Saturday, October 10, 2009
I know that I blogged this one out of order, but thats because it was the hardest to talk about. Not because it was so busy or anything, but because there were so many emotions going through my mind.
Today was the day we left the city and headed out to Durame. This is a city that is about 5 hours outside of Addis. It is 10 miles off the highway on a dirt road, and is very isolated. The reason we went there, is that is where the intake center for Holt International Ethiopia is. What that means, is that is where the kids that are adopted live before they come to Addis and the Transition Center. This is where they undergo the medical testing, and the court procedures that make the free for adoption.
This is also where the boys lived before, well close to it. They lived about 20 miles away in another village. This is also where we got to meet the birth Mother. This was a bittersweet experience for us. We were nervous, but also excited. We walked into a room with about 8 other birth parents. We looked around, trying to find which one was the boys birth Mom. But we did not see her. We had to wait about 20 minutes, until it was our turn to go into a back room and meet with the 2 translators-Kimbatta to Ahmraic to English- and meet her face to face.
Our first thought was, it is clear who the boys look like. She is a small woman, and she was dressed like a traditional Ethiopian woman. From the moment we sat down, she was already crying. We asked her some basic questions, and discovered what time of day the boys were born, and how and why their birth Father died.
But she was most concerned with the idea that the boys needed to come see her someday. She told us that relinquishing them was the hardest thing she ever did, but she has no choice. She told us more about what she meant by that, and we understand how hard it was for her. I think the thing that hit us the hardest, was the fact that this village the boys came from was about 20 miles from the intake center. They told us that she walked all that way, carrying the boys knowing that at the end of her trip they would stay there, and she would return home empty handed. I cant imagine how she felt, or how hard that was. She told us she did it save their life, and I am sure that is true.
It was a very emotional moving day, and very hard, but very good as well.
Much of the day was spent returning from Durame. On the way home, we made some stops at a woman's health clinic that is supported by Holt International. But the highlight of the day was taking official custody of the boys.
When we first got the referral, we went to build-a-bear and got some bears made. So when we went over to the center for pick them up, we brought those bears. As they came down the stairs and ran to us, we hugged them, gave them the bear and then a few minutes later walked out with them in our arms.
Tegan knew what was happening and was so excited that he got to go with us to the hotel. Preston was excited, though he did not necessarily know why! It was so much fun to give them their very first bath and dress them in their new clothes. To be able to feed them, and tuck them into bed. We are so blessed and so excited that we get to be parents.
I decided to combine these 2 days, as while they are important there is not a lot happening. We are not allowed to take our children outside the hotel, the government has asked that for various reasons, so we have to stay inside. We just spent this time getting to know the kids, and watching their personalities emerge. We spent a lot of time playing and tickling, and packing for our trip home.
On we, morning, we did have the farewell ceremony. What this is, is the chance for the boys to wear traditional Ethiopian clothes, as well as just mark the occasion of moving on from the Transition enter into a forever family.
The boys looked so handsome, and had so much fun saying goodbye to their friends and nannies who have taken care of them since April. They are very special and are so glad that they are ours!
Posted by Ransom Family 4 at 5:04 AM
Today was spent learning some cultural and other aspects of Ethiopian life, as well as time with the boys! The next morning we will be heading to a village called Durame, about 5 hours outside of Addis. There we will see where the boys first lived when they came into care, as well as where they grew up and meet their birth Mom.
We started by visiting the Ethiopian museum, which is famous for the skeleton of Lucy. It was actually on loan to some other museum so we did not get to see it. The afternoon was spent at the transition center, and just hanging out with the boys. It is such an amazing feeling to know that they recognize us and love us and want to see us. Knowing that we will not see them again until Monday afternoon is hard, but going to Durame and meeting the birth Mother is something that we must do, and something that will pay off in the long run.
Some people went to a Cultural dinner that explained a little more about the traditions, but we were so tired, we just went to bed.
Posted by Ransom Family 4 at 4:42 AM
Our day began really early. We could not sleep, so around 6:30 we went outside and explored the area around our hotel. It was in a residential area, so we got a feel of what real life is more like. We got back to the hotel, and just counted down the hours till we could see our boys for the first time.
Our hotel is right next to the transition center, where the kids were living. So we could lean out of our 3rd story window, and look right onto the balcony of their house. So of course we did that, hoping that we could catch a glimpse of the boys. We did not really expect to, but we could hope right! Well, a group of toddler boys came out, and much to our surprise we saw this boy holding a book that we recognized. It was actually the family book we sent the boys in June. So realized it was Tegan Mesfin and got so excited. He had seen us hanging out the window, recognized us, and ran and gotten his book. We started crying, and could not wait to see them.
Finally the time came. They took us to the rooms where the kids were, opened the door and told us your youngest boy, Preston Amama is in here. I saw him instantly, and he ran over and gave us a huge hug. As we are hugging and crying, his big brother Tegan Mesfin comes in as well. He jumps into my arms, and for the very first time we are a family.
We spent some time with them just playing and hugging, and getting to know each other. Tegan actually has a good command of English. He understands a lot, and can count to 11, say his A.B,C's and can copy me when I say " I love you." They are amazing boys....
We went to dinner at this authentic Chinese restaurant, and we ate great Chinese food. We asked the chef in Chinese if they could cook us some of our favorite dishes that were not on the menu, and they did. We later found out that the reason Ethiopia has such a Chinese feel, is that China is building their roads and over passes and sidewalks. China has a lot of people who live and work there. It was fun to use our Chinese in Africa.
Posted by Ransom Family 4 at 4:41 AM
Today was the day we had finally dreamed about. After all this planning and frustration, and excitement we were on our way to Ethiopia! We left Portland very early, so we checked into a hotel at the airport the night before, and we actually got some sleep.
Our flight to Min. and then onto Amsterdam was very uneventful and I actually got quite a bit of rest, something that never happens for me on a plane. We thought that each step of the way, we would get more excited, but I guess the face that we were almost there was not hitting us yet. Finally after about 20 hours in the air, we are almost there. We just had to stop in Sudan for one hour. We did not have to get off the plane, but some people did get off. One thing I realized, is that from the air, Sudan looks like you imagine it does. We had to circle for a while, as the one runway in that airport was closed due to some important person there. It was also filled with UN planes, which was kinda cool.
Finally we landed in Addis Ababa, and stepped out into the Africa air. Before we could go meet our group, we had to get our visa and go through customs. We live and work in a very crowded country, and are used to pushing our way through crowds, but this was un-like anything we had done before. The lines to do these things were just a solid mass of humanity. It was so much fun.
Eventually we work our way through everything, and ,meet up with the other 9 families from Holt who are there to pick up their kids as well.
The drive to the hotel was at night, so my fist impression of Africa was hindered. But the one thing that stood out was it felt and looked like China. We found out later there is a reason for that...
We got to our hotel, unpacked and went to sleep knowing in the moring we would meet our boys!
Posted by Ransom Family 4 at 4:15 AM