Thursday, March 10, 2011

More Ethiopia

Here are a few more pics from our first trip.  We didn't really do any sight seeing this time - that will be part of the next trip. These are just pics we snapped as we were being escorted to and fro.
(mom, you can click on the pics to make them bigger)

view from the balcony at the transition home

the steps outside the dining room at the transition home
the big kids were in there for lunch

the chore that never ends, washing diapers

some jinky wiring at the transition home.  my engineer is a tad concerned.

 just hanging.

new construction.  the stick scaffolding also concerns my engineer.  

sewing.  outside.  with the very first sewing machine. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Away We Go: Our Day in Court

Our court date was set for Friday, February 25 at 9am, our last day in Ethiopia.  We arrived a few minutes late, but that didn't really matter.  Apparently, in Ethiopia,  when you have an appointment at a certain time, it's really more of a suggestion, or a possibility.  We climbed 18 flights of stairs (well maybe it was only 2, but if you factor in the elevation of Addis, it was 18) to get to the waiting room. Where we waited.  And waited.
The room was polarized.  A mix of joy and pain.  Happy and sad.  Smiling, adoptive parents, sitting right alongside solemn birth parents, waiting to give their final statement of surrender.  It was hard not to feel guilty.  So many families having to experience such loss at a time when I got to experience such joy. 
We were the second family called to appear before the judge.  We were lead to an adjacent room, the size of a closet, where 2 young women sat behind desks piled high with folders.  Jeff and I had agreed before hand that he would be the one that would do the talking.  I was too nervous.  And I feared I would say or do something that botch the whole thing.   But once the judge started asking us questions I couldn't keep my mouth shut.  I felt like I was rambling on when all she wanted was a yes or no.  She asked us if we were prepared to be a multi-racial family, if we planned to educate her about Ethiopian culture and if our other children were ready to have a sibling.  I guess I didn't botch things up too badly because after about a minute and a half of questions, she closed our folder, looked up, smiled and said "You are approved, she is yours".  Tears of joy.  She is ours.  

outside the courthouse

We got to go back to HOH to play with Wren before our flight left that evening.  We soaked up our last moments together.  We played her more music.  More bubbles. More peek'a'boo.  More hugs and high-fives.  More falling asleep in my arms.  I knew that leaving her would be hard.  And that I would cry.   But I still wasn't prepared for how hard it was, and how much I would cry.  But it is only temporary, that's what I tell myself.  And I know she is getting the best care.   (Her nannies are amazing!  They love those kids so much!)

first official family photo

Hopefully we will be able to go get her in about a month.  Between now and then she will be getting a birth certificate, medical exam and passport.  Her room here is ready.  Her brothers are getting pretty excited.

I still have some guilt issues.  I still think of her birthmother.  Of all the birthmothers and families that feel they have no other option but to surrender their children.  It's not fair.  Not fair that because I was born in America, I get to be her mom.  Heavy, huh?  So I will wrestle with theses issues, taking them to God.  Trying to figure out how to deal with this social injustice.  I am convicted that there is more for me to do...

Friday, March 4, 2011

Away We Go: Part 4

Looking back now, the rest of our time in Ethiopia was kind of a blur, full of happy and sad, excitement and anxiety.    I am glad I took the time to journal about it each day, preserving details I was sure I would never forget, but already have.
We woke to a freshly made hot breakfast every morning (except the one when the power was out) and were then taken to the HOH to see Wren.  We were nervous each time, not knowing if she would be glad to see us.  But she was always happy, even when wasn't feeling so hot for part of our visit.  Runny nose and an icky cough made for a sleepy girl.  She fell asleep in my arms twice - which is just the best feeling, let me tell ya.  We got to perform other normal parental duties as well, like change her diaper and feed her lunch (they feed her so much!  it's like an enormous bowl of cream of chicken soup).

After our morning visits our driver would take us back to the guest house for lunch, which was always accompanied by coffee and Coke.  Coffee and Coke.  Coffee and Coke.  Every meal, all the time. Even at breakfast.  Not sure if you know this, but coffee is kind of a BIG deal in Ethiopia.  Coffee was born in Ethiopia and coffee ceremonies are held daily.  We didn't have the chance to be part of a coffee ceremony on this visit, but will on the next.

After Wren's afternoon nap we got to back for our second visit of the day.  Again, she was always easy going and easily entertained.  We would played music from our computer or phone to see what her reaction was.  She especially loved the itunes visualizer and some old school Michael Jackson.  Ya gotta start somewhere...

On our second to last day in Addis we were able to meet Wren's birthmother.  For weeks I had been very nervous about this meeting.  Like, sick nervous.  I really had no idea what to expect.  Her mother had traveled from southern Ethiopia, a two day trip, to go to court and then meet us.  Even thinking about it now I get uneasy.  She was very polite, she answered most of our questions. It was hard to tell if she was sad or bitter.  She was very reserved, showing no real emotion.  My heart broke for her. I am sure it was painful for her.  So needless to say, it wasn't an easy meeting.  I'd go as far to say it was the most awkward moment of  my life.  We will save the details of our meeting for Wren.  It is her story, her family history.  As awkward as it was, I am glad we had the opportunity to meet her and someday share it with her daughter.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Away We Go Part 3: The Day We Met

We left our house at about 3:30 am.   It was dark.  And I was deliriously tired.  And nauseatingly nervous.  The flight to DC was a breeze.  The flight to Addis was not.  It was a full flight, so there was no stretching the legs or sprawling out over a row of seats.  I got to sit next to a man who had no shame.  A nose picking, armpit scratching and beer guzzling stinky stranger.  I did not sleep the entire way there.  It was painful and I was on the verge of tears.  I was quite a mess.  When we arrived in Addis there was no one to meet us at the airport.  A Children's Hope rep should have been there to pick us up and take us back to House of Hope II, the CHI guest house for adoptive parents.  But no. We waited.  And waited.  We finally decided to try and call HOH.  No dice.  Our phone could not get service, and we couldn't figure out the pay phones at the airport.  And we were cranky and tired.  I guess we must have looked pretty pitiful because a woman approached us and asked if she could call someone for us.  Hoorah!  We finally got ahold of our escort, who showed up at the airport about 30 minutes later.  Apparently there was some miscommunication between our agency and the HOH director about our arrival day.  
We made it to the HOH II  so we could get some rest and have lunch before going to the transition home to meet our daughter.
The children are at the House of Hope, aka HOH, aka The Transition Home.  It is about a mile from the guest house where we were staying.  Wren was waiting for us when we got there.   She was in a very good mood, singing and smiling, happy to see us.  Her nanny carried her upstairs and lead us to a family room, where all the magic family bonding happens.  It is just a plain room with some tables and couches.     At first she was not too keen on being left alone with us, but after just a few minutes she warmed up to us and her nanny snuck out.    Wren was very excited to show us her new shoes.  She would point to them, smile and say "chamas" (shoes).  We would take them off and put them back on - that was a fun game.  She was also entertained by the computer and the phone and a piece of cardboard she found under the sofa.  We left the transition home late in the afternoon.  Wren was very sleepy - she had skipped her nap to see us.  We would go back the following morning for some more bonding/play time.

sleepy wren.  sleepy mommy.  

Our drive took us back to the HOH II, where we had dinner.  It was a traditional Ethiopian meal; cooked veggies, rice, some mysterious meatball things, and injera - a traditional Ethiopian bread.  everything was great, except the injera.  Some people love it, some hate it.  It looks like a giant pita, but it tastes nothing like pita.  It's spongey.  And sour.   And kind of bitter.  It is used as a utensil; just tear off a piece of injera and pinch up some rice and veggies.  It wasn't our favorite, but it is the pride of Ethiopian cuisine, so we cleaned our plates.
There were no other CHI adoptive parents making the trip with us, so we were the only ones at the guest house.  It was lonely and we would have loved to have had the opportunity to meet and talk with other adoptive parents.  Hopefully next time!

our (messy) room at the House of Hope II

exterior of HOH II