Journey to our children

February 22, 2007

8:50 AM

We are in the air on our way to Chicago. It was a short night last night. Despite our best intentions, we were not done packing until 9:15. It would have been a reasonable process if we hadn’t packed a large quantity of donations and at times I was tempted to leave a lot of them behind, but in the end we managed to squeeze in more than I would have believed possible.

Noah did an excellent job obtaining orphanage donations for his Boy Scout Eagle project. People from our church were very generous, as was our dentist, Dr. Garrett, who donated toothbrushes. I originally planned to take two 18 gallon plastic bins of donations, and luggage for us. When we got all of the donations out and sorted them in the family room, we quickly realized that only a fraction of them would fit into the two seemingly tiny bins I had. Next we purchased larger 45 gallon bins and decided to give up one of our checked bags in order to take three bins. Our weight limit for our Ethiopian Air flight was 70 lbs. per bag, but our United flight from Spokane to Dulles was only 50 lbs. per bag. It all looked like it was going to work, but we decided we should check to see if there were restrictions on the linear dimensions for luggage, and we were disappointed to find that the sum of the height, length and width of bins could be no more than a total of 62 inches. Our bins were far too big.

Then Russ, Mr. Engineer, said that we should give up bins and try to find something as close to a cube as possible since that would give us the maximum volume for the linear dimension. He called a local moving company who sold us three boxes that were 18 X 18 X 24 for a total of 60 inches. They were only $2.20 each!

The boys taped the boxes together and we began to fill them up with donations. Some of the items we packed were:

  • 20 Nanny and Webster flannel baby blankets donated by their company (a nonprofit group)
  • 50 boxes of Crayola markers – 10 markers in each box
  • 7 soccer balls – deflated. The children in Ethiopia love soccer and in the absence of a ball, they will play with a rock which is very hard on their feet. An Ethiopian friend of ours told us that when he was a boy, they would put rags inside of a sock to use as a soccer ball. We anticipate that these will be a huge hit.
  • Crayons, glue sticks, scissors
  • 2 Wooden puzzles
  • 2 Memory games
  • 91 Matchbox cars (we plan to carry some of these in our pockets to give to children on the streets) (A. carefully sorted them into categories of sports cars, trucks, machinery, and family vehicles – of which there was only one)
  • 10 jump ropes
  • 4 Frisbees
  • 32 pairs of children’s sunglasses (My friend Sheri, who is in Addis right now, told us they were a huge hit and they encouraged us to bring some.)
  • Stethoscope
  • 2 pairs of scrubs
  • First Aid Kit
  • 15 boxes of Bandaids
  • 6 tubes of Neosporin
  • 48 toothbrushes
  • Toothpaste – 9 pounds worth!
  • Shampoo
  • 6 aprons – beautifully made by Rachel (thank you!)
  • Hair accessories
  • 1 case of granola bars to pass out to children begging in the streets

There was so much more. This is just what we can remember off the top of our heads.

We packed, weighed boxes, repacked, reweighed, exchanged a few more items, and weighed them again. We finally ended up with two boxes weighing just about 50 lb. and one weighing 70 lb. We hoped the airline would be merciful and not charge us for the heavy one, but we didn’t know.

In one of the boxes we packed clothes for our children. Packing for them was an adventure since we don’t know what sizes they will wear. Our most recent weights were 12 lb. for Little Man and 26 lb. for Eby. I took a guess and packed 3-6 month clothes for W. and 24 month for E. I sure hope I’m right! I also packed several outfits for Dimples, and two pairs of shoes in the hope that one of them will fit. Although we aren’t able to bring her home yet, we hope to spend a lot of time with her and want her to have pretty things to wear. I guessed and packed size 5 for her because I thought that 4T might be too short – as I type this I am wondering if everything is going to be too big! I brought her a few dresses, so if they are a little bit long it won’t matter.

Fortunately my crockpot saved the day and we had dinner together as a family and then our worship time. We sat in the living room singing with the children and reading the bible. C. was on my lap, which is where she had been whenever possible during the day. Then we all wrapped our arms around each other and prayed. Russ and I are going to miss our children so much, it is very hard for me to leave them, but he keeps reminding me that I have children in Ethiopia too, and they need me.

Our original plan was to depart for Spokane then, but our family room still had boxes and things spread all over it. Once all of the luggage was packed, we still had to fit everything into our compact car. When we were finally ready to go, our five oldest children walked us out to the car, hugging and kissing us, and then doing a family “crazy wave” which involves hands and feet, as we drove down the driveway. A. and C. would have joined in, but they were finally asleep by then.

Our first stop was for Russ to buy a Coke so he could stay awake on the 1 ½ hour drive to our friends’ home
in Spokane. We made good time until we took a wrong turn on a country road, but we finally got there at 11:30. By midnight we were asleep and I didn’t move until the alarm went off at 4:00. We showered, got our money into our money belts, and were on the road to the airport. Russ dropped me off at the terminal with the three huge boxes, a large suitcase, two rolling carry-ons, his briefcase and my backpack. I was a spectacle compared to the savvy business travelers with their suits and tidy bags.

My friend, Sandra, met us there to bring us some things to take to Ethiopia for her little girl whom they are in the process of adopting. I was so happy to see her because Russ still wasn’t back from parking the car. She helped me get everything up to the counter and begin checking in. They reweighed the boxes and we were very relieved to see that on their scale they were 49.6, 50.0, and 70.0. The fee for the heavy box was $50.00, which we hoped they wouldn’t charge us, but that wasn’t the case.

Then we were headed to our gate. We were able to sleep the first hour of this flight, which was nice, and thus far I feel fine. I have a terrible tendency to get air sick which makes me dread flying.

We land in Chicago in a little more than an hour, then off to DC where I hope to have an internet connection for checking email and maybe uploading this to my blog.

More to come.


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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

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