Thursday, February 28, 2013

Day three in Ethiopia

Day 1 here
Day 2 here

Tuesday night, both the girls slept with me in the big bed. Early in the morning Bethie was on my chest but doing what we now call The Turtle - she would poke her head up and bob it around, going from side to side. I figured maybe she was uncomfortable so I rolled over on my side and to just have her snuggle next to me and when I did that, she immediately woke up and began desperately clawing for me.

In our attachment training at Gladney were were told to do "heart checks" - kids will often go into fight or flight and the only visible symptom might be their pulse rate. When I rolled her off my chest, even tho I never let go of her, her little heart was beating so fast I thought it would come out of her chest. My poor baby! I quickly pulled her back onto my chest until she calmed back down.

We had an appointment at 9am to meet with her birthfamily, which was a cousin of her mother's. He represented her in court and relinquished her on behalf of the family. I also knew from the investigation report we got at our referral that he was the one who had driven Bethie's mother to the hospital and claimed her body when she died. He came all the way from Gonder, a town in Northern Ethiopia, which is over a nine hour ride on American roads, and trust me, Ethiopian roads are nothing like ours. I can only imagine how long it took him.

He was so dear. I am so, so glad that we got to meet him, to hear him tell us all about Bethie's mom, who seemed like a sweet, wonderful woman. He said she was passionate, funny, loving, sociable, the one that people came to with their problems. Not educated but so much wiser and more capable than most educated people. He said she would "sell her dress for you" - I'm assuming that's Ethiopian for she'd give you the shirt off her back - and her elderly parents were devastated by her loss, but the thought of Bethie being alive made the pain less. We gave him photos of her, a cross for the grandmother, and a shirt with Texas's logo, "Don't Mess With Texas." Hearing the social worker try and translate that into Amharic was pretty funny!



Most families do not get a chance to meet with their child's birthfamily. I'm so blessed and most importantly Bethie is so blessed that we got to hear about her mother's personality and the circumstances of her death. As an adopted kid myself, I know what a true treasure this is. And I'm so glad that I have things to tell her now. We promised to send regular updates to the orphanage in Gondar so that he can see her grow, and once she is older, we hope to take her to Gonder so that she can visit them herself.

I grew up with one tiny paragraph about my birthmom which said she was "very emotional with a great depth of feeling for others." How God is it that Bethie's cousin described her birthmom in almost exactly the same way?

She slept through most of the meeting and in the car. Again, I think it was her coping mechanism.

When you travel to Ethiopia, you hire a driver. Why? Well, here is an actual video of driving in Addis Ababa.



Friends don't let friends drive in Addis.

The driver you hire can make your trip, and parents fight over Solomon. We've left a bloody trail but managed to snatch him up both times. He and Shep majorly bonded playing punch buggy when we traveled for court.



Shep still misses him so much. He is so dear and helpful and he also has a 1 year old daughter, so he knows exactly what kids need and will go buy it for you. (If you are traveling to Addis, ask me for his email!)

Once we left the Gladney foster care center, we ran a couple of errands to buy some souvenirs (I'll show you what I bought later) and then Solomon asked if we'd like a lesson on cooking shiro. Yes please!


Shiro is made from spiced chickpea powder, onions, olive oil, and Ethiopian spiced clarified butter and it is standard Ethiopian kid food. Fortunately, as Ethiopian food goes, it is fairly easy to make. Bethie loved it. After she ate Solomon's shiro, she perked up so much. I put the leftovers in a ziplock and smuggled it lied to at least three customs officers brought it all the way to Austin.



Then we went to Zebra Grill, another fantastic restaurant, for lunch.

Bethie was pretty calm, with very few tears. Whenever Jean was in the room with Tess, she rejected me and held on to Jean. I am pretty sure this was because Jean was always holding Tess, who refused to be let down, and Bethie just wanted to go where ever Tess was. As soon as Jean was out of sight, she clung to me again. It wasn't an attachment-cling, it was more of a you-seem-to-be-the-safest-grownup-in-the-room cling.

That afternoon, we made a couple of baby steps in our relationship. First, she gave me a sticker, which was huge.  You know how your toddler will constantly give you stuff to hold or look at? In attachment, this is a big deal. She also "checked in" with me a couple of times - she would wander away a little then come back to me.

Then, Maggie handed her several packets of Glucose cookies that Solomon had procured for us - yes, they are called Glucose, no wonder the kids love them! - and when Maggie gave them to her for a teeny, tiny milisecond she let her guard down and gave Maggie a little bitty smile.

That afternoon, while she napped, Walker went to get her visa from the Embassy, and we almost had a catastophe. They give you all your papers in this big manila envelope with the US Embassy stamp over the seal. On Tuesday the Embassy guy (Dennis, from Denver, very laid back) told us not to open the envelope until we landed in the States, but evidently Walker didn't hear that. So as soon as he got back in the car, he thought, "Hm, wonder what's in here and...

Here is an actual video of Solomon when Walker opened the package:



Solomon quickly turned the car around, headed back to Embassy, saying, "Don't tell them you opened it....just tell them, it ripped when you put it in the car, or something..."

Notice a theme here with lying to US government officials?

While they were on that quest Bethie played with all the water bottles in our mini fridge.

One of the many things I'd forgotten about two year olds is how obsessed they are with bottles (what is up with that? why do we even buy them toys?)


 

and I packed up to get ready for the very long flight HOME.



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