Sorry we are just now getting a chance to send an update on our trip! We are up and ready to go this morning for our 3rd day in Ethiopia so I thought it was long past time to send an email. So far the trip has been wonderful and hard at the same time. We left Louisville on Saturday afternoon for an overnight stay in D.C., then headed out for Addis Ababa on Sunday morning. Our flights were good and uneventful so that was definitely a blessing. Little Charlotte and I did well on the flights, despite my worries, and both Ryan and I were very relieved about that!
When we arrived in Ethiopia on Monday morning, we were all beginning to feel the effects of little to no sleep on the long flight and were pretty much dragging from the beginning of the day. After a long wait in the airport for our visas and going through Customs, we were finally on our way back to the West Sands transition home to see our boy again. It seemed like the drive from the airport to the transition home was much longer than I remembered, but after much anticipation, we finally made it there. We didn't even hardly unload our luggage before we headed back to see our little Nathanel (Greer) again. Unfortunately, despite all our pent up excitement over seeing him again, he did not exactly share the same sentiment! In fact, I'm pretty sure our excitement was met by his sheer terror. We had heard from some friends who were here picking up their kiddos a couple weeks ago that he wasn't too excited to see them either, so we were somewhat prepared but it was still hard.
The entire time we spent with him in the morning consisted of him crying...actually, I think we could call it wailing...and clinging to his nannies. We have been praying for him to have a healthy attachment with his nannies for quite some time so that we know he is capable of forming a healthy attachment with us later on, and I can definitely say that God has answered that prayer!! In order to keep us awake for the day so we could get acclimated to the new time zone, our wonderful in country host, Woudneh, took us out for lunch at an amazing lodge in the Ethiopian countryside. Let me just tell you, this place was NICE! Apparently it is the hot spot for many foreign dignitaries when they come to Ethiopia and it was quite impressive. For a grand total of $11 each, we were served a wonderful meal, had access to kayaking on a private lake, use of the swimming pool, and received a discount on spa treatments. At the encouragement of Woudneh, several of the women in our group decided to relax at the spa. I received a one hour foot massage that cost a whopping $4, and I think it was probably the best $4 that I've spent recently :)
After a great day at the lodge, we were all eager to get back to our kids so we headed back to the transition home. Much to our dismay, little Natty was still not very thrilled to see us. It was about 6:30 and getting dark, but Ryan and I decided to try to take him for a little walk and alone time away from his nannies to see if it calmed his anxieties at all. After about an hour of straight crying, we finally got him to sit in our laps in the living room without too much fussing. However, any time an Ethiopian person would pass through the room, the crying would start again. I think he must have been reminded that we didn't look like everyone else and it set him off again! We finally took him back to his room around 8:00 for bedtime and were feeling pretty worn down and frustrated. I think the mixture of jet lag, pregnancy hormones, and rejection were getting to us so we called it a night early.
Yesterday we woke up pretty refreshed but also quite anxious over how the day would go. We had an appointment to be at the US Embassy around 1:00 p.m. and weren't exactly sure how Natty would handle being alone with us for the day. After breakfast, we headed back to his room and were greeted with more tears. We took him back to the living room of the transition home and did a lot more rocking and trying to sooth him. He cried for so long that it actually wore him out and he eventually feel asleep on Ryan. They napped together for about an hour and a half, and he woke up a little more settled and a little less scared. We kept him with us for the rest of the morning and things started to smooth out a bit. We got to change his clothes into his outfit we brought for the Embassy appointment and finally changed his diaper for the first time too. He was definitely feeling more comfortable with us, and we were very relieved! Plus, he looked super cute in his new shirt, jeans and shoes :)
We headed off to the Embassy with the 2 other families in our travel group and Natty did great pretty much the whole time. At the Embassy appointment, we quickly realized that it was a very similar set-up to the DMV! We took a number when we got there and waited for it to be called so we could go up to the window for our interview. After waiting about an hour and a half, we were the first family in our group to be called up. The interview was very quick and easy...maybe lasting 5 minutes total...and then the man behind the window announced that his visa was approved! We were relieved, but even more so when all the families in our group got their approvals as well. Woudneh will go Thursday morning to pick up his passport and immigration papers so that we can be on our way home Friday night.
Per Ethiopian law, adoptive families cannot go out in public with their children, so after our appointment we were whisked back to the transition house. We spent the next hour and a half or so with Natty playing in our room and all was going pretty well until the end. I think a mixture of hunger and tiredness played a role, but he quickly melted down and decided that he wanted nothing to do with Ryan or I. It was really hard after having such a better day with him, but we know that we're still making progress even if it's slow. We returned him to his room before heading out to the Crowne Hotel for a traditional Ethiopian dinner and show. The dinner was great and so was the show. We are so grateful to be traveling with other amazing families, and have really enjoyed our time with them in Ethiopia again. After dinner, Natty was already long asleep so we didn't go in and disturb him. We were all tired and the transition home was experiencing a power outage so we just decided to turn in for the night a little early.
Today, Ryan has headed off with the other men in our group to see a water project being done in Dera, Ethiopia by Hope Arising (www.hopearising.org), which Woudneh's wife, Betty oversees. I decided to hang back at the transition home so I can spend some extra time with Natty in his normal environment and see if I can get some tips from the nannies on our little guy. I cannot believe that in 2 more days we'll be saying goodbye to all the amazing people here and this beautiful country. It makes me sad to think about taking Natty from everything familiar but I also know that God has blessed us and him with this opportunity so we're trying to make the most of it! Please keep praying for our attachment with Natty. We have a feeling that our trip home could be a very long one as he grieves the loss of things that are familiar to him and embarks on a totally new journey.
Anyways, I know this update has been super long. If you've hung in to read it all, thanks! We are so appreciative of each and every one of you and can't wait to introduce you to our son :)
Blessings from Ethiopia and hopefully I'll update again (in much shorter fashion) soon!
Ryan and Lesli
Wednesday, March 16, 2011