We Spent a Week on a Plane One Day

Traveling shoes - Michael Gowin

Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
— Romans 8.24-25

We’re home.

We left the guest house in Addis Ababa on Thursday around 2:00 PM (Ethiopia time). From the three flights, layovers, delays, driving from the airport, and other general waiting around, it took us about 38 hours to get home.

Maura fell asleep on the flight from Dallas to Peoria and had a hard time waking up enough to even walk off the plane. She slept in the car for the 45 minutes back to Lincoln and went straight to bed once we got home.

It was good to get home last night, to sleep in our own beds. I’m looking forward to a hot shower later. And, from what they tell me, everyone else here is looking forward to my taking a hot shower, too.

Since our last flight from Dallas was delayed, it was after 7:00 when we drove home from Peoria. The sunlight was gorgeous on the corn and bean fields along I-155. As we drove Suz and I talked about some of the contrasts between Ethiopia and here:

  • On our trip to southern Ethiopia, we watched farmers drive wooden plows behind oxen on small plots. Some used hoes and hand tools to break up the soil. In America, farming is a science dominated by decades of research, knowledge, and machinery.
  • Roads here get clogged with cars and trucks. In Ethiopia, they get clogged with people, sheep, goats, donkey-driven carts, and cattle.
  • Everyone here owns a car and they’re all relatively new. In Ethiopia, they take blue-and-white taxis. The small sedans for a couple people are expensive; most folks ride in a minivan that hauls 10-15 people and doesn’t leave its stop until it’s full. Addis has other public busses as well but few people own cars. And a car from the mid-90’s is considered “new.”
  • You can drink water straight from the tap here and it won’t make you sick.
  • Black diesel fumes choke the air in the city. But you get used to it after a while.
  • The Internet here is zippy. In Ethiopia it’s more like dial-up. On a good day.
  • It’s easy to get anything here in the US. Seriously. If you have money, you can get it. Even if you don’t have money, you can get it (loans, credit cards–but that’s another story).
  • America is a place of opportunity (I alluded to this the other day). Ethiopia wants to offer that but economics and other factors make it impossible for most people.

We really have it good in America. If you haven’t taken time to reflect on that, please do. Then do something to help someone else who could use a hand. Maybe here or here or even here if you’re so inclined. You have lots of options if you look.

While it’s good to be home, we’re aware that we’re not all here. We have to wait another two months (or so) for our embassy appointment. At that point, Kieran will join us.

Pictured above are the shoes that Suzanne, Maura, and I wore while we traveled. They bear the dust and sand from Dubai and the beach at the Persian Gulf as well as dust and mud from the hundreds of miles (or kilometers) we traveled in Ethiopia.

After our embassy trip, I’ll make this photo again but with an extra pair of shoes. Or maybe a photo with eight pairs of shoes. We’ll see.

Until then we live in the “already but not yet,” a family of eight but only seven of whom reside in our house. Until then, we hope for that which we don’t have.

Until then, we wait patiently.

Returning Home

I can’t believe this trip is already almost over.  What experiences we have had and how our life has changed in this short week and a half.  “What I have seen.”

As we leave in a few short hours, I wanted to share with you a sweet moment I had with my son yesterday.  There is a Scripture I had read recently in Psalms that when I read it, I knew that I wanted to share it with Kieran.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.  (Ps 139:9-10)

I wrote it down on a piece of paper and then tried to explain it to him.  He knows many English words but the poetic part of this is a little confusing.  Basically this was my translation to him.  I was “fortunate” to have a book in front of us with a picture of the world on it.

When you, Sintayehu, wake up on the other side of the world, when you begin to live across the sea (as I pointed to the globe), EVEN THERE GOD is holding your hand (as I looked straight into his eyes and held his hand).  God is here and He is there, and his strong right hand will guide you and keep you safe.

I saw in his deep eyes that he understood and I held him close.  We didn’t move for a long time.  I could tell he knew that, in the midst of his worries, he is seeing how his heavenly Father is taking care of him.  He is learning to trust us and to trust God more and more.

Please pray for his heart while we wait to be reunited again.  Pray he gives his worries to the Almighty.  Pray we all grow stronger every day in the knowledge and amazing love of our Father.  Amen.

We Have a New Son

On a cloudy and uncharacteristically cool day in Addis Ababa, we attended court to learn if we’d be able to adopt another child.

We passed.

Here is Kieran Solomon Sintayehu Gowin, our newest and oldest son.

Newest Gowin family member - Michael Gowin

We’ll post some more details later but we know that friends and family are eager for news and photos. So we’re giving the people what they want.

Again, we’ll have more soon. Thanks to all those who’ve been praying for us and supporting us on this journey.

Ethiopia Will Break You

Neighborhood kids in Addis Ababa - © Michael Gowin

It is more noble to give yourself completely to one individual than to labor diligently for the salvation of the masses.
–Dag Hammarskjold

In the two posts I’ve written about our trip to Ethiopia this week, I’ve shared the agendas and details of our days but little of what’s taking place inside of me. Reflection takes time and I’ve been able to let some things simmer for a few days. Here’s a quick summary:

Ethiopia is killing me.


The kids at the transition home. They’re kids without families. And they want families to love them. We’ve played cards with them, passed out glow sticks, bracelets and other treats. They want to sit with you (and on you), to touch you, to hold your hand. They want to be wanted.

The kids outside the transition home. Each time we pull up in the van, they’re out there–the ones I photographed above–asking for a bit of food or a toy car. They live in the crowded apartments nearby and spend their time outside in the streets. They smile and laugh and push and clamor. They want attention, too.

Solomon. He enjoys our company, smiles and laughs occasionally, but he’s also pensive, thoughtful, and lost in his own reflections at times. His Ethiopian name means “how much I see” or “how much I’ve experienced.” In his 15 years he’s endured more loss and tragedy than most. There lies a deep sadness behind his dark, gentle eyes. I hope that we can help redeem his story.

The future. My children could enjoy a more prosperous material life than me, or at least a similar life, if they go to school, work hard, seek opportunities. Same holds for most everyone who lives in America.

Not true for the majority of Ethiopians.

Much of this country’s population still lives in conditions similar to those of people living in the time of Jesus. That’s 2000 years of non-progress.

Most children here will live the same way their parents did, and their children will live the same way as well. Planting, harvesting, raising sheep or goats or donkeys or cattle, eking out a living from one season to the next. Or not.

For them, progress (or a “better life”) is less than an abstraction; it is an impossibility.

For me, Ethiopia raises more questions than answers. If Ethiopia and I were in a relationship on Facebook, I’d indicate, “It’s complicated.” This is a remarkable place with remarkable people in so many ways. And it’s a frustrating place in so many ways.

Ethiopia will break you. Break you like glass dropped on concrete.

So what do I do?

The problems here are overwhelming. And not just here: pick any third-world country and you can tell the same story.

So–I plod forward one step, one day at a time. Attempt to be faithful to simple commands.

Love the Lord your God. Love your neighbor as yourself.

Who is my neighbor? Go and do likewise.

Continue to love in this dangerous time and kick at the darkness till it bleeds daylight.

In the midst of questions and frustrations, give myself completely to the One who gave himself for me and to those whom God has entrusted to my care.

Today: take in a boy who needs a home and a father.


A Day With Our Son

Today we were privileged to have an entire day with “Big Brother.”  The other four couples had court or Embassy appointments in the morning.  One family passed Embassy, two passed court, one did not.  Please pray they will pass soon before closures, though court closures are starting remarkably late this year: Aug 22-Oct 1, which is also quite short which bodes well for adoptive families!  So during their appointments, we went to the Transition House (TH) to see our son.

We spent the day talking, sharing things we know in common, including some sign language (one of his good friends here is deaf), playing card games, looking at photos and videos on my iphone, taking photos (which he does not enjoy—gets shy and hard to talk him into smiling—but yet he wanted to take more with his friends), and laughing.  He is good at card games, loves to learn, is playful, and enjoys just sitting together watching people.  I love seeing all the things he has in common with our other kids!

We had also asked permission to take him to eat with us, and since he is a big kid, they let him though we have not yet passed court.  I wanted to take him last night to the Ethiopian restaurant with the dancing and fun, but it would have been too late.  So we will do that next trip when he gets to be with us the whole time.  (Sorry, Liam, you’ll have to “take one for the team”—all they serve there is Ethiopian food. :))  This time we went to Amsterdam Restaurant which is very good.

Then we headed back to the TH for the afternoon of more of the same, and we also got to visit the Big Kid TH where S sleeps.  We will have to pass court before we can show pics.  We passed out glow sticks to the big kids there.  (We had more than enough but still ended up with not enough, so advice to those of you yet to come, line the kids up and pass them out to make sure some little fingers are not double-dipping. :))

Though he wouldn’t admit it, I think S was tired by the end of the day, and possibly hurting.  It was good we didn’t do the late Ethiopian restaurant last night.  As I read recently, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” (Prov 16:9)  As much as I really wanted to share that with him, I know S and Maura had a great time together today at the laid back lunch.  She said it was her favorite part of the day.  She and S laughed a lot!  (He has such a beautiful smile when he is not hiding from the camera!)

I can’t wait till you see in person how sweet Big Brother is.  He is so loving with all the kids, and especially with Maura.  I had heard this about him with the babies, but I was so thrilled to see it with bigger kids too.  And all the nannies and staff LOVE him.  He is so gentle and patient and helpful and thankful.  He said he hopes to do something to help other people in the future.  I have no doubt God is going to use him in a big way!  I got teary today sharing with a couple of the other moms that my biggest prayer in adopting an older boy was that he would be a great big brother to our other kids.  Though God is still writing this story that will inevitably have many ups and downs along the way, I know God heard my prayer and believe He is answering it beyond what I would have imagined.

I believe God speaks to me at times, and most often through Scripture.  Because I am a numbers girl (remember, I have a MATH degree!  I, like Jonah I guess, tried my best to run from writing and reading and speaking when I was in college!  God says, “Ha Ha! Who’s the boss?!”), sometimes my mind picks up on numbers in the Bible and wants to try to make something of them.  I truly fight it and read on quickly, but one Scripture I read wouldn’t let me pass it by because July 23 sticks with me since it is the day of our first referral phone call in 2010.  I wrote this Scripture in my journal in the middle of May, before our home study was finished, before our official referral, before our announcement, before we had any idea when we would be in Ethiopia.  (Someday I hope to share with you more of the things God has shown me through the story of David and his relationship with his son Solomon.)

“On the 23rd day of the seventh month he sent the people to their homes, joyful and glad in heart for the good things the Lord had done for David and Solomon and for his people Israel.” (2 Chron 7:10)

Somehow I knew this day, July 23, would be a special one with our son, even though at the time I had no idea I would be here with him.  (Know that I am aware that the Jews use an entirely different calendar year and please don’t take this as a license to interpret Scripture this way.  It is a totally improper hermeneutic.  I’m just telling you what I felt God revealed to me that day in May.) 

There was nothing exceptionally remarkable about today except that it was just a lovely day laughing and getting to know our son.  Well, nothing except the fact that he was born on the other side of the world just a year after Michael and I were married.  And that out of our broken and messed up lives, God is weaving this tapestry that only He could make so beautiful, imperfections and all.  Oh, and that I can truly say how much I love my son though I have only just met him.  But other than that, nothing out of the ordinary.

Thanks again for all of your encouragement and prayers for us.  Please pray as we talk with the doctor tomorrow, that we know what questions to ask so as to give us wisdom for the many doctor appointments we have ahead of us, and that we can learn more of his heart and his hurts (physical and emotional) so that we can best parent and help him grieve.  Pray also for court on Wednesday morning at 9am (Tues night 1am-ish for you) and our meeting with S’s birth father and S together.  Oh, it is going to be an emotional day.  I’m afraid I will cry more than anyone.

God is paving the way and blessing all that He has planned, but I believe your prayers are part of that plan.  We are humbled by it all.  And I am praying that God is sending you, His people Israel, home with joyful and glad hearts because of what He is doing for us all.


2012 Ethiopia Adoption Trip Update #3

Traditional Ethiopian singer - Michael Gowin

We’ve spent a lot of time not sleeping since we left Illinois and it’s already 11:30 PM here now. I’m making this one quick.

It’s Sunday and we attended services this morning at the international church here with the other families staying at the guest house. Since we arrived in Addis Ababa on Thursday, four other families have joined us. We’ve had a chance to visit with all of them and continue to enjoy the path that God has set before all of us. It’s a delight to share experiences with others who are on the same journey.

Side note: Adoptive families talk about airline flights the way you talk about the weather with other folks. It’s something we all have in common. How was your flight? What airline? KLM? How was that? Lufthansa? What did you think of the Frankfort airport? Did you do the overnight in Dubai on Emirates? How many people threw up on the plane?

The international church is evangelical and (probably) Baptist in its theology. The worship is “contemporary Christian” but featured a broader range of music than what I’ve encountered in similar services in the States. Given the stark differences in culture between Ethiopia and the States, I expected the preaching to address the realities of life here; it didn’t. You could have taken this service, stuck it in any middle-class, Bible church in the Midwest and not have known the difference. Except for the congregation. It was truly “international” and featured a wide variety of Africans, Asians, Europeans, and westerners. That was cool.

After church, we visited and ate lunch together at Metro Pizza. You can get really good—I mean really good—pizza in Addis. Some of the best pizza I’ve had. Really. A few doors down we hit a Kaldi’s Coffee shop for coffee and dessert. Kaldi’s is the Starbucks of Ethiopia. It’s said that coffee was discovered in Ethiopia, a tradition to which the folks here hold fast and proud.

Maura contemplates her ice cream at Kaldi's Coffee, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - Michael Gowin

The transition home with some time with Solomon was our next stop. Before we drove through the gate, the neighborhood boys I photographed the other day (plus another accomplice) were waiting outside. They ran up to the van and asked for some food (they’ve learned that this is a good spot to hang out). I gave them my leftover pizza and one of the other families gave them some granola bars. The expressions they wore said, “Jackpot!”

Ethiopian boys with food - Michael Gowin

We spent a couple hours with Solomon today, chatting and taking pictures. He flipped through the family photos we had on our phones and learned a little more about his brothers and sisters. We talked about some foods that he liked or didn’t like and tried to figure out his clothing sizes. Tomorrow we plan to spend most of the day together and we’re looking forward to simply being with him.

Late this afternoon we relaxed for a bit at the guest house before heading out to dinner at a traditional Ethiopian restaurant, Habesha 2000. Injera was on the menu as well as cultural music and dancing from the various areas around Ethiopia. Several diners—including a couple from our party—were invited to dance with the pros. By invited, I mean that some volunteered and others were coerced and cajoled. All were good sports nonetheless and everyone enjoyed themselves.

Dining at Habesha 2000 - Michael Gowin

After the constant to and fro since we left home, I needed today’s slower pace. We’re still getting to bed late and this is taking a toll on Maura. Hopefully we’ll get all of us in bed earlier tomorrow.

Until then, thanks for your continued prayers and support. Blessings.

Trip to Southern Ethiopia

We saw a lot of these donkey-drawn carts on our trip
We saw a lot of these donkey-drawn carts on our trip to southern Ethiopia


We left early Friday morning for our trip to Woylata, 7+ hours south of Addis.  Because of lack of good sleep, issues with motion sickness, different foods, and not yet having a normal tummy after the plane trip, Maura got sick a couple times along the way.  But she is a trouper and always manages to catch it in time (we saved some bags off the plane—we are calling them “Bob” because somehow it bothers me when she asks for the “barf bag” :)), or can tell us to stop the car in time.  She bounces back pretty quickly, but please say a prayer for her if you think of it.

On the way, our guides stopped at a random home to show us the inside of a typical Ethiopian hut.  Inside we were surprised to see two donkeys eating, along with the owners’ bed and cooking area.  We gave them some money and a baby blanket as a thank you.

The purpose of our trip was to see the region where Aidan and Eva were born and where Aidan spent his first years growing up.  We wanted to take pictures for their baby books and have some context for ourselves of their background.  We didn’t know if it was going to be possible, but we were able to meet up with their birth mom (we will call her A).  Our time together was so blessed.

When we got there, A (and about a million kids) met us at the van and she and I gave each other a very long embrace.  It felt like she was letting go of 1 1/2 years of concern as she wondered how her babies were doing.  I took her eager hand and we walked to her tiny home with the translators (we have to use two to get to her language).  I felt like the Pied Piper as more and more people came out to see the “ferenges” (white people).  And all of them wondering why we came to see this not-so-highly-known young lady who does odd jobs to make ends meet and lives with her two brothers in an apartment not much bigger than most Americans’ bathrooms.

She made a place for the 8 of us to sit (Gowin 3, she and her brother, two translators, and one boy who sneaked in).  We had to leave the door open as there was no light in the room, and it was funny to see the neighbor kids inch their way in little by little.  She seemed eager, but nervous, to tell us about her life and say that she was always wondering about what kind of family the kids were in and how they were doing, so she was so happy to hear that we were coming to see her.  Evidently, AWAA has given her pictures from every post-placement report and she had those saved in a special place and showed them to us.  We brought her two small photo albums and she kissed Aidan and Eva on several of the pages.  They will be treasured.

During our conversation, she explained to us that she had been shunned in her village for having two children out of wedlock and then giving them away, so she had to move to this new village.  As we walked back to the van, with by now half the village in tow, I realized from more of her conversation that our coming to her may, in some way, be helping to redeem her story.  She went from an outcast to the most interesting person in the village because some white people made a trip all the way from the United States to see HER.  In their minds, we were celebrities, and now she must be important as well.

As we got to the van, I wanted to give her some things that would help her life.  We really are not allowed to give birth parents gifts because then it looks like we are buying children, but I thought it would be OK to give her some used things I was going to give away anyway.  I handed her two sets of towels (they were from our home—I had just put them in our luggage last minute to fill in the spaces), the princess blanket that Maura and I used in the van on the way down (surprisingly it is 50-65 degrees here now), and my sun-discolored but otherwise very useful rain boots.  (It is the rainy season here for 2-3 months and the downpours and mud make life difficult.  We each brought our boots since we heard we may need them.)

I’m not sure I will ever forget the big smile on her face as we drove away, arms full of love wrapped in a princess blanket.  Today she was the Queen.

A little ways down the road, Job, our guide, saw a market that he said he wanted to “experience.” We asked if he was sure, knowing we were going to be a disturbance.  He said he didn’t think they would pay much attention to us because it was the market, so we went with him.  If we thought we had seen all the village, well, we hadn’t.  They crowded around as we walked touching and laughing and fighting to hold our hands.  I stuck close to Princess Maura, who couldn’t smile any bigger and yet held very tight to me.  We couldn’t even make it to the market and realized we needed to go back to the van.  I wouldn’t say we were afraid—these people are all so very loving—but it was a little overwhelming.  Here’s a picture Michael made just before we got into the van showing the market crowd that gathered around us.

That night we stayed in the last room in town because of a university graduation.  When I woke at 1:00am, it was all suddenly clear to me that our room was available for a reason.  We were the last room on the top floor (only stairs to get there), we had two twin beds (Maura and I shared) that weren’t actually mattresses but box springs, and our cold porcelain toilet had no seat.  The ironies were all too clear.  We went from royalty in the small village, to the servants’ quarters at the hotel.  And yet as I lay there wide awake for a couple hours (which is not like me AT ALL), I was all too aware that even this room and bed were royal compared to the room and bed in which Queen A was staying tonight.

And as I laid in bed and listened to the rains start to come (which we had yet to see up to this point), I was aware of the fact that I was going to miss my boots tomorrow.  But with every soggy step I was going to take, I would picture proud Queen A wearing her Royal Boots as she trudged through the flood waters to find work for the day, as the others looked at her with a new esteem.

It did rain a good portion of the day as we took a different route back to Addis via Awassa, where Eva has some history.  After lunch we were fortunate that the rain stopped in time for us to take a boat ride to see some hippos “up close and personal” and feed monkeys out of our hands.  Then it was another 6-7 hours back to Addis.  Ethiopia is such a beautiful country and we truly enjoyed seeing this part of it and learning so much about it from our guide and driver.

It has been a long couple days, but so rich with memories and blessings.  We are so grateful to have had this experience.  And we are excited to see Big Brother again tomorrow and every day till we leave!  He actually has asked our guide several times (before we came) if he thought we would be willing to see his family when we come to get him on the next trip.  So though we hated to leave him just after we got there, it also gave him hope—that we would, in fact, be willing to travel and do the same with him.

We will post more about our time with “S” later, but for now we want to share some good news:  We have a positive MOWYCA letter at the court!!!  For those of you not aware of this jargon, this important piece of paper is necessary but often missing on the day of court, and then the family does not pass.  Though it still does not guarantee that we will pass, it is much more likely with this letter already there!!  Please keep up the prayers and thank you so much!!!

2012 Ethiopia Adoption Trip Update #1

We landed in Ethiopia today and met Solomon. More on that in a few moments. First, here’s what’s happened in the last couple days.

We left Peoria on Tuesday, July 17. Our flight was supposed to depart at 7:00 AM so we were there eaaarrrrlly. Passengers and crew boarded and were ready to leave on time; however, the pilot discovered that previous day’s maintenance crew left some paperwork unfinished and we couldn’t leave until that was completed. And the maintenance people wouldn’t arrive until 8:00 AM. So we deplaned, waited, maintenance resolved the problem and we left at 8:30.

Obligatory wing shot - Michael Gowin
Obligatory wing shot – Michael Gowin


We arrived at Dallas (DFW) with plenty of time (but less) before our next flight, grabbed a quick lunch, then boarded. We chose to fly Emirates Airlines for this trip, which would overnight us in Dubai then bring us to Addis Ababa the next day. Because the flight to Dubai is some 16 hours and you cross 8 or 9 time zones, our 12:30 PM departure from DFW got us to Dubai the next day (July 18) at 1:00 PM. Suz and I pulled an all-nighter before we left to get stuff packed and things squared away; we were traveling toast.

Suz took a snooze while we cruised - Michael Gowin
Suz took a snooze while we cruised – Michael Gowin


The airport in Dubai–like most everything else there–is new, huge, and designed to impress. In the middle of the desert, Dubai is full of five-star hotels and resorts, luxury brand shopping, pricey real estate, and devoid of any pedestrian traffic during the day because it’s so stinkin’ hot. But it’s very clean and safe. We’re not really shoppers or 5-star hotel people but it was interesting to see those things. And Emirates does a fantastic job of taking care of its passengers: they put us up in a hotel, covered our meals during our stay and painlessly got us to and from the airport. The crews were also great.

We had time in the afternoon to take a two-hour taxi tour of the city as well. We stopped at a few sites including the Burj Khalifa, (currently) the world’s tallest building.

Suz and Maura outside the Burj Khalifa - Michael Gowin
Suz and Maura outside the Burj Khalifa – Michael Gowin


Before we left Dubai this morning, we met a couple from Montana, Brian and Danna Hopkins, at the airport who were also on an adoption trip. They’re using the same agency as we are, AWAA, and came to Ethiopia last week for their court appointment. They were in Dubai for a short getaway before returning to the States. Turns out that they’re also staying at the same guest house in Addis Ababa so we were able to visit some more and enjoyed dinner together tonight at the Zebra Grill here.

You meet the nicest people while adopting.

Maura checks out our plane in Dubai - Michael Gowin
Maura checks out our plane in Dubai – Michael Gowin


So we arrived at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa early this afternoon, cleared the circus customs and baggage claim, then were met by our friend Job, one of the AWAA staff here. Job also fits into that “meeting the nicest people while adopting” category. We took a quick trip to the guest house to drop off our bags then headed over to the transition home to meet Solomon.

FedEx will get it there overnight, even in Ethiopia. - Michael Gowin
FedEx will get it there overnight, even in Ethiopia (but the trucks are a little different). – Michael Gowin


And that brings us to the part that you’ve probably been waiting for.

We’ve heard a lot about Solomon from AWAA friends who’ve met him. “Oh, he’s such a sweet boy!” is the most common response, followed by “I was so glad to hear he had a family!” and “We LOVED spending time with him at the transition home.”

That’s quite a reputation.

Though we’ve spent only an hour-ish with him so far, we look forward to seeing all those qualities that others have shared about him in the days and months ahead. But here are some impressions and reflections.

Solomon is very small, maybe the same height as Erin, but seems to have strong shoulders (probably from using his crutches–despite which he’s quite agile). He has strong, well-defined facial features and reminds me of a half-sized Laurence Fishburne.

He is quiet, gentle, soft-spoken but attentive and thoughtful. He appears eager to learn–we brought an English-Amharic phrase book and he was quick to sound out and read the English words. This will be a huge help to him when he transitions to his new home, culture, and schools. Though his quietness makes him appear shy he is not withdrawn. He converses easily through a translator.

Games, fixing things, and the color blue are among his favorite things. Since Aidan, Erin, and Maura all enjoy playing games and Liam enjoys building and fixing things, Solomon should fit in perfectly. 🙂

When he came out of the transition home and I hugged him, I could feel him trembling. I’m sure he was nervous and scared–who wouldn’t be? He probably has as many or more questions about us and what his life will look like as we do about him. But he warmed up as we sat and chatted, each taking turns asking questions. We joked and laughed a bit and took some pictures together. We won’t be able to show any pictures until after we pass court; please pray for that.

NOTE: what follows steps outside the narrative and approaches a sermonette. You’ve been warned.

The arrival of adoptive moms and dads always draws a crowd at the transition home, so we were surrounded by a gaggle of curious onlookers while we visited with Solomon. These kids, who are dearly loved by the same Father and who trade smiles so easily, need homes with parents who will love them. It takes a lot to do that and it’s hard.

But someone has to do it.

If not me and Suzanne then who? If not the Church then who? Who else is better equipped to love with self-sacrifice? Who else will say “yes” if not us?

Someone has to do it.

Adoption gives us a window into God’s heart. And I look forward to seeing that window open further as Solomon becomes part of our family. I believe I’m a better man, a better husband, a better father because of the insights I’ve gained through adoption. I would have missed so much if we’d not said “yes.”

Sermonette over.

We’ll be traveling outside Addis Ababa the next two days and likely won’t have Internet access. We’ll be back online as we’re able.

Thanks for following our story. I expect Suzanne will make a post with her insights and it will have much more emotional appeal than the observational/analytical angle of mine. But that’s who we are and how we work. So look forward to that.

Since we can’t post photos of Solomon yet and we can’t post photos of the other kids at the orphanage (privacy reasons), here are a couple boys we met playing outside today. Their enthusiasm is typical of what you’ll find among the children in Ethiopia.

Ethiopian boys playing in the neighborhood - Michael Gowin
Ethiopian boys playing in the neighborhood – Michael Gowin


It’s now 12:30 AM here. That’s all for us.

Peace and blessings.

Addition from Suzanne: BTW, don’t get too attached to “Solomon” as his name—that will be his middle name—we will have to let you know his first name later!  🙂

Eva in Boots

Baby in Boots - © Michael Gowin

It’s not every day you get to see this. And I’m not sure how she got herself in those boots.

Donations for Orphanages in Ethiopia

We leave for Ethiopia in a little over a week (July 17) and we would like to take some donations to the orphanages.  Since there are three of us going (Maura will come on this trip), we will have six 50# bags we can check, and we can use at least half of them for donations, so lets fill them up!  Here are some ideas if you would like to help:

  • baby wipes (only sensitive skin or unscented)—PRIORITY
  • crocs for big kids and nannies—PRIORITY
  • bath towels (not heavy)
  • toothpaste/toothbrushes
  • scrubs for nannies and nurses
  • first aid (bandages, gloves, baby/children’s Tylenol, iron drops, etc)
  • baby formula (especially lactose free: Enfamil, Similac, Parent’s Choice, Target)
  • multivitamins for babies and kids

If we receive more than we can bring on this trip, we will bring it on the next trip which will hopefully be in another two months or more.  Thanks for your continued support and prayers on this journey with us!