Mama (Anne) & Reese

Daddy (Mike) & Lilly


This book is a MUST read for all interested in Ethiopian adoption.

Melissa Fay Greene

Here's a great video summary of the book by MF Greene and here is the full length version

Thursday, March 22, 2007

day 1 in ethiopia---we're here!!!

The flight went surprisingly fast, and I (Anne) barely slept--too excited (bad decision on my part) . When we landed it was 8:30 thursday morning, so it would have been best to get as much rest as possible on the plane! Oops. After leaving behind a cold march morning in Washington, DC, we landed down in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where is it warm (not too hot) and sunny with a nice breeze. The landscape looked beautiful- many mountains and hills with farms in the country side. It looks very different than Maryland from up here! We sped through the visa line, and were greeted by Abby and Ryan who work for Gladney (our adoption agency) and currently live in Ethiopia (couple on the far right in the picture). They moved here in the Fall to be the liasons between the Gladney families and the caregivers/adoptive children, etc... and they do an amazing job! They adopted a little Ethiopian boy, Enoch, a little over a year ago after helping him undergo extensive surgery. A fantastic Ethiopian gentlman named Belay coordinates with the state-run orphanages, carves through the beauracracy, and handles most of the legal stuff. He seems to know everyone in Ethiopia and just works miracles. The three of them handled the Ethiopia-side of our adoption. Many many thanks to Belay, Ryan and Abby. The three adoptive couples managed to stuff all of our many bags into the cars (each of us had two bags full of diapers and formula for the orphanage plus bags of baby clothes, and oh yes a few items for us parents to wear also). We then met our drivers. Each couple has their own personal driver, which we quickly learned is essential in Addis- the city is confusing and public transportation would be very challenging with a baby; not to mention that we wouldn't even know where to say we are trying to get to! Our drivers were our lifelines during the trip! We joke that they were our drivers/tour guides/personal shoppers/negotiators/translators/historians, etc.... Our driver's name was Tafesse. He was the best! Besides everything else, he gave me a phone that would make it possible for me to be in contact with family back home and people in Ethiopia. Thanks Tafesse, you made our time in Ethiopia go so smoothly. We quickly checked into the hotel and off we were to the foster home. Gladney runs a home here in Addis Ababa where the babies live. There are anywhere up to 12 babies and approximately 6 caregivers working at any time. That's a great ratio! They clearly loved and took care of our little lady... they certainly made sure that she ate well! :-) The caregivers cried when we picked up the children- and one young woman even made homemade gifts for them. How incredible! emotional rollercoaster- more of day 1 in ethiopia

Today felt like about a year long. I am sure that the jet lag had something to do with it. But, I think that we are on emotional overload. Just being in Ethiopia is a bit emotionally overwhleming for me. It was difficult to see the poverty and hardship many of the people live with, and we're in the most developed city in the country. I can only begin to imagine what it could be like in the countryside. There are large neighborhoods/shanties throughout the city; even surrounding our hotel.
Then, we're tired, very tired. We went to the Gladney Foster home within a few hours of arriving in Addis to get Alem (we are using her Ethiopian name while here: (1) so that she's not confused by one more thing and (2) because when we introduce her to others while here, Alem is very common to them). The flood of emotions we experienced upon meeting her for the first time were difficult to process. We are overjoyed to finally have her, but she reacted to us as if to say, "who in the world are you?". She has clearly been well-fed during her time in the Gladney foster home, but she is bigger than we thought! Almost nothing that we brought fits her! Then, the formula we brought (which ironically was supposed to be premium and gentler on babies' stomachs) made her sick, so poor Alem threw up pretty much everything for the first day. Thankfully, the Brophy's (the couple from NY) brought extra formula and were in the same hotel as us and so we were able to get some from them that didn't make her throw up.
Alem cried quite a bit today. She seems visibly uncomfortable with us, which is to be expected I guess. Poor thing. How many transitions can a baby handle in 7 short months of life? When we are out in public and she cries, I feel so insecure, imagining that people are looking at me thinking, "See this white woman can't take care of that baby." Not that anyone said anything even close to that in Ethiopia. In fact, the Ethiopians we have met were as sweet and supportive as one could hope for toward adotive familes. Many people said "lucky baby." But, my insecurities weren't really based on reality anyways. Then, we called back home at the end of the first day and spoke to Reese and that kind of put us over the edge. We miss her so much and she misses us, and here we are in Africa with this child who isn't so keen on us. Hopefully tomorrow will be easier.