Saturday, March 6, 2010

Spoke too soon

So, as soon as I said the sleep situation was getting better it got worse--Natalie woke up every half hour Thursday night. I finally brought her to bed with us at 4 a.m. She still slept fitfully, but at least she slept.

The good news is that she slept great Friday night and Everett, too, seems back on track. We'll see what happens tonight...

I'll spare you any more sleep drama details. Back to the trip, and our second meeting with Enatalem...

We were lucky enough to meet Enatalem for the first time on Thursday because we arrived in Addis so early. We joined up with the rest of travel group #4 Friday morning for the "official" first meeting with the kids.

This was the first time Everett and my mom met Enatalem (Everett had been too tired and cranky the day before to join us). Everett was so excited to meet his "baby sister." He brought a dolly to give her.

The care center staff gathered the ten families in the big playroom on the first floor. Then--big drama--one at a time, they announced each child's name and led that child down the stairs to meet his or her family.

Enatalem was first. She saw us and screamed her head off. She was inconsolable. Either she didn't remember us from the day before or, worse, she did. I kept a smile pasted on my face but inside my heart was breaking. I have no idea how the first meetings went with the other families. Probably Enatalem ruined them with her screaming. I have no idea. My attention was all on her.

Finally, they had us take her outside. She didn't calm down like the day before. The male nurse (wish I could remember his name--really nice guy) said we should take her to the hotel with us and keep her overnight. Then, the next day, "she will be adopted."

He acted so encouraging. So positive. I couldn't say anything to the man. Take her with us? The child hated us. And he wanted us to keep her all night? I couldn't do it. I didn't say that to the man. I felt terribly guilty. This was supposed to be my child. But, I couldn't even imagine being responsible for her, all by ourselves, already.

They train you to expect the possibility that your child won't take to you right away. You think you've prepared yourself to be rejected. But when it happens, it's awful. It's sooo stressful. The honest truth--what I wanted to do was to run back to the hotel ALONE and say maybe we'll try this again tomorrow. Maybe.

Okay, so eventually I got her looking at some baby photos tacked to the wall and she fell asleep again. The nurse had kindly left us alone (he had probably seen the look of horror on my face when he suggested that we take Enatalem for the night and wisely retreated). He returned now and suggested that we take her to the hotel, feed her lunch, and then bring her back to the care center.

Pat had to go fill out paperwork with the other families at the Holt offices so I trudged up the gazillion flights of stairs at the Union with this sleeping baby who hated us, settled into the hotel room, and waited for her to wake up.

When she did, she was confused, but she didn't cry. I had made some toddler formula we had brought from home and she gulped that down like she was starving. Then, Everett took over.

He showed her every toy we had brought. He crowded next to her. He was so in her face I was sure she'd scream. But, she didn't.

Everett invented "the marker game." He dropped markers into one of the big empty water bottles we got from the hotel. They filled the bottle with markers. Then they dumped them out. This entertained Enatalem forever. The marker game, we believe, is what finally won Enatalem over. Whenever we went to visit her after that, we brought the empty water bottle and the markers. Maybe she wasn't so sure about us. But she loved those markers.

She smiled and giggled and I fed her the lunch of injera, red sauce, and potatoes the care center had sent for her. We played for most of the afternoon, then finally returned her to the care center. It was a good ending to an emotionally exhausting day.

We walked to "The Golf Club" with the rest of the group and had pizza that night (surreal experience--yes, it is on a golf course--it's set back just beyond the filth, the goats, and the beggars). I could barely keep my eyes open to eat.


  1. Sweet baby girl! Cute big brother!
    Thanks for your post..brings back lots of memories : )

  2. I am LOVING these pictures. They really do almost make me cry. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Great game and great pics...thanks for sharing your experiences with us all!!!