Saturday, May 19, 2012

Finishing up, 6 weeks later!

This is the last email Tom wrote from ET.  We were very sad to leave the birth country of our son, but also so anxious to get home to our sweet girl and our family.  I got all emotional reading through this email tonight.  It has been six weeks since we arrived home from Ethiopia....and really, life can't get much better!  We are a happy little family of four...so blessed by this journey, so blessed by our two kids!

Edilu's first trip to the zoo!

Wednesday April, 4th, 2012

Well, I cant believe it but this will probably be the final email I send out before our journey home...we've been longing for the day to come when we would finally leave and get back, but now that its here it is a little difficult to leave. But the little boy who is coming with us makes it shift away from the 'bitter' and heavily towards the 'sweet'. This morning we woke up at about 6:20 or so to see Edilu standing in his crib, staring with bright eyes at us as we slept, but for some reason there was no crying involved for the first time-he just had this little smile on his face that said, "I'm awake!" But let me back up...

The night before, he did fantastic-he stirred a little, then went right back to sleep. Once again we all got a really restful night of sleep and felt great (this trip is so strange-last time we came here with pretty bad colds, ran out of medicine after a few days, and then got a nasty stomach sickness just in time for the trip home-ugh, it makes me feel sick just thinking about it). This time, however, aside from some minor stomach upset-ness (is that a word?), we are sleeping well, eating well, and healthy. But I digress...we came downstairs, ate breakfast (I am really going to miss fresh pineapple juice, omelette, Ethiopian pancakes and really good yogurt), and found out we would be going to lunch later with the whole group so we had the morning to ourselves.

We decided to walk down the street to a place we went to last time, the Paris Cafe. It is related to Paris only in that there is a half-Eiffel tower out front, and pictures of the city inside. The rest is all Ethiopia-the broken tiles, loud conversation, smells of berbery (Ethiopian spice), flies buzzing around, etc. But they have amazing macchiatos that we love, and two macchiatos will run you 16 birr, which is less than 1 american dollar. We were nervous about walking in public with Edilu for the first time, but were surprised to see that we got no more strange looks than when it is just us. And a gentleman in the Paris cafe struck up a conversation with us, and was very positive about us adopting a child of Ethiopia. He was even from the same southern region as Edilu. We had a great conversation, and were then informed that our new friend had graciously picked up the tab for us. He gave us his email on the way out and asked us to keep in contact. It was such a positive experience in the midst of our worry about how we, white americans, are perceived with a little Ethiopian boy. It was a great start to a great day.

We came back to the guest house and laid Edilu down at 11:00, and he slept well for an hour. We were then picked up and dropped off at the Amsterdam Cafe (notice a pattern?) with the group. Angela ordered lasagna that could have fed our whole table, and I ordered "3 Grill Sausage"...which turned out to be, much to my chagrin, 5 hot dogs rolled around on a grill on rice. Not sure where the 3 came into play. Oh well, some you win, some you lose.

We were then taken to go shopping-a row of shops all crammed together lining a busy street. We picked up some souvenirs (Including an Ethiopian flag for E's room), and had a great time bartering and talking. Ethiopian people are all business, and want your money, but if you break out of that mold and joke about the weather, about getting something free, ask them their name, etc. they smile, laugh, and respond in kind. Believe it or not, we actually saw quite a few people that we had seen on our first trip, and many remembered us. One of the most memorable was a "guard" whose job it is to whack street kids with a stick when they bother tourists, begging or agressively trying to sell you something. We spoke with her at length, and she told us about her son and daughter at home. She remembered us, and it was apparent she liked us because she adopted us as her personal clients, following us around to swat at anything that got too close. I spoke with Job (one of our guides) about her job, and he informed me she makes 500 birr a month, which is roughly 30 US dollars. Unbelievable. I asked if it was ok to tip, and he said, "Oh yes, we often tip them". We tipped her a mere 100 birr ($6.00), and she graciously shook our hands as she bowed repeatedly. Its things like that that make us love Ethiopia while our hearts break.

We handed out granola bars to some teenagers who were listening to Justin Bieber, a favorite here. They played with Edilu, and one boy gave Edilu his pink sunglasses with no lenses. We saw teenage schoolgirls walking home from school in their uniforms who all giggled while they kissed Edilu on the cheek and invited us to come to their houses. We met a true rasta (rastafarianism comes from Ethiopia) who explained the "one world, one people" concept to us and laughed when Angela told him I tried to grow dreads in college. In short, it was raining and we got all muddy, and had the time of our lives with the poeple of Addis. With people here, sometimes all it takes is for you to reach out a hand in friendship and bridge that gap.

While we were there talking to the kids, Job brought us Edilu's visa, and an amazing thing happened. Every teenager and child there crowded around to see it-we were later told that every child dreams of attaining a visa to travel to the US. they had never even seen one! We were asked by numerous boys if we would adopt them also (in a light-hearted, joking way, but I think they would have come with us). One boy said he would become Edilu and change the picture in the visa. We asked him what we sould do with Edilu, and he said, "No problem-you come back for him later!"

We left with hearts both broken and full, but with our boy in mom's arms and his visa in my pocket. We attempted a nap, but he just wasn't quite tired enough. at 6:30 we came down for dinner and ate with all the other families. One thing I forgot to mention-two different families here are adopting older girls, and we remember all three from our last trip. It is such a blessing to meet kids in the transition home on our first trip, beautiful girls waiting for a family, and now all three are placed and going home with their forever families. And the other day we went by an orphanage so one family could drop off a care package to a 14-year-old girl who was placed with a family. We watched with watery eyes as she saw a picture of her family for the first time, and broke down in happiness. She had never seen her family, and could not wait for them to come pick her up. In Ethiopia, at age 15 kids are no longer eligible for adoption, so she just barely made the cut. I cannot imagine the feelings on her end, but for us it was just beautiful to be able to witness.

During dinner last night, Edilu ate almost everything in sight, and woke up with purpose! He was smiling, laughing, swinging his arms, and acting like a little boy full of life. We took him upstairs and gave him a bath, and aside from some whimpering he barely made a sound. We cleaned his beautiful skin (I'm becoming a little jealous that mine is so white, with the exception of my ample forehead which is slightly sunburnt). He was asleep within 5 minutes of Angela laying him down, and we began to pack for today's trip. He woke a few times during the night but slept well...which brings us to this morning and our bright-eyed boy. He is sitting on mommy's lap eating right now, reaching for me occasionally and whining a little-in short, showing all the signs of a boy adjusting well to his new mommy and daddy. I better get over there and help out...we leave at 4:00 today and are nervous but excited! Thank you all for reading our updates and being a part of our journey!

One last thing-for those of you meeting us at the airport (and all are welcome), be prepared that when you say hi to him, he will most likely cry and turn away. He even does that with Ethiopian people here who say hi (again, a good sign that he is bonding with us). Don't take it personally, and dont be afraid to say hi anyway! See you soon...

Tom, Ang and Son

Hanging out at our Guest House 
The Paris Cafe
Hanging out with Daddy:)
Packing
 Saying goodbye is hard!
 Bole Int. Airport, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
On to Dubai!

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