Sunday, May 16, 2010

Trip to Gladney Foster Care Center

On Wednesday morning of the week we were in Addis, the families and the children visit the foster care center. This is our first outing as a family, and, as our trip unfolded, it was my first trip thru Addis Ababa.

Once we made it to the foster care center, it looked exactly like I thought it would. We have all seen photos from many coffee ceremonies and many photos of our children in foster care. Everything looked like I thought it would until we got upstairs. The rooms where the babies slept were much smaller than I thought. They were happy, sunny places, but quite a lot smaller than I thought they would be.

We barely made it through the door of foster care center 1 before the special mother came and swept our little lady away from us. We ran into her a few more times, and each time the special mother and Zadie were playing and talking to each other. The care was evident between them. Zadie also had been dressed in her adorable traditional clothing.

The caregivers were all friendly. The children seemed happy and healthy. The older children were laughing and playing. We enjoyed moving room to room meeting the children, laughing with them. Giving hugs and kisses. Taking photos for moms and dads back home and delivering a few packages.

We made our way back to the coffee ceremony. The coffee was yummy. Popcorn topped off the ceremony. Then, when we were about to leave, Travis said, "We need to get Hayat (that's our Zadie) back, right?" She had not made it back to the coffee ceremony. When the special mother brought her back to us, the tears began to flow. My tears. Charlie's tears. The special mother's tears. She sent us away with blessings. Charlie and I gathered ourselves, and headed out. As we were walking to the cars, Charlie happened to look back. The special mother was standing on the balcony watching us walk away. She had tears in her eyes. My tears began to flow again. But knowing that our daughter's sweet, loving nature was nurtured by these caregivers is priceless.

The morning was such a lovely one. We saw the two beds where Zadie had slept while she was in Gladney's care. We even have her sweet little name card that hung over her bed. We met so many people who had taken care of our daughter. We also were able to thank the special mother who had developed a special relationship with Zadie over the months.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Zadie in Africa

Zadie's daddy posted many new photos of the little cutie in Africa on our mobileme. Click here to enjoy!

Monday, May 10, 2010

First Moments of Bonding

I tried my best to go in to the first days of bonding with no expectations, but I asked Charlie about 3 million times, "Do you think she is gonna love her mother and father?" And each time I asked, tears would well up in my eyes.

After the crazy day of trying to get to Addis from Gondar, we didn't know if we would meet Zadie Cakes on Monday night after the trip or if we'd have to wait until Tuesday morning. After our driver picked us up at the airport, we used his phone to call Travis who would tell us when we'd meet her.

Travis asked about our trip, chit-chatted a bit, THEN, he told us that he was waiting at the Bejoe house with our daughter!!! So, after all the months of waiting we had about 3 minutes to get ready. The emotions we big! But I can't describe them. Joy? Yes. Fear? Yep. Nervousness? Heck yeah. But there was no time to formulate.

We pulled up to to house, jumped out. I can't remember the walk into the house. I just remember opening the door and seeing the smallest little person sitting on the knee of a smiling man.

Somehow she ended up in my arms. Travis was snapping photos. Charlie and I had talked about not crying and being too emotional so that she wouldn't be scared. That conversation kept running through my mind. I had tears, but I kept laughing and laughing. I must have been bouncing her, because at one point Travis said, "Now remember, she just ate. I wouldn't bounce her too much."

Then somehow she ended up in Charlie's arms. The sight of the two of them together made me cry. But I kept thinking - I want her to think that we are sane people. So I held it together.

All of this happened in about 4 minutes. 4 minutes that changed our lives forever.

(the photos were taken over the next 2-3 days - and, by the way, she does love her mother and father!!!!!)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Life at the Bejoe House

Our first few days as parents took place at the Bejoe House in Addis Ababa, ET. It is a modest house, surrounded by a wall lined with barbed wire and manned by a guard (as is most residences in Addis), but it is a place of comfort and love.

We happened to travel with two great families - the Mullins and the Kopchas. They only added to the wonderful atmosphere of the Bejoe House.

Each morning the ladies made a delicious breakfast. They set the table for us, served us just like mom would and then held our babies so we could enjoy the nice breakfast in peace.

If you leave a random piece of clothing on the floor, you will find it hanging on the line out back after the ladies of Bejoe have HANDWASHED it and hung it out to dry.

When I was sick, the sweet ladies offered to make me plain rice to help settle my tummy.

Each night we had turn down service.

Once I washed Zadie's bottles in the kitchen. When the manager of the house found out that I had washed the bottles myself she put her foot down. From then on out, we had clean bottles delivered to our room on a tray.

The small yard is immaculately kept with green grass, lovely flowers and crisp landscaping. It was lovely to sit outside in the California like weather in the charming yard chatting with the other families and playing with our new children.

Ethiopia was an adventure. Bejoe House was a home away from home.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


And we're home...

We arrived at RDU yesterday around 3:30pm to meet both grandmas, grandpa, a few aunts and uncles and one super cousin! After we deplaned, we snuck into the family restroom at RDU and put her traditional Ethiopian dress on to meet everyone. She was so cute!

Little Zadie Hayat slept from Addis to Amsterdam in the most extraordinary fashion. She could have qualified for a contortionist! This was an overnight flight so i thought this might happen and luckily is did... From Amsterdam to Detroit though, she stayed up the majority of the time but took a few naps. From Detroit to RDU, she really crashed hard. At this point, it was 10pm her time so Leanne and I both thought that she had been excellent under the circumstances. She met everyone and was a really happy little girl.

After all of that excitement, she crashed hard. She ate a new bottle and crashed out just after 5pm her time and slept until about 1am.

Very special thanks to the lady at the KLM desk in Addis Ababa. We had good window seats and I didn't notice a change until we boarded in Amsterdam. She had moved us to the bulkhead/bassinet seat and this made a huge huge difference! No one reclined into our space and we had plenty of room to move around and make the trip home... We didn't use the bassinet at all but just being on the bulkhead made the trip so much more enjoyable!

More later, we're still unpacking... Zadie had her first bath at home this morning and we conditioned her hair so the back isn't so crazy from sleep!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Last Night in Africa

We start our journey home tomorrow. I just can't believe it's almost over.

Our sweet little lady doesn't know what' s about to hit her!

I have loved every minute of this trip - well except for that 24 hours of torture that we call mystery disease.

Gondar was amazing. I think I learned more about myself and the world in those two days than I have in years. What a welcome to Africa. It was heartbreaking to see the hospital where our little girl was born. Never have I seen such need. It was uplifting to see the orphanage where Zadie was first relinquished. The man who runs that place is as close to a saint as I have ever met. He loves children and his town so much. We plan to get involved in some way to support this amazing, uplifting place full of hope.

Addis Ababa is a mix of old and new. You can see a 5 star hotel beside a herd of goats being led to slaughter on just about every street corner. The best coffee I have ever tasted with little children begging outside the coffee shop.

We plan to bring Zadie back once she is old enough to understand. What will Ethiopia look like then?

But for now, leaving will be bittersweet. The journey has been amazing.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

A Different Sort of Day

Today we visited an Ethiopian resort. Gorgeous. Abundant. Amazing. The crazy part is the resort is juxtaposed to deep poverty. Welcome to Ethiopia.

The bonding is continuing. What a sweet pea. She is definitely letting us know what she wants when she wants its. And her daddy comes running! Isn't that the way it's supposed to be!?!

I handed her over to one of the ladies who works in our guest house for a photo of them together. Zadie started crying. Then the sweet lady handed her back to me, and she stopped. The lady commented that it was amazing that she has bonded with her mommy so quickly. Priceless!