Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas pics..

We made our best attempt at Christmas photos..it is very hard to get everyone looking especially Milly! Tamirat loves to has his picture taken so he was no problem!! It is still amazing that we are All together!!!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

1 week home...

I'm a few days late at this post but what do you expect with 5 kids!!!! Overall it is going great!!! They act like they have been here forever...they miss their brother and sisters when they are at school though. We are starting to get into a routine and setting our boundaries so they start to understand right and wrong. I really expected them to get into everything because it all is new but they haven't! Tamirat is very interested in Everything especially electronics just like his brother..he already figured out how to call grandma:) Both of them are very independent and very stubborn..so they fit in rather well here! Tommy is quite specific about what he wants to wear everyday but after our first 45min cry-a-thon he realized mom doesn't give into everything! Having 3 children already has helped tremendously I think I would be curled up in a ball somewhere had I never experienced some of these things before. Temper tantrums...throwing things when mad..refusing to eat certain foods( this is not much) not liking bed time alot and so on.. I have to say I am exhausted I pretty much go to bed at night when they do! It has been awhile since ours were little and I never had 2 little ones at once! The toy thing that is new too..Matteo never played with them so the fact that my house is full of them well..we are lucky they already know the Barney " Clean up" song! Tamirat is probably the more difficult one but I think only because he is a boy and he is older. He also has more of a memory of his past even though truthfully they have not shown any signs of being sad or withdrawn or missing anyone. They do love to look at the pictures of their friends from the orphanage(TH). Bedtime for Milly is getting a little more difficult at night, she likes to have someone lay with her and usually not me! she really loves her sister Francesca so when she is mad at me she goes to her. I do not want them to get used to someone laying with them every night but it has only been a week so I am picking my battles! It is a huge adjustment for them. We had a busy first week with visits from family and friends and school functions for their siblings. For the most part they handled it all great but we forget little people tire more easily than we do! Tamirat does Not like large crowds and tends to get quiet or act up when lots of people are around. He takes a while to warm up to new people but then his true colors come out and you see his sweet side! Milly loves to be the center of attention she is our silly girl! They DO NOT like the snow and say "Yuck" everytime we are out and it is snowing! It took them awhile but they have warmed up to the dog for the most part..I spied Tommy snuggling him earlier today, even though he still had a disgusted look on his face..it was quite funny! Here are just a few from their first week home..

Our handsome boy

Our sassy girl

playtime with their big brother Matteo

A fast favorite..Cariboo
 When they are laughing and I am snuggling them I find that my heart hurts. It breaks for them and their biological family, how hard it must have been to give them up..how much they must have loved them. When I kiss them I wonder how many times their Mom kissed their cheeks before she passed away. They are both bright lights that brighten our home I cant imagine the sacrifice. I wish we could send video back to their dad so he could hear them laughing..it is an amazing sound. All the heartache is so worth it to know what an incredibly blessed future they will have. One week down a lifetime to go...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Our airport arrival

A year and a half in the making...We are finally all together!!!! Dec. 11 2010

Love from our Xtreme family!!


Hugs from Aunt Jodi

Love from Big sister!

 Balloons from Aunt Jill

Meeting Grandma!

We are home!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A very long journey indeed but we are finally all together!!! God has blessed us with the most amazing family! Our newest additions fit like they have been here forever. We all arrived home a few days ago to family and friends anxiously awaiting the long overdue arrival of our Ethiopian Blessings! We had an incredible reunion with  the kids in Ethiopia. It had been a little over a month since we last saw them but they ran into our arms like it was yesterday! They we so excited to see us.. We left that day with them in hand and headed off to the rest of our lives together! It was so surreal! We waited 18mths for this day and it was finally here! The first night I don't think I slept a bit as I watched them sleep in the bed next to me. To be able to hold them and comfort them after months of praying for them half way around the world. We had so many tough times during our wait but it is all forgotten now that they are here! It is so hard to explain how grateful we are for such a blessing. All the anxiety.. all the worry.. all the what ifs... so not needed! God had it all under control! These kids were hand picked to fit perfectly! We have had an amazing transition, they have had no fears..they sleep good(well almost;) they eat great and they get along wonderful with our other 3 kids! I'm not saying we don't have our moments..they are 5 and 3! Tamirat understands almost everything we say in English and he even helps explain things to Million if she doesn't understand. They are both potty trained which is HUGE!!! I am in awe at how wonderful it is! I'm writing this while they are napping because they give me little free time when they are awake:) They both have the sweetest laughs and the most adorable smiles! They best is when they run to me saying Mommy!!! We are so excited to see what is ahead!!! Here are pics of our Gotcha Day!!!!!!!

Leaving the orphanage for good!!!!!!!!!!!!! Our first day as a family!!!!!!!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Counting down..

We are counting down the days till they are home for good!!! 5 days till we leave!! 7 till Gotcha day and 11 days till we are home as a family of 7!!!! It is surreal that after this long they are finally coming home..It's for real!!! Finally all 5 kids on the same continent..in the same house!!! The kids have been busy getting ready for Tamirat and Milly to come home. They made a paper chain to count down the days..
We also decided that this was the perfect time to use our Africa cookie cutter!! I bought it sometime last year but we were saving it for a special occasion! I think the kids coming home is a perfect reason!! They took cookies to school to share with their teachers too! This has been a long process for all of us but imagine how hard the wait is for kids! They have been asking "when are they coming" since we mailed the application! So many teachers in multiple schools are also excited to see an end to our long journey! They all have shared stories and pictures and even video's with their teachers, classmates and friends!

Lots of excitement in our house...I can't believe it is almost time!!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bless an Orphan for Christmas..

Tis the season for giving.. this year in place of presents for each other my husband and I are going to change an orphans life for a whole year! No we are not giving back the ones we are adopting:) We are keeping them forever!!! BTW 3 weeks till they are home!!!! What we are doing is sponsoring a child in Uganda. A fellow bloggy friend of mine has decided to be the "Hands and Feet" of Jesus. She quit her job and is moving to Bugabo Village in Uganda. There she is starting a school and praying to get sponsors for all 220 children! I'm sure you have heard of sponsorship programs. This is where you pay a monthly fee to sponsor a child, usually $30 per month. Well with her program you can sponsor a child for a WHOLE year for $100! This will cover their uniforms,shoes, tuition, school supplies,a meal a day at school AND medical/dental as needed! Yes all for $100! She is living in the same village with the sponsor children so you will be able to see the difference you are making in their lives! Instead of wasting money on gifts that will mean nothing a few weeks after Christmas, choose to make a lasting difference in a child's life! Check out her blog to find out all the info! She is a true inspiration! She leaves for Uganda in a few weeks..we need to pray that we get sponsors for the rest of the children..so far she has sponsors for 80 children. Lets pray for 220!

Here is a peek at her blog post..

sponsor a child for Christmas..
Here's what you need to know about sponsoring a child in the Bugabo Village:

•Cost - $100 will cover tuition, uniform, shoes, school supplies, a meal during school, and medical/dental visits (as needed) for one year. I would prefer the payment in a lump sum. However, if you can only pay monthly, let me know so we can work out the details.

•Child - I will get pictures and profiles of the children when I get to the village and will post them in an album on Facebook. The profiles will tell you specifics about the child (name, sex, age, parent(s) names, favorite sport, how many brothers/sisters, what they want to be when they grow up, favorite color, favorite food(s), and favorite animal) and this info will be listed in the caption of each photo. You can then comment under the child you (or your family) chooses. If you are not friends with me on Facebook, add me by clicking on the badge in the right hand column :)

•Communication - I will be right there in the village, so communication with your child will be as often as you want to check in with him/her. This will be in addition to the normal communication - exchanging actual letters, and pictures with him/her when I come to visit the States. I also have a brand new laptop that some friends bought for my ministry that has a webcam on it, and have been daydreaming about the children using Skype to communicate with their sponsors. This is something I think your family would really enjoy, especially if you have little ones at home.

•Concerns - God has just recently revealed to me what my ministry is for Him. Due to this, I do not have a 501(3)c to make your donations tax deductible at this time, but I am praying about when I can do that. Until then, if you are more comfortable donating to an organization that will give you a tax deduction for your donation, please leave me a comment and I will give you suggestions. Please note that the Bugabo Village sponsorship is only $100/year and the other organizations are usually a monthly commitment of $30-40/month.

You can sponsor by clicking on the "Donate" button in the right column or by sending a check to:

Christie Cotney

PO Box 401

Alabaster, AL 35007

I pray she touches your heart as she has many others...these children need you! Everyone of us CAN make a difference!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Tickets are Booked!!!!

So in 2 weeks we will be boarding a plane headed to our kids!!! Lets just say we are a little excited!!!! This time we are flying Emirates..last time we flew Ethiopian airlines. It was awful!!!! Let me explain..it was clean and the staff was friendly but it is way too small of a plane to be on for 16hrs straight! Absolutely no leg room..your knees were against the seat and if someone decided to recline they were in your lap! We flew through Rome where we had to stop and refuel. We sat on the ground for over an hour and you could not get up and walk around the whole time you were on the ground. On the way home we took the scenic route! We flew from Addis Abba to Rome then we flew up by GREENLAND then back down to D.C. and then back to NY. It took us forever! We chose them because the price was better. This time we lucked out the price for Emirates was better! We will be on a HUGE plane! A double-decker! Hopefully this will make the trip a little easier...as easy as 16hrs on one plane can be. On the way home we will have 2 toddlers to occupy our time! Flying to Africa twice in 8 weeks has been very costly! One of the biggest portions of our adoption. We were blessed to make enough money for our tickets for trip 1 but trip 2 is double the cost. We are praying we hear good news on a grant we applied for to help with the costs. If you ask me though I would pay what ever cost I had to to get our kids home! We know that God will provide a way..

So here it is:

Sat Dec 4:     Leave Buffalo at 4:58pm- Arrive JFK at 6:30pm    TIME: 1hr 32min
                      Leave JFK at 11pm headed to Dubai (aboard the big plane:)    TIME: 12hrs 30min

Sun. Dec.5    Arrive Dubai 8:30pm  Here we have a forced overnight layover.. hopefully we can see a little of the city and get some sleep! Our first trip we went 24hrs with no sleep!

Mon Dec. 6   Leave: Dubai at 8:25am
                      Arrive: Addis Ababa  Ethiopia at 11:25am  TIME: 4hrs

Now the rest is unsure. We will get picked up by someone from our agency and then probably taken to the Guest house or To OUR KIDS!!!!!! I'm unsure if Monday is our Gotcha day or not?? If it is this is how I am guessing things will go...

Monday Dec.6  Go to TH and be reunited with our children. This is called Gotcha day! This is the day they will leave with us and never go back! Lots of crying and Praising God on this day! Yes I will take lots of video and pictures so you can cry too!

Tuesday Dec.7  This is the day we do our embassy paperwork and maybe some sightseeing.

Wed. Dec. 8  Embassy appointment this is not like court so I'm assuming everything will go as planned and they will start preparing our kids visas.

Thur. Dec. 9- Dec 10 Sightseeing and shopping

Fri. Dec 10   Leave: Addis at 7:35pm
                     Arrive: Dubai 12:35am                 TIME: 4hr

Sat. Dec.11  Leave: Dubai at 2:05am
                      Arrive: NYC at 7:20am               TIME: 14hrs 20min in all ( this is the big plane again)

                      Leave: NYC at 12:05pm We are flying Jet blue  TIME: 1hr 19min
                      Arrive: home at 1:24pm!!!

So if you are local and want to welcome us at the Airport we get in on Jet blue at 1:24pm on Sat. Dec.11th at the Buffalo Airport!!!

This is the day we have been waiting 18mths for! The day our whole family meets for the first time! The day we are united as a family of 7!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

They are coming Home!!!!!!

After 19 mths of waiting and praying..our children are coming home!! We got the word today that we have an embassy appointment on Dec. 8th! This is the day we will go to the embassy to get our children's visas. It is 19 days away till we have Gotcha Day! This is the day we pick them up and keep them FOREVER!!!! They will stay with us from there on out! I already have their suitcase packed with new clothes, PJ's shoes and toys! Next I start Christmas shopping!!! I plan on having all that done before they come home as I will not be able to be taking them everywhere. Actually after we get home we are going to keep things kind of quiet. We know everyone wants to meet them but we ask for a little while that we let them settle in and bond with us for awhile. They are used to seeing many people and having many caregivers, but they need to learn that we are mom and dad and we are there for all of their needs. Anyone who would like to greet us at the airport are welcome!!! I think Francesca is trying to get her whole 8th grade class! As time gets closer I will let you all know the time and place.

Today was also a very emotional day we received their birth certificates with our names on them as their parents!! I have been dreaming about this month for 19mths, it is almost surreal now that it is here. This adoption as been a true test of our faith but it has also strengthened it. Please continue to pray as we prepare for our trip and as our children prepare to leave the only country they have ever known. Everything will be new..the car..the hotel..the shower..the food..the airplane ..the language..basically everything! They will be coming home with people who have only spent a small amount of time with them and who do not speak their language. It will be an adjustment for all of us. We are so excited I cant even explain it!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Waiting on embassy...

So more waiting...after court a whole bunch of papers have to be compiled and then submitted to the US embassy. At this point they either approve us to travel for our visa appointment or they start an investigation. At this point they are still working on gathering our paperwork, they are hoping to submit it all on Monday. Here is the problem..they are only allowed to submit paperwork on Wednesdays!!! So it should've already been handed in!!! They are praying that the US embassy will agree to except it all late!!! If they do we could possibly be traveling to bring our kids home on Nov. 22nd. If they don't except it late we are looking at Dec. 8th! Either way or kids should be home for Christmas!! I know its not that far away but every day seems like an eternity. It will be 18mths since we started this whole journey...the whole time we have been wishing for time to go quickly so we can get them home. When I look at all our children all I want is time to slow down. Just since July, Tamirat and Million have changed so much! I'm sure once they are home and get healthy they will change and grow even more!!! For the most part they are both healthy but  Milly has been congested with a cough since she got there. I really want to get them home and get them healthy!!! Until we can go please pray that they stay healthy and that we can have everything prepared on this end to bring them home! Here are a few more pics from our trip:)

 YUM!!! Her first fruit snacks!
 Daddy and Tamirat
Million going up the slide for the 100th time!
 The kids with one of their nannies
 Our boy..Tamirat
                                                                                                           Catch me Daddy...


Say What???

Our silly girl

Walking from the younger TH to the older TH..Daddy and Tamirat are up ahead

Sunday, November 7, 2010

My heart is in Ethiopia

It has been 1 week since we got back from Ethiopia..It is so amazing how quickly you fall in love with the people and the country. You can feel love where ever you go. You know even in the worst environments and worst situation there is..Love..Faith..and such a love for their children and families. We met so many wonderful people there. It will be hard once our adoption is over, we will miss them all! I secretly think the reason many families adopt again is not just because they want to adopt another child but because they miss Ethiopia! Now don't quote me on that:) That is another thing that I know we will struggle with..the NEED!! There are millions of children there that need homes that are aching for a family. I am so thankful for the 2 that we are so blessed to be adopting. Although my heart aches for the ones that are left behind. I think that's why us adoptive parents become such advocates for adoption. We see the need, we experience the blessing. We so want to grab everyone we know and say " Please Help!!!!" We know not everyone is wanting to be an adoptive parent but there are so many ways to help and so many children that need it. We visited 2 orphanages while we were there and it was heartbreaking. After what I saw in Haiti I thought I would be prepared but nothing can ever prepare you for the heartbreak in a child's eyes. Many of them were sick, or skinny. Some had rashes on their skin. Most children were in tattered clothes with shoes 2 sizes too small. Babies were 3 to a crib with no mattresses, no sheets or blankets and most disturbing of all NO DIAPERS!!! All of the children are starving for love, many are reaching to be picked up but you can only hold so many. They all try to hold your hand and get your attention. How do you walk away??? How do you say I cant help??? If your child was dirty, hungry, lonely, scared..what would you do??? I know our children are loved and being taken care of but they are still in an orphanage. They all sleep in 1 room, they eat on the floor, and although they get hugs here and there I'm not there. They don't get held just because, they don't get read a book to sleep..they don't get lots of kisses..they don't get told I love you! For months we looked at pictures and knew they were going to be ours but they were there and we were here. Now that I have held them and seen my heart is aching for them. If I did not have 3 children at home I would be there..They are now legally ours so if I were in Ethiopia they could stay with me. We are now waiting on all papers to be compiled so that the US Embassy can issue their visas. They cant leave Ethiopia without them. Pulling out of the driveway that day was so incredibly difficult. They are young so I do not know how much they understand of this whole process or even realize that they are now our family. I know I got it! Hugging them and kissing them and saying goodbye was awful. I left my heart there with them that day and everyday away from them is so painful. I really pray that as others watch us go through this journey their hearts are and eyes are opened..there are children all over the world..over 147 million orphans!!! If all of us helped in someway think of the lives we could be changing.

Here are just a few of my favorite shots..most were taken when driving through Addis.

The women of Ethiopia are so beautiful

 Daddy and Million
 Boys all over the city shine shoes to make money to help support their families

A Priest taking a rest

 Some clergy from the church

This shot is my favorite

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Our Blessings at OneTrueMedia.com

They are legally ours forever!

They are ours!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Praise God! We are now the proud parents of 5 children! On October 29th an Ethiopian judge declared them legally "ours"!!!!!!!!! Tamirat is 5 yrs old and Million is 2 1/2. We are so incredibly blessed!! They have the sweetest personalities!!!

Our week in Ethiopia was amazing!

We flew in Sunday night and waited anxiously for our meeting the next morning! MEETCHA DAY!!!!! We would meet our children for the very first time..something we had been praying for for 17 months! It was amazing....
Monday:   We spent hours holding them and playing with them! I was so nervous about meeting them but it was amazing!! So worth the months of waiting! They have the most adorable personalities!
Tamirat is so smart and cleaver. Also very mischievous! Million is so sweet with the most adorable laugh. They will fit in with our other children so well..They were definitely hand picked by God to match perfectly with our family! We are so blessed!

Our first hugs!

Tuesday: This was meetcha day for all the other families! It was wonderful to experience this with them! So many adorable babies!!! This was also the day the Braun family were reunited with their 4 children forever!!!!! We spent more time with our children this day also...

Wednesday: Today we did some souvenir shopping and we went to a traditional Ethiopian dinner! Yes we also spent time with the kiddos!!! They are so full of energy!!! They had us running all day!!! You forget what it is like to have 2 toddlers running around! We can not wait to get them home! We also got the chance today to take pictures and video for other families who are waiting to bring home their children!

Thursday: today we visited 2 orphanages...this was a rough day for all of us. They do the best they can with the resources they have but  it is just not enough!! We pooled our money and bought 10 crib mattresses for 1 orphanage and other families are bringing other supplies this week. After the visits we went back to spend more time with our children!! By now the kids are really starting to bond with us! I love to hear them say mommy and daddy!

Friday: Oh boy this was a very rough day...First we started out easy with a tour of a local coffee factory..this was to take our minds off the fact that the birth families were now in court giving their consent to us adopting their children.. Then we got to meet the birth father, this was very emotional for us. He is an incredible man who loves his children very much. His sacrifice is so huge but he knows he is saving their lives and giving them a better life. It is so hard to express how blessed we are and how much we love him for trusting us to raise his children. We have pictures and video that we will be able to share with the children some day.

We told him we will make sure he gets updates and photos of his children often. He will always be their Dad. We gave him a book full of pictures of the kids, he was so happy! He is such a sweet man, humble and he has such amazing faith and trust in God. We told him we had been praying for God to place us with the right children and that we knew God had put us all together. It was so wonderful to meet him and hug him and tell him how much we love the children and how we will make sure they always remember him and his incredible sacrifice.

Later was the moment we were waiting for: Court! We all filed into the waiting room to wait for our time with the judge. I was so nervous when we got called in..after a few questions she very quietly said "They Are Yours." The best 3 words I had ever heard!!! They are now irrevocable ours forever! Tamirat and Million Alleca!

Our first picture as an officially legal family!
This was also the last time we would see them until we can go back and bring them home forever..we pray it will be very soon. We are hopeful for Thanksgiving week or early December. In the mean time they will stay in the care of the nannies and God will watch over them for us. We will now start preparing for 2 incredible children to be part of our lives forever!