Saturday, June 30, 2007

Made it to Brussels

We arrived in Brussels safely this morning. Annie is doing well with Auntie Amber or as she's been calling her Daddy Amber. Here is a picture of her working on a calendar we gave her to keep track of the days we'd be gone. We plan to do some sight seeing today and then on to Africa tomorrow morning. We are getting anxious.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Pioneer Press story

The St. Paul Pioneer Press wrote an article that appeared in this morning's newspaper. It's very nice and we're very appreciated to the PP for this article.

WCCO's Turner travels to Liberia
to fulfill a promise

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Liberian Struggle: A Country Torn Apart

Sue Turner

(WCCO) The Twin Cities has the largest population of Liberian immigrants in the country. However, they come from a country ripped apart by war, struggling with basic needs such as water and electricity. Thousands of them are scheduled to be deported this fall.

When Georgette Gray came to the U.S. ten years ago, she thought everyone knew what was happening in Liberia. At that time, most Americans didn't even know where Liberia was.

The country of 3.5 million people in western Africa is coming out of a 14 year civil war that devastated its people, its economy, and its infrastructure.

GO HERE to watch the rest of Sue's story on WCCO today.

We're STILL HERE...Lightening DOES strike twice

Well, they say nothing worth doing is easy. We've been waiting for two years for this day, so you can imagine our level of disappointment. We arrived 1hr 15min before our flight was scheduled to leave...but due to American Airlines' incompetence, we still were not able to make our flight.

We're going to go out to dinner together, something we don't get to do very often anyway...and try to keep our senses of humor. It's difficult when there are two orphans waiting for you...but we'll get there.

Our New Itinerary

Friday, 29Jun
Lv Minneapolis 1200N
Arr Chicago 115P
Lv Chicago 430P
Arr Brussels 740A (Sat)

(spending the day enjoying the sights of Brussels, Belgium. And no, there were no other flights into Monrovia before July 1st!)

Sunday, 1Jul
Lv Brussels 1040A
Arr Monrovia 550P

Our return flights will remain the same.

On Our Way

We're off. We can't believe it. Annie got to Oklahoma City safely (long story short, Scott missed his flight, every flight was booked he had to drive her to Kansas City to meet his folks half way, Amber came to OK today to get her, Thank you Richardsons and Amber for doing all that!)
The next time we post, the pictures will NOT be of us!! Stay tuned, the real journey is just beginning! HOORAY! Thanks everyone for all your well wishes, it means the world to us.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

YouTube Videos

We will be doing our best to upload some video to the blog while we're gone. But we will put all of our videos on our newly created YouTube account. You can find us at

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A & E's Room Ready to Go

We finally finished it! This is A & E's new room. What's that you say? The rest of the house, packing???? Uh,'s not like we're leaving Thursday or anything.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

All About Annie

Today we celebrated Annie's birthday. Her actual b-day is "July 1st in the summer" (as she puts it) but we'll be in Africa on the actual day. We had a blast at ValleyFair in Shakopee, MN.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Still Working on the Room

I know we are taking forever. But Scott ended up painting it because he said it was too blah compared to Annie's bright room so we painted it almost the same colors as Annie's room, blue on bottom, yellow on top and today got a safari border we'll put up. I'm very proud of these wood letters I made, crafty for me ey? They will go over the kids beds. Hopefully we'll have pictures of the completed room by Thursday, the day we leave. I guess this is typical for the 2nd and 3rd child, being down to the last minute with everything. It's not like the first child where everything is finished and folded neatly in their drawers four months before their arrival! T

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Franchising in Africa that Saves Lives

Check this out: some guys in MN started a franchise in 2000 that offers Malaria medication to the people in Kenya. Here is a piece PBS did on it, it's about 25 minutes long.

Letter from Senator Coleman

I am working on a preview story for WCCO about all the Liberian immigrants in the Twin Cities on Temporary Relief Protective Status. That means people who have been here for more than ten years will be deported on October 1st. They will be going back to an unemployment rate of more than 80%.

Scott wrote to US Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN) about this and this is the response he got:

Dear Mr. Richardson:

You may be interested to know that Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) introduced the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act of 2007 (S. 656) on February 16, 2007. This bill would provide permanent resident status adjustment for Liberian nationals who have lived in the United StatesJanuary 1, 2007 and allow a stay of removal for Liberian nationals subject to deportation while their applications for permanent resident status are pending. This bill has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee where it awaits further action. Please know that I will take your views into account should S. 656 reach the Senate floor.

All in all, I am proud of my support for the people of Liberia. On June 25, 2003, I joined with three of my colleagues in calling on President Bush to ensure U.S. involvement in restoring peace in Liberia, which helped accelerate the end of Charles Taylor's regime. I also cosponsored an amendment in 2003 which provided $200 million for the reconstruction of Liberia. At the end of the day, I continue to believe we need comprehensive immigration reform, including strong border and interior enforcement, improved employer verification, and a guest worker program that allows long-time residents to earn a legalized status.

Thank you once again for contacting me. I value your advice. If I may be of further assistance to you in the future, please do not hesitate to contact me again.


Norm Coleman
United States Senate

We Leave For Liberia

One Week From Today!

We received an e-mail today with the latest heights and weights of our children and have learned their last name is Davis, which we will now keep as both their middle names.

Also check out the spelling of Abigail, good thing I didn't have anything with her name on it, although we are putting an A over her bed and an E over Emmanuel's bed

Here is more information on what's going on in Liberia in relation to international adoptions:

Applying for and receiving a passport in a country that has little electricity in all offices, that is not computerized, that has graft, that is not nearly as organized as the US means we don't always get what we want, when we want it. Everyone in the AFAA/Liberia staff is working very hard, staff is being increased, staff has been changed to more efficient people - they are doing their best with all that is involved. This is an international adoption in a country torn up by war - the need is there - the American efficiency is not.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The latest on Liberia from Cheryl

ABIGAIL & EMMANUEL - everything is ready for their family to arrive. The Embassy has completed their field investigation and a room has been reserved at the Royal Hotel.
ELECTRICITY - there is a possibility that the area were our foster home is located may have electricity by the end of the summer.
WEATHER - it is reported to be rainy and cold although I don't think it is a cold like the average American has experienced.. Rainy - absolutely -travelers should plan to take extra shoes and possibly short boots.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Annie Time

I am so excited to go to Liberia and add to our family, but I must admit, I know I'm going to miss the pickle terribly. We've been trying to spend special time with Annie before she has to share us! We are sad we will be away on her 3rd birthday but have decided to have an Annie Day the Sunday before we leave which will be her pretend birthday. We plan to go to an amusement park and spend the whole day with our attention just on her. (Plus then Mommy doesn't have to plan a party) Annie knows all about how she will stay with baby Maddie when we are gone. She had a friend over the other day and they both had their babies and she told Jane, my baby is Baby Maddie!

A & E's Dad
I had thought about trying to meet A & E's Dad who is still alive and lives outside Monrovia. But after asking Cheryl's advice we found that when other families have tried to do this it has caused problems with the family wanting financial support. So we have decided not to attempt this.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Positive News Story Coming to a TV Station Near You!

A few posts back I wrote about a little 9 month old boy named Emmanuel (the name Emmanuel in Liberia must be like John here) who lives in Liberia but is suffering terribly because he was born without an anus. It looks like everything is coming together for him to come to Minnesota for surgery. Here is the letter I received from the surgeon today. I plan to follow his story and hopefully meet him while we are in Liberia. Georgette, the woman who made this possible is obviously thrilled. I'm pretty excited myself!

Ms. Turner.

We have contacted Fairview and University of Minnesota Physicians for a cost exemption for this child’s care. I will do the surgery for no cost and I have talked to the group of anesthesiologist that provides services at the University of Minnesota Children’s Hospital and they have agreed to provide anesthesia services at no cost. We just need to work with the Hospital. Although I do not see a problem, these things take time. I estimate that we could have the child here late summer or early fall for his care. I would go ahead and contact the family for your story as we progress forward.

This child will need a radiological contrast study to examine the colon, a MRI to examine the spine and spinal cord as there is an association of children with an imperforate anus and tethering of the spinal cord. He will also need a kidney Ultrasound to examine the kidneys. His surgery will be conducted in two stages; first to construct an anus and the second to take down the colostomy. Total time in Minneapolis should be about 6 weeks.

Thank you,

Dan Saltzman

Daniel A. Saltzman, M.D., Ph.D.

Chief, Division of Pediatric Surgery

Thursday, June 14, 2007

We Leave for Liberia...

Two Weeks from Today

What one mom who traveled for her daughter in December wrote me today:

"The anticipation of going and meeting your children is so special, and that first day when you meet is indescribable. I couldn't sleep all night, I was so excited! Your children are very, very special."
We are still working on the house, the guest room is ready. Everything else is still a process.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Final Travel Arrangements Made

From Brussels to Liberia we have a stop in Dakar. Dakar is a city in Senegal about three countries north of Liberia, also very small.







Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Our Kids Are Ready!

We received word today, everything is complete on Abigail and Emmanuel's adoption! We will go ahead and purchase the tickets and we are good to go, three weeks from tomorrow.
Also we learned today, almost everyone in Liberia excepts American Money. They don't however accept travelers checks or credit card, that's a bummer!

I had an exceptional lunch today with a woman named Georgette. She was born and raised in Liberia and has started a nonprofit group here in Minneapolis called Ajenia Enterprises. Georgette is about two years older than me. She had her first child at 15. She is beautiful, with perfect skin, and a face that shows gratefulness not stress. But she has had a full plate for many years. She came to America during the war and got her bachelors degree. She now works full time, is getting her masters degree and is raising an 8 year old with her husband who is also Liberian - but they met here. Her husband has been here for 25 years and runs a small taxi company. With all she has going on, at least 7 people in Georgette's family are depending on her for all their expenses. She is able to send about 250 dollars a month to them.
Ajenia Enterprises is named for Georgette's younger sister (she has 11 siblings). Her sister was in her mid 20's and woke up one day perfectly fine, until the middle of the day when she started bleeding from her head, and then bleeding outside her head as a result of an aneurysm bursting. Ajenia layed at her home for 45 minutes with a bucket under her head until someone could find a car to take her to the hospital. However the place where she was living, the town of Caldwell, about 25 miles from Monrovia has no good roads in and out of it. She finally made it to the hospital where she was on a stretcher for hours until a doctor examined her and said, there is nothing we can do, take her to John F. Kennedy Hospital in Monrovia. However the hospital only had one ambulance. By the time the ambulance got her to JFK Hospital, Ajenia was unconscious but still alive. Staff there told her family to take her to the mortuary, she would soon be dead. She was never examined by a doctor. That was in 2000. Georgette is now on a mission to build a road between Monrovia and Caldwell and a medical clinic in Caldwell. She is trying to raise money here in Minnesota to do both. Georgette has also been trying to adopt her niece who was five months old when Ajenia died but immigration has kept her in Liberia. Georgette says families in Liberia are extremely tight and close. She said a family giving up their children because they can't feed them anymore would have been like a family doing that in the U.S. BEFORE the war. She says before the civil war there was no such thing as an orphanage in Liberia.

In addition, Georgette found out about an 8 month old boy three weeks ago who was born without an anus. The baby was sent home as a healthy baby and after two days his parents thought it was strange he hadn't pooped. They looked at him and found there was no opening for him to have a bowel movement. He was rushed to the hospital (rushed in Liberia is not our rushed here) where they opened his large intestine and right now they scoop the waste out into a bag to keep him alive. In the last three weeks Georgette has spent all her time trying to find a hospital here in MN that could help this boy. She found one, and the doctor, who's daughter was born with the same thing, has offered to donate his services. Now she is working to get the hospital to donate theirs and an airline to donate flights for Emmanuel and one of his parents. This family has four other children. However time is ticking. The doctor says this type of surgery, yes it is rare, is best done before the child's first birthday. Emmanuel will be one in August.

Why do I tell you all this? These are stories I'm hoping to do while we are there and bring back and air on WCCO. What a difference we could make for the people of my children's country.

To learn more about Ajenia Enterprises, visit their website:

Getting the taste of America

I asked my other Mom friends what to give the kids to eat when they come home from Liberia. Here are some of their ideas:

The bottom line is, they like their food hot, so when I cooked I just provided hot peppers for her to add to her food. particularly liked soups and stews, along with rice, to which she added her own pepper. Beef and chicken cooked any way are also favorites. was not used to eating vegetables except for cabbage, and it took a while. She never had mashed potatoes, but loves them!

My daughters came home 5+ years ago and we initially stayed away from proccessed foods. This was fairly easy because my kids were toddlers and home the first half year. I guess the bottom line is each child will be different in terms of their food preferences.

had great appetites since the minute they got home. We introduced new foods slowly and pretty much had rice as a side dish for every meal of the day. We haven't had any problems with food allergies. Ketchup was a big hit from the begining and it's used to cover almost everything. When in doubt, add rice!

I'll second the rice, you would think our kids would never want to see rice again but it seemed very much a comfort food and we still have rice several times a week. Our kids are also GREAT eaters. We spend twice as much on groceries than the average family with kids the age of ours. (most toddlers and preschoolers don't out eat their parents at every meal!) They are all big meat eaters and love almost any meat prepared almost any way. It was also a slow process for us with the veggies, but they have all grown accustomed to them. I wouldn't worry to much about it, just take it slow and keep offering foods even if they don't like them the first or fifth time :)

Monday, June 4, 2007

The choir from Zimbabwe

We were in Oklahoma over the weekend and the choir from the Methodist sponsored African University in Zimbabwe (southeast Africa) just happened to be singing at Arthur and Charlene's church Sunday. They were FABULOUS. Their accent reminded me so much of the Liberian one. They had great rhythm too! We had fun celebrating with Scott's parents who had their 40th Wedding Anniversary. Congrats!

Charles Taylor's Trial Begins
The trial for the Liberian warlord starts today. He is being prosecuted by an attorney from Iowa. Today there was an article in the Des Moines Register saying his family is preparing for him to come back to Liberia. I hope not!