Our Ethiopian Adoption Journey

Monday, February 28, 2011

First Update...

We’ve been back for 2 weeks now, time is flying by. We received Isaac’s birth certificate last week.  His name appears as Munir James Boyle and we are named as his parents. Seeing our names on his birth certificate made everything seem even more real to us. We can’t legally change his name to Isaac until he has lived in Ontario for 1 year.  We also received the translated court decision documents that states that our adoption was approved and the file is officially closed! The last document we are waiting for is Isaac’s Ethiopian passport. Once we receive it, all the documents will be sent to the Canadian Immigration in Nairobi.  We will then be waiting for his facilitation visa to be issued so he can enter Canada. We are hoping the timeline is still around 8 weeks from our court date but unfortunately the process is very unpredictable. Since Isaac will be entering Canada as a Canadian citizen, we will be able to apply for his Canadian passport right away.

We also received our first monthly update for Isaac from the transition home in Ethiopia. He will be 8 months on March 7, he weighs 7.7kg and his height is 70cm.  He is in good health. Below are a couple updated pictures.  We can’t believe how much he has changed in such a short time and it looks like he is being fed well!  We miss him so much and can’t wait to see him again.

Monday, February 14, 2011

We're Home!

The flight home was very long. We left Addis at 1am and arrived in London 8hrs later. We flew Ethiopian Air and will never use them again.  We were packed in like sardines and it was very uncomfortable.  We had an 8hr layover in London so we went into the city for breakfast and to walk around a bit. James bought Isaac a little Liverpool soccer outfit from Adidas, it’s so cute!  The flight from London to Toronto was another 8hrs but on Air Canada.  This was a great flight, it wasn’t full so James and I split up so we had lots of room.  We arrived in Toronto around 6:00 Saturday evening. It is really good to be home.

We had a great time in Ethiopia! The poverty was overwhelming but the people were so friendly and genuine.  We met some wonderful people and we saw some beautiful places.   Overall, we like Ethiopia very much but Addis was very polluted mainly due to the emissions from all the old cars. The driving was absolutely chaotic at best, there seemed to be no rules whatsoever.  People would walk right in front of cars, I constantly thought we would hit someone.  I was told that if a driver hits a pedestrian and they die, it is automatically 15 years in jail.  So even though it looks like they will hit someone, they really won’t.

We really enjoyed our time with Isaac and we are so thankful that we passed court. We are hoping for a speedy immigration process so we can get him home as soon as possible.  Thank you everyone for all your support and prayers, it truly means a lot. We will continue to update our blog as things happen with our adoption.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Amazing Visit with Our Son!

The pictures tell it all! We had many to choose from but could only post a few. Isaac is perfect and we feel so blessed to have him as part of our lives.  He was well worth the wait! The transition house (foster home) is great and we feel confident that he is in good hands.  It was great to share this wonderful day with our new friends Aila and Barry from Vancouver, as they also met their 2yr old son. We are heading home tonight feeling really happy and now we wait for the immigration process which currently is taking about 8 weeks but could be longer. Once we hear that Isaac’s visa is ready, we can travel back to Ethiopia to bring him home.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Not so down day......

Last night we went out to an Italian restaurant called Makush with 4 other families to celebrate passing court. We had a great evening! The restaurant was attached to an art gallery so everyone bought an original piece of art from an Ethiopian artist.

James woke up with a bit of a stomach bug so our down day at the Sheraton pool turned into a down day in the hotel room. Not too fun for either of us. James is feeling much better now so we went out for a bit of a walk tonight.

Isaac was moved to the transition house today. We are being picked up at 10:00am tomorrow to go see him. We thank God for this opportunity and we can’t wait to finally hold our son. We brought him some gifts from home. We are giving him a blankie from Granny and Grandpa, Sophie the giraffe, a couple sleepers, a stuffed toy, and 2 toy photo albums with pictures of our family. We will give it to him tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

It's Official.......

Isaac is our son!!!!!!!!!! We are still in awe and disbelief, but we passed court this morning! Thanks for all your support and prayers, it paid off.

Isaac is being moved from the orphanage to the transition home run by Imagine staff.  We will be spending some time with him on Friday morning and will be able to take pictures at that time.  Currently, the immigration process is taking approximately 8 weeks but could be longer.  So we could have him home as early as April!!

We’re off to a museum now, but we had to let you know the awesome news!

Blue Nile Gorge and a visit with Lucy and Ardi

Today was a good day, Dawn is feeling much better, and Afroland arranged another driver/guide, Meki, with a van to take us on a day trip to the Blue Nile Gorge/Falls and the Portuguese Bridge. Near the village of Bahir Dar, a two hour drive from Addis, we came to the parking area, we walked to this bridge, called the ‘Portugese Bridge’ locally as it was built by the Portuguese in the 17th century from limestone and ostrich egg. It is the dry season, so it is very dusty and brown at this time and the waterfall was a bit of a trickle. However, we have been to the grand canyon and this was an equally impressive experience.

Along the highway to this bridge, we met a steady stream of men, women, children, some herding scampering goats, a few cows and donkeys all walking towards Bahir Dar for the market. Some women carried open umbrellas to ward off the sun and others 50-60 lb bundles of fire wood. From time to time, we had to wait until a reluctant cow or donkey would be switched and prodded off the road ahead. This photo shows the typical landscape and scant greenery.

On the way back to the hotel we stopped into the Ethiopian National Musem to visit with Lucy and Ardi the oldest two homids, 3.2 and 4.4 million years old respectively, found in the ‘craddle of civilization’ in the Ethiopia’s Awash Depression.

We went out for dinner with 2 other Canadian couples from our adoption agency that are staying in our hotel. It was nice to connect with them.

Tomorrow we are in court, and we are planning for the worst and hoping for the best as there are some recent minor paper work issues affecting a few families. If we pass we will get to visit with Isaac as our son Thursday or Friday, if not we will be coming home and awaiting a 3-4 week delay. More details tomorrow, and please keep us in your prayers.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

A night out and a day at the Merkato!

After yesterday things are very real for Dawn and I. We can’t believe we are in Africa, but we are really enjoying Ethiopia and meeting Isaac was a life changing experience. Addis is crazy and charming all at the same time and the people are wonderful despite the poverty. It is hard to put the city into words, but we are very surprised by the amount of building underway and the efforts to keep the streets clean. One thing we have learned, and become more comfortable with, is the lack of ‘curb appeal’. The city is behind gated homes, restaurants, and store fronts, and there are high rises going up all over the city. I have counted at least 30 buildings going up in the city center and many are an effort of the government and land owner to provide housing and renew the city. However, the wooden scaffolding is mind bending when you consider some of the structures are 20-30 stories. If you look closely you will see a few guys working on this building.


Last night Dawn went to bed very early and I went out and sat on a patio with 100 Ethiopian men around two fires watching the premier soccer match of Chelsea vs. Liverpool on a projection TV under the stars. It was a once in a life time experience after meeting Isaac to walk the streets of Ethiopia alone through the neighbourhood of our hotel (I walked about 5 km) and spending the night on the patio watching the game.  I saw some crazy things, but felt safe the entire time. Not to mention that Isaac’s team, Liverpool, won the match much to the delight of his countrymen (Eric, you would like the Ethiopian soccer fans).
Today Dawn was feeling a little better (she is continuing the antibiotics), and was well enough to shop! Afroland lodge arranged for Markus to be our driver/guide and off to the Merkato we went. Merkato is the largest open air market in Africa, covering several square miles, and is just organized chaos - but great fun with a guide.

From there we headed to the top coffee shop in the city, in coffee’s county of origin, the best macchiato ever! And Markus was great company.

With our renewed energy the three of us drove to the top of Entoto mountain to views of Addis and a visit to a 800 year old rock hewed church. Great day, but we where so tired it was Indian take out for dinner in the hotel.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Meeting Isaac!

This day started pretty horrible for me.  I woke up at about 5am with a bad case of Montezuma’s revenge, if you don’t know what that is google it! I think the bugs that cause this are 10x worse here in Addis than at home or anywhere else. We had a big day planned, we were going to go to an International Ethiopian Evangelical church service in the english speaking zone, we had an orphanage visit planned to meet Isaac and we were invited to dinner at our Ethiopian friend’s house. Unfortunately, we had to skip on the church service and dinner at our friend’s.  There was no way I was missing the trip to visit the orphanage, I managed to pull it together and was able to go.  We had to change our pick up time to 3:30 instead of 2:30 but we went!

We arrived at Abenezer orphanage. It was about a 20min car ride and it was situated in a residential neighbourhood behind a large wrought iron gate.

There was a a large courtyard for the children to play and all the children looked happy as they were playing.  We arrived with 2 large bags of donated clothing for the orphanage.  The owner was very thankful.  Thank you to our small group and our friends in England for your generosity, it was very much appreciated.

The orphanage director took us into the nursery where there was 8 cribs and 8 babies.  There he was in the first crib staring at us with his big brown eyes.  He is the cutest little guy ever and it felt so surreal to finally see him in person. We didn’t get to hold him because he isn’t legally ours until we pass court. We got to hold his hand, and touch him.  We told him how much he is loved back in Canada, and there are many people that can’t wait to meet him. He couldn’t stop staring at us and the look of confusion in his eyes as if he was saying: “Why are you strangers acting like you know me, when I have no idea who you are?”  He strarted to cry a bit and was immediately picked up by one of the caregivers who just adores him.  It really made us feel good that he is loved and obviously had a special bond with this caregiver.  While the caregiver was holding him, he grabbed on to my hair and tried to grab James’ glasses.  He felt more relaxed and gave us some big smiles.  We got to take pictures of his crib and caregivers but unfortunately we could not take any pictures of him until we pass court. Our visit with Isaac was very memorable, and we feel at peace that he is in good hands but most importantly he is loved.

After our meeting with Isaac, the orphanage director had a traditional ethiopian coffee ceremony prepared for us.  We had a chance to talk to her and found out that she lived in Toronto for 11 years .  She moved back to Ethiopia 5 years ago to open Abenezar orphanage.  She is a wonderful lady and we really enjoyed talking to her. Overall, it was great experience and one we will remember forever.

Pool Day!

We started the day with breakfast delivered to our room (included in room rate).  We had cinnamon french toast with maple syrup and coffee and tea.  It was very good!

Today we decided just to chill out!  We went to the Sheraton for the day and lied in the sun and swam in the pool.  It is very nice there and quite reasonable to go for the day.  It was a beautiful, sunny day although there was a cool breeze which made it chilly at times.

We went to a mediterranean restaurant called Serenade for dinner. It was really good! It is very inexpensive to eat out here compared to at home.  So far we have been very impressed with the food here and there are many good restaurants to choose from.

Tomorrow we get to meet Isaac! He is currently at Abenezer orphanage in Addis Ababa.  We are being picked up at 2:30 tomorrow and we can hardly wait!! We will only get about 1/2-1 hr with him.  We have to remember to call him Munir, the last thing he needs is 2 strangers gushing over him and calling him Isaac. Don’t want to confuse the little guy too much.

Stay tuned!

Saturday, February 05, 2011

We Arrived in Ethiopia!

We took the red eye from London last night on Ethiopian Air. The flight was just over 7 hrs, needless to say we didn’t get a good night’s sleep at all. We arrived in Addis at 7:10am and our ride was waiting for us. We arrived at the hotel, Afro Land Lodge, and it is nice and clean and the staff are extremely attentive.
James has a friend (Teshome) that lives in Ethiopia, he actually was James’ dad’s doctor. We gave him a call and he picked us up and took us out after we had a couple hour nap to get refreshed. We had a great afternoon/evening with him. He took us to a mall where we had lunch. We then went to the Hilton to exchange our US dollars to birr, and we had coffee by the pool. We went to the Sheraton which is the most luxurious hotel in Ethiopia, it was absolutely stunning.

Teshome took us on a short tour of the city and we stopped at a Ethiopian Coptic (Orthodox) church where evening prayer was taking place.  We ended our day at an Ethiopian restaurant called Habesha.  We had a traditional Ethiopian meal while live Ethiopian dancers and singers entertained us. Teshome’s daughter, Lydia  also joined us.  Thanks Teshome, we had a great time!

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Our Last Day in London!

Today we finally feel like we’ve gotten over the jet lag.  Today was a fairly relaxing day for both of us .  James got up bright and early to go golfing with Eric, they were both in their glory.  They started with a full english breakfast at the club house and then golfed 18 holes. James would like to say he kicked Eric’s butt but that would be a lie, Eric took this one (but not by much!).  They had mutton pie for lunch, wouldn’t be my first choice.

When the guys came home, Isabelle and I went to Guilford for some shopping. The town was very quaint with lots of nice shops. We had high tea at Angel hotel which was really good.  When we got home, the guys made an attempt at making homemade fish pie for dinner.  They had some problems, but the finished product was yummy!

Tomorrow we are off to Ethiopia!  We are flying with British Midlands and it is a 7 hr flight. It’s only a few more days before we finally get to meet little Isaac, we are really looking forward to it!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Not the Pyramids.......

Today we were suppose to be flying to Cairo, good thing we aren’t. We managed to cancel our Cairo trip including our flights without losing any money. It’s actually nice that we get to spend some extra time with our friends in London.

This morning we went to Stonehenge, it’s not the pyramids but it was pretty impressive and just as old.  Again, it was very cold today and we froze our butts off. We are both suffering from jet lag so we had a lazy afternoon just hanging out and relaxing.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Our Busy Day in London!

We had a great day in London yesterday!  Eric dropped us off at the underground (subway) at 10:00 and it took about 45min to get to the city.  We met our friend Jon and started our day with the original London double decker bus tour.  We saw most of the major tourist spots such as Big Ben, Tower bridge, Buckingham Palace, Westminister Abbey and much more. It was quite cold out, not the kind of freezing cold we get in Canada but a damp cold that  chilled you to the bone.  We still had to sit on the top of the bus to get the full experience, it was freezing! I forgot to mention the bus tour was 2 hrs long.

We then went to The Rock and Sole Place for fish and chips (yes again!).  It was delicious!

We headed over to the London Eye which is a large ferris wheel with breath taking views of the city.  It took us 1/2 hr to go around, it was amazing!

We walked around the city some more before heading to Brick Lane for some authentic Indian curry, the national dish of England.  Brick Lane is a street with nothing but curry houses and the shop owners negotiate with you to get you in to the restaurant.  It’s quite the experience and we had a great dinner for a very reasonable price!

It was a great day and we were tired with the jet lag kicking in full force.  Thanks Jon for spending the day with us and showing us around!