Friday, July 31, 2009

Some interesting articles published in Chinese press

Report: teenage smoking still serious in China (July 29, 2009, Xinhua)
The number of young Chinese picking up smoking habit has more than doubled from previous years, despite health education convincing them not to smoke, a Chinese newspaper reported Wednesday. A survey conducted among 40,000 students in Beijing showed 17 percent of students at the primary and secondary level smoked cigarettes last year, up from 7 percent from 2005. The survey found 68 percent of teenage smokers are boys, and 77 percent are light smokers who consume less than five cigarettes per day, China Daily reported, citing the survey results from Beijing's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Among the respondents, 23 percent of boys and 11 percent of girls tried smoking in 2008, compared with 11 percent of boys and three percent of girls in 2005.

13 million abortions in China each year: report (July 30, 2009, Reuters)
Some 13 million abortions are carried out in China each year, in part because there is little education about contraception or disease for the rising numbers of young people who are having sex, state media said on Thursday. Fewer than one in three callers to a Shanghai hotline knew how to avoid pregnancy, and only one in five were informed about venereal disease, the official China Daily quoted a survey by the city's 411 Army Hospital saying. Until the 1990s, doctors asked for women's marital status at abortion clinics, which were part of the family planning system that limited urban couples to one child. Now, government data shows that nearly two thirds of women who have abortions are between 20 and 29, and most are single, the paper said. Birth control information is mainly given to young couples.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Day 4-care center and culture dinner

Day 4 we headed out to the care center. Makaria was actually only at the care center for about 1 month. She was born in Northern Ethiopia and so was under the care of our agency's other care center. IAG was our agency and we would highly recommend them. Our process was wonderful and our trip to Addis was great. So we headed out to the Addis care center in the morning and visited the kids waiting to be picked up by their families. On our way, you see more than a few goats and cows mingling with traffic. We had a massive traffic hang-up one day because we were competing with a RUNNING herd of cows on the highway. I've got pictures, but will post them later. It was really funny.

This is the view as we approach the care center. It was about a 30 minute drive from our guest house-depending on the amount of animals you have to encounter. These goats would be herded right through the city, around parking lots and weave through traffic. I realize I'm a little obsessed with the goats. It was just so funny to imagine a capital city, ie. Washington DC or Beijing with herds of goats all over the place.

We finally got to the care center where Makaria was immediately wisked up by her primary nanny-Tsige. Her nanny cried the second Makaria was put in her arms. The care center was amazing. There was 1 nanny for every 2/3 kids. The kids were wonderfully taken care of and loved. I am forever grateful to the care Makaria received. They taught her to play, to smile and to love. Makaria is so healthy and happy. She's walking already and eats a ton. I'm telling you, it's nothing like the nightmare orphanage stories you might have heard. All of the kids looked really happy and loved.

It was so much fun to get to hold babies and dance with kids. Every hold and tickle helps those kids get ready to meet their forever families. I was an honor to get to help out the process of discovering how to love for these kids. I could have stayed there all day. I can't post most of my pictures because it's illegal to post kids that have yet to be adopted. I don't want to mess it up for others.

This is a play/dance room. It explains why the rhythm of the dryer, the running of the faucets, the patter of footsteps all cause Makaria to break out in spontaneous dance. There's a tv in the corner that plays Ethiopian music. They kids all dance in a circle. The dancing is this sharp thrusting of your shoulders and neck. I tried. I failed. But I did provide some entertainment for the kids there. Saving face can be overrated.

That night we went to a traditional Ethiopian food and dance restaraunt. It was fantastic. The above picture is the coffee ceremony. The roast fresh beans and brew it right there. On the bottome picture, is a friend who got "randomly" picked to dance up on the stage with the dancers. I say "randomly" because we were the only group of whities in the place. We were sitting ducks for being volunteered.

This was the crazy-spin-your-head-around-and-convulse dance. It was wild.

A guy came around with a cistern and platter and had all of us wash our hands before eating. Ethiopian food is eaten with only your hands. This is our group. The man and the woman aren't adopting, but are friends with some of the people in our group. They work for the World Food Program in Tanzania. We weren't totally sure what we were ordering. But we did some pointing at other people's tables and some guess work. The food was incredible. The bread part is called injera. It's sour and takes some getting used to. But by the end of my trip, I ordered it on my own and grew to really like it. Sidenote: I've now had TWO seperate people tell me that I look Ethiopian. So that's probably why I liked the food a lot, it's just in my blood.

Here's all the stews put on the injera. You then break off pieces of injera and scoop up some of the stews with it. The whole night was a blast. Makaria slept through the whole deal, but Brad and I had a blast.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Brick thrower

A brief break in our adoption story simply because it was too good to pass up.

Brick thrower remains defiant (July 14, 2009, Shanghai Daily)
A retired teacher, who sparked nationwide controversy - and a lot of support - by throwing bricks at vehicles that ran red lights on a pedestrian crossing, yesterday defended his action, saying he was protecting pedestrians. Yan Zhengping, 74, became an Internet sensation after he lobbed bricks at 14 cars at the intersection over a period of more than three hours late last Thursday. A large crowd saw his feat and cheered him on in Lanzhou, capital of northwest China's Gansu Province. "I know it was illegal, but I had to do it to raise awareness on the safety of pedestrians," said Yan. All 14 drivers fled the scene in their damaged cars after seeing the crowd. Police interviewed Yan and he was released without charge.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Day 3-pizza and friends

On Day 3, we headed to a place called "Passion Burger" for lunch. Makaria had her first try at pizza and had no problems adjusting to an American palate. I think she downed 2 entire pieces of pizza. Oh ya, I forgot to add that the day that we finalized her adoption (Day 2), was her first birthday!

Back to 'Passion Burger'.

You have to make sure to order 'beef' burgers, or else they default to bringing you goat meat. But we opted for just pizza this time. We went some of the other adoption families. It's so much fun to have these random people from across the globe intersect in time for just a few days. We got to know magazine editors, a casting director for CBS, an air force mom, several Spanish families, a Jamaican American woman, nurse practitioner, etc. It was amazing to process our trip together as a group.

For the afternoon, we headed out to a local market. It was small, but had everything we would want to buy. This cross is a traditional design in Ethiopia. The Orthodox church is a driving force in Ethiopian culture and can be seen in many of the more traditional clothing.

We got our boys some drums like these. They love them. The drums are covered in some type of animal skin and were seen all over the market place.

There is an obvious tourist on the left hand side of this picture :). Ethiopians are fairly small people. The market loved to see us Americans coming. We came with a van load of foreigners, all eager to buy things for their kids. Because of our family size, I don't know if we'll ever be able to go back as a family. So we stocked up on stuff for Makaria to remember her country. The things are beautfiul and most of them hand-made.

Then it was to Zebra Grill for dinner. The place is owned by an adopted child who grew up, came back to Ethiopia and started his own business. We had a Mexican burger and it was wonderful. They grilled meat right there at the entrance and kabobed them. Can I say "kabobed" them?? Anyway, the food was great.

I ran across this boy who lived near the Bole Cathedral. We first met when he followed me and begged me for food. They've been trained to tug onto your leg and say "Mommy, hungry. Please, Mommy. Hungry". It's killer. We gave out food mostly, but there never seemed to be enough. This little guy was 1 of a 3 member group that walked with us as we passed the church. After I was out of food, I took out my digital camera. If you've ever been to Africa, you know that that little machine is a huge hit. So I snapped away, showing each one to them afterwards. They loved it and so did I.

We're getting ready for bed. Of the 11 days there, we only had electicity for about 5 of them. There were scheduled electricity outage days and then random outages too. Many of the times, we ate in dark and if the lights were on, they were being powered by generators. But luckily, it was cool most nights. Here's Makaria all ready for bed. I think this was post her first bath with us time.

That does it for day 3. More tomorrow (or the next day :) ).

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Day 2-embassy day

Day 2 was pretty much embassy day. We went, interviewed,
passed....Makaria was officially adopted! Since there wasn't much
this day, I'm just going to include some really cute pictures a
friend took the other night.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Day 1 (Part 2)-the pick-up

The poverty in Ethiopia is hard to swallow. I'm still processing the whole thing. I'm sure I'll write more on that later after my head stops spinning. These few pictures are all from around the place that we stayed. We were in the capital, Addis Ababa. It's about 5 million people, which actually felt small town to us after having lived in China.

This is the Bole Cathedral. It's one of the larger Orthodox churches in town. They had calls to worship early on most mornings. It actually sounded just like a mosque. And each time someone passed by, they would make the cross sign on their chests. And on Sundays, tons of people would crowd onto the church square all clad in their white head coverings to have communal prayer time.

About an hour before we picked up Makaria, we decided to grab a little coffee from a great place called Kaldi's coffee. Rumor has it that the goat herder, Kaldi, discovered coffee after his goats ate the beans and started acting crazy. Whatever the history, this coffee was incredible. These little frappicino dealies were made with coffee, ice cream, whipped cream, carmel. You pretty much can't go wrong with that combination.

Here she comes. This is from our window on the 3rd floor. They called us and said "your daughter is here, congratulations!" We threw on our shoes and ran downstairs. It's strange to get a phone call letting you know that you are a parent again.

Brad got the first look and Makaria screamed in complete terror. She's with her main nanny that took great care of her. The nanny, Tgise, took wonderful care of her and was crying when she left. It was about a 90 second exchange. Makaria cried and cried for about 15 minutes. I can't imagine how traumatic that would be. And she's been in an orphange in Northern Ethiopia her entire life. About 1 month ago, she was flown down to the care center in Addis. And then we popped into her life. That's a lot of transition for a one year old. We finalized the adoption on July 6th-also her first birthday!

Makaria's totally not feelin' the love at this point. But we got her some milk and walked around with her and eventually got this:

After we hung out in the room for a bit, we headed out for some Ethiopian food. It's this sourdough bread, injera, with different sauces and stews on it. This particular one was injera dipped in a sauce and put on more injera. For those of you who have eaten injera, you know that's too much to take. Brad gave up and ordered lasagna. The injera we had later on in the week was much better. And besides, what meal isn't good when eaten with your hands?!

She's a great snuggler and sleeper. That about does it for day 2. I feel like I'm leaving out so much, but this will have to do for now.

Day 1-leaving China

I'm going to try and chronicle our time in Ethiopia to the best of my ability. I realize now why some people have an entire blog dedicated to their adoption journey. There's a lot here.

I, Carrie, headed to our new city for 2 days to get some apartment stuff ready. It was a wonderfully crazy 2 days of shopping and planning. Brad and I then met in Beijing on July 4th. Our sweet friend, DY was armed and ready to watch our kids for the week.

When Brad and I travel, we have a game day drink that helps get us through the day. Here we are just a couple of hours before boarding.

And here I am just after landing. It was wild to travel with just the two of us. I actually watched a movie, read a book, slept and ate an entire meal all by myself. I had read to expect our luggage to be lost, but we had no problems with anything. After exchanging money, we went out to meet our agency guy. He didn't get the notice that we were traveling from Beijing and not the States, so we had a little mix-up on the pick-up. But we eventually got to where we were supposed to be.

Once we got to our guest house, our agency guy asked us if "we were going to see our little girl today?" We said "no, we will see her tomorrow." This was what the schedule had said, but we found out later on that his question meant that we could see her today. We discovered the miscommunication and were set to see her later on in the afternoon.

In the meantime, we invited ourselves with another family to go to a church service.

Here's Brad with the girl of the family that we went with. It was interesting because she was raised Orthodox and so was really upset at being in a Protestant service. She speaks a minority dialect, so it was tough to get out the whole story. She went running out of the service. So I went outside with her and several other kids and we made up games with rocks, grass and dirt.

It was awesome to get to worship in another language. Something about that dynamic is really powerful to me. It's such a reminder of the church as a whole and how we will one day worship in full community. The music was amazing and it was not at all a quiet, somber service. I loved it.

The church was centered in the middle of a Somalian pocket of town. We were told that they are very conservative and strict in their religious life. But the church works a lot with that community and has seen some amazing fruit.

Ok, so I realize that we haven't even picked her up, but I'm going to leave the rest for the next post because this one is getting lengthy. So the next installment will include the dramatic pick up.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sneak Peak (Coming Home!)

I (Carrie) am sitting in a dark guest house because today is a scheduled “no electricity” day. So I want to post all the pictures and stories we have, but with internet and electricity being spotty, this is all I can do at this point.

The US embassy has approved us for an extended visa. But they can’t figure out how to change the date in their computer. They can hack into secret files from other countries, but can’t change a date on a visa application. I don’t know either. But in the meantime, Makaria and I are hanging out and solidifying my coffee addiction.

Brad here: I just got word Carrie and Makaria are coming home! It's not pretty how it worked out but it at least gets them home. More later.

We promise more Ethiopian posts than you can handle in the near future. In fact, you'll probably get sick of all the coming pictures. Carrie likes taking pictures.

*don’t you love the sign language she’s flashing in that solo picture!

Monday, July 13, 2009


I promise we will post pictures soon.  I actually have a draft up and ready to post once we get our US visa.  We have to wait until all the legalities are over and done with and then we can post away.  I have so much to share and many pictures to show.  


Makaria and I are still in Ethiopia.  Apparently they cannot give us the appropriate visa because the computer won’t let them change the date.  A little frustrated, but trying to be patient.  It feels very ironic that the Ethiopian and Chinese embassies are giving us no problems.  The US embassy though is a different story.  *sigh*


More soon….I promise.

Update on Ethiopia

First things first...yes, we were able to pick up our daughter.

But no, we will not yet post pictures until she is out of the country. She and Carrie are still in Ethiopia. Solomon, in Ecclesiastes, said whatever is done has been done before. Ooops. Apparantly not when it comes to our daughter's visa.

The law states we can get her US visa for up to 3 three years. In other words, we could come back to China, then wait to return to the States with her within three years. The standard visa is 6 months. So, when the US embassy tried to do it, the computer would not let them. So, even though the law allows up to three years, the computer system has not been programmed to allow them to put "2" years into the system (which was our request). I want to tell them, "It's the number between 1 and 3", but that would not be productive :)

She's there day to day. No idea when they will be back here.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Would you rather...?

Would you rather…have a large church or a pure church?

How you answer that question will have tremendous effects in the rest of your theology and practice.

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