We spent most of our days in the week we were in Addis at the orphanage. Most days our driver would pick us up at 10am and we'd return to the Guest House at about 4pm.
On the first few visits to the orphanage I seemed to have developed a defensive tunnel vision. All I registered, all I saw, all I allowed myself to see was my new child. However, the many, many, many other children broke through my defenses and it was heartbreaking to realise just how many children there were in just this one small orphanage :-( The majority were small babies under 12 months old, then there were about 10 toddlers and a handful of older children. The orphanage director works tirelessly to place the children and the majority were already allocated to families, which eases my heart a little. I just hope there are no hold ups and the children, especially the older ones join their new families soon.
I wish it were possible to adopt more of the children, one two year old little boy who so reminded me of Little Prince at that age and a little girl slightly older who was so loving and caring with the other toddlers in particular touched my heart. Then there were the two older boys, who were so desperate for a hug, a touch a cuddle. One spent an hour stood by my side as I cuddled our new child, just letting me hug him and stroke his tummy. He told the Nurse on staff that he loved me. I hope his new Mummy and/or Daddy arrives soon and gives him all the cuddles he so obviously needs.
Apart from one or two children who were obviously ill, all the children and babies are healthy and well taken care of in the circumstances. And I saw how hard Nurse worked to care for one ill toddler, assessing him and working out what in her meagre store of medications would help him. At first I was scared to ask how he was, he seemed to have disappeared and I worried that something awful had happened, but a few days later he was out and about with the other children, not fully recovered but tonnes better than he had been.
The babies and toddlers are all weighed weekly and I was allowed to take a copy of our child's weight record. I was also told that I would be allowed to take away the immunisation record once we have legally adopted.
There were some worrying things about the care the babies/toddlers got. For example we were told it was cold when we were there, and so the toddlers were kept in their cots all day, except to eat! And the tiny babies were kept swaddled up, wearing hats and covered in thick blankets, the poor things were so hot and sweaty! The slightly older babies seemed to spend their whole days in car seats, and most of them had perfected the worrying art of self stimulating - either flicking their fingers in front of their faces or kicking their legs to rock the seat. And the nappy rashes were horrendous, it turned my stomach watching our child's nappy be changed and listening to the cries. I did manage to get in touch with another UK adopter who arrived the day after we left and got them to bring nappy rash cream, I hope it helps.
I am not complaining about the way the babies and children were cared for, the staff did a fantastic job with their very limited resources. The babies were all held to be fed and all the children seemed to be happy and healthy. Its just not the same as having a committed parent(s) who are solely looking out for one or two children's welfare, and that is the environment that children NEED to thrive. No matter how good an orphanage is, its not a family, and all children NEED a family.