Thursday, July 28, 2011

We are home!

 Tanya holding Zeland Eyob for the first time!
 Freshly grinding the coffee for lunch

 Local store
 Fresh meat market; live goats!
 local children

 Transition home
 Transition home

Sunday July 24th:
Today is a free day because the transition home is closed and we are unable to visit Zeland. We decided to hire a driver, along with two other couples Joi and Joel and Melissa and John, to explore the city of Addis Ababa. We headed out after breakfast with a pocket full of Birr (Ethiopian currency, which by the way exchages at a rate of 17-1). The first stop was Kaldi’s coffee shop, which is known in Ethiopia as Starbuck’s on steroids. Kaldis is named for the boy who discovered coffee in Ethiopia, at least that is what they told us. The coffee and pastries were awesome and the price was even better!
The next stop was Mount Entoto to visit a cultural museum, Ancient Palace, and an old church. It was an exciting ride up to the top of the mountain and great to learn about Zeland’s culture. From what we were told the views are amazing, however today the clouds were thick and it was raining so we were unable to see the city. After our guided tour at the museum, our driver Ephraim gave us a tour of the old palace. Then after a harrowing drive down the mountain in the rain, during which I could swear I heard Joel crying from the backseat, we headed to a market to try our luck at shopping. It was Sunday, so there were not many shops open which made the barganing even harder, but I love a good challenge. The shopping was fun and we found a number of things including, baskets, blankets, scarves, and toys at reasonable prices. I had to laugh when I found myself haggling over a few birr, which really equates to pennies in American money. After so much wheeling and dealing we were all starving so we decided to find a spot for lunch. We ended up at a restaurant that was recommended to Melissa, named Island Breeze. It was an eclectic place with 80’s music playing in the background that served brick oven pizza and nachos among other things. The food was great and so was the company.
After re-energizing ourselves we headed out to a local shop that sells coffee beans to purchase coffee to bring back home. Much to our delight coffee is a staple here in Ethiopia and you can’t go too far without finding a great coffee shop (speaking of coffee they actually roast and freshly grind our coffee by hand for each meal at the House of Hope. What a nice treat!) While I was in the shop buying coffee, Joel was out trying to make a deal with a gentleman that was selling clay pots and mugs for the traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony. We will experience a coffee ceremony on our next trip. Joel drives a hard bargin and worked the man down to practically nothing then decided that he didn’t want the pot after all, it was too big and would break on the plane. Well, our driver Ephraim thought that after all that Joel put the man through, he should buy something so he bought a small clay coffee pot (which has probably already broken in his luggage!) After buying some coffee we headed to another shopping area. This one was called the Post Office due to it’s proximity to the Addis Post Office. The deals were a little better here, but we had to be very careful and stay close to our driver Ephraim due to how busy the market was. It was here we bought several Africa trinkets, as well as a felt soccer ball for Zeland.
The next stop was a visit to a young woman who sells high quality scarves that happens to be a friend of Ephraim. The deals were not as good as the market, but the quality was far superior. We bought several scarves for Lily and Tanya, as well as a blanket for Zeland. Once again, after all this shopping we needed a pick me up so we stopped at, yet another Kaldi’s for a caramel macchiato and a pastry. This time we where able to finds a table outside to sit, as the weather had cleared up and the sun was out. Over coffee we discussed our children, both the ones here in Ethiopia, as well as the ones back home. After coffee Ephraim took us to one last market place so we could be sure to get the full Addis shopping experience. This last spot turned out to be the best. We all ended up with a number of things, including baskets, paintings, and even a knife, at great prices. With little birr left in our pockets it was time to head home, however we were hungry so we decided to stop for a quick dinner. We found a terrific little place that reminded me of a Manhattan bistro. The place had a very classy look so it was funny to see the menu. They served burgers, fries and sandwiches, which all happened to be awesome! By the time dinner was over it was nearly 9:00pm so we headed home to get a good night’s rest before getting to see the children again in the morning.

Monday July 25th;
After a light breakfast, we headed to the transition home for a visit with the children. This time we were joined by three other couples that had arrived late Saturday night and Early Monday morning. We had a great visit with Zeland. Tanya was able to feed him and give him a nap. I spent some time playing with a few other children at the transition home while Zeland napped. After the visit we headed back to the House of Hope for lunch.
Lunch is the biggest meal here in Ethiopia and we were never disappointed. The food was awesome and there was always plenty of it! Before lunch we ventured outside the House of Hope with the other couples to play with the children from the sourrounding area. Tanya and I had brought along beachballs and bubbles so we passed these out to the children who seemed to come at us from every direction. I played ball with a few of them, while others blew bubbles. It was fun for a while, but it become unsafe so the staff at the House of Hope asked us to come back inside the compound.  After lunch we sat around and talked with Joi and Joel and awaited our afternoon visit to the transition home.
Once again we had a great visit although we were concerned because we have yet to hear Zeland cry, not that we want him to cry, but it just didn’t seem right. After another great, however short, visit we headed back to the House of Hope for dinner. We had soup, injeria, potatoes and salad as well as fresh roasted coffee. After dinner we discussed our pending court date, which is Tuesday. It would be a difficult day. We would have court in the morning after breakfast then head back to the house of Hope for lunch, visit the children one last time and then head back to the House of Hope for dinner and then off to the airport. None of us wanted to talk about having to leave our children so instead we talked about our children back home and how much we couldn’t wait to get back to them. In addition to a 15 and a 13 year old, Joel and Joi have a  6 year old daughter Abbie that sounds a lot like Lily. We are anxious for the two to meet. After chatting for several hours we decided to go to bed as Tuesday was going to be a long day.

Tuesday & Wednesday July 26th & 27th (Court and then the long journey home)
Today is the day we go to the court in Addis to officially adopt Zeland. After breakfast the van picked us up and made the 30 minute journey to court. It was hectic in the streets, as today is a holy day here in Ethiopia (St. Gaberile’s day.) There were thousands of people in the streets chanting, singing and making there way to church.
Once we arrived at the court house we were wisked upstairs to a holding room where we were to wait for the judge to call our group. We arrived a little late due to the traffic, so when we got there they had no seats left, so we were forced to stand in the middle of the room (can you say awkward?) There were many people there including adopting couples, as well as birth parents who were there to give up their rights to their children. It was a very emotional. The first few groups that were called in to the judges office went vey quickly, however things then slowed down. We did find seats after a while. Tanya, Joi and Melissa found seats first and then Myself, John and Joel found a few across the room. However when I went to sit down my seat broke and I nearly feel to the floor. It caused quite a scene but at least it lightened the mood! While waiting the girls were planning their answers to the judge’s question while we talked bout music, 80’s movies and Kaldi’s. By this time I could no longer wait to go to the bathroom so our liaison Hermella took me down the hallway in a rush just in case they called our group while we where gone. Of course the second we left the room they called us to the Judge’s office.I ran back and once again was able to lighten the mood (hey as I said that is what I do!) So after two hours of waiting it was finally our turn. At this point the ladies had decided that the men should answer the Judges questions. We walked in with nervous anticipation and the six of us sat down in the judge’s office. The judge called out our Child’s names and we said that we were present. The judge then asked just five yes or no questions and that was it! All this build up for five, that’s right, five minutes. We celebrated by stopping a Kaldi’s on the way back to the House of Hope for a round of Carmel Macchiato. After another teriffic lunch we headed back early for a long vist with our children. This was the best one yet! Zeland was very active; rolling over, giggling even crying at one point when we wiped his runny nose. He could’t take his eyes off his mommy. They have formed a strong bond in just days. It was a great visit, but we knew in the back of our minds that we would be leaving him behind until our paperwork is approved and we can return to Ethiopia to bring him home forever. We knew this would be difficult, so we tried to stay strong and focus on the positive. Tanya handed Zeland over to one of the nannies then it was time to head back to the House of Hope for dinner, and then off to the airport for our long journey home. The CHI driver picked us up at 8:00pm took us to the airport and turned us over to a somewhat schetcy luggage handler. The airport was extremely busy and it took nearly two hours to get through security and customs. The plane took off a little after 11:00pm for Frankfurt the first leg of our journey home. We arrived in Frankfurt at 5:30am their time and the had an 8 hour layover before our flight to Boston, which is where I am typing this from now. We are tired, emotional and extremely anxious to get home to Lily, who we have missed so very much! Keep track of us as we await our MOWA letter which will make our adoption finalized. We expect it some time in the next three weeks and then we should travel some 4-6 weeks after that. We had an amazing journey and met lifelong friends, but this isn’t over until we bring Zeland home for good so stay tuned! 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Thursday July 21st & Friday July 22nd

We dropped off Lily at Mitch and Lexis’s house. It was tough to say goodbye for us, but she was as happy as could be! We stopped for a quick lunch and then headed for the airport. Our journey has begun. We arrived at Logan at 3:00pm, quickly went through security and then boarded our first flight at 5:00pm. We headed to Frankfurt Germany, which took a little less than 7 hours. We arrived at 6:00am Germany time. There we had 7 hours to ponder the next leg of our journey, a 7-hour flight to Addis Ababa. A pint, a pretzel and a nap later we boarded the plan at 1:15pm and landed in Addis Ababa at 9:00pm Ethiopian time (seven hour time difference.) There we got our visas, went through customs, exchanged our currency and then waited, and waited and waited for our luggage, which eventually did come. We then went through a sea of people to find Hermella, our CHI representative, who would take us to the hotel “The House of Hope”. By this time it was close to 11:00pm and we where totally whipped after a day and a half of travelling. The drive to the hotel was sketchy at best. Fortunately, Tanya was used to this after driving with me for so many years! The area surrounding the hotel, as well much of what we saw of Addis Ababa is very depressing. With make shift houses and stores. The hotel has a gated courtyard with 24-hour security. I don’t think we will be doing much adventuring on our own, although, the people here are all so beautiful and extremely polite. They greet you with a big smile and a welcome.

Saturday July 23rd:
Woke up this morning at 6:00am to the sound of prayers. Today is the day we finally get to meet little Z. We are so excited. The transition house is just a short drive from where we are staying.
Meeting Eyob: We arrived at the transition home with two other couples that are also meeting their little boys for the first time. Hermella brought in the other two children first and then it was our turn. Little Z is just that little, except for a pair of enormous feet! He is soo cute. We were able to spend a few hours with him, which gave us enough time to feed him, have him take a nap in our arms and take a zillion pictures and a few videos. We then headed back to the House of Hope for a wonderful lunch with our news friends. The food has been great so far. The injera bread with a spicy sauce for lunch was awesome!
We are planning to go back to the transition house this afternoon for another quick visit with the boys and then out to an authentic Ethiopian restaurant for dinner and a show. Tomorrow is a down day, so we are planning on catching up on some much needed rest.

The traditional Ethiopian restaurant was perfect. The food was awesome, as was the traditional dance and music.

Sunday July 24th:
So much for a day of rest. Tanya and I, along with two other couples, decided to hire a diver for the day to take us around Addis Ababa to see the sights. We plan to eat, shop and take many pictures, although it look like it is going to be a rainy day here in Addis.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Maine Coast and a surprise phone call!

Our friends, the Morrison's, from S. Dakota came to visit with us for a few weeks. While they were here we spent a week at the ocean. Lily and her friend, Quinn, had loads of fun on the beach and in the ocean. The time with the Morrison's went by too fast and we are already planning our next get together!

While we were in Maine we received a suprise  call from our adoption agency with news of our first travel date to Ethiopia to meet Zeland!!

We are finally traveling to Ethiopia!
Wow! We were totally caught off-guard. We received the call on Tuesday, July 5th and leave July 21st. We will be able to meet our little boy and spend time with him. However, the primary reason for this trip is for a court date. We will go to court and formally accept Zeland as our son. We will then come home and wait to hear when we will travel back to bring him home forever (we expect this will be sometime in September.) At this time we are unable to post pictures until our adoption is approved by the Ethiopian court and the MOWA. We will post pictures as soon as we can, I promise!