Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Travel Journal Trip 2: Day 3

June 26, 2011

Gotcha Day

Dear Lil' Miss,

We woke up this morning so overjoyed that this day had finally come, the fact that we still didn't have our luggage didn't even matter.  Our clothes were stinky, our hair greasy, we were unshaven and sweaty in clothes that didn't match the weather...but we were HERE and we were gaining custody of our DAUGHTER at last!!!

We had lots of time to get ready this morning b/c we weren't being picked up until 10:30am.  That didn't even matter though considering we had nothing to get ready WITH.  We headed down for breakfast, feeling the routine of life in Addis coming back to us quickly.  I was excited for a cup of coffee....and as usual, it didn't disappoint! =)  After an omelette for each of us, we realized that we only knew one family here and they weren't currently down for breakfast.  So we headed to the front desk to find out what room the S family was in.  There were only one floor below our it WAS their daughter we heard crying in the middle of the night!  ;)

We were hesitant to knock on their door knowing they had only been there a night or two with their daughter.  We felt sneaky and a little stalker-ish as we listened at their door for any sign of movement.  Sink running, baby crying, footsteps...yep!  =)  Mike quickly answered the door after we knocked, and a moment later Chantel emerged from the bathroom with their daughter on her hip!  What a BEAUTIFUL moved me to tears knowing in just hours it was going to be our turn!  They greeted us with smiles and told us all about their new addition.  And they were almost as excited as we were for us to gain custody you!  They were just getting ready to head down to breakfast themselves, but they invited us in as they finished getting ready.  We spent a couple minutes catching up...we shared with them about our lost luggage and they shared with us some shampoo, socks...just a couple things to make us feel a little better.  Then we went back downstairs with them so they could eat as well.

In one sense, time seemed to drag by as we waited for Danny to come and pick us up.  And yet, before we knew it, we had only minutes to run to our room, grab our things, and head back down to the lobby before our ride would be here.  And we SURELY didn't want to hold him up! =)  Mike and Chantel wished us luck before we headed out the door, smiles glued to our faces.

In the van, another family was sitting waiting.  We introduced ourselves, and found out that they were a couple days into their first trip!  They told us about their sweet daughter and kindly offered to take photos of our reunion with you.

Unlike the day we MET you, the trip to Hannah's Hope felt familiar and routine....we were SO thankful to be back.  And not JUST for this moment.  There is something about the country of Ethiopia that feels like home.  I never thought I could grow to love a place so far away so much that it would feel like home.  I knew this week was going to go by fast, and I wanted to enjoy every SECOND!  Instead of snapping a thousand pictures on the drive, I gazed out the window soaking in every view and every face we passed.  Hunched over men carrying brick from place to place.  Shop vendors trying to make a buck.  Children riding donkeys.  Mother's carrying their young ones on their back so they can have their hands free for work.  When I saw these things, I didn't pity them.  When I looked at their faces and watched their movement, it was filled with pride and dignity.  Coming from a world where a lot of people are looking for the easy way out, or a free was refreshing to see a true work ethic.

Believe me it did not take long before we were at the gates of Hannah's Hope!  I handed our camera to our new friends as we stepped out of the van.  Danny opened the gates and just a few steps inside, three or four special mother's were sitting with about a dozen babies, one of them our own!  I didn't spot you instantly, but being that you were one of the few laying on your back, it didn't take long!  You were an angel in a mostly black outfit - sweat pants and a sweater vest over a floral onesie, laying on a pillow and bathing in the sunshine.  The special mothers broke out in smiles when they saw us, but as I said hello, my eyes were locked on only you.  I rushed in your direction and without a thought about the camera or anything else...I swooped you into my arms and gave you a great big hug and smothered your face with kisses.  I expected a glazed or scared look as you looked at me, being that you hadn't seen me in over a month.  But instead I got a smile, and what daddy and I BOTH swear was a look of recognition!  It was SUCH a joyous reunion!

You with Enat
Instantly your special mother's broke into tears knowing that this would be their goodbye.  We assured them we would stay for a little while, even though we were anxious to have you all to ourselves.  But after playing a mother role in your life for so long, I couldn't deny them the opportunity to say goodbye properly.  Even though I had just had you back in my arms, your special mothers swooped you away to smother you with hugs and kisses...and I let them.  I took this moment to love on some of our other friends' kids and take pictures and video for them.  During all this, the special mother's were moving the mats and all the babies over into the shade in the courtyard, so daddy and I helped.  Enat, my favorite special mother, brought out a new outfit to change you into.  Since I wasn't holding you, I couldn't tell why - had you sweat through the sweatpants or did she just want to change your clothes one more time?  =)  After that she laid you on the ground to show off what you had learned in the last month.  You laid on your tummy and held your head up stronger and prouder than before, smiling at us just like you knew how proud we would be!  Then you ROLLED OVER!!!  All the special mothers giggled as daddy and I whooped and hollered at your success.  We had seen how close you were during our first trip and we just KNEW that you would figure it out before we got back.  As sad as I am to have missed that milestone, seeing it then for the first time was incredibly meaningful...I can't even describe the pride I felt at that moment! =)

Your special mothers love you soooo much baby girl.  I could just see them melting as your daddy rolled around with you and flew you in the air like an airplane!  I can imagine after investing their all into you for four months, it was a relief seeing how much we loved you.  And how much you loved being with us!

Soon they broke out the baby food for those 6 months and older.  I was relieved to see that they hadn't started that with you's such a fun and messy first that I wanted to be a part of!  Before long it was nap time and we helped move all the babies inside and put away the mats.  We asked Seble and Enat if they would record a goodbye message for you after the babies were asleep.  Enat asked if we were Christians and tears rolled down her face as we said yes.  She prayed a beautiful prayer over you (and us) in Amharic...tears flooded my face.  Daddy recorded the entire prayer, it was so beautiful.  Afterwards, someone gave us a rough translation of what she said.  Seble was a little more hesitant, but spoke some beautiful words to you as well...and then Enat encouraged a song and before we knew it all the special mothers were clapping as Seble and Enat sang over you!  A big smiles spread over your face as they sang and danced with you.

I had daddy go out and find Danny and ask if we could leave in the next little bit.  At this point we had been here for a couple hours.  We still weren't caught up on sleep and we were ready to get back and start our lives together.  Tears fell again for the special mothers as soon as we picked up our stuff.  Enat asked to change your diaper one more time, and of course I let her.  I heard her talking in Amharic to you and saw your sweet smiles, but as soon as I spoke, you strained to see me....and I melted!  At this point, daddy offered to change your clothes into the outfit we had brought and a little panic swept over me.  I apparently had forgotten to tell him that I wanted to save that outfit in a ziplock baggie so that it would smell like Hannah's Hope.  He thought it was a little ridiculous, but the staff encouraged me to do it and I promised to bring our two suitcases of donations for them in the next couple days.  She was only wearing a onesie and socks by this point, so I didn't feel TOO bad.  =)  I wrapped the Moby carrier around me at this point, and they all laughed at this unique contraption as I put it on and put you in it!  They told me about how Ethiopian women carry around their babies and how similar it was...but not so big! =)  Danny came in and said it was was the REAL goodbye.  Not knowing if and when we would ever see them again, we wrapped our arms around Seble and Enat one last time and thanked them for loving our little sweet pea in our absence. There is nothing that could possibly express our will never be enough...but I hope they know that they will always be a part of our little M&M's life.

Seble - You - Enat

We are SO grateful for these amazing women!!!

Just like our last visit at Hannah's Hope, we left with tears streaming down our faces and a gut-ache.  The difference was that this time, I was also filled with an indescribable joy, having you finally in our arms FOREVER!  There's adoption summed up for you right there - insane heartache and incredible joy.  And you really can't have one without the other.

I wanted to take a picture with you outside the gates of  Hannah's Hope, but we had already made Danny wait for us as we said our goodbyes, plus we had tear-stained cheeks.  I figured we could get it on another day....but of course, this turned out to be our only day of sunshine.  I'll forever regret not taking a moment to snap that picture, but oh well.

We hopped in the van to see our new friends there waiting for us.  We felt kind of bad, we didn't realize that by asking Danny to leave that they would have to go as well.  They assured us it was fine and that they were exhausted anyway.

Our trip back to the Riviera was rather un- eventful.  I expected tears from you, but you were rather relaxed.  You just gazed out the window and occasionally checked to make sure I was still there (and maybe to see if you still liked me =).  I can't possibly describe the joy I was experiencing at that moment..

When we arrived back at the hotel, it was about 1:00pm.  We checked down- stairs to see if Mike and Chantel were maybe eating, but there was no one we recognized.  On our way up to our room, we noticed the "Do Not Disturb" sign on their door and figured that their daughter was asleep.  We went straight to our room to get settled in.  I took off your sweaty onesie and socks and laid them out to dry on the coffee table with the fan blowing on them and changed you into your first outfit.  I had a hard time deciding what to put you in, and finally decided on a white dress with pink flowers, with grey striped leggings...and a big bow of course! =)  You looked cute as ever all girlified!  =)  You were full of smiles as we played with you on the hotel bed.

It wasn't long before Mike and Chantel came by to see how you were doing, and by that point, we were ready to get out of our room for a while.  We decided to checkout the rest of the hotel and wandered down to the ballroom.  The staff let us in, and we sat the the beautiful and unusual chairs down there and talked.  Eventually, we decided we were too hungry to not eat.  After all, we had all skipped lunch that day.  We decided to head upstairs to an early dinner and maybe go to bed a little early.

You were doing so well, sweet girl.  You were looking into our eyes, touching our face, smiling, kicking, active...there was no sign of fear or uncertainty.  You seemed completely content.  Now, we were still getting to know you yet....but you simply amazed us!

The rest of the day was a little bit of a blur being that our jet-lag kind of caught up with us.  I couldn't even tell you if we skyped family that night or if we waited until the following morning....hahaha!  Luckily it seemed that you were as tired as we were that night.  It had been a hugely eventful day for the three of us!

For your bedtime routine, we started by giving you a bath in the giganto bathroom sink we had in our room.  Since the drain wouldn't plug, daddy laid a towel at the bottom and we washed you rather quickly.  Since our luggaged still hadn't arrived, I was thankful that I put a sample size of baby wash in my carry on.  We used it to soap up your body and wash your hair...all of which you LOVED!  At this point though, I was really wishing I had some conditioner and the tangle teezer for your...the front of your hair managed pretty well, but after laying and rolling and rubbing the back, it was a knotted mess.  I did the best I could with what I had, but that wasn't much.  As I rubbed you down with the oil that Chantel let me borrow, daddy picked out your first pair of pajamas - brown with pink trim and pink bows on the buttons and little teeny bright colored flowers.  We just drooled over your cuteness!!!  I had to carry you down to Mike and Chantel's room to return the oil just to show you off! =)  After that it was a 4 oz bottle and sweet dreams for you!  We were shocked - this was really too easy!

We got on FB for a little while to announce that we GOTCHA{!!!} and headed to bed ourseleves.  We couldn't have asked for a smoother start to our lives together!


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Travel Journal Trip 2: Day 1&2

June 24-25, 2011


***I'm combining Day 1&2 here b/ all the time changes, I really have no idea where Day 1 ended and Day 2 began!  =) ***

Dear Lil' Miss,

Well the time has come - we are on our way again!  But THIS's to bring you HOME!!!  Words can't describe how excited we are!  As you know from our detailed travel journal of trip 1...flying is NOT my favorite pastime.  But when it comes to bringing YOU home sweet girl...I would fly to the moon and back ( our case).

Since Grandma and Grandpa had a camping trip planned for this very weekend, they decided to pick up your big brother a night early so that they could head out at their scheduled time.  So daddy and I met Grandma halfway last night at Red Robin and Monkey went (happily) back home with her.  We spent our last night in our home before you came home childless - it was a very odd feeling, I must admit!  (And a first for us since Monkey was born.)  But it was also great to get a sound night of sleep before the big trip.

We went to bed late and woke up early - per the normal when mommy is excited about something.  Our friend (and fellow adoptive mama) Darcee arrived bright and early to take us to the airport.  A true friend...she came prepared with chocolate and caffeine!!!  =)  What a GEM, right?!?  Because we had ran into some delays checking in for our last trip, daddy wanted to be uber prepared this time around.  =)  I am VERY glad we arrived so early though because there was quite the line for check in.  We got through with no problems (they didn't even question our luggage this time around, but just in case I had printed our the luggage requirements and highlighted the portion about allowing two checked bags and included that with my itinerary) and were on our way to our gate.  It felt like dejavu as we went to the same little shop and ordered the same lunch before we took the same flight we had just one month prior.  As we sat down by our gate, we logged onto paypal to check our balance (since we had just posted on FB for help to fund our remaining costs for the trip).  We shed tears of joy and nearly jumped for joy when we saw that we were going to be blessed with getting on that flight FULLY FUNDED!!!    Praise God!!!!!  We polished off our early lunch and were on that flight in no time ( actually was quite some time...but in the grand scheme of the trip it was relatively short).

Thankfully our first flight was fairly un- eventful.  No com- plaints there.  But when we arrived at the Amsterdam airport, we noticed our flight was delayed a couple hours.  In comparison to our last trip, we knew this was nothing to complain we took the opportunity to stretch our legs and update FB.  When it came close to the boarding time, we arrived back at the gate and waited in line to go through security.  We met a mission group in line who were from the Netherlands...they were so sweet to talk to!  They laughed when we explained that we were Dutch....they agreed that I looked Dutch, but they doubted that your daddy was.  Always puts a smile on my face! =)

Our KLM plane getting ready for departure

Halfway there....ugh!

This was the leg I was most stressed about.  I tried my best to focus on your sweet face being the reason for this flight, but it was not easy.  Same as before, the flight was packed.  I was very thankful for the compression socks I purchased shortly before our trip as they were saving the shape of my feet and ankles!  Despite the hour plus delay we had leaving Amsterdam, the pilot insisted we would arrive close to our originally scheduled time (which was a relief to us, knowing that Riviera staff would be waiting for us at the airport).  However, extreme circumstances prevented that from happening.  In the middle of our flight (during lunch, I think...which was unappetizing due to my sensitive stomach) the pilot requested a medical doctor.  We knew something wasn't right, but hoped for the best.  A man a couple rows behind us stood up and came back just a few minutes later, so we assumed all was well.  But just a couple hours later the pilot announced that we were going to have to make an emergency landing in Cairo because a passenger needed medical attention in a hospital.  So much for making good time!  We could definitely tell it was an emergency because that was the roughest landing we had ever experienced!!!  It was extremely bumpy and the pilot slammed on the breaks so hard that we had to brace our arm on the seat ahead of us in order not to hit our heads.  Our hearts were pounding a bit and we were anxious to move around a bit...but we were asked to stay seated so that the medics could get the passenger off the plane in a timely fashion.  It didn't take terribly long before we were told we could move about the cabin.  But it was extremely hot in Cairo (over 100, although I don't remember the exact temperature).

Once we were able to move about the cabin again, passengers began questioning one another as to what had happened.  No one seemed to know for sure, but someone sitting up near her mentioned to me (in the line for the bathroom) that there was some stomach bleeding.  Later the stewardess told me that they thought the woman was pregnant and confirmed that there was bleeding.  Never learned of the exact details, but that was probably more than enough information for my ears.

We probably spent close to two hours on the ground in Cairo, all of us anxious to get in the air again.  Well...kind of.  Ready to get to our destination would be more like it.  But they had to get the passenger's luggage off, and then reload luggage back on....blah blah blah.  It took what seemed like forever, but eventually we were airborne again.  A short while later we landed in Khartoum for re-fueling.  If it had been for re-fueling alone, I'm sure they would have done that in Cairo and skipped this stop, but we also had about half of the passengers getting OFF of the plane.  No complaints there...any extra breathing room was good for me!  Another two hours later (seriously) and we were on the last leg.  LAST.

Although the pilot did his best to make up time in the air...after taking off late and two stops, we were three hours late.  So much for Riviera staff meeting us at the hotel....we were SURE they wouldn't still be there at this point.  We rushed off the plane and didn't stop for pictures this time =) to make sure to get in the front of the Visa line.  Our hurrying paid off and we got through in minutes rather than an hour or so like last time.  Then through the immigration line and then to get our luggage.  We spotted two of them right away, and I stood guard over them while daddy searched for our other two.  Before we knew it people were clearing out and the luggage belt had now gone around several times.  I started getting nervous but daddy told me I wasn't allowed to worry until there was something to worry about.  He went to talk to the airport staff to see if more luggage was still coming, but that had been the last of it.  We watched it circle a couple more times before we headed over to the (for lack of a better word) "Lost & Found" desk and report our luggage missing.  When we took inventory of what HAD made it, we noticed that the two suitcases in our possession were only our donations.  Immediately I was calculating what was in our lost luggage and what was in our didn't take long to realize we were going to be short a lot of essentials on this trip.  Now this is the point the hyperventilation started up...something I do well.  Again, daddy was telling me we didn't KNOW it was lost so let's just calm down.  I was very thankful I had packed almost everything baby related in my carry-on, but I also knew that meant I had nothing for me.  No food, no medications, no hair products, no underwear, no change of clothes...the list went on.  WHY couldn't this have happened on our LAST trip (if at all)???  I knew that we didn't even have enough diapers to make the entire trip.  Thankfully our donation suitcases were FULL of those...but those were supposed to go to the ORPHANAGE!  There was no getting around my panic now, and I'm afraid I barked at the staff a little bit.  They kind of laughed at my flustered frustration...not in a mocking way...just because they knew it would get here when it got here and that was that!  End of story.  They took our description of our missing luggage and while they did their thing on their computer, daddy ran through the last security check to see if anyone from the Riviera WAS waiting....and indeed they WERE!!!  They had waited the extra three hours for us...PLUS all this time through Visa, immigration, and now our dealing with lost luggage.  The kind man was MORE than ready to leave and all smiles when he saw your dad's face....of course, we had bad news to deliver.  Being the patient man he was, he waited kindly for us.

It sounded like the earliest they would be able to get our luggage to us was on know...TWO DAYS before we had to LEAVE!!!  Daddy sternly told them that was NOT. good. enough.  But at the end of the day, we were exhausted from 24 hours (plus) of travel and ready to go lay down, knowing that whether we had our luggage or NOT, tomorrow was coming...and the most important thing was YOU.  We gave the airport our contact information at the hotel and through Hannah's Hope and left empty-handed.

Our driver...or actually, he didn't drive...but the staff-member from the Riviera led us out of the airport (carrying our luggage for us) and to the parking lot and picked up his cell phone to call the driver.  Where we were waiting, there was a driver from another hotel who offered to let us sit in his van because it was very windy that night.  We kindly declined and said we had been sitting on an airplane for two days.  He kept telling us how cold it was, and we laughed explaining we were from Seattle where this would be considered warm!  =) He was a very kind man and entertaining to talk to.  It wasn't long before the Riviera van showed up and they loaded our luggage on.  We quickly climbed in, anxious to get to the hotel.  Then the man from the other hotel's van came and poked his head into the van asking for a tip....are you kidding me?!?  For what?  Talking to us?  Ugh...this was the first time we felt someone here ask for a tip unnecessarily.  Because he was a kind man though, daddy handed over a dollar anyway, and he seemed more than pleased with that.  He left and we were {finally} on our way!

It is a little frustrating that every time we arrived in Ethiopia it was dark.  One of my favorite things is driving around the city so you can see everything...and that's just not possible at night.  I guess that just means we'll need to come back!! =)

Check in at the Riviera was great....they all remembered us from just a month ago and were very accommodating.  Despite my request, we got room 207.  I was a little disappointed...that was, until we actually SAW it.  The room was just as big and spacious as room 307, still had internet, one floor above the S family, and turned out that it didn't have the stink issues of room 307.  So I would highly recommend it to anyone planning their trips to Ethiopia in the near future! =)  Not to mention the higher you are...the more stairs you have to climb...and at that altitude, it is exhausting no matter HOW in shape you are!  =)

Without even unpacking (well...what was there to unpack, right?) we hopped into bed and hoped to go straight to sleep.  However, we had a very noisy group one floor above us.  They were listening to music, and laughing 1am we ended up calling reception to ask them to be quiet.  Only minutes later we heard a loud knock up there (yes, thin walls!) and we don't remember much after that....

In the morning, you're OURS sweet girl!
Your Mama