Tuesday, September 1, 2009
To Ethiopia and back
We landed in Ethiopia around 8 am. It was so surreal thinking Peyton was so close. We headed off the plane down the escalator to the first desk we saw and was told to wait on this very long line. We finally got to the end when they told us we needed to get our visa first UGH-For those of you traveling at the end of the escalator make a left to get your visa then go stand on the customs line. Then it was on to baggage ,thankfully everything made it safely. As we walked through security I could see tons of people waiting for family members John made an immediate right out of the door but stopped to look at the crowd of people and all the way to left were 2 men holding the sign "better future adoptions" I started yelling to John and screaming over to them I was soo excited. Baisa our driver and Beryihien (we will called him Ber) drove us to the guesthouse. Aguitu (Our director)was at the entrance of the guesthouse waiting for us with tears streaming down her face.I went over to her and we hugged and cried. We chatted for a bit and Beti(our cook) made us a yummy breakfast.When Breakfast was over Aguitu asked if we would like to go get our baby,of course we said yes. I was feeling every emotion as we drove down the road to the care center.As soon as we reached the gate my eyes started to well up and by the time I got inside the care center the tears were flowing. The head Nanny took us into the second infant room as I looked quickly at all the cribs searching for peyton. The nanny lifted her up and handed her to me and I cried so hard I couldnt breath (john was crying too but he wont admit it)so we went and sat in the lounge area. As I sat down I looked up and Aguitu,the nannies and Beisa and Bir were all crying with me.I couldnt believe how beautiful Peyton was. We headed back to the guesthouse with peyton where the nanny offered to take her so we can rest but I told her we needed to just have some time with her.
The rest of the night we spent just loving on her
We had to bring Peyton back to the care center so the staff could take her to the clinic for medicals.We decided while she was gone we would stay at the care center(which ended up being about 3.5 hours). We had so many care packages to give out from families waiting to bring their kids home. We decided to pull each child into the lounge area seperately so those that didnt get care packs werent upset. As the children came in I took out their packages and explained that they were from their families ,as I spoke the nanny translated. The children were sooo excited and I was excited to do this for them. Then we needed to take pictures for the families so we started with the babies.The nannies were great they brought each baby out to me. All of the babies were so cute and I got to hold 2 very special babies Bona and Gadissa. It meant so much to be able to hold these too babies as I know their mommies and they long to hold them. After the care packs and the pictures it was time to play with the kids (my favorite part). I really was unsure how this would go with language barriers ,would they even want to play with us,etc. Some of the children were shy and unsure of us,others were curious and then there was little Ebsa who just wrapped his arms around my leg. I sat on the floor while john gave out some picture books we brought.The older children were so excited to show off there english and Sitota and Yohanas took the magna doodles we brought and showed me how they write their names. Little Hyat and Deratu loved my long hair and kept playing with it taking my clips out and putting them back in.John of course found a little boy Mathaus(sp?) to play with the football we brought. Then it was lunch time (for those wondering they had pasta).We had such a wonderful time.The kids were happy and so easy to play with.There was about 15 of them and we love all of them.
After the care center we went to the Hilton to exchange our money. It is frowned upon to bring your children out in public so we took a nanny Chaltu with us. Chaltu was with Peyton all day and had not eaten anything so while at the hilton we fed Chaltu and bought drinks for Baisa and Ber. It was a fun time getting to know them.
The nannies picked up Peyton today to take her for HIV testing so we decided to go shopping at the Mercato (ethiopias largest market) Aguitu sent our driver with us so he could haggle the prices. The mercato was nuts,parking took us a half hour. Baisa took us into a tradional clothing booth and we made a huge pile but the guy wouldnt give us a price til the end. After he told us our total I nearly fell over(i was told everything in ET was dirt cheap and this was not).Our driver haggled a little but we believed we were still paying way to much(later on we found out we paid about 5 times higher then we should have).I do not recommend the Mercato to those traveling its crazy and as soon as the vendors saw us they were all over us. Next up we went back to the care center as we pulled up it was potty time there was about 8 potty chairs lined up and the kids were all sittin goin potty it was the cutest thing.We brought our poloroid camera-The kids loved this watching their faces magically appear!!!We had another great day with the children.
Today we left Peyton most of the day with the nanny. driving around in Ethiopia is not safe and then you add in the fact its rainy season and the dirt roads are just horrible so it was best to leave her back.John being a doctor he wanted to visit the hospital.Aguitu took us to the government hospital where Bontu passed away(yea this was an emotional experience). Nothing can ever prepare you for what you see in Ethiopia and the hospital was extremely eye opening. The government hospital offers free care for the orphanage children although if the can get to the pediatric hospital its much better.We met with the hospital surgeon and he gave us a tour-it was heart wrenching,so many people barely any doctors,nothing looked sterile.On the childrens floor the cribs looked rusted and mothers were sitting on the floor holding there ill children. We walked passed the delivery room which was filled with about 8 mothers in labor there outside glass windows looking in were about 30 family members watching. The resources are limited if someone has surgery the family is responsible for the changing,feedind and paying for and getting any pain meds(therefore most dont get pain meds).The hospital had a first class floor that was a little cleaner-this floor was for patients who pay out of pocket. It is hard to imagine that in the year 2009 people live like this.We take so much for granted.After the hospital we met with the head of the health Bureau to discuss a foundation we are starting in Bontus name that will help with medical resources.After that we went and visited a small orphanage about 20 minutes away.It was small but sooo clean and the children were all clean,dressed well and the girls hair were done beautifully.We played with the kids for a bit but I was missing Peyton so we needed to get back.After spending the rest of the day with Peyton it was time to get ready to go to the cultral dinner show.Aguitu treated us 2 other families,BFAS attorney and his wife,the driver,guide and accountant.We had a great time and I even attempted some ethiopian dancing (not by choice) hopefully my dear friends holly and Jen will erase that video!!!!!! for those traveling i highly recomend the Faskika show (sp?).
EMBASSY DAY-this is the final step. The embassy approves youradoption and issues Peyton her visa.This process was very smooth.One family had a small glitch but with the MOWA paperwork but the agency staff were on top of it and it was taken care of quickly.I needed to do some more shopping so we went to the Haile Salassie store(sp?) this store is government run and has fixed prices and the prices were good!!!That evening we had a bonfire and coffee ceremony at our guest house and yummy food that our cook Beti made.It was great to just relax with the other families.
This was our busyiest day and our last day.We left Peyton the whole day but I really needed to see some more of Ethiopia. Aguitu picked us up and took us to Tewahedo church.It is the first church in Ethiopia and its way up in the mountains.The scenery going up was amazing.The church was beautiful and so much history.Many people live on the grounds of the church,many of them sick with Aids and Hiv-they believe living there will heal them.I highly recommend visiting this church.Then we went back to the Haile Salassie store but they were closing for lunch. So we picked up the other families and headed to the care center to say goodbye with a pit stop at Robero to buy coffee(highly recommend) At the care center we had the chance to meet Bontus birthmom which was emotional and I think I may have caused more harm then good.I gave her a photo album of Bontu and hugged her and had Aguitu explain we were starting a foundation in her name but she was too upset and walked away.not sure what I expected but it was just hard. The nannies had a coffee ceremony for us which was so sweet. I went and hugged the head nanny and cried with her (i just love her) then we said goodbye to the children and some of them cried. I had a hard time leaving the care center.all of these children have families coming for them except 1 little boy. He was the one who sat on my lap and snuggled up to me.He has no family coming for him,hes been there for months and it breaks my heart that he may never have a family and all his friends will leave and he will still be there.I pretty much cried about this for 2 hours. If anyone reading this may be interested in him please let me know-it is my mission to find him a home-he is around 5 or 6 and sweet as can be.
We dropped the families off and head back to Haile salassie to finish shopping.Then it was a mad dash to pack and get to the airport.We got to the airport 4 hours early just so we can get a bassinet on the plane.Highly recomend getting the bassinet Peyton slept 12 of the 17 hours on that plane.
Peyton-when we first got her she was very limp didnt move much,no crying,no sound and didnt move her arms and legs(they keep them so wrapped there) by day 2 with her she was cooing,blowing bubbles and kicking her feet,day 3 she started tring to role over and by the end of the week she can grab at toys.Her head was very wobbly but each day she has better head support.Her head is alittle square shaped but thats from laying on her back all the time.
Guest house- BFAS guest house includes nanny,cook,driver,3 meals and laundry-Everything there was wonderful I wish I could have taken the cook and nanny home!!!
Ethiopia- Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw.I cried everyday.I saw mothers with children on their backs at our van window begging for money,Children half naked no shoes begging for money,people just laying on the streets,sidewalks anywhere.I had to turn down children begging,look away at these desperate mothers. The driving is Ethipia is like nothing I have ever seen.Drivers have the right away not people and drivers can turn,drive on the wrong side,cut people off and no one gets mad(no road rage its amazing).It so overwhelming you feel like theres nothing you can do.Its hard to imagine people live like this children digging in garbage for food. The problems seem so huge.Ethiopia will forever be imprinted on my heart.