Friday, 4 September 2009

YEAH Visa :-) (Friday 12th June)

Got up bright and early this morning, and got straight into the shower, dressed the kids and fed Baby and was downstairs by 7.30am!! Rang W at the orphange at 8.15am to find out where the driver (due at 8am!) was. She chased him up and he arrived at about 8.30am and we went off to the orphanage. I had also received a phone call from the Embassy telling me that I should come there after 11am not at 9am as first arranged, the lady (the one I had dealt with each time I visited) also checked that I was OK and that I wasn't sad anymore, which I thought was very sweet and caring :-)

I was quite nervous about meeting E the man (and his wife) who had brought Baby from where she first lived to the orphanage in Addis Ababa. Would they approve of the how she looked? How she was being cared for? When we arrived E was waiting at the orphanage gate, he held Baby and I took their photo together and then with his wife holding Baby, another piece of her past to share with her when she is older :-) He asked me how long I wanted to stay and when could we go? I didn't understand as he can go whenever he wants!! I took Little Prince and Baby into the orphanage to meet with her early caretakers, who are all very caring (although extremely busy) women. We saw Sister (the nurse who works fulltime at the orphanage) and another of the ladies was very excited to see Baby, she took her from me and cooed over her a lot. Baby didn't seem to mind being taken away, and these people love her so I didn't mind. Sister allowed me to take a note of the details of Baby's weekly weighings at the orphanage, and even insisted on weighing her there and then (although fully clothed so not as accurate, but she has put on a whole kilo/35 ounces in the last three weeks with us!!). Little Prince was overwhelmed by the experience and being in the orphanage, despite being very excited about the thought of being there and playing with the older children, he found the reality too difficult - which translated into lots of whining and mischief. He kicked the orphanage football into the drain outside and then jumped in to retrieve it!! I asked W if we could go now lol. However, the driver had had to go and see to his ill child and we had to wait. Little Prince's behaviour and attitude got worse and worse, but there was very little I could do, but try to contain him until we could leave!! Whilst also chatting with E and his wife, we exchanged email and postal addresses and I felt it would be wonderful to keep in touch with them :-)

The boys at the orphanage had all had their heads shaved recently (to discourage nits I presume). And the little boy B I had fallen in love with on my last visit looked very cute, and was still a little s*d and reminded me so much of Little Prince :-)

The driver finally returned and me, Little Prince and Baby got in the car, followed by E and his wife! I was a bit alarmed by this, but the driver seemed to knoww hat was going on so presumed he was giving them a lift or something. When we got to the Guest House, me and the kids piled out of the car, followed by E!! I was wondering what was going on!! He then asked for a gift!!! I said I needed to put Baby down and went into the Guest House, hoping some of the staff would be there - the place was deserted!! I came back outside to E and asked him what he meant by a present, he said that Mr Messy had told him I would give him a present! And said photos! I heaved a huge sigh of relief and rushed upstairs to get some photos of Baby I had printed out from our first visit to Addis. I gave him all the best photos we had as I was very grateful for his and his wife's care of Baby on her long journey to the orphanage :-) E thanked me and got back in the car to leave, me and Little Prince stood their to wave to them. Just as they were turning the corner in the courtyard towards the gate, E got out of the car again and came and said he needed a transport fee. OMG!! What do I do?? Me and the children seemed to be all alone in the Guest House and I was feeling quite intimidated :-( I asked him how much? Five hundred. I was feeling quite panicked and just gave him the money, and hoped he would now leave!! I cried after this encounter and felt it completely soured the lovely experience of meeting these early carer's of Baby. I immediately texted Mr Messy to tell him what had happened and ask why he hadn't told me he'd promised E a present!! Mr Messy was LIVID!! He had never promised anything of the sort and was extremely angry that E had put me in such a position. He contacted E himself (they had exchanged mobile phone numbers) and read him the riot act! E replied that he was very sorry but Mr Messy should understand how hard life was where he lived.

Before he had dropped us off I had asked the driver if he could come back at 11am to take us to the Embassy. We set off and I realised that we were driving to the Visa Application Centre, not the Embassy, I pointed this out to the driver who apologised and said he had to take his child to the doctor at 11.15am so wouldn't be able to take us to the Embassy. He said he would take us to his best friend another driver that he trusted, and the friend would take us to the Embassy and back. I thanked the driver for helping us out like that :-) The friend D drove one of the blue and white taxis you see all over the place in Addis, and Little Prince was very excited to have a go in one :-)

We were dropped off and made our way inside. I explained to the guard that I had an appointment about a Visa for Baby, which totally confused him as he thought we must be there for a Passport (the Embassy don't usually give you the Visa its all done at the VAC). I didn't know the name of the Vice Counsel who had told me to come back either!! I had to insist I HAD an appointment but didn't know who it was with!! Eventually he relented and let us through! While all this had been going on Little Prince and the other guard had been pulling faces at each other through the hatch you put your mobile phones & cameras through lol. When we had passed through the scanner, me and Little Prince were both pat down searched, I explained that this made sure he was safe. He was then miffed that Baby wasn't searched as we didn't know if she was safe or not lol!!! We went down the long corridor to the same window as yesterday, to be met by the same lady as yesterday :-) She was very apologetic and said that the Visa was stil being printed so we would have to sit down and wait. This was the first time I allowed myself to believe that we would actually get the Visa today and we would all be able to go home together tomorrow as planned. It was all I could do to hold in the tears!! Happy tears :-)

Me and Little Prince sat in the waiting area playing I Spy and Alphabet (think of a category and think of something in that category for each letter of the alphabet) for ages. I hadn't realised how much Star Wars info I'd picked up from Little Prince, but I managed really well on Star Wars Alphabet lol, much better than I thought I'd do lol. Then another lady called us over to a different window and handed me Baby's Ethiopian Passport with her Visa in (and all the supporting documents we'd provided to the VAC). I cried lots of happy tears :-) I couldn't believe we'd actually got the Visa issued in the nick of time :-) Little Prince cried too, he was so happy that Mummy and Baby would be able to come home with him, Daddy and Drama Teen. I hadn't realised how much me and Baby staying behind was worrying him! It was such a huge relief to know that we would all definitely be returning home together :-)

When we exited the Embassy our taxi and driver weren't outside, I had a moments panic before noticing him across the other side of the road (all cars seemed to have been told to park over there). I was just about to start making my way across the road, when one of the soldiers outside stopped me and motioned to D that he should come over and get us. Which was very nice of him as getting Little Prince across the road safely would have been a challenge!! I asked D to take us to the Hilton Hotel, as there is a KLM flight centre there where we can sort out Baby's ticket. On the drive D taught us some simple Amharic. He also insisted on calling Little Prince "baby" which infuriated Little Prince and he objected loudly "I'm not a baby! I'm OLD!!" I explained to D that to call a 6 year old a "baby" in England would be considered an insult! D explained that all children under 10 years ish would be called "baby" in Ethiopia. I tried to explain this to Little Prince, and D agreed to call Little Prince by his name not "baby" - peace restored!! When D dropped us at the Hilton he gave us his card and said we would have to ring him when we were ready, as he wasn't allowed to park in the grounds or to come to the door to pick us up!!

On entering the Hilton we were again ushered past the security scanner. VERY annoying and infuriating as it was blatently obvious that white people were ushered through and black people (no matter how smartly dressed) were asked to pass through the scanner. An Ethiopian-Canadian businessman we were chatting to on the walk to the front door was searched!! We found the KLM flight centre and sat down to wait. Baby decided this would be the perfect moment to demand her bottle lol. When I took her out of the sling (you can't really see her when she is in it) the other customers (Ethiopian and including the businessman we had chatted to minutes before lol) asked how old she was and where she was from. They were all very very surprised that she was Ethiopian!! I don't understand what it is about Baby that makes Ethiopians think she isn't Ethiopian!! I was still feeding Baby when our turn came, so I let the businessman go in front of us. By the time Baby had finished feeding and we were seen, Little Prince was as high as a kite!! He played (wildly!) on the office swivel chairs and kept turning the office lights off!! The KLM lady was, like most Ethiopians, very indulgent with him, which was nice but didn't help me when I was telling him off!! She threatened him with the hotel guard and he was persuaded to turn the office lights back on and was only mildly wild after that!! It took quite a while to sort out Baby's lapseat but we eventually managed it. She asked to see Baby's passport and was shocked that Baby wasn't Chinese!!! I tried to pay for Baby's ticket by credit card, but (as had happened to two other customers that we'd seen) it wouldn't go through. I presume there are problems with the communcations or something?? I had anticipated this could happen and had sufficient cash with me to pay for the ticket that way instead.

Then to celebrate I took Little Prince to the poolside cafe for lunch. He wasn't happy that we couldn't swim, but even he had to agree we didn't have our swimsuits and that he didn't want to swim in his undies!! The waitress seating us folded up a couple of chair cushions for Little Prince to sit on so he could reach the table better, the trouble is that with all his wriggling he kept knocking the cushions off and insisting I replaced them, which wasn't easy with Baby in her sling!! Little Prince ordered sausages, but was brought nuggets!! I ordered (and received) a fantastic chicken breast sandwich and fries, yummy :-) Little Prince's apple juice arrived in a large long stem glass, with a fancy straw (which he predictably destroyed!). He was very impressed to have such a grown up drink :-) Afterwards he noticed the Ice Cream Counter and went over to order one!! He chose his own, and chose coffee! Guess what - he didn't like it!!

Feeling full and refreshed we made our way back to the front doors and rang D. He apologised but he was having his lunch and asked if we could wait a little while. No problem :-) Little Prince played on the luggage trolley and one of the doormen pushed him round and played with him :-) I love the way most Ethiopians are so kind and friendly to children, and it isn't just white children as I saw the same behaviour with black Ethiopian children :-) D finally arrived and apologised for taking so long, but he had had a very hard security check to get in (we were just waved through when first arriving and me and the kids were in the car!). On the way back we saw LOTS of armed soldiers, D explained that the President was moving around the city. The traffic was a lot busier than I'd noticed it being before too! At one junction we were stopped by soldiers (not just us the whole line of traffic) and told to go a different way, D tried to argue with them but to no avail.

While we were on this detour D got a phone call from the orphanage asking him to pick up two students. I had no idea what D meant by this and thought it was a bit odd lol. He parked the car and left us there while he crossed the road and disappeared down a side street. It was sooo hot sat there (no air con) and it seemed to be a very long time before he returned. He had with him two older children from the orphanage, who I recognised from my first visit :-) Apparently their (non UK) parents are paying for them to attend school (in their new language) while the parents wait for their Court Date :-) When we arrived at the Guest House I asked D to tell the children that Baby (who they remembered and recognised) and I wish them a happy life in their new country, and Little Prince gave them the rest of his Pringles.

Not long after we arrived back, a hot, sweaty and tired Mr Messy and Drama Teen arrived back too :-) Its lovely to be all together again :-) Mr Messy went to pay the driver and was surprised that the price he was quoted (1500birr) was a daily rate and not for the whole trip as he had presumed!! Which left us with very little spare cash after taking out what we owed the Guest House (again presuming we can't pay by card). Very disappointing as we had hoped to go souvenir shopping!!! We spent the rest of the afternoon chatting about their trip and about what me and the little two had got up to. Mr Messy was still livid about E's behaviour and rang the orphanage to speak to them about it. He spoke to W about it and demanded to know why we had had to pay a "transport fee" if any fees were due to be paid they should have been paid by the orphanage and be totally seperate and nothing to do with us!! W said I shouldn't have paid him, but Mr Messy pointed out that I had been in an extremely vulnerable position and didn't think I had a choice! He could hear her relating the conversation to the orphanage director whilst he was talking. W apologised for the situation and we hope that no one else has to deal with something like this.

We were all too tired to go out to eat so ate at the Guest House. Little Prince and the young Guest House manager had another water fight, which Mr Messy didn't know was ok and he went ballistic!! He dragged a sopping wet Little Prince in and gave the manager a tongue lashing!! After tea I sent Little Prince upstairs to get ready for bed and told him to come down when he was ready so that I could go and tuck him in. A few minutes later we heard a blood curdling terrified scream and a shout of "MUM"!!! Then an utterly panicked and shaking Little Prince appeared. He couldn't even speak he was shaking that much!! Eventually I managed to gather that he had come down the outside stairs (he has been told not to when its dark!!) and a cat had hissed at him!! The terror is partly my fault as I had told him not to go near animals and try to pet them, as they could have nasty diseases and make him ill!! Once everyone heard what had happened they all started to laugh, which made Little Prince even more upset!! Oh joy!! Eventually I got him upstairs and calmed down enough to go to sleep, I had to show him the door to the stairs was now locked and no cat could get in to get him!!

When I finally got back downstairs Drama Teen announced she was tired and was going to bed. Me and Mr Messy stayed up and chatted to N (the Russian UN worker staying long term at the Guest House) for ages. Then we watched Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkahban before feeding Baby and getting off to bed ourselves. This would be our last night in Ethiopia and I had mixed emotions about our impending removing of Baby from her birth country - happiness that we would be going home (and seeing LMS, I missed her so much) and having all our familiar things around us. But also sadness at the thought of taking Baby away from Ethiopia, she will grow up knowing about Ethiopia (and my Ethiopian friend S is so looking forward to teaching her Amharic) but will never again BE Ethiopian. When she comes back to Ethiopia she will see things through a Western/English filter and not as an Ethiopian would. I am longing to get home, to be able to eat familiar foods, be able to use our washing machine, to know that we will have electricity when we wake up, to sleep in my own bed and wake up in my peaceful village. But I am also going to miss the friendly. vibrant atmosphere of Addis, miss all the Guest House staff who have been so incredibly helpful and kind, miss Kaldi's, Bole Mini and especially Bilo's Pastry! I feel incredibly guilty that I am also looking forward to being able to blend into a crowd and not stand out like a sore thumb, because the same journey that gives me this takes this ability away from Baby. Life will probably be hard for her a black girl in a white family (although Little Prince is partly North African his appearance is currently white), in a white village, in a white country :-( Me and Mr Messy made a commitmant when we adopted her and part of that commitmant is to find ways to help her navigate her path in life so that she grows up to be a confidant and happy black woman. I hope that we are up to the task.

4 comments:

Three Motherlands said...

Hi Janet,

Just to say how lovely it is to have had all these bits from your time in Ethiopia filled in! SUCH an experience and I can appreciate your hard work to capture it all so well.

Met our friend's (J&C's) daughter a couple of weeks ago when they came here for a visit! They had only been home a couple of weeks so it was such an honour, and S is just gorgeous with a BIG BIG BIG personality! LOL! Hopefully you'll all meet up sometime.

I can imagine just how full your life is now with your family complete.

lots of love,
Ellen xxx

kristine said...

wonderful to read. thank you so much for taking the time to write it out so thoroughly.

your writing about your little girl and her world is very poignant. it will have it's difficult moments, but it will have it's blessings too.

Janet said...

Hi Ellen,

Thank you :-) Hopefully Baby will be able to look back at this record of how she joined our family and appreciate it too.

When you next see J&C & S send them my love and I hope they've recovered from their mammoth stay over there!! I know they found it hard at the time.

Hope you are enjoying your days while Cowgirl is at school, and its obvious from your postings that she is enjoying school :-)

Love
Janet
xxx

Janet said...

Hi Kristine,

That was the last of the "detailed posts" as I stopped taking notes after that lol. But there's only one day left to blog and that was filled with packing so not much of interest anyway lol.

I am sure that Baby's childhood and future life will have many moments of joy and happiness, but I think she will have extra challenges that we (her parents and siblings) don't have too. Hopefully we will be able to do enough to help her grow up confident and happy, but sometimes that seems such a daunting task!

Hope Q enjoyed his first day of first grade :-)

Love
Janet
xxx


OUR ETHIOPIAN ADOPTION TIMELINE


25th May 2009 - See New Child again & Court Date

23rd May 2009 - Fly back to Ethiopia

26th March 2009 - Fly to Ethiopia :-)

3rd March 2009 - Dossier Arrived at Orphanage

26th February 2009 - Dossier sent to Ethiopia

22nd December 2008 - Dossier back at DCSF

28th November 2008 - Certificate of Eligibility ISSUED

6th October 2008 - PASSED Approval Panel

7th July 2008 - Homestudy Update Started

28th Feb 2008 - Told LA we wished to change country

OUR CHINA ADOPTION TIMELINE

Formally withdrew from the China Adoption Programme 17th July 2008

LID (Logged in Date) with CCAA 16th August 2007

Documents to China 10th August 2007

Passed Approval Panel 5th March 2007

Homestudy started 6th June 2006

First Contact with our LA 1st Jan 2006