Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I didn't expect...

...Jadon's huge vocabulary (in Amharic, of course!) He sings himself songs, keeps up a running commentary during daily activities, and tries to give me (very clear, I'm sure) directions about how things should be done. Truly unfortunately, I don't understand any of it. I take that back...I understand the necessary words to get him to the bathroom when needed, but that's it!

...a perfect potty record. Not one accident (at least up until the moment I typed this!)

...the smiles. Of all the pictures we received of the boys before traveling, I think there were two in which Jadon was smiling. Apparently, it's just a camera thing. He may not be a fan of the camera's eye, but he'll flash a great big grin at just about anyone else who looks friendly.

...the hugs. Jadon's hugs are tight, snuggled in, everything-he's-got squeezes. I guess I was geared up for a more slowly warming approach. Apparently, he's a "dive-in-with-both-feet" kind of guy. Mind you, these hugs are given to parents, siblings, grandparents, neighbors, random strangers...we haven't discovered the "this is only for you, Mom" hug, yet. But reserved, he is not! If this is how he shows affection to strangers, we're in real trouble come dating years!!!

...the sleep issues. Don't ask me why I'm surprised here. Sleep was our biggest issue after Ethan's adoption. Perhaps I thought that having a big brother and big sister in the room would ease all fears. Perhaps his easy-going personality threw me off. Perhaps I'm just spoiled with two really great sleepers. I don't know. I do know that trying to think through your best response at the moment screams interrupt your peaceful early morning sleep is not a great approach. I've spent a good chunk of today trying to process ideas/techniques to help Jadon make this adjustment.

...Jadon's helpfulness. Again, maybe I shouldn't be surprised. Eagerness to help was one of the most obvious attributes in Ethan after he arrived home. However, given the marked differences in their personalities, I wasn't expecting it from Jadon. Still, he's the one who's at my side unloading the dishwasher, pleased as can be that he knows where to put the kid bowls.

...the drama-less sibling acceptance. As I said last post, this transition has not been without its minor bumps and offenses BUT I did expect more flagrant upheaval from the children. Instead, it's been pretty low-key, matter-of-fact, let's just get on with it already.

...what an amazing father Mike could be. Don't take that wrong! I've always known Mike would be a wonderful Dad, but, in the past few weeks, he truly has amazed me with his strength, love, and wisdom. For a guy that was really nervous about accepting a referral for an "older" child, he has proven completely up to the task! Babe, you're the best! Your expanded heart honors and reflects the Father's heart.

...missing Abu. No one could have known that Abu would be detained in Ethiopia by unexpected test result and a relatively new government regulation. Coming home with one child instead of two certainly changed the dynamics of this transition. I wonder what it would have been like to have two Amharic-speaking boys chatting back and forth while we English-speaking Tappers tried to communicate. I wonder if Jadon will still be speaking Amharic when Abu gets here. I wonder how the big brother who did smile in all his pictures will react to the unimaginable changes that will come with joining us here. I wonder when Abu will feel comfortable extending a real hug to his mother (he'd much rather hug Dad now!). I try to think of what it will be that will help us to connect in a special way.

I wonder how Abu will like his bedroom. I know he sleeps on the top bunk at the transition home, and we plan to give him the top bunk in the boys room. I wonder how Abby will transition to a room of her own (since she's still occupying the top bunk "until big brother comes.") I wonder what "issue" will be the hardest in his transition. I wonder how his personality will blossom. There's so much there to discover! I wonder what stories he will tell when we can communicate better.

I wonder how all the kids will adjust to being four instead of two or three. I especially wonder how Ethan and Abu will relate. How will they communicate? Will they enjoy playing together? Will they feel the need to compete? How will their persoalities blend? I wonder if they could be best of friends.

At any rate, all of these surprises are making life very fascinating around the Tapper home. Each day is a new discovery, each moment is packed with expectancy. It is a great way to live.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Three Musketeers

Today, I've really seen the three Tapper children here really working together. There have certainly been times when Ethan and Abby have "tolerated" their new family addition because they know it is the right thing to do. But then there are great moments when it all feels very right.

Bikes, parks, swings, and things

There were haircuts for all kiddos this morning!!!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Our testimony

A friend pointed out to us that Steven Curtis Chapman's adoption support organization, "Show Hope," has utilized a testimony I'd written for them about a year ago. Check it out at

Sunday, July 26, 2009


The deal:

Good behaviour at our new church and voluntary attendance at a new Sunday School


Ice cream.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


It really is a sweet place!

It was wonderful to be back on North American soil on Sunday. Despite the late arrival of our flight into Washington, DC, we had no problems with the customs/immigration process and still had a couple hours before our connecting flight to NYC. My mom and dad picked us up at the airport and drove us back to their house. Desalegn's first experience with the car seat was not especially delightful -- but don't worry...we have made progress with time!

Ethan and Abby arrived there from a playdate shortly after we got home, and their squeezes and excited voices were especially refreshing. We missed them so much! They shared about all their adventures and the things they learned on the farm with Pappy and Gramma. Ethan took the lead in reaching out to "little brother," gently taking his hand and walking him around the yard. Soon, all three kids were running and laughing and enjoying each other.

After a special family night together, we hit the road toward Quebec, finally making it home around 7pm last night. Today has been full of phone calls (informing proper authorities of a two-year-old addition to your family can take a lot of work), fun, new discoveries, re-orienting ourselves to this house and each other, laughter, and wonder. There is also a lingering sadness, the weighty reality that things are not as we had planned and hoped...that another brother still waits to be home.

Perhaps because we had been preparing to bring home siblings, this adjustment we are experiencing now has almost seemed too easy! Jadon Desalegn is mostly a very joyful boy. He has been learning things quickly (like asking to be excused from the table and then following Ethan and Abby to put his plate in the sink!) And -- after much terrible screaming before bed last night and his nap today -- he didn't make even a peep when all three kids were tucked in tonight! We have tried to be very consistent with our boundaries, not making exceptions for the "new kid," and this seems to be very positive for all the kids.

We ask that you continue to keep us in your prayers as we continue to work through the processes of bringing home Abu and establishing a "new normal" in the Tapper household.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Three Tappers On Our Way

Not looking forward to the 30+ hour trip.

Very much looking forward to being home.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Caring for Orphans and Enjoying Forever Families

This morning, I had the privilege of visiting the Kids Care orphanage in Addis Ababa.  As we came off the bus, many children gathered all around.  Eager hands reached for the fruit snacks we had brought.  Desalegn, who I was holding, was not impressed with all the boys and girls taking the fruit snacks that he has been gobbling up this week. 
I made my way toward a building where several nannies stood at the door.  One began speaking quickly in Amharic and grabbed Desalegn's cheeks.  It became apparent that she recognized him, but couldn't quite come up with his name.  When I said "Desalegn," she smiled largely and made motions with her hands.  I said "Abu," and she smiled and chattered on again.  Meanwhile, she had kind of turned us into a small room with 4 or 5 small beds, and 8 or 9 young children, maybe ages 2-4.  One of the other adoptive fathers in our group had already found his way into this tiny space and had been claimed by a girl with terribly skinny legs.  She could not really walk, but could pull herself along and pull herself up against you.  He held her and asked about her while I played with many of the other children, talking to them, touching them, kissing their heads, and praying for them.
After a while, we moved on to an area where older children seemed to be having some form of music class.  They sang several songs (which Desalegn enjoyed) and then someone rang a bell and they all left the room.  For the rest of our time there, I tried to entertain Des while still touching and kissing and smiling at as many children as I could.  How I hope that those small gestures provided some hope for those children!
Mike and Abu joined our group after this morning's appointment, and we had a pizza lunch with all the families.  Then it was home for naptime.  All three of my boys had a nice nap.  I was afraid of sleeping during the day (I haven't been sleeping all that great at night--let alone throwing in a nap to mess me up some more!), so I set to work creating a game to play with Abu.  I used several sheets of paper and drew a game board with colored squares similar to CandyLand.  I made color cards and player markers out of paper as well.  Earlier in the week, I had been wishing that I had packed some playing cards or Uno or something to pass the free time.  Now I wanted something to help connect with Abu and let him use some of his English skills (he knows colors and numbers pretty well). 
After the boys' rest, we got reorganized and decided to walk down the street to a restaurant called the Zebra Grill.  It was fun to watch the boys eat their meal with the traditional injera (a thin bread that is broken up and used to wrap around fingerfulls of food).  They can both eat!  When we returned to the guest house, there was excitement in the air.  Now, you must picture this: this place has less than 20 rooms and our travel group has 10 families.  Several of those families are adopting sibling groups, and many of these children are between the ages of 2 and 7.  In other words, there's a lot of action to be had.  So, anyway, we enter the lobby and many of the families are having supper in the lobby (There is a cook on staff who you can pay to cook meals for you--very convenient!).  Someone mentions that there is cake.  Cake????!!!!  Apparently, the owner of the guest house had purchased cakes for our group since there has been a problem with the power here this week.  That's right...six days with no power (except when the generator was turned on--mostly for cooking). 
So we families savored cake together, played, talked, and enjoyed each other and the miracles of our families.  Abu was a whiz at my game, and, although Desalegn apparently doesn't like cake, he has picked up a new phrase which he repeated through most of the party: "Thank you, God.  Amen!"
Amen and amen!

Sweet dreamers


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Together for Now

This morning, our group hit the souvenir shopping strip.  Now I'm not much of a shopper, but -- as with Ethan's adoption in Ukraine -- it seems important to me to have various aritcles around our home that we can point to and say, "This is from your country!"  So we did our part :)
In the afternoon, we went to the transition home again...and the kids were waiting!  Today, we not only got to hang out with our own children, but many others as well.  As care packages were naded out and pictures started snapping, children started to appear from everywhere!  Some with care packages from their forever families were so protective, hugging those plastic bags to themselves, turning away form other clamoring children.  Others, alternatively, were on the lookout for anyone with whom they could share their newly acquired treasures.  They are all beautiful, precious treasures of God.
We were cautioned before arriving at the transition home that we might not be permitted to bring Abu to the guest house with us.  This was a scenario that I had not anticipated, and the news brought on a flood of tears.  As it turned out, Mike was actually able to go with Abu and AWAA staff to see Abu's doctor.  This provided a much clearer picture of what lies ahead for our family.  It looks like Abu will not be coming home with us the end of this week.  We are hopeful that he may join our family home in mid-September.  Contrary to our earlier news, Abu and Mike were able to join Deslegn and I at the guest house later in the evening.
We played, read books, gave baths, ate our first meal together (pasta), snuggled, and tried our best to communicate.  The boys both fell fast asleep shortly after 8pm.  Goodnight!
Kristy Tapper
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.  Romans 12:12

Monday, July 13, 2009

It's Official...Our Hearts Are Taken!

How do you describe the last couple days?  What words can I share to convey our experiences, our emotions, our thoughts here? 

Today we met our boys.  This has certainly been the highlight of the trip.  Watching Abu and Desalegn walk down the steps of the transition home into our arms was a moment we will never forget.  Abu came to me for a hug, but it was clear that the true object of his desire was his "papa."  Joy radiated from his face as he hugged his father, slung a possessive arm over Mike's shoulders while friends snapped pictures, walked hand in hand over to a grassy area, played silly games together with his sandals straps, giggled with glee from atop Mike's shoulders , proudly proclaimed "Look, papa!" to his roommates (who were supposed to be settling down for a nap!).  It is obvious that this boy is in love with his dad.

I discovered that Desalegn is a giggler!  Contrary to all the serious pictures we have received, this kid's hearty laugh comes quickly.  A few tickles, a few funny tricks with a toy car, a few overzealous kisses to the neck region…and this gurgling laugh erupts from his cute little body.  He also displayed his "emotional" side.  Twice, when toys were taken away and given to another child, he did not hit, bite, or scream.  He simply hung his head, moped over to a corner, and pouted.  How hard was it not to laugh at that???  What a tease! 

Our hearts are heavy as we await news of whether both boys will be able to come home with us.  The thought of leaving Abu behind for further medical testing newly required by the CDC leaves us absolutely heart-broken.  Perhaps tomorrow we will have some more answers on that front.

Blessings to you all.

Just the Two of Us


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Today's Excursion

We had the privilege of driving three hours outside Addis Ababa today to visit the area from which our boys came.  Although it was not possible to talk to actual families members due to the remoteness of their location, we were able to visit the children's home to which the boys were originally brought.  This home is associated with Kids Care, a larger orphanage in Addis that cooperates with our agency to find forever families for orphaned children.  This smaller, remote orphanage had a small yard with some tiny concrete block rooms, a main living area with a TV, table, and some cooking equipment, an office, and one room (maybe 10ft. x 10ft.) with several small cribs.  One small baby lay in one of the cribs.  She smiled whenever one of us would lean close and talk to her.

Our guide explained that we were adopting two boys who had been originally placed here.  When he gave her their names, she immediately remembered them.  She estimated that they had arrived about six months ago and had stayed there about one month.  She said that they came very sick with many stomach problems and needed much medication.  She also described her understanding of their family of origin's situation, confirming much of what we had been told.  She even showed us the two beds that the boys slept in during their time there and described them as happy children.  We thanked her for her care for our boys and promised to do our best to continue to care for them well.  She requested that we send pictures J.  What a blessing to have had this opportunity to glimpse this place that served our boys at such a critical time in their lives!

Of course, our drive also provided us the opportunity to take in many other unique sights.  In one town, it was obviously graduation day, with fancily-dressed celebrators lining the streets waving flowers.  In another place, however, hundreds processed solemnly away from a funeral.  One we passed explained that the village witch doctor had passed away.  We saw many of the traditional Ethiopian homes with their grass roofs and mud patched walls and the wide open spaces where farmers plant their crops and graze their sheep, goats, cattle, horses, and donkeys.   While I wouldn't describe the countryside as beautiful—there is a lot of mud (this time of year at least), rocks and boulders, and scraggly grass and trees, the beauty of small things stands out.  The smile of a girl who waves to our van as we drive by.  The tiny purple flowers that roadside along a few fields.  The kaleidoscope of color at the open markets.

For those of you asking "When do you meet those boys???," the answer is Monday afternoon.  We should also hear the results of additional health testing then as well.  When we know more about that we will let you know!  As other families continue to join us here at the guest house, we are certainly very excited for this week's planned events to go into full swing.      

Friday, July 10, 2009


This first day in Ethiopia has been very restful.  After a seven-hour (ear-plug-aided) sleep, I acknowledged the incessantly-crowing rooster and dog chorus outside our guest home.  After devotions, exercise, and a shower, I actually felt quite myself.  Mike and I enjoyed a lovely complimentary breakfast in the guest house lobby.  We were also able to meet some other AWAA families that had picked up their children this past week.  I think they are all flying home tonight.
It was wonderful to share some time with these families.  We talked about their experiences this week and the adjustments involved with the children.  The children appear active and relatively healthy.  Some seem to be adjusting quite smoothly.  It is obvious that others will have a more challenging transition time.  Having the time to observe and discuss different families' situations was enlightening and fun.  I will certainly continue to pray for those I have met here as they make their long journeys home and continue to orient themselves to new lives there.
I was reminded how the little things like teaching a preschooler to say "Please, mommy," or helping a child to know when they have eaten enough are indeed gif things during these beginning days together.  I wonder what little things will be MY big things in just a few days!?
It appears that arrangements have been made for us to travel and visit the area where are boys are from tomorrow morning.  At first, we were told it may not be possible due to road conditions as this is the beginning of rainy season.  It appears that we are cleared to travel now.  We are eager for that opportunity to study the culture and origins of our children, but also a little nervous about all that we may encounter.  Hope to share more tomorrow!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Arrived Safely

After a many hours of travel, we have just arrived safely at our guest house.  Not too much to share tonight, but I'll let you know more tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


I think we have everything packed (and according to the airline's baggage requirements, even!)  Here begins the trip of a lifetime!
Kristy Tapper
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.  Romans 12:12

Friday, July 3, 2009

Boys Room

Here's a peek at our fun design for the boys' room. For months now, whenever anyone asked Ethan about his favorite color, he's been saying "rainbow." I think it's a pretty creative way to let everyone know that you're not into being nailed down to one! Anyway, we weren't too sure about doing our boys' room in rainbows, but we thought that this colorful design might do the trick. As you can see, these kids seem to enjoy it!