Saturday, April 10, 2010

Home and Days 11-13

We’re home. I never thought it would take me so long to catch up on my blog, but life has been busy. The jet lag has knocked us down. I finally got a good nights sleep the past two nights and feel like somewhat of a human being. Sophie is doing well and feeling much better, as am I. We arrived Wednesday night and she loved all of her family who was waiting to meet her.

She had a really rough day Thursday and was fussy most of the day, which is not at all her personality. Friday we took her to her pediatrician. He changed her formula, which we hope will stop her from spitting up half of what she eats and will get some other discomforts under control. He is going to do some lab work next week and we go back in two weeks for a follow up appointment. He thought she was right on target for her age and doing well, which was great to hear. Friday night we went out to dinner with my family to celebrate my Grandma’s 87th birthday. This was Sophie’s first time meeting her ReRe (this is what my sister thinks she should call her, because her name is Reba). She was, of course, the focus of the evening.

I didn’t have time the last couple of days in Ethiopia to update my blog, so I am doing it now.

Day 11

Monday we tried to finish our souvenir shopping. We wanted to get Sophia Mekdes some traditional Ethiopian dresses, so Beky took us to the big market in town. We bought several dresses, probably more than we should have, but they are precious. We got several different sizes and styles. We really wanted to make sure we got a dress that was the same style dress they wear in Gonder and we found one we both loved. She should be able to wear it in a couple of years.

The market is right by Entoto Mountain, so Beky took us there next. We saw many people walking from the market area to their homes at the top of the mountain. He said they were returning from church and made the climb everyday. It is STEEP. Women carry wood down from the mountain everyday. I can’t imagine how taxing this must be on there bodies. We stopped about half way up, so we could take pictures. We were greeted by four boys. This is how our conversation went:

Boy: Welcome!
Me: Thank you.
Boy: What is your country?
Me: America. I like Ethiopia.
Boy: We like America.
Me: This is a long, steep climb. Do you get tired?
Boy: Yes, very. Eucalyptus. (One of the boys handed me a piece of eucalyptus, while the others kicked around a deflated soccer ball).

The boys were precious. When we left Michael gave them each a couple of pieces of candy. They were so excited. I wish we could have done more for them. I am so grateful to have met these boys. As I have been thinking and praying about what God might have in store for us in the future, I have spent a lot of time focusing on the needs of orphans in Ethiopia and in other countries, as well. Being in Ethiopia allowed me to cross paths with children, like these boys, a boy begging to shine my shoes (Tom’s don’t shine!), little girls begging for money and so many others. These kids have families, but they still need so much.

Now, I obviously think adoption is a wonderful and beautiful thing. However, I truly believe more needs to be done to enable parents to raise their children. The ideal situation is for parents to have the resources to care for the children and raise them in a stable environment. This is not always possible and that is where adoption comes in. These children made me think more about what could be done to strengthen family groups and the resources available to them.

We stopped in at Island Breeze for lunch. Michael LOVED this restaurant. We had burgers that were very close to what we might have here in the States. Michael keeps referring to this restaurant as, “Ethiopia’s best kept secret.” I thought it was good, but he might have been a little too eager for some American food.

One thing I really wanted to do while in Ethiopia, was visit AHOPE. When we first decided to adopt, my sister created Project 8256, an etsy shop she created to sell her artwork online. The proceeds went to our adoption fund. We wanted to help other children with the money, so we donated 20% of the proceeds to AHOPE. For those of you who do not know, AHOPE is an orphanage in Ethiopia for children living with HIV.

I really wanted to visit their facility, so we asked one of the in-country staff if they knew where it was and they gave us a general idea. We drove around and found it. We honked the horn several times, hoping they would let us in and they did! I told them we would love to tour their facility and they let us. I won’t post pictures of the children, but will post a few pics of their happy facility. This orphanage was drastically different from the government run orphanages we had encountered the day before. They had bright murals on the walls, playgrounds, organization and more. When we walked in, many of the children were coloring. It was so nice to see the kids engaged in an activity. AHOPE was a very peaceful, happy place. I am so glad we stopped by!

We spent the rest of the evening trying to get packed and ready to leave the next day! Meanwhile Sophie fell asleep in this position…

I think she was practicing for dance classes with Aunt Cheryl or hoping to be a track star and working on her hurdling moves!

Day 12

We had a few more places we wanted to shop, because many of the shops were closed on Monday due to the Easter holiday. We wanted to get an Amharic Bible, which we did. I told Michael it could be Gone With The Wind and we would never know. They did assure us it was a Bible!

We also wanted to get some music from Gonder. Beky took us to a store and we got two CDs and a dance DVD. Thankfully, Travis suggested we test them, because one of them wasn’t working. The CDs are really cheep, so check them before you leave the country. Beky exchanged the blank one later that day.

Tuesday morning we also visited the National Museum of Ethiopia. It was pretty interesting. We found it very sad that they do not have a better facility. Their artifacts were not preserved well at all. Some were in display cases with skylights in them. The paper was starting to bubble inside and the sun was shining down on them.

After the museum we met up with the Knights, another Gladney family, and Travis, Joanna and Belay, Gladney in-country staff. We went to Island Breeze again. Michael couldn’t have been happier. This time we had pizza. It was nice to be able to visit with our new friends one last time.

After lunch we swung over to Tomoca, Michael’s favorite coffee shop. He and Beky had to get coffee one last time! We then went back to the Leprosy Hospital to shop again in their craft shop. We just loved it there and got some new things for our home and for our family.

We went back to the guest house after that and got ready to leave. We were very sad to leave Ethiopia and especially to say goodbye to the staff at Bejoe’s. They became our friends and loved on our daughter more than we could have ever expected them to. They are wonderful ladies and we miss them dearly.

Part of me wanted to stay longer, because I felt like God had more to teach us. There is a common game played at wedding showers that involves yarn. One of the hostesses goes around the room and starts unraveling a spool of yarn and you tell them when to stop. After everyone has their yarn, you go around the room and wrap the yarn around your finger. Each time you wrap it around, you must share something about yourself. The person with the longest piece, obviously has to say the most. While we were in Ethiopia, I felt like God was wrapping yarn around our fingers, slowly teaching us more about Him and about ourselves.

I started feeling nauseous before we left and feared that it would be a long trip home. Luckily it went away a few hours later! Sophie, however, had a fever the entire way home.

We headed to the airport about 8:00 pm and finally boarded the plane headed for Amsterdam.

Day 13

We slept a little bit on the plane, but not very much. We were lucky to have an extra seat on our row, so we could lay Sophie down to sleep. She did really well on the plane, but she seemed very lethargic and uncomfortable. I am sure the fever wasn’t helping that too much.

We had a five hour layover in Amsterdam. We ate breakfast and hung out in the very peaceful airport. We boarded the plane for Minneapolis and sat across the aisle from a 2.5 year old boy who screamed a good portion of the flight. Not fun. He did NOT want to buckle his seatbelt and the flight attendant kept telling him, “It’s the law.” Really? Your going to try that logic with a 2.5 year old?

When we landed in Minneapolis we went through customs, got her green card and had to recheck all of our luggage. We only had a two hour layover and we were concerned this would not be enough time. It was, so I am glad we didn’t change our flight! I wasn’t too thrilled to get on another plane, because we had a lot of turbulence when we landed in Minneapolis and I was still feeling a bit queasy! The flight was short and sweet. We could not have been happier to land in OKC and introduce our little darling to her family who had been praying for her and falling in love with her for three months.
I know I have more to share about our trip, but this is all I have time for now. I have pictures of the nursery to share and will try and get those up in the next couple of days. Thank you all for following our journey and for your sweet and encouraging comments while we were in Ethiopia!


Robyn said...

Glad you all made it home safely! I'm still working through the jet lag!

Eryn said...

Katie, you did such a great job documenting your journey. i would love to hear what of your outings you were able to take Sophia on and which ones you needed a caregiver for, if you wouldn't mind sharing.Thanks again for taking such wonderful pictures and video for us! what a treat. Eryn

ReSoNate said...

I have enjoyed following your blog. Thank you especially for the tips on where to shop, eat, and sightsee. I am making a list, so I won't have to think about it when our time comes. We are adopting a 2 1/2 yo boy and a 5 mos old girl - currently waiting for our court date to be assigned. Blessings on your sweet Sophia!

J Gutwein said...

Congratulations! Sophie Mekdes is beautiful. It is good to see a picture of the Bejoe girls again. Love, J

The Busters said...

Katie, I just got caught up on your posts and they were such a joy to read! As you can imagine, for families still in the waiting process these posts are like gold. It seems like you guys went to a lot of places that we would like to go and that you are a very organized person (I aim to be organized but often fall short). Would you mind if I hit you up with questions when it is our turn to travel? Sophie is truly adorable and it is so wonderful to see pictures of your family of THREE! I just had tears rolling down my cheeks through several of these posts. CONGRATS!!

Lisa said...

We are planning on visiting AHOPE too to bring some donations so it's good to know they welcome visitors. I've so enjoyed your travel posts. Thanks for keeping up with it!

Mark and Heidi said...

Wow, that's some flexibility Sophie has! So glad you are home safe and sound and feeling better. I've loved all your posts. Thanks for sharing your trip with us!

Carolyn said...

Loved your update on the trip. Can't wait to meet your precious girl in person!! Carolyn Hill

Anonymous said...

Welcome home!! What a wonderful series of posts. Thank you so much for sharing your journey.

We were in Ethiopia about a month before you, and we have one picture of your little girl. I didn't know who she was, but now tht I see your pics, I know it is little Sophia Mekdes. Send a comment to my blog and then I will be able to email it to you.

Happy times ahead :-)

April said...

Thank you for sharing your family's journey. Your daughter is oh my goodness beautiful! I LOVE the photo of her sleeping and holding her leg!
Praying for you for a smooth transition and attachment now that you are home.

Tracy said...

I love the four generations photo! Awesome!

Tam and Kai - NYC said...

Welcome home! Your daughter is beautiful!
Thank you for sharing all the details. It is such a resource for all of the families still waiting. It gives such insight and I look forward to reading more :)

Eryn said...

Katie...what would you say you guys spent on food per day? Can you email me?I'm trying to budget out our trip....Eryn

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading your blog and looking at the pictures of Entoto. I lived at the U.S. Embassy back in 2002, and after visiting a little school at the top of the Mountain, I felt the same way you did. I want to go back, and I want to do more. I would love to help educate those children on the mountain. I am in the midst of writing a novel about a young woman who goes to teach English at that school. I have 23 chapters done and hope to finish by next year. My goal is to get this published and use the proceeds to go back to Entoto and help the families there.
Thanks for the inspiring pictures. Jennifer