Tuesday, August 25, 2009

New photos! 10 months old...

A wonderful family, who was just in Ethiopia took some adorable photos of our baby. I cant believe it.. she is standing up!!!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Very Special Story....

Baby Amara has a very special story. I want to share this story for a few reasons. One, is to commend the adoption agency we chose. They really did a lot for us when we really needed it. Two, I think all prospective adoptive parents should be aware of the many unknowns when it comes to this adoption process. I was asked not to share it until we passed court, because our adoption agency made special arrangements for us during the time period when we received our referral. Which we are so grateful for!

When we received our referral, it was so exciting and eye opening. We received the call from our case manager and she was telling us that there was this little 3 month old baby. She was very very small. She only weighed 5.9 pounds...at 3 months old! Also, that they were not going to send us photos until we agreed that we would consider a "special needs" referral. Which is understandable, they didn't want us to feel guilted, or feel bad if we decided to not accept it.

One thing that we were a little surprised about was that our home study stated we were open to a child with special needs. So with this referral, this baby was considered special needs due to her low weight. The low weight wasn't really what we were concerned about, we were very concerned with the medical report. It was of course..pretty unclear, but then had some things on there like Chromosomal abnormalities, which could be minor or very major. While waiting to receive more info from out CHI, we decided to have our Dr take a look at her report...and photos. CHI agreed to send the photos to our DR.

The next day, we visited our doctor, he looked at her medical report and photos. He felt she would be ok, as long as she would get better nutrition. He didn't seen any signs of Chromosomal abnormalities, but couldn't see why that was on her medical report!!? The report was so vague.

We tried to get in with Children's Mercy Hospital, there is a doctor there who runs the International Adoption Clinic. We were told it would be TWO weeks before he could even look at her medical report. Lucky, my best friend Kristi, knew a nurse that worked at the hospital and was able to take her medical report to the International adoption clinic Dr to let him review it! After all that, he said, there is just not enough information to give us any feedback.

So, one week has passed, and we were still waiting for CHI to obtain some more information. They were able to get more photos for our Dr's and during that time the baby was moved to the House of Hope. At least there, we knew she would be getting better nutrition and medical care.

On Friday evening Jan 30th, 4 days after we received the call, my good friend Joan called me and was very excited about something. She just had dinner with another couple and she had told them about our adoption story. They all then realized that one of their mutual friends, Dr. Andrew Kaufman a neurosurgeon in Kansas City, had just left for Ethiopia. He was on a medical mission trip. He loves teaching doctors in Africa.

His friend Saul was put on the phone with me. He told me he was 90% sure he could get a hold of Dr. Kaufman and see if he could go to the House of Hope to see our referred baby. Immediately, I emailed our agency and explained what opportunity we had to have this Dr. visit the baby and let us know what was going on!

Within a few days, we had permission. I remember waiting until the middle of the night, because of the time difference, to call Dr. Kaufman to let him know we had the OK! I gave him the director of the House of Hope's cell phone, and prayed he would be able to make contact!

Friday morning at 2 am, John and I could not sleep. We were anxiously waiting for Dr. Kaufman to make it to the House of Hope. We just couldnt sleep knowing that just a few hours we would know really what condition the baby we referred was in.

At 5am, I looked at my blackberry and had an email all the way from Ethiopia. The email was titled -

Email Subject : I have a very good report

Amanda & John:

I finally made it to the home and was very impressed; more of that in a moment.

I had the good fortune last evening of meeting a young American woman who is studying child development and currently working in an orphanage in Ethiopia. She was able to prepare me for the visit and was extremely helpful in educating me about malnourished infants.

The home is well out of the center of Addis, perhaps a 15-20 minute drive from the airport. From the entrance gate to the grounds, living areas and children's rooms the place is probably the cleanest and best maintained home I have seen in two visits to Ethiopia. Please do not expect American standards but this place was cleaner than any hospital, home or hotel in which I have stayed or visited.

Tseguy is a sincere and marvelous fellow who was completely open in not just answering all questions, but spontaneously amplifying upon the issues. He is a former school teacher. He himself found the place (an empty deteriorated home), plastered, painted, cleaned, bought all furniture, etc. On the grounds they have two guest apartments and use a nearby guest house if necessary.

Your child is in a room with four other children. Each "nanny" is assigned to three children. Your child is currently taking 60 cc (2 oz) of formula 12 times daily. She is held for all feedings (I have a movie of a feeding). I have a photo of the jar of formula being used as well as several additional photos and movie clips.

The child has a completely normal neurological examination. I see absolutely nothing in her physical exam that would indicate any chromosomal abnormality or other physical defect. She is clearly malnourished. However she is very alert, sucks very well and has seemingly normal sight and hearing. She clearly followed me and my brightly colored hat from side to side. She cried only briefly while I was examining her. Otherwise she had a very calm satisfied demeanor, and yet was completely alert and attentive at all times.

She seemed most happy and content when I was holding her. She often was spontaneously sucking a finger when not being held. When fed she immediately responded with a good strong suck.

She is clearly not yet at 3 months of physical or emotional development, but that would seem to be consistent with her nutritional status. Her exact age is in fact not known.

I had the pleasure of meeting two American mothers who are here to receive their new adoptive children. One is an undoubtedly Jewish woman from Indianapolis adopting a 6 year old child. Hers is not a fertility problem; she has three natural born children and now wanted to adopt a fourth and at age 40 did not want more diapers to deal with, but more important feels that the older children of Ethiopia should not be overlooked. The other woman is adopting a newborn. Both are extremely pleased with the care and attention their children are receiving, their accommodations and their visit here.

I am very impressed with this agency and the fine work that they are doing. I hope this is helpful to you.

Best regards,



I will tell you, that was the best email I have ever received - in my life! Things were clear and we knew she would be OK. We were so fortunate on how all these events turned out.

We are so grateful to the amazing group or people who made this possible. Dr. Kaufman and his wife Lynn, Ron and Joan, and Saul and Sherri.

So here we are now. Just a couple weeks away from meeting our baby Amara. What a story. I cant wait to continue this adventure.

Amara is now 17.5 pounds, and looking wonderful. I have received so many wonderful stories and reports from other families traveling to the House of hope to pick up their babies.

This is Amara when she was 3 months old and 5.9 pounds - so so tiny.

This the video Dr. Kaufman took while he visited her at the House of Hope-

Amara Eskedar is now 9.5 months old. She looks happy and healthy, and we will be seeing her in just a couple WEEKS!!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

We passed court today!!

I am so happy to acutally say and type those words! We PASSED court. There were times where I couldnt imagine saying those words. Its been a bit of a bumpy road, a lot of waiting and a lot of wondering if this adoption would ever go through.

We are so happy to introduce to you, our daughter Amara Eskedar Zabel. We cant wait to bring her HOME!! Just a few weeks away.....


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Ohhh Please let it happen!

Tonight while we are sleeping, hopefully a judge in Addis Ababa will approve our adoption case and we will become the legal parents of Baby Tiny. Its been a long wait since the day we first set eyes on the tiny baby who I hope will soon be our daughter. (144 days waiting or 20 weeks to give you an idea!)

Last night, I had a wonderful surprise when I came home from work. Our adoption agency had a video of our baby and sent it to us on disk! It was taken last month, and it was wonderful! BabyTiny is kicking, smiling and looking really good! She is a little thing, and its good to see we will still be able to experience many firsts with her, that I though we would miss out on! We cant wait to get our hands on this sweetie pie!

Please send your positive energy my way, we would love nothing more to finally pass court and on to the next step to travel to pick up our baby.