Friday, October 29, 2010

A Taste of Ethiopia

Here are some pictures of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.


Me and Pete in front of the courthouse after passing court.


The coffee there is SOOO good. Pete and I went to this coffee place every day and on the last day Meseret got to come with us :)


A multi tasking mom.


This was the walk to our guest house.


Goats crossing the road as we left the Sheraton where we went to get more money out.


Typical stores. Most of the city had little shops like this.

Pete and I found a beer we both really liked, St. George.

Dinner our first night. A traditional Ethiopian meal of injera and curries. Really good!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bonding


video

video

In order to adopt, Pete and I were required to complete 10 hours of training. The content of the training mostly focused on bonding with your child and breaking the cycle of unmet needs. In addition to the training we've also done our own reading on the subject of bonding. Well, as with most things in life, reading and learning are very different from seeing and experiencing first hand. The first three days that we spent with Meseret she barely intereacted with us at all. She did however have conditioned responses. If we fed her she ate, if we went to pick her up she would lift her arms and if we put her down in a bed she would go to sleep. But not once did she indicate that SHE wanted to do something. She didn't point at anything, she didn't initiate any type of play and in fact we didn't hear a single sound from her. I asked the staff at the orphanage if she speaks and they assured me that she did. Fortunately, we were able to take her back to our guest house with us and after spending more time with her, without any interuptions, she finally started to interact with us a little. The first video above shows how she was for the first three days and then the second video is her on the last day.

As relieved and excited as we are that she interacted and played with us, the entire experience taught us a lot about some of the bonding challenges we will likely face. Our goal is not only to form a strong parent/child relationship with her but for her to learn that we will meet her needs. We know we don't have all of the answers but we feel that after spending four days with her that we better understand her needs and what we need to do as a family. And please feel free to remind me this when I have a demanding 15 year old daughter, but I look forward to the day when she cries. When she realizes that she can cry and that her needs will be met. I welcome the chance to eat my words!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Introducing - Aliyah Meseret



















It's hard to believe that we've already been to Ethiopia and back! It was a whirlwind trip but such an amazing experience. We arrived on Saturday morning and got to meet Meseret on Saturday afternoon. We were the only family to arrive Sat morning so we got to spend time with her alone which was great. She was very cautious and withdrawn but after a few hours she relaxed a little.


Sunday was more time visiting and then on Monday we went to court and after the briefest meeting with the judge, the judge announced, "she's yours!" We then spent the rest of the day with Mesi, as the staff at the orphanage calls her, and she even got to come stay the night with us at our guest house. I'm so glad we got that extra time with her because when she was finally alone with just us was when she really started to interact with us and we got to see glimpses of her personality. We didn't think she would get to stay with us so we didn't really have any toys but we improvised with a cribbage board and ipod. We were amazed how quickly she figured out the ipod, she seems to really like music.

We learned so much about our baby girl which is going to be really useful in helping us prepare for our second trip. I have a lot of pictures of Ethiopia which I'll share in another post and also more about our daughter (hehe, our daughter :) and what we plan on doing to help her transition home.

Thank you EVERYONE for all of the good wishes and kind notes. It means so much to us to have your support on this journey!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Emotions

As we are so close to meeting our daughter, there are so many emotions we are experiencing. It's hard to capture them all, but here's a start.

Excitement. Excited to meet our daughter for the first time and go to court where hopefully the judge with announce "she's yours!"
Sad. Sad to be leaving our boys.
Grateful. Grateful to Pete's parents for taking care of the boys so we can leave knowing they are well taken care of.
Love. We feel so much love from our friends and family as they support us on this journey.
Nervous. Heck, we're flying to Ethiopia! I really hope the guy from our guest house remembers to pick us up at the airport.
Scatterbrained. Did we remember to pack everything?

Pete just came down the stairs and I asked him how he is feeling. His response, "like eating Mexican food." Hey, we all deal with things in our own way! After I read him the rest of the post he commented that he feels all of those emotions too... and like eating Mexican food.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Our Village Rocks!

A few weeks ago, my dear friends Megan and Kate called and said that they wanted to throw a celebration brunch in anticipation of me and Pete traveling to Ethiopia to meet our daughter. I have been through SOOO much with these wonderful women and am so thankful to have them in our lives as we go through this amazing experience. We often joke that we are of the same "tribe". Sometimes there are people that you may have a lot in common with on paper but you still just don't hit it off. Then there are other people that it doesn't matter what you have in common, you can talk to them for hours. I couldn't imagine ever running out of things to talk about with these two. I learn so much from them, I laugh with them and more than once I've cried with them.


Kate was so generous to open her wonderful home to host the celebration. They even ordered a perfect October day with weather in the mid 80's :)




Me with my sister in law and my new friend Colleen who is also an adoptive mom and has been so wonderful to share her experiences with me.



I don't think anyone is more excited about the adoption than my grandma.


There was five of us from college so it was almost a mini reunion!


And since we have already have all of the baby gear, we suggested that if people would like to that they could give a donation to the orphanage we are traveling to. I expected maybe just a few things and was amazed at the wonderful donation we get to take with us on behalf of our village. Like I said, they rock!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Meskerem 26, 2003



While we may think of today as October 6, 2010, on the Ethiopian calendar today is Meskerem 26, 2003. This difference in calendars led to a translation error for our court date so this past Monday we were informed that our court date is actually one day earlier than we originally thought. Technically our original travel arrangements could have still worked but they left us with no wiggle room and when we are travelling half way around the world to meet our daughter for the first time and to go to court to become her legal parents, well that just wasn't working for us. We contacted our WONDERFUL travel agent who was able to change our flights so that we now arrive a day and a half earlier than planned. The grandparents are able to come up two days earlier and we were able to extend our guest house stay while in Ethiopia so everything worked out great. Of course in the moment, I was a total basketcase and Pete was wonderful at calming me down and helping me to see the big picture.


To make the day even more stressful, I decided to call immigration and find out the status of our immigration form that we will need for the second trip. Basically the answer was, you'll get it in 1-2 months and there is nothing you can do to expedite it. I figured we would face that issue after our first trip so I was thrilled when I checked the mail that night and found our approval notice!


So now that my near panic attack has passed, I am making lists and planning for our trip. There are so many emotions, I can't even begin to describe them all.