Since we have been home, I have been trying to recover from jet lag, feel better and learn how to be a mom to two boys :) I really wanted to update the blog, but it just got pushed aside- I have a feeling blogging, checking email, etc. might take a backseat for a while :) More about what the last few days home have been like in a bit......
Monday-Wed. In Addis:
Our last few days in Addis went well. We passed through the embassy with no problems at all. Noah was very patient as we waited our turn and he did great. Once we were able to take Noah with us to the guest home, he really did well- much better than I could have imagined. He seemed eager to go with us, which helped defeat a big fear of mine ( I really feared he would not want to leave his current surroundings). He allowed us to play with him and interact with him and we only had a few moments of what I would call "shutting down"- at bedtime, and when I had to correct him or tell him "no". All very, very understandable. He was, and is, a very brave little boy. We also learned that is he is a very smart little man. While at the guest home, he wrote all his ABC's on his own, and his numbers 1-10. He even learned to write his name "Noah" in just a few tries! The language barrier was not as big of a problem as I had imagined. With just some gesturing and motions, he seemed to understand most things I said to him, and he follows directions very well.
A few of the highlights-
Layla House (the orphanage where Noah lived) gave him and another little girl who was going home to her forever family a goodbye party. It was very sweet, though Noah did not like all the attention. When it was his turn to go to the front of the room, he almost began to cry and would not leave his chair. He is not one who likes to be the center of attention, this is something I have learned.
Seeing Noah eat french fries and ketchup for the first time. I truly believe he had never had this this yummy treat, and it was a blast getting to watch him enthusiastically dip the fry into the ketchup and take a big bite :) He loves french fries and ketchup!
Another favorite memory was seeing his eyes light up when he saw some of the airplanes at the airport in Addis, and especially when he realized he was getting on one of those big planes! He poked me in the side and pointed to the planes with a big smile.
I also have to say something about my amazing travel buddy, Tennille. I don't know what I would have done without her. Besides just having a great lifelong friend accompany me on pretty much the ultimate road trip, she was an amazing help to me. She interacted so well with Noah- he really liked her! There were times when I needed to do some paperwork , or when I needed to take care of something, or just when I needed a break or to take a shower, and she was there. I am so thankful and appreciative for her willingness to go with me and for her friendship.
We arrived home on Thanksgiving Day about 4pm, after about a total of 18 hours in an airplane! Yikes! That is a very long time! Noah did unbelievably well! He slept for the first portion of the flight (about 7 hours!) and the remaining time played his handheld game, drew with markers, and practiced flash cards. He was a trooper! He did better than most adults would have for that long of a time! The last hour was a bit of a struggle, but by that time, everyone was ready to get off the plane.
When we arrived at the airport, he was excited and almost seemed to know that he was about to meet the rest of his family and see his daddy again! He was smiling and running and skipping through the airport. Once he saw them, he did get a bit shy, and I think was somewhat overwhelmed. Caleb was also a bit shy but warmly welcomed him. It didn't take Noah too long to warm up.
I have to admit, it was my first ever Thanksgiving dinner at Steak n' Shake, but it was a wonderful one! Caleb and Noah got along great and were already playing well together. Noah had no problem at all devouring the new American food! He also did fine on the trip home from Cincinnati- he and his brother slept most of the way home :)
Once home, Noah slept some more, and we actually had to wake him up! The poor little guy was exhausted. It was a really awesome sight to actually see Noah lying in his bed. Finally!
The rest of the day was spent playing with toys and his new brother. He really did great. He had a fun bathtime with his brother and went to bed with no problems (of course, we all did that night :)
To be honest, we were expecting the worst, but our first evening/night home, everything went pretty much as well as it could have. Praise God! Things are still going well. Caleb and Noah, for the most part, play very well together. There have been lots of laughs and smiles, and a few fights and tears, but that is to be expected with brothers :) Caleb is doing a wonderful job of being a "big", little brother. He is a great helper.
Don't get me wrong, everything is not perfect. We can already see lots of issues we need to work through, and we realize, we have a long way to go. It is very hard at times, I admit. We knew it would be hard. Already, I have felt some discouragement and uncertainty. But, when you consider what Noah has endured, it would be unrealistic to think that there would not be some truly hard issues to work through. Today, for example, has been very challenging for everyone in terms of behavior. There are lots of moments of joy, but also moments of frustration for Noah, for Caleb, and for us, as we try and work through fear, transitioning to a new family, and the language barrier- it is difficult, but not impossible to work through, thanks to the love and strength that God provides us, each second of each day. I have already been in contact with adoptive parents who have adopted children that are Noah's age, and just knowing they went through the same issues and same feelings is such a comfort.
It is going to take time, patience and lots of love and prayer. But it is so worth it! We know this. And we truly hope that each day Noah feels our love and the love of God.
I am not sure when my next update will come, but just keep us in your prayers as we learn to live together as a family of 4 :)