S: Colton's Story: Our Journey to Ethiopia and Back Again
FC: Colton's Story | Our Journey to Ethiopia and Back Again
1: In the summer of 2008, God placed the desire in our hearts to grow our family. At the time we did not know the long journey that lay before us...the journey that led us to our son... Colton James Brown
3: After about six months of researching adoption and adoption agencies we decided to adopt from Ethiopia through All God's Children International in Portland, Oregon. | On November 1, 2009 we submitted our application and by mid-November the paper pregnancy had begun!
4: The paperwork seemed never ending, but we just "ate the elephant" one document at a time. | Making an Ethiopian cabbage dish as part of our home study education. | Our home study was completed by Adoption and Home Study Specialists in Louisville, Kentucky | application...family photographs...autobiographies...references...guardianship...over 10 hours of adoption education...completing a 160 page education workbook...birth certificates...marriage license...tax returns...checking account...savings account...investments...life insurance...health insurance...medical physicals...background checks in three states...three face-to-face interviews...innumerable agreements/releases to sign...and many trips to see a notary.
5: Our Dossier Checklist a compilation of documents to be sent to Ethiopia | Kentucky State Certification of Authentification Jefferson County Certification of Authentification MOWA Letter of Application Derek's Birth Certificate Amy's Birth Certificate Marriage License Derek's Medical Physical Amy's Medical Physical Proof of Medical Insurance Proof of Life Insurance Financial Statement Derek's CPK Employment Letter Derek's Self-Employment Letter from Don Kelley Amy's JCPS Employment Letter Reference Letter from the Standens Reference Letter from the Hetmers Reference Letter from the Roys Copy of Home Study Ethiopia Program Agreement Derek's Kentucky State Background Check Amy's Kentucky State Background Check USCIS Approval Letter 4 Family Photo Pages Copy of Derek's Passport Copy of Amy's Passport 2 Passport Photos each Post-Placement Commitment Form
6: We began work on our dossier while our home study draft was completed and we were waiting on our FBI fingerprint clearance...After two months and two unreadable sets of fingerprints, we found out AGCI would not approve our homestudy unless we included a specific discipline clause to which we could not agree. On March 3, 2010 we were faced with the gut wrenching news that we must terminate our adoption process with AGCI. We stood before a fork in the road on our journey to Colton. We chose to part ways with AGCI and begin down the path to which we did not know where it would lead.
7: We returned to where we had been a year ago: researching adoption agencies. On April 16, 2010 we applied to America World Adoption. | And on April 29th, we were accepted into the AWAA Ethiopia program!
8: May24th our home study was approved by AWAA and mailed off to USCIS. | Our "golden ticket" arrived from USCIS! Approved for two children under two! Flowers arrived from CA to congratulate us on our approval! | Second trip to Frankfort, KY to state certify our dossier.
9: Dossier to Ethiopia (DTE) July 9, 2010! Our paper pregnancy was complete! The next day we left for our Brown Family trip to Salmon, Lake, Montana. While there we enjoyed tracking our dossier from Washington DC to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. | My Ethiopian adoption necklace! A gift from Mommy and Daddy with our DTE date engraved on the back. I wore it as often as possible. People everywhere asked what it was and I got to tell them about our journey to Colton.
10: The next step in our journey was to wait for a referral. We joined the AWAA Yahoo group and were #17 on the waiting list for a boy, #19 for a girl and #5 for a sibling group. We settled in to wait 4-6 months for a boy referral or 5-8 months for a girl referral. Hoping to see the face of our child before Christmas! | During the wait, we went out for Ethiopian food for the first time with our friends/neighbors Steve and Mickie. | We received our "on deck" email on October 25th meaning we should only have a 1-3 month wait until news of a referral!
11: We took a road trip north to Indianapolis to meet some other AWAA families. Our hearts were moved seeing all of the beautiful Ethiopian children there. | Updating our home study with Derek's change of employment | Hear news of yet another extension of our journey to Colton...the wait time for an infant boy referral has increased to 5-8 months.
12: The Call! On March 4, 2010 we received our referral call for a 4 month old healthy baby boy! | The call came at 3:20 on Friday afternoon. I was teaching Spanish at Dunn Elementary and Derek was on a window cleaning job. Emily conferenced us both in to tell us the good news and then we waited until we both got home to open the email and see the photos of our adorable baby boy! | Eyob Adama Born October 10, 2010 KVI Orphanage December 12, 2010 AWAA Transition Home February 18, 2010
13: Signing our referral acceptance paperwork! | I made this sign for Derek 2 1/2 years earlier. It had been in hiding and I was excited to finally display it for him! | We went out to eat at El Nopal to celebrate with the Johnsons | We received flowers from CA the next day to congratulate us on our big day! | Sitting with our adoption pillow made by my mom for Christmas...Louisville to Addis Ababa!
14: It was such a joy sharing the big news with everyone who had been traveling this journey with us through friendship and prayer... | YAH!!!!! We are so excited for you and our nephew Colton!!!! We cannot believe that all the grandkids were born in the same week! I am so excited I can't stand it!!! Congrats! Can't wait to meet him! Love you guys! ~Auntie Cheryl | CONGRATULATIONS! We are so excited to hear you finally got news and a picture! I can't wait to see him. LOVE the name Colton ~Crystal | Congratulations on your news! We will keep praying that everything goes as it should so you can bring Colton home soon! ~Uncle Steve and Aunt Cheryl | We made an unending number of phone calls this weekend and loved showing off pictures of Colton at church on Sunday.
15: Next Step: wait for a court date... On the same day as our referral we received an email with news that MOWA planned to cut back their letters of recommendation to 5 per day. This could have dramatically increased our wait time. | We celebrated his birthday each month during the waiting. Getting his referral was "better than anything" (cake). | His first care package sent with our DTE buddies, Brad and Tara Mowen.
16: We were blessed by other AWAA families who traveled for court or embassy and took pictures of Colton for us. We checked our inbox constantly when we expected some pictures to arrive soon. | March 31st we received pictures from the Mowens...5 months old! | Love the pictures of your little guy! His eyes are beautiful! ~Wednesday | He is one cute little guy! He has the most beautiful eyes! ~Corrine
17: April 5th...more pics of Colton from the Snyder family!
18: April 10th...celebrating with a key lime cupcake from The Cupcake Shoppe | Care Package #2 - Taken by the Sale family the first week of April
19: Baby Shower #1 in California April 16, 2011 at the Buffums
20: May 2nd: Court Date Call for June 2nd May 3rd: Book our flights to Addis Ababa with Megan coming with us May 4th: Receive a monthly update for Colton | April Update Photos | May 10th Right after the Kentucky Derby, so we celebrated with some homemade derby pie
21: Our Adoption Miracle of Today an email sent to our adoption update group on May 26, 2011 "Background: As previously shared, our fingerprints with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) expire June 4th. We were praying for the Lord to grant us a court date before they expire...He answered our request with a June 2nd court date! Today's miracle: We still need our updated fingerprint document processed in order to bring Colton home. For the past two weeks I have been calling the USCIS to check on the progress of our document being issued. We have been praying to receive our new document before we leave for Ethiopia. It was a long shot, as these documents take an unpredictable amount of time to be completed, but we were praying for it. I put another call in to the USCIS supervisor today and got her directly, live and in person! This is rare! She checked on our file and said its status was marked as "in her office"! She said she could email our document to us today! What?! This rarely happens! We are now overjoyed because we will be able to hand-carry our "golden ticket" document to Ethiopia with us! :) The Lord provided our document the day before we left for Ethiopia, so we do not have to worry about it while on our trip! We no longer need to worry about these fingerprints holding up the timeline for bringing Colton home! Praise the Lord!"
22: Court Trip to Meet Colton May 27th - June 3rd | We flew from Louisville to Chicago O'Hare to Washington Dulles. We met up with Megan in DC and went out dinner before our overnight layover at the Embassy Suites. While in DC we were able to rent a car and drive to visit the AWAA headquarters. I loved getting to see where all the action happens! | Unfortunately, Emily Lineberger, our family coordinator and Kristen Hansen, our travel coordinator, were not in so we didn't get to meet them. | Lunch at Chicago O'Hare | All Packed! | Made it to DC!
23: We flew Ethiopian Air...a flight attendant greeted us at the door wearing traditional clothing! | We couldn't wait to go meet our son! | We had foot rests, several meals and lots of movies to watch | Returning our rental jeep before heading to the airport. | It was a long flight from DC to Addis!
24: After a 13 hour direct flight we arrived in Addis at 7:45 am. We took a bus across the tarmack to get our Visa upon Arrival, then through passport check and baggage claim. We met our AWAA driver who piled our bags on the roof of the van and took us to the Yebsabi Guest House where we would be staying. | Outside the airport | The front gate at Yebsabi | I was amazed by the poverty on our drive: dirt roads, people sleeping on the grassy center divide, street vendors set up in "lean-to" structures of metal siding. There are no stop lights at intersections, so cars just go when they think they can get across and use their horn for a signal.
25: After being given one hour to settle into our room, we were off to attend a service at the International Evangelical Church. | Then a two hour lunch at Island Breeze: quesadillas, nachos, and a philly cheesesteak.
26: Meetcha Day! May 27th, 2011! | The drive to the Transition House was very bumpy. After passing through the front gate, we walked up onto the porch and everyone took their posts for pictures. I knew right away it was him when he and his nanny approached the front doorway. He came easily to me and clung to the sleeves of my shirt. He cried a bit, but was soothed by my shh's. Then, emotion overtook me and I cried tears of joy! I tried to hold them back to keep Colton content, but it was hard. I had waited so long for this moment and it had finally arrived! I tried to hand him over to Derek, but Colton just clung to me. My heart was overflowing with joy from the very innermost part of my being for this was my son and I was his mother. Today was the day we first met each other! | The drive up to the AWAA transition house. | The front gates of the AWAA transition house.
27: Derek and Megan in front of the house | Getting out of the vans | Waiting for him to be brought out. | Time moved so slow as we waited on the porch and during our first few moments with him. They were unforgettable! | Seeing him for the first time!
29: Tears of joy for you are my son whom I have ached for so long to hold! | Colton began to realize all of the cameras and eyes were on him. | This Meetcha Moment was one of the highlight moments of our life.
30: Our happy boy! We love him so much! | Our favorite picture from our Meetcha Moment! | Meeting Auntie Meg for the first time! Colton loved playing with Auntie Meg and Auntie Meg loved playing with Colton!
31: First time feeding Colton. He did not eat well or Mommy was not feeding well. We think maybe he wasn't hungry. | We loved playing and loving on our son. We will always treasure these first few hours with him. | Yay for a family of three!
32: After a two hour rest at Yebsabi, we went out to a traditional Ethiopian dinner at a 5-star restaurant. We sipped Ethiopian wine, ate traditional food and tried homemade coffee with popcorn. The band and dance show were amazing and represented the regions across the country. | After 32 hours of being on the go we were ready to rest our heads that first night.
33: Mornings are beautiful in Ethiopia with the sun shining brightly by 6:30 am. We could hear the rooster crow and the music playing on the street a block away. Each morning we ate breakfast in the guest house lobby: pancakes, samosas, yogurt, fresh pineapple juice and eggs. | A view from our kitchen window | The street outside Yebsabi | Donations for the TH
34: On our second day in Ethiopia we were blessed to spend the morning and afternoon at the TH with Colton. | Colton fell asleep on Derek's shoulder for 20-30 minutes.
35: We spent the morning on the porch due to the rain and then left for lunch at Amsterdam restaurant where we all ordered pizza! Thankfully we ate on the covered patio because it was pouring rain!
36: We saw Colton's Meetcha Day outfit hanging to dry! | Along the back of the house was the school room and doctor's office. | Our second afternoon with Colton: When we arrived he was still napping so we took a self-guided tour of the TH. | The front entrance and hall of the TH | The AWAA office across the street from the TH | There was laundry hung to dry everywhere and every day.
37: First book read to Colton: The Barnyard Dance. We plan to read a lot in our home! | Colton checking out the photo album we brought him and the rain. | The side yard of the TH with the school room in the back and the porch where we all spent time with our children. | Our happy boy!
38: First time feeding Colton a bottle, which he downed in less than a minute! | Mesmerized by his first outdoor sight of rain... | Derek feeding him cereal went much smoother than day one.
39: We walked down the street to have dinner with the Dixons and Pfiefers. We had to try Ethiopian ice cream! | Our court travel group: Sorensons with Katie Joan, Browns with Colton, Dixons with Selah, and Pfiefers with Jordis. | Such a handsome boy! | Relaxing back in our room at the Yebsabi Guest House.
40: Taking in the morning views of the city from the guest house roof. | The main market street a block a way. | Children walking to school | Ethiopian birr
41: Meeting with the TH doctor | Whenever we went to the TH before lunch, Colton would fall asleep on Derek's shoulder. | After seeing the doctor, he was so snuggly. | The doctor was friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful. We knew Colton was in good hands at the TH.
42: All the families ate together at a long table on the balcony upstairs. Six embassy kids joined us! | David drove us to Entoto Mountain. We drove past many embassies, the prime minister's house, an open market, many beggars, donkeys and woman carrying wood down the mountain. | St. Mary's Church | Each bundle earns them $3 (US).
43: We toured the emperor's palace and a museum about the many emperor's of Ethiopia. | Looking down on Addis Ababa! | Many children were begging us for money. On the way down we stopped at a shop for the women who carry the wood to buy scarves. | Exploring the palace
44: The beautiful Ethiopian countryside! | The main city from the mountain top
45: The Yebsabi cook made Ethiopian food that night for dinner. We ate all guest house meals in the lobby with the other AWAA families. We then stayed up past 10 playing Phase 10. Megan won and it was her first time playing. | After Entoto Mountain, Derek and I walked a block to the main street with Bryan and Liz Pfiefer to do some souvenir shopping. As we were walking a cute little boy of about seven years old walked up alongside Derek and kept stride with him. The boy smiled and smiled at Derek. Then I realized he was carrying a yellow plastic jug and wooden foot stool. The boy was offering to wash Derek's muddy shoes. There is an innumerable amount of children living in Addis whose parents have sent them in from the countryside to beg and make money in this way. It was humbling and eyeopening to see so many young children living in the streets with no parent caring for them.
46: On the morning of day four in Ethiopia we went with "T" in the lobby to complete some embassy paperwork along with the Pfiefers. And then we were off to the transition house to see Colton! | Derek and Megan getting prepared for the day! | Colton's favorite nanny, Alemtsehay, who worked in his room (Room One) | When we arrived at the TH this morning, Colton was sleeping and his nannies made us wait for 40 minutes to get him. This made me sad because I wanted to be with my baby and I knew we already had such limited time to spend with him. | The TH guard and our drivers hanging out.
47: The sun was shining this day, so we laid out our blanket on the lawn to play with Colton. He got some tummy time and swung on the swing. He loved playing peek-a-boo with Aunti Meg and listening to Share the Well on her iPhone.
48: Hangin' with Auntie Meg! | Colton was so good at reaching for toys, but it did tire him out. | He loved swinging, but did not like having the sun in his eyes.
49: Lunch at Lucy's. We sat out on the patio under a canopy. It was set up like a tropical setting. | Derek with David, our driver for most of the week and Big Eyob, one of our guides. | Colton loved to fly, but was not ready to try standing. | The restaurant was next to this museum where the remains of "Lucy" are housed.
50: After lunch we drove a van full of 16 people to the "post office" market for some souvenir shopping. There were many beggars there: young boys selling gum or toothbrushes made of carved wood, a man with crippled legs who walked using his hands, a young pregnant girl who appeared to be no older than 13 carrying a one year old baby, a very old woman dressed in rags trying to sell us packs of tissue. It was heartbreaking to say no, especially to the young boys. One reason we were in Ethiopia was so our Colton would not have to grow up living life as a beggar...so he would not be forever an orphan. | Derek with our guide, Yonas and David getting his shoes washed while we shopped. | After shopping, David and Yonas tooks us to Kaldi's, Ethiopian Starbucks. The cream puffs were yummy! | Back in our bedroom at Yebsabi with the traditional outfits we bought laid out on the bed.
51: David drove the three of us to Makush, an Italian restaurant/art gallery, for dinner. We enjoyed conversation, just the three of us, where we could reflect upon our time in Addis. Then we returned "home" for a few rounds of UNO before bed. The next day would be our court appointment where we would see what the Lord had in store. Of course, we were hoping to pass! | Evening views of the city from the Yebsabi roof
52: Our last day in Ethiopia, we were picked up by Big Eyob and our driver to go around the corner and down the street. We were only allowed to bring our passports with us and no cameras. The halls of the court building were lined with Ethiopians. We met up with our AWAA rep in the waiting room. KVI orphanage was the second to be called. We entered the room with the judge and her two assistants. They checked our passports and asked a few questions, then the judge spoke to our rep in Amharic and we left the room not knowing what happened. Big Eyob translated that our MOWCYA letter had not arrived, but everything else looked good. The judge would leave our case open and expected to receive our MOWCYA letter the next week. | Court Day! June 2, 2011
53: We finished with court by 9:25am, so we were able to go tour a coffee factory. | Coffee is the number one export of Ethiopia! | One step of the process is to have these women sort through the beans.
54: After lunch at Makush, we were the only family to return to the TH. We had the entire porch to ourselves. Colton was sleeping when we arrived, so once again we waited until he woke up. | He fell asleep on Derek's shoulder. This was a daily occurrence! | Feeding him his last bottle before heading home. | He did love the music coming out of the iPhone | He was covered in chamomile cream to treat his chicken pox.
55: This afternoon we got to play with some of the older TH kids. Derek spun them on the playground equipment and flipped them in the air. And we played catch with them, too. | Saying goodbye to Yebsabi Room 204. Our home for the week! | At 4:30, it was time to say goodbye to Colton. Big Eyob carried Colton back to his room and we watched his big brown eyes peer back at us over Eyob's shoulder as he turned the corner. Colton's eyes pierced my heart, but the Lord sustained me with peace believing we would be back to get him soon.
56: We Are Home an email sent to our adoption update group upon arriving back to Louisville on June 3, 2011 | "Thank you for your prayers throughout our week of travel! Our time in-country went so smoothly and we know it was because we were covered by your prayers. We have just arrived safely home after about 32 straight hours of travel. It hit me as we were on our leg from Chicago to Louisville how very far away our Colton is and I got out our Flip video camera to replay some videos we took of him in Ethiopia. I miss our little boy and it made my heart sad to come home to an empty nursery knowing how far away he is. I can already tell as I write this email through tears that this final stage of waiting between court and embassy is going to be the most challenging of all. We loved our time in Ethiopia: meeting our son, experiencing the culture and meeting other adoptive families from our agency. Our Ethiopian guides were so helpful and fun to travel with around Addis Ababa. They all gave us big hugs upon our departure. :) We are praying for our MOWCYA letter to arrive next week so we can pass court. The sooner we pass, the sooner the US embassy in Ethiopia will clear us for travel, and the sooner we can bring our Colton home. "
57: Picture update from the Tennant family | Celebrating our son! June 10, 2011
58: Baby Shower #2 June 11, 2011at the Hawkins hosted by Jalynn and Rebekah for all the BFG YC5 Ladies | We played an Ethiopian trivia game and a nursery rhyme riddle game. Jalynn made elephant ears and Rebekah made some outstanding cupcakes. | So thankful Joel, Jessica and baby Claire could come visit for the occasion.
59: Baby Shower #3 June 25, 2011 at the Roy's hosted by Liz, Meghan and Jessica for girlfriends from church | Jessica made this beautiful cake! | Meghan planned the games...my favorite... The Price is Right. Chanda was on my team and we won! | Liz arranged to serve some authentic homemade Ethiopian food for the guests to try.
60: Passed Court! June 30th 2011! Colton is an orphan no more and officially a Brown! | "We passed court this morning! Our MOWCYA letter arrived and Colton is officially our son! We are so excited! Today is a wonderful day! When our agency called with the news the same flood of emotions came over me as when Colton's nanny first put him in my arms over four weeks ago. :) I began crying instantly and my heart was racing out of my chest. I was full of joy! I immediately called Derek to share the news (first making sure he was not perched on top of a ladder) :). Thank you for all of your prayers and encouragement! The next step is to go bring our baby son home! Praise the Lord!" ~email sent to our adoption update group | That is sooo wonderful! I am thrilled to hear the news! What a blessing to have that prayer answered! Can't wait to meet baby Colton! ~ Alyssa Sultze | Tears of joy here also Amy and Derek soooo excited and happy for you. You have waited so long for this day!! I am celebrating with you. Can't wait to meet him!!! ~Auntie Cheryl | WHOO HOO!!!! Congratulations!!! We are so happy for you!! Love y'all! ~ Stephanie Engleman | YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ~ Cousin Aaron | Congratulations Amy!!!! I'm so excited he is "officially" family! Can't wait to meet Colton! ~Tiffany Pace | I specifically prayed that you would get the letter this week. God is merciful and good! So happy for you guys! ~Andy Matthies | Best news of the day! ~ Kristin Stutzman | Our praying paid off! God is so good. We are so happy for you, Derek, and Colton. I can't wait to tell Liam when he wakes up from his nap. ~Michaela | Congrats Derek and Amy!! Cutest lil guy ever! ~Jordan | Your smiles say it all! congrats ~Deanne Gemmill
61: We were so excited to hear that you had passed court. Everywhere I went I felt like shouting, "Derek and Amy passed court!" We will keep praying Colton home. :) :) :) :) ~ Corinne | Oh, Amy...he is adorable. We have been praying for your family. God is so good! ~Judi Cotant | We loved sharing our big news on Facebook, too! My profile blew up with so many comments that my inbox detected them all as spam! :) | Congratulations! He is adorable and we are so happy for your family! ~Nancy Heine | Congratulations Amy! He is so adorable. Those pictures were just amazing and I am so happy for you guys! It has been so fun following your journey through your blog and praying for you. I can't wait to see more pictures as you welcome him in to your home! ~Jill McGuyre | he is beautiful!!!!! love you guys! ~Sarah Vanderpool | awww! so cute and so happy for all three of you :) ~Matt Spillar | WOOHOO!!! So happy for you two!!! This is great news -- I know how long you've been waiting and praying for this! ~Evan Winslow | Tears here too! He is just beautiful! Congratulations!! ~Tara Rigg | The Lord has truly blessed you both!!!! ~Ami Miyahara | There needs to be a 'love' button. Love this!! What a precious moment captured so well. Colton is so incredibly lucky! God is good. ~Cassie (Toews) Bronzan | Tears of joy are flowing in this household for you. This is so precious. Congratulations on your new addition :) We can't wait to meet him! ~Kayla | Everyone was so excited about our little Colton! | Tears here too! He is so precious! We are continuing to pray... covering every detail in prayer. ~Kathy Spillar | This is the GREATEST news!!!! I am soooo excited for you guys!!!!! I just want to give you all a huge hug and then hold Colton!!!! He is soooooooo cute!!!!!~ Betsy Carroll
62: Celebrating another monthly birthday while we wait July 10, 2011 | Pictures of Colton taken by the Langelli family!
63: July 13th: Case submitted to the US Embassy in Addis July 15th: Receive a copy of Colton's birth certificate, court decree and birth certificate July 25th: Embassy requests three additional documents August 2nd: Receive July update on how Colton is doing August 9th: Requested documents submitted to the embassy August 12th: Embassy requests yet another document | His July Update Pictures
64: Colton turns 10 months old on August 10th! We celebrate with angel food cake, strawberries and cool whip. | Some flowers of encouragement arrive from California on August 9th. | August 12th: The embassy requests additional documents for the second time
65: Colton's Babar Nursery
66: August 18th: We receive clearance from the US embassy in Addis Ababa to come bring Colton home! | SWEET!!!! Eyob Derek is in the house! Or will be!!! Like the look of that name on your itinerary! -Papa | congratulations!! We are so excited for you guys! Just matter of days to bring him home! yes! ~Veronica Cummings | Praise the Lord!!! Woo Hoo!!! ~Leslie McMichael | wahoo!!!! praise the LORD!!! oh goody goody....Colton's coming home! ~Michelle Bengtson | We are so excited!! We will pray for your trip and that all goes smoothly bringing Colton home. Look forward to meeting him soon! :) -The Sultzes | Yay! We'll be praying. We WISH we could be there when you touch down in Louisville! In Christ, PJ and Frances (Rock, Key, and Story too) | Congratulations!!!!! That is so awesome to hear. Hope everything goes well in your travels. Prayers will be going your way. -Greg and Jamie Satterly | I already knew this message was on my email because Derek had texted me at 9:30 this morning and my mom called at 10:30. Good news is so much fun to share!!!!!! I have read my text several times today just because . . . but reading your email still brought tears to my eyes. I'm am so excited! Throughout the day your good news would come to mind and I would smile:) I will pray the 3 of you home!!!!!!! Corinne (and Gene, Sakari and Jeriah, too!)
67: Fantastic!!! So excited for you guys!! We will be praying as you make your trip. -Jessica and Barry Joslin | Woo hoo!!!! Great news Amy!! Continue to keep is posted!!! -Tracy Donahou | This is great news! Colton will be so happy to hangout at the Yebsabi Guest House with you guys and I know you both are eager to get him through customs in DC. This time make sure to be more aggressive about which line you stand in ; ) I can't wait to see Colton James Brown after all I only know him as Eyob Good luck with all the details of getting things taken care of stateside. -Auntie Megs | yeah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! so happy for you! I am so excited, I want to book a flight too :-) Have a safe trip, take lots of pictures, and if you want plane advice I am here. Cant wait till you send an email saying "we are all home!" -Brandon, Crystal & Addison | Halleluia!!!!! Ruth and Grampa | Wonderful!!!! Praise the Lord! -Leah Smith | yeah! yeah! yeah!!! -Michaela Shull | Praise our Heavenly Father. -Great Grandpa and GG | Such good news!!!!!!! -Kristy Davis | Praise the Lord!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can't wait to meet him!!!!!!!!!!!!! -Michelle Warkentin | So excited!!!!! -Amy LaRue
68: Embassy Trip to Bring Colton Home August 20th-28th | On Thursday, August 18th we heard news of Colton’s case clearing with the US Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and on Saturday morning, August 20th we set out to bring our baby boy home! | Our living room turned into packing central | At the Louisville airport, ready to go! Little did we know we would spend 8 hours waiting here due to severe weather in Chicago before departing for DC. :( | We made it to DC and Derek is calling our hotel shuttle for our overnight layover.
69: Sunday morning waiting at our gate to board our 13 hour flight to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia! | We arrived Monday morning! After getting our visa, clearing customs, exchanging our money and meeting up with our guides we were ready to go get Colton! | Upon arriving in Addis, our guides drove us to our guest house. We had 15 minutes to check in and prepare to leave to pick up Colton from the transition house, forever. | Gotcha Day! August 22, 2011!
70: Waiting on the porch for Colton to be brought out to us. This time felt so different from 3 months ago. We were just ready to see him! | Back together again! | So happy to be a family of three! | We spent the morning with Colton on the porch, just like we did every day during our court trip. We also met with the doctor to talk over Colton’s medical history. Every one of his nannies wanted a picture with him before we took him back with us to the guest house. He was definitely well loved during his time there and we are so thankful for that!
71: All of Colton's Transition House medical information | Colton's Nannies! | Colton's crib in Baby Room One | Hanging out on the porch while we waited to see the doctor.
72: Bottle time! There was no warming up to his "first outing", we just had to jump right in. :) | Out to lunch at Makush waiting for our pizza to come. | Napping in his crib in our guest house room, right beside our bed, still wearing his outfit from the transition house. :) | Dinner time in the lobby of our guest house. He has done great with eating, switching right over to American formula and baby food with no issues. :)
73: Yep, they had a Bumbo seat for us to use. :) | A little playtime before bed! | Ready for bed his first night with us! He slept straight through the night! Much appreciated by his parents who had been on the go for 30 hours aside from some sleep on the plane ride. :) We loved having him sleep right next to us, so we could listen to his little breathing as we fell asleep.
74: Our second day in Addis we spent the morning at the guest house and then visited the lion zoo in the afternoon | We shared a taxi with the Brannans. Babies aren't required to be in car seats in Addis. It was great to get out and see some of the city again! And I loved carrying Colton in the Ergobaby!
75: The zoo is known for its black-maned lions. Sadly, most of them were feeling lazy that afternoon. There were other animals, too: deer, a guinea fowl, Egyptian geese, and baboons
76: Wednesday morning was the day of our embassy interview! We started the morning going with another couple to pick up their son from the transition house for their Gotcha Day and then off to the embassy. We were not allowed to take our camera along, so we have no pictures from this morning. :( The US embassy building was big and clean. It felt strange to be in Ethiopia, yet on American soil. We waited in the large waiting room for our name to be called. There were about ten other adoptive families waiting and the rest of the people were Ethiopian. When called we went up to the window and answered a few questions. Derek signed a paper and she stamped our file. We were all good to pick up Colton’s visa and passport later in the week! :) It was a huge relief to accomplish this step considering we left Louisville not having a confirmed interview date. | Embassy Day!
77: Bath Time! | The view from our living room balcony | After another doctor visit for Colton and lunch out with the other families from our adoption agency, we returned to our guest house for the rest of the day.
78: The six AWAA children who were staying at Yebsabi with us. | We woke every morning about 6 am to give Colton his bottle and begin the day. | On our fourth morning in Addis, we visited the Holy Trinity Cathedral. Upon arriving, when our driver exited the van he bowed to the ground and prayed. Many people around the cathedral wore white scarves draped around them. Women were bowing on the steps and kissing the door. We removed our shoes upon entering, met the priest, and the guide showed us around. | When Yonas met us after our tour, he said he had picked up Colton's visa. One day early! Praise the Lord! We were so thankful, happy and relieved! | Riding in the van...we did this a lot. On our way to lunch at Island Breeze with Colton's travel packet in our possession!
79: The building is designed in three parts, like the tabernacle. | It had 3 doors: one at the front for the men, one at the side for the women, and one at the back for the priests. | The choir sings in "geez", the language of the Orthodox Church. The congregation cannot understand, but listens while the priest interprets the lyrics. | Trying a prayer stick | By the emperor's throne/chair | The walls were lined with stained glass of Biblical scenes made in Belgium. The OT on one side and the NT on the other side.
80: Some sights along our drive to lunch. While there, we realized Colton's antibiotic was supposed to be refrigerated. :( | Walking along the main road by Yebsabi to Bisrat Pharmacy to buy Colton a new bottle of medicine. So thankful to have access to a pharmacy! | Shopping at Selam Designs! | This part of the city used to be downtown Addis.
81: Out for a family walk around the block in our neighborhood. I loved carrying Colton in the Ergobaby! | Outside the gates of Yebsabi | Saying goodbye to our suite mates for the week: Jon, Jolene, and Efram from New Hampshire. It was sad to see them go because it meant we would soon be leaving, too. | Colton playing with his toy of choice. :)
82: We spent most of Friday at Yebsabi as we prepared to leave that night. We tracked Hurricane Irene as it traveled up the East Coast unsure if it would affect our travel plans. | We went up to the roof. It was a beautiful day! The sun was shining and the temperature mild. We loved hearing the sounds of the hustle and bustle coming up from the main street below. | Women doing their laundry in the yard next door. | A group of donkeys passing by the gates of Yebsabi
83: Going on a final walk around the neighborhood | Around the corner for Yebsabi was a KVI orphanage. Colton did not live in this one, but his orphanage was run by KVI. | We spent the afternoon packing! | All loaded up in the van and ready to head to the airport! I was crying all the way...sad to leave Ethiopia | These outfits had been ready since early July!
84: Hanging in the Ethiopia Airline lounge before our flight. | So thankful to be on our plane! Up until the moment of boarding we weren't sure if our flight would be canceled due to Hurricane Irene. | We had a bassinet attached to the bulkhead where Colton could play and sleep. This was a "lifesaver" for such a long flight. :) | Colton did a fair amount of sleeping on Daddy, too! | Arrive at the airport 6:30pm...10 pm departure from Addis Abba, Ethiopia...5 hour flight to Rome, Italy...1 hour refuel...11 hour flight to Washington DC USA It was a long flight...we were exhausted...we were thankful!
85: Riding the inter-terminal transport to US Customs | Papa and Kiki were there in Washington DC to greet us when we cleared customs! They could not wait to meet Colton! And already loved him very much!
86: Due to the hurricane, we would not be leaving until the next morning. We rested in the hotel for the rest of the day. We needed the rest! | Back at the airport seeing Kiki off to Amsterdam | Sunday, August 28th we boarded a United Airline flight from Washington, DC to Chicago and then Chicago to Louisville. Colton spend the leg to Louisville on Papa's lap. It was so exciting to be almost home!
87: Upon arriving in Louisville we had a big group of friends waiting to greet us! Due to our delay in DC we arrived home right at the end of church on Sunday morning, so our Sunday School class ended class early in order for everyone to come to the airport to welcome Colton home. :) We were overwhelmed by the volume of cheers, shared tears, hugs, and smiles! We are so thankful for the “family” God has provided for us in Louisville! | Riding home from the airport was Colton's first time in a 5-point harness. We weren't sure how he would do...within the 10 minute drive he went from happy, to fussy, to sleeping. :)
88: We arrived home to a decorated apartment with cards, flowers, baby supplies, clothes for Colton, balloons, and food! What a surprise blessing! | We had groceries on our kitchen counter, in our fridge, and weeks worth of frozen meals in our freezer! :) The Lord has graciously blessed us with some amazing friends! :) | In his crib for the first time! And this is when we considered him "officially" home!
89: What a journey! God lead us on a 22-month journey of joyful mountaintops, grief filled valleys and plateaus of waiting. And we are so thankful to have traveled this journey that led us to you: our son,"forever," Colton!
90: Colton’s Adoption Timeline 11/2008-3/2009 Feeling led to adopt 3/2009-6/2009 Researching Agencies 7/2009-10/2009 Decide to adopt from Ethiopia and through AGCI 10/27/2009 Submit Home Study Application to Adoption Home Study Specialists and begin Home Study 11/1/2009 Submit Application to All God’s Children International 11/12/2009 Submit Contract to All God’s Children International and begin dossier 11/13/2009 AGCI Orientation Call 12/2/2009 Begin Adoption Education with Adoption Learning Partners and Eyes Wide Open Workbook 12/21/2009 Complete Medical Physicals 1/2/2010 Complete Adoption Education 1/6/2010 County Certify Power of Attorney 1/7/2010 Get Fingerprinted for criminal background checks 1/8/2010 First set of home study interviews
91: 1/9/2010 Mail USCIS Forms 1/11/2010 Mail Adoption Education (workbook complete!) 1/12/2010 Drive to Frankfort, KY to State Certify Power of Attorney 1/20/2010 Receive USCIS Receipt in mail 1/21/2010 Second set of home study interviews 1/22/2010 Contracted for Life Insurance 1/4/2010 Received last of our dossier documents in the mail 2/8/2010 Submitted Verification of Life Insurance just waiting for FBI clearance 3/1/2010 Get word from FBI it will now be a 13 week wait for our clearance 3/3/2010 AGCI says we must agree to the no corporal punishment clause or terminate our adoption with them. 3/5/2010 USCIS Biometrics appointment at the downtown Louisville courthouse 3/8/2010 Begin researching other agencies 3/26/2010 Officially terminate with AGCI
92: 4/16/2010 Apply to AWAA 4/29/2010 Accepted by AWAA 5/24/2010 Home Study Approved by AWAA and sent off to USCIS 6/24/2010 UCIS Approval Arrives in the mail! 6/30 /10 Dossier arrives at AWAA 7/9/10 Dossier to Ethiopia! 7/14/10 Dossier arrives safely in Ethiopia 10/25/10 Receive our On Deck email! 1/21/11 Received email: wait time for infant boy increase (5-8 months) 3/4/11 Referral Call! 3/4/11 Receive email that MOWA will be cutting back by 90% 3/7/11 Officially accept referral for Colton James and send off first Travel paperwork! 3/9/11 Receive email update that Colton has bronchitis. 3/24/11 Receive email update that Colton has an ear infection. 3/30/11 Receive email update that Colton is healthy again.
93: 3/31/11 Receive new pictures of Colton from the Mowen family! They delivered our first care package. 4/5/11 Receive new pictures of Colton from the Snyder family! 4/5/11 Receive email update that Colton has bronchitis and a cold. 4/13/11 Receive email update that Colton’s health is greatly improved. 4/21/11 Receive email update that Colton has pink eye. 4/27/11 Receive email update that Colton has a URTI. 4/27/11 Receive new pictures of Colton from the Sale family! They delivered our second care package. 5/2/11 Court Date Call! June 2nd! 5/2/11 Receive notice of US Embassy being on high alert due to death of Osama bin Laden. 5/3/11 Book our flights to Addis Ababa! 5/4/11 Received our April monthly update! 5/26/11 Receive our updated I-171H via email! Miracle! 5/27/11 Depart for Ethiopia! 5/29/11 Meetcha Day! We love our Colton James!
94: 6/1/11 Meet with TH doctor. Colton has chicken pox 6/2/11 Court Date: do not pass due to a missing MOWCYA letter. 6/3/11 Return home from court trip to Ethiopia 6/7/11 Updated Visa37 entered into system at the National Visa Center 6/8/11 Receive a health update that Colton has Otites Media and Chicken Pox 6/30/11 We passed court!! Colton is officially ours and an orphan no more!! 7/6/11 Receive a health update that Colton has a fungal scalp infection (tinea capitis). 7/11/11 Receive photos of Colton from the Langelli family! 7/13/11 Our case is submitted to the US Embassy! 7/13/11 Receive a health update that Colton has otitis media and wheezy bronchitis 7/15/11 Receive copy of court decree, birth certificate, and passport 7/20/11 Receive health update that Colton still has otitis media
95: 7/25/11 News from embassy is a request for 3 more documents 7/26/11 Colton’s KVI orphanage will need to redo a document for the embassy 8/2/11 Receive our July monthly update! 8/3/11 Receive a health update that Colton has H.pylori and despepia 8/9/11 Requested documents submitted to the US Embassy 8/12/11 Embassy requests yet another additional document 8/18/11 Clear Embassy and book flights to go bring Colton home! 8/20/11 Depart for Ethiopia! 8/22/11 Gotcha Day! We pick up Colton from the transition home! 8/24/11 Interview at the US Embassy in Addis Ababa! We pass! 8/26/11 Depart Addis for the US! 8/27/11 Meet Papa and Kiki in the Washington Dulles Airport. Overnight layover due to Hurricane Irene. 8/28/11 Land in Louisville to be greeted by about 75 excited and happy friends from church. 8/28/11 Colton is forever home!