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.


Anonymous said...

Oh goodness!! Praise God for your sweet little girl! I'm so glad you are home safe and sound with your her. How do the boys like their new sister? I'm sure she is having a blast with them.
What a trip, huh??
Can't wait to catch up with you.

Lisa and David said...

The boys are ecstatic about their sister. Right now, they are playing out in the back with her and she loves them. They are being so good as big brothers. She runs to them with her arms out and a huge smile. I just can't believe how well she has fit into and attached to our family.
We should talk on the phone soon.
Lisa ;)

Mitchell Mischief said...

What a wonderful meeting. I had tears as you shared your first encounter. I am waiting patiently for the blog of the rest of your trip. I'm so happy that things are going so well. Love ya

Our Ethiopian Journey said...

We haven't met yet, but I want to tell you thank you for taking so much time to update your blog regarding your trip to Ethiopia. Congratulations! You all look so happy and it is beautiful to see after such a long journey that adoption can be such a happy ending! I wrote you while you were in Italy regarding IAN as an agency choice. We did choose IAN a couple of weeks ago. We are so excited and I was reassured after seeing your picutres of the orphanage. We would love to meet your family soon. We live in Highlands Ranch too. Congratulations again! Tigist is beautiful.