14 July 2011

embassy trip.


the second trip to addis was something akin to drinking from a fire hydrant, so it's only fitting that i give you the entire shebang in one post. that, and i am large on children and scant on sleep these days. blogging has now hit the list of endangered pasttimes.

so: ethiopia, take two.

monday, 6.20: finally got confirmed airline tickets, the mister left for sr high camp, grandma picked up the older four kiddos in the evening. also general mayhem.

tuesday, 6.21: left at 6am to fly from here to dulles to frankfurt to addis plus many longish layovers.

wednesday, 6.22: arrived in addis around 9pm (a day earlier than holt required since weds arrival = save $1400). hung out with a number of families about to jet home with their small folk.

[lucy land guest house. view from my window, from the courtyard.]

[addis dawn from my balcony window.]

thursday, 6.23: the rest of my travelmates flew in throughout the day/eve, and i learned to cast on and knit.* we also found out that our schedule had changed and guess what? nothing vital was happening till sunday. luckily, my court-and-now-embassy-buddy lisa still had enough new york in her to call the holt staff and request that we at least be able to see our kiddos since we were, in fact, right in town. all these days early. per their request.

with the happy result that

friday, 6.24: following an orientation at the holt office, we spent the morning and afternoon visiting our children at the care centers. friday night, i learned to purl.*

[niana care center.]

[care center playroom, bathroom.]

[another shot of the playroom. i'm near smitten with the pillow covers.]

saturday, 6.25: art gallery/shopping in the ayem, where i purchased an entire $8 worth of art prints to the tune of I Am A Reluctant Shopper. (seriously, i had to send carin off with the remainder of my birr later in the trip just to get some gifts purchased. neurosis at its finest.)

we spent the afternoon with our children at the care centers, where m and i paged through his photo book several dozen times, scrawled letters, towered blocks, pushed makinas over the paneled wood floor.

[photobook, alphabet beginnings.]

[m's bedroom, shared with about a half dozen other children.]

sunday, 6.26: at 6am twelve of us piled into the holt van for a trek to ssnpr, the region where our children were born. it’s beautiful country; a quilt of green scrub, false banana trees, acacias, eucalyptus, red dirt and thatched huts, dotted with small tin towns along the way. so much of the flora reminded me of oahu.

[disclaimer: please excuse weird photo composition/tilt/quality--pretty much all scenery and street shots were taken through a window at 90km/hour. drive-by photography is tricky stuff.]

[we pulled over to photograph a valley, and children seemed to pour out of bushes and cracks of red earth. our group gave them what we had on hand: hard candies, power bars, bottled water.]



partway there, we stopped at shinshicho health center to see the hospital holt is building to serve families in this region. following a pasta/tibs lunch, we arrived in holt’s durame office near 2pm to meet with surviving birth relatives. the value of this potential meeting is incalculable: it provides transparency needed for ethical adoptions as well as girds our children with firm ties to their early lives and families.

[medical center.]

[kids in a side street in durame.]

emotions clotted thick that day, and we ended the evening with a two hour drive to the hotel in awassa, where the dining staff kept us entertained with the number of orders they served sarah.

monday, 6.27 kicked off with a bracing, one-door shower, followed by pineapple juice and a gorgeous macchiato. we stopped to view the lake at the nearby awassa resort, then made the grueling trek back to addis.


[bits of awassa, awassa resort, monkeys!][no, we did not stay at this lovely place.]

[lake awassa.]

[giant anthills, small strip town.]

after some six hours of driving and an hour of rest/nervous-prep at the guest house, we headed out to purchase baby/kid supplies at a local grocer (no bebelac 2 or 3 to be found anywhere), then happy danced to our respective care centers for the farewell ceremonies. our kiddos were coming 'home' with us for good.

ethiopia's bunna (coffee) futbol team was playing their whatever 'insurance' is in amharic futbol team, which made for a lively radio-spiked drive to the care center, plus much background cheering by the staff during the farewell party. m was wide-eyed and chatty during the van ride back to the guest house, didn't eat a crumb at dinner that night.

[our favorite nurse. this gal is strong, smart, gracious, warm. i'm so glad God placed our boy in her care.]

tuesday, 6.28 was a long day. once gaining custody, we were confined to the guest house, and m could make a living out of fiddling with things best left unharmed: cable boxes, power strips, outlets, keyboards, other people's iphones/ipads/laptops/kindles. he was a cheerful, busy little man with no concept of boundaries. food of the day: bananas (and the occasional lime), m would touch nothing else.

[bajaj, three-wheeled taxis. turns out i really like to photograph these blue guys.]

wednesday, 6.29 we left for our embassy appointment at 8am. after an hour's wait, m and i were called to a window where an incredibly genial embassy lady interviewed us for two minutes tops and sent us off with instructions on what to do with the sealed packet (ie DO NOT OPEN IT) we’d receive in two days' time. food of the day: dabo (bread) and juice. i could only hope that by the week's end we'd have the food pyramid covered.


thursday, 6.30 we kicked a soccer ball in the courtyard, and after a few brief minutes of low key back-and-forth, m wanted to sit down or go inside or both. this was the first sign of just how little he enjoys exercise.

elizabeth regaled us with lively tales of nyc subways and hospitals. steve was m's cheerful human playground. m consumed half a pizza, played inaugural games of angry birds and food ninja with andy. (forget the visa, my child clearly just passed the test for american citizenship.)


friday, 7.1 slugged along to such an extreme i suspect time was actually retreating. at this point in the game we were all weary and cabin feverish and so ready to be home, provided the requisite trip didn’t do us in.

m and i left for the airport that night at 7pm, walked laps around the tiny single terminal to kill more than four hours. m slept during our seven hour flight to frankfurt, but he thrashes about in his sleep, and it turns out being kneed/sucker-punched every couple of minutes complicates my ability to rest.

eight hour layover in frankfurt. eight-point-five hour flight to dc. immigration was a breeze, security lines a bear, and we spent another six-point-five hours in dulles, where we both eventually crashed for a blessed hour at an empty gate. our final flight home was just ninety minutes, where the hubby met us at midnight in baggage claim and i cried. another hour and a half on the road and we pulled into our driveway at 1:30am sunday, 7.3 (8:30am addis time). we'd made it home intact.



we tucked our boy in bed and called it a night. thus ended a nineteen month journey home (we're prone to the scenic route), and kicked off a brand new sort of adventuring, one we’re still gathering clues on how to navigate.

God is faithful.

*knitting lessons (and motion sickness patches) brought to addis by the indefatigable lisa weisman. that girl is the stuff of legends.


Sami Jo said...

So special to read all these details. What precious memories you'll have with your little man.

Hugs, Sami Jo

Jen Shults said...

Your pictures tell such a brilliant story. Just amazing. :) I'm so happy for you!! Have I said that yet? He's such a lucky boy with such a lucky mama. things will be settled out sooner than you think... I just got school supply lists in the mail... how is THAT possible?

happygirl said...

I love the story of your new son. The playroom and all look so colorful. I know God provides, but it is nice to have the confirmation with your story and pics. God Bless you and your family.

Toyin O. said...

These are great pictures, that little girls is adorable.

grey rose (they/them) said...

that care center building is gorgeous! the playroom is sweet, love the mini beds for the mini people. praying they each may be brought HOME just as your M has been.

lovely, colorful place. what a gift, for your littlest to have the heritage of ethiopia and the states combined.

still overjoyed for your whole family. wowza.
god seems to be in the business of rocking socks, yes?

amy luella said...

your wealth of pictures from his place of beginning are so special and i imagine will mean so much someday to your boy. documenting this start, even in simple ways, is precious, too. if we all would do just want you and your husband are doing, what an beautiful impact we would have on our world. thank you for sharing some of the intimates of this journey. someday i am hopeful that god would prepare us, too, for a similar time. bless you and your beautiful, beautiful expanded family, nic.

Melissa said...

Thank you for giving us a glimpse of your boy's first life and of your journey to him. I've been thinking of you and praying for you. I know you will reach a new normal soon! In the meantime, grace to you as you're running on empty. ;)

kendal said...

i can't wait for m to grow up enough to read your work....a beautiful work.

Unknown said...

whew! I wanted to savor this, so I started reading it this morning and JUST FINISHED! the photos are gorgeous and the story even more so (except the airplane travel). Praying for you guys! xoxoxox

Jorth said...

He is also great. Jeepers, what a journey!

Small Town Girl said...

Thanks for sharing all of these details. Tears are being shed for the goodness of God!

rahel said...

Beautiful, beautiful pictures of this- to me exotic- place! I was surprised on how nice the care center looks! Love those beds and cushions. As always very interesting to read your post.

Anonymous said...

....and I cry. You are one of the bravest people I know. Love to you all and lots of warm fuzzies sent your way as you navigate the new adventure!

Beth said...

I'm crying with Joy for you and m. Your long journey has ended and yet is only beginning. B.

Mommy Emily said...

wow friend. your eye for beauty overwhelms me. i hope you can get these photos published someday. extraordinary, you are. xo

Jessica/littlepumpkingrace said...

Oh, Nic, I love this. I love every bit of it. Thank you for sharing so honestly...and so eloquently. So glad M is home, safe, just right where he belongs.