Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Day 5

This morning I was up and on the computer by 7:30am and our wake-up call wasn't even until 8:00. Although we saw John and Angela and met one more family (Ben and Leah) the night before briefly, while we were checking in, I was so excited to meet everyone! There is a special bond that you share with other adoptive families. Knowing that God had called each family to specifically adopt from Ethiopia and He brought our particular group together had me very excited! I was not a bit disappointed as each and every family was wonderful!! I wish they all lived close by, but location could never diminish the bonds we felt on this trip! I would soon find out that would also include the America World staff in Ethiopia!! Each and every person working for America World was kind, humble and helpful!!

We met downstairs and I had my first guest house breakfast...another delicious meal. The chef made these amazing cheese omelets (which I had every day thereafter) and I also enjoyed some mango yogurt and a pancake sort of thing which was cut into pie shaped wedges! I have to say, I definitely missed my peppermint mocha creamer so I got into the terrible habit of drinking a Pepsi at breakfast. Oh well, I'm sure I burned the extra calories walking up and down those stairs!!

After breakfast, we headed for the Hilton hotel for our paperwork party. You feel like you are in a completely different place at the Hilton. They had a gorgeous giant outdoor pool which must have been heated because there were many enjoying it and absolutely beautiful landscaping!! It felt like a stateside five star hotel! We sat at a long table all together under a canopy and listened to Duni as she began preparing us for the emotions and excitement the week would bring! She had wonderful advice and it was obvious she was passionate about these precious children!! I had a few minutes to talk to her before we began and her story is fascinating. She moved to the states (from Ethiopia) at 16. Her mom started the Kid's Care orphanage in Ethiopia. To begin, Duni didn't think she wanted to follow in her mom's footsteps and do social work, but the Lord brought her to work at America World (located in Virginia) and now she and her husband (who is also from Ethiopia) have moved back to Ethiopia and work in country. She was an inspiration to me to someday live in Ethiopia. Not sure when, or for how long, but Matt and I definitely have short term missions (thinking every other summer) on our hearts right now. We are praying for guidance on this!!!

David, Robel and T (our driver and guides...whom we came to love dearly!)

Next began the fun-filled time called the paperwork party. If you've gone through an international adoption or know someone who has, you know this last statement is filled with sarcasm. The word paperwork gives me hives (kinda kidding, but not really). :) Matt was VERY gracious to offer to fill out these papers since I had done 90% of the paperwork over the last 17 months.

Can't  you tell how much fun everyone is having filling out the paperwork?

I learned to trust this man quickly with my life.  If you ever get a chance to ride in a car/van on the streets of Addis Ababa, you'll see what I mean!!  He was an awesome driver!!

Once the paperwork was complete, we stayed for lunch. Matt ordered tibs and I wished I had! But, I did have two awesome machiatos (sp?) and a yummy roll that tasted like a pretzel.

Soon we noticed Duni had pulled away one of the families and their conversation looked very serious. We found out one of the children's recent x-rays had shown a spot and it was possible Lymphoma. I think in that moment the compassion our group felt for that couple and the way our hearts hurt for them was a time of bonding! We all stopped and prayed for them and their little girl. (good news coming later in the day).

While we were finishing up lunch Robel,one of the in country guides, sat by Matt and I. We were able to visit with him quite a bit and had a taste of the how the Ethiopian culture values relationships. From Robel, and honestly everyone there, we felt a sense that our stories were important to them and their time with us was meaningful.. There is no rush and no barriers to friendship...just genuine interest! Very much a sense of community! We also asked Robel about Yacob. He looked at the paperwork showing where the police station was located (where he was taken when he was found abandoned). He said it would be an 8-10 hour trip, but that maybe there would be more information in the report. We will definitely be going the next time we are in Ethiopia.

Next it was time to get to the Transition Home. Although I was excited to see Yacob again, I was so very excited to get to experience the other families meeting their children for the first time! What a gift that God allowed me to see Yacob (not once but twice) beforehand so that I was able to fully focus on capturing images for the other families and really feel their emotions!! It was an experience I'll never forget! I would love to post some of those images, but will refrain for privacy of the families.

The families adopting babies went first because this transition home was where the babies were. The big kids (I think 2 and over) lived at a different home close by and they were being brought by van).

After all of the babies and older kids were introduced to their families they brought Yacob to us. I was very nervous about what his reaction would be. They handed him to me and he was good for about 2 minutes (I think he had been asleep) and then the recognition came and so did the screams. He again screamed for about 30 minutes until he wore himself out and fell asleep! Poor, precious baby! While I was walking around with him asleep in my arms the mom who had heard about the x-ray of her daughter came to tell me the test was negative for Lymphoma or TB, she was totally fine!! Oh, I can't even describe the joy in my heart and in her eyes!!! After a few more minutes it was our turn to talk to the doctor. He said he wanted to see how he was doing when he woke up. He seemed surprised and a bit concerned that he screamed and cried for three days with us that severely! When Yacob woke up I had a bottle ready (smart nannies) and in his mouth it went before he could cry. By the end of the bottle I think he realized I wasn't going to hurt him and maybe we were okay. He didn't like to make eye contact with me or Matt (although he would look at Matt more by the end and even reached for his glasses twice). The doctor said he was a very smart baby and that the crying was probably because he was so very aware of the emotions etc. He also said that him showing the emotions was a great sign for our future bonding. I think some children just get immune to emotions. They have so much grief and suffering that they become desensitized and that they then have a very hard time bonding. Breaks my heart!! The doctor was definitely right that Yacob would be able to bond. After that day we have been best buds and he has been an extremely happy little baby boy!! Oh, the blessings continue!!

exausted from all that crying!

precious little hands!!

I took this one with my heavy camera in one hand and Yacob in the other!  Sooo happy I captured one of his first smiles for us!
The oh-so-astute staff at America World planned a spa day for the ladies. Leaving our babies behind (especially for those that had just met them for the first time) was super hard so they put us in a van and sent us straight to the spa. The spa is amazing!! Christy met us there and we both were able to get hour long massages and pedicures. Everyone did end up having to wait on us, but they were super patient and didn't mind (I'm telling you, impatience and uptightness go out the window in Ethiopia...it is wonderful!!!).

That bottle of oil was full when she began my massage!

After the spa we headed back to pick up the guys and headed out for a traditional Ethiopian dinner. The restaurant had dancers that performed many traditional dances. The moves they could make were amazing! We had some kind of try it all plate. Many different sauces and meats to eat with the injera. It was great having Christy there to decipher some of it!

Very fun and entertaining dinner!!                                                                                                  

washing our hands before the meal...                                                                                                   

This was the first time I had seen a dark and light injera...both were yummy!!                                       

After dinner it was back to the guest house. I tried to Skype but the Internet was not cooperating! I did get through by Skype phone (never video) to Madison who told me they had talked to Abby and Max and Max was very sad. He is my precious sensitive little one. He still, two months later, tells Matt and I all the time, I miss you when you are gone!!

This would be my last night to have the bonus of taking Ambien and what I thought would be my last night of a full night's sleep for a while...I would be happily very wrong!!
I wrote in my journal tonight that I wonder what the next 2-3 months will be like for our family! I couldn't have dreamt that things would be so wonderful!!

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