Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Year (and a Day) Later

Since this is the only baby book I've kept for Atticus and Norah, I want to make sure I write about the day that we met.

We landed in Addis Ababa that morning. As I mentioned, we quickly encountered lost luggage and being forgotten by our driver. We then arrived at our hotel to find that we weren't expected until that evening and didn't have a room. We immediately called the lawyer because we had some papers to sign before being allowed to meet the kids. He wasn't in his office. When we finally met with him that afternoon, he claimed he hadn't known we were coming. Also, we'd been told that he had to take us to the orphanage himself, and had therefore allowed our driver to leave. Apparently, that wasn't the proper procedure, and he was very put-out by the idea of driving us; he finally arranged for a pair of teenagers to drop us off on their way somewhere else. Strangely, none of this really upset us, but I was getting very, very nervous because we knew that visiting hours would be over fairly soon at the care center.

When we arrived at the care center, the nice coordinator asked us to take a seat. She made a phone call in Amharic and told us to wait. We waited, and waited, and waited. I didn't understand what was going on and was being very fidgety. I definitely remember Paul asking me to calm down a little. In retrospect, I realize now that the coordinator had made a call to the nannies and asked them to prepare the kids. It seemed like a lifetime of waiting, but I'm now very impressed that they got both kids fed, bathed, moisturized, combed, and dressed within the forty-five minutes or so that we sat there.
Suddenly, after over a year of wondering what it would be like to meet our kids for the first time, they were carried into the room by their caregivers. For the record, I think I've cried through every adoption video I've ever watched, but I was too stunned when meeting our own kids. It felt delightfully normal and surreal and every other combination of happy feelings I can think of.

We were so caught up in holding them (and figuring out how to exchange babies with one another!) that we would have forgotten to take any pictures or video at all. Luckily, another adoptive family was there and shouted at us to take a picture:
We took a lot of pictures that afternoon. This is the face Atticus made the first time he saw the camera flash:
I also insisted on taking off their socks and shoes to count their toes. They each had ten.
On subsequent visits, it cracked us up to see how well the nannies bundled up the babies when the weather was 75 degrees out. Note the fleece romper: This video (the only one we shot the whole trip!) perfectly shows their personalities those first few days. Atticus was all about the flirt, while Norah was happy to quietly take things in.
Atticus fell asleep in Paul's arms every time we visited. We thought it boded well for his sleep habits. Ha!
Their nannies the day they left the orphanage
Bonding in the guest house
Finally, one year later:


Ed said...

My how the past year has just flown all look so so

Love to you all,
Uncle Eddie and Aunt Donna

Claudia said...

What a beautiful set of before-and-after shots. They were gorgeous a year ago - they're even cuter now!

Christina said...

Congrats on one full year as a family of four! Hope you had fun celebrating :).

The Six of Us said...

How beautiful. I just love looking back and the first meetings.

And I still have not been able to put our trip into words.