Saturday, January 14, 2012

Ethiopia Day 2

Day 2 was the day we would get to meet Elliana-Geneme.  [as a side note, you may notice that I refer to her in some posts as Geneme -- this is her given Ethiopian name, and honestly, I have grown quite fond of it.  When she comes home, there will likely be a transition period in which we will have to call her Ellie-Geneme for a while, and then eventually drop the Geneme.  It is pronounced  Ga - nim- E]

Finally after  months of looking at pictures we would see her face to face. Would she like us?  Would she cry? Would we cry?  What if she screamed and hated us?  We were both unbelievably nervous.  I stressed over what to wear (silly, i know)...

At breakfast in the Guest Home, we met up with Joseph and Melissa again, and also met some new friends -- Tom and Liz from North Carolina and Mike and Rachele from Washington.  Tom and Liz are with CWA and adopting an 8 year old boy.  Mike and Rachelle were with another agency and adopting a 20 month old boy.  We all chatted anxiously about our first meeting and quizzed Mike and Rachelle about their experience [since they had met their son a few days earlier].  Soon, our driver arrived and it was time to go.  I had a huge lump in my throat and no matter how much I swallowed, it remained.
A picture of us as we were leaving the Guest Home to meet
Elliana for the first time! 
The drive to her foster home was humbling.  It took us through several villages.  Addis had areas that look similar to some cities, but dotted all along the dirt roads, highways and streets are reminders of the poverty  that surrounds Ethiopia.  The people are so beautiful and such hard workers.  There were cattle and goats all along the road right behind their shepherd, who was sometimes just  a boy.  The traffic is crazy and there are apparently no rules.

A shepherd and his goats on the road
We swung by another guest home and picked up another CWA family, Brian, Jeanne and their daughter, Sela.   Together we chatted and rode to the care home where all of our kids were staying.  All of our children were from the same orphanage.   Finally, after about a 20 or 30 minute drive [I seemed to have lost track of time] we arrived at the Care Home called Acacia Village.  [Acacia Village is owned and operated by our Agency.  All of the children here are either in the court process, or waiting for their Embassy appointment].  As the gates opened to allow our van in and revealed the facility, we all fought back tears.

Acacia Village
The moment that we have dreamt about for so many months was about to happen!  Surreal is the only way to describe it.   We meet Helen, who is the manager of the home and the one who takes all of the pictures of Geneme.  One by one the nannies brought out the babies to each family.  It was so sweet to see the first introductions of these children with their forever families.  I could not hold in my emotions.  All of the families found a private spot to get to know their little ones.  But, we remained at the bottom of the stairs.  Helen said they were changing Geneme and finishing her hair.  I could hear a faint cry up stairs, and I was praying it wasn't Geneme as they were doing her hair!  I wondered if she was nervous too?  It seemed like we waited a long time at the bottom of the steps, but I'm sure it was only a few minutes.

 Then, we saw feet coming down the stairs.  It was like anticipating a bride coming down the aisle.  Guess who they were holding!   Sweet Elliana Geneme Jayne.  She was more beautiful than we imagined.  We both choked back tears.  Elliana probably thought we were a bunch of blubbering idiots. :)  She was so scared and reserved.  Eye contact was difficult at first but she began to warm up.  She seems to hide her feelings.  Occasionally, she would pucker her lip and a lonely tear would stream down her face.  I just couldn't help but wonder what was going through her precious mind.  She would sit on my lap and occasionally look up, but then quickly look away.  We showed her the photo book we brought for her and she turned the pages and looked.  She seemed intrigued with the pictures of herself.  She's probably never looked at a picture of herself before.
Right after our first meeting.  Elliana was very frightened

After being there for about an hour, they brought us her snack to feed to her.  It was a thick oatmeal cereal with fruit.  She wanted nothing to do with it at first, but then she allowed me to feed her. Yay!  Success.  I was surprised at the amount of food they fed her.  It was a lot!

After snack and a little more time together, it was time for lunch.  We took her up with the nanny and other toddlers, but I was still able to feed her.  They had rice and beans for lunch.  The nanny fed the other 5 toddlers, and let me tell you, they have a system!   Each child has her own spoon and bowl.  The nanny would continue going in the same order giving each child an over-sized bite of rice and beans (a huge spoonful).  Then she would start back over at the beginning.  I can see why they give them such a big bite -- it's to occupy them until they get back around for the next bite!  Elliana seemed comfortable with her peers and she sat beside one little girl and they would almost hold hands and pat each other.  So precious.

After lunch, all of the toddlers waddle down the hall and sit on their own potty.  Some of the children are only 12 months old!  I am amazed how they all just sit there... for a long time...  The nanny sings songs that has arm and hand motions while they are sitting.  The children were so proud when they would go!  Elliana was successful {even with 2 strangers standing there watching -- probably creepy, now that I think about it!}

After potty time, all of the toddlers went down for their naps.  We took Elliana with us downstairs where the staff prepared a coffee ceremony for us.  She fell asleep in our arms. It was so precious.  When it was time to leave, we took her upstairs and layed her in her crib.  I was surprised how 'at peace' I felt when we left her.  The staff at Acacia Village really love the children and it was a bright, clean and cheery place.

Elliana sleeping during the Coffee Ceremony
Elliana's crib (and her sleeping in it)
After our visit, some of us went to the Hilton for lunch.  The Hilton is a beautiful hotel with all the amenities of home! For a brief moment, we almost forgot we were in Africa.  But, as soon as we drove out of the Hilton, it was back to the reality of where we were.  Brad and I had a cheeseburger, fries and a coke.  That was pretty normal food!  Although, they did try to put a fried egg on our hamburger.  We graciously said, no thanks."  :)

After lunch, we went back to the guest house and crashed as we tried to process our first two days in Ethiopia!
Coke Light (aka - Diet Coke)
Lunch with some CWA families at the Hilton
One of the pools at the Hilton

1 comment:

  1. This is such a beautiful God story..... I cannot wait until Day 3! Love It!
    Dani H