Got this in the mail the other day...the document that says Eliyas--well, Getabalew--is a US citizen. He was a citizen when they stamped his documents at Passport Control in Seattle upon arrival, but at 6:30 AM, after 26 hours of traveling, we didn't do a ton of celebrating. Still some court appearances to do here, but he's a citizen!
Clowning around...instead of practicing piano, I think.
We had a snow day Monday, so we walked over to the neighborhood Starbucks knockoff...played a little UNO. I think Eliyas won each hand. I hadn't thought you could be "good" at UNO...but he has caused me to revise my thinking on that.
Sandy took the boys and a friend to the zoo yesterday.
A few of you have asked how things are going. Overall, quite well. Maybe you can see that Eliyas has what we call in our house a "big personality." We've thought a lot about such things because Peter does, too. And for the most part those two bignesses work out pretty well. They really enjoy each other. Once in a while there are brother spats.
And I'm not deluding myself that everything is all set and just fine now. But so far, things have gone better than I had dared hope.
Eliyas is doing nicely fitting in at school, learning English by intensive immersion. He understands a lot and speaks some. He's social, like Peter, so we have barely slowed down on doing hospitality and having their friends over. Well, more often Peter's friends and Eliyas just joins right in.
I'll try to get you in some sort of blogspot infinite loop. Go here to see a story about us in the local paper. The story includes a link to this blog, so you can just keep circling around between the two!
Here's one photo from the story.
I guess I should tell you that both boys are far better foosball players than Sandy and I. It's a good and easy game to play with them, though. Better than ping pong because it's logistically easier--you never have to chase the ball across the room. Peter is quite good at ping pong, though. Someday soon, I suspect Sandy and I will get soundly beaten at that, too.
We've had plenty of challenging moments, but we're working through them. Two Sundays ago, Sandy had what we discovered was a miscommunication with Eliyas, and he got disappointed and upset about what transpired. So, this past Sunday, Sandy navigated a similar situation very differently...and much more effectively.
A lot of learning to do...for all of us. Peter is hanging in there quite well. As big a personality as he is, and as much as he always wants to explain everything from his perspective, he's been forbearing and self-denying a little more than he used to be.
I get a little tired of talking about "growth mindset" at school--we speak of it so much that it's almost cliche, but there really are going to be a lot of growth opportunities for all of us in this. If we keep ourselves open to it...which isn't always easy.
We've been back 2 1/2 weeks. And while every moment hasn't been picture perfect, a lot of things and most of the time has gone really well.
We went to the snow one day...and that went very nicely. We all enjoyed it!
Matching Oregon Duck jerseys, gifts from Jackson and Miranda.
And we've played some foosball (among other games).
Most of us (those who don't surrender 8-2 leads) enjoy that!
Eliyas cheered on the Huskies against Alabama....
It was a quiet and understated cheering.
They both started back to school, and that has gone pretty well. We've socialized with lots of families/kids, some from school, some not. He's jumped right in with that.
We also went to a party for Orthodox Christmas, where we met several other families with Ethiopian adoptees. They reported some of their difficulties upon their return. One father said their two daughters didn't speak at home for two weeks. No words--except at school--for two weeks. Eliyas has periods (up to an hour or two) like that....Maybe 3 or 4 in the 18 days we've been home. So, pretty good, really. He's spirited, expressive and fun...and he hangs in there with Peter. If you know Peter, you know that's something!
It's 10:45 PM in Dubai. Exactly 12 hours later than in Tacoma. We'll be departing Dubai at 3:50 in Tacoma's afternoon. Morning here. We're trying to get some rest, but it's pretty hard to do so. Kind of bright, not the best chairs. And a bit noisy. Blue Oyster Cult--Don't Fear the Reaper--is playing just loud enough to be a bit annoying. In fact, I found it amusing that Emirates was playing The Eagles and Van Morrison (all three flights so far) over the PA as we boarded the plane.
I think Elyas is already asleep, and Peter will make it soon, I hope. I doubt much will happen for me...unless things settle down a little more.
Went to the McDonald's in the airport...next phase in Elyas' Americanization!
Everything went like clockwork--TB test got read at 9 AM. To the next hospital...and they were quick quick. Arrived US embassy about 11:15. Our local agent--the masterful and resourceful Mr. Wondo (wan-doo), he of the taking the money for the immigration applications while the attendant went and copied something we needed--did his work, and we had our "interview" about 12:30.
It wasn't much of an interview...and they were very accommodating, promising to have the visa ready at 2:00, at which time Mr. Wondo would pick it up and meet us back at the office at 4 to give us all the paperwork.
Like almost everything else, we had to endure one unexpected bump. We arrived at the adoption agency office at 3:50, and Mr. Wondo wasn't there yet. His phone was in an "unavailable" mode, so Yosef surmised that he must still be at the embassy--where you must turn off and check your phone.
So Yosef took us back to the hotel, then returned to the office to wait for Mr. Wondo to return. Yosef collected the documents, then brought them to our hotel!
So, it is now 6:15, the documents are in hand, and Sandy is organizing our packing. We are set to depart tomorrow afternoon!
If all goes as expected (and I'm more confident about that with what remains than I had been with the earlier stuff--because I'm more familiar with tomorrow's "stuff" than the other), we should be at the 4 PM Christmas Eve service at Faith!
Thanks for your interest, support, encouragement, prayer, etc.
And thanks for reading.
With love and gratitude,
Andrew (for all the Miltons)
Our new friend in whose class I spoke has an evacuation plan (well, her organization has one):
Drive to Kenya.
Not much of a plan, really, but about all they have, I guess.
It's calm here. The only thing that might be connected to this problem is that we get searched on the way in to things--like the national museum and Kaldi's Coffee. That and you do see army personnel [sorry, I was wrong...it's federal police] about...with substantial weapons. Old AK 47s, it appears.