Saturday, March 31, 2012

Saturday

Today we ventured up to the top of Mount Entoto, the highest peak overlooking Addis Ababa. It stormed in Addis last night (and tonight too), so the world seemed fresh and the scent of eucalyptus was strong in the air. 

After our trip up the mountain we paid to go to a park in the center of the city. I'm pretty sure that Tegegn and Tiruye had never been exposed to playground equipment before, so they weren't quite sure what to do. Tegegn loved it. Tiruye, not so much.

The kiddos are doing really, really well. We had been so worried about Tegegn because when we met him in December he was very quiet and shy. He has been a total rockstar though and his personality is blossoming in front of us. He's very quiet in public, but he loves to laugh and play in our room. He did manage to toss a block out our second-story hotel window yesterday. Oops! At least the security guard was really nice about it! Tiruye is also doing really well considering all the changes to her life this week. There's been a lot of inconsolable crying, which is understandable given the circumstances, but her bubbly personality still shines through loud and clear. She is a joy.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Fwd: Thursday

Tegegn discovered and figured out how to use the iTouch today and was delighted. I doubt Tegegn and Tiruye have had any experience with Apple products up to this point, but it was quite evident that they were familiar with talking on cellphones. Several happy hours were spent marching around the hotel room pretending to chat.

I have very similar pictures of Norah asleep in this Ergo. I love how their little bodies stay molded in exactly the same position they were in when attached to a parent's body.

Today was awesome. And also awesomely hard. Both of the kids called us "Mama" and "Papa". Their little personalities are continuing to unfold and delight us. There was also A LOT of crying - the type that makes me hope the hotel won't kick us out for noise violations before our stay here is done. I feel like we lived through about eight separate days in just the twelve hours that the kiddos were awake. I am grateful. I am tired.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

We Are Here!



Approximately 60 hours after departing for the airport for the first time, we arrived in Ethiopia yesterday morning. Our journey here included a 17 hour layover in Frankfurt, Germany. We were both anxious to finally get to Addis Ababa, but we still had a lovely time exploring Frankfurt on foot. It turns out that almost nothing is open there on a Sunday. This was especially unfortunate because the crotch of my only pair of jeans ripped in the airport on Sunday morning and I was really hoping to replace them! However, it was a gorgeous and sunny day and we enjoyed touring the entire city on foot, lounging on benches to people watch, and finally settled in to an English cinema to see The Hunger Games.
There had been a massive mixup with our luggage when we first tried to depart and we weren't sure that it would arrive in Addis or if it would be lost forever. Happily, when we arrived in Ethiopia we found that one of our bags had arrived on the same flight as us, two were waiting in the unclaimed luggage area from a previous flight, and was had just arrived from Dubai. I think our suitcases had more of an adventure than we did!
Monday afternoon was one of the moments we'd been waiting for and we got to visit E and Z. Poor little E was so scared. He burst into tears as soon as he saw us. He calmed down once we were holding him, but anytime we put him down over the next two hours he cried again. Our Ergo carrier is going to take a beating with this little guy, but we're very grateful that he seems comforted by being held. Z was as hilarious as ever. Her walking has improved in the last three months and she was delighted to play peek-a-boo from behind a couch with us. She babbles nonstop and seems to have very clear intentions of saying something. She's truly delightful.
This morning we will be meeting with the agency lawyer and running some errands before going to the orphanage this afternoon to check out E and Z permanently. I'm thrilled and terrified all at once. We have been waiting such a long time for this, but I can't help but dread how traumatizing it will be for E and Z to leave everything they've ever known. Your good thoughts and prayers for a peaceful transition for both children would be much appreciated!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Whirlwind

After receiving Tuesday's email granting E and Z permission to immigrate, we launched into nonstop action fueled entirely by adrenaline and coffee. Flights were arranged, a guest house was reserved, a driver was contacted, health insurance was updated, the dog was taken to her appointment at the veterinarian, and the new minivan was registered at the BMV. The mail was put on hold, clothes, diapers, and mattresses were purchased for E and Z, and appointments at the doctor following our return were arranged. All of this amidst preparing at school for me to go on maternity leave for a year and for Paul to take leave from his job and classes. Just typing it out leaves me feeling a little bit exhausted.

We hit a bit of a hiccup yesterday when we arrived for the first leg of our flight only to spend six hours waiting in various "help" desk lines. It was eventually determined that due to various delayed flights we would have to choose between being stranded at the Detroit airport overnight or going back home and trying to start anew today. We returned home and will leave again today. Our luggage , meanwhile, was put on the original flight to Chicago, sent ahead to meet us in Detroit, and now appears to be floating somewhere in the United, Delta, or Lufthansa baggage system. Let's hope that it eventually makes its way to Addis Ababa!

The plan now has us arriving in Addis on Monday morning, visiting E and Z that day, and then taking custody of them on Tuesday before our Embassy appointment on Wednesday. We will FINALLY be able to post pictures of them on Tuesday as long as we have internet access. Our departure from Ethiopia is the following Monday and we'll arrive home the next day.

All of this feels unreal and too good to be true. The moment we've been waiting for is finally here.!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

They're Coming Home!!!!!!

We received an email from the U.S. Embassy today telling us that E and Z's cases have cleared and we can leave this weekend to pick them up. By this time next week they'll be in our arms again!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Norah's Special Day





While Atticus was with my dad, Norah got to spend some one-on-one time with us. She was delighted to be the center of attention during a bike ride which included trying to make friends with every squirrel we met and a special treat of ice cream at the end. I love having two kids and can't wait to be parenting all four of our children, but sometimes it's so nice to have solo time with each child and they drink up that extra attention.

Solo Time




Grandpa Terry took Atticus to a friend's house to see his airplanes, tractor and motor scooter. What a wonderful way to make Atticus feel special!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Embassy Submission

Our case was submitted to the U.S. Embassy yesterday and when we found out today there was much relief to see that we're moving one step closer to bringing E and Z home. Our fingers are crossed that our case will unfold smoothly. We've been outliers whose case has hit extra waits at every single step of the process so far and it would be really nice if we got to skip that this time.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Waiting, Waiting, Waiting, Waiting, Waiting...

You know what it's like when you're waiting for a really important call from your doctor and you keep your phone right next to you all the time? Then when it doesn't ring, you turn it on just to make sure there's a dial tone and afterwards you check your voicemail to make sure a call didn't come in while you were listening to the dial tone? Nearly all the communication we get about our adoption comes via email, but the basic premise is the same. I check my email as soon as I get up. I check it on my phone every time I hear the chirp that indicates a new message. I look at the computer every time I pass it because sometimes emails arrive to the account on my computer a few minutes before my phone registers their existence. This has been going on since approximately February of last year. Thirteen months ago.

It's been eight months since we were matched with E and Z and began to grow attached to them in our hearts.

It has been nine weeks since we said goodbye to them. We haven't received any updated pictures or medical updates about them since then and our agency doesn't expect that we will at any time in the future.

Five weeks and five days have passed since we were granted custody by the Ethiopian court. As you may recall from my earlier post, we were told that it would take about 3-6 weeks for our case to be submitted to the U.S. Embassy. Currently, our agency is telling us that we will be submitted to the embassy on Thursday, 3/8. Crossed fingers and positive thoughts would be much appreciated.

Once families are submitted to the embassy, process times are still running the gamut. I've heard a few accounts of families being cleared to bring their kids home two weeks after submission. Lots of people are being raked over the coals for a few more months. Some families are being sent on odysseys that take up to a year. I'm dreading this step and the fresh unknowns it will bring, but I'm also incredibly anxious to be submitted so that we can at least begin this last part of the journey.

Recently, a few people have made the mistake of saying, "Gosh, that sounds so hard. It must be like the last few weeks of pregnancy!" First, let me say that I know that this comment comes from a heartfelt attempt to be empathetic. I really do understand and appreciate that. However, during the last few weeks of a normal pregnancy, most women may be uncomfortable and eager to see the show get on the road, but at least they have the privilege of knowing that their baby is safe and growing. That baby is exactly where he or she should be. E and Z are in an orphanage. They are almost two years old. We don't know when we will be able to bring them home. I'll leave you to read between the lines, but suffice it to say that the next time someone compares this wait to a pregnancy, I will tell that person to stick it where the sun don't shine.