Sunday, July 27, 2008

Family Reunion- Montreat, NC

We had a family reunion this past week with Dottie's family. We weren't sure if we should go or not but since we were only 3 hours from home we figured we would give it a try. We are glad we went. The boys were awesome and everyone had a great time!Dottie's family

Hide and seek was a big hit. This is Devin attempting to hide on the stools under the table.

(All 6ft. of him!)

Do you see the little person on the rock? That's Kendyl (Devin's sister).

The kids went to the Cradle of Forestry. They loved washing the laundry! (See above and below.)

Family picture at Linville Falls.

Our kids

Joshua on the top of Chimney Rock.

Kendyl and Bereket

Joshua and Kendyl

Feromsa and Kendyl

Hannah and Kendyl (Kendyl likes to take pictures)

Bereket, Hannah, and Feromsa

John breaking the rules!


Everyone at dinner- all 18 of us!

Bereket and Uncle Dennis


All the grandkids. Yes, Dottie is in the picture. Our kids are actually the great- grandkids.

Dottie was the only grandchild until she was 18!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Well we did adopt them!

Brotherly love is such an amazing and wonderful thing. Brothers stick together through thick and thin. A brother will always have your back and not turn against you. This of course is all just a fantasy.

Here is the reality. Earlier today our now oldest son (who has taken his new role as big brother to mean that he is the informer on all things his younger brothers are doing) came to inform us that one of the boys had made quite a mess in the bathroom. We acknowledged him and then asked what he wanted us to do about the matter. He said, "Well, you need to clean it up."

"Maybe you should clean it up" was his mother's reply.

His response, "You clean it up. You adopted them."

Friday, July 18, 2008

Our Boys Learn to wii Box

Our boys are adjusting to America. One of their new joys is to
play on the wii. Boxing is a big hit.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Finally a stinking video!

Well, it has only taken me a few days to figure out how to get this thing on here but here it is: The first time we met Bereket and Feromsa.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A few more pictures from the trip!

Well for some time now I have been trying to load a video on here but me and youtube just don't seem to be getting along. Not sure what I'll do about that. But in the meantime I thought I'd leave you with a few pictures from the trip.

This first one is from the infamous coffee ceremony at the transition home.
This is Feromsa showing us that he likes Tootsie Rolls.

Bereket just smiling.

Since they don't have a blog: here are the Ords and their new son.

This is the boys first night at the Hilton!

View from our room.

Bereket's head nanny is giving him a necklace before he leaves.

Feromsa enjoying some music on the plane ride to America!

First breakfast with new sister in America!

Monday, July 14, 2008

...more than just 2.

Well I suppose I should take a moment to update this blog. I’m trying to put on here a short video of us meeting the boys for the first time but I’m having issues with that at the moment. Hopefully I can get it on here before too long.

Anyway, on with the update. Since I last wrote, a whole lot has happened. Let’s see, I think I last left you with the fact that we passed the US Embassy appointment on Wed. afternoon. Afterwards, we had dinner that night at a nice restaurant, Top View, that was on a mountain overlooking the city. We returned to the hotel for yet another restless night on the beds that are so hard I am sure they are fashioned out of some medieval torture device.

Thursday was a very interesting day. In the morning we visited Kids Care Orphanage where both the boys had stayed. This was particularly special to Bereket as he had lived here his entire life. His nannies there were thrilled to see him but were even more thrilled that he was finally getting a family. We stayed at the orphanage most of the morning passing out gifts and playing with the children. Of course we also had to partake in another coffee ceremony and I’m sorry but coffee is just nasty. We really had a great time here. The kids were all just wonderful and many of us all quickly found a child that given the opportunity we would have gladly taken with us. It’s also amazing to see how happy these children are. In their short lives they have already suffered so much and they have so little but in their hearts there is a sweet, peaceful joy.

After the orphanage we went to have lunch and I noticed that I wasn’t feeling particularly well. The next 24 hours would find me either on the toilet or in bed. You got to love it.

Apparently while I was lost to the world my wife and kids had a great dinner and then spent most of Friday morning and afternoon shopping (lots of shopping). Later, with me still not feeling great we packed up and headed for the airport. At the airport we said our final good-bye to the incredible Robel and began the great journey through airport security. It was a bit time consuming but all in all it wasn’t really that bad. Had I been feeling better I probably would thought it all rather easy. Once we had our boarding passes it was time to sit back and wait. The boys needed dinner so we went to one of the restaurants in the airport. We quickly learned here that Feromsa simply does not like anything that is not spicy and he especially hates French fries. I, of course, ate nothing. Also, in the airport you quickly begin to realize that on the plane ride home you will have lots of company from others who have been in Addis picking up their newly adopted children.

The plane ride home was, well, it was long – very, very long. Luckily the boys did sleep quite a bit and when they weren’t sleeping they were entertained by the head phones and music. I must say Ethiopian Air does like to feed their passengers but I gladly would have given up dinner at 12:00am for a lights out airline and some sleep. For a good part of the flight Feromsa was headlining in the back of the plane. He was talking and talking and talking and the people around were intently listening and laughing. We have no idea what he was saying but it must have been one great story. By the time the plane landed in D.C. we were thrilled to be back home. It took exactly 2 hours to get through security, immigration, and customs but it was really quite painless. For those going after us my suggestion for you at this point is to just follow the crowd. Oh, one little bit of confusion we did have was that at Addis that asked if we were checking our luggage all the way through to Raleigh and we said yes. Well, they are tagged for Raleigh but everyone coming into the country had to claim their luggage in D.C. to go through customs. Anyway, we got through all of this and then learned are connecting flight was delayed an hour. We had one last lunch with the Ords (great people – well, Sarah is nice enough but that Bob guy is just strange) and then tried desperately to find some way to entertain the boys until our connecting flight. We also tried desperately to keep them somewhat quite, which wasn’t easy every time they saw another plane and they would leap with excitement.

We finally arrived in Raleigh and the boys were able to meet Joshua, Hannah, and both sets of grandparents. We also were greeted by some fellow AWAA adoptees (the Shmidts who hopefully will be traveling soon). After another 2 hours and a stop for dinner we were finally home. It is good to be home.

The kids, all 4, have adjusted well. Bereket is terrified of our dogs. Not sure what that is about. They all enjoy playing outside on the new swing set. Feromsa is especially impressed with the Nintendo wii. He loves boxing on wii sports. So far bed time has not been a problem. We have had some issues with Bereket getting up way to early and not wanting to go back to bed but this just may be a jet lag kind of thing. Bereket will eat just about anything, while Feromsa has been a little picky. They do love fruit of just about any kind but especially bananas. I think they eat about 4 or 5 a day.

It certainly is different in our house. What a drastic change 2 new boys have made. It is much louder. A little more crowded. A good deal messier and even though, as my family has so aptly noted, I am a little grumpy today because I’m just a guy who needs alone time and I haven’t had any for about 3 or 4 weeks now and I don’t see any on the near horizon, I wouldn’t change a thing. For one thing has also changed here – the love in the room has grown by much more than just 2.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A very long update!

It is early Wednesday morning (July 9th) and we just
got up from our first night with the boys. Yesterday
was just an amazing day and one in which no words can
really describe. Never the less, I will try to convey
some of all that went on.

The day began innocently enough with a nice breakfast
at the Hilton and then Robel (by the way did I mention
he is not just an incredible guide but an amazing man)
took a few of us to the "supermarket" around the
corner of the Hilton. We then met the rest of the
group for shopping at the post office. I know you are
thinking, "the post office?" Well, there really
aren't addresses here so places are described by the
largest building near them. The shopping area was
across the street from the post office. We had some
fun bartering for goods. I talked a guy down from 600
birr to 220 birr for a carving of the crucifixion.
After shopping we had lunch where I had a BBQ burrito
– good stuff.

After lunch it was on to the transition home to pick
up our boys. We arrived at the home with gifts for the
nannies and the children. The next hour or so was
just sheer chaos. Imagine Christmas with over 30
people most of which are children. It was exhausting
but it was great!

The older children sang songs for us while we
participated in the coffee ceremony (thanks Roger for
drinking my coffee). Then it was time to get ready to
go. This was the hard part. The nannies love our
children and they all hugged the boys and Feromsa's
favorite nanny began to cry. Even Feromsa who was
very excited to leave was now showing signs of
trepidation. Despite all of the emotions Dottie and I
were holding together. We boarded the van and Rachel
came running around to tell us that the man who had
cared for Feromsa for 2 years before coming to the
orphanage had arrived to say goodbye. We got out to
meet him and that was about all I could take. We lost
it. How do you thank this man who found our son
abandoned and had cared for him the past 2 years?
After a very emotional meeting and brief discussion we
got back into the van. However, before getting on the
van I had to collect myself for as Dottie said, "you
will scare the boys." It was a beautiful moment of
blessing and sacrifice.

In the van Feromsa asked, "Daddy have peace in his
heart?" I didn't know what he said but once again
Robel came to the rescue. By the way, I have asked
Robel to come back to the States with us to stay for
about 6 months but he has refused my offer.

We made it back to the Hilton where the boys are
fascinated by the "Lift" or as you and I would say the
elevator. In the room, the boys were into everything.
Looking at everything, jumping on everything, playing
with everything. Feromsa even spit off the balcony
(it's a thing all boys everywhere do). They also love
to just flip through the 20 channels on TV. It
doesn't matter what is on they just like to see
everything. They especially loved the computer.
Seeing all the pictures on the computer is truly an
amazing thing.

We had dinner at the Hilton and the boys did very well
at the restaurant. The transition home often takes
the older children out to lunch after church on
Sunday. As dinner was wrapping up we had to have
Robel explain that we were going to go back to the
room to take baths. Again, did I mention that Robel
is great? I missed bath time because of paperwork
that had to be done but from Dottie's report it was a
good time. When I got back to the room the boys were
nice and clean, in their Spider-man pajamas and ready
for bed. It took a bit to get settled but once we got
the room dark they were soon snoozing away.

It was just an amazing day that was all sort of
surreal. I have noticed that I have started talking
in broken sentences with a foreign accent. I don't
think hearing "Daddy, come" in a strong African accent
will ever get old. The boys are full of energy and
love. They are excited to get to America and meet
their family. All in all, this whole experience is a
gift from God.

This morning we got up early, took showers, did
medicine, got dressed (pray the clothes we brought
fit) and went to breakfast. The boys apparently like
yogurt, apples, and hard boiled eggs. Feromsa noticed
the receipt printer and said, "Daddy, MasterCard?"
Great the boy knows very little English but MasterCard
he knows. We walked around the beautiful Hilton
grounds for a little while, had an interesting
experience in the public restroom as Bereket wanted to
see who was in the stall next to him. All the workers
at the Hilton love talking to the boys. Of course all
the conversations are in Amharic so we have no idea
what they are talking about. They all seem very
pleased that the boys have been adopted.

It is now 8:30 and we have 4 hours until our US
Embassy appointment. It's raining so the pool and
playground are worthless. I guess we will just sit in
our room and watch 20 different TV channels for about
30 seconds each and then keep flipping. Oh and did I
mention that the boys have little concept of throwing
things in the garbage. Most often it is just thrown
on the floor in the room, in the hall, in the
restaurant and wherever we may be. This is something
we are already working on.

That's all for now. We'll post more later.

Update: I have waited to post this so that I can wait
on buying more internet time. Besides everyone who
would read this would be in bed right now so I'll wait
until you're awake. Anyway, I just wanted to let you
know that we hired a taxi (AWAA approved) and went to
buy new shoes for the boys. In the lobby of the hotel
there is a display showing items that are on sale in
one of the stores. Feromsa let me know that he wants
a cell phone and a digital camera. Materialism exists

Another quick update: After a good long wait at the
US Embassy we got right through with no problems. I
have to admit I nearly cried (again) when the lady
said, "You're done."

John R. Raymer

Monday, July 7, 2008

two more pics...

Ok, sending pics from here really takes sometime so
here are two more for tonight and then it is bed time
for this "old" man as our AWAA Yahoo Group seems to
think that I am.

One is the picture Feromsa took of his favorite nanny.
See today's actual post for why this is particularly
funny. The other is of me picking up Feromsa (one of
many of times during the few hours we were there).

John R. Raymer

Trying pics again...

I'm going to try doing two pics at a time and see if
that works.

The first is from the Alert Hospital we visited. The
other is Dottie with the two boys right after we got

John R. Raymer

Update from Ethiopia

Well here is our first blog update from Ethiopia and
there is a lot to tell. Because I'm emailing this in
I'm not sure how the pictures will turn out but maybe
you'll understand the pictures by what I write.

To begin with we had one long plane trip here.
Everything went well. No problems on the plane but man
it was long and there was just no way to sleep or get
comfortable. I am not looking forward to the plane
ride home. For those of you coming after us, getting
your Visa and getting through customs really isn't
that big of a deal. And Robel who is our guide is

We arrived in Addis last night (July 6th) got a quick
bite to eat and went straight to bed. We had
breakfast this morning at the Hilton. Then we went to
the Fistula Hospital. If you don't know what fistula
is then go look it up now. Go ahead; the blog will
wait while you educate yourselves.

Ok, now that you are educated I'll continue. We
weren't allowed to take pictures at the Fistula
Hospital so there are none. However there is a
documentary on the place called A Walk to Beautiful
that you can watch. I was most taken by the fact that
many of the women there would not look at you. For so
long they had been told that they are basically
unworthy to live or to be a part of society. It was
amazing how they would begin to smile when you simply
acknowledged that they were worthy of talking to.

After visiting the Fistula Hospital we then went to
the Alert Hospital for Leprosy. There is a picture
here of one of the women at the hospital. Those there
work at making crafts and other items to sell for the
Hospital. We bought several items here including a
traditional Ethiopian shirt that I can't wait to wear
to church.

Next we had lunch (pizza – that was fantastic) and
then we went to a place for coffee (gross) and ice
cream (deliciously wonderful). We then did a little
more shopping and it was off to the transition home.

We went through the infamous green gate into the
transition home and two boys came running out to me
and Dottie. Big hugs! Big "Mommy" and "Daddy!" Big,
huge, massive blessing! And then, well then the boys
noticed we had a camera and a video camera and we lost
them. Bereket took the video camera and spent much of
the day videoing. Feromsa took the camera and took
many pictures. There is one in particular of his
favorite nanny. I'm guessing that the picture shows
why she is his favorite. Honestly though, about half
of his pictures are of the floor or are out of focus.
Never the less, he had a good time.

The transition home was overwhelming. The boys loved
taking us everywhere to see everything. They loved
being picked up and twirled around. Feromsa is much
more talkative and energetic than we were expecting.
Constantly wanting to play. Bereket spent much of the
day taking videos (we are afraid to watch the video).
However, toward the end of our time at them home
Bereket decided to cling to me. A couple of times a
plane flew over head and he would point and say,
"Daddy." I would say, "Yes, me and you on plane."

As we began to leave the transition home for the night
Feromsa understood very well that we would be back
tomorrow to get him but Bereket did not. It was
heartbreaking to see him trying to get out of the gate
while Feromsa held him back. We had Robel explain to
him that we would get him tomorrow but it didn't seem
to have much of an effect on him. Robel finally just
told me to leave and he was right. Otherwise we would
have been there all night.

After leaving the home, we went to a traditional
Ethiopian restaurant where we had a gourmet meal with
live entertainment and a bottle of locally made honey
wine for nine people. The cost $50.00. Amazing!

Anyway, that is a brief update of the happenings for
the past couple of days. We'll put more on later.
Now it is time for bed.

P.S. If you have a referral and your kids are at the
transition home – your kids are beautiful.

John R. Raymer

Friday, July 4, 2008

We're On Our Way

...well almost. We planned on taking 2 suitcases- we ended up with 4. We could have squished everything into 3 suitcases but that put them on the border of the weight limits! John is currently at Wal-Mart. I think it is our one millionth trip this week. He was getting everything ready for the computer and found that the power cord was broken! At least we found out before we left. Please keep us in your prayers this week. Thanks! John and Dottie

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


This is just a test post to see if we can email to our

(This is a picture of our parents eating at the Ethiopian restaurant in Tampa.)