had to dig deep to get through a session, but thinking of Sophie made it that much easier. So many families in the waiting stage ask our opinion on how to pass the time. I think training for some sort of physical fitness test is perfect. You don't sit around eating pints of ice cream feeling sad that you haven't heard anything yet and you are in shape to start the marathon of parenthood. In the end, I finished the race about 20 minutes faster than my ultimate goal time and I was thrilled. I was literally floating around I was so excited - not only was the race over (and I didn't drown!!), but we were that much closer to our sweet little girl.
This year was a whole different story. On June 7, 2008, I was competing in my second triathlon (the same one). I was lucky enough to have a crew of women from my town (all mothers of 3-4 kids themselves) to train with and commiserate with. They were all so motivating and fun to be around. This year I knew I could actually do it, so I was a little more focused on my time. This year my thoughts were also often on Sophie, but this year I actually knew her, had held her and loved her more than I ever thought humanly possible. This year, during the race, when I was tired (and wondering why the swim was so much longer than last year!), I had a new focus that allowed me to dig even deeper. This year, the race marked the one year anniversary that Sophie's birthmother relinquished her to the police. This year, I got teary more than once during the race, and it wasn 't from the physical pain of the race - it was from the pain that I could only imagine that her birthmother was feeling all the way across the world, wondering how her daughter had grown and how she was being loved and cared for. We plan on telling Sophie everything we know about her birthmother and our meeting with her. We will show her every picture and video we have as many times as she wants to see it. Maybe one day, she will get to meet the woman who brought her into this world and loved her enough to suffer her own pain to give her a better life. She will know the key dates of when everything happened that we know about. On June 7th every year I may not remind all of our family members of this certain anniversary, but I will have my own bittersweet feelings that will forever conflict in my mind. I will thank God for bringing Sophie into our lives, yet my heart will break for the woman that had to sacrifice so much to make that happen. I will remember that no matter how deep I've had to dig in my heart and soul for ANYTHING in my life, it can never compare to the the suffering of one Ethiopian woman thousands of miles away from us.
Another late hello, but better late than never! I can already tell the set up of this page will be messed up, but I'm too tired to figure it out. As always (and as with everyone else, I'm sure), we've been busy, but are finally enjoying some great weather here. This was the best Memorial Day weekend that I can remember in a LONG time. Luckily, we were able to enjoy it and relax before a very busy next month (moving, end of school, etc).
Basically, I thought I'd share some pictures of the weekend and tide our family over for a little while! This first one is everyone having some quiet time (that's not really possible with four, but they do calm down a bit once in a while). Sophie MUST be right in the middle of the action at all times and loves to crawl right up and give hugs and kisses even if it's in the middle of a wrestling match! She's about to walk (I've been saying that for about two months now, but I really do think it will happen any day now). She is talking much more and absolutely loves the beach/grass/outdoors in any way. She visited Shelter Island with us for the first time and we had a blast. She absolutely loved the boat (good thing, since she wouldn't have much choice!). It's hard to believe that she's been home now more than half her life. Now, if only she could help me pack some of these boxes.....
Here are Matt & Katie enjoying the sun.
Our copy cat and boat lover.
You have to love a morning on the swings in your pjs.
The rest of these are a little older, but show a bit about our spring.
Hindley Happening bumper cars
The whole family meeting our new cousin Vieve and her mom (my cousin) Jen. Welcome to the family Genevieve!
And the biggest hit of the season - the bubble machine! More to follow sooner, I promise!
One in ten children die before their first birthday• One in six children die before their fifth birthday• 44% of the population of Ethiopia is under 15 years old• 60% of children in Ethiopia are stunted because of malnutrition• The median age in Ethiopia is 17.8 years• 1.5 million people are infected with AIDS (6th highest in the world)• 720,000 children have been orphaned by AIDS alone, and there are 4.6 million orphans in Ethiopia.• Per capita, Ethiopia receives less aid than any country in Africa• In the 90s the population (3%) grew faster than food production (2.2%)• Drought struck the country from 2000-2002 (first year no crops, second year no seeds, third year no animals)• Half the children in Ethiopia will never attend school. 88% will never attend secondary school.• Coffee prices (Ethiopia’s only major export) fell 40-60% from 1998-2002.• Ethiopia’s doctor to children ratio is 1 to 24,000.• In 1993, after 30 long years of war, Eritrea broke from Ethiopia and became an independent nation leaving Ethiopia landlocked without any major seafaring ports.
1/4/07 - Sent Gladney application request and I600A Application
1/11/07 - Sent out requests for birth certificates, marriage certificates, employment letter, proof of health and life insurance, bank letter, reference letters, prepared "Why we want to adopt" and homemaker letters, financial statement. Got color pictures of our passports and gathered pictures of our family, house and yard. Sent Connecticut Criminal History report and Dept of Children & Family Background check requests.
1/20/07 Sent Gladney application & fees, FBI background check, Home Study application (JFS in Bridgeport, CT). Notarized "Why we want to adopt letter", employment letter, homemaker letter, financial statement, passport copies, power of attorney.
1/21/07 - Received Heidi's birth certificate
1/22/07 - Received letter from USCIS saying they received our application and instructing us to have our fingerprints taken in Hartford.
1/23/07 - John's physical & receipt of notarized health form
1/25/07 - Received John's birth certificate
1/26/07 - Received a letter stating our proof of life insurance from the insurance company, but they woudn't notarize it.
1/27/07 - Received notarized bank letter
1/28/07 - Received 1st notarized reference letter
1/30/07 - Received Connecticut Criminal History report and Dept of Children & Family Background checks.
2/1/07 - Received FBI clearance packages
2/2/07 - Received a notarized letter from our insurance agent (NOT insurance company - they wouldn't do it) for proof of life insurance
2/9/07 - Heidi's fingerprints taken
2/10/07 - Received marriage certificate
2/16/07 - Received Dept of Children and Families background check
2/21/07 - First home study interview with Barbara Paris of JFS in Bridgeport, CT
3/2/07 - Home study home visit
3/3/07 - Received 2nd notarized reference letter
3/7/07 - Final home study interview, Notarized FBI letters, received 3rd notarized reference letter, sent KBS Dossiers the first package of dossier papers.
3/9/07 - Heidi's physical & receipt of notarized health form
3/20/07 - Received a proof of insurance letter from our health insurance company, but since they woudn't notarize it, we just had John's firm write and notarize a letter.
3/31/07 - John's fingerprints taken
4/26/07 - Received redo letter of proof of life insurance (the letter dated 2/2/07 wasn't properly notarized)
4/27/07 - Home study complete!
5/3/07 - Officially Gladney approved!!!!
5/15/07 - Received approval from USCIS (I-797C)
5/17/07 - Notarized CIS Approval letter - this was the last thing we needed to do with the paperwork before the official waiting starts!
5/29/07 - Dossier complete!!! Fully authenticated by the amazing Kate Sproat and sent to DC for final authentication.
5/29/07 - We are OFFICIALLY WAITING!!
6/8/07 - Dossier delivered to Belay, Gladey's representative in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
7/12/07 - Scrambled to get new passport photos b/c somehow the US Embassy in Ethiopia lost them - ugh!
7/21/07 - Signed and sent Gladney the PCR form (indicating how many HIV tests you require of the child before receiving a referral)
8/2/07 - RECEIVED REFERRALL!!
8/7/07 - Officially accepted referral
8/27/07 - Official Ethiopian adoption date - SHE'S OURS!!!
9/17/07 - Fly to Ethiopia
9/19/07 - Meet Sophie Yordanos!
9/24/07 - Forever Home
12/4/07 - Adoption officially validated in Connecticut
We are a family of six living in Connecticut. We brought our youngest daughter home from Ethiopia in September 2007 and have not stopped thinking about how we can help improve the lives of the amazing Ethiopian people since. We are so lucky to have met an ever-growing community of Ethiopian adoptive families that have given their hearts and souls back to Ethiopia. We look forward to sharing this journey back to Ethiopia with you and hope that you can help us help Ethiopia Smile!