Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Big News....

We finally got some news yesterday concerning Baby Girl -- and it was good news.  We have officially passed court!!!  Abby called and told me, then posted this on her Facebook.  We are so excited.  We are still in shock and feel very blessed.  As soon as we get the "OK" from our agency we will post photos.  (She's beautiful!)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

First World Problems

Sometimes it takes something funny to slap you in the face and make you realize just how crazy our "problems" really are compared to other places.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Trip home from Ethiopia

When we woke up in Ethiopia on Saturday,  June 4th, we had 40 hours until we touched down in Springfield and got to see Ari.  I set the alarm on my phone to go off every hour so I could take a picture. Here's how it turned out.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Day 5

Today was court day. Four families, including us, left the guest house around 8:00 and were taken to Holt's office. Strangely enough, it was located less than one mile from the care center where Ari lived. As we pulled up to the building I looked across the street and recognized the little dirt road that led to Ari's care center. We headed up the steps to the top floor with Miruk, our Holt representative, where we all sat down and were presented with our chldren's entire file. We all were thrilled to be able to see this paperwork, including many documents and pictures we had never seen before. We feel very grateful and privileged to be given access to this information. Even though it would seem we are entitled to it, not all agencies allow this much transparency in the adoption process. We were also allowed to take pictures of the documents since the binder itself is Holt's property and will remain in Holt's possession. We were then quickly briefed on the questions to expect from the judge, what the waiting room will be like, etc. We headed back downstairs to unload our donations in a storage room that included lots and lots of donations and also shelves upon shelves of binders of previously adopted children.

Finally we all piled in the van and headed to court. Up to the top floor once again where we entered a semi-crowded room mixed with adoptive parents, birth parents, and agency representatives. What an emotional and humbling experience it was for us to be in the same room with birth parents. It was really like two worlds colliding with one very intimate and special connection. You could see them looking the adoptive parents over from head to toe, which I think is certainly understandable. I wanted to communicate to them that my heart was breaking for them, that it's not fair due to circumstances out of their control (disease, poverty, premature parental death, etc.) we are on this side of the process while they are on the opposite, that we do not feel "entitled" to their children; rather we feel completely blessed and grateful for the opportunity to raise these special kids. We waited for approximately an hour and were then called in as a group into the judge's chambers. The judge was female with two helpers and files piled up all around her. After asking for all of our passports she asked about 6 to 10 "yes/no" questions in which we all answered in unison as a group. She then informed us that all of our paperwork is in order; she is just waiting for the MOWCYA letter. She also commented that she had talked to MOWCYA yesterday and she was expecting to receive the letters soon. We all kind of exchanged disappointed glances and let out a defeated sigh, but none of us were too surprised. At first I couldn't decide if it was a good thing or a bad thing none of us had our letters, but I've decided it's better than only one family not passing as that would seem to indicate there could be a problem specific that that family's case. This seems more a result of MOWCYA not keeping up with their workload, possibly because of the rumored slowdown we've all been hearing about for months now. Regardless, we will hope that our letter shows up in the next week or so. Two more families with Holt had their court date the day after ours, and they received the exact same news. Hopefully MOWCYA will get to the Holt pile soon.

We then headed out to lunch at Yod Abysynnia, but since Wednesday is a fasting day it was very empty with no singing or dancing going on. Next we went shopping at the post office shops where we all power-shopped since we only had 45 minutes. We then made a quick stop at Tamoca Coffee to buy some coffee to bring back home before heading back to the guest house. Two of the families who attended court with us left tonight, so we exchanged emails and information and said our good-byes.

One other family who had court with us and also traveled with us down south was transferring to the Sheraton, so Melke picked us and them up to take to the Sheraton and we had a delicious dinner at Stagioni in the Sheraton. It is really a shocking difference when you leave the streets of Addis Ababa and enter the gates of the Sheraton. It feels like you have suddenly been transported to a Vegas hotel located on the Strip. It was absolutely beautiful and decadent. After dinner we passed by an outdoor area where a band was performing. I asked the guard if it was a private party and he said, "No, of course not," and oped the door for me to enter. We entered the patio area and for the next hour or so listened to a really good band from Atlanta, GA. We kind of figured they were from the States since they were performing M.J., Beyonce, '70s funk, etc., but weren't completely sure. We had a blast! It felt a little surreal to be in that type of environment after experiencing the previous four days, but it was great. We have come to appreciate and love the feeling of being surrounded by people from literally all over the world in one place with us as Americans being in the minority. We had way too much fun scanning the crowd, speculating on where everyone was from based on their attire or "look." And of course there were beautiful Ethiopian women all around us, in which Roger and I would just look at each other and shake our head. We always joke that Ari would be crazy not to marry an Ethiopian woman someday.

We finally said good-bye to our friends and headed back to the guest house with Melke. I made the mistake of not taking Advil PM before bed once we got back and only got about three hours of sleep as a result because I was missing Ari so painfully much. I finally got out of bed at approximately 2:30 a.m. ET time, dug out the Susan Parr Travel phone number out of our backpack, and called to see if we could get an earlier flight home for either Thursday or Friday night. For approximately $1500 we could get home at 9:40 p.m. Saturday night rather than our scheduled 5:20 p.m. on Sunday, so I resigned myself to the fact I would just have to suck it up and deal. The days do go by quickly here, but at night I become a crazy, emotional mess missing my baby and drive Roger crazy unless I drug myself to sleep. It was just hard to know we technically could go home if we wanted to, plus the fact our group we had spent so much time with and had so much fun with had all left. But we did decide to stay a few extra days for good reason, so it's probably a blessing coming home early wasn't an option.

Day 4

Today we awoke in Awassa at the Lewi Hotel (wrapped in our mosquito net hanging above our bed), grabbed a quick breakfast, and headed out of town. Before leaving Awassa we stopped at the Lewi Resort for a photo op on the lake. It was a beautiful lake and resort, and we were all asking why we couldn't stay there instead! As we walked up to the waterfront we noticed a table of "ferenge" (white foreigners) sitting at a table. Roger of course walked up and introduced himself, and lo and behold they were from Iowa of all places. They were in Ethiopia for two weeks working on some water projects down south. I love how I can be in southern Ethiopia and still run into Iowa people. What a small world we live in.

We drove back north to the city, this time taking a completely different route where the scenery was much more desert-like and flat. There was a lot more industry on this road including HUGE greenhouses lined up for miles. We asked what they were growing and our guide told us strawberries and flowers, both of which are exported out of ET. We also saw monkeys and camels today which was something new and entertaining. The traffic was once again treacherous and we saw overturned and charred vehicles which made us that much more anxious to get back to the city.

After arriving back we grabbed a quick late lunch at the guest house and then came up to the computer/family room where we were introduced to the children who have been united with their families and also attended embassy today. They are all just precious and seem to be doing so well with their new family in such a short amount of time. Roger made good friends with one particular little 4-year-old girl who we think is going to be a serious soccer star someday. She was definitely giving Roger a run for his money! For dinner the guest house provided a barbecue out in the traditional-style huts that you see everywhere down south, and it was delicious! Our food experience on this trip has been amazing!

We have been able to Skype with Ari a couple times so far. He can see our picture, but so far we haven't been able to see him. My mom reports he is doing great, sleeping and eating well, but maybe does miss us a little. She said he listens to our recorded books we made for him quite a bit. I'm so glad we made them for him even though it did cause me to have a major cry fest while attempting to record them the night before we left.

Tomorrow morning we will go to the Holt office in the city for a debriefing of what court will be like, then attend court, hopefully receive awesome news, and then lunch at an Ethiopian cultural restaurant. The week has been going by pretty quickly due to our busy schedule and the great people we have been keeping company with.

We will update soon with our court news!