Sunday, April 1st, 2012
Where to begin...so much has happened in the last 2 days, my head is still spinning. Saturday morning we rose bright and early after a pretty restful night-despite the dogs barking like crazy right outside our window (fortunately we brought earplugs and a noisemaker app on my ipod touch). We had breakfast at the guest house, and then embarked on our journey south, a 5-6 hour journey that took us out of Addis Ababa for the first time. Seeing the countryside was incredible and gave us great perspective on life outside Addis. Almost everyone outside cities live in round mud huts with pointed straw roofs, and usually have cattle or grow crops. Everyone rides around and transports goods with a cart pulled by a donkey-our driver David calls them 1DP or 2DP (1 or 2 donkey power). Cows and sheep are routinely herded across the highway, so we either stop and wait or slowly force our way through. And the thing that struck me was just the incredible amount of people-there are people of all ages everywhere you look.
We stopped on the way for lunch and coffee (amazing macchiatos-the italian influence extends to coffee here as well as food). We arrived in Awasa around 4:00, and went directly to the orphanage where Edilu spent a few days of his life before being brought to the transition home.
We dropped off our donations at Shalom Orphanage, met the wonderful staff there, and spent a few minutes playing with the children. It's hard not to feel hopeless when you see how many kids are there without families, but if God provided a family for Edilu, then we have to believe he can do the same with each one of those beautiful children as well. It was an amazing experience to actually stand in the building where our son stayed all those many months ago, to actually look at the crib he slept in. We felt privileged and fortunate for the experience.
We were taken to a hotel (resort, actually) where they worked very hard at making us feel like honored guests, but to be honest, we felt strange being at such a nice place after leaving an orphanage. Since it was reserved for us and the cost was included in our travel package, however, we kind of forced ourselves to just try to enjoy it. It was right on a lake, and was incredibly beautiful-we ate dinner outside on the water. Afterwards we headed to our room, and barely made it to 8:00 before dropping dead (we were physically and emotionally exhausted by that point, as well as jetlagged). However, we both had a rough night as we were trying to process the crazy emotional journey, as well as the knowledge that we would pick up our son the very next day.
After a restless, difficult night, it felt so good to see the sun come up. And what was there on the balcony to wish us good morning? Monkeys! We never expected to see much wildlife, but it was really cool watching them jump around 5 feet away from us. We wandered down to the restaurant for a very american-themed breakfast (included), and more macchiatos. We were told that after breakfast, we could take a complementary boat ride, so we wandered down to the dock. We stood around like white idiots for a few minutes, then a guy gave us life jackets and pushed us onto a long flat-bottomed boat, filled with a family of apparently super-wealthy arab women (and one husband/father, though he apparently did not matter much). The mom and three sisters, all quite overweight and very gaudily-dressed, immediately struck us as the non-hollywood-version of the Kardashians (though equally spoiled rotten).
Our captain took us out on the lake at full throttle, and we were moving at about 1/4 knot. But we were out there for about 1/2 hour, and as we rounded a bend, we saw a large group of ethiopian men...in the water...bathing...with absolutely no clothes on. It was rather unexpected, but hey, we are in Africa, after all! We laughed about it, then looked over to see one of the Kardashians (their version of Kloe, I think) leaning forward, video camera in hand, zooming up as close as it would go...she was apparently quite entertained:)
We made it ashore, checked out of our room, and boarded the van with David and Yonas (our guide) for the trip back. On the way back we saw even more wildlife, including a herd of camels, giant ostriches, and hundreds more cattle and donkeys. We arrived back in Addis around 4:30 or so, and went directly to the transitional home where we met other families here on their first trip, spending time with their adopted kids. The nannies brought out Edilu...and it was not quite as it was the first time. He cried (even bordering on screaming), but we grabbed him and held him anyway, and he eventually stopped. There were many tearful nannies saying goodbye to him (he's been there over a year), and we crammed all three families and Edilu into our van. We drove away, feeling so strange that this little guy is now ours and is coming "home" with us.
We made it back to the guest house, and scrubbed Edilu from head to toe (turns out, he HATES baths:) We tried to feed him, but he wasnt interested in food, until we gave him formula. He drank some, at least, and as we scratched our heads, wondering what the heck we are doing, he started to come around. He is now even smiling, and sometimes even laughing a little. He is warming up to me, but LOVES his mommy-Angela is doing fantastic with him, and he reaches up for her first any time he's scared. Right now they are upstairs cuddling, and he is getting more and more tired (he might even be asleep by now). I am not expecting much sleep tonight, so if we get any it will be a welcome surprise! Please pray for us-we feel like we have this child now, but we are in a single room with nothing of our own. We would give anything to be home right now. Generally speaking, when parents have a baby, they leave the hospital and go to the comfort of their home, with everything familiar, with the store right down the street, sometimes with family and friends nearby. Not so with us. We have nothing familiar, we're living out of suitcases, we're all in the same room, we have a child who is not comfortable with us yet...it's really the perfect storm. And when it gets dark and you are tired, everything seems worse. We just want to get through tonight, so please pray that we will make it. In the morning we go to embassy, and after that we will be ready to head home. Unfortunately, we have to wait until Thursday to fly out, so we will just do our best to enjoy our time here and bond with our new son.
We miss Mae horribly, and can't wait to see her. We also miss every one of you who is in our lives, and can't wait to get home. Pray that we make it without going insane...I'm guessing if there are any mental hospitals here, they are not places we want to end up:)
Tom, Ang & Edilu
P.S. We also saw a hippo on the way south...I've always wanted to see one. Unfortunately it was just the behind sticking out of the water, and might have been a large boulder, but I'm claiming it-I have now seen a hippo.
Our boat ride...wanted to post a pic of the Kardashians...but not sure if that would earn us a lawsuit?? Playing it safe.
Dawit, Yonas...We love these guys!
We were thrilled to have our son in our arms, he was terrified...we have since won him over.
Our fist night...