Sunday, March 15, 2009

Ethiopia: Day 1

Disclaimer: This is my account of our trip to Ethiopia. I'm going to tell it as real as I can. Why blog if you can't keep it real, ya know?

This is the 3rd day of our trip but our 1st day in Ethiopia. We left on Texas on Thursday and arrived in Ethiopia on Saturday.

Saturday, Feb 21st, 2009

11:35 AM- We finally arrived to Addis. The airport is very small. We went to baggage claim and the luggage starts to roll out. We start pulling our bags. But wait, we only have 2 of the 4 bags. We wait, and wait, and wait. Long story short, they lost our 2 donations totes. I was not panicked because I knew they would find them eventually and I was excited to go get my girl! We filed the proper paperwork with the airline for the missing luggage and left. For those of you traveling there, the airport is in the city so it is not a far ride to most places.

Addis Airport

Our adoption agency director told us that he would arrange for our attorney in Ethiopia to pick us up from the airport. I had heard in the past that the attorney sometimes forgot to pick people up. Well, he DID forget to pick us up. Shocker! Later he said that he was never notified that we were coming but I know that is a lie because I personally contacted him just to cover all my basis. As a matter of fact, when it was time to leave, I contacted the adoption agency director in the states, the director of the orphanage in Addis, and the attorney to let them know my flight info, and my intention to pick up my baby girl that day (Saturday)from the orphanage. We intentionally came on Saturday because we had heard from other adoptive parents that the director of the orphanage was off on Sunday and we would not be able to take Ayana, just visit her if we came on Sunday. Well, this was not going to work for me, I wanted her as soon as we got there, so we made plans to come on Saturday. I didn't want any surprises so that is why I notified all three people. I have also read on other blogs that you can't take your child out of the orphanage (permanently) until your embassy date, you can only visit or check them out and bring them back. When I asked out adoption agency about this, they said that this was not true and that the child is legally ours as soon as we passed court. Sounded good to me.

So we are at the airport and this should be the part of the story where we are stuck trying to get a ride or get a hold of the attorney. No, I had a back up plan of course! I had also made a 4th contact ahead of time, our guest house, the Ethiopian Guest Home. They sent a driver. He was there waiting for us as soon as we got there with a sign that said BOYD and a fresh bouquet of flowers for me. Ahh, that was so sweet. This was such a blessing because it could have been very stressful upon arrival and instead we felt very well taken care of. Thank you Getcho!

John and Ayana (Manager of the Guest home)
Getchu, our driver from the Guest home
John and Getchu in the reception are of the guest home.

Almost all the vans/taxi's look like this:

We decided to go to the guest home first and drop off all of our luggage. On the drive there I was faced with all the things I had tried to prepare for. Here is a little bit of scenery from the ride:

It was warm outside. It did not rain the whole time we were there. It was hard to breath. The pollution was so bad and the altitude is high. There is so many people walking the streets. The cars drive like crazy and the roads are bumpy and dusty. Very few roads were paved. Thank God I was wearing my handy dandy patch behind my ear. I am normally very prone to getting car sick but I was fine. I thought we were going to hit numerous people while we were driving. Pedestrians DO NOT have the right of way. I swear we grazed several people. I would freak out every time I thought we were going to hit someone but the funny thing is that the people walking about to be hit do not even flinch.
Our driver was great, he knew exactly how to get places and I knew we were in good hands.

We decided not to stay at the Orphanage guest house. I have heard great things about it but we had connections elsewhere. One of the couples at our church own a guest house in Ethiopia.(what are the odds if that?) They also adopted from Ethiopia. We stayed at there at The Ethiopia Guest Home. The vision behind Ethiopia Guest Home is to provide a four-star quality stay, at a reasonable, all-inclusive cost…to benefit orphans in Ethiopia, while giving families a personal, memorable stay.
When we made reservations, it was so last minute so there was only one room left, the smallest room. Bummer...Oh well, there was only 3 of us. It was a small room with lots of Full length windows. It had a queen size bed and a playpen made up as a full bed for the baby. The house is only a year or two old.
When we drove up the home had a gate with a security guard. As we entered the home, John the manager of the guest home was there to greet us. He showed us to our room. John has always lived in Ethiopia and has never been anywhere else. He is very educated and was finishing his last college test the week we were there. He will receive a degree in Business. He was very polite and accommodating.
Our room

We dropped our bags off and I was ready to get our girl.It was finally time. We had been waiting for so long to hold her in our arms and give her lovin!
The guest house gave us a cell phone upon arrival with the orphanage, guest house, embassy and other important numbers pre-programmed into the phone. I grabbed the phone to call the attorney to let him know we had made it to Addis and told him we were at the guest house. He was shocked, he didn't even know we were coming!!!!! OK, whatever!! uh humm, I will keep on with my story...sorry for the distraction.
So anyway, I told the attorney that we were getting ready to go to the orphanage to get Ayana. He said, no, you can't get her today. WHAT????? WHY?????? he said that he could not take me because his schedule was all booked up that day. I said that I did;t need him to go with me, I would have my driver take me. She is legally mine right? He said that the director of the orphanage has to be there to sign the baby out to us and she wasn't there today. WHAT????? That is why we came early so we would not miss her. I couldn't understand him very well, language barrier, but he said something like, the director was sick or off today so we can't go get Ayana.
He then hung up. I Started to lose my breath, what do you mean I can't go get her. Instead of crying, I went into stubborn, fighting mode. Oh no, This can't be happening, what can we do? I am going to get our girl!

So I asked the manager, John, to call the director of the orphanage. Maybe John will know more as he can talk to her in Amharic. She did not answer the phone. I then asked John to call the attorney again for me.

What happened next, I can't blog about, but lets just say through several interesting events, we had Ayana in our arms within a few hours.

To be continued....


Robbin said...

Amber, I am hanging on the edge of my seat reading this story. You are doing a great job telling it and I agree everything can't be told here but it leaves a lot the imagination. I've decided to go with the Borne Identity/ James Bond Scenario. Operation Get Baby! LOL. It involves, kidnap, ransom, murder and mayhem. No just kidding. Looking forward to reading more.

Ayana is a real beauty!


Mona said...

I had no idea you those problems when you first arrived. We'll have to talk off-line. It sounded like you were prepared; I guess anything can happen. I will be checking several times a day for Part II.

Lisa and Cory said...

Good for you not giving in and making sure you got your girl! I'm proud of you! Loving reading your story...

~ lisa

Angela said...


This story is really a trip! The pics of Addis reminds me of a big rural town but on a greater scale of poverty.

It's good to have a back-up plan and connections. You go Amber!

The owner of our one and only ET restaurant has extended her hospitality to us while we visit Ethiopia. She also has a house there and plenty of family. Looks like we need to pay her a visit really soon.

Domestic Goddess said...

I love how candid you are and how great you can tell a story...much better than Rick can tell a joke that is for sure. LOL! Sorry, couldn't resist! :)

I love how prepared you are and always on top of things. The back-up plan was brilliant and I am sure it saved you so much stress! The pictures of the city are heartbreaking. I remember trying to prepare when we went to Mexico for mission every summer and there is just no way you can truly prepare for seeing the way people are forced to live. It is encouraging to see how they still try to overcome the conditions in any way they can but ideally nobody should ever HAVE to overcome as much as many of them have.

The Guest Home sounds great, what a blessing!

I am loving the recaps, it's so much fun to read. Thank you for sharing in all your "spare" time. :) LOVE YOU!!!

Kate said...

I really appreciate you sharing your story and keeping it real! Waiting for part 2!

dan and rachel said...

wow! first of all, i cannot believe the owners of the Ethiopian Guest Home go to your CHURCH??!! that is crazy!!!! it was their adoption video on You Tube that moved our hearts and made us feel led to change countries from taiwan to ethiopia. we were initially researching adoption for a family friend -- we were searching to find programs that were more affordable because they were on a tight budget. we never had any intention of changing countries ourselves. when we saw the video, it spoke to US.

thank you so much for this post. i can't wait to read the remainder of the story. you are one determined woman, amber! where there's a will, there's a way, right?!

Anonymous said...

the new addition to your family is beautiful! she is a real cutie that is going to showered with so much love. thank you for sharing your story. all i can say is AMAZING!! many blessings to you and your family.

D said...

We stayed in the same room one of our two weeks at the Ethiopia Guest House!

Kat Marr said...

Ok Amber...I'm on the edge of my seat...can't wait to hear about the rest of your journey!