Today was heaven sent!!!

Today was truly heaven sent! I can't even begin to express in words what it was to see our son for the first time in "real life". Even though I'd seen his photo a million times, nothing could have prepared me for the flesh and blood version. The day started with breakfast at the hotel and then an orientation at the Hilton (let me just say that the Hilton compound is like an island resort! Beautiful landscaping and lots of little shops. There's a gate guard that you have to go through just to enter. The Addis View is only 6 stories with maybe 4 rooms on each floor, very intimate and the staff is amazing. Anything you want you can call and get and if they don't have it they will sent a bellman out to the store for you! So I'm not complaining about the Addis View at all, but when you see the Hilton you know why it's so expensive. ) Anyway… so we were supposed to eat at the garden restaurant near the pool but they don't start serving until noon. That meant we left the hotel at 9am with this nervous energy and extreme anxiety and had to hold it in for 4 hours while waiting for after lunch to meet our kids. I had the chicken nuggets and I DO NOT recommend them. They tasted just like fried alligator. Very greasy and rubbery, but the fries are great and the Michael's hamburger was quite good. While we were at lunch I asked Duni about Enf*** and the Kulp's and Semlow's court cases. She told me that she actually sent some America World staff down to Awassa and they are staying there to go through all of the paperwork with the orphanage to make sure that they have everything done properly by court! I know this bit of info put my heart at ease and I hope it does the same for you guys. I stressed Kim and Sherrie just how devastated you guys were and she is WELL aware that this is unacceptable. I know she felt terrible already but I really make it a point to say how devastating it is to know that failed court can add 3 months onto a wait time. We also found our at the paperwork party that Ezra is ONE MONTH older then we thought. On our referral information it says birth date 07/06/08 so we were thinking July BUT in ET the way it works is that the day of the month is first then the month meaning that Ezra was born 06/07/08 for us! So June 7th is his new birthday!!!!! I highly recommend everyone check their dates. Rachel was very sweet and LOVES these kids. She's actually flying to Italy for Christmas break with Barrett so she will not be in the office. We left lunch and literally the minute I got on the van I started feeling VERY sick! Rumbly tummy and extreme nausea. I hadn't gotten car sick yet so I started to worry if it was the food or the ET funk. I prayed the entire ride to the new TH that God would at least let me meet Ezra and enjoy a few moments with him before I was out of commission. The buses are stuffy, the air pollution is sickening, and the roads to the new TH are nearly impassable. I seriously wanted to hurl myself from the van at times b/c I was just getting sicker and sicker. When we were leaving the hotel, Duni got a call from a tearful Furtuna (head nurse at the TH) that Million Stager was in the hospital. He had started vomiting/diarrhea last night and they brought him to the clinic this am. So we had to drop off the Stagers at the hospital so they could be with him – VERY sad and let me just say those two are amazing!!!!! What troopers… the sheer grace with which they handled the entire situation was very inspiring. After dropping them off we went through the silver and black gates and Michael and I were the first family to meet our kids. It was really surreal. I couldn't believe that he was real and that this was actually happening. Ezra is more then I could have ever imagined or prayed for. He did not cry or fuss ONE time while we were there. He immediately took to Michael and would lye on his chest. One of the most heartwarming experiences of my life has been to witness the man I adore holding this immense blessing from God. They are going to be BEST friends I can tell. The Caldwells went after us and Caleb was very scared at first and cried a bit. The gate guard tried his best to speak to him in Amharic and console him. After an hour or so he was fine and loving to be with his family. The Sloniger's did great and their baby was giggling and loving on his dad shortly. Samara Witter was woken up to take to Elaine so at first she was quite groggy/catatonic but still held close to Elaine. After she began to wake up some and played with Elaine she was great. The hardest part was leaving the kids for sure. Samara cried when Elaine tried to put her down and was just clinging for dear life for her not to leave. HEARTWRENCHING! I couldn't help buy cry. So even though it was a very sad thing it was very encouraging b/c she did NOT want her mama to leave J All of the kids bonded quickly and I can't wait to pick them up tomorrow. The new transition home is HUGE. It really is a compound which a huge house and large school with more rooms for the older kids and offices for the staff. While I was in the office there were at least 5 people working diligently. Also America World just hired a physician on Friday and makes daily rounds after 5pm. YEA!!! Kim, I weighed Micah and he weighs more than Ezra. Ezra was 6.6 kg. I have pictures/video of ~98% of all the kids, 100% of the babies. The older kids were in school so we didn't get to take many pics of them obviously. I took 363 photos today and hopefully will take more tomorrow. We have to leave the hotel at 8:30am to meet at the TH to get our kids at 9am and then our embassy appointment is at 10am.. We may go back to the TH, drop the kids off and then go shopping and then come back and take more pics then since we're soooo rushed and have so little time there. I can honestly say that I am completely exhausted from today. I spent little time with Ezra b/c I was trying to get photos and video. I had plans to do Christmas crafts, etc. but I literally was taking pics and stuff until the minute before we left! I was feeling SO crummy while I was there I had to run to the bathroom twice. Not fun at all when you want to enjoy your new baby. I think I have stress colitis. I haven't eaten/drank anything bad but I haven't been able to sleep and with all the anxiety these last few days, I think my body is fighting back. I really felt like I may die on the way back to the hotel. Tonight everyone went to a traditional ET restaurant for a show but I had to stay at the hotel b/c I'm so sick and I want to be healthy by tomorrow b/c I have to now learn how to be a mom. We had a quick introduction at the TH b/c Ezra had pooped while he was in the baby bjorn and Michael didn't notice so when I went to take him I felt his back was wet and very stinky so the poop had actually come up to his neck and covered his back! He didn't even fuss once. We changed him and bathed him and he was fine. I have the bjorn soaking in my bathtub now. I can tell you that the other families were not too pleased with us on the ride back in a hot stuffy van J

I'm going to try to say a little something about each of the kids now: When you see the pics and notice that your child is in a bumbo or laying down it's only because I was on my own to take pics and couldn't hold the child and take a photo at the same time though I tried. But know that your kids were held and passed around the group and kissed and hugged the ENTIRE time! I personally hugged/kissed/held EVERY child that I saw. Makes for very exhausting work.

Semlows – Ay** is almost impossible to photograph, she's like a bee, buzzing everywhere nonstop. She is very loveable and wanted to be held and hugged but she's also quite independent. Kas***- while we were waiting for Ezra outside the front of the home he literally walked right up to me with his arms out for a hug! I immediately bend down and started loving in him. He LOVE to take pictures and see himself in them. He also loves to give kisses J He was smiling the WHOLE time and loved playing with Robel and his brother. I've got lots of really cute pics of them horsing around. Fa*** – also loves to take and be in pictures! He definitely needs a digital kids'camera! Robel loves these boys and rough houses with them a lot. F*** likes to hang out in the "guys' room" with the older kids.

All of your kids were total hams and were VERY happy. You just say "cheese" and they immediately start waving and smiling!

Halls – your boy is VERY smiley! I didn't get many pics of him but I did get video. He was like an addict for skittles J He seems quite healthy.

Chans – I got loads of video and pictures of your boy. He was sleeping most of the time but I played your little cell phone message for him a few times and the nannies loved it! They were taking it around and showing people your photos and letting them hear the message. There is one nanny who speaks great English and she would translate what you were saying for them. He's very tiny but doesn't seem malnourished. I think his nanny is in love with him b/c she held him constantly and kissed him many many times.

Kulps – We kept Micah with us as much as possible. He actually cried when Michael put him down b/c we had to leave L We would get quick little smiles out of him but once you show him the camera he would get serious again and stop smiling. So I think it's a camera thing and not a personality thing. Granted he wasn't giggling, he would still smile. He doesn't seem to have changed much physically. I played him your card with the message but will have to take pics of him in his Christmas outfit tomorrow b/c we ran out of time. He is held often by the nannies (he and Ezra have the same main nanny… the one with light skin and lots of freckles).

Howleys – Sarah is such a happy girl! She is very easy to make smile and she's such a chunk. The only time she cried was when I put her down. She loved being held and wanted to pull on my hair J I took pics of her in her hat and told the nannies that it was homemade. They liked it a lot. As you will see we tried to take pics of her with her cards while she was laying down and she did NOT like that. When I would try to leave her she would get very upset.

Joners – I took lots of pics and some video of Jayleen (spelling?). She hasn't changed much in appearance. Still beautiful and very contemplantive. She was quite amiable and content.

Sapp – I'm in love with Y***! She was a real treat and was very sweet and loving. I think she hugged and kissed me like 6 times! When I went to leave she kept coming up to me and would hug and love on me.

Forrest – your baby girl is definitely a snuggler! She LOVES being held and HATES being put down. Literally the entire time we were there she was held by Elaine's friend Amanda. I held her first then put her down and she'd cry so later Amanda got her and that was that. She was happy as a lark to be in someone's arms. Your son was asleep right up to when we had to leave so I didn't get to interact with him much L

Blackwells – your girl is a hoot. She also is very animated and on the go so it's hard to get a picture of her with her in constant motion. Her smile is killer and I just adore her. She played with the families the entire time. She actually was awake when we got there and I walked into the toddler room, she immediately put her arms out to be picked up. She would crawl into people's laps and set up shop J

Black – your girl was easy to get a smile out of! She's did not like being put down in her bed. She wanted to be held and wanted to see the action. Rachel I think has taken a special liking to her b/c she was carrying her around most of the time J Her hair really is amazing… It's super soft and beautiful. You're gonna love putting bows in it.

Violette – what can I say about M***, I mean there are no words. She is a blessing. She understands English VERY well and was my little interpreter and if I was looking for a kid she knew just where to go and find them. She wants to be helpful and loves the other kids! I know she's yours and all but I really wish I could take her. She's so easy to love and is truly remarkable. I asked her a few questions these are her answers:

Favorite color – yellow

Favorite kid at the orphanage – all of them

Was she ready to go to America – YES! (very excited and w/o hesitation)

What is the first thing you want to do when you get to the U.S – this answer I didn't really understand but it was either to play with your family cat or to get a cat… I'm not sure J

There are several yet to be referred older kids/toddlers which I have video and pics of. There's an ADORABLE little girl, maybe 3 or 4 years old that is just a doll! I think Dustin Sloniger held her for like an hour! She's very amiable. There was also a little boy maybe 5 or so that was very shy at first but then he wanted to give me hugs and kisses like crazy. Also another boy about 6 I think would very animated and happy and just very charismatic. He wasn't shy at ALL and kissed me lots and lots! There were more toddlers/older kids but honestly at this point they all kind of run together. I have pics of most of them.

Everyone else I either didn't know who your kids were OR they were in school OR I just don't know who they belonged to. I brought glow bracelets and they were a HIT. Of course Me** Girl knew right away how to make them work and she was in charge of distribution to the nannies and kids.

I told Duni that people were excited that they went back to giving court dates. She said that by withholding court information they thought it would decrease anxiety but effectively the opposite happened so in order the stop the high number of calls they changed it. She did also tell us that there was a video of Kids Care posted on youtube and the orphanage found out about it and were VERY upset. So now I think they are planning to limit the time families have at the TH and also limit the photos to either no photos or the families will ONLY photo the kids they are taking care packages for. They're having to put the smack down basically. Honestly that would be great b/c I am exhausted from trying to be thorough and get everyone. There is NO time for spy work. It is like running a marathon. I told her that I would only limit photos IF they had more monthly updates. We only got 2 updates in 4 months! I stressed that that is unacceptable especially for traveling families who don't know what size clothes to bring and what kind of formula their child is eating. So be prepared for some new regulations to come regarding that. I'm not saying that there will be no photos taken I'm just saying that each family will be responsible for only certain families which is a great idea. I hardly saw Ezra at all the entire time L The new TH is very nice! It's huge and still it seems like there are a million kids there. I didn't count the number of baby beds but there are a lot! Each room has specific nurses that deal with those kids only. It's really much more like a day care now and the nurses keep written daily reports on each child kind of like a day care. The nannies really do love on these kids! Before any child gets put down they smother them in kisses! There was a room that had a mountain of formula in it but Ezra is still on some strange formulas that comes in a red/yellow box! I don't understand why that is but oh well. He also was not on any solids yet at 7 months old! So I'll try to start changing him tomorrow. I'll have to take some of their NAN 2 from the TH to change him over slowly. The Stager baby is to stay in the hospital overnight for IV fluids and antibiotics and should be back to the TH tomorrow morning.

I am exhausted and will shut up now. I can't wait for you guys to meet Ezra. He's just perfect!


Kimberly Kulp said…
Oh Becky Girl! I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!! Thanks for everything.

Ephromsmom said…
Oh Becky, this sounds so wonderful!! I don't know if you can read your comments, but I'm hanging on every word, even if you don't know which boy is mine. :D I'd tell you his name, but I don't think I should on the blog. Look for the Hall boy! He's 2.5 years old and cute as a button, as if the rest of them aren't!

You so rock! Your posts are amazing!!
Danielle said…
You are truly my new hero. I think tomorrow you should just focus on Ezra. Of course, I am thrilled beyond WORDS for the update and can't wait to see pics, but I really believe you SO went over and above the call of duty. And we thank you from the bottom of our hearts!!!! (I hope your tummy feels better!!!) Love, Danielle
Patty V. said…
Thank you so much for loving on our little girl! The questions you asked her help a lot except I hope you were wrong about the cat. We don't have one and never mentioned one - our oldest is allergic! She's a wonderful young lady and we are blessed! Praying for your family as you bring your son home! Thanks again and God bless, Patty Violette
becky, you are amazing! I was so enthralled by your post that I forgot to leave a comment - we know your scarifice was tremendous to spend time with each of our children-
Tracy said…
Hey I am a messageboard friend.....just read your comment about your experience and was looking back over your blog to see when you actually travelled. That was quick from court date to travel. Oh I hope for some action soon!!

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