|Saying hello again at HH on June 13, 2011. Forever in our arms!|
First Trip/ May 2011:
1. Wearing a fanny pack on my first day in ET because I didn't know if that's what I should do or not. I looked like an idiot, hence the pics w/ the fanny pack. I remember coming down the stairs at The Riviera getting ready to meet our travel group with my fanny pack on thinking, "this thing is so unlike me," but I figured when in Rome... Oh well. I felt like such moron seeing everyone w/ a simple backpack, but I didn't want to be one of those people who runs upstairs to "change." I mean, I was getting ready to go meet my son. Screw the fanny pack!
2. Being in the Heathrow Airport for eight hours; sleeping on the benches in the international terminal w/ all of my belongings strapped to me. By the way, I did some wonderful window shopping during our layover. I realized that people in England are eating a lot healthier than we are in the states; almost everything was fresh and organic. PS. A caviar bar??? Wow.
3. Riding in the van from the airport and seeing tons of people just wandering the street. It seemed as if they had nowhere to go. I kept thinking, "where are all of those people going?"
4. Getting used to not using the water to brush my teeth at the hotel and "showering" w/out a shower curtain.
5. Meeting our wonderful friends in our travel group who I had no idea I would grow to love so much!
6. Meeting Wass and wondering if I was going to die on each and every ride w/ him. We laughed so much on that van, I figured that if you were gonna go out, it wasn't a bad way to go (dark humor, but true)
7. Seeing the black gate at Hannah's Hope and just wanting to get behind it.
8. Asking the special moms where Getiso was when we got into the baby house, and there he was in his bouncy seat w/ those big, beautiful eyes looking at me like I was on crack while I cried and just picked him up. Steve and I were SO cautiously optimistic about Jesse Getiso, and I remember all of the emotions just flooding when I saw him. There was no holding back.
9. Seeing him smile and playing with Steve on that green couch! Bathing him in the turtle room that first day and meeting all of the wonderful special moms. I was overwhelmed with emotion.
10. My favorite time at HH was sitting in the courtyard with our friends, the special moms, the amazing staff at HH, and our kiddos just playing, laughing, interacting with the other beautiful kids at HH. It was nothing less than magical. The sun was shining everyday, and all of us begged for more time there when Wass said it was time to go. Sometimes we got our way!
11. Looking at Steve at dinner the first night at the Riviera and telling him that we were doing this again.
12. Going to TJ's gravesite. We asked if we could go but had no idea if we would be able to. They were so gracious in taking us. Having that time at his gravesite with his special mom that cared for him while he died was more than words could imagine. The scene itself at the cemetery was quite startling and eye opening. We were told that bodies are exhumed every 7 years to make room. TJ's gravesite had no marker, but it lay among fresh graves and caskets lying open everywhere. It made me realize how death is a part of their every day lives. I ached for the Ethiopian people.
13. Going to court...the most nerve wracking day of my life. We had no idea if all of our paperwork would be there. I literally almost crapped my pants and had to use the bathroom at the courthouse; not a good idea...no door, no toilet paper, no way to wash my hands. Let's just say that I didn't exactly sit down when they brought us before the judge. On the other hand, when she said that we all passed, I could care less if I had skid marks in my underwear.
14. The cultural dinner: Amazing! The dancing was outrageous! I laughed my butt off that night.
15. Last day with Jesse: he gave me kisses. Then we had to leave, and I cried all the way back to the Riviera and all the way home.
16. Last but not least, making phone calls to Alex from the front desk of the Riviera in the middle of the night. Our Internet access was really bad. The woman at the front desk was so lovely in helping me each night make a phone call to our baby girl back home. We missed her terribly.
Second Trip/June 2011:
1. Meeting up with our friends in Dulles to board our ET Air flight!
2. Meeting Almaz. I remember telling her thank you amidst tears of not only loving Jesse, but also TJ. she cried with me.
3. Being so giddy and sleep deprived, again, getting in the van to HH and singing Whitney Houston on the way. I believe it was "One Moment in Time." I was just so excited, and I couldn't contain myself.
3. Seeing Jesse and him smiling at us. Steve and I were ear to ear. We didn't even want to wait for someone to video us getting to him. I was beelining to the baby house as soon as I stepped through the gate.
HH, but I knew this must be terrifying for him.
5. Learning that Jesse loved to look at Steve and I; he would (and still does) grab our hair, sink his eyes into ours and give us huge open mouthed kisses (he still does this, and I have to say that I LOVE it.)
6. Calling Alex back at home to tell her about Jesse and hearing about her days.
7. Every meal with the gang.
8. I will never forget the image through the van window of the little girl sleeping in the street using the curb as a pillow. It was something that I know is forever etched in Steve's memory too.
8. Our last meeting with Almaz; saying goodbye to both Wass and Almaz. It was my last moment to say thank you. It was very emotional for me.
9. The trip, oh the trip home. I got so car sick in the van, and it followed me all 24 hours home. Thank God for Steve. I vomited in the airport and took so much medication that I was OUT. I guess it comes with the territory.
So, those are the highlights. I cannot wait to go back. My biggest regret was not having Alex with us. I would have loved for her to have experienced this with us. I'm praying that she can come next time!!! I love you, Ethiopia!
|The cemetery in Addis Ababa|