Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Month Of November

The month of November has been a busy, happy and exciting month. I turned 33, Tegegn experienced snow for the first time, went to the butterfly conservatory and started on the regular schedule at school, Chance for Change is growing and keeping me busy and Darryl and I bought and started renovating a new rental property. WOW when I put it in writing it seems even busier then I thought it was.

The decision to put Tegegn in school already was a tough one, but when Darryl and I thought about it, it made sense. He does well with routine, wanted to go where his sister was going, and in our minds was ready. He is doing really great. Like I have said in the past, we didn't have many attachment issues, so he doesn't feel like we are abandoning him when he get's on the bus, and is starting to make friends and understand the routine at his school.

Chance for Change is doing great. We have been getting a lot of support from friends, family, adoption community, strangers, actually everyone which is great. We have realized that getting the charity started on the Ethiopia side of things is a little bit more complicated then we were lead to believe originally, so things there aren't up and going yet, but hopefully with a little more time and effort it will all work out.

The butterfly conservatory was a great time. Tegegn loved chasing the butterflies but couldn't understand why they wouldn't stay still and let him catch them He was amazed by the bird who would sit still on the kids and thought it was really great to see so many birds eating in one place. He saw snow for the first time and it was magical. Everyone who knows me knows that I don't love the winter. Actually I wouldn't have a problem living without it (except for about a week around Christmas), but this year is different. When Tegegn woke up the first day there was snow on the ground his excitement made it all worth it. He couldn't believe that it was in the front yard and the back yard. He kept running from door to door to make sure what he was seeing was real. We were outside in our "snowman suits", which is what he lovingly calls his snowsuit before 8:00am making his first snow angles and having a snow ball fight. This was probably the most amazing "first" I got to see.

Emotionally, the shock and disbelief that he is actually here is fading. He has been with us going on 6 months and it feels so right. I did have a moment the other day when it all came back though. I was Christmas shopping. I was in the boys clothing section looking for an outfit for him and tears started rolling down my face. I couldn't believe that I was actually shopping for my little boy that was actually in my house. This was the first Christmas in 3 years that I wasn't standing there saying to myself "it's ok, next year I will be able to buy boys clothes". This year I actually was. This Christmas morning all 4 stockings will be down and filled. Santa will finally have 2 children to bring presents to at the Laferriere house. It's been a long hard road to get here, but we are complete.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

My New Adventure

When Darryl and I decided to adopt internationally I knew that I couldn't walk away from my child's birth country without doing more. I have always wanted to be involved with International development and knew that I wanted to give back to the country that gave me the greatest gift imaginable; my son. I wasn't sure how I was going to do this or to what degree, but I knew that I needed to do something. Having spent a little time in Ethiopia, it doesn't take long to realize the devastation of the country. There is very little health care, social systems, a serious issue with the education system, sanitation problems and the list goes on and on. The one thing that Ethiopia has is a lot of is people that want a better life. Everywhere you go there are people trying to make a living in any way possible. One of the places we visited was a weaving shop. Here they made beautiful hand made scarves which they sold to locals that would then mark them up and sell at a market, or to the few tourists that travel to Ethiopia. When we went into the shop I knew that there was a market in Canada for these (and the ideas began to flow....). What if we could sell these in Canada? We would be supporting Ethiopia by employing people. What a great thing to be able to do. We could then send the money back to the country by the way of supporting projects needed within the country.

So I decided to bring scarves back with us and see, so 52 came home with us. Another amazing organization doing work in Addis Ababa is an NGO that trains handicap and blind people to make a variety of things. One of the things are really cute child backpacks and once again the ideas started, so 6 came home with us. The last thing was coffee. Coffee is the backbone of the Ethiopian economy. It is the best in the world, and part of everyday life for the Ethiopians, so 30 bags made the trip to Canada.

I wasn't sure how this was all going to play out, but I thought, oh well if it doesn't work at least I've helped the local economy a little. When I arrived home I told a few good friends and family about my idea and they were on board.

On July 27, 2010
CHANCE FOR CHANGE INTERNATIONAL OUTREACH received charitable status from the Ontario government.

Great, so we have all this product, we have a what. Well we got to work. We started telling people and in a few weeks we ordered 120 more scarves and 25 more backpacks, and we started developing our marketing plan. Now we needed to decide where the money was going to to.

Having spent a few weeks in Ethiopia gave me some time to make some connections with people there. I was lucky enough to be able to start a relationship with two Ethiopians that already have a name in the Canadian adoption community, and therefore I know are trustworthy, so I asked them where they thought the money would be best spent. There response was "money is needed everywhere". Not a lot of help, but it is the truth. We knew as an organization we wanted to help children and try to change their lives for the long term, not just a band aid solution. And in the end we thought the best way was through education.

Education in Ethiopia and I believe in most developing countries is not only a way to a better job and therefore life, but also the only way for some to get basic information about general health education, sex education and a healthy meal.

An average wage for 80 % of working Ethiopians is between 10-30 birr a day, which is $0.61 - $1.82 Canadian (depending on where you live and your job). School costs approx 100 Birr per year depending on the school. The thing that is most astonishing is the price of the school uniform. The cost is between 185-250 Birr per child $11.21 - $15.15 Canadian depending on the school. I don't think I have to point out the obvious problem. How can families afford to send their children. The answer is most can not. If they can somehow scrap together the 100 Birr per year, they can not afford the uniform, so their children do not go or they rotate the uniform. So in a family with 4 children, the children would go once every 4 days. If you add this to the estimated 5 Million orphans in the country you come up with a huge amount of uneducated youth.That is the reason why Chance for Change International Outreach decided to send all of our proceeds to help youth become educated.

We are doing this in a few ways. We have decided to sponsor a school about 40KM outside the capital city Addis Ababa in a city called
Alemgena. The cost of living there is higher then in Rural Ethiopia because of the proximity to the capital, and therefore education is an even larger problem. We are currently working with the school to decide what is most needed and therefore what our first project with them will be. We also want to help children that can not afford to be schooled get to school. The way we have decided to do this is through our T-shirt Campaign.

We have had t-shirts printed with our Chance For Change Logo on them, and have marked them up the cost of a school uniform. Therefore every t-shirt sold directly sends a child to school. We are selling them for $20.00 for toddler or youth and $25.00 for adult sizes. We are very happy to report that since we have started actively selling our products about 3 weeks ago, we have not only already made $1600.00, but are also sending 10 children to school. Yehhhhhhhhhh

Hopefully by now, whoever is reading this is excited and wants to know where to purchase things. Well we currently have a facebook page!/pages/Chance-for-Change-International-Outreach/144599875584686 (sorry it's so long, we need 100 fans before we get our short URL code) which we are currently setting up our store on. Our website will be coming soon, but for now you could just e-mail me at, or come and see us at one of our events. We are currently at the Kitchener Market in Ontario every Saturday from now until Christmas, and host home parties. Our scarves seem to be the most popular and can only be bought in person because they are each hand made and individual. Below are some pictures of our products. I hope you like them and want to support us to make the lives of some Children in Ethiopia and with any luck other developing nations a little brighter. This is our Chance for Change....

Saturday, October 9, 2010

My Little Boy is 4

4 years ago today (October 10th), my little boy was born. 10 months plus 4 days ago he was brought into my heart with a picture, and 4 months ago less a day he was brought into our family as we drove through the gates of the orphanage in Ethiopia. When I say that: only 4 months ago, I can't believe it. It is like he has always been here. Yes, it saddens me that I don't know what his first word was, or that I wasn't there to see his first smile or his first step, but he has always been with me. Cheesy I know, but it's the truth. I can't imagine my life with out him in it. The thought of that makes me feel empty.

In these 4 months Tegegn has learned..... to ride a big boy bike, speak a language, understand that yes there is running water EVERY TIME you turn on the tap, by flicking a switch the lights do come on, if you press a certain spot on the steering wheel the car honks, Mommy and Daddy WILL come back when they leave, dogs will not always attack you for food, they are nice and friendly, you do get to pick a new shirt, underwear, pants ect. everyday because there is more than one, that you don't need to eat as fast as you can because there will always be more in the fridge, and so much more. AMAZING.... what do we learn in 4 months? Well usually I would say nothing, but these past few months have taught me a lot, and here are a few of the things.

Don't take things for granted.... We all say that but do we really mean it? Well, spending a short time in a third world country will make you appreciate all the little things that you never did before. Things like lights, water, food, stop signs but it will also make you appreciate the life we have. Education for everyone, the ability to become what we want, the opportunity to achieve something in life. Those thoughts don't exist for most people in developing countries because it's unheard of.

Appreciate your journey... We all have sob stories about our past. What our parents did wrong, regrets we have of things never achieved ect.. but most of us don't sit back and appreciate our journey that has lead us to the life that we have. I do now. I look back on all the rights, wrongs and past regrets (even though I don't call them that, they are opportunities never taken or lessons learned from) and appreciate that my life is what it is because of the path I have taken. My son is here with us because of that path.

Respect... I have always been respectful of others and other cultures, but I am more so now. My eyes have been opened that there are completely other ways of living and the way I live is not necessarily the best, but due to where I was born it is the best for my family.

Unconditional love... And I'm not talking about my children's unconditional love. When we were in Ethiopia we had the opportunity to spend a few days in an orphanage because my daughter met a girl that she really got along with, and it was an incredible experience. The people that work at this orphanage did so out of love for these children (most of which were orphans and HIV positive). We don't see that in Canada very often, but it happens all around the world. People give up the little bit that they have to care for others that have less or nothing. It's inspiring.

I can make a difference...Every little bit helps. I can't change the world, but if I can help a few people I can make a difference. That is why myself and a few others have decided and have started a charity to help people in developing countries. This is our Chance for Change (more to come.....)

Patience...I have to be honest. This is one that I am still working on. Adopting a child comes with it's challenges and patience is something you need (more so then I ever did with my daughter). Tegegn understands most things I say, but there is still a language barrier when it comes to explaining concepts of things. There is also getting to know your child that you didn't raise from the start. He is so strong willed, that he likes to test everything I say, and yes the always asking WHY MOMMY WHY????????

These past 4 months have been great. They have been more then I ever imagined and they have changed me in ways that I didn't think would happen.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

3 Months Home!

Well yesterday marked two exciting days. It was Ethiopian New year which we celebrated in Toronto with the 2 other families that we traveled to Ethiopia with and it happened to be 3 months to the day that we all met our beautiful sons together. What an unbelievable experience to share with total strangers that have now become our friends.

3 months have gone by so fast. It seems like yesterday that we arrived at the green gates and walked in. Although we knew it would change our lives, I don't think anyone is ready for it. I have never posted about that day, so I thought that it was fitting to do it now.

After arriving at the Hotel, we all quickly put our belongings in our room and loaded into the van waiting for us. We had called ahead and let Kids Link know that we all wanted to go and see our children right away. So off we went. The van ride was a mixture of trying to get to know each other, awe about the country we were now experiencing, and dis-belief that this day was finally here. After what I think was approx 15 min we were at the head office of kids link. We all emotionally signed the papers that legally allowed us to take our children, we were off again. This time it was only a few minutes and we were at the green gate. We all knew that once it opened, that was it. Life as we knew it was different. For us we would become a family of 4, and no one, not a bankruptcy, a person at the high commission in a foreign country or our own government could change this now!

As they opened the gate, and we drove in, we were comforted by a basic but very pleasant courtyard. There was a swing set, beautiful flowers, laundry hanging and the pictures of children that we were all use to seeing around the kids link logo.

After introducing ourselves to some of the staff we waited. It is a weird feeling to be waiting for a total stranger to walk out with your child. A child that they know and have learned to love. So there we were, making small talk with each other, trying not to look nervous and out of the corner of my eye Hana, the head nurse appears walking down the outside hallway with a shy little boy holding her hand. Any one who knows me can imagine what happened next..........

Tears, tears, and more tears. Darryl and Celine were facing the other way, but I guess the look on my face and the waterfall coming from my eyes made them turn around and see our new family member. As I am writing this today, the hairs on my arms are standing up and my eyes are holding back those same tears. This was a moment that one year earlier, I didn't believe would ever happen.

All of the families there that day had been through their own hell to start or complete their families. The roller coaster to get us there had more loops, drops, and turns then anyone could have imagined or warned us about, but it didn't matter. Within a 1/2 hour we were all holding our beautiful boys and all that was gone. WE DID IT. WE MADE IT.

So fast forward 3 months and Tegegn is in Canada. He is doing so well. He understands most English, and speaks it regularly, plays like a normal almost 4 year old, gets into fights with his sister like all siblings. He just fits. Don't get me wrong, we did have a few weeks that I thought "oh my god, how will we ever get through this", but most of that seems to have past. Although I will never forget the struggles we had to get him to us, the anger about it is mostly gone, because it just feels right, like it was meant to be.

Like I said before, we were lucky enough to be able to share the experience of meeting our son with other families, and we were very honoured to be there to see them welcome their sons. Yesterday was the second time we have gotten together since arriving back form Ethiopia, and it was great. All of the boys have grown and when they get older, it will be wonderful to be able to tell them stories about the day that strangers flew half way around the world together to meet their children!!!!

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Real Beauty of Ethiopia....THE CHILDREN

Although it is very sad to see the poverty, these children are absolutely beautiful!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Animals of Ethiopia

Big, small and scary!!!!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Ignorance of People

This article was in the globe today, which I found fitting after my experience at the store this morning. It went something like this:

Cashier: Are they both your children?
Me: Yes they are
Cashier: What is different?
Me: Blank stare.......
Cashier: Not from the same father?
Me: What I wanted to say was (Are you kidding me. How rude are you. It is none of your business), what I did say was Yes they have the same father.

I don't have a problem answering questions about adoption. I'm actually very proud to, but honestly......

Yes, I am a real mother - The Globe and Mail

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Beauty of Ethiopia!

So I've gotten in trouble from a few people about not sharing any pictures, so my next few posts will be exactly that. Pictures we took on our trip. Enjoy!!!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Friday, July 30, 2010

Our Children in Ethiopia

Having spent almost a month in Ethiopia gave our children a lot of time to bond. What an amazing opportunity that was to witness. Total strangers put together as siblings. Here are some pictures of those precious moments.