Outside our Guest House:
Getting into Addis was quite a blur. The plane ride here was nothing short of perfect, for when we departed DC for London, we had a free seat in our row. I think I slept at least 5 hours- awesome. When we changed planes in London? Free seat score #2! We can only hope this will happen on the way back, but I bet Murphy's law will prevent that bonus from happening when we need it most. The bummer about London -> Ethiopia as that it was a smaller plane, thus the giant movie library we enjoyed on previous flights was replaced by a movie schedule, and I can't say I was enticed by the provided documentary about the olympics in China. Regardless, the extra space was delightful. Our driver was ready and waiting when we past through the long customs lines, and we got to our Guest House around midnight. The accommodations are significantly better than those of the last trip, and that said, we slept like babies on the first night in.
At breakfast on Sunday, we were greeted by Niki Gourley, whom I'd met a few weeks back on my excursion to Baltimore. We met her husband Steve, and newly acquired baby Yoseph, who has the biggest, widest eyes, toothy grin, and affinity for drumming on anything his hands can thump against.
The other family here, the Lains, are a fun, friendly, adventurous clan of 4, soon to be 5 when their Ethiopian daughter's adoption goes through. They are from the states, but have been living in Mongolia the past few years. Need I say more to prove they are super interesting to talk to? :)
Patrick's last post covers the events of our Sunday, with church and a trip to the mountain tops. I have to add here how cool it is to be in this country again and be able to experience a little more of the land and the culture. The last trip didn't lend itself to hardly any sightseeing or the like - it was: Get in. Go to court. Get out.
Monday: THE DAY we've been waiting for. It was really hard to arrive on Saturday night, knowing we wouldn't get to see Acacia until Monday morning. So, when the moment finally came, we found ourselves back in the same room we'd said our goodbyes 4 months prior. It had been repainted, and along with some new furniture, it was now a much more pleasant environment (although my happier sentiments may also have helped). When a nanny rounded the corner with our daughter, she burst into tears at the handoff. Perhaps she'd been holding a grudge since our last visit. (Where did those fun people go, and why did they leave behind all these pictures of themselves?!?) I took it as a good sign that she had some attachment to her caregivers.
We made our peace over a bowl of porridge, followed by a short nap. The feeling of her little body and soft belly snuggled against my chest was something I'd missed beyond belief. By lunch time, we'd packed her up (which was easy, she only owned the two things we'd given her), and poof! she was our responsibility. Upon leaving, the director told us that she truly enjoyed our daughter, that she has her own unique way of communicating, and that she needs someone to unlock her smile.
Well, I'd say it took about an hour. I thought she'd be a major challenge when it came to the expression department, but that little girl was ready to be done with institutionalized life. She smiles, and smirks, and giggles amongst all the frowns. She blows lots of raspberries. She shows clear and incredible pride when she accomplishes a small goal, like bending down to pick up a small object without falling on her bum. When something drops to the floor, she makes a huge deal about it, gasping and pointing even if it's a practically invisible crumb of food. She despises the beginning of a diaper change, but cooperates considerably by lifting her legs to help me.
Our first night, when I put her to bed, I found that she rocks herself side to side to fall asleep. It was both the cutest and saddest thing I've ever seen. When she was officially out, still sitting up and slumped over, I leaned her back and she settled onto her tummy, wiggling her bottom like a happy puppy. She only made one squeak all night long.
When we rose in the AM, she looked a little surprised, but broke into a huge grin. No baby, it's not a dream... you really do have a family! I will remember this moment when I'm stuck in an airplane over the Atlantic, and she's clearly not so happy with me. I know this is the "honeymoon phase," but I am currently intent on enjoying this African honeymoon.
First night with Mom and Dad!