Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Monday/Tuesday~LONG ONE!


Videographer/crapographer... you decide! You'd never know I actually went to film school by the horrid filming I did in Ethiopia! Most of our videos are of my freaking knee caps because I seem to have mistaken "standby" with "record" and everytime I thought I was recording it was in "standby mode", idiot! At least some videos made it!! To my own defense (I'm prosecutor and defendant all in one) this camera was purchased mere days before our departure! OK? The sticker on my forehead stayed there for a very long time because it was the first pro action my daughter showed to me by placing it there with a smile! :)

Let's start with a quick little video that some of you don't need a description of... bring back any memories gals??? I miss the "all day prayers"!

Room with a view... our balcony.

Pictures of our "master bedroom", Four Seasons lookout, the guesthouse is moving in on the 5 star status! Not sure what the deal is with the neck roll thingy's everywhere??!! :)

And the bathroom, thankfully we never got ill and spent much time in here! Phew!

Day two (Monday) began early with the long drive back from Awassa to Addis. We got back to the guesthouse, showered and had to be downstairs for lunch and to fill out our I600's with the group before heading to the embassy appointment. Teddi had only seen us once so far and it was the day before at 5:00am (not good). It was a very brief meeting and I can't show the video as it has some of the nannies in it.

Ouside of the big kid house...quiet!

"I don't like you mother"

Devlish play and even aggressive play was all she did there - what a difference now.

We all got on the bus and headed down the street to pick up the bigger kids. They put the kids on the bus with us and I scooped her up and put her on my lap and held her close. She was cool and even started nodding off because it was their nap time (great time to drag them to a big scary building with tons of people and security etc).

The embassy appointment went "ok" and she must have decided that it was me or nothing and chose me while we were there. We dropped the kids back off for dinner/bed and went back to the guesthouse to get ready for dinner out with Dr. Tsegaye (head honcho of WHFC) feeling like huge progress had been made. The first meeting wasn't exactly a "Hallmark moment" and the second wasn't either but it was OK, we were making progress, or so we thought! Dinner was amazing, just amazing - watch the video and you'll see too! This was our group!

At dinner... awwww.

One of the WHFC coordinators Emily G. came along on the trip with us! She was a great resource and is super cute inside and out! You'd never know she's just a wee thing at 25! We travelled to and from Ethiopia with her from Boston and she escorted a little 11 month old peanut on the way home. We love Emily!

Karen (left) and Carlin! Karen and her husband are a wonderful couple who co-reside between FL. and Italy! They adopted the most amazing little cherub six month old on the planet. I've only seen one other child smile SO much at that age (Judah)! Carlin (right) and her mom spent a ton of time with us on our adventure... they went on the visit with us and also adopted a three year old gorgeous boy! I miss them...

Tuesday, we woke up bright eyed and happy since this was our first whole day there and we didn't have anything to do except get her photo at a nearby place for the German transit visa (which wasn't ever looked at but took us a ton of time to acquire in Addis). We ate and were over at the big kid house pretty early as we were eager to see our girl! We walked in and turned the corner into her room where she and some others were on the floor with a nanny or two. We gave our goofy white folks smile and waved to her and she freaked out! She clutched onto the nanny screaming, she knew who we were and why we were there. My smile quickly turned upside down and I could feel my eyes swell with tears. I knew I didn't want her (or anyone else) see me breakdown so I bolted out of the room and around the corner. The tears started to pour out of me and I tried to hold them back but couldn't. It seemed like I stood there forever but it was only probably a couple of minutes before MP came out and tried to pull me together. "I can't do this" I said, "if she doesn't want us what are we going to do"? "I want to go home"!!

Sister Tirhas (head sister) came out and literally ripped the bootstraps up from under me and grabbed my hand, ripped the kid out of the nannies arms and grabbed MP's arm and said "let's go, follow me now". We followed her out the back door where she proceeded to grab some chalk, dummies, and a few blow up balls and pushed us down to sit on the ground in a circle (all of us including her). She forced integration but Tarikua still wouldn't look at us and had her infamous shoulder to her ear the entire time. Time passed and sister got up to go do something and Tarikua walked away. I stood up and started to cry again... MP said, "we HAVE to make this work, we HAVE to do this". I looked up at the sky and asked Jesus to please help me to be strong and to put on a smile and just DO. At that point my thoughts were very irrational but very real. I wanted to figure out a way to leave - I didn't want her anymore than she wanted me. It was ugly and disgusting and I never want to feel that way ever again. It made vomit sit at the top of my throat and I can feel it all right now again just recounting this day. The only choice was to "fake it til we could make it". I took a huge breath and chose to just do, keep doing until "it" worked. By removing my emotions and not taking it personally I was able to get hold of myself and hunker down for the long haul of the rest of our trip. With a huge exhale we started off to look for her to begin again... after several hours of "faking it" she had started to allow me to chase her and showed her toothies a few times. It was a huge step. We were moving forward. It was lunchtime/nap time for the kids and so we left and walked back to the guesthouse only down the street for our lunch too.

Michael and I went back to our room after a delicious lunch by the now famous Sinidu and talked ALOT! We decided that every encounter with her was going to be a strategic one. We knew that before we saw her each time from this point on that based on our most recent visit we would recalibrate our interactions with her to suit the day. We also decided that even though we didn't want to, we had to forgo most of the outings and sightseeing opportunities that some of the other folks had to spend every possible amount of time with her and I knew from that very day that SHE HAD TO BE OUT OF THAT HOUSE and be with us exclusively (which turned out to be what turned the corner in the coming days).
She's holding onto me!!! Baby steps...

So, when we got back again, stomach in knots we approached cautiously and stood in the background where she could see us but not be forced on us. The problem was that we had to take her for the stupid picture and things went south. She clawed my neck, spat on me, kicked me, and tried to bite me all the while thrashing her body trying to get out of my arms. I clenched my teeth and was able to thwart most of her blows. Once we got in the bus she calmed down and withdrew. The photo was brief and she was decent (still crying though). They dropped us back off and we spent more time with her trying to just hang out. This is when I decided enough was enough, we needed to bail! Don't get me wrong, that place was and is amazing, all the nannies are superb and the children full of love. Too much love was beginning to be a problem. Every small ounce of progress we made with Teddi would mean a step back because the beautiful children wanted to ALL be in our arms and play. They were pouncing on us and it was apparent that our girl needed our undivided attention to thrive. So, I picked her up and announced to sister Tirhas that we were all leaving (three of us) to go to the guesthouse.

We walked down and into the house, we proceeded to our bedroom. I had her sit on my lap (sort of straddled) while I laid down (to appear calm cool and non-threatening). I pretended like I wasn't staring at her and MP sat on the couch and pretended to do stuff too. We had pulled out her very own and filled with goodies backpack and just laid it next to her on the bed open. All in all we were there for an hour and a half and after about an hour of just sitting on my lap staring at nothing she began TO MOVE! It was a miracle! She started looking at her shoes and futzing with her clothing. I slowly sat up and opened her backpack so she could fully see the contents and she reluctantly and slowly began to pull things out and grin! She scooted off my lap and I showed her how to use stickers and we were having fun??!! This is when I truly knew that everything would be fine! Just fine and dandy and wonderful and it would just take a little time and a whole lotta love and attention but it was going to work!

We had to bring her back for dinner and bedtime (which stunk) but SHE CRIED when I tried to put her down back at her house! I couldn't stop smiling and felt like "F" of the mountain! Shoulders back, head high, MP and I strode out of there thrilled for each other proud of ourselves. It was a good day...

The onion was peeling and although it seemed slow going, and she put her foot down and withdrew on many occasions, every day proved to be so HUGE in her turnaround and progress.


  1. What an incredible and brave post. What a strong little girl...her reluctance and fortitude could turn out to be her strongest qualities as an adult. She will also look at your fortitude and learn from that as well. I am glad you are home and finally together as a family :)


  2. Yes, definitely love you more! I cannot wait to meet this amazing girl.
    Thank you for sharing so honestly. You are beautiful.

  3. Thanks for sharing all of can tell that you are great parents!! I definitely like you more:-)

  4. I am hanging on your every word. We just submitted our ap and are requsting a 3-4 year old girl. Can't wait to hear more. She is beautiful. Thank you for being so honest. Now I won't have false expectations.

  5. You may have felt this was a long post, but I wish it didn't end! I LOVED reading the story, your honesty. Everyone should be this honest! Because it's NOT easy! You guys did a beautiful job.


  6. Oh, I definitely love you more after this post. Thank you for sharing all the "raw" emotion. I can't believe you went through all of that! But I'm so glad you are coming out of it on the other side. I promise it gets better and better!

    Oh and I loved the videos... brings back wonderful memories (except the chanting). And I LOVED that restaurant and dancing!

  7. ohh yes I can still post :-)...

    Dido Dido Dido Dido....what more can I say.

    If I would have EVER of posted our would have been play by play of yours..down to our sister ripping Leul outta the arms of a caregiver!!!!

    Kuddos for taking charge, what a beautiful fighting soul you have living with you now. She will prove many times she is smart and knows whats going on!

    YOU R BEAUTIFUL for sharing your raw emotions. I think WAY to often adoption is thought of this miracle meeting with "child loving parent at first sight and vs. versa" UHHHHH so not always the case. I always say to Jeff that we (you) were put in those moments because God chose us to be there, he knew we could do this.....I'm sure you have as much spunk as she does and I have as much spunk as Leul does. It's just letting our gaurd down to allow someone to love us, tough stuff.

    Thanks for sharing what I couldn't...people need to hear that it's not always rainbows at first, but MAN O' MAN does it get goooooood!

    Ol' B

  8. Thanks for this very real account. When my husband & I adopted our first little one we were both green with nausea :). Sometimes it is just a big adjustment for both sides. It is so beautiful now..

    We are just starting the ET process. Do you mind sharing the name of the guest house you stayed in?

    Love, J

  9. I appreciate the realness of your posting. It is so easy for me to romanticize the first meeting and the transition and your posting reminds me that it most likely will not be so. Hang in there. It will only get better.

  10. Its great to see her out of the orphanage and home with you guys. Such a beautiful little girl. Great and honest post...

  11. Thanks for sharing. It is so important for us all hear eachothers stories, we can learn so much.
    I must cool you went to film school.

  12. Thank you for sharing. It is so important for people to see the reality of adoption. It is not easy on children or adults. I am speaking from zero experience so I have no idea what it must have felt like for you and my heart goes out to you and your precious little girl. But, I know from my work with children with emotional and/or development disorders that you will be tested time and time again by her b/c it is her way of figuring out if she can trust you and if you will love her no matter what. You are doing an amazing job! Through your shared tears of mother and daughter, your bond will eventually be very very strong.

  13. Thanks for sharing your story. I am sure it must have been very hard for you. I can not imagine what you went throught. We went through a little different time with jo but after we came back to US. She was so spoiled. I can not wait to see you again.

  14. This is amazing - thank you so much for sharing.

  15. Thanks for sharing. I know it's probably hard to be so vulnerable - but what a huge help to the rest of us!

    I died laughing at the caption "I don't like you mother" beneath her photo. That really made me laugh :)

    Then, as I continued to read I wanted to burst into tears. The transition must be so difficult. I'm sorry for the hard times, but the video did show how much progress she was able to make while in Ethiopia. So sweet that she kissed you :)

  16. This is a great post. Thank you for sharing everything as it really happened and not trying to make it all fluffy and wonderful! Your honesty is a great encouragement to all us adopting parents! I can't wait to hear more about your trip!

  17. As always your posts hit home...I respect your honesty and emotion that you've shared with us through this journey.
    It is so encouraging and a relief to know that it will still be okay even if it's exactly what we envisioned.
    I had sent you an email to your work account (as listed on your blogger profile) about a comment I made on your post last year. I know I sent it while you were away, did you by chance receive it?
    Anyways, please keep up the posts, I can't wait for the next one! And of course more pictures!!
    I hope you are enjoying your time at home with your family...
    All the best, Kim at gmail dot com

  18. More... way more! Wow, Lori. Every part of your retelling... just wow. And the video at the end made me cry. What sweet kisses! Thank you for your vulnerability here. Who wouldn't find you to be completely wonderful?!

  19. Wow. Definately love ya more. What a tough tough post. Thank you for sharing your heart, for being so transparent. The video at the end is precious.

  20. The smooch at the end of the video made me cry. You are amazing and beautiful. We were in rooom 9 too. And there were no neck roll thingys for us!

  21. Hey, we had the same room! No rollies!

    Lori, it sounds so normal, both sides of it, her rejection and your sadness at first.

    That is so great that she was attached, that hopefully means she can transfer her attachment. Zufan screamed for the nannies every day until finally, the last day, we moved to the Hilton, and then she decided Mommy was OK. Until then, she only tolerated me. And now... she is a mama's baby.

    I have to say, you are so cute, too! What a great job it looks like you did of reaching her. Love the video.

  22. Thank you for sharing that!!!
    One of my sisters (from Romania) acted the exact same way with my parents, so I know that reality exists. It's so, so good for you to share it here, so that people can be prepared. It's ridiculously hard, but worth it...
    blessings as you start your new life at home!