This morning we did breakfast as usual. We had to say goodbye to our medical mission friends as they headed off to a more rural area of the country. There were lots of hugs and promising to keep in touch.
We headed out to the Transition Home fairly quickly and IC was waiting for us as we entered the gate. Most of the other kids had gone on an outing so it was just us and a couple other kids for the morning, which was nice. He gave big hugs and E picked him up and spun him around, something he had done yesterday before as we left. My first goal of the morning was to take pictures of another family. They cleared embassy and were doing their "gotcha" day as a family of five and had brought their two boys. IC was patient to wait as I videoed their meeting, which was nearly as emotional for me as it was for them. They have a little, little (think toddler) and he's grown so much since they saw him last. It was a beautiful, emotional moment.
I quickly stepped back over to IC. We brought a backpack for him yesterday and tried to explain that the backpack is his but comes home with us each night. We will give it to him for good in America. The first thing he wanted to do was look at all the backpack items and see what we had brought in today. He spied the gum first and looked at us to make sure it was ok before he pocketed it. He knew that gum was a hot commodity and he didn't want to have to share it without making the conscious decision to do so. Smart kid. He did share one piece with me, though, and my heart was very happy with this small sign of affection.
We went through the bag together, looking at the contents. We explained again we would take the bag home but if there were things he wanted to play with he could. He wanted to keep it all in the bag so it would all stay his, and we were totally fine with that. We spent the first part of the morning putting together a Star Wars puzzle. For those of you that know me, puzzles are my jam! We worked together for quite a while and finally brought it all together.
E and IC played a little frisbee, IC and I hung off the monkey bars, and then, the main event. We pumped up the kickball to play soccer. He and a the few other children around ran themselves ragged. E and I would pop in to play now and then but mostly he and his buddies played and we watched like proud parents. He grinned and we grinned and he played so long that he eventually wore himself out and deflated the ball to give back to us for safekeeping.
We decided to try to set a standard to today when he, or any other kid, asked to play games on the phone we redirected. It went surprisingly well for IC, though many of the other kids were disappointed IC wasn't going to push harder for them to play. For him, paper airplanes and shoulder rides from Dad were pretty good. He didn't ask for more.
After the piggy back ride, it was time for lunch. He asked if we would return and we promised we'd be back after lunch. Our itinerary had shopping after lunch so we agreed with our guide the best thing was to shop for Ethiopian souvenirs as fast as possible and then head back to hang out with our number one little man.
I haven't talked a lot about what Ethiopia is like but I feel like this picture does a good job of conveying some of it. Traffic? It's everything you've heard and more. There are no rules, the horn is king, and most cars show signs of wear and tear from everyone gently bumping into each other over and over again. I joked that the horn is kind of the equivalent of "runner speak." Like: "on your left or go on through, pass me." But for cars. Lots of the Americans flinch as they drive by. I kind of find it entertaining so I don't think too much about it but it is pretty busy and wild. And fun.
We headed to a favorite Ethiopian adoption lunch spot, where they sell beautiful Ethiopian art. E and I each had a pizza. This was rookie mistake #1. The pizzas were called "small" but were actually huge. We could have shared. We each ate exactly half one pizza. Whoops.
Orange soda is big here and comes in two popular varieties: Fanta and Mirinda. I kind of like orange soda and kind of decided to drink it for novelty while I'm here. And shout out to my coworker who loves orange soda. This pic is for you (you know who you are...).
For the afternoon, the two families that hadn't passed court went back to hang with our kids. Since E and I wanted to shop first, we were just going to drop the other family off and tell them to tell IC we would be there soon. But wouldn't you know it, he was waiting around the corner with big hugs for all. We played for a few minutes and then explained we were going away and would be right back and our driver and guide were up and out to the shops.
I had heard for years about the famous "post office shops" where most people do their souvenir shopping. When people from our agency go, they take the beloved guide and get better rates. So our guide traveled along with us. I have haggled in several countries and this was similar, except, well, I had a local with me. And there's something so comforting about that. I don't know if it's because I grew up as a local in an area with so many tourists that you couldn't shake a stick without hitting one (and most days you wanted to hit at least one. Sorry, tourists), but having a local around is so comforting to me. We got everything we wanted quickly and there was only one item we had to walk away and come back for...a blue giraffe for IC's room. He loves blue. We couldn't say no.
We tried to rush through and make it back to our little dude as quickly as possible. (For those of you who were wondering, our schedule is very packed and we wanted to bring a few things home so we had to sacrifice time with our little person... it's a very hard decision to make. We are here for such a short time and we want to see him but we also want to grow to love his country. It's tough and we're doing the best we can to get both. And of course we hope to come back after our embassy trip when the timing is right).
We got back and he was excited to see us. I think we wore him out because he really just wanted to sit and snuggle. No complaints from this mama and daddy. Sitting and snuggling was just fine with us. We sat on the couch, snuggled, and looked at photos. We pulled up people and explained relatives. I forgot to mention that yesterday he pulled up photos of our dogs. He pointed to Dash and pointed to himself and said "mine." Then Gabby and to E and said "daddy's" and then to Rodrigo and back at me and said "mommy's." Yes sir. I think he has it figured out. He pulled them up again today and said their names. We have been so worried about the dogs but so far he seems to understand the concept that they are just a part of the family with us.
When it came time to say goodbye, we all held hands and stacked our hands up, sports-style and did a little "hooray" cheer.
We sat in the van as it started raining. We saw him looking at the van and he waved over. He realized we weren't taking off immediately so he hopped in and we hugged more, waiting for the other to come back. When it was time, we hugged again, promised we would be back tomorrow, and he hopped out.
At which point I cried. And E didn't look so good either. Each day our connection builds. And each day brings us one day closer to going home.
But that's sad. Let's move on to dinner.
It's a tradition for families from our agency to go to a traditional Ethiopian restaurant for food and dancing. So that's what we did this evening.
We started with drinks. Our guide helped us order beer..
|my beer, based on our guide's suggestion|
|Eric commented on how in America our wine is in a big glass to give lots of breathing room for smell, etc. Honey wine? Not so much. It looks like a potion. You hold it in between your index and middle finger if you're trying to be traditional.|
Food. Oh glorious food. I was joking earlier that my two favorite characteristics of food are spicy and containing bread. This makes Ethiopian food perfect for me because instead of utensils they use a spongy teff-flour-bread called injera and pretty much every dish laid on the injera, that is shared by the table, is spicy. What makes it not-so-perfect is it's taboo to eat with your left hand. People, I can barely do anything at all with my right hand. My guide said I would be forgiven because I was American. I hoped so because I would have certainly made a mess if I tried to eat as a righty. But the food was just so, so good I would have eaten it mouth-first if that was required.
My favorite? Doro wot.
It is just like me to have taken tons of photos of drinks and zero photos of food. Whoops. I was too busy actually eating the delicious food. Anyone want to open an Ethiopian restaurant in our town? I will be your first customer.
As we ate, there was traditional music and dancing. And toward the end of the meal they walked around and encouraged diners to dance with them. Read: they encouraged crazy white people to dance with them so the locals and the dancers' families could enjoy.
Did I dance?
Moving along, the last thing before the meal ended was coffee.
In Ethiopia, coffee is a big deal. It was started here after all. Any time coffee is served, it's served with incense and popcorn. Why? Well, I am not exactly sure but the family that knows more than we do says the coffee is so strong you can't take it on an empty stomach. So they serve popcorn.
|Notice the Ethiopian flag|
We left the restaurant full and happy. As we arrived at the guest house, our guide reminded us to bring our paperwork tomorrow. Because tomorrow? Welcome to the big show. The court will officially deem us fit to be parents. We hope.
Look out world. Not sure you're ready for E&J: The Parental Edition
On a serious note, thanks for your continued prayers. We feel them and need them more each day.