Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Since We Have Been Home...


Since we have been home, so much has been going on! First, we recently bought a home that needed quite a bit of renovation (I mentioned this in a previous post). While we were in Ethiopia, most of the painting was done, the hardwood was installed, the tile was installed, and a few other things were done. Since we have been home, the carpet has been installed, the counter tops have been installed, and we have managed to get into more projects than we anticipated :) Of course, our goal is to obviously have the house ready by the time we bring Noah home, but we also would like to have it ready a little bit earlier so that Caleb can get used to his new home for a few weeks before he also has to get used to having a brother :)


In the midst of all this work, last weekend was my 10 year high school reunion. I helped with a few preparations and also with the decorating and cleanup. It was a busy and fun weekend (the picture is from the reunion).


Also, since we have been home, I had a short stay in the emergency room. My stomach was not feeling right the first week home from Ethiopia- I was having extreme stomach pain and some other issues. I assumed I had picked up something in Ethiopia. At the beginning of our second week home, everything intensified, and Monday night I was laying in bed literally moaning with pain. I had not been sick to my stomach since I was 7 years old, so this was all new to me. Before I knew it, I was in the bathroom vomiting everywhere (sorry, gross, I know). I could not stop, and I quickly asked to be taken to the hospital. Thankfully whatever they gave me stopped the vomiting. Turns out it wasn't anything I caught in Ethiopia, just a bad virus going around. Thankfully by the end of the week I was eating solid foods and beginning to feel human again. I feel great now and I am making up for the days when all I could eat was Jello. That being said, I am praying God will completely restore my health so that when the time comes for us to make our second trip to Ethiopia, I will be ready to go!


Speaking of our second trip to Ethiopia- our embassy date is still tentatively scheduled for September 22, which would have us leaving on the 19th, and hopefully returning on the 25th. We should know in a couple weeks if that date is a go.


Needless to say, we have been thinking a lot about Noah lately. I can not get over the fact that we had to leave him in Ethiopia. We wonder if he thinks of us, or if he has forgotten about us. We wonder if he understands that we are coming back for him, and that when we do, he will be leaving with us to become a part of our family forever. It is hard to know what he is thinking, but one thing is for sure, we can't wait to have him here. We miss him so very much. Caleb often asks us about him, and asks us when he is coming home. He is going to be a great brother to Noah!


One things that has struck me since we have been home is just how blessed we are to have such wonderful family. Thank God for my parents and for Zack's parents. While we were gone, my parents took over managing the projects at the new house (until my dad had to have emergency gallbladder surgery). My mom has been giving all her free time to either watching Caleb while I work part time or to working on the new house. My dad helps out in the evening after work. Zack's parents and sisters took awesome care of Caleb in our absence and also relieved my mom of double care giving duties (for my dad and Caleb). I don't what we would have done without them during that time. We are so blessed and truly thankful!


That leads me to one more quick note- We were given the opportunity to establish a fund with Lifesong for Orphans so that individuals could contribute to our adoption as they felt led. At the end of the deadline for giving, around $4200 had been contributed! Amazing. Really amazing. We are overwhelmed at the generosity we have been show. And definitely a God thing. Why do I say that? Well, we had been praying that God would provide the cost of our travel for our first trip to Ethiopia. The new two trip rule is quite a financial burden for most families, as the cost is doubled for travel. I kid you not, our plane tickets for our first trip were just a few dollars over $4200- Is that not amazing! Almost to the dollar, God provided! How can we do anything but give him glory!


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Friday and Saturday in Addis

 

Friday we woke to a light rain that didn't last long. We had made arrangements the day before to visit AHOPE, an orphanage for children whom are HIV positive. We had also brought donations to give to the orphanage, and we were really looking forward to visiting.

 

When we arrived the children were playing in the courtyard. As most children do when they see Americans come to visit, they quickly ran to us and grabbed our hands to engage us in play.  So cute and sweet! Several parents of the children who are still waiting to visit Ethiopia had asked me to take photos of their children, which I gladly did. Some parents also sent letters and cards filled with lots of fun things like photos and stickers. I always love watching the children open up gifts from their parents, as they get so very excited. I tried my best to catch it all with my camera.  The only sad part about delivering letters and taking photos of certain children is that the ones who do not have parents yet are reminded of just that- they are still waiting for a family. One boy inparticular, probably about 8 or 9 nine years old, understood exactly what were doing. He also understood that we did not seem to be there to visit just one child, as we would if our child had been living in this orphanage. In the best English he could, he pointed at me and asked me to take him to America. How do you respond to a child when he asks something like this? My heart ached for this sweet young boy. II told him that he would be going to America sometime soon, though I know as well as he does that the chances of this happening are very slim. Most people who do consider adoption do not consider adopting an older child, let alone a child with HIV.  He made this clear by gesturing with his hands and saying that small children get to go to America- but not him. Again, he asked if we would take him to America. I pray that there is someone who will take him to America very soon. All this child wants is someone to love him.

 

After visiting AHOPE, we grabbed a quick bite to eat for breakfast, then headed to Layla House to check on Nigus.  When we arrived he was with the Kindergarten class, working on tracing the alphabet. He had on a purple vest, as did all the other Kindgergarten children. Each class wears different colored vests to identify their class. He seemed to be interacting well and we were really pleased to see that he felt comfortable enough to stay with his own age group.  When he saw us he seemed a little unsure, so we let him continue with his lesson and went into the courtyard to watch some of the other kids play soccer. The courtyard area at Layla House is entirely concrete, there is one basketball goal with no net, and two soccer goals with no net. The kids love to play soccer, and especially love it when the adults join in. Zack had a great time playing while I took pictures and videotaped. He isn't too bad for an old man.

 

When Noah finished his lessons, we went into the classroom. He didn't really acknowledge us, but we hugged him and sat with him and spoke to him the best we could. We can not imagine all he must be feeling at this point, so we are just trying to do our best to let him know how much we love him and how much we want to be his family,  and all that entails. When it was time for us to leave, he again began to cry a bit, so we do really believe that he cares for us too.  I admit, it is difficult to have a positive attitude when we are unsure of exactly how Nigus feels about us, especially when he seems to be so sad and despondent around us. However, we trust that God has called us to be his parents and that he will supply the strength, love, and wisdom to be parents to Noah. I can not wait to be able to bring him home and give him the love and care he needs. The nannies and other staff at Layla House do a great job, but with around twenty other children in Noah's class, there is no way he can get the attention and love a family will provide. I know that with time, love, and God's great mercy, his sad eyes will be full of life and joy and he will be enjoying life as any 4 year old boy should. I can't wait for that day!

 

Zack and I took a little break at the guest home after leaving Layla House. Good timing, as the first major rain had settled on Addis. If you like to take a nap while it is raining, I couldn't think of a better place to do it than Addis. The tin roofs create a beautiful sound, and because of the awesome weather in Addis, you can smell the rain through the open windows. I enjoyed a short nap and after waiting a few minutes for the rain to settle down, we headed to Kaldi's (a really awesome coffee place) for lunch. Kaldi's is a really cool place in Addis, similar to Starbuck's but with much more reasonable prices. But the food and drinks are just as good.

 

When we arrived back at Layla House, Noah was with his classmates listening to music and watching the Ethiopian Television Channel. Ethiopian Television has a music television program that shows music videos with traditional Ethiopian dancing. The kids love it and they can imitate the adults and dance very well. I was able to video tape the kids dancing- great memories. Noah did not participate much, just sat with the other children. His teacher told us that this is a big change for him, very new, but "step by step" he would adjust. She must have sensed our worry for him.

 

For dinner we vistited Metro Pizza again- yum! There really is nothing else like it in Ethiopia. Thank God for Metro Pizza. I would be pretty hungry here without it.

 

Before we left for Addis, I started reading a book called The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns, the president of World Vision. This book is probably one of the most challenging, most heartbreaking, and yet most inspiring books I have ever read. It really is a book about what God expects of us, and unfortunately, how we as Christians have not done the best job of truly being his disciples. This book was amazing to read at home in the USA, but to be in a city with millions of orphans and with poverty that is truly imaginable, to see the tin shacks and smell the filth and pollution every day as we walk the streets, to have children, old people and disabled people come to you with their hands open for anything you would give, basically to be in a place where the content of this book is the reality you see daily has challenged my heart in ways that only God could. I have looked inside my own heart and evaluated my level of compassion and my willingness to care for the poor, the needy, the least of these.

 

As an example- We recently purchased a home that needed quite a bit of work (if you know anything about our real estate purchases, we just can't seem to get away from the ones that need work). It has one and a half bathrooms, and to be honest, I was really hoping for two full baths. Our previous home had only one a half bathrooms, and though it was all we needed, I was really hoping for the luxury of being able to take a shower and walk right into my bedroom. And when guests come, it is just easier to have your own shower. That's not too much to ask, right? So, we thought we had figured out a way to add a small stand up shower to our half bath. It was going to cost a little more than we had hoped, but we really needed that shower. Well, right before we left, we had consulted with the plumber and tile expert, and the project was really going over budget and we honestly weren't sure if it would even fit. So, we decided to ditch the idea and settle for the half bath. I was pretty disappointed and couldn't believe that I would again have to live in a house with just a bath and a half. And we were adding another family member. I was bummed.

 

After spending a week in Addis, yes, a town I have visited before, I am reminded of just how much I really need. How easily I had forgotten that many people here do not even have a place to use the restroom, let alone a place to bathe. The sanitation is not good. Most people here live in tin shacks with no electricity. They breathe air that is so full of pollution there is evidence when you blow your nose- this is gross, but this is true. They look through the most nasty garbage dumpsters I have ever seen or smelled for something to eat, or something to sell, hoping to have enough money to buy something to eat. They don't have access to proper medical care. They walk everywhere. They don't have a place to go when it rains, or storms, or when it is cold or hot. They truly have needs. 

 

Poor me, with only one and a half bathrooms with running water (hot and cold), proper sanitation, nice tile floors and lights that turn off and on. As Nicole Nordeman so beautifully sings, "Oh the differences that often are between, everything we want, and what we really need".  Lord, please break my heart for the things that break your heart. This is my prayer, and what I so desperately need.   

 

   Saturday morning there was no rain, and it was the one morning we chose to sleep in. We actually didn't make it out of our hotel until almost 11am! Since we had slept through breakfast, we headed to Layla House to check on Nigus. When we peeped in, they were already seated and preparing for lunch. His back was to us, and we really just wanted to watch him candidly, but the other kiddos gave us away. We waved at him and told the nannies we didn't want to disturb lunch. We walked out and Noah began eating on his own, which is really great. We enjoyed another game of soccer in the courtyard, and when we returned the kids had finished lunch and Noah was interacting very well with the other kids, even smiling! Praise the Lord! This is what we had been hoping to see. It seemed as if Nigus was really beginning to feel comfortable with his classmates. We visited with him for a while, doing what we had been doing all week. As I had mentioned in a previous post, it is hard to interact the way we want with Noah with so many other children around who are vying for your attention. But we do our best to let him know how much we love him.

 

It was getting close to nap time, so we headed out. I was hoping to go to one of the restaurants we had visited during our first trip to Addis, Blue Tops. It is about a 20 minute trip from where we are staying, so to save money, we took what is known as a mini-bus. It is basically a mini van that they (the driver and the money collector) pile about 20 people into and make frequent stops throughout the city. It is cheap transportation, but it is also very crowded (and old and dirty). Zack and I were the last two to get on, and there was no place for me to sit, so I sat on his knee. The money collector shook his head and pointed for me to go sit in the back of the van, where the back row was already completely full. Somehow I squeezed in between two Ethiopian gentlemen and enjoyed the ride. We made it as far as our money would take us, then got in a small taxi for the last leg of the trip. By this time it had began pouring the rain. Thankfully we had brought our rain gear, as yesterday we got caught without it! We enjoyed a really great meal. Zack ordered lasagna and I ordered penne with tomato sauce. One of the reasons I remember this place is because of the great ice cream, so for dessert we ordered Jamoca ice cream- yummy! This week in Addis my menu has consisted of pizza, French fries, toast, ice cream, egg sandwiches, more pizza, more fries and egg sandwiches, pizza again, and pasta. Oh, and I did try some potato skins (not really like the kind in America) and a sandwich with chicken (the only meat I ate). Zack is much more brave and ate all kinds of things. Maybe next time I will venture out more too.

 

So, on the way home, we decided to walk as far as we could. It had stopped raining for the time being and was very nice. As we walked, we were approached countless times by children asking for money. We gave them small amounts, and I gave them packages of fruit snacks. We could have literally given away every bit of money we had during our short walk- that is how many times we were approached.  As we were walking we came across two young Ethiopian fellows who stopped us and asked us where we were from. We told them and then were planning on going on our way, but they said they wanted to walk with us. I became a little skeptical, but what could we do? They also told us they would show us where we could catch a minibus that would take us back to the area where Layla House was. As we were walking it began raining pretty heavily. These guys had no rain gear, but seemed to care less. I was really getting skeptical now. We finally made it to the bus stop and I heard one of them ask Zack for money. They said they were tour guides, but that the rain had dampened their business and they were behind on their rent. We gave them a bit of money, and again piled onto a mini bus. Here is what was interesting about this ride- one guy sat on another mans lap, and no one said anything. But before, I was told not to sit on Zack's lap. Maybe it is a cultural thing? Interesting.

 

Anyway, the minibus took us to a familiar place, and we decided to walk the rest of the way to the Layla House. I had my first contact with the dangers of Ethiopian driving as I was crossing the road in a crosswalk. There were two "lanes" (if you can call it that) that were turning onto the road I was crossing. The van in the first "lane" stopped, but the second car did not and I found myself staring into the hood of a little white truck. It was a close call. Thankfully, I was not injured. Good lesson for me. Don't ever take any traffic here for granted!   

 

During this time I called home because I had received an email with the subject title "dad" from a church member back in the USA. It said they would be praying for my dad and asking for healing for his body. I was very confused by this email, because I had not heard anything from back home concerning this. I had waited as long as I could to call, and when I called and spoke to my dad, I found out he was in the hospital and had his gallbladder removed! Wow! A lot can happen in just a couple days of not communicating. He was doing well and everything went fine, but I was still very concerned for him.

 

We knew this would be our last visit with Nigus before leaving Ethiopia. We walked into the room and he was sitting with his classmates. I gestured and asked him if he wanted to sit in Zack's lap. He slowly got up and sat with Zack while the other children sang songs. A few minutes later he switched and sat with me. During our last visit, we really just tried to hug and assure him the best we could. We found one of the older children that could speak very good English and Amharic and asked him to translate for us, as we did our best to explain to Noah that we would be coming back for him soon, and that then he would be coming to America to be with us forever. He nodded his head and seemed to understand. In a way we think it would have been better for him if he had not even met us until the next trip, but of course we really wanted to meet him this trip. I think it has just been very hard on him, to see us come and go, and now to see us go for 7 weeks. It must be confusing to such a little guy who has been through so much already. We just have to trust him to the Lord as we leave and continue to pray for him each day.

 

After we left, we both talked a lot about our trip as we were walking. This trip has not necessarily been better, but we both feel that we have been able to experience parts of Addis that we did not experience during our last trip. Mainly because this trip we have walked so much, and because of this been forced to interact in ways with the people that we did not do during our last trip. During our first trip, we had a privately chartered van we took most places, so we were still kind of in a little bubble in a way. During the past 5 days,  I would say we have walked at least twenty miles, and experienced many things along the way. Speaking of walking, we walked again to Metro Pizza, (third time this trip), and then as a farewell to Addis, walked to Family Restaurant for some Mexican fried ice cream- yum. The two restaurants are about a mile apart. Not something you would probably do in the USA, but something you would do here J  Then, because it was such a nice night, we thought we would walk as far as we could towards our hotel, then catch a minibus. Our hotel was probably at least three miles away, and we had no intent of walking the entire way, but we just got talking and before we knew it, we were pretty close, so we just walked the rest of the way. This trip has been great for Zack and I, and though we have missed Caleb terribly, we have really enjoyed spending time together. I am very blessed. This has been a great trip, God has kept us safe and healthy, given us good times with our son, and renewed our passion for orphans. We leave for Germany in the morning.

Referral Received for our second son from Ethiopia! Court Date 7/21 & 8/5
Traveling to Ethiopia 8/1-8/9!!!
Home with our son, Caleb Samuel, from Ethiopia
Adoption is a GOoD thing :)



Thursday, August 5, 2010

Wednesday and Thursday in Addis…..

 

Wednesday, after eating breakfast, we headed straight to the orphanage to visit Noah. When we arrived, he was playing with the other kids and had a smile on his face- this made us happy! We used side walk chalk and drew different letters. We would draw an "A" and then Noah would draw an "A".  We did this with several other letters, and Noah did great!

He was still with the younger children during this time, and when we went into the toddler room and began playing, he seemed to do okay for a while, but then began crying a bit. Zack held him and he seemed to cheer up a bit. We aren't really sure why he began to cry, but we think maybe the other children calling Zack "papa" and sitting in his lap, etc. upset him. We want to devote our full attention to him, but it is very difficult with ten other 2-3 year olds crawling all over you. They all so desperately want attention.  We played some more with Noah, then headed off to lunch, again not wanting to leave him. Each time we visit we just try to love on him as much as we can. That is really all we can do in the orphanage setting.  We do feel that he is building a bond with us, but it so hard to see him so very sad. We know that no true progress will be made until he is at home with us, but we are doing the best we can. Why it does break our heart to see Noah react this way, this is very normal, especially given the fact that Noah was moved to a totally new place and meeting his parents all at the same time.  It is difficult not to worry, but thankfully we had prepared ourselves and educated ourselves on older child adoption, so this type of behavior did not take us totally by surprise. It actually is a very positive thing that Noah is grieving and feels free enough to do so. He has lost so much in his young life, grieving is only natural.

 

At lunch we went to popular tourist restaurant in Addis, Garden Paradise. As I walked in, I saw the familiar face of Jen Sloninger, who was part of our first travel group to Ethiopia when we adopted Caleb. I knew she was in Addis completing her second adoption, but I had no idea how to contact her and knew the chances of us getting together were slim, if not impossible. So, to see here there was really great and it brought tears to both our eyes. 

 

We stopped to see Noah one last time, and it was dinner time at the orphanage. He was hesitant to eat, but did allow me to help him. After I helped him, he ate the rest no problem on his own, but again, seemed sad. We hugged and kissed on him, and told him we would seen him tomorrow. We prayed he had a restful night.

 

We had a nice dinner at our favorite pizza place in Ethiopia, Metro Pizza, and then headed back to the hotel. We probably walked about 4 miles throughout the day, so we were tired, and we had court the next day, so we wanted to get some rest.

 

Thursday- Found out Some Big News!!!!

 

Today when we awoke it was raining outside, so after getting a little more dressed up for court, we took a taxi to Layla House, where we would wait for the driver to take us to court.  We waited for about 30 minutes at Layla House, then headed downtown to the court house. It was almost a 20 minute ride to court. I could devote an entire post to Ethiopian driving, I really could. It is like no other driving in the world, and even Zack, who has visited some Central American countries where they drive crazy, and who drives crazy himself, had to hold on and pray that we didn't crash into another car. It is crazy, and I imagine that if any American tried to drive here they would injure themselves and others. I will try to post more about it later, but let's just put it this way- no lanes, no traffic lights, people going the wrong way and lots of horns….oh, and no seatbelts!!!

 

Anyway, we made it to court safely and walked into a very crowded room with lots of white couples and Ethiopians. There was no place to sit, so we just stood and watched couple after couple be called back. Not even five minutes after we had arrived, I saw Duni, our AWAA coordinator for our first adoption! Again, what are the chances? I was not sure if she would recognize us, but she did, and we had a great time talking to her. Because our case was the last of the American couples to be heard, we ended up spending close to two hours waiting and talking to Duni. Finally we were called back. The judge sat at the end of the room and was a pretty Ethiopian woman. She asked for our passports, and she spoke very softly and asked us questions about why we wanted to adopt, if our family was supportive, etc. Finally, the last question she asked was if we really wanted to adopt Nigus. After we enthusiastically said "Yes!", she said, "Okay, he is yours!". And that was that. Pretty easy.

 

After court was over, we headed back to the hotel. We has skipped breakfast that morning and we needed to change clothes, so the driver took us back to our hotel and took our donations we had brought on to Layla House. Thanks to everyone for all the donations- the workers and kids at Layla House were thrilled! We arrived at Layla House after eating. We discovered that Noah was napping, so we took a tour of the entire compound while we waited for him to wake up. What an amazing place. We were pretty familiar with the baby/toddler area, so we toured the area where the older kids live. There is a school, a library, and bedrooms that house about 5-6 kids per room.  The kids go to school from 9-3 each day, and they try to maintain as much of an American curriculum as possible. The kids also do chores (they were doing them while we were there) and have weekly visits to a computer lab. We were very impressed. At the same time, it doesn't replace a family, but at least while they wait, they are learning as much as they can and have some type of a safe, structured and loving environment. The older kids are great, and we would definitely consider adopting an older child in the future. It is very sad to see many of them that have yet to have been referred to a family. Once they reach 16, they age out of the orphanage system, and are left on their own.

 

 After this we saw Opportunity House, a home for children with special needs, mainly cognitive special needs. Ivy told us this was the only place in Ethiopia she knew of that provided a safe and healthy place for children with cognitive special needs to live. This blew my mind- a city of 4 million people and this was the only place for these children?  Even so, at least AAI is trying to help the best they can. It was truly a heart breaking experience.

 

After our tour was completed, we went back and found Noah awake. We also had noticed that he had the same clothes on since we met him on Tuesday. Originally we thought maybe they had just washed his clothes and put the same ones back on. Upon inquiring further, we realized his clothes had not been changed since Tuesday. Apparently there was a miscommunication and the nannies were not sure if he would remain at Layla House. Ivy was very upset and quickly had a clean pair of clothes brought for Noah. He now wears a Mickey Mouse hoodie, complete with Mickey Mouse ears J This brought a smile to his face, and to ours. We also had talked about taking Noah to the Kindergarden class, as we now knew these kids were more in his age (see more about this below). We walked him over, and he seemed pretty hesitant to go in, as these kids were much louder, more active, and there were more of them in a smaller room. He did sit in my lap and seemed okay for the time. He played with some blocks and just took in all the newness around him. However, when we got up to leave, he got up too. We walked outside with him and had one of the social workers come over and explain to him that we would be back, and that this was his new class now. He still did not want to go back in and started to cry, so we walked him back into the toddler area and after he had calmed down, left him there with a nanny. It is really hard to leave Noah everyday, but we all must adjust to this, as in a few days we will be leaving him for six weeks.

 

Which brings us to some of the big news- we found out was that our embassy date has been tentatively scheduled for September 22, so that is when we will be returning to Ethiopia! Though we were hoping for an earlier date, this is still very good. We will basically arrive on a Monday, have our Embassy appointment on that Wednesday, then will have to wait until Friday for the visa. We can leave, with Noah, that Friday evening. Finally.

Other big news- we were able to look at Noah's birth certificate today, and his birth date is…..drumroll, please…….December 1, 2005! The year does not surprise us very much. After being with Noah, we did feel that he was 4, if not close to five. His age doesn't matter much to us, but is good to know. This still may not be too accurate, but once we have him home, we can have that further evaluated. Again, his age is not a big deal to us. The amazing part- his birth date is one day before Caleb's! Crazy, huh! Should be interesting at the Caldwell home during December. 

 

 

Whew- that was a lot of typing. Other than missing Caleb like crazy, we are doing well, and have had a great trip.

 

Referral Received for our second son from Ethiopia! Court Date 7/21 & 8/5
Traveling to Ethiopia 8/1-8/9!!!
Home with our son, Caleb Samuel, from Ethiopia
Adoption is a GOoD thing :)



Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Our first couple days in Addis have been great. We arrived about three hours later than expected, as we got a late start leaving Frankfurt, Germany. On the plane we sat behind another couple that were adopting from Ethiopia, and across from them was another couple that was adopting from Ethiopia…..what are the chances? I had them picked out from the time I saw them sitting near our gate at the airport. It isn't often that a white couple travels to Ethiopia, unless it is for adoption or some type of charity work. We had a nice chat with them on the plane, and it was really fun to watch their excitement as we descended on Addis. It brought back lots of memories of our first trip to Ethiopia. Actually, before we even left I had been thinking a lot about our first trip, and tons of memories came flooding back. I had a good cry a few nights before we left thinking about how fast our time has gone with Caleb. We are no longer a family of three- now we are a family of four, which is a wonderful thing! Just lots of emotions going on here!

 

Anyway, we were exhausted when we arrived (I think we had been traveling a total of about 28 hours, counting layovers). As soon as we stepped off the plane, the smell of Ethiopia brought back lots more memories. It isn't a bad smell, and not necessarily a good smell, just a smell that is distinct to Ethiopia. The airport lines were very long- first we had to get our visa, then go through another immigration line, then claim our luggage, then wait for it to be scanned. I would say it took almost two hours just to get out of the airport.  Our poor driver had been waiting three hours, but there he was, tiredly holding an "AAI" (the name of our agency) sign. He was wonderful and very friendly and took us right to the guest house. Strangely enough, it is very close to the transition home where Caleb lived. The guest house was very comfortable and we met some of the other families staying there. They were all very nice. We did quickly discover, however, that there was no private bathroom, which was okay. What was a little more disturbing was that the water with which we so desperately wanted to take a shower was ice cold- that's right. ICE COLD- not even a hint of warm water. I know what you are thinking, spoiled Americans, right? I guess we are. Zack decided it wasn't worth it to take a cold shower,  but I decided I had to- I was just too gross feeling after traveling so long. I just decided I was going to do it. I have never taken an ice cold shower before, and I hope to not have to for quite some time, but at least I was clean. When Zack saw that I had the courage to do it, it inspired him to do the same, and he too took the plunge! We decided we could make it the rest of the week with nothing but cold water, but later that night there was no water, not even cold. We talked to the other families, and they said having no water was quite common at this particular guest house, and that we had been lucky to have any water. So, we decided to look for another place to stay. I can deal with cold water, but to not have any water was out of the question.  

 

Anyway, we slept well, and awoke to a cloudy and cool day today. We found out a little after 9am that we would be able to meet Noah today. Of course we were thrilled, and I immediately began gathering the things we had brought for him, and also the donations for the orphanage. When the ladies from our agency arrived, they said they had great news for us. I was thinking, "We get to take Noah home"? But that wasn't it. I knew that couldn't have been it, but I can dream J They said that the Kids Care orphanage (where Noah currently lives) director had agreed to let Noah come and stay at Layla House, the orphanage that is only about a 5 minute walk from the guest house and the orphanage where most of the kids being from adopted from AAI stay. I have to admit, though I greatly appreciated the intent of their gesture, I was very worried for Noah. He has been at his current orphanage since December, and I was very concerned that this would not be an easy transition for him. We didn't say anything and decided to see how it would go, but I wish I would have said something now. 

 

It was about a 20 minute drive to the orphanage from where we were staying. I began to see lots of familiar sites, and as we got closer, I became more and more nervous. We approached the gate, and my adrenaline really started flowing. We got out of the van and went into the office to see the orphanage director. When I turned around, a little boy holding a photo album was walking toward Zack and I. It was Noah! He was much smaller than I expected and looked very unsure of what was happening. He was holding the photo album we had sent, and Zack and I immediately bent down and put our arms around him. Thankfully there were some nannies there to help translate for us, and to explain who we were. He smiled a few times, but for the most part was very quiet. I went and got his toy car and monkey stuffed animal for him. Once I showed him how the car worked, we got lots of big smiles. He absolutely loved it and played with it for several minutes. They showed us his bed and a few other things, and after spending a few more minutes with him, asked if we were ready. We were ready, but I was not sure if Noah was. To my surprise, he readily got into the van and sat between Zack and I.

 

The one thing that struck me as we left the orphanage was that Noah left only with the clothes on his back and his medicine, and the two toys we had brought. Nothing else. He literally had nothing in terms of possessions. It was a striking feeling and put many things into perspective. We have so much.

 

In the van, Noah let me put my arm around him and he looked at some of the books I had brought in the car. He really likes Zack and smiled several times at him. Once we arrived at Layla House, he was very hesitant to go in. In fact, he somewhat refused. This is what I had feared. Nothing was familiar to him at this point. Nothing. So, we took him to the area where the toddler age kids were, and he seemed to do a bit better.  We sat with him and played with him. It was lunch time for the kids, but he did not want to eat. I offered him some cheese and crackers that I had brought, and thankfully, he did eat those. It made my mom heart smile to think he would eat something I offered him. He also allowed us to carry him around the compound, and seemed very comfortable with us. He really actually seemed to already prefer us at this point, which shocked me. Then it was time for nap at the orphanage. Since Noah lived there now, they expected him to do what the other kids did. We walked him into the nap room and could tell this was not going to go well. The nannies told him we would be back when he woke up, but he began to cry a bit. We left to go eat with some of the orphanage staff, though I wished we could have stayed.

 

 

When we returned he was sitting inside and we took him to the toy room and showed him some toys. He caught on quickly to many of the toys and then some of the other children came in. He wasn't too interested in interacting them, and he guarded his car and stuffed animal with his life- after all, it is all he has. This broke our hearts. We stayed a little longer and then needed to leave to go make some new accommodation arrangements. As soon as we got up, he got up with us and followed us. As we walked out, he latched onto Zack and would not let go. We had to pry him away and he began sobbing. Both Zack and I could have lost it too, but we held it together long enough to make it outside the orphanage. To think that this child already understands who we are, and wants to be with us, and really, us only, blows us away. While it hurts us to see him in tears, it also reassures us and causes us to thank God, as our prayers for his capacity to accept us and begin to in some small way, love us have been answered.  We are blown away by his response to us.

 

We walked about 15 minutes away and found a nice hotel that has private bathrooms, hot water, and a small restaurant attached. The prices were very good, so we decided to move there. It somewhat reminded me of the hotel we stayed at our first time in Ethiopia, but it was not quite as nice. But all we really were hoping for.  We walked back to Layla House for one final visit with Noah.  When we walked in, we saw him sitting along watching the children play. He was holding his monkey and car, and looked so sad. Again, our hearts broke. As soon as he saw us, He got up and came to us. We hugged him and loved on him. I asked the nanny if he had eaten dinner, as I saw one full bowl of spaghetti still on the table. Apparently, he had not eaten. We pulled out some chairs and I cut up the spaghetti and asked/gestured to Noah if he wanted to eat. He nodded yes, and so I began feeding him. To my great surprise, he very willingly let me do this. About halfway through the bowl, I handed him the spoon, and he did very well eating the rest of the spaghetti. I think he was very hungry, as he also ate the granola bar I gave him after he finished off his spaghetti. We got a few more smiles from him, and as it began to get dark, hugged him and told him we loved him and would be back tomorrow. We truly can not imagine how we are going to leave him until our next trip to bring him home, and I have to say, though I am trying to be as positive as possible about the new two trip law, I do not see how it is in the best interest of the child. Not truly the best interest. Oh well.

 

Anyway, there was no sobbing this time, just a little welling up- We are really praying he has a good night there and makes some new buddies very soon.

 

We are now at our new hotel, after repacking from the guest house, and we have also been able to enjoy a good meal – pizza  (along with French fries and fried ice cream, one of the only things I like to eat here). And, we have both had nice warm showers. God is too good to us.

 

Tomorrow we will be able to spend more time with Nigus. We are looking forward to getting to know him more and hopefully seeing that he is adjusting to his new home.

 

That's all for Tuesday!

Referral Received for our second son from Ethiopia! Court Date 7/21 & 8/5
Traveling to Ethiopia 8/1-8/9!!!
Home with our son, Caleb Samuel, from Ethiopia
Adoption is a GOoD thing :)