Thursday, March 17, 2011

day 3 & 4 in Ethiopia

Hey all,

Hope you are doing well! We just finished up our fourth day here in Ethiopia and are preparing to head home tomorrow night. It has been a great trip but we are anxious to be back on US soil and really begin our journey of parenting little Natty {Greer}.

Yesterday was a great day of beginning stages of attachment for Natty and I. As I mentioned in my previous email, Ryan went to visit a water project in Dera yesterday with the other men in our group and I stayed behind at the transition home with Natty. From about 10:00 a.m. in the morning until past his bedtime, Natty and I were stuck together. After a couple of hours I think he was finally beginning to warm up to me a bit which was encouraging. We spent a lot of time playing with some of the older kids and just going through his normal daily routine together. Ryan returned home from a very rainy and muddy day in Dera around 6:30 p.m., and Natty was pretty receptive to him for the first time since we've been here. While we are still pretty nervous about the trip home tomorrow, we are hopeful that some of these first steps we've made while in Ethiopia will make the trip less scary for all of us!

From what we've seen so far, Natty is proving to be such a sweet boy, but he is definitely strong willed. He does not mind to wear his emotions on his sleeve, and when upset, everyone in the room knows it! Ryan and I can both see some major changes in him since last time we were here. He has grown so much and he seems to have really come into his personality. When he is happy, he loves to babble and sing in his own made-up language. {We double checked with one of the workers here to make sure he wasn't speaking Amharic – Ethiopia's language, and she assured us that he was not!} All the older kids, transition home workers, and nannies seem to flock to Natty, and he definitely loves the attention! There a few children here that can make him smile no matter how upset he may be, and I know it's definitely going to be hard for him to leave this place.

Today we spent all day running around Addis Ababa going to various places. We first had to revisit the Embassy this morning as they thought they lost a paper for our friends and travel companions, the Rowes. Thankfully, after making the trip all the way to the Embassy, the paper appeared and all the families in our group were all able to pick up the immigration paperwork and passports for our children. I'm pretty sure that Natty's Ethiopian passport with his US visa is one of the best things we've seen in a very long time! It is such a relief to know that the red tape and craziness of this adoption rollercoaster is finally coming to a close, although we know that the really hard work is just beginning!!

After our trip to the Embassy, we visited our adoption agency's {Arise for Children} in-country non-profit organization, Love in Action. We had previously visited there on our last trip with many donations of school and office supplies but we wanted to stop in and say hello again. Love in Action is doing exactly that for many different people in Ethiopia. They currently run an after-school tutoring and sponsorship program for 20 children and a job training program for several at-risk women. We are so thankful to be working with an adoption agency that values not only adoption, but also empowering those who cannot be adopted and their families, all while sharing the Gospel.

Later in the afternoon, we truly had a once in a lifetime opportunity of visiting the home of a birthmother whose 5 children have been recently adopted by another family in Louisville because she is HIV positive. To say that the birthmother was generous does not even begin to cover it. She greeted us with hugs and tears, and openly welcomed us into her home, which we soon found out was quite a distance off the beaten path. After a long walk, we finally made it there. It was nothing more than a square mud hut with a couple small rooms, but it was filled to the brim with hospitality and love as many of her friends and family gathered to meet us. They served us lots of traditional Ethiopian food and held a traditional coffee ceremony for us. Despite just finishing lunch before we arrived, we all did our best to eat what we could so that their generosity did not go to waste. We had no interpreter with us so I'm pretty sure we all made fools of ourselves as we tried to point and do ridiculous sign language to communicate back and forth. Even though our 30 minute quick visit turned into over an hour, it was totally worth it. This family was obviously so grateful that their children had been afforded the opportunity to be adopted and it made us think a lot about Natty's own birthmother.

We finished up this evening with some last minute souvenir shopping and another traditional Ethiopia dinner. While it's been a great cultural experience, Ryan and I both agree that we'll be glad to get home to some all-American cuisine!

Well, that's all that's been going on with us as of late. Our plans for tomorrow are to stick around the transition house all day so we can pack, spend more time with Natty, and prepare to say our goodbyes to our friends here. If you think of it, please be praying for our goodbyes. A few of the nannies have already told us how much they will miss Natty and how hard it will be to see him go. We are hoping that we are able to convey to them our gratitude for taking such amazing care of our son for the last 13 weeks while we could not, but I'm not sure there are enough words to do so. We absolutely love Ethiopia and the people, and will definitely be leaving a little bit of our hearts here tomorrow as we make the long journey home.

Thanks for thinking of us and checking in on us while we're away.

With much love,

Ryan & Lesli


Hi....I'm Kelly said...

God bless you on your journey....what an exciting time!!!

Ellie said...

I've been following your journey for a few months now, and I would love to know that you guys made it home safe and to hear how Greer is doing. And see some pictures, of course!