Friday, August 29, 2008

Tigist ... Home for 7 days now

Tigist has been home for only 7 days and she is doing wonderfully. She learns new words every day. She trusts us more every day, although this hasn't seemed to be a big problem from day one.

Her age is still undetermined. Most say she is under 2, we'll see when she sees a doctor soon. We are choosing the age of 2 for her because she is definitely not 3 and not 1, so 2 ... it is. Her birthday is the day we met her, which has great meaning for all of us. She naps for 2 hours, goes to bed at 9pm and gets up about 8am. Not a bad schedule for us all.

The boys have taken to her wonderfully, the cat doesn't hate her, the neighbors have all stopped by on day 2 to welcome and meet her. The kids especially seem to take to her cause she's so little. As soon as she gets up and also after meals, we put her on the potty and she does her business. They did a great job at the orphanage with her manners and potty training.

Because she was the youngest of the "walkies" (excluding infants) I believe she had to take care of herself in whatever fashion worked, so she tends to bite when she's at her limit. We scold her big time for that and I can see it in her eyes that she knows she has been naughty. Today, we put her in time out in her high chair for biting Evan really hard, so this will not fly here at all! Her loud crying bouts are becoming much less and shorter than when she first came home, so she's learning every day about how life works here in this house.

She doesn't seem to know that the room we all hang out in is HER room, but that'll come with time. She's actually never slept alone in that room yet, besides naps, so she probably thinks it's like the orphange where many people sleep in the same room. She loves getting dressed in her new clothes. It is so much fun to dress her cause she is just so cute. I keep her hair in the rubberbands with the squares all over as her hair is only about an inch long. I keep product in it called Luster's Pink Original in a pink bottle. This seems to work well.

Tigist is excelling ... it's unbelievable!

She is so popular in such a short time, click here for an update on how Tigist is doing. I'm so proud of her ... her future is bright!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Day 8 of 19 ... Rome, Italy

August 7th, 2008

Today we arrived in Rome.  I can't believe we're here! It is very exciting.  We checked into our tiniest hotel/apt. even getting our luggage up the tiniest elevator I've ever been in ... it was so interesting. It is so hot, so if you get too close to people, it can be a little stinky!!

We saw the beautiful Colosseum, The Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain and tomorrow we will briefly check out the Vatican city before departing for the airport.  Probably only have time to drive by it.  What a shame.

Rome has been very hot. Hard to walk around and explore when sweat is rolling down your face and back. But we worked it out and made sure we visited fountains for some fresh water. A lot of our conversations with people end up with discussion about why we're traveling. It has been just amazing to see the love and the blessings that we get from people with whom we tell that we are adopting. Their hearts just burst open with so much emotion and you can almost see their souls sing out about how wonderful adoption is in every aspect. The receptionist, Cynthia, at our hotel teared up when we told her. She was just so happy to hear it. She said, "Many days are not filled with good stuff here. So when you come here and tell me what you are doing ... it is a very good day for me." Oh! Just precious. And that is just one story. There were many more that I'll relay in the coming days.

The sun was setting so we were trying to get some good pictures in. We were trying to catch the moon just to the right of the Coliseum.

It was interesting because you leave a restaurant, turn the corner, then you see this! I'd imagined it different. Like I imagined it all on it's own out in the boonies where when you see it a symphony plays and angels float above your head. I'm not alone here, right?

It was beautiful, but I sure wish the huge ugly chain linked fence was not all around it.

We only have one night in Rome, so we're making the best of it. Our room in actually kinda cool cause it's so very old and is the tiniest room I've ever slept in ... ever! It makes me feel so far from home and like I'm really in Rome with the elevator, the building ... WOW!

How old are these cobblestones?

We emptied our things in the tiny room (it took a few trips up the teeny-tiny elevator) and then went walking to explore. Tons of people. We stayed about 2 miles from the Coliseum so we were walking distance from the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain and the Coliseum.

Trevi Fountain ... just amazing detail.

It was huge ... there was not enough room for me to take a picture of the entire fountain, so I googled this image.

There were probably 300 people right in front of us all taking pictures. All looking at it, and it was just so hot. So at least we got this photo with no one in it ... quite a miracle.

Smart cars everywhere.  I can see why though.  Parking is scarce, roads between buildings are slim if anything.  You can't really care about how your car looks cause it gets dinged up like crazy, many mirrors get torn off because of the way they drive here.  It's just crazy, man.  Worse than New York!!!

We wished we had our motorcycle here too!

Julio the hotel director at Hotel Posa Posa. He was such the gentleman and catered to our every need. This picture will remind us of the lovely guy that he is.

These were so small they could only fit an infant.

Tiny Smart cars can park diagonal or vertical...and they did.

So small, you just want to either take it for a walk or stick it in your purse!

Look how tiney these cars are.  Crazy!

We have limited access to internet (ie: out in front of a tiny cafe using the wi-fi to check out emails and some business stuff). And I'm glad I did because we got some news from our agency that I won't elaborate on that is a bit disappointing. We just want to complete this process for precious little "T". We have the utmost respect for Ethiopia, it's culture, country and process.

How cute are these Nuns eating gelato

The Vatican ... Home of the Pope
Vatican City is a city-state. It came into existence only in 1929. It is thus clearly distinct from the central authority of the Roman Catholic Church, known as the Holy See, which existed long before 1929. Ordinances of Vatican City are published in Italian. Official documents of the Holy See are issued mainly in Latin. The two entities even have distinct passports: the Holy See, not being a country, only issues diplomatic and service passports; the state of Vatican City issues normal passports. In both cases the number of passports issued is extremely limited.

I have to be honest here ... I was really thrown by what I saw. I mean, on one hand you have these ancient wonders of the world, then on the other hand you see graffiti and trash and just not a whole lot of respect. I don't know if the governement just doesn't care, or the people, but I was thinking you know ... with the Pope there and all, the Coliseum and these unbelievable sights that the people would have more respect for it. This is just my personal opinion ... I would have liked to see areas around these sights cleaner and clearly respected.

But to go to Rome, finally ... was just wonderful.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I'm Still Sick! Not Good!

There is so much I want to write, but I'm nauseous 24/7 since the last couple of days. Each night I wake up to "get sick" a couple of times, with pounding headaches, but when I take tylonol or the Cold Plus, it kinda helps. David has been holding down the fort like crazy and doing very well I must say. Evan had to be picked up last minute from school, but not before Tigist bit Evan for the 4th time in 2 days and really hard this time. We put her in time out and she absolutely knows she did something wrong. It's just been her nature for so long I guess.

I see David working 24/7 keeping the house up and spending time with Tigist, keeping up with his business and taking over my job of the business, cooking and taking our cat today to have unexpected surgery that over the phone was quoted oh, maybe $150, but turned out to be $700. (She had mites in her ears and one was completely swollen full of blood) and she's on her way home right now, which is why I'm alone and get to write something (I'm really venting). One of the boys teachers needed to email me something about their behavior, so I really need to deal with that. I feel so bad not connecting enough with the kids and David, but I just feel so flat. The house is getting so messy, we have a parent meeting tonight that I think I should just miss and I'm not feeling any better. I thought maybe I had acetaminophen poisoning cause I was downing the Cold Plus and also migraine tylonol, but you really have to have 4 x that much to do damage ... so I know I didn't poison my liver. I guess I just have a bad flu. Maybe I should count myself lucky that it didn't happen while traveling. That would have been the pits.

I will post pictures and updates when I feel better ... just trying to hang in there.

p.s. Cat just got home. She has 15 stitches and 15 staples in her ear...oh my gosh. What else can happen. It's just been a trying week. Perhaps next week will be looking up!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Tigist is doing great ... home for 7 days!

Tigist has been home for only 7 days and she is doing wonderfully. She learns new words every day. She trusts us more every day, although this hasn't seemed to be a big problem from day one.

Her age is still undetermined. Most say she is under 2, we'll see when she sees a doctor soon. We are choosing the age of 2 for her because she is definitely not 3 and not 1, so 2 ... it is. Her birthday is the day we met her, which has great meaning for all of us. She naps for 2 hours, goes to bed at 9pm and gets up about 8am. Not a bad schedule for us all.

The boys have taken to her wonderfully, the cat doesn't hate her, the neighbors have all stopped by on day 2 to welcome and meet her. The kids especially seem to take to her cause she's so little. As soon as she gets up and also after meals, we put her on the potty and she does her business. They did a great job at the orphanage with her manners and potty training.

Because she was the youngest of the "walkies" (excluding infants) I believe she had to take care of herself in whatever fashion worked, so she tends to bite when she's at her limit. We scold her big time for that and I can see it in her eyes that she knows she has been naughty. Today, we put her in time out in her high chair for biting Evan really hard, so this will not fly here at all! Her loud crying bouts are becoming much less and shorter than when we first got her, so she's learning every day about how life works here in this house.

She doesn't seem to know that the room we all hang out in is HER room, but that'll come with time. She's actually never slept alone in that room yet, besides naps, so she probably thinks it's like the orphange where many people sleep in the same room. She loves getting dressed in her new clothes. It is so much fun to dress her cause she is just so cute. I keep her hair in the rubberbands with the squares all over as her hair is only about an inch long. I keep product in it called Luster's Pink Original in a pink bottle. This seems to work well

Taking Young Children ... or Not, to Ethiopia!

(David and I have been both battling a cold and a flu. As soon as he got home, he has been down and out for the first several days. And now as of Friday, I've come down with the flu and am still very weak and nauseous. I hate feeling this bad, but time will get me better soon)

I had a comment from Stephanie of New York who ask me how we came to the decison not to take the boys with us to pick up Tigist and was it the right decision. This is always an individual and personal decision and I can only tell you why WE did not take them. We are very glad we didn't, we have no regrets. We bounced back and forth with taking them or not. Mostly we wavered on NOT taking them. The main question we always asked ourselves was, "What was best for Tigist." Our boys are 13 and 11 years old and still can battle between each other on small issues. Because they are so close in age, this has been a challenge. We were imagining how this would play out when we first had Tigist in our hands. We also wanted our meeting with her and our initial time with her to be the best that it could be. We were sure that although the boys love her deeply, we would be putting them in a position to make this precious time with her too stressful and challenging. What was best for Tigist was for her to meet her parents quietly, without additional stress. Also, this was a especially big moment for both David and I. A precious experience not to be taken lightly. Especially when we were wavering if they should come, we saw how they handled sensitive situations that we had prior to our departure... which confirmed the fact it was better for everybody, if they stayed back at home.

Other reasons came into play too;
- School started for both of them while we were gone.
- The cost. At $2200 a ticket, we needed to make sure it was beneficial for all. And we really were running out of funds at this point. It's been an expensive year even outside of the adoption.
- This trip could hold some very unexpected situations (and it did for sure) and adding 2 boys in the mix would make it so much more stressful for all of us.
- This trip and all that it involved turned out to be both incredible and very stressful. Stressful because we found certain situations pushed us to some limits that we had. The memory is fading at this point as to the details, but transitioning thru airports, chasing baggage around, David and I found our stress points pushed over our limits and we had to sometimes walk away from situations and take a breather ... and then David starting to get sick towards the end with a cold, he lost his voice ... as lovely as our boys are, they are not mature enough to comprehend some of the stress points that we encountered. So there were many times we said to each other, "It was wise not bring the boys".
- And David and I were celebrating our 20 year wedding anniversary, so this was a really nice way to have a week together alone before we embark on expanding our family with someone we've never even met before.
- The people with whom they stayed with (God bless 'em) took them for us and the boys had a really great time hanging out with their buddies for a week here and there.
- And lastly, we know we will travel to Ethiopia again for Tigist's sake, and that is when the whole family will go. I look forward to that immensely.

If you are contemplating taking kids, only you know how your kids act in stressful situations. You be the judge. Do you have the extra funds? Do you have the extra patience? Are you staying local or traveling outside of Addis? Are your kids old enough to help or do they still need your attention? It is a personal choice. And only you the parents will know which is right

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Day 16 of 19 … “Children’s Heaven”, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Friday, August 15th,

We meet Hanna at "Children's Heaven" ... a place for teen girls whose family has been infected by AIDS to come for a half day program and love.

We eat breakfast each morning about 9:30am which is included in our stay. Each of the waiters now gets to know Tigist better each time and she falls into their arms while blowing them kisses. She won’t sit in the high chair as she is use to sitting in a chair like all of the other kids at the orphanage. She’ll throw her bread away (very far) if she is not understood. But then she melts your heart by saying, “Mama? Mwaa! Ababa? Mwaa!” She calls me Mama, Mommy or Amaye (Mother in Amharic) She calls David Daddy, Papa or A’baba (Father in Amharic.) She makes us laugh, she makes us cry. And it is a good thing she is so cute as we would be insane by now.

She is used to tea for breakfast and lunch and porridge or oatmeal for breakfast. She loves potatoes and injera (the traditional bread). She loves her dabo (spelling?) which is bread and makes a complete mess everywhere she goes. Her tummy is so big, I don’t know if she is bloated or just a 2 yr. old. I have apologized a hundred times so far for the messes that she makes, but they are always happy to clean it up as they understand the messes of a 2 yr. old. Or is she 3? I have no idea. I can’t wait to get her to a dentist and doctor for them to tell me better what age they think she is. The breakfast buffet is top of the line buffet offering everything we could need. We always miss lunch (as we have chosen not to eat outside of the hotel as we are trying diligently not to get sick like most people seem to do while here.) So breakfast gives us much needed energy for each day and what it holds…which is a lot.

Today we’ve planned to meet with Hanna Fanta of Children’s Heaven. It is the place for teenage girls to come for ½ the day for part of their sponsored program. I wish I could write everything that I’ve seen, but because I want to post this on the blog, I will only write what is appropriate for this type of forum. We were greeted by Hanna outside where she led us to a room where 40 or so beautiful smiling faces were sitting. There were 3 rows of about 15 girls. They welcomed us by introducing themselves one by one ... their name, hobby, grade and what they want to be when they grow up. Although soft spoken, you could sense the humble confidence that emanated from within.

After a traditional song & dance with beating of the drums, they offered us popcorn and a wheat and nut snack (kolo).  Hanna gave us some to take home. And of course they made coffee for us, actually everywhere we go they offer us coffee. We bought some traditional clothing for Tigist and they had us sit down, showed us clothing and offered us tea and coffee. It reminded me of when you go to those fufu stores like Gucci or Tiffany’s (I don’t, but I hear about it) that they serve champagne or wine), it was like that but in Addis 3rd world style…they took good care of us until we found what we wanted. We spent about $220 American dollars on 15 items. Wasn’t bad and her clothes are adorable. She will attend church at the Ethiopian church first and wear some of her new clothes. They make the coffee fresh for you by roasting, grinding and brewing it. Takes about 15 to 20 minutes, so when you drink it, it is purely fresh, full of love and really and truly good. You pay $3 for a shot of this at Star Bucks.

The few hours that we spent there were just precious. One of the girls actually did Tigist’s hair in my favorite way. I watched carefully of course and I’ve got it down now how to do it. Tigist at one point was sitting on a young girls lap. They were all feeding her and she was feeding them popcorn. I took this time to speak with Hanna where I said to her, “I don’t know how you do it!” I succeeded in holding back the tears while sitting for so long in front of these children. When you are my age (an adult) you just know what their future COULD be and you don’t know if they are going to have it. You can hope and pray, but you also know how life works. I see a boy here today (when boys are not a part of the program) and his sister come and hang out here. Hanna said the other day, their Father died from AIDS and their Mother is currently very ill. The oldest of the 3 siblings came just 2 days ago all the way from his home to tell Hanna the news. He was shaking and crying, explaining to her that his Father has now died. He fell into Hannas arms like a child to a Mother and wept as she comforted him. The younger 2 now come here to Children’s Heaven and just hang out, although I don’t think they are officially a part of the program.  

Hanna then told me that the girl that is holding Tigist right now gives her a bit of a hard time. The young girl who must be about 11 had been raped when she was 7. She was seven … what do you remember about your child when they were seven?  Probably not fighting off an animal who was violating them as they were walking to get water. Probably not! This would be a common story. The streets are not safe for the children. Today I must have seen 3 sets of 5 & 6 yr. olds holding hands while running across the INCREDIBLY busy streets going to somewhere, who knows.

Another girl who was the very last to introduce herself was so timid and so quiet. She too was the last one that David and I hugged as we hugged each and every one of those girls before we left. As David hugged her, Hanna explained that she is having a very hard time. Her parents are gone, and her sister doesn’t like her and does not want her to stay at their house. Where is she to go? Children’s Heaven is only a half day program. There are not enough funds to house these children nor are there funds to do much more than the bare essentials … if that. As it was my turn to hug her, I kissed her, hugged her and looked into her eyes and told her that she was beautiful and that I loved her. She let go, but I held her longer, letting her know that I cared.  Her precious little head melted into my chest and I felt for a moment that I may have offered her a minute of unconditional love as would a Mother to her child. I looked her again in her eyes and I said in Amharic, “Ewedehalehu” … I love you! Again, today it took everything in me to hold it together until I was out of their sight. When saying good-bye to Hanna and her co-worker, I said we would keep all of them in our prayers … truly. Tears came again as I realize that I walk away and have my needs met. Again, I don’t know how she does it. She said she doesn’t …. That it is God. 

Tigist was so good as she hung out with us for 3 hours. She fussed a bit here and there, but it all worked out. She is use to being around lots of children and people coming in and out. She calls every car a “beep-beep” because when they come to her big steel locked doors at the orphanage, that is the sound that she hears. From our hotel window, she sees the round-about as people come and go. She waves to them, blows a kiss and says, “Ciao!” It is really cute cause she really means it.
We didn’t have any more room in our luggage for donations to Children’s Heaven, but a guitar that David gave to her and 3 big boxes of beads that a lady from Utah donated that we promised to pass on. David teared up as he passed on this guitar to Hanna and the program. When we first met Hanna a few months ago, she had wished that she had a guitar to learn how to play. So David said, “Done!” I’ll bring you mine. He explained to her that he’s played this guitar for 20 years. It’s been with us through hard times and made little children smile as he’d play for them during worship at different schools and churches. That he was now proud to play it one last time for the girls and then bless it and pass it on with love. Hanna’s co-worker, Asere, said later that it meant so much to him what David had said and that he made sure that he “touched” the guitar first before anybody else, so that he in turn might be blessed in the work that he does. He, like Hanna, has a heart the size of Texas for these girls and knows of their pains and their hope for a bright future. When all of the girls introduced themselves, most of them said that when they grow up, they wanted to be a doctor. The rest said, Artist, Scientist, Biologist, Teacher … it was encouraging to see what Children’s Heaven is doing for these beautiful girls. Giving them hope where there was none.

Today was hard. Tomorrow we leave. We will not forget. We’re thankful for Children’s Heaven!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Day 15 of 19 ... Addis Ababa ... We Meet Our Sponsored Child

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Today we met our sponsored child, Fatuma who is 10 years old. She is with the program Compassion International which through their program allows children the opportunity to go to school, have health care and offer them support through us, their sponsor family. What I like about this program is that the most important thing you do is offer them encouragement as well as consistent communication via letters, pictures and small gifts if you like.

I know it will be difficult to describe the full extent of the day. We were of course with Tigist and went to the lobby of our hotel to wait for Fatuma’s arrival at 11:00am. We had questioned whether or not we should have this precious little girl meet us at this hotel or somewhere out on neutral ground, perhaps a restaurant or another place. But Compassion International said that it would be good for her actually. That the opulence at a place like this might perhaps be inspiring for her. They encouraged it.

It took Fatuma about an hour to warm up to us. When she arrived, we had refreshments in the lobby while we exchanged conversation with each other.

She looked so cute in her new clothes just for the occasion. She is quite slim, but full of energy and beaming with such beauty about her. So young, yet so full of life. So we saw her, hugged her and the moment just came at us all at once. It took everything in me the whole time with her, not to cry tears of overwhelming emotion. David actually had to excuse himself, as he too was so full of emotion. I’ve never seen him do that before. She sang a sweet song to us as we had refreshments. That too brought me to tears that only I was aware of. She arrived with the Compassion International translator and her health representative because females are not to be alone with a male. The translator, Yosef, was just as sweet and thoughtful as they come. Fatuma was with us for 6 hours before she headed back to her hotel nearby for rest before her 12 hour bus ride from where she lives to here. I was taken aback when I found out that her ride here and back was 12 hours each way. I felt bad, but I know that this would have been the best trip of her life time so far…truly!

She was very playful too. I could tell she has a really great sense of humor and fun personality.

Tigist and Fatuma blowing kisses

Tigist's first time on a slide...she loved it right away.

Today, was her first time eating ice-cream, eating in a nice restaurant (or even any restaurant at all). We walked the hotel premises and she and Tigist played in the children’s playground. They had so much fun playing together. When we were eating lunch in the Italian restaurant in the hotel, as I turned to the right where Fatuma sat next to me, I was met with a mouthful of spaghetti. It was especially sweet because Yosef then told us that in the Ethiopian culture, it is an expression of love when someone feeds you a bite like that. That you would NOT feed someone you didn’t like. So it was an honor that all on her own, she just did it. Then I fed her. Then she took her rolled up spaghetti and walked over to David and fed him too. I could have cried. Just because of who she is. She is just sugar-sweet and even now, when I think of her, I tear up. She said in Amharic that she was so thankful for us bringing her here and supporting her.

Without our $32 a month, she would not have this opportunity for schooling and helping her family by getting ahead. It humbles me so to have met her. When we walked down to the playground, it felt so good to grab her hand, swinging it as we walked and talked (very little as she and I speak little of each other’s language.) With her, not much language is needed as she was just so easy to be with. She taught me some phrases and just smiled the whole time. She sang me the alphabet and counted to 57 in English before Yosef said, “That is good.” I could go on, but I must say I will never forget meeting her or how I felt coming into her world.

They played for a long time on the playground with each other. Fatuma was so well mannered and full of energy. She seemed so happy to play while we talked with the adults.

Just the experience for her to come to the big city for the first time involved many new things for her ... that is what I wanted for her. Addis Ababa is the main place in Africa that many things happen. And the Sheraton where we are staying is a place where many businessmen, diplomats, dignitaries, aide-workers and UN workers meet and stay. Yosef said today when we talked about this hotel, that it is probably not a big deal compared to the American hotels, but we had to correct him, admitting that it was by far one of the best around where we live, or where we’ve traveled over the years.

While she played and ate cotton candy, Yosef and I had such sweet exchanges of conversation. We talked much about our Faith, I shared how we came to adoption, which started really when I was faithful one Sunday at church (long, amazing story). We talked about how some people go through life without having given back. And how rich your life becomes when you do give back in some capacity.

Through Compassion International, we were able to have this chance meeting with such a precious child. I know that I will never forget meeting Yosef as well. Some people are just unforgettable. Today I met 2 of them.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Day 19 of 19 ... Welcome Home Tigist!

Our dear friends Jennifer and Daryl took the boys to the airport for us with our van. They made us feel so good with such a sweet and thoughtful welcome ... and these pictures below as well. Now we have these precious memories of the boys meeting Tigist. Thank you, thank you, thank you Daryl and Jennifer and Ethan!! We love you!

As we traveled up the escalator, David, Tigist and I, my heartbeat grew faster. I knew what this moment held and I couldn't help but think about what the boys might be thinking as they wait above the escalators ... This is what we saw coming up ...

Evan, Ethan (our friends son) and Brandon

Our friend Daryl got this shot of her in Daddy's arms

Our first Family Photo! She was so observant.

The boys can't 'believe she's here. I don't want to embarrass Brandon, but I don't think he'd mind me saying that he teared up while she was in front of him. He couldn't contain his love for her. They said they felt like she will disappear ... like it's not real!

She's warming up to her brothers

Day 14 of 19 ... Addis Ababa ... Embassy Day!

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

Embassy Day … Tigist gets her golden ticket … permission to leave her country and start her new life.

Today we got to see the other Agency families as we all have the same Embassy date today. It was pretty painless. We were especially excited because today Abebe let us take Tigist back to our hotel permanently. It felt great to know we were done with all of the paperwork, running around and uncertainty. The only thing left was getting our flight out of here. We went to the Hilton Ethiopian Airlines desk where we expressed our concern for not having a ticket out of Africa for our daughter. It seemed miraculous that although all seats were booked thru September, there were 3 seats available on Saturday. Well, well … we will be going home after all. I was getting concerned that we would incur more and more costs by waiting for seats to open. That was a relief to book those tickets and to see Tigist’s name on a plane ticket. We were so excited to bring her back to this beautiful hotel and enjoy her company without any worries. She is so bonded to us … it warms my heart to no end.

Day 13 of 19 … Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2008

Tigist is a tea drinker. The boys and I were betting back home that when she grows up, she would be like her Mama and drink coffee. But for now, she drinks tea. Just like her Daddy. Each day when they have lunch, they all have a cup of tea … how adorable is that?

Today we got to the orphanage early so as not to interrupt Tigist’s and the kids nap times. When we arrived, as usual, the taxi “beep beeps” and Tigist knows there is someone there outside of Sele Enat. This is a big deal of the day when people arrive and cause commotion throughout the place. Tigist usually calls out “Beep Beep? Beep Beep?” It is so adorable. She is expecting something fun to happen or someone she knows to walk thru those big, strong, solid gates when she hears the “Beep Beep!” So we walk through, someone always opens the gate with a beautiful smile. Walk to the place outside of where she sleeps and there she is…the only child not sleeping or in class … she sees us, we yell out her name … “Tigist, Tigist!” and I swear, she couldn't’ have run any faster towards us, right into my arms. It was absolutely precious … couldn’t have better directed that moment if I tried. She is completely comfortable with us, we are so grateful. I hold her for 5 minutes, then hand her over to Daddy (always hard to let her go on both our parts) and within 3 minutes, she is fast asleep in his arms. So comfortable, so completely trusting. She slept in his arms and mine for about an hour and a half. This was only 11:30 am and her nap time is usually 1 or 2, so I think this was her telling us that she was totally on board with us.

Day 11 of 19 ... Addis Ababa ... 2nd day with Tigist

Sunday, 10th, 2008

Today was the same as yesterday. Spent many hours at the orphanage with Tigist and interacting with the other children. One girl named “Y” will actually be coming to our area to live with her Mother Lydia. I’ve brought formula for Lydia to take to her baby boy who is 4 mo. old, but looks like an infant. She wanted to make sure that he had some good nutrition until she could pick him up. The neat thing is, “Y” was offered to us back in April at the same time as Tigist, but since Tigist was already younger than we had asked for, “Y” being 1 ½ yrs. Old was even younger. So we accepted just Tigist. To have “Y” now coming to our area is so sweet as we can spend time with her and still watch her grow. I spent time with her too and she is just so cute. The most beautiful face, and when she smiles … well, when they all smile, you truly melt. If you come here not intending to adopt, you will leave having changed your mind. That is what happens in these places. So come!!! Adopt. It is a good thing.

Tigist fell asleep in David’s arms after just a few minutes. It is so good to see that she trusts us. So good. The nannies here are always doing something with these children. The amount of laundry they do each day is mind boggling. There is always over 100 pieces of laundry hanging to dry all over. When it rains, they must bring it all in and hang it out again tomorrow. The big kids help too. They have a grass area that we saw a guy cutting with some scissors cutting the grass 4 inches at a time. Life here is so different.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Day 10 of 19 ... Arrive Addis Ababa … We Meet Our Daughter!

Happy Birthday Tigist!

Saturday, August 9th, 2008

Oh boy! Where do I start? Upon arriving at the airport, our facilitator Abebe reminds us that the rules here have changed. We will NOT pick up our daughter today and bring her back with us, but we can VISIT her daily until we leave and then we can take her. WHAT? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? This has been quite a blow to me. David is fine with it as perhaps he feels like our time to ourselves is good after taking in the first meeting with her. But I think every Mother out there is feeling like I am … this is not good news for me after thinking that we would take her with us the first day. But I've told myself all along the way to expect the unexpected.

We wait in the lobby of our hotel for Abebe to pick us up to meet Tigist! The guitar is to give to Hanna of Children's Heaven. Hanna had wanted to learn how to play, so David gave this to her and her organization as a gift.

We arrive in our hotel room at the Sheraton Addis at 10am and ask Abebe to return at 1:00 for our trip to the orphanage. We rest for an hour, eat lunch and then wait in the lobby. The hotel is more than I imagined. Apparently, it is the biggest thing to hit here in so long and offers 700 employees jobs not to mention the outsourcing that goes on because this is here. Once someone here gets hired, they do not leave. It is an amazing job to have (any job here at the hotel) since the unemployment rate is not even known here. At least nobody here knows…the rate is not important, it is just so bad. So if you can imagine the Sheraton (just use your imagination) and then an inch past the security gates exiting is complete poverty. It is hard to fathom, yet it is a good thing here as it contributes significantly to the local economy and job market.

Sixty percent of Ethiopians here are Christian, 40% Muslim. This hotel is built by a Muslim business man, perhaps like Trump, which the Christians appreciate, but aren’t 100% happy with it. Mind you, this is info that I’m garnering just from conversations of Ethiopians…not my personal opinion or from research, so don’t completely quote me. There is also the Hilton and other hotels, but the Sheraton by far is quite amazing. Luckily we got in with a reduced rate as well as the 4th night free, so it turned out to be the same price as the Hilton. The staff has been 100% available, I couldn’t ask for more, but perhaps a little “coke-lite!” Really! I mean it! Actually the meals and wine and purchases have been incredibly more than reasonable. I had a glass of wine and French fries in the lobby the other day and it was $6 American dollars.

So, back to Tigist … Our 25 minute drive was very interesting. Those of you who have been here and those of you reading who have read this a million times, I will just briefly describe it. No signals, no right of way, no problem urinating in the center divider of the road, no problem bumping into a goat along the way (and there are many as well as donkeys that hall product from place to place), lots of huge holes in the road, so the taxis have to swerve into opposing traffic, lots of horns honking… when you DO have to stop, people and children run to your window to beg and it breaks my heart to have to deny them. If you offer something, you are sure to be swarmed and you just don’t have enough. It is dangerous for them with the rushing cars and if they get hit, I don’t think anybody would stop or care for them. It’s not like the U.S. We just made sure we brought as many donations we could pack into our luggage limit, and gave monetary donations to both Tigist’s orphanage as well as CHILDREN’S HEAVEN. I’ve heard that monetary offerings are more helpful than most other things, so that is what we did.

After turning right past the goats and donkeys, onto bumpy dirt roads, (I really should have worn a better bra!) through a huge mud hole that couldn't be avoided and 3 steel gates on the left ... there it was! Those precious gates that have been protecting our dear daughter.

When we made that turn off of the main road, that is when it hit me. I knew from others experiences, that she could be right there the moment they opened the gate, but when we walked in, I see a dozen heads peak around the corner. Faces I recognized from our agency photos and others I didn’t.

It is a big day at an orphanage when the light skinned people come. They know that a child goes to a home and perhaps there are gifts or candy to come. We are lead, after hugging all the children, to the office where 5 minutes later we are told that she is coming. I looked outside and saw a tiny little head through the window with bright eyes. I said with a shivering voice, “Is that her? IS THAT HER? Oh my gosh, she is coming, David she is coming!” I couldn't hold back the tears ... they came fast as I covered my face. I try hard not to cry in front of people cause I can't talk if I cry. But this was a moment to behold and be real with. I know the nannies saw me crying and I know that it must warm their heart to know how much this little girl is loved.

Around the corner she came and cuter than her pictures. She is chunky and small. They put her on David’s lap (this is not what we planned!!! ... kidding) But to see her there in the flesh, reminded me of the absolute exact feeling that I had when they brought me both of my other children after delivering them. It is euphoric. It is surreal. It is slow motion. The tears came again, you know, the ugly cry!!! But, I wiped them dry when she was then put on my lap. Wow! Here she is, finally, after all these months. All of the certification, government requirements, problems, uncertainty … it really all does finally come into play when you have that child in your arms.

This was within a minute of meeting her. She was very clear that she wanted to show us her photo album ... the one that I made and sent over to her with another traveling Mom. She showed us every page. It was important to her I could tell.

They did her hair so cute. She looked so beautiful.

From 2004, a chance opportunity in Botswana would lead us to this moment. David and I said we would NOT forget what we saw. And here we are remembering … by bringing her home to a loving family, where she had none. It is one of the first questions people here ask when asking about her, “Does she have a Mother or a Father?” Where we answer NO, she was found by police, given the name Tigist, then transferred to Sele Enat Orphanage where she lived for 6 months before we arrived. Her life is forever changed, our lives are forever enriched with her in it.

She was not afraid of us, but very warm with us. I just wonder how much she knew about what was happening. She is young, so she couldn't understand much, but I think she knew something important was happening for her.

David brought her a beautiful red rose. He wanted to be the first man to give her a rose.

She then showed me all of the album.

This was another day we came to visit. These kids have a lot of food given to them. They seem to eat well. There were a couple of snack times too.

So much laundry to do every day. Then it rains and they have to pull them all in and try again the next day. I wish they could have a washing machine and a dryer!

On this visit, she ran to us with open arms Papa, Amaye!!! Her little feet ran so fast. Her smile was so big. She fell asleep in David's arms within minutes and it was 2 hours before her nap time. I think she is showing us that she trusts us.

Sometimes I would try to spend some alone time with her. I could tell she could become over stimulated. But then those precious kids would come too and want to play with her and be with us. It was hard to say no.

Tigist is a tea drinker. Just like her Papa.

Did I tell you she adores her Daddy? Wow!

The playground at orphanage.

Group picture. This was most of the kids. The infant and tiny ones were in the room.

The stairway in our hotel (Sheraton) was absolutely stunning with wrought iron and marble.

There were always fresh flowers everywhere. Absolutely beautiful.

This is the Italian restaurant within our hotel that we ate at a lot. There were 5 really great restaurants to choose from everyday. Breakfast was an amazing buffet too. Always top rate.

I can’t tell you how pleased we were to see how comfortable she was with us. She seemed delighted to see the people in her little, pink photo album finally in the flesh. They said to her in Amharic, look Tiggee (soft G), this is your Mozer and your Fozer. Their th sounds like a z, so it is cute. We spent a few hours here with her, which warmed her up to us even more. There really was zero hesitation with her interacting with us. We played, David sung with his guitar, we have them gifts, they made us coffee … it really couldn’t have gone better. At the end of the day Ebebe came and said my favorite words … “Probably after your Embassy date, I may let you take her to the hotel with you to sleep until you leave.” I was so glad. He said we may have to be confined to our room, but this was good news.

We said our goodbyes. She was fine with saying “Ciao” to us and happily went to her nannies arms. She blew us kisses while we hugged each and every kid, ohhh they are just precious. They so want love. They so want to know they are seen. They want to be held. I knew some of them may have lice, but it didn’t keep me from hugging them and kissing their cheeks. You just cannot deny it when they look at you with such vulnerability and love. This too is their culture. They are just gorgeous in all their raggedy clothes and sores. Their broken up sandals and wild hair are a sight for sore eyes. When they say to you, “Tomorrow? You come tomorrow?” I was elated to say, “Yes, we come tomorrow.” They smile so big and hug and kiss you. Just unforgettable.

I think David and I were quite pleased to come back to our room and just contemplate what just happened. Something like that has to sink in and maybe it was good that we got to do that without any distraction, yet I would not have said no if they let me take her today.

We can’t wait until tomorrow.