Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Wrapping up in country and Embassy interview!!

So since my last post I picked up Trent from the orphanage and he said goodbye to his old life. That looked something like this.

Here he said some final goodbyes at his farewell coffee ceremony.

And then.... this.

And not too long after all of that.. this.

The next week was spent him and me doing a lot of work. It was some tough tough work. I can't say there wasn't some tears from both of us. Hours and miles were hiked. Time in's were had. This was 100% the right choice for what he needed, but it definitely wasn't the easiest of options. We really did stare at each other all day (and all night). I wasn't exactly taking pictures of the uglier moments of all of this work. Here are a few more highlights.

After a week of this, Randy Holl, like a great Papa Knight in Shining Armor arrived on Tuesday 6/2 and since then I have enjoyed the bliss that is a shower without worry. He has done a lot of sight seeing and some tag teaming to keep me sane. With the exception of one crying episode, things have been much easier. Unlike Bogota, I can't scurry off to grab a coffee or walk to a park or go on a family outing here (well I can, there are just very few options, all of which I will be exploiting for the next 3 days). So while Randy was off doing cool adult stuff, I stayed back here to keep working with the little man. I was able to join him at Mt Entoto though!

Following this, we were able to visit the Fuelwood women's Association to see the work the ladies have been able to do once they aren't strong enough to go up and down the mountain. Scarves were purchased.

Then there was more of this

We finally had all of the pieces of the puzzle for the Embassy for his USA visa last Friday. Embassy was awesome and agreed to work with me due to his medical needs and me being here. We got permission to submit early and we submitted Monday June 8th. We got our "clearance" (WOOHOO!!!) email this morning. We originally asked for an apt on Wednesday, but then out of nowhere they decided it would be better for me to just "come right now" to ensure they had time to process it before my Friday flight.

So we jumped in the car and off we went! Interview went just as smoothly as the previous 3 and that was that. Papa got to hang out at his first Embassy as well! Then, we decided that Tomoco coffee would be the most appropriate celebration of this process being nearly over.

My envelope will be ready for pick up at 10am on Thursday morning and ready for my flight leaving 10:50pm Friday night here.

But let's talk about that flight though....

And by "flight" I mean a 17 hour non stop from Addis to Washington DC. We only land briefly in Dublin to refuel where we won't be getting off the plane.

So what I'm saying is, from 2pm CST on Friday 6/12 until 6:15am CST Saturday 6/13, I will be with a disabled likely hearing impaired nonverbal (but LOUD) child in an 18x18 inch space with hundreds of people to despise us.

It is entirely possible that this will be the worst day of my 33 years of life... BUT.. if that is the worst thing to ever happen to me, then I've had a pretty awesome life right?

There will be benadryl. There will be melatonin. There will be cookies, goldfish crackers, and about 30 suckers. It will be epic, and all we have to do is survive it.

I have a really long layover to get me through immigration and customs in DC. Following that, I will re-check in my luggage and check in for my direct flight from DC to KC. Then I will leave the airport for Alamo rental car, where I will strap this child to a car seat.. and using the joy that is GPS, find the nearest Starbucks, followed by french fries (his favorite thing ever) followed by a park where I will run very wiggle out of this child for 6 hours. After that, I will return to the airport, give them back the rental, and check in for my 5:15pm direct flight to KC.

But where is Ted?? Another detail. Ted has had a Colombia medical team trip planned for months. We knew this would happen.. so he is leaving the USA tomorrow for Colombia and I will land in his absence into the loving embrace of my Saint-like Mother (and Randy). As was the original plan had I not come home early, mom will stay in KC until 6/19 when Ted gets back to get me back on sleeping schedule. So there will be a few days there where our family will span 3 different continents, each parent ironically to the continent of the children's birth. Nice for Ted though, that since I've passed embassy he knows the only thing between me and getting safely home is potential flight delays (but not adoption delays). We will all be together eventually.

I miss my boys at home, and a major snuggle time in mom's bed will be happening the evening of Saturday 6/13 when I collapse into it after being awake for 2 days straight.


Please pray for me on my flight. Please pray for Trent's fears and for his little heart and that the weeks we have spent together have planted some seeds of trust for him to follow me where we are going. After I get home, I'll be falling off the earth for the next 6 months or so through the period we all call "after the airport". It is a time of building stuff and trust learning and lots and lots and lots of sometimes uncomfortable adjustment for everyone. Little man is about to have his whole world ripped away from him, even more than before. Please keep our family in your thoughts and prayers..

and now I am off to enjoy our last 3 days in country!!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

That day I skipped down the road with an old lady and found my avacado guy.

So today I declared "Ethiopian B&B" day. I stuck to this declaration. It's is election day today, so I wanted to stick close just in case there were any rallies/riots popping up.

Prior to the last two nights, my sleep issues have involved falling asleep sitting up at 7pm and then waking up through the night multiple times. I was really excited to make it to 5am the other day. Since the night before Ted left, I'm now having a hard time falling asleep/relaxing, and then having to make myself get up at the right hour to my alarm.

Well as of this morning, all patterns have come full circle. I hit my alarm, then slept through it more, and then decided at 8:30am that I should get my butt out to the common area before they shut breakfast down on me. Usually, Ted and I are up a few hours just waiting for breakfast to open. I wandered out there straight out of bed (I decided we're all family now so they could live with my mascara everywhere). Then I came back in here and sat on my butt some more. Then I decided I should probably be less gross so the ladies could get into my room to do what they do everyday in here.

I then read all morning.

Then I decided I really did need to do something with myself on this day. I had already made a deal with myself that I needed to conquer new experiences with the street vendors here.

Being here is nothing like being in Bogota so let's just get that straight. In Bogota, I'm in the fancy pants part of town and I speak the language (or close enough to do what I want). There are parks every 5 minutes. There is every kind of store from street vendor to fancy mall. There are street people, but it is minimal. There is grass. The skin tones really vary in Colombia, so even though people are primarily Latino, there are also white people or Latino people with pretty light skin. I don't stand out nearly as much as I do here.

Here, I am luminescent and stop traffic. Most are very poor, and there are street folks and children everywhere. There are randomly new buildings, but mostly, there is a reason I'm not taking pictures, and that is because I am attempting to preserve dignity. I stand out so loudly, that to carry a photo taking device with me is spitting in the face of what these people are living in. I've never walked alone (ie: without a man) in Ethiopia before, so this was a maiden voyage. It's not that I feel unsafe. My biggest concern is just that someone who is not in their right mind will follow me and not let up (that did happen, but not too bad).

So I set out with nothing but a few birr for my street vendors and a bottled water (for the heat and altitude) so that when people want stuff I can wave my arms and they can see I have no wallet/purse.

So like I said, I'm luminescent and stop traffic. Like, cars stop to point. Groups of people turn around from what they are doing to point. An entire bar cheered. The most common reaction, however, was to practice your English skills on me... that is, unless you are female, in which case you could care less about my existence.

So I had gone about a mile or so in my chosen direction, when I was passing a little old lady (I'm talking 4.5 feet tall, looked about 80 years old but probably 65, about 3 teeth) and I think I accidentally brushed her hand.. and I turned to say some gesture of an "Oops sorry" where she then grabbed my hand. I thought we were just doing an awkward handshake then.. but then she wouldn't let go of my hand.. and then I think was explaining about how people hold hands when they walk. So, I do have some Amharic words, but they are directed at a child to "not bite" me, "sit", "give me that", and "it's time to play" etc. I didn't think any of these phrases fit the scenario. So I played muted and happy. So then she patted my hand, and kept talking (no idea....) and basically gestured that we were going to be holding hands and walking from henceforth. I laughed.. .okay.... so THIS is happening now..

So at intersections she wanted me to skip. So I skipped. We were quite the spectacle. I think she was telling the people that we passed that "she found a friend." After about 3 blocks of this, it was starting to get a bit awkward because I didn't really know how much longer this was going to be going on. Right around that time, she patted my hand and said "Caio!!" and ducked her head under one of the many tin lean-to's all along the road. Turns out that was her stop. So I kept going.

Good times.

Not too long after that, I saw I was coming up to a man begging in the road with stumps for legs at the shins. It was hot out. I had mostly sweat through my shirt. He was smiling with his hands out and bowed his head at people going past. Here's the thing about very handicapped people here, there are no services or welfare or problems for people with this level of disability here. If there are, I haven't heard of one. So here is when I regretted having nothing on me. So he got my bottled water. He gave me a low bow and kept smiling and saying "I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" which I think he meant as "thank you" and it was the only word he had. I saw him on my return trip and he had downed that water pretty quickly.

After an hour or so, I was getting back to my place of origin. Near the British Embassy, a group of young taxi drivers hang out. Ted and I had seen them on Friday when we were out mapping the area. They were a new level of friendly now that I didn't have a man with me. Not scary, just friendly. So all along this walk, while people practiced their English, there was also a lot of high fiving from kids and the occasional college aged male. So when the high fiving was offered from the taxi guys, there I was. One very friendly one caught my hand (again, not menacing) and says "I am Yari, and I really do love you with my hearts!!" This was met with lots of cheering from the group at his boldness and I laughed pretty hard and walked away.

I'm telling you, single ladies. Forget bars. Just take a walk over here and you will be HOT STUFF. As I told Ted today, if he ever leaves me, I have now found a line of new husbands in the Ethiopian taxi profession.

I had previously selected my avacado and banana people on my walk, and I got this taken care of. Today was not mango day, as tomorrow is mango day and I found that vendor as well. On my 2nd walk today in the opposite direction, I have also located a woman roasting corn on the side of the roundabout so that is happening too.

Behold, my spoils.

I am living off the land on this continent on the other side of the world from every friend and family member I have. I ate one of those fantastic avacadoes outside tonight while reading a book.

P.S. There was a British family with 2 Ethiopian twins about 5 years old that was here staying for a few days on family heritage trip. It's like Mary Poppins and the most stereotypical 50 year old British guy you could imagine. Add this to the list of things that are TOO AWESOME: 5 year old Ethiopian children running around with CRAZY British accents. It's the most adorable thing you have ever heard. "But Huuuuuuubert, whyyyyy won't you pass the teeeeeeeaa???? Seriously. I needed a recording device.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Trent hugs, Trent tests, and a sweet juice bar.

I couldn't come up with a catchy title, but after spending more time with my little man, I thought I could share more about what he can and cannot do as of yet.

Negatives first:
1. No words- perhaps the most striking developmental delay is his speech (or lack there of). He verbalizes and sings to himself, but no words. He communicates through gesture, however. I usually have a good idea what he wants or wants more of.
2. Attention seeking behavior- he spits, throws things, and sometimes hits. The thing about these behaviors, however, is that they are done with a smile. It's not a "stink eye" look, followed by this. I choose to completely ignore the spitting. Today, while we were having a bit of a "moment", he started spitting and was waiting for my reaction to fuss over it. I choose not to. Spitting is gross, but in his mind any attention is good attention, even if it is the nanny coming over to get you to stop doing that. I can't figure out if the throwing is just enjoying watching things fly or if he is trying to get attention for it. Jury still out on that one. Now, I did get a smack across the face today. He wasn't upset at me, and he was smiling. I think it was just a test to see what this nice lady will do when I hit her. He found out and his eyes went a little wide for a minute. He is learning that I give many many "yes"s, but my "no" is a firm no and I save it for when I need it. After spending the hours that we have together, the testing is coming out. This is fine, it's not like I didn't know it was coming.


1)I have been claimed- when I arrived today, I stepped through the door into the court yard and folks started yelling back to the toddler room to get Eskedar because his mommy was here. About 5 seconds later he toddles out and scans the yard and when he saw me the arms went up with a big smile and he started moving quick towards me. A bunch of nannies jumped out in front of him because he can't do the stairs unless he really concentrates and we were all worried about a face plant. Face plant averted, I scooped him up and got good hugs.
2)He problem solves- He can open stuff with his teeth. He tries to figure things out and how they work. I brought his "backpack of happiness" as it shall henceforth be called with a snack, pants pack, and some more toys. He knew there was good stuff in there. He tossed his snack container at one point before he knew there was snacks in there. It broke open and some goldfish flew out which was a very exciting development. Problem is, then he assumed that was how you open a snack container and he tried it again a few minutes later.
3) Even 10 seconds after he hit me across the face, he was still looking for my attention and to be near me.
4) We spent 20 minutes of our snack time eating Goldfish one by one on purpose. He puts out his little hand to ask for more and I say "Ebahke, emama" (please mom) and then I give him a Goldfish and we say "awo, Trenton Eskedar". He chews. If he wants another one he asks me again. So we did a dance of 50 practices of asking Mommy for something and Mommy saying yes. He seems to be pretty patient when he can tell that you are present and working towards it. One funny moment was when I motioned that he needed to sit down for me to give him something (as he had done about 3 times for me before), except this time he decided to be silly and he signed back to me to sit down too!
5) He has learned to do stuff that my kids at home can barely do. Example: So while we were playing, the nanny brought in what I think was supposed to be his morning snack or a small lunch. It was a roll of bread and an actual mug of really hot milk. He breaks up his roll to eat that so that was not an issue.. but I'm staring at this really hot milk like.. "what am I supposed to do with that? I wouldn't give my 7 year old that!" After awhile it cooled, and he was asking for it.. so I'm all trying to do hand over hand to help him because surely he can't do this and if he does its going to go everywhere and I'll be mopping it up. He was kind of fighting me on having my hands on his cup, but given some of his behaviors, I couldn't tell if he was trying to get away with something since I didn't know the rules of this. After what felt like many awkward attempts to help, I finally let him do it himself and prepared to ask for a mop. When I finally left him alone, he got one little hand underneath it, one hand on the handle, and curled all the way over and sipped his hot milk like a little old British man. I have a hilarious picture of this. My point, is that this kid has learned to DO stuff and has survived. He is doing something I don't let his brothers do. He spilled a little on his pants, but really people.
6) I'm starting to make an impression. Our time needed to be done for today so we picked up our toys and we walked hand in hand back to the toy room to send him with his nannies. With our visits in the past, he went back to nannies without much issue, because he doesn't really understand that we are mom and Dad. We aren't much different than every other adoptive family coming to pick up their kid in that they give him some attention and he sees them a few times and that is it. Today though you could tell a switch had flipped. He began a "sit in" when I took him back to the nannies. He wouldn't go with them and he sat down on the ground and the little sad eyes came out and the bottom lip came out and he wouldn't look at me or them. I think I turned around to try to lovingly steer him back over there, and the second I did he jumped up with arms up and jumped into me again. I had to pull him off for the nanny.

At that point I made a swift exit because clearly my standing there was not helping them get on with their day or helping him.

I also decided that I likely won't go back until it's custody day, which should be Monday, maybe Tuesday. There is no reason to show up there and play with him and snuggle him and then suddenly walk away and hurt him. He has been hurt enough. He doesn't need one single more tear that Mommy goes away. We've established he likes me and recognizes me, and I don't think he will forget that in the next 2 days. I don't anticipate any issue of him wanting to go in the car with me. So if the goal is to warm up and like each other, we accomplished that goal! No need for any more tears.

So after that, Sisay took me grocery shopping so that I have lunch items for him set up. After that, Sisay is like "I have to take care of you for Ted. How do you like juices?" and I'm like " I love juices!!" which resulted in Sisay taking me to a fantastic juice bar where they servie up bad boys like this.

Then my tummy was full of about 24 ounces of straight raspberry, strawberry, banana, mango, and probably other stuff. It was awesome.

Today I got his toy box in the room all set up and most of the babyproofing. I don't know how much notice I will get before I get to go take custody, so I want to be totally ready Monday morning.

Tomorrow I am declaring "Mommy's Ethiopian B&B" day. It's actually election day here tomorrow so I'm staying in other than possibly going on a walk. Books will be read. Spiritual tanks refilled. I may be getting my 4th son on Monday!