Thursday, December 30, 2010

October 20th (Day 6)

Our gotcha day!!!!!

Around midmorning Matt and I headed to the Gladney Foster care to pick up Solomon along with the Lovin family to pick up their son. (Now I can't remember why we went there instead of having him come to us....maybe because Travis had an appointment and couldn't bring him?) So we went first. We met Michael (in country staff member) outside of the care center and decided that we wanted him to bring Solomon out to us instead of us having to take him out of the care center. So we nervously waited outside the gate as he went upstairs to go get him. I started tearing up listening to all of the care givers say good bye to him and thinking about all he was losing. This almost 11 month old had been living here at Gladney for 8 months. This life was all he knew and he was losing it all to go be with two strangers. He had no idea what was in store with these people he was about to leave with. I just couldn't imagine what he was thinking.

Finally Michael walked through the gates with him. After talking to him for awhile I reached out to hold him.  He looked terrified. Matt and I continued to talk to him and try our best to comfort him as he looked pretty scared. I walked around with him as the Lovins met their son.

We got in the car and that is when the tears started coming from Solomon. He clung to me and was terrified of the car...luckily our guesthouse was pretty close. When we got to the guesthouse he just crashed and slept for about 2 hours with his daddy. I just stayed awake and watched his sleep.

Then it was time for his first bottle from daddy.

Then later that day Solomon played with his cribmate Tate Plumb and guesthouse roommate John Lovin.

We're a family!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

October 19th (Day 5)

court date, visited Solomon, lunch, sight seeing, process group

I remember waking up this morning being so nervous, even though the Lovin family had briefed us on their experience from the day before. (Of course this was when there were two separate court dates on different days, our MOWA date had happened two weeks earlier) I couldn't eat breakfast and I just remember being very emotional thinking about everything that had led us up to this point. We went first to meet the Gladney lawyer, a woman, who reviewed some of the common questions that the judge might ask. She was very straight forward/ matter of fact. We then went to the court room and waited in a room being one of the first families there. Then other families starting coming in including parents who were there to relinquish their rights with their children. I remember trying to hold back tears thinking about it and thinking that Solomon's mom had been here just a few weeks ago. The lawyer sat across the room and seemed as if she was trying to get us in quickly. We waited awhile and were the second family called in. The judge sat behind a desk and was very soft spoken. She asked us a few questions while filling out paperwork, all yes/no such as :

Is this child referred to you, have you met him, do you plan to incorporate ethiopian culture, do you have biological children, does your family know about the adoption, are they supportive, and maybe a few more. 

Then she said "she is yours" (even though Solomon is a boy). Matt and I looked at each other and just smiled and left the room. Matt said he had turned around and thanked the judge and she smiled at him. We were parents it was such an exciting, overwhelming moment. 

After our court date we were able to go visit Solomon. This visit was amazing! The caregivers were different this time. When we walked in Solomon was sleeping in his crib, they woke him up and handed him right over to us. The whole time they were trying to make him smile, showing us his skills, and encouraging us to be with him. 
(Our first family picture)

We stayed and played with him and some of the other children in his room. It was a great visit. (At this point we had decided to go to Awassa, where Solomon is from, over the weekend and take placement as soon as we got back).

After our visit we went to Top View restaurant (another good place to eat) with the Lovins, Plumbs and in country staff Travis, Joanna, and Belay. 
(View from Top View)

It was at this meeting that we learned that our embassy date was going to be Thanksgiving week...woah. We had been hoping we would be home before then but here is why. Apparently it takes a mandatory 3 weeks for the birth certificate and other paperwork to be completed. Gladney gets 10 appointment slots every other Thursday with the US embassy and since 10 families had just had court dates the week before us it moved us to Thanksgiving week. (of course this may have changed...since things are always changing). 

After talking with the in country staff we (us and the Lovin family) decided that we were not going to go to Awassa and that we wanted to take placement of the boys ASAP. So we decided that tomorrow we would go to the care center and Michael (in country staff) would bring us the boys. AHHH!!

We then went to the Alert Hospital gift shop and watched the men and women make their beautiful crafts. They had lots of pot holders, napkins, table cloths, pillow covers, blankets, clothes, and other items for sell. 

We then went and got some coffee before we had a processing group held at the Gladney office just to talk about our process and things to think about in future with adopting Ethiopian children. The woman leading the group had some nice insight and helped us think more about future issues that might arise. We were once again with the Lovin family and felt comfortable enough talking about our children's stories when asked by the counselor. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

October 18th (Day 4)

 eating, shopping, sightseeing

On October 18th the Lovins had their court date and Matt and I stayed in at our guesthouse and just relaxed for awhile. We were told that we might get to visit Solomon if the Lovins got back in time but unfortunately we were not able to. Our guesthouse was located pretty far from the court building.  Gladney only allowed us to visit around 9-10am. Well we decided to celebrate the Lovin family passing court and went to have lunch at the Lime Tree. This place became one of our favorites to eat at. They have an amazing Lime juice that I got every single time we ate there...they had lots of desserts that looked amazing but I never got any. We were all still pretty jet lagged but decided to go shopping.

We went to the souvenir shops near the post office area.  You can negotiate your prices here, but Matt and I were not very good at we were still figuring out price conversion. I would suggest taking a calculator. We ended up getting some wooden animals, a ball for Solomon, a tea set and a few other things. There are lots of beggars around this was pretty heart breaking.

We then drove up to Entoto mountain area and stopped along the side of the road to take a few pictures. These pictures were taken with our video camera as our camera battery was dead. There are woman who carry eucalyptus branches down the mountain...don't know how they do it. 

 The Lovins decided to go back and rest at the guesthouse. Matt and I wanted to do some more sightseeing so we asked our driver what he recommended doing and he suggested the Lion Zoo. I had heard that it was pretty sad and not much to see, but our driver was so excited about taking us that we decided to go. The animals are kept in small concrete cages.

Our wonderful driver, Solomon, knew how to make this baboon do some tricks such as opening his mouth and had the crowd of people laughing. Watching him do this was the best part. We also had some people from Asia who wanted to take a picture with us..kind of strange this happened several more times throughout our time in Ethiopia.

We then went to Lucy's for dinner for our last night as a couple of two. Lucy's was also another restaurant I would recommend. We had so much excitement/nervousness to think that tomorrow we would hopefully be granted the right to parent our little man. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

October 17th (Day 3)

Our Guesthouse, Meeting the Lovins, Meeting our driver -Solomon, MEETING SOLOMON!!! and seeing Ethiopia

So after leaving the airport we drove to our guesthouse to drop off our luggage and pick up the Lovins to go meet our boys. We stayed at the BnB guesthouse It was basically a two bedroom apartment that we split with the Lovin family. It is new and owned by a Gladney driver - Hennock. The guesthouse had a kitchen with an oven and fridge,  a dinning area, and a living area with lots of couches. The bathroom had a shower tub combo. In the living room there was a wall of windows that would get tons of sunlight and become quite warm in the mornings. There was a balcony with a beautiful view of the mountains and all the construction that is going on.
(Matt out on the balcony)
The Bnb is located close to the Gladney care centers and out of the city area. The power went out frequently at 6pm. So bring a flashlight. There were two sweet girls who we lovingly referred to as the "ishi girls", because that is all they seemed to say, who cooked us breakfast and cleaned for us. The breakfast of eggs, pancakes, cereal and bread was the same every single day for the 3 weeks we stayed here :) Right next door to our apartment was a one bedroom apartment where the sweet Plumb family stayed!

So before traveling, Joanna Lovin and I had arranged to stay together and share a driver as we figured we would have the same embassy dates and be there together. Never did we think we would be there 6 weeks together but we were and I would not have made it without her. God totally looked out for me and provided me with just the right person I needed. It could have been really bad sharing an apartment and driver with someone who I had never "met" but it worked out sooo well. Even the husbands got along and liked each other.
(Travis and Joanna)

So after meeting the Lovins we changed out of the clothes we had been wearing for three days quickly freshened up as much as we could and headed out to the care center to meet Selamu aka Solomon. Our amazing driver - Solomon - picked us up. Driver Solomon was THE BEST and I highly recommend him if you could pick your driver. I just can't say enough wonderful things about this man. He took such good care of us and made our stay that much better.

So on our way to meet our son so many feelings were going on through my head..would he come to us, would he let us hold him, would we recognize him, what would his personality be like??
(on our way to meet Solomon)

So we arrived at Solomon's care center with the Lovins so they could meet their son for the first time as well. We went in their child's room and then went upstairs to see Solomon. As soon as we turned to go up the last flight of stairs I saw him playing on the play mat in his room!! We walked right in and sat on the floor to play with him and his roommates. Cautiously we picked him up and he seemed ok with us holding him. We were told we had an hour with him. 

(Don't you love those big eyes and chubby cheeks??)

Nobody introduced us as his "parents" but I guess the caregivers figured it out. After about 10 minutes one of them came and took him to feed him away from us. His room was pretty small and crowded with us in there. The other caregivers were encouraging her to let us feed him but she wouldn't so it got kind of awkward.  We played for a bit more with the other children in the room and then left :( It was a strange visit. I was really expecting them to be more encouraging of us to be with him and do things for him but that didn't happen on this visit. I understand that he has been there for 8 months and these caregivers grow very attached but at the same time all I wanted to do was love on my baby. I was happy he let us hold him and interacted with us the 10 minutes we got. 

After our visit we went to the Hilton to use the internet (as our guesthouse didn't have it hooked up at this point) to let others know we had arrived and met our son. We then went and had our first taste of ethiopian coffee, saw some sights of the city and went to the grocery store to buy a few items. Then it was time to shower and sleep!!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

October 15th-the morning of the 17th (Days 1-3)


On October 15th we began the trip that led us to Solomon. We drove down to Charlotte, NC and had lunch with the Capps family before heading to the airport.

Our flight left around 5:30pm and was headed for Munich, Germany. We flew Lufthansa. I don't know how many times I asked Matt if it was real, were we really doing this, were we going to Africa, were we getting to meet and get our son? AHH!! I was so excited that first flight full of nervous energy that I couldn't sleep (of course Matt did because he can sleep anywhere). Boy did that end up backfiring on me.

Once landing in Munich we had a 40 minute layover to catch our next flight to Frankfurt, Germany. Matt and I knew that we had to hurry to make our next flight so we ran, I mean ran. We were those people you see running wildly through the airport carrying our backpacks and carry on bags. We ran up flights of stairs, through the hallways, up more flights of stairs, did I mention the flights of stairs, all the way to the security check point. At the check point, the security person made us take out and turn on every single piece of our 4 electronics that we had one at a time. This slowed us down. After putting back our stuff in our suitcases and running to the gate, sweat dripping down us and hyperventilating from being out of breath from running and carrying our probably 50 pound carry ons, we were told that they closed the plane and were no longer loading passengers, even though the plane was still sitting there. What are you kidding me?? Didn't they understand we were headed to Frankfurt to meet up with the Lovin family and then go to Africa to meet our baby???

We headed to the Lufthansa counter with our heads hung low out of breath and sweaty to find out what we could do to make it to our next flight. The woman at the counter was talking to us but neither Matt nor I spoke due to being out of breath and in shock that we actually missed our flight. I realized we weren't answering her questions when she asked if we spoke English. After searching several options some which took us to Turkey, some which had us landing in Ethiopia at 2:30am....we settled on a flight to Frankfurt in 2 hours (causing us to miss our flight to Ethiopia with the Lovin family) having a 12 hour, yes 12 hour layover in Frankfurt and then flying Ethiopian air to Ethiopia arriving a whole day later than expected. The staff at the ticket counter for Lufthansa was so nice and really felt for our situation. The only problem was no one in Ethiopia knew what happened and when we would be arriving so they could pick us up. Luckily we had our in country staff's phone number with us and the Lufthansa staff let us use their phone for free to call and let them know our situation, but unluckily they didn't answer and there is no way to leave a message.  AHHH! The thought of landing in Ethiopia with no one to get us was a little daunting.

So we boarded our tiny plane to Frankfurt which was only about 30 minutes long and we didn't even get to sit together. Once we arrived in Frankfurt we set out to find our gate and set up camp since we would be there for 12 hours! The only problem was no one seemed to know what gate Ethiopian air would fly from and why in the world were we at the airport so early to catch our flight. While waiting we bought minutes to the internet and I messaged everyone I knew who was in ET to let them know what had happened and if they could let someone know what time to pick us up. Luckily I was able to get in touch with a staff member and she assured me that someone would be there to pick us up..what a relief. So now that that was settled what would we do for the next 11 hours...we walked around, ate a few times, went through the duty free shops, went to the bathroom, checked the flight screen and asked people where our flight was leaving from every hour (which no one seemed to know), and Matt did a little of this...

But I couldn't sleep. Lets just say we had the B terminal memorized at the end of the 12 hours. We were tired and dirty and all I wanted to do was sleep and take a shower. About an hour before our flight was to leave we found out our gate number and began to watch Ethiopians arrive...making this trip seem more real.  So after being awake for 2 days straight I took an ambien and slept until we arrived in Ethiopia on October 17th at 7 something in the morning. We were in the back of the plane and so that meant we were last in line to wait and get our visas. But we were in Ethiopia we had made it. Nervously, I requested a 60 day visa but was told that I would have to come back to the immigration office if I really needed it and was only given a 30 day visa. Matt and I found our bags and had no difficulty with the porters or with anyone wanting us to open up our suitcases. After getting your bags you have to have them x-rayed and then you can enter the main part of the airport. Lots of people were standing around with signs but none had our name so we found the Hilton sign and then saw Travis right away. I was so glad that someone was there to pick us up; such a relief. We headed out to the car to go to our guesthouse the BnB and finally meet up with the Lovin family. I was immediately taken in with the beautiful mountains surrounding us and just soaking up the sights when I hear Travis ask us if we would like to meet Selamu??? (we weren't scheduled to meet him until the 18th) Umm yes please forget the sleep I had been longing for or the fact that I hadn't showered in 3 days. Take us to Selamu!!!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

All about Solomon

Can I just say I love, love, love this baby boy! He is doing so well at home. It is hard to believe that he is actually here with us.

(watching snow fall)

We recently took him to the doctor for a one year check up and here are his stats:

Height 31 3/4  (95th%)
Weight 23 - 7.0 (50-75th%)
Head 18 3/4 (75-90th%)

  • He currently is taking a few steps and LOVES to walk around with one or two hands held. He also loves to stand up on his own from the floor. Still crawls to get around.
  • His favorite toys are a baby einstein musical toy that lights up and stacking cups
  • He loves dancing to a good beat and tends to stop dancing when others start dancing with him.
  • He enjoys a good game of peek-a-boo and covers up his head instead of his eyes most times
  • He waves bye when he wants to
  • He tries to say up but it sounds more like mmmbah
  • He is starting to put things up to his ear as if it was a phone
  • He drinks from a sippy cup but loves his bottle and cries whenever he sees it.
  • He is eating more and more table foods. Loves puffs.
  • He reaches toward a light when asked where the light is, and he finds the dog when asked as well.
  • He loves his mommy and daddy.
  • He can snap his fingers.
  • He typically sleeps through the night from 7:30pm to 6:30am. He usually takes two naps during the day around 9:30am and then again around 3:00pm
  • He likes to make a squinty eye face

I promise to start blogging about Ethiopia next week...