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 :)


Anonymous said...


Vanderpool days said...

I couldn't help but well up with tears as I read this. You all are in our prayers. I am so jealous that you are already there with your sweet boy. I can't imagine having to leave him crying over and over again and I know you are dreading leaving at the end of the week.
Will pray specifically that the departure is smooth and that he is really able to understand that you guys are coming back for him.

Wes And Nina said...

WOW!!! So so good to read about your first meeting, even with all the crazy emotions! And of course I cried through it. :) I hope you guys have the BEST time with your newest addition!

Brooke said...

Hey there!! My husband is in London, KY this week looking into a memorial place for the son we are currently carrying. He met your (dad?) at the memorial place and overheard him talking about an ethiopian adoption. We are about to start the process, and we just had an adoption sale to raise some beginning funds to get going! We are so excited to begin the journey, and God has given us such a full heart for Ethiopian children. I just wanted to say hi. He emailed my husband your blog link and I immediately came and began reading!! Praise God for connections like that. Anyway, I hope and pray your stay in Ethiopia is wonderful and you have some wonderful time to bond.

Lib said...

Add this one to the list of criers! Like you, I fail to see how meeting his family and then being separated again is a good thing for wee Noah and I hope that it doesn't cause him too much pain or stress over these next few weeks. It is wonderful to hear about how quickly he has bonded with you and I feel certain that, even with this bump in the adoption road, in a few weeks all this will just be a distant memory. Glad you found warm water and I pray a shower of blessings on you and on Noah and on Caleb :o)

Shelly said...

Thank you so much for sharing about your journey in Ethiopia and the ache of saying good-bye. After reading your account and another I wrote a post about it. I have an in-link post to your entry. I hope that is OK. I hope the embassy date is SOON!!!!

Shelly said...

Hi, I am leaving you a second comment! I really really would like to know the name of the hotel you stayed at near Layla. We will be traveling in a few weeks and would like to stay there!!!