Visiting Lalibela

Visiting Lalibela

Monday, June 29, 2009

Great weekend with family and attachment thoughts

This weekend was very busy on the family front. Gavin met Papa and Myrna Friday night. It was a great introduction- with him being very comfortable with Papa (the man) and warming up to Myrna very quickly. By the end of the night, he was joking with both of them.

Yesterday, after the girls sang at the Rock Stock, we drove up the mountain to meet the Mangus Crew--again, he was very comfortable with Curtis, Benjamin and Noah and then warmed up to Maria, Jacqueline and Bernadette. We're so blessed to have such supportive family who have welcomed Gavin with open arms and treated him just like he's always been with us. We can't wait for all of the other cousins to come to TP this summer!!!

On attachment- Gavin is doing so very well at home. He says more and more each day and is so joyful. When we're out in public, he becomes very withdrawn and leans into us for all he's worth. This is so good! It means he is attaching to us and seeks us for comfort. So, my wonderful friends, who have been so supportive through this process, please understand if he's not overly friendly with you right away, it is exactly the response we are hoping for! As he becomes more and more confident with being a member of our family, he will start being a little more outgoing. What we were hoping not to see, is indiscriminate affection. We are so thankful that he doesn't run up to just everyone he meets and want to be held! Since day one, he has wanted to only be with us. God's grace is covering this entire process. Thank you for being understanding.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

2 pounds in just over a week!

We just put Gavin on the scale at Dr. Bower's office. He's gained 2 pounds since we got home! I think he's also growing height wise, but we'll measure that at a later visit.

We've had a busy few days- Slippin and Slidin in the backyard was so much fun! Yesterday, we went to Kendrick Pool and he went down the big slide twice with me-- I'm amazed everyday how resilient he is and open to adventure. I'm enjoying hearing, "Hey, Mom!" and then looking at whatever he wants to show me.

I just have to say, again, how great the other kids are doing. Layne is so kind, all day, even when the toy she has gets grabbed away. I need to spend a little more cuddle time with her this weekend, with Mike home. Elli, Janika and Kael are really enjoying Gavin and again, are so patient with him. Thank you, Lord for my family.

Have a great weekend! We get to meet Papa and Myrna today and then enjoy my big girls singing at a concert in the park tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Health Update and random thoughts

We got Gavin's bloodwork results back and verified that he is healthy (barring a need for some more iron in his diet)! Dr. Bowers thinks his iron levels will correct on their own with his new American diet...He eats just about everything, except sour things and dairy products and lets us know quite quickly when he doesn't enjoy what's on his plate- the faces he can make!!

We spent most of the day yesterday up at the cabin. It was a terrific day! Gavin has now seen the horses twice, but isn't quite ready to want to pet one yet. He's met several nice TP folk, and still prefers MEN! Bill Rader was a huge hit- we'll have to visit his cabin regularly. Elli, Jani and Kael had a terrific fishing day- catching and releasing about 10 fish in about an hour's time. Gavin and Layne played in the sand, building and wrecking several sand castles--all in all a great Wyoming mountain day!

We were met with some very interesting questions/statements from a little girl who visited our cabin. She plainly stated, "You can't have 5 kids!" My reply was "Sure I can." She then asked things like, "What does he call you?" "MOM! I am his Mom!" The funniest comment though, came when she said, "Well you really only had 4 kids and adopted one." This really is funny, since Layne looks so much like us all. I think she was very suprised when we told her Layne was adopted too!

So- here are my random thoughts--I wish more people had at least 5 kids, especially if it meant removing some of the 143,000,000 from the ranks of orphan. I wish more people could see all of the faces that we saw in Ethiopia, street orphans who have to beg daily to get a bite to eat or a drink of water, the beautiful faces warehoused in orphanages, hoping someone will come to love them.
I wish more people would embrace the idea of family, no matter what it looks like.
I find it interesting when I hear people say, large families are "JUST WRONG" There is absolutely nothing wrong with loving a child, whether it is biological or adopted, even if it means your family is larger than others. Every child wants the same things, whether it is in the U.S. or in Africa- they want a Mom and Dad to love them. They want to be fed and clothed and feel safe and they want to laugh and have fun! In my opinion there is something "JUST WRONG" when a child is not loved.

Finally, just because my son is from Africa, he doesn't understand "Hakuna Matata!" This is directed to the nice lady who stopped by as Gavin and Janika were riding bikes and Janika told her that he didn't speak English yet and was from Africa!! She said, I'm sure he'll understand what I just said to him!!! The funniest part of that is, Janika thinks she was serious!! I think that will definitely be in our top 10!!
Those are my thoughts.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sorry it's been so long

My good friend Kristi reminded me that I haven't blogged in a while. I apologize- On Thursday Mike and I celebrated our 15th anniversary!! We also attended the most beautiful service to remember Ana Olson, hearing Pastor Tony declare that we are all adopted by God- Ana was also adopted into the Olson Family, where she came to know Jesus as her Savior. It really was the most beautiful memorial service ever and a testimony to her sweet spirit and love for her family.
Friday was ROUGH- just being really honest. Gavin needed to have some blood work done to give us some sort of baseline for his diet and to verify the labwork done in Ethiopia (It all showed he was very healthy in Ethiopia). It was very traumatic for him, as he didn't understand why we were doing it. We had to go twice, with a little help from Valium the second time. Dr. Bowers earned her doctor's badge again, drawing blood on a most unhappy Sweeney and her nurses were incredible. Hopefully we won't have to do many more of that type of visit. For families in the future- I would recommend finding out how your child responds to needles, before heading into the physician when you get home. It might save you several hours of screaming.

We learned that Benchi is a tonal language with 6 levels of tones- I think we may have heard them all. Thankfully, though, the incident gave him an opportunity to finally grieve some of the changes he's gone through, something he hasn't done up until now and really needed to.
Mike was awesome, getting down on the floor with him to console him. He definintely is Gavin's favorite person, a true Dad of all Dads on this Father's Day. I hope he knows how very much we all love him as he heads off to Pinedale to work again this week!!
All was forgiven, though after a nap, which is when we captured a video of my boy dancing to "I Like to Move it Move It". He really can move it--cracking us all up with his antics. He's been super happy the rest of the weekend, when we're at home, playing, laughing and dancing. He did well at church this morning, but did get a little overwhelmed in the crowd--again, Daddy saved the day and went to Childrens Church with him.
Overall, he's adjusting far better than we ever dreamed and is attaching to the entire Sweeney family. He's very affectionate to all of us, especially right before he falls asleep. Here's a picture of him having a snack while watching Janika gut Elli's fish--our fishing made us think of our new friend Billy Foote and our desire to get them out here for some Wyoming fishing!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Video from yesterday

Elli had a lot of fun yesterday putting Gavin on her laptop video. He thought it was hillarious and this morning when we were looking at them again, he cracked up. He has the same reaction to the webcams, when we were testing them and then when we chatted with Mike last night. Gavin absolutely loves to see himself, whether it is in the mirror, the digital camera or on video. We take technology for granted, but for someone who lived in a mud hut before, this truly is amazing and worth giggling at.

Last night was a fantastic night for this Mommy. After a little bit of tickling, Gavin crawled into my lap, curled up into a ball and stayed there for 1/2 hour. We rocked and I rubbed his back. I really didn't expect him to cuddle so soon, but cuddle he did and didn't want to stop. We then gave him his first bath- he's been taking showers up until now- another 1/2 hour of pure delight. He put his head under while prone and on his back, kicked his feet, let me wash his hair and NEVER stopped smiling. After lotion and teeth brushing- he climbed into bed and was out!! He has slept all night ever since we've had him. My boy is just SO VERY HAPPY!!

Today is his check-up with Dr. Bowers. He met her yesterday, because we had Layne in there for strep (she is much better today). We weighed him yesterday- 39 pounds! That's up 2 pounds from his referral weight. I'll be really glad to sit with Dr. Bowers and make a plan for him..he seems so healthy so we'll see what she thinks.

I've got to run...Have a blessed day! Travel Group we miss you and are anxious to hear how all of your beautiful kids are doing!!

Monday, June 15, 2009

From Elli

This has been such a great experience. I'm just thankful for all of the prayers because we had a great trip and I have a wonderful new brother. He's been exploring new things and building all sorts of things with Legos. He is great!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Great first night for us but sad news from some friends

We arrived home last night to the news that the daughter of our dear friends, and business partners, Terry and Remelle, had gone to be with the Lord. Ana had heart surgery in Denver, the day we left for Ethiopia. For some reason, her body did not recover and she needed a subsequent liver transplant a few days ago. Friday night, she went to see Jesus. Olson family, we love you so much and our hearts are breaking for you, yet rejoicing at the same time, as we know that Ana knew Jesus and is with HIM now! Your encouragement through our adoption of Gavin has been incredible and much appreciated. You continue to be in our prayers.

All of the Sweeney kids slept through the night and Gavin has been playing with toys and Legos all morning. He was delighted with a flashlight, cracking up as Janika shined it on him and then the wall. He is now friends with the big dogs, Nick and Bailey.

On the family front, I have a very upset tummy and frequent trips to the potty. Flagyl is my friend, with Cipro possibly making a visit tonight, if things don't slow down a little. Janika just started making the same trips to the bathroom, so I've started her on the bactrim. We would appreciate your continued prayers for health as we get to know each other.

We are home!!

After more than 35 hours of travel- we finally pulled into the driveway. I don't know how Mike drove those last two hours- I would have driven us off the road. We all clapped when we pulled up to the house, so Gavin would know the trip is done (all of the Ethiopians did this every time a plane would reach it's destination, so we thought it might help here). He was thrilled. My sister and family left a care package for him here that was perfect- he loved the cars instantly. Thanks Murrays! Also, Dan made his bed for us and put up his welcome home sign--thank you so much. He understood us when we said, "Gavin's bed."
The funniest reaction though, was to our dogs, as he was very excited to see them THROUGH THE GLASS, even licking it back at them. Hopefully, tomorrow, he'll want to meet them up close.

A few thoughts on the trip..the kids all did so well, no complaining, even though it was beyond exhausting. Layne spiked a fever on the last leg, so I'm sleeping with her to watch her tonight..prayers are appreciated--she was such a trooper all week, a true joy to be around.

Imagine yourself living most of your life in a remote mountain village,with probably no electricity. Then imagine flying around the world, experiencing escalators, moving walk-ways, the lights of Chicago O'Hare, thousands of people and flying in a plane. Our little guy handled all of that with many, many giggles. He was delighted in all new things, especially seeing the sights in a window seat from Washington to Chicago.
Gavin is repeating anything we say, unless it starts with an F sound, but tries really hard to say even those words. He knows about 10-15 words already and is fun to watch scour magazines, pointing to things to ask how do you say that?

Thank you for your prayers and support. We are dead tired, but thrilled.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Becoming a Sweeney...

Our bonding process is progressing better than we could have ever expected.  Gavin is having a great time, Layne is enjoying a playmate her age and the “big” kids cannot get enough of either one. 


We met the kids from two different orphanages yesterday and that experience has already had a profound effect upon our family.  Stacy and Ellison were able to visit the orphanage that took Gavin in and met with the people who knew more about him and his family than we could simply glean from court documents.  He grew up in a village more akin to a Kenyan lifestyle than that of Ethiopia and where many of the children have been relinquished to orphanages due to disease and poverty. 


The happiness of the children in their state of need is amazing to us.  It is so healthy for us, as Westerners, to see people happy in their lives although they have nothing.  Things truly do not equal happiness. 


The staff and owners of the orphanages are doing such a great job with what little resources they have.  At the least, please pray for them; if you feel moved to do so, they need our support.


Remember, Ethiopia is the only remaining Christian country in Africa.  These people are indeed our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sweetest words ever

Yesterday was a long but good day.  We passed our Embassy appointment, as did the other families who went with us.  Three families are going today.  We confirmed our flights home--yes, we are heading home tomorrow night.  Hopefully, Gavin's bed is in his room when he gets there (we believe in you Carroll's Furniture).  He LOVES to pretend that he's asleep, in his bed, pullls the covers over his head and then we say, "Where is Gavin Dawit?"  We then take the covers down, touch him and he cracks up..his smile and laugh are infectious.
This morning, when he was in the shower, he called Kael's name really loudly.  We were all so excited to hear him talk that we then made a game of it--all running to the other room and waiting for him to call our names to run in and give him a hug.  He can say all but Janika and Layne.  Hearing him say "Mommy"  was just as sweet as it was when all my other kids said it for the first time.
Gavin's favorite person is definitely Mike.   He lights up when he sees him and runs to him with open arms throughout the day. 
Today is the orphanage visit day.  We don't want to take Gavin to the orphanages, so he doesn't think we're taking him back.  Mike will take Elli, Janika and Kael to one this morning and then I will go with them to the orphanage that Gavin spent a short time at this afternoon.  I'm hoping we can find out a little bit about his history, while we're there.  Also, we found out that several of the kids in our group are from the same area and went to the orphanage at the same time.  We are excited that these kiddos can keep in touch with each other.
Thank you all for your prayers.  We have felt them!!  We are all healthy- we are eating most of our meals here at the Guest house, which has a wonderful cook, who is very careful with how he cooks things- he's quite funny too, assuring me that he only uses tap water for the juice he makes (he must know we are so paranoid about tap water here--he really only uses bottled water).
For the next travel group- the Guest house is wonderful- the food, the staff, but BRING EAR PLUGS, the neighbor's dog barked repeatedly ALL night long last night. 
Again, we are so blessed to have Gavin as a Sweeney- you will all love him...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Gotcha Day!

We finally have Gavin with us for good now.  He is a great kid and is fitting in with the Sweeney Clan splendidly.  He is loving soccer and matchbox cars and cannot get enough to eat.  I think he eats more than Kael…


The afternoon at the transition home was pretty memorable.  When Ellison got off the bus, Gavin ran to her arms.  Praise God!  We ended up playing for the rest of the afternoon with all the other kids at the home.  It was great until we had to leave.  In just a short time, Elli had forged a bond with an older girl at the home that was hard to see broken.  We pray that her family comes soon.  Gavin’s best buddy from his village was also there; what a delightful little boy.  This little boy cried and cried when we left; please pray that he finds a home soon! 


I kind of looked at this adoption as a way to help a disadvantaged child, but I am again reminded that WE are blessed by doing God’s will in loving others.  Gavin has already immensely blessed our family more than I ever expected.—Mike


Stacy here-  To the families that asked us to take pictures of your beautiful children..thank you.  We enjoyed our time with them immensely.  We didn’t have much time at picture taking time but then were able to play with  them later.  I will get try to get the pictures downloaded soon and sent to you as soon as we have some more time and power- we’re running on a generator here.  Just know that each child is truly a treasure.

Things went very quickly when we took pictures- I wish we could have taken more later, during play time.  I’m pretty sure I have the correct names associated here- I don’t have the pictures in front of me right now to coordinate with names.  Please forgive me if they’re reversed.


Hamiltons:  Your 3 are so sweet.  The big boys are kind and gentle and have beautiful smiles.  They were delighted with your care packages and were so cute with their reactions- we got one very cute excited smile on camera.  Your baby is also beautiful.  You can tell the three are very close to each other. 


Pace Family:  Your little boy is a hoot!  He was very shy when we first met him, but then when we started playing, he was so very funny.  He loves playing with balls and really loved my husband.  


Pickard:  Your baby is also so beautiful and looked very healthy.  The nanny is very attached to her, and they share the same name.  I think we got some really good pictures for you.


Gagnon family:  You little G** was very shy with us until we gave her  a fruit leather—you might want to bring some when you come, she really liked it.  She did warm up to us and will be a delight to you when you are able to bring her home.  I also think we got some good pictures for you.


Again- we are thrilled as a family..and want to encourage all of you to consider adopting some of these amazing children.  The way they have all settled in this first day proves how very much all children need a Mom and a Dad…


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Meetcha Day!!

Today we met Gavin Dawit Sweeney for the first time; what an incredible day!!!  Gavin was a little shy at first but quickly warmed up to the throng of eager Sweeney faces.  We played soccer, flew paper airplanes, gave rides on Mike’s shoulders and took lots of pictures.  We could not have asked for a better first meet.  Here are a couple of pictures documenting our day.  Thank you Lord for preparing the way!!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

All is well; we made it to Africa

We made it to Addis Ababa dead tired but in great spirits!  Here are some pictures of our adventure from the airport to the hotel as well as a couple of shots from the roof of our abode.


We will keep you posted as the week progresses.

On our way to Africa

Here are a couple of shots of the Sweeney family (looking like Hillbillies).  Surprisingly, everything made it to Ethiopia unscathed and we did not get charged much for the excess baggage fees.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

My BIG kids--what a blessing they are

Lately, we've been referring to Elli, Janika and Kael as our big kids (I've never called them the Triplets- it just didn't seem to fit). I am so proud of all them. They have embraced the thought of a new brother with everything they have. They talk about him all the time, they look at his picture and the girls leave notes around the house, for us to show him when he gets here. They truly love him.
Elli has packed and repacked Gavin's bag. She organized all of the amazing clothes our friends the Eldridges brought over. Kael reorganized his room so Gavin would have his own space. He boxed up a bunch of books today (and Kael LOVES books) so that their room will be less overwhelming to his little brother. Janika spent most of the morning writing a song and putting it to guitar. The song is beautiful, describing her excitement to meet Gavin and get that first hug.
On top of this, they have been amazingly patient with Layne. I think I've heard more laughter coming from them this past week, as they play with her, than ever before.
I am so thankful to have these three in my life! Kael, Janika and Ellison, I am so proud to be your Mom!

Our travel group

The following families are also traveling to pick up their children next week. You can follow their adventures too.

Cole Family: - adopting Alexander Mason – leaving for ET on June 4:

Egly Family – adopting Ansley Berhane and Karis Bifee: - leaving for ET on 6/5/09

Foote Family- adopting Aria Lu

Jaegar Family - adopting Anna Mihiret – leaving for ET on 6/4/09

Nicholson Family – from NC, adopting a 4 year old girl
Hanson Family - from KY, adopting a 4 year old boy
Byrom Family - from West Virginia, adopting a sibling group ages 6, 4, and 2

We're excited to meet all of these families, since we've been communicating with them and praying for each other for several months. We feel like family.

We've been warned not to post all of our travel info, so people won't know when our house will be empty. Rest assured, we have a fantastic young man house sitting for us the entire time we're gone. Between he and the dogs- the Sweeney house will definitely not be empty.

Monday, June 1, 2009


We just received an update and this picture of Gavin. He is pretty little, wearing size 4T clothing, so he and Layne are going to be about the same size. It also says that he DOESN'T speak Amaharic, but a dialect called Benchi. We will try to get on the internet this afternoon and download some phrases in Benchi. His personality is described as quiet and reserved--I'm sure that's because of all of the change that he's gone through and the language barriers. Please pray that he will learn English quickly when he gets here. We leave in 3 more days!!