BC: The End
FC: Dru Ryker Joslyn
1: And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. Matthew 18:5
2: January 31, 2011 Today was the day that we finally got to pick you up from the orphanage. It has been almost 8 weeks since we saw you last. It was the longest 8 weeks of my life. I missed you and worried about you every day. I prayed for you to know that we were coming back for you. During your farewell ceremony at the orphanage, you took all of the matchbox cars out of the bag we gave you and gave them to your friends that you were staying there. I was so happy to have you, but my heart was breaking because of everything that you were leaving behind. You were so brave when you left the orphanage. You climbed on the bus and sat on my lap. I put my hand on your chest and you heart was beating so hard. When we got to our guest house you prayed for the group before we ate dinner and you ate tacos. I couldn’t believe that you just ate your first taco like you had been eating them your whole life. We tried to give you a bath, not knowing that you usually took showers. You never did sit down in the tub. After your bath you climbed in bed, pulled the covers over your head and started to pray, then fell asleep.
3: Your nanny came out to the bus to say goodbye | Dru, Hannah, Deborah, Bethie and Mom | Today changed your life in so many ways. I hope that you always know how thankful we are to your birth mom for having you. We know that you didn’t have a chance to know her, but hope to honor her by raising you well.
4: February 1, 2011 Today was the day that we took you to the US Embassy in Ethiopia to have our interview for immigration visa. A bus from our agency was supposed to pick us up to take us to the appointment, but the African Presidents conference in Addis had traffic all messed up. We ended up taking a harrowing ride in a share taxi across town to the appointment. At the interview we were told that you were ours forever and that you could come to the United States. Finally, it seemed like we had been waiting so long for someone to say that to us. What a blessing. | Welcome to our family
5: We brought you a little battery powered airplane to play with, and you wanted to ride on it. It was so little, but you found a way to do it. Of course the plane broke, but you managed to fix it. | Feb 2, 2011 Today we got to just hang out at the guest house and play with you all day. We found out that you can throw a ball, really, really hard. We had quite a game of dodge ball and you thought that it was sooooo funny to hit us in the head with the ball. We played for about an hour. You laughed and laughed, then ran off and hid from us. It seemed like you felt badly for having so much fun. You really seemed to be dealing with all of the change in your life fairly well, but sometimes you would just be overwhelmed by it.
6: Feb 3, 2011 Today was the day that we got to actually pick up your immigration visa. We went to lunch with all of the other families from our agency that were there to take their kids home too. You were very excited to see Delu and Sigaga at lunch. You were also very glad that our guide Abel was there so you could tell him what you wanted to eat for lunch. You had a giant serving of Tibs and injera. We went to the agency to pick up your passport and they had the wrong picture on the visa page. I started to panic a little bit because our plane was leaving for America that evening. Thank goodness the agency got that all straightened out and delivered your passport and visa to us about an hour before we left for the airport. When it was time to leave the guest house to go to the airport I was so sad to be leaving your birth country. We met some wonderful people there. I also couldn’t imagine what you were thinking and had no way to explain anything to you. You were a little trooper. You got in the bus, went to the airport and stood in a super long line with us to get checked in | You were able to witness your new mom have a fit for the first time. Somehow, the airline didn’t have us sitting together. I talked to every person I could find that worked for the airline, but nobody seemed able to fix that problem. I had been waiting to bring you home for so long and I wasn’t about to sit apart from you for the 17 hour flight. I ended up just standing in the back of the plane until somebody came along who could fix the problem. You were great on that super long flight. You never cried, or even acted sad. You really liked to play with the ipad and watching the tv. You were so excited about going to America.
7: You are an American citizen | Feb 4, 2011 You became an American citizen when the plane touched down at the airport in Washington DC. There was a nice lady in the airport who spoke your language and she told you that we would buy you a nice car and send you to college at Harvard. We will have to see how that goes, she also gave you a package of gum. You ate your first kids meal at a Wendy’s in the airport. You also took about 100 pictures of airplanes out the airport window. When we finally got on the plane that would take us from Washington DC to Denver, you fell asleep right away and slept through the whole flight. When the plane landed, I carried you off the plane and you slept for quite a while in the airport. We had been traveling for about 27 hours at that point and we were all exhausted. We had one more plane ride from Denver to Gillette. We arrived in Gillette at about 8:30 that evening. Your Grandma Anderson and Ali were waiting at the airport to pick us up and were so excited to see you. They brought us to your new home for the first time. You looked at your bedroom and checked out the rest of the house. You wanted to see everything, and play with everything and plug every cord you could find into something. We decided to give you a bath after our 30 hours of traveling. At first you weren’t sure what to do, but after about 2 minutes you turned into a water maniac. You had the tub full and the shower on. You were diving in the water, putting your face under the water and holding your breathe. You stayed in there for an hour and were a little disturbed about how your fingers looked when you got out. About midnight I made you your first box of kraft macaroni and cheese. Our schedules were all messed up because of the time difference between Ethiopia and Wyoming. Finally at about 1am you crawled into your new bed and fell asleep.
8: First Day Home | First Snow
9: Feb 5, 2011 You woke up on your first morning in Wyoming to find about 6 inches of new snow on the ground. You really didn’t know what to think of it. You wanted to go outside and see it, so we started getting you all bundled up to go out in the cold. When I tried to put your snow pants on you, you thought I had lost my mind. You looked at me and said “two pants?” We tried to explain to you that when it snows, you have to wear snow pants and we all put on our snow pants to show you. When I tried to put gloves on you, you completely refused. I just handed them to Ali and told her that about 2 minutes after you went outside that you would want the gloves. You did. You thought it was great fun to through snowballs for the dogs to catch. We were so happy to see that you weren’t afraid of the dogs. We didn’t know how you would react, but you loved them right away. You rode in the rzr with you Dad and helped plow the driveway. You were really attached to you Dad right away. It took you a few weeks to decide if you were going to really like me. You also really liked to shovel snow. It seemed like it didn’t matter what you were doing, as long as it was outside you were having fun. You finished off the day with another long bath/shower/swimming session.
10: Feb 6, 2011 Today we took you to church for the first time. We wanted you to go because Bishop Eludi from Tanzania was speaking that morning and we thought it would be good for you to see someone who might look a little more familiar to you. You really enjoyed the music and sat quietly for the sermon. After church we took you too meet your Great Grandma Parnell. Great Grandma was so excited to meet you that we didn’t want to make her wait any longer. You were pretty quiet during the visit and we didn’t stay long. On the way out of the building, you walked right into a big glass window next to the door and knocked yourself over. You weren’t very happy about that. You learned a valuable lesson that day about how clean American windows can be. We spent the rest of the day at home watching the super bowl on tv and eating junk food. February 7, 2011 Today Ababa(Dad) went back to work and Ty and Ali went back to school. You spent the whole day hanging out with Mom. You really missed your Dad. At this point you felt much closer to him than you did to me. The whole day was kind of frantic for you. You had so much to see and wanted to try out everything in the house. You looked in every cabinet, open every door, and plugged thing in to every outlet. You played out in the snow, and ran with the dogs. You couldn’t believe we had a makena-house(camper) in the back yard.
11: February 8, 2011 Today you had your first doctor’s appointment. It was just a checkup and you did fine. The doctor thought that you were remarkably healthy for everything you had been through. In the afternoon we had our first visit with our social worker Renee since you came home. You sat quietly on the floor and worked on puzzles and drew on the magnadoodle for most of the time she was there. Renee couldn’t believe that you were writing the whole alphabet in English. When you were done with that you bundled up and went outside to play in the snow. The freezing cold weather didn’t seem to bother you at all. I watched you from the back door the whole time you were outside, but somehow you hit your head on something out there. You grew a huge bump on your forehead and it stayed for weeks. I still can't figure out what happened. February 10, 2011 I took you to your first library story time today. You watched all of the other kids while the story was being read. You did a craft after the story, but the thing you enjoyed most was pulling books off the shelves and putting them back in the wrong place.
12: February 12, 2011 We took you to the cabin for the first time today. We took the rzr because there was too much snow to drive the pickup in. The rzr started over heating and we kept having to stop and put snow on the engine to cool it down, but you didn’t mind. | When we got to the cabin we discovered that where we had hidden the key was buried under the snow, so we ended up boosting you through the kitchen window so you could crawl through pen the door for us. You ran and jumped off the deck into a big pile of snow and scared me to death. | I didn’t know what was under that pile of snow, but you didn’t hit anything. You climbed into the backhoe and jumped out of there also.
13: February 13, 2011 Today Ali and I decided you needed a bike. You had found Ali’s old bike in the back yard and had been pushing it around for a few days. We took you to Walmart to pick out a bike. You were a little | overwhelmed by your first trip to Walmart. When we got you back to the bike area, you didn’t seem to understand that you got to take one of those bikes home. We were still having trouble communicating, but through acting things out and pointing at things we were managing. We finally got the bike that we thought you liked best and we picked out a helmet. When we got home, I took you to the church parking lot across from our house and you rode that bike for hours. You had the biggest smile on your face the whole time. When it started to get dark outside I had to make you go back to the house. You were very upset. It seemed like you thought you would never be able to ride that bike again. We ended up compromising and let you bring the bike in the house. You rode it around the living room and sat on it at the dinner table and the breakfast table the next morning. You spent a lot of time riding that bike over the next few weeks. We started almost every morning, when it wasn’t snowing over in the church parking lot riding. Sometimes it was so cold that you had to wear snow pants, your coat, gloves and a hat, but you didn’t care. You loved it. You also started to realize that the bike was yours and when we stopped riding for the day, that you would still be able to ride it again sometime. You also spent countless hours pumping up your bike tires and washing your bike in the kitchen when the weather was too cold for you to be outside.
14: February 14, 2011 Today we went to Dairy Queen for lunch and to have your first ice cream cone. Grandma A and Dad can with us. I don’t know why I didn’t explain how to eat an ice cream cone to you. It was the first one that you had ever eaten. You were a little surprised by how cold it was, then you turned it over and took a bite out of the cone.
16: February 15, 2011 Dru discovered the joy of swimming. We went to the pool at least twice a week for the next month. It seemed like you were born to be in the water. You were never scared of the water. You would jump right in, go under the water, keep your eyes open and blow bubbles. When we weren’t at the pool, you were begging to go to the “swim house.” I loved to what how much you loved it.
18: February 22, 2011 It was so cold and windy today, but you insisted on going outside to jump on the trampoline. You got your snow pants, boots, hat, and mismatched gloves on. I was helping you to zip your coat and you got very upset with me. I took me a while to figure out what you wanted, but when I did, I thought that you were brilliant. The day before you were jumping on the trampoline and got snow between the top of your snow pants and the bottom of your coat, you really didn’t like that. You wanted me to tuck your coat into your snow pants. You looked so silly, but you were warm and happy. | February 21, 2011 Today you had your first dentist appointment. You did great. They had a little trouble getting a panoramic x-ray because you thought it was so funny. You kept laughing when the x-ray machine moved around your head. You let them clean your teeth and really liked the suction machine. After we left the dentist, you didn’t want to swallow any more. You just kept holding spit in your mouth and want to suction it out. I finally convinced you that we didn’t own a suction machine. We found out that you would have to get a filling and a tooth pulled .
19: Feb 24, 2011 Today was the day that you finally showed us real emotion. I had been waiting for you to let down your guard since the day we picked you up. Until today you have pretended to be happy all of the time. I call this our “honeymoon period”. I knew that you had to be confused and sad. You had endured such a drastic life change and you were so young. You were in a strange place, eating strange food and everyone around you was talking in a language you didn’t know. Today you couldn’t hold in your sadness in anymore. You just laid down on the living room floor and started to cry. Then you cried for about 6 hours. I followed you around the house and laid next to you on the floor of whatever room you stopped in and let you cry. My heart was broken for you. I knew you were crying for the loss of your country and your first family. You didn’t know if you could trust us and if we would really love you forever. I wanted to do something to help make you feel better, but there was nothing I could do except cry with you and promise that you would be in our family forever. | February 26, 2011 Today we went to Casper so you could meet your Grandma and Grandpa Z. We met them for lunch at Apple Bee’s. You were silly and kept crawling under the table at the restaurant. You kept saying “Hi, how are you?” You were also introduced to the wind in Casper Wyoming. You came out of a door and the wind caught your unzipped coat. You blew all the way down the parking lot. We held onto you better after that.
20: February 27, 2011 Today Ty discovered that you only had one nerf gun. He loaded you right up in his truck and took you to Walmart so you could get more. You two came home about 20 minutes later with several more nerf guns and chaos ensued.
21: February 28, 2011 We told you today that you would be starting school tomorrow. You were very excited, but you kept saying “no school, Ka-lie.” I finally figured out that you thought that you needed a uniform before you could go to school. I grabbed a new shirt out of your closet and you said, “oh, Ka-lie” and were happy. I thought that after you wore that shirt to school and saw that none of the other kids had uniforms, you would just forget about it. I was wrong. You wore that shirt to school every day for three weeks. | March 1, 2011 The first few weeks you went to school, you only went two days a week. I went to school with you every day and stayed in the classroom with you. I wanted to make sure you understood that I wasn’t abandoning you, that every day when school was over you would come home. During PE on your first day, you climbed all the way across the climbing wall in the gym without any help. The PE teacher was surprised at how strong you were. He had students that had been trying to do that all year. In the classroom you tried so hard to be like the other kids. If you didn’t understand what you were supposed to be doing, you would just copy what the person next to you was doing. It didn’t take you long to decide that Mrs. Geer was the coolest person on earth. | 4J School
22: March 11, 2011 We stopped at the Rec Center on our way out of town today to sign you up for soccer. You wanted to climb the tower in the Rec Center so badly that the director of the Rec Center said he would belay you. You climbed the tower all the way to the top three times. It was amazing to watch you. You weren’t scared at all. Several people even stopped to watch you. You were told how to repel down the tower one time, and then you did it like a pro.
24: March 11, 2011 We left for your first big trip today. We were going to Denver for Ali’s volleyball tournament. We explained to you that we would be going to Denver and staying in a hotel for 3 nights. During the drive to Denver, you asked if “Denver America” was “Dru’s America.” We assured you that it was the same America. You also asked if you could eat in Denver America. We assured you that you could and my heart hurt for you. Sometimes I would still forget how different your life in America was from your life in Ethiopia. You would often worry about things that I wouldn’t even think about.
25: March 12, 2011 When we got up this morning we went to have breakfast with Grandma and Grandpa Z. They had just flown into Denver from their vacation in Hawaii. We got to hear all about their experience with the tsunami in Hawaii after the earthquake in Japan. After breakfast, you got to experience your first big volleyball tournament. You were such a good sport. We gave you a camera and you went into photographer mode. We have about 500 pictures of the ceiling and floor, but you had a good time. March 13, 2011 Today we watched Ali play volleyball in the morning, and then went to my Aunt Vicki’s house so you could meet some more family members. You got to meet your Great Aunt Vicki and Great Uncle Arleigh, cousins Shari and Nick, and your Great Grandpa who we all call Bappa. Somewhere you found a fire truck to play with, and then a riding lawn mower you wanted to start. When we went back to the hotel you went swimming and then fell asleep. March 14, 2011 You were definitely ready to come home by this point. We had one more day of volleyball to watch. When we walked up to the gym door, you stopped and said, “no more bally bally house.” You had to go in, but you weren’t happy about it. At lunch time, we went down stairs and Dad ordered a chicken sandwich to share with you. Scott Matheny saw your lunch and said, “Oh baby, that looks good.” You took that to mean that the chicken you were supposed to eat was a baby chicken. You wouldn’t even taste it and were sort of outraged that your Dad would eat a baby chicken. You were very happy to that evening when we finally made it home.
26: March 20, 2011 It was finally a nice day today. Ali and I decided that she needed to practice driving her VW Beetle. Today is the day that everything you did, stopped being cute for Ali. We put your booster seat in the back seat of Ali’s car. When Ali got in the driver’s seat you shook your finger and said “No Ali drive, Ali crazy.” Then you pretended that you were driving crazy. You jumped out of the car and ran in the house. When you came out you were wearing your bicycle helmet. Ali wasn’t impressed. We drove to the grocery store and you took your helmet off, but when we got back in the car you put it right back on. You wore it for the entire car ride of about 1 hour.
27: March 23, 2011 Today we went to court to legally adopt you in Wyoming. Your adoption was legal as far as the Ethiopian government and the US government was concerned, but the Wyoming government required that we adopt you again in the state. Your Aunt Sarah was in town so she got to come to the court hearing also. | March 22, 2011 Again, I forgot that everything is new for you. We were driving down the street and smelled our first skunk of the spring. Everyone in the car was mildly annoyed, but you could not believe it. I guess that there aren’t any skunks in Ethiopia. You couldn’t decide if you wanted your window up or down. You ended up pulling your whole head inside your shirt.
32: A family is pieced together with hope and faith. A family is quilted and bound with love and grace.