Life with 4 kids 6 and under. Our trip to pick up Tonito in China is: mid-March 2008 through April 12. Our trips to pick up Ricky in Ethiopia are in June and August of 2010.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Breakthrough soccer

We woke up and had breakfast at the hotel, excited and anxious to meet our children again on our last day in Awassa. After breakfast, Ato Girma graciously took us to a "supermarket," which reminded us so much of Mexico that I wanted to pay in pesos. The best part of this particular genre of shops is their most excellent use of a small space: goods stacked to the ceiling in the epitome of space efficiency. By goods I'm including everything from baby formula, to picture frames in the form of the Eiffel Tower, to olive oil (used as a beauty product, not for cooking), coffee, candy, shaving cream, and many other Walgreen-ish type items. The two families accompanying us bought a very generous amount of infant formula (our 2 donations boxes were still in TDS Guesthouse in Addis!) and then we headed over to the toy store. I must add that Ato Girma's smile as he helped to pack the formula was beaming:). The tiny little shop across the little plaza had about 20 different toys for various ages. We bought the best little truck they had, after a couple of the other cars were broken or needed batteries. There were some cute little blonde dolls that spoke a language that sounded like Chinese- such a multicultural experience in Ethiopia:).

Today at the orphanage was better- Engida wasn't as upset, although he was still showing signs of such great stress. When the environment got a little too loud or he got scared his breathing would get faster and his eyes would look down. He used sideways glances to steal looks at us, but if he made eye contact with us he would quickly look away. Some of the new electronic toys that the other kids were playing with seemed a little too overstimulating for him. He sat there on the floor surrounded by unfamiliar faces, with strange, loud toys, and his eyes were kind-of glazing over. I sat behind him rubbing his back and he kind-of played with his new car. He also became interested in this great set of magnetic shapes that could be used to build different structures (especially when they brought in his little friend to help break the ice)--

His friend was not shy at all, and was soon building amazing rockets and houses- apparently we have a future civil engineer in the room! Tonio finally had the great idea of taking Engida into the playroom with his best friends and a soccer ball. This was the best idea- to remove him from the stressful environment, minimalize the new noises, and change locations. There were 3 adorable boys playing soccer with us that afternoon and I honestly would have brought them all home if I had been allowed to. This might be the hardest part of being able to visit the orphanage- interacting with kids who do not have families yet. They were smiling, laughing, and their fancy footwork with the mini-soccerball rivaled the best World Cup footballers. A kind, but firm instruction was given to them in Amharic (or Sidaminya) by the nannies, and by their actions I could tell they were told to let Engida play with us, or somehow don't take all of our attention. Immediately they started giving Engida the ball, and he became the star. There was a point when Engida kicked me the ball and it went past me to one of the ltitle boys. Although he was able to kick it back, he instead picked it up and handed it to me, pointing to Engida. I tried to tell him that we could all play together, my words lost in translation. Later the boys picked up Engida to help him be the goalie, and would purposely kick it softer to him so that he could get the ball. Engida didn't mind playing soccer with us, and would throw or kick the ball to Tonio and I in a reserved way, looking down at his feet after kicking it. The three boys, ages 4-6, are all completely aware that parents come to the orphanage and adopt the younger children and babies. Later, Ato Girma told us that when the new parents come, the boys will say "Their family is here to take them home... When is my new family going to come? My family didn't come yet..." When we left, the boys all gave us hugs and kisses and said "I love you" (which I know the nannies taught them to say, but it was still tear-jerking). It breaks my heart that they understand that parents usually come and adopt the younger kids, and that they know they are waiting to be chosen for a family. I desperately want them to find the mom and dad that were meant to take them home.
Engida loved to play with the soccer ball, and in the end when the older boys were hugging us good-bye, he followed them to give us hugs and kisses; he wasn't smiling, but he wasn't crying either. He is so sweet, and I am excited to watch him come out of his shell. I think we got a little picture of his playfulness today and know that as we get to know him better, we will see more and more of this side of him. At lunch Ato Girma was telling us that many women die during childbirth, and often times during their first pregnancy. He also told us that in the Sidama culture, a young girl who gets pregnant before being married will often times hide the pregnancy. Her family (specifically her father) will not allow her to continue under his roof if she has a baby out of wedlock, and many times these are the mothers who abandon their child out of desperation and survival. Imagine being 12, 13 years old and not having anywhere to live... it would be an impossible situation being shunned by family and neighbors... having no shelter, no income, no support. These poor moms are so young and vulnerable, trying to make the best decision for themselves and their babies.
After lunch in the Pinna Hotel, we walked down one of the main streets and found a "Traditional Clothing Shop" that had been closed the other day (next to a little bookstore that sells Sidaminya-Amharic-English dictionaries). The very friendly shopkeepers showed us the different cloths, and which one was the Sidama traditional cloth, even making us a little shirt out of one of the cloths. We bought earrings, scarves, a Sidama shama and some clothes, some keyrings and a giraffe mask for Vivi. The other families also bought a lot of souvenirs, and we all left the store feeling satisfied- even the shopkeepers:). We walked along the lake back to the hotel and enjoyed a small dinner for our last evening in Awassa.


Heather BT said...

Love the story, Soon tho' you'll need to update your sidebar pictures! we need all the kids there!

Barry and Amy said...

Hi! My husband and I are in the process of adopting a little boy at Ajuuja and it looks like you have been at the orphanage while he was there. I would love to talk to you and see it you remember him. Also, I'd love to see what has been helpful to you in the transition with your sweet son.

My email address is

Thanks and God bless!