Monday, November 22, 2010

Kechene OTO Charm Necklace is HERE!

Nine months in the making...

The necklaces are complete, on US soil and ready for sale.
To preorder ($35), email: with Kechene in the subject line.
Note: Please feel free to repost this to your blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

This necklace was designed to assist young girls aging out of the orphanage system. (remember this post?) Supplies were shipped to the girls, who then created each necklace by hand. I had the opportunity to meet them while in Addis. What an AMAZING group of young women!

and now for the sales pitch...

Number one and most importantly...all proceeds benefit these girls and the Gladney On Their Own project (providing life skills to older girls aging out of the system) throughout Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America.

Number two...they're not mass produced, which gives such a special background to the project. The girls who benefit from the sale of each necklace are the same girls who assembled them (with much excitement and professionalism I might add!).

Lastly...they are very versatile depending on the recipient. I added an "E" to mine, signifying Ethiopia and wore often during our wait. I'll now be adding Niko's birthstone and probably an "N". (note the hidden messaging there with the birthstone reference, making for a great holiday gift for grandmothers, sisters, friends and mothers everywhere)

Our original plan was to create a design that reaches beyond the adoption community, making it possible to maximize the fundraising for these young women. A charm necklace seemed to work best and reach a wide audience.

Kai & I visiting the Kechene girls - xo

I was a bit nervous as Kai & I walked into the Kechene shop in Addis. None of us spoke the same language and I wanted so much to introduce myself and chat with these amazing women. They stared back at me as I oddly mimed various design motions (not easy). I then pointed to my necklace. There was a sudden burst of squeals, smiles and they were rushing forward with loads of hugs. We all began speaking at the same time as if we all now understood each other. It was very humbling and such an honor to spend time with the girls.

The On Their Own mission statement

To provide meaningful financial assistance and educational programs
to older, unadopted orphaned children served by Gladney Center for Adoption
in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America
to prepare them for a safe, self-sufficient life on their own.

from Gladney:

On Their Own provides support for the Kechene Women's Association, an organization of young women who have "aged out," of the Kechene Children's Home in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

There are few opportunities for these orphaned young women once they have been released from government care. Most seek low-level service industry work in Ethiopia and Middle Eastern countries, but pay is extremely low and such work is dangerous in countries with few women’s rights and no citizenship protection. Unfortunately, many fall back on prostitution to provide for themselves.

The young women of Kechene need life-skills to navigate the world, earn a living and use money wisely. They need to learn how to set goals based on safe choices, self-sufficiency, and self-esteem. They need a future that offers a chance for a long, productive, and happy life.

Your purchase of this beautiful necklace supports life-skills programs for the Kechene Women's Association. Every dollar dedicated to On Their Own is stewarded by the Gladney Center for Adoption, a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit organization, to ensure the funds are invested in empowerment projects for orphaned children.

To learn more about the Kechene Women's Association and Gladney's programs for orphans around the world, please visit Gladney's website

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Our Three Month Anniversary


Three months ago today, early afternoon, Niko landed on U.S. soil at JFK with a fabulous greeting from his Uncle Scott (my brother) and his Cousin Jack (our nephew). I'm sure there are many profound things I could be saying right now about this special moment, but because we're spending 100% of our energy during all Niko-waking-moments, I'm a bit fried and at a loss for words. It's a good thing I have a gazillion photos to document these three months!

I will refrain from posting said gazillion shots and limit the assortment to the month's highlights, including HAPPY 1ST BIRTHDAY, MR. NIKO! Yes, he turned one year old this month. I'm seeing this is going to be a very busy month for us for many years to come, as the big day falls very close to Halloween.

How is it that a one year old has three birthday parties, all filled with friends and loved ones? Okay, I get the loved ones part, but how does a one year old already have friends? Impressive, I must say. I will also say I was really into the 'mommy is making cupcakes thing' and then getting a big smile from his little friend, Lilly, who greeted me at the babysitter's door with "Niko's mom...I know you made us Elmo cupcakes and I'm really excited! I love Elmo and I love Niko!"

We have THE best babysitter in the world. This is something for another post, but going back to work was a difficult time with Niko. It was much harder on us than on him. Toward the end of my maternity leave I began taking him over to play and we would both stay about 20 minutes and play with the two other children and leave together. They were so accepting of our attachment & bonding 'rules' that we were very strict to adhere to and after a few trips together, I left him for an hour as a test run (with me two buildings away at home). All went so well and has only gotten better. He now looks forward to playing there and being with his two new friends. We have our morning breakfast dates and playtime and then we walk down the sidewalk (him by himself now holding my hand). The two other mothers clued me in immediately that this will be far harder on me than it will be on him! They were SO right.

Enjoying cupcake #1 all to himself.

So, after the birthday parties, we went straight into Halloween which explains the cow costume.

Next up, the big family Thanksgiving! We followed all the rules (bending some to fit our situation), particularly the two months without large crowds or incoming traffic to the home. It worked and we're so glad we stuck to it. We're still the only ones to feed, bathe and put him to bed and will continue this for many more months. Niko has met all members who will be at Thanksgiving, but NEVER more than a few at a time. His little head is going to be spinning with all the attention and we're prepared for securing some alone time with him. I'm sure it will be needed and I'm so grateful to our family for understanding how we've handled the past three months. I know some things may seem strange at times, but in the end it's all about him, not us.
And I can say with much certainty that these 'rules' are a huge factor in how well he has adjusted to this point. That smile of his is not all due to Kai & I knowing what we're doing! It's from following his lead, taking things seriously and sometimes taking nothing seriously. I've heard it takes six months to really get in your groove. I'm just happy to report, I feel us all now wanting a groove to get into and we're making great progress. There are still ech days, but I must say they're different from that first month of ech days.

Three Months! It feels like Niko has been here forever. It really does and in the most wonderful way.
Our first winter hat & coat...