Our first night with the boys actually went quite smoothly. I was a bit nervous about them waking up and being scared in the middle of the night. Dagmawi slept most of the night. I heard him stirring and saw his head pop up over the bunk bed. He looked around and then layed his head back down and fell back asleep. Around 5 am he sat up and said "Mum?" I said "What Dagmawi." And he said "toilet". So I walked him to the bathroom and then he seemed like he was ready to get up. I motioned "sleep" and pointed to his top bunk and said "Tahn-ye". He looked at Maea sleeping in the bottom bunk and tucked the covers around her - then climbed into the top bunk and dozed off again. He ended up waking up around 6:30.
Tariku gets very tired around 8:00 pm but lays motionless in my arms with his eyes wide open. Jay took him and paced with him until he fell asleep. He slept with us in the middle of our bed and slept soundly all night long. In the morning, he crawled up and lay on the pillow for about 20 minutes with his cheek next to mine.
We introduced Dagmawi to the shower - which he thoroughly enjoyed by dancing around and singing. He then used the little sprayer attached to the toilet to spray out the shower. Hmmmm - that was a great idea since we share a shower and it's nice to have it rinsed out! He is quick to wash his hands and brush his teeth. He loves any and all electronic equipment and is constantly looking for the camera or the ipod or the video camera. He fiddles with every single button and quickly figures out how they work. It makes me nervous because I'm so afraid of somehow losing all of the pictures we have taken during this trip.
We had breakfast together and I was surprised to see a box of Kelloggs cornflakes in Amharic writing. Dagmawi quickly ate his breakfast and then went out to the small grassy courtyard to play soccer with Jay and the girls. They really rough-housed and I could hear the screaming and giggling inside as I was packing up the items we would need for the embassy. We ate a quick lunch of pizza and we discovered that Dagmawi hates pizza!!! What?!?!? What kid hates pizza? So he had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich instead. The rest of the day, Jay would say "Dagmawi ...... Pizza!" - just to see him screw up his face like it was the nastiest taste ever. Dagmawi has the absolute most expressive face ever! He is also quite the little monkey doing flips and backbends in the yard. His wiry little body is quite muscular. He is so loving having a daddy!!!
The boys are excited to ride in the van and they are glued to the windows the entire time. We arrived at the embassy and went through quite the security system (2 screenings actually). They x-rayed our bags and then made us take out the bottles of water and swallow some to prove it wasn't a chemical. Then any lotion (desiten, purel, sunscreen, etc.) had to be squirted in your hand and rubbed in to show it was not a chemical. It took quite awhile to get us all through. Rachel said the security is not normally this tight. They must have known the Wistroms and Hutchinsons were in town. :)
We ended up waiting for 2 hours before we got called up to the window and asked a series of questions by an American. We sat in the HOT and stuffy waiting room for 2 HOURS and the kids were angels. I dont think I have ever seen an American 1, 2, 6 & 7 year old sit still for that long without complaint. Even Emme and Maea were fidgeting and complaining after the first hour. It turned out that some of the Hutchinson's medical paperwork was delayed and they were waiting for it to arrive. That was why we waited for 2 hours. Everything was fine and we just had to weather the delay.
Finally we were called to the window - "Wistrom family please come to window #5". We were asked to swear an oath to tell the truth and then asked several questions about the boys and their status as orphans. This is the US government asking these questions to verify a legitimate reason to grant a U.S. visa. Evidently we answered the questions appropriately and were given the official adoption decree and their birth certificates. On Friday, Rachel will return to the embassy to pick up their Ethiopian passports and their US visa which will allow the boys to enter the country and be adopted as US citizens. And just like that it was done and official.
On their official documents, the children are automatically given the father's first and last name as their middle and last name. Any name change can be taken care of when they are re-adopted in the US. So Dagmawi's documents say Dagmawi Jay Wistrom and Tariku's say Tariku Jay Wistrom. (By the way, it seems I may not have been clear in yesterday's blog when I mentioned the new names. The TH nurse was talking with Dagmawi (our 7 year old) and Selam (the Hutchinson's 6 year old girl). These were the 2 older children that we asked their opinion on the name change. Dagmawi would be Jayden and Selam would be Lila. Sorry for the confusion!)
We left the embassy and did a little shopping and walking around in the Piazza area which is a shopping district with jewelry shops and clothing shops. We ended up getting the kids Ethiopia soccer jerseys and then we headed back to the Guest Home for dinner. Robel joined us upstairs on the balcony and we chatted awhile until dinner time.
After dinner, Kate and I asked another family at the Guest Home if we could use their bathtub to bathe Furtuna and Tariku. At the Guest Home, all of the rooms have a shared bath except for one room which has a tub shower. The other adoptive family was kind enough to welcome us into their room and then they watched as Furtuna and Tariku had their first bath. The kids were both a bit nervous at first and would not sit down in the water (Tariku had been bathed standing up.) They quickly figured things out and were laughing and giggling and splashing like crazy. They had quite a large audience as everyone watched them enjoying themselves. Tariku LOVES the water and pours it over his face and loves to have the shower turned on over his head. Furtuna, who has been so clingy to Kate, was smiling and laughing and Kate even ran up to the room twice to get something and Furtuna was fine for a few mintues without her. (Otherwise, she has been glued to Kate's side!)
After the bath, I laid Tariku on the floor and lotioned him from head to foot and he loved it. Dagmawi watched the whole thing and I explained this was "lotion". Then I told him to go take a shower and he would get lotion. He looked at me with surprise and pointed to himself with a questioning look on his face. "Yes - Dagmawi lotion" I said. And he tore off to the bathroom to take his shower. He quickly returned squeaky clean and dressed in his "jammies". I stripped him to his underwear and lotioned him from head to foot and he was smiling and smelling the lotion. He loved it and laid perfectly still and said "good" when I was done. I pointed to a scar on his left thigh and he said "Dog" and then mimiced a biting motion with his hands. I said "a dog bit you?" and he nodded yes. There are so many little things that these boys have experienced that we may never know about.
A short while later, while I was changing Tariku's diaper, Dagmawi (who fancies himself quite the acrobat), performed some sort of stunt between the couch and the ottoman and landed flat on his face. I heard a scared and pained cry and rushed out as Jay scooped him up with blood coming from his lip. He was crying and looking at the blood on his hands and really getting himself worked up. We grabbed a towel and soaked it in bottled water and held it to his lip. He kept pulling it away and looking at the blood and then trying to scrub it off - which only made the bleeding worse. Jay took him into the bathroom to calm him down and held the towel on his lip until it stopped bleeding. Jay carried him back to the room and he fell asleep in seconds - evidently exhausted from the recent events. He's got quite a gash on his lip and a cut on his gum, but is sleeping soundly.
Tariku fell asleep in my arms a short time later and everyone is in bed now.
I can't believe the number of comments we get about Dagmawi. Robel, our guide has a special attachment to Dagmawi and when we left the US Embassy, he scooped him up and put him in his car. He wore Jay's sunglasses and he sat in the front seat with Robel while we drove through the busy, crazy streets of Addis and the smile never left his face. I took pictures of him when they would pull up next to us and he wanted to see the pictures as soon as we were back together. Robel adores Dagmawi and Dagmawi thinks Robel is a super-hero!
I have noticed something unique about Tariku. When we sit down to eat, he will not touch his food and when I slice it and offer it to him, he keeps his mouth clamped shut and turns his face away. He then watches everyone for about the first 15 minutes and then he slowly reaches for his food and then consumes quite a large amount. But it has to be on his own terms and in his own timing. I showed him how to use bread to soak up his soup and when I would push the veggies together in soup bowl so he could scoop them easier with his bread, he would calmly pick up a spoon and push everything back to where it was, and then resume eating. What an interesting little kid! And such a charmer - he got his way at the TH because none of the nannies could refuse his beautiful face and his sweet personality.
Tomorrow - we meet Rachel at 10 am and we will spend a few hours at Kids Care orphanage so we can see the place our children first lived as orphans. We will also get to play with and shower attention on the orphans housed there now. We will also drop off the rest of the formula. After lunch we will visit AHope orphanage which houses children with HIV and we will play with them and shower them with love and attention too. From there we will visit the Alert hospital which cares for victims of leprosy. They have a weaving studio there and make some of the most detailed, hand-crafted woven goods and all purchases support the care of leprosy patients. We may go to the Hilton for dinner for a nice American style meal. (By the way - all of us are healthy and after a little queasiness the first few day, everyone is feeling great! The biggest challenge is motion-sickness from the constant braking and swerving through traffic and the nearly suffocating diesel fumes.)
On Friday, Rachel will pick up the U.S. Visas for the kids and the adoption will be complete and official in the U.S. as well as Ethiopia. Since Friday is a free day, I asked Robel if he would take us to the Mercado - which is the largest open air market in all of Africa. I understand that the market can be quite overwhelming and immense, and it offers everything imaginable! It will be quite an experience and we are all looking forward to it! I brought a backpack carrier for Tariku and he loves to ride on my back and observe everything happening around us.
A few other little tidbits about Ethiopia - when you are talking with an Ethiopian, whenever they agree with you or say "yes". They raise their eyebrows and make a sharp intake of breath. Sometimes Dagmawi will just give me an eyebrow raise to say yes to something I asked him. The sharp intake of breath kindof sounds like a gasp - but that is how they agree with you and say "yes". Also - I noticed at the TH, the kids ate their meal and then went to get a glass of water. They do not drink a beverage during the meal - only after the meal. When I ask them if they want something to drink while we are eating, Dagmawi says no and shakes his finger at me as if to say "What kind of crazy American idea is this? Drinking with your meal is crazy!" The kids are also quick to pray before eating by bowing their heads and reciting a prayer in Amheric and then crossing themselves 3 times.
Time for bed here! We are enjoying ourselves immensely and we are loving Ethiopia. The people are amazingly friendly and strikingly beautiful. When we are walking in the streets, the children say "firenge" in fascination (which means foreigner) and they come right up to us to say "hullo" and shake our hands. I would visit here again in a heartbeat!! Until tomorrow ... good night!!