Saturday, February 14, 2015

We're Alive!

It's been so long since we've updated our blog, but I promise that we are alive! We are SLOWLY trudging through the process of round two to bring another little person in the the Ferg Fold... thanks to everyone who checks in with us and who links to Amazon through this website to help support us in the journey. Blogger has been having technical difficulty and is linking to another page. Jimmy is working on getting it fixed.... we'll keep you posted!

Saturday, November 2, 2013


Well, we've become those people who never do anything with their blog. We meant to update, but well, life just gets busy. As our minds turn to Thanksgiving, we can't help but remember how appreciative we are of all of the people who have helped to build our little family.

Thank you to everyone who has given financially and prayed for us and other adoptive families. The process of adoption is expensive and trying. Because of your generosity and faithfulness, we've always had just what we needed... usually on the exact day that we needed it.

Thank you to everyone who has supported and been patient with us as we've begun to figure out what it means to be first time parents to an incredibly lively 10-year-old little girl. Most people are amazed at how well-adjusted she is. Most of that is thanks to the amazing friends and family around the world who have cheered us on and given us guidance and grace over the past few months. And the people who loved and cared for our kiddo before she came to us.

As we think of people for whom we are thankful, we can't help but think of the love and sacrifices that women on the other side of the world made to ensure that our daughter had a hope and future. We are forever grateful for, Wude, Annie's Ethiopian mommy. She raised this kid to think critically, act kindly and generously, to be joyful, and to work hard. We are also immeasurably thankful to Annie's aunt, who had the courage and faith to trust strangers to raise Annie well.

For those of you considering older kiddo adoption, it can be beyond words hard. But, for us, every hardship has been outnumbered countless joys. For this, we are thankful.

With love,
Jimmy and Celeste

Friday, October 11, 2013

We're Alive!!!!

So, it's been over four months since we've posted anything on our blog. It turns out when you move across the country, bring home a 9-year-old kiddo who needs to work through some serious culture shock, and start new jobs that life gets a bit nutty.

There are a million-and-one firsts that we've experienced over the past few months. But mostly, this post is just to say, we're alive and doing well. Annie is doing well. She's a happy and well-adjusted and intellectually curious second grader.

And we are slowly coming out of our cocoon. But we're still figuring out life with a little person, so we still reserve the right to blame our growing family on forgetting things that normal people remember :)

Friday, June 28, 2013

Bringing Annie Home!!!!

We are beyond excited to announce that we'll get to bring Annie home soon in the next few weeks! We have had a whirlwind of a month moving, getting re-settled, and doing all that comes along with updating home study and immigration documents to make this possible in the past few weeks. We couldn't have done it without an army of people behind us making it happen. Seriously, thank you... all of you.

So, we should be home mid-July with Annie. As for after we get home, I'm telling you we couldn't make this stuff up. It's real. Google it: adoption + coccooning.... we're not lying... besides, I'm running on about 10 total hours of  sleep for the past few days, so their blog posts on this will be way better than ours :)

Adoption experts suggest "coccooning" with your new kiddo for six weeks to three months. Lots of kiddos who have experienced difficult experiences when they were young have a tough time knowing what it means to have healthy family connections. This often means that they'll sporadically form attachments with about just about anyone for no apparent reason.

So, we will JOYFULLY celebrate Annie's arrival at the airport when we arrive home, but then we'll scale back big time - at least for a while. Cocooning is just what it sounds like - creating a calm and stable home environment where a kid can transition and connect with mom and dad.

Cocooning works differently for every kid, so we'll adjust our plan as we get to know Annie better, but please know that we're not so much in hiding as we are taking the time needed to set Annie up for a lifetime of knowing that we're her people... her tribe (see: Seth Godin ;).

Based on the tiny bit we've read and know about Annie, here are a few things that we'll focus on once she does begin to make her debut out into the BIG world...

We'll ask that you limit physical contact. For quite some time, Jimmy & I will be the only people to hold or comfort her. You can hug her, but please let her see you ask us first- every.single.time - until you hear us say, "Seriously, it's okay. You don't need to ask anymore." This teaches her that we're her protectors and that she should have physical boundaries.

We'll be the only people who feed her or give her snacks or treats. Candy is a big deal for her and we'll be working on setting limits and teaching her that she can trust us to meet her needs. (I know who you are and I know you're going to try to sneak her candy... I'll catch you. I see everything ;)

Finally, when she does something clumsy and hurts herself in front of you, please send her to us. For the time being, let us be the people who make the "owies" better.

In the meantime, we will NOT be people without a kid bedtime. We might not be good at it, but we will work had at having A in bed every day at the same time. PUH-lease for everyone's sanity, please call, visit, stop by, and bring ice cream.

Thank you for your continued support through this nutty journey of adoption!!!!

Monday, May 27, 2013

A Guide to Planning the Court Trip

Usually our posts are to update our families and friends, but this one is for anyone trying to keep their sanity while planning your first trip to Addis for court.

Preparing for Culture Adjustment: If you've traveled or lived in the developing world, Addis will seem familiar. If you haven't, do everything you can BEFORE arriving in Ethiopia to prepare yourself for what you're going to experience so that you're trip can be about bonding with your son or daughter rather than sorting through your emotions because you're seeing true poverty for the first time. And while you'll see a dichotomy of wealth and poverty, keep in mind that Ethiopia is home to some of the world's oldest civilizations. They've done just fine without western intervention and they'll be just fine once you're gone. They don't any of us to save them. I'm just saying... no offense.

Anyway, a few things to read that might be helpful:
Cultural Adjustment: An article that gives a quick overview of the phases of cultural adjustment
A Framework for Understanding Poverty by Ruby Payne: Outlines commonalities found in the culture of poverty; helps identify unspoken class traits.
Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn: A worldwide look at oppression and opportunity and what many women are doing for themselves in the developing world to improve their communities.

Arranging Travel: Use. A. Travel. Agent. We've never used a travel agent before. We judge people who do. Travel agents are for the faint of heart. But, seriously, you're going to meet your kid and traveling to the other side of the world, and you probably had less than 14 days to plan the trip. Let someone else deal with the details and focus your energy somewhere else. We had 2 days notice before traveling, I called Lindsey at Golden Rule and he arranged everything for us - including a hotel for our layover- for less than I found (because I looked) on any website. There are other travel agencies like Golden Rule who specialize in not-for-profit travel, I've heard lots of families use Susan Parr; however, we couldn't have been more happy and will definitely go back to Golden Rule for our Embassy trip. Other than that, if you're working with AWAA, you don't need to do anything. They arrange everything from the moment you land in Addis til you leave.

The Essentials: You'll want other things; however, if you walk out the door with only these three things in your hand you'll be fine.

- Passports for everyone traveling
- $20 cash for each person to pay for your visas in Ethiopia
- CASH you'll be more than fine with $20 per day for two adults; don't count on your ATM or credit card because many places in Addis don't take them

Essentials When Meeting Your Older Child: Sorry, if you're adopting a toddler or baby, I've got nothing for you. Unless you just want to take extra cool stuff for the older kids - who will definitely be around.

- GUM! You can take sugar-free or whatever healthy version of gum makes you feel good about yourself, but seriously, gum is like gold. Eventually you'll want boundaries and a schedule or something, but early on, we believe that filling her want for gum was good for bonding, so we were gum dealers. Sorry to anyone who is sad that we gave your kid gum :) After we set some boundaries and got to a place we were comfortable with, we averaged 3 packs a day- we'd keep give our daughter one pack to share when we arrived each morning, keep one pack handy to give out one piece at a time when kids asked us for it (we really only did this sparingly; otherwise, kids are hunting you down all the time and stalking you for gum), and one full pack to leave with our daughter when we left at the end of the day. I ended up having to buy gum in Ethiopia. No offense, it's just different and more like chewing gum and the kids don't like it as much. Pack bubble gum and lots of it.

- Snacks: Bring lots of different kinds of snacks for yourself and to share with your kid so you get a good idea of what they like. You'll want to bring extras because you're kid is going to want to share with their friends.

- iPad: Before this, I was staunchly in the camp of, "My kid isn't going to play with the iPad. She's going to read and color and play like a really kid." You're at the TH with your kid in chunks of 3-4 hours two times a day. There is only so much reading and coloring and playing that YOU can do without wanting to die of exhaustion. We did monitor the amount of time she was on the iPad, but it was a sanity saver for two jet-lagged parents. And, because I need to redeem myself from this epic parenting fail, most everything she did on the iPad she did with us or with her friends, so she was still being social and interacting with other humans. It was really a community event. That makes it okay.

- Playing Cards: The kids loved card games. They know how to play way more games than you do.

- Toys: Jump ropes, bubbles, bouncy balls, crafty things, beads, paper, crayons, markers, tops... go to your local party supply or craft store and buy in bulk. We ended up taking one or two activities to do each day and had plenty to do with all of the kids.

- Clothes: We took a t-shirt or pants or an outfit every day or so. My original plan was a new outfit every day, but we ended up realizing that it was too much. She was so content and most kids wear the same outfit for a few days in a row.

- Socks and Shoes: I didn't pack socks for her and I almost didn't pack shoes. It was a HUGE mistake! She asked for both of these things.

- Swimsuit and water wings: After you pass Court, you can get permission to take your kiddo out for a field trip. Some people take them to Entonto Mountain, which is cool, but we really wanted to take Annie swimming. We were so glad we did. First of all because she ended up asking if we were going to go swimming. Secondly, because it was AMAZING. Most people go to the Hilton, but we had heard that the Sheraton was nice, so we went there. It was 750 birr for the three of us (the conversion at the time was about 1 USD: 20 EB). This Sheraton is a resort; it is NOT your local neighborhood Sheraton. Bring swimsuits for everyone AND water wings for your kiddo - just in case s/he wants them.

Not So Essential Stuff:
Camera: Take lots of photos... but if you forget to bring one, it's totally fine because someone else will be around with one :)

Clothes: You don't even need enough for every day; the Guest House has a laundry service. You probably want pants and skirts... Shorts - not so much. You can wear them, but you look silly :) Bring one nicer outfit for Court. By nicer, I mean, not shorts.

Shoes: Whatever is most comfortable for you. If you're a freak about your toes, bring closed-toe shoes; even in the city, it's pretty rocky.

Medicine: aspirin or ibuprofen, Benadryl, pepto chewables, some sort of sleep aid, band aids, and Neosporin. There is a pharmacy right down the street from the guest house where you can get ANY medicine that you need.

Watch: You'll need to know sort of what time it is and it's annoying to have to check your phone all the time.

Converter: The one that we used for Spain worked just fine... we got it at radio shack years ago for like $5. The guest house has one in the lobby that you can use if you forget this.

Oatmeal & Mac and Cheese: You end up eating out for almost every meal. We didn't need these, but on someone's suggestion packed them. We ended up eating most of what we packed.

Ear plugs or sound maker: If you're a light sleeper, you'll want these. There are roosters and donkeys all over. They do their thing all night long.

Stuff to Know:
- If you have an overnight layover, you probably aren't getting your bags, so pack a change of clothes in your carry-on.

- When you fill out the forms to arrive in Ethiopia, they told us to put that our primary purpose visiting was for travel or vacation... it doesn't matter that you're there for court or adoption.

- If you arrive in Addis before 4:00 p.m., you'll probably go straight to the TH to meet your kiddo. It's fine if your ugly and jet-lagged and haven't showered for days.

- The I600 and I864 or whatever those papers are called are actually for Embassy so you don't HAVE TO have them for court. If you forgot them or don't even know what I'm talking about, just ask your FC and don't worry about it for now.

- The I171H is also for Embassy. We took ours on this trip and didn't need it. I'm guessing we need it for the next trip.

- If you do arrange travel through a Golden Rule or some other company that does non-profit travel, you are supposed to have a letter from your agency. No one asked us for ours.

- Donation Letter: If you're taking donations - you're supposed to take at least 10 packages of baby wipes- you're supposed to take a letter from your agency. No one asked for ours. They've asked other people for theirs. I think they ask if it looks like you could sell the stuff that you're bringing.

Seriously, I have no idea why you're still reading. All you really need is passports, money for visas, and money for food. Don't worry about anything else. Just breathe.