Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"The best laid plans..."

On the afternoon of Tuesday, November 15, two days before our flight to Addis, we found out that there was a problem. All the cases from Burji were being indefinitely delayed.

Without much information to go on, we had to decide if we should fly to Ethiopia as planned or postpone our trip. If we decided to go, the worst-case scenario was that we would spend a few days in Ethiopia and then fly home without having gone to court. But if we postponed our trip, the worst-case scenario was that the court appointment would proceed and we would miss it. We decided to go with our original flight.

So we're in Addis. The agency staff here told us a little more about why the Burji cases are being delayed. Basically we are part of the first group of international adoption the Burji district has seen, and there are some bumps that need to be smoothed out. The good thing about the delay is that all the Burji cases have been scrutinized one more time by a different set of eyes - good for transparency. We got some news yesterday that makes us hopeful that the boys may come to Addis before too long. We may extend our stay here to wait for a new court date. We have to just wait and see what happens. But I'm glad we're in Ethiopia waiting, and not back home. I'd be going nuts if I was still at home with so many unknowns. At least here we are getting to see our future children’s country.

We have been here five days now. Mostly we’ve been in the capital. Addis is a sprawling, organic mish-mash of corrugated tin, high-rises and construction dust. We've visited three museums and a cathedral (excellent guides in all), walked all around the city center, more or less mastered the mini-buses, had dinner at the home of our Amharic tutor's brother, amused lots of people with our attempts at Amharic, eaten lots of yummy Ethiopian food, and attended a cultural performance where T got pulled on stage to show off his best shoulder-popping moves. We visited our agency's care center to deliver donations and packages and play with the kids. The toy trains we brought were a huge hit (Babur! Babur! Babur! Train! Train! Train!). Our hotel, which was recommended by another adoptive parent, is just one block away from the care center. The staff is friendly and helpful and there’s an intermittent wireless connection. There’s lots of little shops nearby to buy things like bananas, detergent and plug adaptors. In the more tourist-oriented parts of town foreigners attract some attention, but around here people are just going about their daily business. Today we also took a couple of local buses to get to Debre Zeit, a nearby town surrounded by crater lakes. As expected, people along the way showed us the right way to go. Debre Zeit is a smaller town with tree-lined streets, lots of birds and great views and was a nice change from the city. Our health is fine except for insomnia due to the loud music next to the hotel, and our spirits are good except for my one little midnight break-down, which in retrospect was due mostly to insomnia.

 So things haven’t gone according to plan, but we're OK. I am very thankful for the constant stream of supportive messages being sent from back home, and more than anything, I am thankful that T's alter-ego is Captain Reasonable, whose super power is the ability to keep everything in perspective at all times.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Burji dictionary

I recently found a Burji to English dictionary and am linking to it here (and here just in case the first link doesn't work). It's by R. Dame and C. Wedekind.

Krista in Georgia has also created an English to Burji version. The link is here.

Initially our tutor had told us that Burji was similar to Amharic, but after looking into it we found they are very different languages. Burji is Cushitic while Amharic is Semitic. The boys' paperwork says that they know both languages, but we'll have to wait and see if that is true. For now we are focusing on Amharic because it's a much more widely spoken language in Ethiopia.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Donations update and three months

People have been very generous with donations and we now have more than we can take with us on our first trip. Meaning we have over 100 pounds of donations, and I only bought a small fraction of that. Yes, people are that amazing.

Here is the plan -
  • All the formula, bottles, nipples, about half the wipes and half the diapers have been packed. They will go to Horizon House.
  • Most of the toys and books and about half the clothes have been packed, also to go to Horizon House.
  • All the medical supplies (antiseptic wipes, thermometers, creams, latex gloves, masks, pain killers etc) have been packed. We will take those with us to Burji to donate to a local clinic. We've identified a largish town in Burji using Google Maps, which may or may not be Soyama, the capital of Burji. If it doesn't have a clinic, we've found a town in the neighboring woreda of Amaro that does.
  • We will use money specifically given to us for school supplies to buy materials in Addis and take them to Burji. According to not-necessarily-accurate sources, there is one high school in Burji, so again, the town that we think is Soyama is our best bet.
  • The remainder of the wipes, diapers, toys and clothes will wait until our second trip.
Obviously the Burji part of the plan is pretty shaky. It relies on things being where the internet says they are, which they may not be. Worse case scenario, we give the donations to someone else. Not a terrible thing.

Also, yesterday was month 3 of the 10% Challenge. The total was high this month, what with trip preparations and property taxes due. The recipient was Doctors without Borders.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Talking to my brain

So I'm having this conversation with my brain, and it's not going well. My brain seems to understand everything I'm telling it, until it gets stuck on this one thing.

We're going to Ethiopia a week from tomorrow, I tell my brain.

Sounds exciting, my brain says.

We're going to court, I say.

Wow, court, says my brain. I've been in a courtroom before. I totally get that.

We're going to meet the children that we hope to adopt, I say.

No, that doesn't make any sense, says my brain.


Let me try again. I'll break it down a little more this time.

We're getting on a plane...

I like plane rides. They usually mean something fun is going to happen.

We're going to Ethiopia...

Nine years since I was last in Africa. Really looking forward to going back.

When we get to Addis Ababa, A's brother will pick us up from the airport...

Wow, that's really nice. What a great family. So lucky to have met them.

He'll take us to a hotel...

Hotels are like plane rides. Generally they're connected to fun things.

He'll probably show us around Addis...

Really super family. So, so lucky.

Two or three days later, we'll go to an orphanage. There will be a bunch of kids there, and they will probably be excited to see us...

That brings back memories of visiting schools in Namibia.

Then someone will bring two little boys to meet us, and will tell us that these could soon be our sons.


Did you hear me? These could be our sons.

Yeah, I'm not really getting that part. Could we skip to where we're taking a road trip to see giant crocodiles?

Listen. We are going to meet two little boys, and we're going to go to court, and these could be our sons. Forever. Our sons.

Nope, not getting it. No offense, but you're talking jibber jabber.

Sigh... Never mind.

Seriously, have you seen the size of these crocodiles?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Arba Minch

Just found this article. We should be in Arba Minch on November 27. I wonder if we'll see any drones.