I fell asleep writing last night so now I will try to remember two days – both eventful and emotional.
In general I am not bothered by seeing the kids working the animals but every once in a while I saw a very young (2-4??) year old kid by the road by himself – I just felt, “I am done with Africa.” But I rallied. Lots of little boys don’t wear pants. It seems to be when they are of the potty training age.
We stopped for drinks in Butajira and despite going to the bathroom before we got back in our van – I still had to go a short time later. I held it for miles but we were stopped in one town waiting for the third van for awhile. There was a decent looking hotel across the street so I asked T if I could go. He escorted me – there was a meeting of some sort and he knew all the men. Apparently this is the town, Hosaina, where T went to high school. The bathroom was disgusting. (NOTE: Sparing you the exact description – which I for some reason included in my journal. Trust me, I am pretty tough when it comes to these things and yuck.)
I washed my hands at the sink in the hotel courtyard. The men (at the sink) and I tried to chat. They said, “Kambatinga?” I said, “English.” I told them Ethiopia was Konjo. They said I was Konjo. (NOTE: In some ways this felt like my most authentic experience of the entire trip… and I am not just saying that because they called me beautiful.)
Back on the vans we wound our way up a mountain and finally into Durame. The hotel is pretty scary. I had spaghetti for lunch. All the food has the same spice in it. Fortunately I like the flavor. Finally it was time to go to Agency’s Durame offices and meet the families and finders.
After orientation we went in groups (to meet our childrens’ special people) – because there were only three interpreters. I was in the second group.
I could tell M (Little Dude’s special person) was as nervous as me. Agency gives them a bowl and a grass bouquet to give us. He looked uncomfortable holding it – so I took it right away and set it on the desk. This bothered the interpreter. Also, I thought I introduced myself and said how grateful I was. Then the interpreter told me to start… so I asked my first question. He told me it would be customary for me to introduce myself first. Oops, I thought I had! Being “wrong” made me more nervous. I guess I got the answers I wanted… (NOTE: Sorry readers, but I can’t post some of what I wrote next in an effort to preserve our families’ privacy.)
Now that I am writing this I realize I should have asked for more, more, more details. But as the afternoon developed I did learn more. M. was disappointed I did not bring a photo of LD for him. I will send some right away. (Note: I did not find out I would meet M until about 48 hours before I left Oregon. This was part of my big fight with my agency. Therefore I did not bring photos.)
I told M, who was wearing a Bob Marley shirt, that I also liked Bob Marley – he said it was his friend’s shirt. He didn’t know who Bob Marley was. Strike Three.
When we finished the meeting I also messed up the good-bye gesture. Apparently he was going for a handshake – shoulder bump – bow. I thought he was going for the Ethiopian triple kiss. We also did an Ethiopian style hand kiss, which was nice.
Then I got my camera and was able to show him pictures of LD. He was so excited. He knew it was him from the birthmark. He was covering his mouth in delight, then touching his cheek where the birthmark is. Then thanking me over and over.
He and I went inside and he had a cup of coffee. I showed him some video of LD. It was uncomfortable, unnatural and stuffy in the room. So he and I went back outside. (NOTE: I can’t believe I described this so minimally in my journal. The first families and adoptive families that had already met were all sitting there with no way to communicate. No one knew it was okay to show them the pics on our cameras and videocameras – until I started doing it… yep, that’s me breaking rules and blazing trails. This time I could smell the coffee, or imagined I could. It was so incredibly awkward I HAD to go outside. M. seemed like he would be happy to get up and out of the room as well. I was trying to be polite, respectful and somehow use sign language to say, “Don’t you want to get the hell out of this little room?” I think in this case he knew where I was coming from.)
There was an older lady on the grass who he was checking in with. I figured out she was his mother. I showed her pictures of LD and she started crying. She picked grass and put it on my arm. M brushed it off – clearly embarrassed. But I was thrilled. It showed me the reality of what they told us in the interpreter meeting – that grass is a symbol of connection and gratitude, of covenant and binding together.
We took pictures of the three of us.
Eventually there was a group prayer and a group photo – than we left.
There were two stories told to the families at the meeting – one was they would have to come to the office to get photos and letter. One was that materials would be brought to them. I am not sure what is right but I plan to send photos and I hope, hope, hope M and Mama M get them.
Next we walked to the Durame Care Center. The buildings are nice. The orphanage just moved here a couple months ago. However, the kids are covered in ringworm and flies. The ratio of nannies was clearly lower than in Addis. Many of the babies looked malnourished. There was one baby in the “special needs” room who was rocking.
They do have playground equipment. I let a little girl steal my glasses and felt terrible stealing them back at the end. But I know she would not have been able to keep them anyway. (Note: I am prone to migraines that seem to be started by bright-light. So I have to have good sunglasses with me. Do I sound high-maintenance enough? Yes, high-maintenance and willing to take things from orphans – that is me.)
This Care Center made me feel like I was “saving” a kid. (Note: Remember you are giving me the benefit of the doubt. I am not saying I wanted to feel that way. I am saying, this was a far cry from the Addis care center. And even though it was generally impressive, the fact remains that contagious disease runs rampant)
The head nurse showed me where LD slept and told me he was a very fast crawler. I don’t know how much I believe of what they say. Sometimes it sucks to be so skeptical. (NOTE: I was skeptical about the crib, and only a little about the crawling. Also, I remember this so perfectly and hardly wrote anything about it. She was trying to pantomime to me that he would go, go, go. Then she started talking to another nanny, who got up, looked at the picture on my camera and started laughing. Then she started pantomiming the same thing, crawl, crawl, crawl. Anyone who knows Little Dude today knows this is completely accurate.)
After a short visit we went back to the hotel. I had my first MetaBeer (and my second). We all hung out in the restaurant, drinking, laughing and talking. Eventually dinner came. I had vegetables and rice.