12.30.2011

Our new family tradition

K

Today your Great Aunt Kim and Great Uncle Keith stopped by on their way back north and got to see your pictures from the beginning of the month. Your fan club continues to grow cutie. As your Great Aunt and Uncle were leaving, your aunt Jennie and A got here, they also got to see your pictures from our first trip for the first time as well.

While here, Joey decided A needed to play with him. He kept bringing her his toys, waiting for her to throw them for him. He didn't get she is only 4 months. I am hoping you either learn to throw his toys or he learns you are too small to play with him yet. 

Your aunt and I like to bargain shop together. We had a couple of missions today. . .

Mission 1: Find "gingerbread" ornaments for next year's gingerbread party. This mission failed. We found some, but the price wasn't right.

Mission 2: Find "comfy" pants for your Dad to wear at the hotel next trip. If we are going to be sitting around the hotel, might as well be comfortable and that isn't always the case with jeans. Mission accomplished.

Mission 3: Okay, this mission developed as we shopped. While looking at ornaments, I decided I would find a goat ornament. While at the Christmas store, I wondered over to the "animal" section. I found snakes, dinosaurs, horses, skunks, llamas, and 1 goat. That's right, in the animal section there were multiples of all the other animals, but only one goat. Guess who now owns the goat? We do! Well, aunt Jennie was still looking, so I continued into the "Olde World Christmas" ornaments section. Again, llama, skunk, pigs, goats. That's right, plural. Hon, you they had a "Billy Goat" and a "Pigmy Goat." I got both for you.



Tradition: Okay, so this is what I decided today while at the mall. L made you a goat ornament because we bought a goat while in country. So the simple "equation" here is goat ornament = donated goat. So every year at Christmas we will be donating a goat in your honor. We have three ornaments to get us through the next three years worth of goat donations, so we have time to find more goat ornaments. I am thinking this will be a good tradition to have for the family.

Love,
Mom

PS- Goats are hard to photograph. These three goats required 5 takes before getting a photo that didn't reflect off the glitter too much.

12.29.2011

5 business days

To our K,

This is what I found in my email this morning!


Dear P Family,

The U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa confirms that your agency has provided us with the local documents regarding your adoption from Ethiopia. We are in the process of reviewing the documents. Please allow five business days before contacting us regarding the status of your case.

Sincerely,
Adoption/IV Unit
U.S. Embassy,
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Okay, so it doesn't say drop everything and come get your awesomely adorable son, but I am looking at it as progress. 
Love ya Little Man,
Mom

12.26.2011

No gloomy faces

K

There are no gloomy faces here. Nope, none. You don't have parents with gloomy faces and missing you. Okay, we do miss you (A LOT) and at times we do have gloomy faces. (I am really praying for and wanting a call, soon, saying we need to come back to Ethiopia so we can bring you home.)

Yesterday we celebrated Christmas. We know in Ethiopia for Ganna, it is important to have a goat to help celebrate. Rest assured we had a goat to help celebrate Christmas here. Yep, a goat. Please don't think we went to the local goat stand and haggled over the price. Nope, there was no goat stand needed, just Hallmark. I know, Hallmark has goats. Your Grammie searched long and hard, but she finally found a Hallmark that sells goats. So Little Man, you are now the proud owner of a stuffed goat.
Yep. Your goat looks like the one above. It isn't just any goat. It plays "The Lonely Goatherd" from The Sound of Music. So once you are home, and you feel the need to act out selected scenes from The Sound of Music, we have the song about the goat covered. In addition to your stuffed goat, L made you an ornament with a goat on it. It is still at Grammie's house, so you will get to see it next year.

We didn't play yeferas guks (a game in Ethiopia involving horses and throwing lances at each other), but we will try to work in some doro wat next year. I know you will be celebrating Ganna on January 7th, maybe we will  be back in country by then.

We know presents are not a big part of the celebration in Ethiopia. K, you still got some really cool gifts. While at Grandma Kathy's today you got Big Bird Goes to China (from P and P) and this cool turtle toy (from Great Grandma and Grandpa), among other things. 

Missing and loving you lots Little Man,
Mom 

12.20.2011

School Traditions

K

In the life of a school, there are a lot of traditions. One of the traditions that occur while teaching at a high school is that of semester finals. Today marked the first of two days of finals, we had finals for periods 1, 3, 5, and 7. Tomorrow we have finals for periods 2, 4, and 6. Students are done at 12:05 and teachers at 3 pm. Then the tradition of two weeks off begins and all off the great things that come with the holidays.

Where your Mom teaches there is another tradition, having a shower for the female teachers who get married or welcome a new one into the family. Today, you were honored with a shower by some wonderful people. Since it is a crazy time at the high school, the shower occurred during lunch and was wonderful. Food was ordered from the local Italian restaurant and there was cake. Ah, cake.
 
The shower was in the lobby of the performing art center and I like to pretend all of the decorating was for us, Little Man. So you can't see it, but there is also garland on the window sills and these glittery snowflakes hanging from the windows.
Little Man, your Mom works with some great people. They really got you some great things to help welcome you home. Such as. . .

Okay, yes the items in the above picture is on your crib mattress. Why? I wanted to group them for a picture and the dinning room table has items covering it for our second trip. Plus, I can also tell you, you now have a mattress pad and crib sheets. They are already in the washing machine. I am really excited about the Melissa and Doug Doughnuts. You are so going to learn to LOVE math by counting those.

Although it isn't pictured, you also got this awesome sand and water table, where you can have both sand and water at the same time. I am so thinking our backyard will be the place to be this summer with your friends E, A, W, J, and L. We will be able to have archaeological and paleontological digs! (Fitting since the table is, in part, from the science department.) You got other items as well, so you will come home to a well stocked house. BTW- Your Dad is disappointed you didn't get a Blackhawks Bleacher Creature. (He has been asking for one since he saw them. He thinks it would be a good Christmas present to give me. Your Dad is also excited about your Star Wars lunchbox. It also came with sandwich cutters. I am foreseeing a Millenium Falcon sandwich in his near future.)

So K, I guess I should tell you the BIG news. That's right, I said BIG news, maybe I should say HUGE news. Your paperwork was submitted to Embassy yesterday!!!!!!!!!

So how did we learn  about this? Well, on the way home from school I heard my cell phone ringing. My phone was in my purse in the back of the Rav, Marcia couldn't get to it. So I pulled over, got out of the car in the rain, and got my phone saying to Marcia and Courtney it would be B. It wasn't. It was a reminder about my hair appointment tomorrow, but B had left a voice mail. I called her back and got her voice mail. That's about when your Dad texted me. Since I was driving, I asked for Courtney to read the text to us in the car. (Yes, once again your Dad gets the good calls.) Before we got to the ramp to exit the interstate, B called. Yes, I answered the phone while driving. I promise you I won't do that when you are in the car. I talked with B for about 22 minutes, in which time we got to aunt Marcia's and sat in her drive talking to B. (I am thinking B got to talk to her first car pool today.) So, what did I learn? Great question.

So what has happened in Ethiopia to get to this point?

1. Once your adoption was approved in the Ethiopian courts, the awesome folks at Hannah's Hope waited to receive the official Court Decree. Once they got that, they requested your passport and a medical exam from an US Embassy approved doctor.
2. The staff at Hannah's Hope submitted your file to the US Embassy. This was done sometime yesterday.

So what's next? Well, I suppose I need to make your bed, pack, pack a second and possibly third time, book some tickets (3 coming home), and starting tomorrow after school, make some dinners for the freezer. You probably want to know though what still needs to happen before we can bring you home to your awesome Star Wars room. Well. . .

1. The US Embassy has to review your case.  This could take one to two weeks.(Plus they are closed a couple of days for the holidays.)
2. After reviewing your case, a couple of things could happen. They could just clear us to come get you. More likely, they will request an interview of someone connected to you. They could also request more documentation. After this, they might review your case again. (They could also refer your case to Nairobi. So praying that doesn't happen.)
3. We get clearance to come get you!
B told us we can expect, at this point, to come back to Ethiopia 5 to 10 weeks from the time we passed court. K, I will be honest. I want to be another exception to the norm at AGCI. We have had some already, I want another. I want to go back to Ethiopia before the 5 week mark. 

So by Ethiopian law, you are part of our family. Now we continue the wait to have this happen in US law as well. 
Love,
Mom 

12.18.2011

Trip 1 Hannah's Hope Day 4: Dec 7- Dec 8

K

Before we left for Ethiopia, I said: "I would like to say I am having a total Scarlet moment saying, "I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow." Well, tomorrow is kinda here and I have been having my Scarlet moment for some time. I know when we separate, you will be carried away from us. I know we will try to have our game faces on, so you don't see us cry." Okay Little Man, I so don't have a game face, who was I kidding? It is hard though knowing each tick of the clock is one closer to having to leave you. I know you are loved and being taken care of by your special mothers, but it isn't the same.

So I finally resigned myself to the fact I don't sleep in Ethiopia. In one sense, I am glad there are not a lot of clocks around, you can't see the minutes tick by when you are awake at night. Before coming I had purchased a travel alarm, since I knew the hotel room wouldn't have an alarm clock. I guess I didn't read the box, or it wasn't mentioned, because if I had I would have known the clock didn't light up in the dark. Again, point in my favor when I woke up super early every day, I didn't have to see the time slowly go by. This last morning, I believe I woke up around 3:30 am. I might have dozed off a couple of times, but I finally decided to roll out of bed around 6 am.
 {Okay, so this isn't what the room looked like the last morning. I want to say this was Monday of our trip. The first two mornings the hotel hadn't given us shampoo or soap, luckily we had packed that. Your Dad laughed at me when he saw I was packing it. I am thinking he liked having soap once we got there.}


After a warmish shower, I got your Dad up and we got ready to face the day, or at least breakfast. This morning the B family joined our group. They were in country to finally pick up their son, who they had last seen in July. Breakfast didn't have the awesome pancakes, but the French Toast and coffee was good. Again, we sat around long enough to have additional food brought to us at the table. I really love that about the hotel. We spent a lot of time at breakfast this morning.

Around 10 am Wass came to pick us up. We loaded in the van and I asked the B family if they wanted me to record their "gotcha" moment. I was handed their video camera and we were off. Wass parked outside of the gates this morning and once we walked through them, your Dad went to find you while I followed the B family to where their son was this morning. Again, tears watching this moment for another family.

So K, I must say, I think this was my favorite morning with you. This morning when we got to HH you were once again dressed in bibs and this time a long sleeved gray shirt. Your special mothers were feeding you as you ate outside in your bumbo seat. By the time I got to you and your Dad, you were holding his finger while a special mother feed you and your friend M.
After eating, you went to your Dad. (I think you prefer him right now.) I am so glad you went to him first. Why? He got you to smile. This is the first time either one of us got you to fully smile. Hon, you have a great smile that brings out dimples. That's right, my son has dimples. Your Dad cheated though. He gave you zerberts on your cheeks to get this to happen as he lifted you up in down in the air. He was also using his goatee. So the zerberts isn't cheating, but I am thinking the goatee is. I am letting this slide though, since he got you to smile.
So in addition to zerberts and goatees, booping your nose also gets you to smile. I am thinking you also like being lifted up and down. That's how I got you to smile soon after Dad put you in my arms. Unfortunately, your Dad didn't get a "good" picture of this, but this is the best one we have.
As we held you, you cuddled with us. You love to place your head either right against our head or in the spot between our head and shoulder. As your head sits there, you lean in closer and really get into the cuddle. K, I can't wait to have you home and have lots of cuddle time. (I am thinking we will also get a lot of this as we walk the aisle of the plane coming home.)



Eventually you needed to be changed. We carried you up to your room and your Dad changed your diaper. I don't know if this was met with less laughter from the special mothers or not, I was playing with the others in your room. While we were up there, we talked to your special mothers about what they do to get you to laugh, smile, and comfort you. I love your special mothers. They couldn't communicate, through words, everything to us, but we have it on video. We have them singing to you, holding you, cuddling with you, and everything they do to make you smile. These women are wonderful. Most importantly, we got how they give you your bottle. I am thinking we can do this K.

{Cuddling and laughing with M}
{clapping to your song with M}
{M getting you to go down for your nap}

Little Man, I am so glad we have a recording of all of this. Now we can show you how you were loved while at Hannah's Hope. We can show you the room where you lived. More importantly, we can do what your special mothers did to comfort you. Unfortunately, M did get you to sleep, but we got to put you in your crib. I cried as we did this. We would only get to see you one more time before leaving. 

Once we left the baby house, we joined the others in the court yard. We talked and played with the kids. We also got the chance to watch the older kids eat. I decided to give myself a tour of Hannah's Hope.
 So I now know what my injera has been missing, an injera maker. I am thinking this appliance won't fit in the cabinets though. . .
 The kitchen, separate from the injera making room. This is where the meals for the older kids are made.
 Shiro! Yum.
 The nurse's room in the baby house. Little man, you have been there too many times.
 The kitchen in the baby house. This is used mainly for the cleaning of bottles, if I understood correctly.
 Random bathroom.
 The ladybug room.
 The elephant room. There weren't any babies in this room when we were there.
 The turtle room.
Your room and crib.

Eventually we were told it was time to go around 12:30. We went back to the hotel and ate lunch. I know we ordered an Ethiopian dish. I don't know what it was, but I can say it was the first Ethiopian dish I didn't like. I am not sure what I didn't like about this dish, but I was not a fan.

Following lunch, we had about a half hour until we were picked up at 2:30 for our last afternoon at HH. This trip was different. Danny pulled up to the hotel and we piled into the van with the C and G families to be greeted by a goat. This goat was purchased by a family and was heading to one of the orphanages, once Danny dropped us off at HH. So the goat rode in the back of the van, this is more what I was thinking our goat experience was going to be like the first time.

When we got to HH, you were once again up in your room, eating. We got to finish feeding you and while we did that, T came in and translated the questions we tried asking in the morning. We learned you have a bottle every 3 hours, including throughout the night. I am not sure about this, but it seems you get 4 oz of milk every time you are fed. In addition, at 7 am, 10 am, and 3 pm you get rice cereal. You are not a fan of the potato and carrot food they make, you like your rice cereal.
Following your rice cereal, we went outside. Your Dad carried you down the marble steps. (Yes, marble.) Out in the courtyard we sang and danced. I ignored your boogie as long as I could, I knew you would cry as soon as I tried to wipe it away. You cried when I did wipe it away. (BTW- Your aunts Courtney and Marcia were impressed I took your picture when you had a boogie, let alone shared it. To be honest, these are favorites.)
 {Yep, you enjoyed licking your Dad's shoulder.}

Throughout the afternoon we took turns holding you. We watched the other families play with their older children. At multiple times, tears would well up in my eyes. We continued to hold you and sing, T even joined us at one point and we all sang and clapped your song.

Eventually, T came to tell us, "Time to go." Your Dad was holding you and we were directly in front of the baby house, she was on the porch. She asked us if we wanted to take you upstairs or if we wanted her to take you. The tears were already coming. Your Dad looked at me and told her she needed to take you. We both kissed you goodbye and as you went to her you started to fuss. T turned and carried you up the stairs, we stood there watching. We hugged each other and moved to where we could wait for the others. Eventually we all walked out through the gates and got in the van. It was a quiet trip back to the hotel.

At the hotel, we went upstairs washed up and went back downstairs to eat. We wanted something bland, since we knew it would be a long flight, so we ordered rice and Cokes. (Okay, Diet Coke for me.) Eventually the S family joined us with the twins and then the C family. We finished dinner and got ready to leave. 

At 7 pm the hotel shuttle took us to the airport. To get into the airport we had to show our boarding passes. Once inside the airport, we had to go through security before even getting to the ticket desk. The security check point here really didn't like my pump and back-up pump. They didn't get that it couldn't go through the X-Ray. They kept trying to take it from me and put it through X-Ray. I kept grabbing it and saying it couldn't go through X-Ray even with showing them the two letters I travel with. Eventually they let me through, after patting me down three times. You Dad stood there laughing with our stuff.

We waited for the desk to open and then checked in our bags. We went through a pseudo security and then immigration where they stamped our passports. From there, it was up the escalator to where the shops were. We looked around and then went through security to get to our gate. We repeated what happened earlier with my insulin pump. It didn't take as long, I still got patted down three times. Your Dad and I were the first of the three families to get there. Your Dad sat and listened to music while I read. 

We boarded the plane and flew to Frankfurt. It was the bumpiest flight I have ever been on. We got into Frankfurt around 6 am their time and found the "Z" gates of terminal one. We went through security again. Security went better, but they looked my pump up online. I still got patted down. We wondered. We found coffee. We got on the plane. (BTW- not a fan of the desk clerk at the gate in Frankfurt.) All three families flew to Chicago together. It was a quiet flight. 

As we went through immigration in Chicago, I remember turning to April and saying, "Something smells. I really hope it isn't us." She replied, "Don't worry, it is." After immigration, we rechecked our bags and the G family left us and we went to terminal two to board the flight to our regional airport. In terminal two we went through security again. (I am a pro at this.) We found a "Nuts on Clark" and I got popcorn, we couldn't find the Garrett Popcorn stand. We boarded the plane. 

Thirty minutes later we were in P. Grammy and Papa met us at the airport and drove us home. 

K, now we wait. It is the only thing we know how to do it seems. We wait to be submitted to Embassy. We wait for the Embassy to give us clearance. We can only be submitted on a Monday. We might be submitted tomorrow, which is already today in Ethiopia.

Love,
Mom

12.12.2011

Trip 1 Hannah's Hope Day 3: Dec 6

K

I really don't like remembering the morning of this day. It is not the best morning we have had during this experience. I woke up around 3 am and just laid in bed until about 5:30, this waking up early is becoming a habit. (It also didn't help that housekeeping tried delivering a fruit plate to us last night at 9:30 pm. We had already been in bed for 45 minutes.)

We began the day with breakfast on the first floor of the hotel. There wasn't any pancakes this morning, I hope there are some tomorrow. We ate french toast, sambusa with lentils, and were again brought some sausages. After coffee we headed back upstairs to re-brush our teeth and get ready for court.

Danny picked us and the C family up at 8:30 am and we stopped for gas on the way to meet Haile in Moscow Square before getting to court in the Bole subcity at about 9 am. Haile was our court advocate for the day.
After entering the building we climbed 3 or 4 flights of stairs and walked down a hall lined with people. Haile deposited us in a bright room and immediately left us standing in the middle of the room. The room was filled with other adoptive families as well as birth families. When we entered the room, it was full and people kept coming in. We stood pretty much in silence, watching others and talking only every once in a while. Haile would pop in every once in a while, but he talked with other court advocates.

Eventually a door opened, a lady asked for silence (there had been a gentle mummer in room) and called out, something. The door opened multiple times, birth families were called as well as adoptive families. The room slowly emptied, we got to sit. We noticed Haile go into the room, we noticed him come back out. We watched those around us, we noticed their mannerisms and their reactions as they came out of the room.

At about 10:20, the door opened again, Haile got up and signaled for us and the C family to go into the room. It was our turn to appear before the judge. Although I do not remember the exact wording she used, the judge asked us:
  • Do you have children at home?
  • Have you learned about Ethiopia?
  • Do you plan on teaching your child about Ethiopia?
  • You know this is final and cannot be reversed?
A sigh of relief, I thought we were good and done. I thought you were ours in Ethiopia. I was wrong. The judge turned to the C family, said everything was there and "N" was their daughter. Joy! She turned to us and her tone changed. She kept turning pages in the folder in front of her and pointed at different documents. She said we didn't have this, or this, or that in our folder. I felt as if she was blaming us and as if she was angry based upon her tone and body language. I kept telling myself, "Don't cry here. Wait." She told us we had two days to get everything turned in and then excused us.

Numb. That is how I felt as I followed Haile out the door. I couldn't look at your Dad, if I did I knew I would cry. I couldn't cry there. Others were legally giving up their children and I was wanting to cry over missing documents. We crossed the waiting room and entered the darker hallway. People were still lined up in the hall, don't cry. Haile greeted someone on the stairs, don't cry. The tears welled as we walked down the flights of stairs. When we reached the landing of floor directly below, there was a group of women holding children, differently don't cry. We got outside, the tears spilled. I continued to follow Haile until we got to where the court sign was outside of the building. People were staring as the tears silently rolled down my face. Haile turned to us and started explaining.

MOWCYA hadn't sent all of the documents. He found this out when we first got to court, the documents were on their way, if they weren't already there. He stated we would pass, as soon as the documents were there, it would be this afternoon. I know we asked him to repeat this. I am sure we asked multiple times. I wouldn't feel okay until I had heard we passed.

Your Dad and I left the others for a moment and walked down the street for a bit. We didn't walk far.We walked back to the van and as we were getting in, Haile became my new best friend. He said he would wait at court until our documents got there. He wanted to be able to tell us when we officially passed.


Following court we went shopping. Even not passing court, shopping was able to put a smile on my face. Danny pulled up to a "shop" and told us we had an hour. We walked into the first shop with the C family and were overwhelmed. There were so many things to see, touch, and the different smells. In the back of the shop incense was burning as they prepared coffee. I went to work. The S family asked if we could get some items for them since they would not be going to market this time. I finished with their list and began our list. I asked how much items were. I stated what I didn't like about an item and a new one was placed before me. I said what I liked and didn't like, a new item appeared. We bought some items and went to the next shop. 

We continued this, every once in a while being stopped by a worker from the first shop. He kept trying to sell us a ceramic nativity set. I wasn't a fan of it. One time he showed us the set, there were two Marys. The next time, 5 wise men. Kinda weird, especially when he told me I was wrong when I pointed it out. 


We only went to the shops along the street where Danny parked the van. We had heard from other families prices were better if we followed the street to the "T" and went to those shops, it was more crowded up there. We were overwhelmed enough.

Your Dad and I like to give each other a hard time. We were in a shop and as I turned I saw your Dad didn't have our bags. Panic. I asked him what he did with them. He told me a guy answering to Danny took them. I was like, "What do you mean answering to Danny?!?!?!?" He said a guy came up to him, your Dad asked if he was Danny, and then he gave him the bags. Panic. Then your Dad started laughing at me. So not funny. 

We went in with an idea of what we wanted, which is probably a good thing. Everything started to look alike after awhile. Literally. The carvings were the same from one stall to the next. There were differences on what you would find, one stall had silver crosses another didn't, but it was the same. Finally your Dad and I decided we were done.We walked to the van and got into it. We sat there waiting for the C family to finish their shopping. As we waited a group of boys tried selling us a toothbrush. It is a decorated stick you just rub against your teeth. The guy from the first store came up again, we sat there.

Eventually we left the market and went to a restaurant and art gallery. We walked around looking at the art, we ordered food, we bought art. If we are ever at this restaurant again, your Dad won't order a burger.
One of the paintings we bought. This is a painting of shiro wat. We tried shiro for the first time this trip.  We love it! The guy who is next to it is the painter.

Our other two paintings. The blue street scene will go in your room. K, I have a confession. We spent a lot at the art gallery. Luckily they took credit cards, but we did get a free carving out of our purchases. 

After the restaurant/art gallery, we went back to the hotel. The security guards jumped up to be the ones to search us instead of the police. It was probably a good thing, especially since we had bought a knife at the market.

At 3:00 pm Wass picked us back up from the hotel. Wass even got searched while trying to enter the hotel. When we asked him about whether he normally got searched, he responded, "Now, yes. Usually no, they are like Wass!!!" It felt like a Cheers moment.

So I so wish I could share the pictures, but when we got to HH, we immediately went to your room. When we got there, I will admit I was confused. You weren't to be found. M smiled at me and said you were getting a bath. We walked into the bathroom and you were just sitting in the little tub splashing as your special mother tried to clean you. K, I got to help with your bath. I didn't get to help for long, only your back still needed to be rinsed, but I got to do that, pick you up, and wrap you in a towel.

Following your bath, I got to rub lotion into you, put a fresh diaper on you, and get you in your afternoon outfit. Hon, you don't like how I put lotion on you. You also were not a fan of my dressing you. Luckily M was there, picked you up, and calmed you. I am thinking she might need to come home with us.

Eventually you were back in my arms and it was time to eat. Okay, so I need some practice with this as well. I am totally saying it was super thin though. Multiple times your special mothers tried making it thicker, but it was not to be. Don't worry, I am thinking we will get a lot of chance to practice.

After your rice cereal, we took you outside. There we had a photo shoot with another bib, the tuxedo bib. It was a good thing we put it on you, we found out while we were in the courtyard we passed court! Almaz came over to talk to us and shared the good news. From there we followed her into her office to talk to her about you. You did so well in your Dad's arms as we sat in her office. Almaz has been worried about you and your development. We talked to her about what I do and the resources we have available to us due to where we live. We talked a long time, I am thinking she isn't as worried about you coming to live with us as she was. (I hope we were able to ease some of her concerns. Throughout our conversation you could so tell she loves and cares about all of the children who enter the doors of HH. She so wants great outcomes for all of them.)

While we talked to her, we learned about the orphanage we visited the day before. We learned how they do not feed the babies using a bottle. While you were there, you were not held by the care givers. You also didn't get any tummy time. This so explains some things we have observed. K, you have come so far in the two months since you were carried through HH's black gate.

We left Almaz's office to return to the courtyard. All too soon we were told once again, "Time to go." We carried you back the butterfly room, gave you kisses and left for the hotel. We ate dinner with everyone at the Riveria, including the newest official members of the S family, at least according to the US Embassy in Addis. From dinner we went upstairs to pack.

K, I so don't think you got the memo today, but according to the Ethiopian government, we are now your parents. You are now officially, in Ethiopia, K. Lucas P.

Love,
Mom

12.11.2011

Trip 1 Hannah's Hope Day 2: Dec 5th

K

So I should probably start with saying, you have two parents who need to work on their baby arms. We are so not used to picking up a child, let alone one who weighs almost 24 pounds. We will work on this, but our arms are sore.

I love breakfast. It has always been a favorite meal of the day, but I especially enjoy it when someone else is making my breakfast. K, The Riveria, makes these awesome little "pancakes." So far we have had them both mornings, but they aren't pancakes like we have at home. They taste a lot like crepes. LOVE these pancakes. Combine them, with the chocolate flakes, spring rolls, and coffee, it makes a great breakfast. Your Dad and I learned something this morning during breakfast. The longer you sit there, the more food they bring you. As we sat there, the waitress first brought us yogurt and then eventually sausages and breads. The bread was like a cinnamon pound cake. We will have to sit over our coffee more often.

This morning we were picked up at 9:30 to go to HH. It was a really special morning, because today was the S Family's gotcha day for their twins. Okay, truth time, I was crying as we got to watch this. I can't imagine the mess I will be when we come back for you.

You were wearing little overalls in the morning along with your bib we brought yesterday. I love how they dress you in overalls two days in a row! At home you have a pair of overalls waiting for you from your Great-Grandma Shirley, along with a red top. I know there is a story that goes with the overalls, your Dad will have to tell you the story since I don't remember it right now.

We spent the morning outside of the baby house in the little courtyard between it and the older kids' house. I know, it looks so quiet in the picture above. It isn't quiet in the mornings in this location. I love how all of the special mothers have the babies outside sitting in their bumbo seats, laying on blankets, or walking around. Your Dad and I always wanted to laugh at one little guy. Whenever we saw him he, he always had a piece of bread in his hand.

I love we saw you for the first time yesterday, but I think I love you more today. Today you were given to Dad before I got to hold you. I am pretty sure, right now at least, you prefer your Dad to me. That's okay, there's a theory about that (I will explain it more later). Your Dad stayed outside with you while a couple of us followed the S Family to witness a miracle. When I got back to you and your Dad, you seemed happy in his arms, although you wouldn't smile, no matter what we did. Your Dad was already singing to you. I am sorry, he already has you listening to the Ramones. Joey will be happy.

I felt kinda bad. You were content in your Dad's arm, not crying, until you saw me. That's right, you saw me and started to cry. That's okay though, you eventually stopped crying. I don't have the schedule fully figured out yet, but at some point while we are there in the morning, the special mothers pack up the babies and go inside for naps. During the morning we took you upstairs to get a fresh diaper, I get to change you for the first time, and while coming back out of the baby house you sighed. Words cannot express how I felt when I heard and felt this. It wasn't just any sigh, it was the sigh babies give when they are content and happy. You sighed!!!!!! I don't know when, but being content didn't last.

You began to get fussy, so your Dad grabbed the blanked Grammie made for you. We wrapped you up, as best we could, we so don't do it the same as your special mothers, and held you. Eventually you fell asleep in my arms. (So it isn't a contest with your Dad, but it is, I got you to fall asleep first.) Your Dad and I kept you outside for a bit, holding you and just looking at you. Eventually we walked you back upstairs and put you in your crib.

 Eventually Wass told us it was time to go and we all packed into the van to go back to the hotel. Once at the hotel, your Dad and I went upstairs to grab the green bin with donations. Along with the C family, we were going to the orphanage you were in before HH. We drove through the streets of Addis to stop along the road to buy a goat. That's right, we bought a goat. Wass saw a goat dealer driving his goats away from the goat stand, so we asked him to pull over to get a goat to take to your former home. We watched him point at different goats, discuss prices, and we ended up with a goat.



It was always part of our plan to take a goat to the orphanage. We thought the goat would ride in the back of the van, we might put sunglasses on him. That isn't what happened. The goat was placed in what we called "the goat hole," also known as the trunk. The rest of the trip we talked loudly and a lot since we could hear the goat. At the same time, we got Wass to talk to us about Ganna (Christmas) and the traditions of having a goat on Ganna. We learned it is the male who slaughters the animals that are eaten for the family, it isn't considered a job for a female. This conversation brought about one of our favorite quotes of the trip. (This is in reference to Ganna and goats.)

"If you don't buy goat for your children, they make gloomy face."

Well, the children in your former orphanage, will not need to make a gloomy face come Ganna. 
 {The gates to your former home.}
Eventually we got to your former home. It was very clean, but bland. The walls were white, there was not a lot of sound, there was no laughter. So different from HH. Wass talked to the ladies working and we were lead upstairs to your former room. Before we got there, I don't think there were any adults in the room, just babies. Wass translated for us and the woman talked and we were shown your former crib. 
Another child is occupying the crib. This mom's heart broke when she saw it and the condition it was in. You lived in a crib with only three sides. The wall was the fourth side of your crib and was to keep you safe. So difficult to see, even more difficult to write about. We left this room and were shown where the C family's daughter was for a day, while she was there. While seeing this room we got to truly see how great Wass is. A little child saw us and started screaming, he had never seen a white person before. Wass got down on the ground and comforted him, telling him it was okay, until it was okay for him.
{The laundry, looking down from the door leading to your room.}
{The goat, eating and much happier out of the goat hole.}
{The kitchen}
 We left the orphanage and were taken back to the hotel.

Have to know how to break the law in order to drive in Addis. 

During the drive back to the hotel, Wass explained to us about how you do need insurance to drive a car in Ethiopia. We also learned about the difference of time there. Midnight is the start of your work day. No matter when you start, that is your personal midnight.
For lunch your Dad and I shared an Ethiopian dish and we were picked back up at 3 to go back to HH. 

When we got there, you were up in the butterfly room, so we took our shoes off, walked up the stairs and turned left. When we got in there, one of your special mothers was feeding you, so I got to finish doing this. Hon, we are going to have to work on your diet. I know veggies are not fun, but you do need to expand your diet to include them. We have been told you do not like the potato and carrot baby food made at HH and prefer the rice cereal. I do have to agree, but you do need veggies, they are supposed to be good for you. 

We played with you in your room today. You were wearing a Sponge Bob pajama outfit that was way too big for you. You so do not fit into a 4T, you need something smaller. But that is okay. Why? We saw you smile for the first time this afternoon. That's right, you finally smiled!!!! While taking pictures of you with your special mothers, M got you to smile. I love this picture, it is now a favorite.

While we were up in your room, your Dad made his first attempt at feeding you. There was a lot of laughter by the special mothers while he tried this. Cutie, you ended up wearing a lot more of  your food than eating it. Your Dad will learn. In addition to feeding you, your Dad changed your diaper for the first time. This was an afternoon of laughter. 

This afternoon we sang, we sang and clapped your song, danced, looked at your picture album, and eventually found our way outside. Your Dad insisted on putting a new bib on you. That's right, you wore one of your Ohio State bibs. In the pictures, you don't look too happy, but your Dad was smiling. We tried swinging with you, but you didn't like it.This afternoon your Dad continued to sing Ramones to you, but as of right now you are not a fan of "Blitzkrieg Bop."
We also won't tell L, but you are not a fan of your blue elephant she got you yet. I know it rattles, crinkles, and is soft, but as of right now you are not a fan. We will work on this. After the swing, you couldn't be comforted, not even with song. We tried the blanket again, but it didn't work. I am pretty sure you eventually stopped crying, but I can't be sure. All I know is all too soon we were told, "Time to go." I really don't like these three words.

After getting back to the hotel, the G family and us decided to be adventuress. We decided to entrust our lives in Teddy, the cab driver. Before pulling away from the hotel, the security guards wrote down the time, the cab number, and our room numbers and we were off to dinner. The goal was to go to a restaurant on Bole, but our cab driver couldn't find it. At one point he pulled over, made a call, but it still couldn't be found. So we went to Island Breezes for pizza. It was good.  Here's what we learned along the way. . .

Most used cars come from Europe. If you brought a $20,000 car into the country, you would have to pay taxes on it around $40,000.
 It is okay to ignore the lines on the road. I think it is actually encouraged.
 If you hit someone with a car, and they die, you go to jail for 15 years. We never got a clear answer as to what happens if they don't die.
 Moscow Square is a great place to meet someone. I didn't get a picture of it, but there was a lot of lanes of traffic there. I want to say 8 on each side of the road.
The green and yellow means construction. There's a lot of construction areas in Addis. 
 There are not a lot of street lights or stop lights. It is also okay to drive without your headlights, in the dark.
 Luckily, when the road "T's" and you have to go through 5 lanes of traffic, there are police to help.
People like to drive close. Really close. There was about an inch between us and this car.
 There are a lot of really big bottles of coke. We also saw an IKEA sign and Barney.
This blue van is known as a "blue devil." The drivers of these vans drive for 22 hours a day.
There's coke everywhere. No diet coke.

Love,
Mom