Well we are home from our first trip to Ethiopia! What an unforgettable experience it was, can’t believe we are back home and waiting on our second trip! Where do I start…..everything about our time away was educational and something one really can’t fully understand unless you are there in the moment. We started our journey with a stopover in London, what a beautiful place! We had a layover so decided to break it up some, extend our time in London, in hopes of adjusting to the time change quicker once we arrived in Ethiopia. We did as much sightseeing in two days that some probably do in a week. We had a fantastic time together, but were all excited and anxious to get to Ethiopia! We started our journey to Ethiopia and began with what was going smoothly to a quick bumpy start. “I’m sorry Robyn, we don’t have a ticket for you” …huh….so what was once plenty of time to get on our flight turned into about 10 min to get to the plane. They finally figured it out, but it took forever and the London airport is huge and was about a 15 min plus walk to get to the gate! Annoying! We boarded the plane at 9pm and arrived in Ethiopia at 7am the next morning. The flight was okay, not great! Ethiopian air decided to serve meals one by one by one….which took FOREVER….then decided to leave all the meals on the trays for a good 2 hours with the lights on. Finally as they picked the meals up and dimmed the lights, the lights were back on and it was snack time! Ahhhhhhh!!! Needless to say, none of us got much sleep and were pretty tired upon landing in Ethiopia! We were greeted with a big smile from our guide, such a sweet man!! Loaded the van with our 9++ bags and off we went. Eyes wide open as we took in Addis on the way to the hotel. Wow!! In a short amount of time, we quickly realized this was going to be a trip of a lifetime.
We checked into the hotel, maybe had an hour and off we went to meet our son!! Again, the drive along the way is bumpy, dusty, dirty, and something we had to adjust to. There are pretty much NO traffic lights or stop signs. What I think is a 2 lane road turns into 3-4 wide pretty quickly. Entering an intersection is pretty much pure chaos, cars going all directions, you give a beep and start cutting across lanes and lanes of oncoming traffic. Completely nuts, but it seems to work for them. Cattle, goats, and horses sometimes just stand in the middle of the road, cars just go around them. When you are in bumper to bumper traffic you will hear a faint voice at your window, asking you for money or food. They say to ignore them, but that is easier said then done. Pretty soon you have multiple kids and adults all asking and they have the saddest face and eyes. I started carrying packs and packs on gum in my purse to hand out. Gum in Ethiopia is expensive and seems to be a HUGE treat for them. I would hear a faint voice or knock and would slip gum out the window. We would get a HUGE smile and almost a scream!!! Kids would run off yelling something (pretty sure whatever they said was something like “GUYS COME ON, FREE GUM” and soon there would be some friends at the van asking for some too! To see how something as simple as a pack of gum brings such joy, is mind boggling. We will be bringing more gum with us on trip two, if anyone wants to donate.
We arrived down a bumpy side road, got out and knocked on a metal door. We have arrived at the orphanage! We walked in, eyes big ….and wide open!! We waited and waited and then one of the workers walked out with Sawyer, handed him to us and walked away. Wow!!! The moment is here, we are holding and meeting our son for the first time. He is precious, adorable, shy and a bit scared. He did pretty well but cried a lot. I mean, I get it….we don’t “look” like him, so I understand his reservation. He is such a sweet, sweet boy. At this point, we really can’t believe we are holding him after almost 3 1/2 years….completely crazy! We spent about 2 hours the fist day at the orphanage. We just sat around and held him. He wouldn’t let us put him down, or sit down and he was trying to hide his face most of the time. The nannies were there washing all the clothes by hand in buckets, placing them on the lines to dry. We didn’t really get to talk to anyone, nannies etc…so literally we just spent two hours staring at him, holding him and wondering what he was thinking. Day two was similar to day one, but this time we walked around some and met some of the other children. Bubbles were a big hit and all of the older children loved blowing them on their own! One by one we held the wand while they blew bubbles!! It was wonderful to see them smile and interact with us and my parents. They would light up and you just wondered what they were thinking. Knowing that some or most of the children will never be eligible for adoption is heartbreaking. We would have taken several of the children home with us, literally. There is nothing easy about standing there knowing one child’s life will forever be changed, while the others will remain the same. There is simply nothing easy about it. They all deserve a chance, they all deserve a family, they all deserve love and security. It is a tough situation, and if I could, I would help more in a heartbeat. I do know that most of the kids don’t know any different, but we know different and we know what they are missing out on.
There is so much more to write…. to be continued with pictures!!!