We woke up around 8:00 am and were grateful for the 8 hours of sleep. I started to get ready for the day to head down for breakfast and couldn't find a hair brush (looks like I forgot one). Instead of showering, we went down to breakfast (buffet is included with the cost of the room).
There were some other AGCI families there who had come early. They had toured the southern region and already had their babies. Sooooo tiny and adorable.
Breakfast was a buffet. Omelet or scrambled eggs made to order, dry bread (french toast?), sausage, lentil pocket (somosa?), cereal, fruit, juice, coffee. Oh the wonderful Ethiopian coffee. Yummmm.
I got a hair comb from one of the other families and headed back to the room the get ready and unpack. When we were up in Courtney's room, it was fun to look out across the street and see the kids playing soccer, a man carrying a huge load of sticks and a donkey walking through the soccer game. All so normal here. Such great sights.
We didn't have hardly any water pressure and no hot water yet, so it was a trickle of a shower and pretty chilly. Enough to get clean and get my hair washed. Our blow dryer didn't work so I just let my hair air dry (I kind of had some scary hair most of the trip- oh well). Chuck ran to the lobby to send an email home to say we were here and safe.
After we had a quick lunch in the hotel restaurant, we met Almaz for our meeting. She went over all the needed paperwork for the embassy appointment and gathered the funds for the visa's for the children. Only crisp and new looking bills are acceptable. She also gave us a quick run down on all the kids. A bit of their personalities and eating habits. Then it was time to head to HH. The moment we all were waiting for. Meeting our children.
The anticipation was so electric. Each and everyone of us could hardly contain our emotions. We went to HH in 2 groups and we were in the second group. The other families that rode their with us were able to video tape and take pictures because they had already met their children.
The dirt road that HH is on is hardly much of a road at all. Dirty and bumpy. I was trying to soak it all in so I could tell the boys someday. But it was so hard to concentrate. We drove in the gate and got out of the van and Almaz went to find the boys. Even now as I think back to that moment, the tears just pour down my cheeks. To have these precious children walk up and be introduced to you is almost unreal. Fikadu came to Chuck and gave him a hug. Almaz encouraged us to focus on him because he was nervous in meeting us. I could hardly catch my breath.
Here they were. Our sons. In our arms. Little strangers that God hand picked for our children.
I wish I could adequately put into words what we were feeling. Grateful. Here we were with our arms stretched out say "here we are...ready for you...ready to be here for you...no matter what".
We were so grateful for God's design. Grateful that we were chosen to be their much needed parents. Grateful they didn't initially kick and scream and cry.
You could tell from their eyes how unsure they were. Not exactly sure they understood that we were there, from a whole different land to be their mommy and daddy. I know Almaz explains to them, but I do wonder what they were thinking at that time.
Abush let me hold him all afternoon. He quickly heard a little music toy in my bag and was interested in it. Glad I had it to use to provide some kind of security. He held that toy up to his ear the whole afternoon. We just kept pushing the button to make the music play.
Chuck and Fikadu played with some of the toys we brought. Interactive toys were the best ones to have. Something to do together and allow the moments to be less intimidating. The helicopter toy was a hit. Along with balls and bubbles and cars.
We were able to take a little self guided tour around HH and saw where the children sleep. Somehow through the language barrier, we got Fikadu to show us his bed and room. At once the boys were in the same room, but one of them had been moved to be with other children closer to their ages.
Each time we walked into a room the special mothers called out the boys' names and showed affection. Abush was not interested in letting him be close to him at all. He did allow me to carry him in the sling and I wore him the rest of the day (actually the rest of the week).
It was time to head back to the hotel and eat some dinner. All the families piled in the van and the kids waved goodbye and off we went. As simple as that. All that work. All the time and energy you spend on the paperwork and planning and preparing and here they sit, with you in a van and you drive off. They are your children.
At the hotel, we gave the boys cups with water and they both chugged them down. I filled up the cup 3 times for Fikadu. He sure was a thirsty boy. We also gave them Cheerios and other snacks. They gobbled those up quickly too.
It is clear that Abush doesn't like it when he gets his way. Fikadu quickly gives anything up to please his little brother. One of the ways he cares for him. Their little friend Siti (Regina's daughter) came over for water and snacks and played with the boys.
We gave them a "stand up bath" with the trickle of water (kind of cold). Abush went first and cried the whole time. And then it was time for scabies lotion and new jammies. Fikadu did just fine in the bath.
Chuck ran to the lobby for something and Fikadu seemed sad when he left. I had thought all along that he would connect well with Chuck. Seems like my prediction was right.
We looked at some books and had more snacks and then it was time for bed. Fikadu seemed sad and scared at bed time. I was able to rub his back and sing him to sleep. Abush seemed tired and scared. I also rubbed his back and sang him to sleep too.
I had no idea of Fikadu would stay dry all night so I was up a few times to take him to the potty. Otherwise, both boys slept through the night. Chuck and I were wide awake the WHOLE night. Must have been too excited or alert to sleep.
My thoughts on how the boys are coping. Abush seems to disengage as his coping skill. He won't look at you or respond. He pulls away and turns himself away from you. He did look at me a few times, but only for a second. He babbled a little bit. Unlike some of the other kids from HH, he didn't cry when he is near us, but he does seem emotional distant. Fikadu warmed up to us as the day wore on. He was VERY timid at first, and stiff. But he was able to connect with Chuck and play together. He did let me sit near him while I rubbed his arm or back. Slow steps, all together great first day. And their responses to us are totally normal.
Dear Sweet Peas,
We have thought about this day for a very long time. The day we finally meet face to face. It is what we call our "gotcha day". The day that we will celebrate for years and years as a very special day in our family history.