After we’d waited a year to bring our son home you’d think I’d be prepared for when we finally got travel approval, however that was not the case. The day after we received approval I was flying to Houston for three days for a heart cath. Cole and I were busy searching for flights, changing appointments, rearranging his work schedule, making childcare plans, not to mention school beginning the following week. It was a CRAZY week filling out 2 million back to school papers for 9 kids, packing, worrying about my mom coming to stay with our 3 littles and two foster daughters, arranging some help for her and having a few surprises thrown in like car trouble and Traye having to have his two front teeth removed due to an accident and all of that left me staying up way too late packing last night but I got about 2 hours of sleep before the alarm went off. Who cares… I’m gong to get my son!

We left home about 4:45 headed to Birmingham. We had an 8am fight to Detroit then on to Beijing. About half way to Birmingham my mom called to say that Delta had called and delayed our flight 2 hours to Detroit which would cause us to miss the flight to Beijing. We immediately got on the phone, actually 3 phones calling Delta. We arrived at the airport and still had not had an agency representative answer. We stayed on the phone and waited in line at the gate. We finally made it to the front of the line ( over 90 minutes on hold and still no agent)> He tells us the system has automatically rebooked us for a similar schedule the following day. Well, if you’ve ever been in the path of a mama trying to get to her child then you can only imagine my feelings. He said that was really the only option so we decided to wait for a ‘Red Coat” to see if he might could help further because mama bear was about to go cray cray on this man telling me to come back tomorrow when I was sure tomorrow would have brought the same delays. I was adamant that we were getting somewhere today that would allow us to be where a flight to Beijing departed.

After waiting over an hour the Red Coat finally showed up. Cole was telling me to be salt and light and how kindness gets you further. I thought he had that covered pretty well so I went forward with the mama passionate about getting to my kids and positive that there was a way to get us somewhere today. When he walked off to see what options he could find I assured my kids we had shown him the best of both world: kind, patient and cooperative as well as making the urgency clear in getting to my son! In the end it seemed to be my mama’s passion that motivated him the most 🙂 and he came back with a plan for us to leave for Atlanta, catch a flight to Tokyo ( at least it’s Asian), then Beijing then on to Zhengzhou, Henan. We were originally scheduled to get into Zhengzhou after Midnight and then get Jim that morning at 9:30. Due to the delays and flight changes we knew we’d miss the last flight out go Beijing for Zhengzhou that we had been scheduled for but off we went, and figured we’d figure out a plan when we get there.

Our flights were pretty uneventful. We originally and all the kids lined up in a row all with wind seats so they could have a place to rest their head on the 15 hour flight but that was no more, but WHO CARES…. we were on a plane getting closer to my son!


by Joy Portis on October 17, 2011


>January 28, 2007 and Photos

by Joy Portis on January 28, 2007


We are currently in the air about an hour before we land to refuel in Rome. It has been a good flight so far and started out with some good laughs. When we first got to our seats we started playing with all the buttons: reclining our seats, letting up the leg support, checking out our bag of personal hygiene supplied and sleep aids…. Once we got comfortable and after we finished watching our beautiful Ethiopian hostesses we decided to turn on our lights and read a little bit. Well, we kept mashing out buttons but nothing happened. After several times I realized the man’s light, who is sitting in front of Kim was going on and off as she pressed her button. Every time her would look up, try to bush his light button but nothing happened and then he would reach and try to manually twist the light to get it to turn off. We were in tears laughing and after a few more times we had to stop because we couldn’t control our laughing We then asked the hostess to try but only a few lights in the business class seats actually seem to be controlling the correct lights. Oh well, they gave us plenty of snacks and food so we were in good moods and just glad that our TV screens appeared to be working. While we had dinner I watched You, Me and Dupree and got several looks as I had to laugh out loud during several parts. Kim watched Step Up and when they finished we both took a Lunesta and settled in for a nice long nap.

I don’t know what is wrong with my body, I guess it’s the anticipation of meeting my daughters, but I just couldn’t sleep much. I guess I slept from 10 pm – 2 :15 (central time) at which time they woke us to tell that they were beginning to serve breakfast. Still not sure why since on US time it was way to early for breakfast and in Ethiopia it’s almost lunch, but I guess they had to get it done before landing in Rome to refuel. So my watch says it’s 3:50 am and we have just finished breakfast in bed and now they are pouring champagne 🙂 GOOD MORNING !!

We can finally see Africa on the screen that show’s flight status, etc. Very exciting !! We are getting really close and more excited. For now I’m going to try and get a little more sleep and I will hopefully get to update later!!!


>January 27, 2007 The Journey Begins !

by Joy Portis on January 27, 2007

Needless to say, I didn’t get very much sleep last night! After taking 2 Tylenol PM I was able to fall asleep around 12:30. I had my alarm set for 5:40, but I woke up at 4:30 and couldn’t go back to sleep. Just what I needed… to make a long day even longer

I decided to try and rearrange my packing so I could fit more in my carry on. Around 6:45 mom and dad arrived with Kim and her luggage. Jon Cole was laying in my bed watching cartoons and drinking chocolate milk when they drove up. I told him they were here (so he could greet them at the door) and he hopped out of bed, still in his pajamas, ran past me and casually said “bye”! He was ready to go with them to Millbrook!! I explained that they weren’t ready to leave with him yet and that they were staying until our ride to the airport arrived.

We arrived at the Atlanta airport around 10:30 for our 12:30 flight. There wasn’t a long line to check bags, but each person took forever. They finally got to us and the time came to weigh our bags……… the first was 80 lbs!!! We had one exactly 50 lb’s, 73 lbs, 75 lbs and 68 lbs !! The weight limit on Ethiopian air is 70 lbs per bag, but for the United flight to Washington it was only 50lbs. I’m not a stranger to having to pay a fee for my over weight bag but it is usually $25. She was charging $50 per bag!! Fortunately for us we got the employee who had had her morning coffee and she only charged me for 2.

The flight to Washington was only an hour and a half and was uneventful, other that the rough spot of turbulence. There was a beautiful 8 month old baby one row in front of us and we played with her and we got even more excited about seeing our girls!!

Once we arrived in Washington we couldn’t find any listing of our flight ( we were to early for it to even be posted on the board yet) so we found a place to get some food! We were hungry, and if you’ve ever spent much time with anyone from the Mikell family, you know how important it is for us to get food when our bodies indicate that it’s time. It can get pretty ugly!! We enjoyed our lunch, had smiles on our faces, and headed of to find Ethiopian Airlines.

When we made it to the counter there was only 2 people in front of us, but it took quite a while. We had to check in and get our boarding passes and also got passes to the British Air Lounge where we currently are. There was a beautiful little Ethiopian boy in a stoller about 1-2 years old and we kept playing with him while his mom was having issues with the ticket guy. It made me long for my girls!!! Only a few more hours… The time in the lounge has passed pretty quickly. We have snacked, done some reading, enjoyed listening to the other conversations in the room (currently the Canadian Ambassador is giving travel advice and must see sites to a group of senior citizens on a tour together…we are taking notes) and watching CNN. I can’t remember the last time I sat for this long, and I’m sure it will be a LONG time before I get the chance again, so I’m trying to enjoy it. We have about an hour left before we head to begin boarding our flight to Addis Ababa !! We plan on taking our Lunesta, passing out and waking up in Ethiopia !! Until we are there….

Please Keep Us In Your Prayers!!


>They are Officially Portis’

by Joy Portis on January 4, 2007

>We have been waiting to be assigned a court date, which we do not travel for but after which they are legally our children. Our agency closed the Friday before Christmas and didn’t return until January 2nd, but obviously things in Ethiopia were still moving. Today, January, 4th, while skiing in Colorado I received a message from Michelle, my case manager. I called her back and found out our court date was YESTERDAY, January 3rd, and it was successful so they are ours! Michelle thinks we will be assigned an Embassy date, which we travel for, the end of January. We probably won’t have more than 7-10 days notice before our Embassy date, so we will just wait!! THank you all for your prayers and support! We are so excited !


>Video of my GIRLS!

by Joy Portis on December 5, 2006

>These are from November when several people from our agency traveled to Ethiopia. The went down to Soddo and interviewed the children and got updated measurements. I am clinging to these every day until I can hear and see them in real life! It’s getting closer…….

Here is the link to the video of Emush (Emme)


This is the link to video of Tewabech (Zoe)


It’s not the greatest quality, but at least you can see them!!!


>Our 171H came in the mail!!!

by Joy Portis on November 17, 2006

>The sweet lady in the USCIS office in Atlanta knew I have been waiting for months on our 171H and was so sweet to email me on the 9th to let me know that she had processed and approved out immigration clearance!!! It took a few days to get thru the system, but it came in the mail TODAY !!!! Now we can be assigned a court date!

One step closer!



by Joy Portis on November 10, 2006

Soddo, Wolaita is 7 hours south of Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. Tewabech is currently living in this area with a neighbor. I would really love to visit this area when we travel to have an understanding of where she has lived and what her life has been like. We have been strongly advised against this. It is a long drive (7 hours one way)) and the roads are bad and there are no hotels there. There is a place we could stay, but there is no running water or electricity [do you really think Cole would go for that :)] It’s hard to even imagine what her life has been like. Days filled with hard labor, little food, no running water or electricity in a mud hut, fear of lions, hyenas, etc. She is about to face major culture shock. When our dossier arrives in Ethiopia (I’m mailing it to our agency tomorrow) they will bring her to CWA’s care center in Addis Ababa. While there they try to begin preparing them for their trip to the USA. She will probably be there 1-2 months before we get to travel and bring her home.

Steve Gardner, of Kingdom Kids, has video footage of the Soddo area and has promised us a copy when he finishes editing it. That way we will have an idea of what it is like and she will have it to remember and view when she grows up. Since they began the older child program they have gone to the area three time to interview children in need of homes. They plan to go every three months and expect to have around 200+ each time. Overwhelming!!! Do you have room in your house and heart for them?

Below are some links I have found with pictures, info, on the Sodo area





This is a link to a report on the many orphans in Africa. It’s really hard to even comprehend. It’s so easy to get consumed in our daily lives and not think of those in such need all over the world. I pray we would all find some way to help and not just forget these little ones.

CNN.com – Amanpour: World fails to save Africa’s AIDS orphans – Jul 19, 2006