Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Adventure: Ethiopia- Day Three

Another busy day!

Anna did very well overnight, only waking up once at about 2:45am and staying up for about an hour before she could get more comfortable and fall asleep.

This morning we went to the baby house. We enjoyed the coffee ceremony, and Anna’s special caregiver (they refer to the primary caregiver as the “mother”) came to see her and give her a special gift! Anna looked so cute dressed up in her traditional Ethiopian outfit! Of course, the head wrap came right off! This girl does not like things on her head- but she does like sunglasses!

After the coffee ceremony, we spent some time touring the baby house. There are probably 30+ babies in the baby house. I recognized some who had been referred! Others are just waiting on the mandatory 60 day wait period for relinquished children, blood work, paperwork, and such before they can be referred. Meantime, Abigail was outside helping with the laundry! There were so many little baby outfits, onesies, and socks!

After the baby house, we walked over to the “old” older baby house. This house is in the process of relocating to another house across the street; a few of the rooms had moved, but one room of toddlers remained. Here I saw many children I recognized, and a few that I don’t think have been referred (trying to figure out how to bring them home with me. I could fit a few in my carry on bags, right?) There are a few in particular who are just toooooo sweet for words, and I really might have to start the process for a baby boy before too long! I got to see the bed that was Anna’s- I definitely recognized it from the pictures I had been sent! There was already a new child to take that spot! The caregivers all knew Anna, too, and their smiles when they saw her were great!

We were short on time so we went to the “new” older baby house (again, lots of familiar faces!) but we did not have time for the older children house. I cannot wait to go back and deliver care packages and take pictures! I plan to go tomorrow morning- just as soon as Anbes drops off my camera which I left in the trunk of his car! In the mean time, I have gotten a bag ready to go for tomorrow morning. I have care packages, my book of pictures/names/family names of babies, and camera stuff ready to go! Just need my camera!

Anna was definitely upset by our visits this morning. She was uneasy at the baby house, and would not let any of the caregivers take her (she had a death grip on me.) Once we all settled down and were visiting while the coffee beans roasted, she came out of her shell a bit and was walking between my mom and I. But when her caregiver came in to change her clothes, she had to pull her off of me! I thought she was going to burst out crying, but she held it together and just needed lots of cuddles and snuggles to get over the trauma of separation!

It was being at the “old” toddler house and her old room that really upset her. She became very overwhelmed and wouldn’t even look at the caregivers! She wouldn’t even go to my mom! It was horrible to see her so distraught, but it was great knowing that she wanted to be with me and didn’t want to stay in the care center. I held her close the whole time and tried to visit with the other children, but she didn’t really like that either. When we left the care centers and went to lunch (she came with us because the next stop was the embassy appointments) she fell asleep in the car and slept through most of lunch. I think she was experiencing a bit of shock and really needed to use sleep as her coping mechanism. I am going back and forth on if I should take her with me to the care center tomorrow. On the one hand, it is nice because she gets to get out of the house and I know the care givers would really like to see her some more. On the other hand, it is not worth the emotional trauma!

We had lunch at “Top View” restaurant, which overlooks the city. The view was great! The manicotti was good, although it was more of a crepe than a noodle. Abigail didn’t care too much for the kid’s burger, but she did like the fries. My mom struck gold with the chicken shish kabob. Oh my word! So tasty! More than the food and the view, it was really nice to have all the traveling families together, and to be there as families, with our babies (side note, Anna is the only girl in our travel group, which I didn’t realize until today.) Even though my arm was almost asleep from holding her during the meal, it was just so fulfilling to be visiting with the other families, over the cry of the little babies and the silliness of the older babies.

Our next stop was the embassy. Anna was a wake for the drive, and I think she was a little bit overwhelmed. The embassy was no big deal, although it would be best for you not to wear a belt or have change in your pocket as you have to go through several metal detectors. The baby slings/wraps did not cause any problems. It is also good to leave any electronics in the car (hence my camera is in Anbes’ trunk!) Anyone who wants into the embassy must have their passport with them, so if your kids or the grandparents are traveling with you, make sure they bring their passport along for this trip! You are also told to bring your “paperwork” which includes things like copies of taxes, a recent pay stub, etc (detailed in the travel packet supplied by Gladney) although no one asked to see any of my additional papers.

When they called my name, I went to the window and answered a few questions (ie- do you know what happened to the birth mom? The birth dad? When did the baby come into care? Is this the child that was referred to you?) I did have one small mishap- instead of having my first name as Anna’s middle name on her birth certificate, it had my middle name as her middle name on her birth certificate. The woman at the embassy was concerned at first, but then she asked if I would be re-naming the baby in the US (yes) so she said it would not be a big deal. So, legally, Anna is Misrak Leighann right now!

We shared some small talk while the gal behind the window finished some paperwork and presented me with some papers. It was not stressful at all, and even with this minor issue, I did not feel as though I was being “grilled” or anything. Ryan and Philip collected all the papers that the embassy presented to me and will make copies for me. They will also pick up the visa on Friday, and present me with the packet of Anna’s info to give to immigration when we arrive in the US.

Our embassy appointments were at 3pm, and we got back into the car at 3:54pm, so really, it was not that long (despite the stories of hours of waiting that I have heard!) There is a bit of a walk from the area where the drivers are allowed to park to the actual embassy (and it is uphill on the way back!) so it would be a good thing to take a wrap/sling for this trip.

On the way home from the embassy, we stopped for a to-go macchiato from Kaldi’s (Ethiopian Starbucks). Delicious! I highly recommend the macchiatos here- I have not had a bad one yet! Once home, we decided to have a night in, and Ryan and I walked over to the Hill Bottom to pick up some burgers for dinner. (Note, a burger with cheese is a cheeseburger. A burger without cheese is just a burger. Do not call it a “hamburger” because they will think you want ham on the burger!) The burgers were definitely seasoned and a bit spicy, plus they had peppers on them, so they were not a hit with Abigail. I did eat mine, but it gave me heartburn, so just be warned. The fries were great! Actually all the fries I have had so far have been very good- crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and very potato tasting. I also made some “just add water” chicken noodle soup which definitely hit the spot for my mom and Abigail who were craving something more “American.” Anna liked it, too!

During the afternoon and evening, Anna really seemed more fussy than normal, and she was pulling at her ears. I checked her temp and it was just a touch of a fever, so I decided to give her some medicine before I put her down for the night. I don’t know if it was the medication or just the fact that she was exhausted, but for the first time, Anna drank her bottle then let me take it away so that she fell asleep with no bottle! We rocked a bit, and that was it: out like a light! She even slept through me moving her into her crib.

Abigail was been very helpful through all of this, and when I mentioned going out tomorrow afternoon, just me and her, she chimed in “and my sister, too!” I think there are moments when it is difficult for her to share the attention, but overall, she is doing great! She has eaten most of her food (or had the old stand-by PBJ sammy) at all the meals, and she has been a good listener and helper. While we were getting dinner ready, she played outside with Waguyu’s family and “helped” do their laundry. I am so proud of her. She can really make Anna laugh, too!

I head from my sister that a few people have gotten referrals. If you have gotten a referral and would like me to take pictures of your baby while I am here, please email my sister, Faith, ( with the baby’s name, gender, age and location (baby house, older baby house, etc) if known, and I will see what I can do! Be sure to put “Gladney Referral Photo Request” or something like that in the subject so that she knows it’s not spam.

I am going to let Anna sleep in her crib tonight. She tends to be a kicker, and I have a knot the size of Texas in my back, so I think it would be best if we had our own space. If she wakes up, we can cuddle and sleep together, but I am almost thinking that she might do better sleeping alone in her crib, especially since she is not feeling well. I will let you know how it goes!

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