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.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

It all ends with a kiss

Last night I slept from 10:30 until 9am!!! (with a little help from Tylenol PM, which I highly recommend using to get used to the time change for a night or 2 before your child comes!). We had breakfast at TDS, and then headed off to the WACAP transitional house to spend more time with our kids! I had a nice long sleep last night and was ready to go with my photo album for Engida, more snacks and more bottled water.

Photos are a BIG hit with little kids:). I included pictures of our family, but more importantly (and better appreciated) were the photos of the orphanage, his old nanny, and his old friends. All of the kids from Ajuuja were shouting out names and babbling in Sidaminya while pointing to different kids and the nanny. The kids in the pictures already have been matched with families from around the US, and it would be great to connect with them and keep in touch!
Engida still doesn't want to get too close to me (obviously), nor does he want me to hold him or touch him. I decided that I would just follow him around (I felt like a puppy, adoringly following around his owner that wouldn't pay attention to him:). Any time he wanted anything- water, popcorn, toys, potty- I tried to be the one to give it to him. It was hard to explain to the well-meaning WACAP staff that it would be so helpful if they could give me the water, and I would pass it to Engida (instead of them giving it directly to him). BUT it helped to do this, because by the end of the day he would drink water from a water bottle that I was holding. We played soccer (his favorite activity) and he liked kicking the ball around with the other kids while screaming and running around. The boys really like cars, and were fighting a lot over these 3 little cars that can connect with magnets, that Auntie Colleen donated to the orphanage. A group of boys ages 2-5 all wanted the coveted red one and would swiftly grab it as soon as someone would accidentally leave it unattended. There were several times I thought someone should intervene when it got a little physical, but I definitely wasn't going to be the bad guy! The concepts of sharing and possession are unknown. As an observer, I started to get a feel for how the kids had these unwritten rules of "survival of the fittest/strongest/most stubborn/biggest/quickest/most aggressive or assertive." Books written for adoptive parents like to call this "institutionalized behaviors" when the child continues this survival mindset at home with his/her new siblings.

Engida did not want to make eye contact with me, but would do a sideways glance into the mirror and look at me. He seems a little more comfortable with me when we are in private and not in the big group of families he doesn't know. His curiosity could be quenched because looking into the mirror was not as threatening as looking directly at my face. Through the mirror I was able to tickle him and even make him laugh! We spent a good 15 minutes playing in the mirror- all the while he was making eye contact while being held by his nanny, who was standing shoulder to shoulder with me. The nanny told him to tickle me, and he felt safe tickling the palm of my hands and letting me tickle the palms of his hands. These are exciting baby steps!!!! He absolutely will not let me hold him, hug him, or get too close (or he pinches, hits, screams, cries, pushes, etc). However, after the games in the mirror he was a tad bit more comfortable with me, and decided it was OK to play stickers with me. I encouraged him to put them on my face and he accidentally looked me in the eyes a couple of times:). At the very end of the day, all of the families were gathering up their bags of goodies and saying good-bye to their beautiful kids. The nanny told Engida to give me a kiss-- time froze- he hesitated, I smiled.. and he came and kissed me right on the lips and smiled!!! And the whole courtyard full of adults (parents, grandparents, nannies, director) started to applaud:). He ran away, but I had him for a second:).We have such a supportive group of families with us, I am so lucky.
After lunch at a fancy Italian-Ethiopian restaurant, we headed to the Post Office shops. I picked up a few more souvenirs for the kids and other family members- you're never really finished souvenir shopping, right? It was starting to drizzle and so I went back to the parked van to relax and stay dry with another family. All of a sudden, on the side of the van, someone's mom was walking and being a little harassed by some teenagers selling something-- when one of them reached out, ripped off her necklace, and tore down the street. What happened next was incredible- customers in the shops, shop owners, and people on the street immediately sprinted after the muggers. Our driver (Mesfin) was the fastest and actually grabbed one of the kids and handed him over to the cops, who arrived straightaway. They spent the rest of the afternoon in a police station filling out paperwork, watching the thief get interviewed in a small room with a single lightbulb while he cried and swore he was only the friend of the thug. The witnesses were released so they could spread the word on the street that the accomplice was in jail overnight. Just for the record, the crime rate in Addis Ababa is very low, with pickpocketing being the most common. We felt safe everywhere we went, and we so pleasantly surprised by the kind reaction of the entire crowd.
For dinner we ordered in from the hotel and stayed up talking and laughing in the little kitchen at the guesthouse, giddy with excitement and ready for tomorrow!


Heather BT said...

Thank you for sharing once again!
I love your tales.

Sally Roden said...

I second Heather. Loved reading about your little treasure. You are one awesome family!
And from seeing Ricky the other day, you guys are making leaps of progress.