- How much money did you spend while there?
I took $3000 but spent just less than $2000. I did not buy as many souvenirs as I wanted to buy, but probably spent about $200-300 on "gifts" for my girls and others. We also spent about $75 total at the salon (one massage and 2 separate hair dos for my mom and Abigail plus tips). Our biggest expenses were the guest house and the driver, which were both quite reasonable. Group meals ran between $60-100 ETB ($6-10 USD) per adult. We got double macchiatos daily from Kaldi's at $8.33 ETB ($0.83 USD).
- How much eating did you do???? (I know this sounds like a dumb question but it just popped up in my head)
I may be the only person who ever went to Ethiopia and gained weight. I loved the food and ate until I was full at every meal. Plus, with a 6 year old and a toddler, we ate lots of snacks! We were not sick, and like I said, I really liked the food in general (don't order mac-n-cheese unless you like goat cheese, though!)
- Was there a coffee ceremony or greeting-day ceremony?
On embassy day, we met at the Gladney Care Center (baby house) for a coffee ceremony and then toured the facilities. Normally, Waguyu would also prepare a coffee ceremony for us, but he had many family members visiting from all over Europe, so he was busy- and WE were busy!
Because your travel group will all arrive at different times and from different airlines, etc, the first (and in our case) and only time you might see some of your group is on embassy day. All of the events/meals are optional (except the embassy:) so plan on going at your own pace and doing the things that are right for your family. I do highly recommend that you take the time to go to the orphanages. You can take your children with you to the orphanages, and it is well worth the experience.
- Did anyone tape or photograph the first time you laid eyes/arms on Anna?
We had the assistance of Phillip (Gladney volunteer) as well as M&R to take videos and pictures of our "placement." it was really great to have the 2 views- as you probably saw in the Ethiopia Montages.
- Did you have pre-planned questions for Anna's birthmom or did you just go with the flow?
Yes, I had a few questions I knew I wanted to ask. But I also knew I would go with the flow. The social worker who was there to act as a facilitator and interpreter prodded Anna's b-mom to tell the story of how Anna "came to be."
Some of the "must ask" questions were:
- Family Medical History
- Any medical history for Anna during the year she was with you? Did she receive any medical care or medications?
- Any complications during pregnancy or labor?
- Why did you choose the name Misrak?
- What would you like the baby to know about you?
- Would you like to exchange letters/photos through Gladney as the baby grows?
- What would you like to know about me and my family?
- What can you tell me about the baby's father?
- Who does the baby look like?
Some other questions I also asked were:
- What was your favorite subject as a child?
- What was your favorite activity (sports, music, art, etc...)?
- What was your family like? Do you have brothers or sisters?
- What was your favorite childhood memory?
- What would you like the baby to call you (right now we call you her first mom)?
- What would you like the baby to be/do when she grows up?
I also shared quite a bit about our family, including what I plan for the girls as they grow (including that both girls will have the chance to go to University and will be raised in the church.) When Anna's b-mom learned that both my sister and I are nurses, she said that is what Anna should be when she grows up:)
I was also privileged to get pictures and video of Anna and her b-mom walking outdoors together, playing, and singing/dancing together. As much as it was difficult to let Anna go to her b-mom, it was also so easy- I knew that this was probably the only opportunity I would have to get pictures of them together, and for Anna's sake, I wanted some that were natural and relaxed, so that she could see how beautiful her b-mom is.
The birthmom meeting was difficult and wonderful, and if you have the chance, I recommend that you take the opportunity to meet. I think Anna's b-mom also appreciated meeting Abigail and my mom. I gave her a book with pictures of our family, and explained who each person was, and I think it made her really happy to know that so many people already loved and wanted Anna.
- What type of carrier/sling would you recommend?
I took 2 carries with me which I wrote about here. I like them both, and used them both. I used the UBW when we went to the orphanages. It was a long day, and that was far more comfortable getting in and out of the car than the HH would have been. Since we did not take a stroller (and would not have had enough hands to manage a stroller in the airport anyway) I used my HH while we were grabbing our luggage. It is easier to put on while still on the airplane (the UBW takes a while- and space! to get it on right) and it was helpful to not have to carry the baby while trying to claim our luggage:)
If I could only take one, I would have taken the HH. It adjusts easily, and while I would not want to wear it for an all-day trip, I could have easily shared the duties with my mom if we only had the HH.