(I was unable to access blogspot in Ethiopia for some reason. I had internet access otherwise but ended up writing my posts every day then saving them. I will post them here with photos as I have time. You know, because sometimes babies can need your attention.)
Well we had a fairly uneventful flight from Amsterdam to Addis. Although I have to say that Ben and I remembered Schiphol Airport being much more efficient the last time we flew out. Seriously, if you're one of those people that doesn't know how to do self check-in, for the sake of those that do ASK FOR HELP.
We had a one hour stop in Khartoum, Sudan. I know some families have expressed concern about this short layover but if any adoptive parents are reading this blog let me tell you it was no big deal. We got to Addis and went through all the necessary lines and were met by one of the drivers, Fikrea. (Side note: It's interesting to me that other adoptive parents have mentioned the smell that has "hit" them when they exited Bole Airport but Ben and I found the high altitude air to be refreshing. I know that Addis Ababa has polluted air but I also recognize this as a sign of some developing countries. I think it's pretty disrespectful of parents to write about how disgusting they found the smell to be.)
We got to the Union Hotel and were so very exhausted, especially Ben who cannot sleep on planes. Our room was amazing! We had gotten a tip from friends who had recently traveled to pick up their son that their room had been really nice so I requested room 307 and it didn't disappoint. We managed to get a little sleep but I think we were both so excited to meet TK the next day that sleep was fairly elusive.
We got up and got ready. One thing about the hotel is that you have to plug in the hot water heater (and most of the other electrical appliances) before use. Frequent power outages may have something to do with this. When Ben went to plug in our water heater let's just say the outlet was hanging off the wall with exposed wires and the cord to the heater looked suspect as well. Now Ben has done a lot of electrical work and this looked sketchy even to him. Our cold showers ensured that we were wide awake for the day. Breakfast was buffet style (French toast, crepes, toast, eggs, some delicious porridge-type stuff, and, interestingly enough, something that looked like spiral noodles with meat sauce).
We got to meet our other travel mates (one other couple from Portland, and others from Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Arizona and Tennessee). Luckily, one couple brought duct tape so Ben worked some magic on the hot water heater and we're hoping for a warm shower tomorrow! We were picked up by Fikrea and Tsegaw and taken to the Holt office for orientation. I know that this was totally necessary but, man, we kind of just wanted to meet our son. Lots of nervous energy in the room. We got TK's schedule and list of foods he's eating, our schedule for the week (jam packed!), rules for the care centers and other miscellaneous papers. The families with children 2 1/2 and older were taken to Care Center 3 and we got a tour of the Holt office and got to meet the staff while we waited for the photographer and videographer to finish with Care Center 3 so we could go to Care Center 2 and meet our children.
Nervous. Anxious. Scared. Apprehensive.
We were brought to the living room of the center. There were just 3 other families with us, we had the youngest babe by a few months. I was super nervous, holding Ben's hand, hoping we would recognize TK when they brought him out. He was the first child to come out with Sister Martha (head nurse) and Ben and I were both trying to make out if it was him our not but it was and I think we both got a little teary-eyed when they handed me this big, beautiful boy of ours. Yes, I know we're biased, but seriously, this is one cute kid we have. While I was holding him I got emotional. He is such a sweet boy! His hair had grown in, is so soft and curly, I could have just nuzzled him all day long. Ben fell in love immediately. TK was a little unsure of us but a nanny brought out some thick vegetable soup for us to feed him and he warmed up to us.
There was a lot of excitement with the other families meeting their boys so he wasn't super focused on us or eating but managed to suck down a huge bowl of food (how do their little bellies hold it all?). Once he was done, we got down on the floor with him and played. He babbled and laughed and smiled (heart melting). This boy can crawl, pull himself up and watches our hands and makes small attempts to mimic them. Sister Martha came out to see how we were all doing and told Ben and me that one of the nannies was still crying in the baby room over TK and the fact that he would be going to America. So bittersweet is this experience.
We laid TK down for his nap after playing for about an hour. He wasn't ready for it and pulled himself up in his bed, fell over and hit is head a little. All it took was a little kiss from his nanny and he calmed right down. Awesome.
Headed back to the Holt office to fill out TK's immigration paperwork and then got to go back to the Care Center to play for a couple of hours. He had just had his bath and was all smiles. He hung out on our laps, crawled, banged toys, laughed at Ben (seriously, my husband is in love!) and was basically adorable. He was pretty content sitting on our laps (fingers crossed for our 2 ten hour flights!). Several of the nannies came out and gravitated towards our son. I'm not being boastful, they loved on all the other babes too but I have to say TK seems to be a favorite since they cuddle him first and longest.
We brought him back to his room for his dinner. So many precious babies in that room. One little girl had massive swirls of hair. They all looked pretty chunked up, obviously very well loved by the staff. So hard to leave him, knowing he is right next door from our hotel but this transition will hopefully be much easier on him (and us) if we do it gradually rather than the hand him over, "Here's your kid!" style that happens in other countries.
We had about an hour before we were to be taken to the cultural dinner. Ben and I had been looking forward to having some real deal Ethiopian food. We had eaten some beef tibs and shiro for lunch but wanted a full spread. The place were were taken to obviously catered to tourists. There were several other white families and a group of Japanese men but as the night progressed more Ethiopians came in and eventually the place was packed. There was a live band and dancers who were spectacular. Ben was really into the dancing and music. The food was slow in coming out but it was delicious. We got the National Plate, a variety of dishes on injera. At home Ben and I usually get the vegetarian platter and I had never had the doro wat or some of the other meat dishes but they were very good. I wasn't crazy about the goat but other than that - amazing! We had planned on splitting our meal with another family but the man wouldn't try any of it and the woman tried
the injera and wouldn't eat the rest. Side eye from me of course, but, whatever, more for us.
End of the day and so happy to lay down and sleep.
Mental photographs/sounds I cherish from day one:
His soft curls
Ben crawling around on the floor with his son (!)
TK putting my finger in his mouth, sharp teeth!
Sound of the prayers broadcasted at 5am
Toddler Y running to his mama at our second visit (that boy was ridiculously cute)
Bunch of goats (alive) perched on top of a car during rush hour