Monday, June 28, 2010

Travel Journal Part Eight: Visiting Orphanages

Thursday, June 10th

Our second night with Benjamin was great. He slept from 8 pm till 6 am without waking up. Then he took a bottle and slept another hour. What a dream baby! Considering the fact that he was used to being awakened twice during the night for a bottle, I was really impressed that he began sleeping through the night so quickly. Sadly, it was the also first time that Daniel and I slept all the way through the night since arriving in Ethiopia. Every night before this we both woke up around 2 am. We were often hungry since it was dinner time at home. Often we would eat a snack, and then sometimes we could go back to sleep and sometimes not. It's too bad that it was almost time to go home before our bodies finally adjusted to Africa time.

We were amazed and thankful to realize today that B already seems to know who his mommy and daddy are. Several times today Ethiopian women asked to hold him, and I let them. (I know, I know, you're totally not supposed to do that with a newly adopted child... It was just so uncomfortable and awkward to say no. This is very normal in their culture, and they are VERY forward about it.) Every time he looked at me with a worried look. He wasn't playful and didn't smile at them UNTIL he is back in my arms and secure again. I praise God for how quickly the attachment process seems to be going for us.

Benjamin and Hope playing together

Hope is quite the little mover. She is a month younger than B and is crawling and pulling up already. She is right on the verge of walking!

An Ethiopian man that we did not know approached us in a restaurant after lunch today and said: "Thank you. We appreciate what you are doing. We are thankful to those of you who are taking our children and giving them a better life." It warmed my heart. I have felt very nervous among the Ethiopian since we have picked up B. We have heard many times that the Ethiopians don't look favorably upon American adopting their children. They don't like them to be "exported." I was appreciative for his affirmation that helped us be more at ease.

As soon as we arrived at the orphanage we were served coffee and bread. We appreciated the hospitality very much, but it felt so uncomfortable to accept food from them when we would have preferred to give it all to the children.

Coals that the coffee is heated over

This was a really good day with Benjamin, but a really hard day otherwise. We went to visit two orphanages: Kids Care and Gelgela. They are nothing like the AWAA Transition Home. We figured out after these visits that our children had been living at the Hilton of all orphanages in Ethiopia. The care givers and the directors of these orphanages are wonderful, loving people. But there are just so many children, and they have so little to give them. They kids were dirty, they seemed to have almost nothing to play with, they were all so thin...

Children's underwear drying in the windows


Our first visit was Kids Care. A little boy who looked to be about six grabbed my attention soon after we arrived, and I spent the rest of the time there with him. My mommy heart went out to him when I saw him was standing by himself silently crying, dirty from head to toe. I found out from other children that his name is Tariku, but that's about all that I know about him. He broke my heart. How often does he cry and no one stops to hug him and ask him what is wrong? How long had it been since someone cuddled him in their lap and rubbed his little back? Every little boy needs a mama. Tariku deserves one every bit as my children do. Why is Benjamin one of the "lucky" ones when so many millions more who are just as precious will never know the love of a mommy and daddy and the security of a family? What a broken, lonely world we live in. My heart hurts for all of the Tariku's out there.

It's easy to see the orphans of the world as statistics when you are sitting in your living room. It is impossible when you have one in your lap.

The AWAA Interns had the brilliant idea to bring bottles of nail polish to give the girls at Kid's Care. They LOVED it.

I painted lots of fingernails

And had MY nail painted three times! One coat on top of another...

Two of the AWAA employees goofing off :)

The second orphanage that we visited was Gelgela. Benjamin spent a week there before coming to the America World Transition Home. It was a sad place. The toddler room (1-3 years) was the worst. There were two kids in each tiny crib just laying there. We got the feeling that they spend a lot of time in those cribs. They were without playfulness, without the noise that you should hear when you are around young children. They did not clamor for our attention. They just lay in their beds, awake and looking at us. Everything smelled like urine, and it was so dirty. We didn't see any toys. All the kids just stared at us while we were there. We passed out candy and granola bars, and even then the children just sat quietly. We left feeling very sad.

I'm not sure who this woman and child were, but there were sitting together off in a corner alone. I think they are both beautiful.

We brought several duffel bags full of donations with us to Ethiopia. We left the diapers and wipes at the Transition Home, but we saved the formula, clothes, and shoes for the orphanages. I was so glad to have something to leave for the children there. I wished that I had ten times as much to donate. I kept thinking of all the clothes and shoes that are sitting in boxes at home that I could have brought with me for these kids. They need them way more than we do.

The Guest House has a porch on the roof where you can get a great view of the city. The colorful storefronts along the main street are typical of what you see in Addis Ababa.

Blue taxis like these are everywhere in the city.

I love the scaffolding surrounding buildings under construction made out of eucalyptus limbs.


Cindy said...

Thank you for the amazing pictures. We did not visit any orphanages so this was a fascinating post.

Gillian said...

Bruik lived in Kids Care for a year--Ava for 3 months--before there was a transition home--thank you for loving on our babies' brothers and sisters there.
These updates are PRECIOUS, Sarah--I especially love and relate to what happens when "that orphan child" is now sitting in your lap...LOVE to you! Blessings, Gillian

Betsy and the Boys said...

I'm loving reading your detailed descriptions of your trip. But it is soooo hard to hear about these orphanages where the children sound so desperate and to be sitting over here on a waiting list for almost 6 months now! I just wish I could get on a plane and head over there!!
Benjamin is darling, great photos!

settlemoir5 said...

Thank you so much, Sarah, for taking the time to post your photos. Your descriptions of the orphanages really tugged at my heart. I hope we can visit the orphanages when we go.

jessica said...

I haven't had a chance to check the blog out until today with our move to Denver and all, but I have been sobbing with happy tears to see your son is home! And, it was an added bonus to see what I think are a few of the outfits I gave you guys that were my son's on Benjamin. That sent me over the edge! I have been so inspired by your journey and cannot wait to read about your new adventures as a family of four!