Since we arrived in Ethiopia on Saturday night, Suz and I have been sharing the days’ events here and in bits and pieces on facebook. I’m hoping to bring everything together in some kind of summary here.
We’ve mentioned that Erin didn’t fly well on the trip here. She’s still having a difficult time catching up on sleep (at least during the night when she should be sleeping) and the lack of sleep is affecting her eating habits as well. She’s barely eaten like mouse since we arrived and we don’t want her to spiral into a worse state of sleeplessness and hunger. That said, she did very well at the transition house today, playing with Aidan and Eva as well as many of the other children there. Please continue to pray that she’ll get the rest her body needs and be able to eat to keep up her strength.
Here, Erin tries to catch up on sleep after waking up super early in the morning. In true Ethiopian fashion, she’s covered her face for better sleep.
Suz and Erin at breakfast, though Erin is eating and enjoying little.
On the bright side, Erin and Aidan shared a wonderful moment together when they met for the first time yesterday. Erin also got some “quality time” with Eva as well.
When we visited the transition home yesterday, we enjoyed some good time with Aidan playing cards, putting together a puzzle, and kicking soccer balls around the compound while Eva napped. He also enjoyed “writing” in Erin’s notebook.
Job, one of the AWAA staff here, is terrific with the kids–they all love him.
Yesterday was laundry day (I imagine there’s probably more than one laundry day a week at the transition home). Lines were draped around the compound with hundreds of baby- and toddler-sized socks, underpants, onesies, shirts, pants, and all manner of children’s clothes hung to waft in the warm, arid breeze.
After another night of fitful sleep(lessness?), Suz went out shopping today while Erin and I stayed back at the guest house. She wasn’t feeling well and slept; I took advantage of the quiet to read.
Two more AWAA families arrived this morning. We had lunch together then went to the transition home this afternoon to see the kids. A traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony had been prepared for us, and these are always a treat.
We played with the kids, delivered care packages from other families, and made photos for some other families as well. We met with one of the staff nurses to get a health update on our children. Aidan is doing fine but Eva wasn’t feeling well when we arrived yesterday and has since been diagnosed with a fever. She has an upper respiratory tract infection which, frankly, is the default condition of most of the babies and toddlers. She’s on a course of antibiotics that have to be administered via injection for the next few days. Although we would have had to travel to the transition home twice a day to have the nurse take care of this (a 20-30 minute trip one-way, depending on traffic), we met an adoptive mom staying here at the guest house who happens to be an RN. She offered to handle the injections, which will be a huge help to us.
After a group photo with adoptive friends James Smith, Scott and Rachel Miller and our kids, we piled into the van to return to the guest house. Aidan and Eva are now staying with us here and will be with us the remainder of our time in Ethiopia.
As we drove away from the transition home, Aidan was seated next to me, looking out the window, absorbing the sights. He knows he’s going to America; I wonder what he’s thinking now. That these are the last days during which he will see Addis Ababa for many years, its chaos and poverty and beauty? Does he envision America as a kind of fairytale promised land in which his dreams come true? What are his dreams? I couldn’t help but remember that, of the 5 million orphans here in Ethiopia, he and his sister are the lucky ones. They’ve won the lottery. In 2009, fewer than 2,300 Ethiopian orphans were adopted by families in the United States, and the fate of those who remain here is bleak. Many have lost at least one parent to AIDS or some other disease. Without other family members who have the resources to raise them, some—as young as five years old—will take on the responsibility of raising their younger siblings.
We arrived back at the transition home and prepared dinner. Suz had to run an errand with Eva so I cooked some ramen noodles for Erin and Aidan. Erin loves the stuff; Aidan ate a few bites but didn’t really care for it.
He ate some crackers and a slice of bread. After dinner he climbed up into a chair and gazed out the balcony window of our third floor guest house room. I sat down next to him and rubbed his back gently. He stayed there for several minutes with the same pensive look he’d worn in the van. What would we have said to each other if we shared a common language? Does he feel anxious over whether we will love him and his sister and be good parents to them? At four-and-a-half years old, would he be able to articulate his feelings of hope and expectancy, of grief and loss?
I caught a glimpse of an answer, I think, later tonight as we tried to put on his PJs after his shower. I showed Aidan the brand new outfit: a blue long-sleeved top with a handsomely embroidered friendly-looking grizzly bear and striped PJ bottoms. He looked at the shirt then wagged his finger at me and shook his head–no, I don’t want to wear that. He held the pants up, frowned disapprovingly and chucked them across the bed. I managed to get the shirt on with little resistance but he protested the pants by pitching a fit. Suz and I don’t give into fits, our other children have learned, and, well, now Aidan is one of our children as well. I held him for several minutes while he kicked his legs this way and that; slowly, though, he tired and lost momentum. In the end, there were a few, small silent tears as he surrendered and let me pull the PJ pants on, one leg at a time. I held him close and told him he was a gobez, “good boy,” and kissed him on the cheek. After another minute or two, the episode was forgotten as we happily pushed Matchbox cars back and forth to each other across the room’s hardwood floor (I hope there’s no one in the room below us; if so, I’m truly sorry).
Tomorrow we’ll have our “paperwork party” after the final two embassy couples arrive. On Wednesday, we head to the embassy to get the kids’ visas so they can enter the US. We did learn today that, thankfully, all of our paperwork has been submitted and the embassy has everything it needs (at least, as of today). Please pray that these last few pieces will fall into place so we can get on a plane next week, all five of us here. Pray also for Erin and Eva that they will feel better soon, and pray that we and Aidan will continue the slow process of learning who we are and how to trust each other. Thanks again for all of your faithful support.