April 29, 2009

Day 13/14 and home.

And so we made it on our flight... sick and all.

Having a seat with a bassinet is great because you get way more leg room and I sware every stewardess on the flight wants to cater to your needs because you have a baby! I think my flight attendant could tell I was sick (probably due to the fact I kept fanning myself with the "What to do if your plane crashes" card. They were so amazing and kept helping us with our bags and oohing and aaahing over how cute our sweet Mose was.

And then we began to take off. All of the right sounds occurred and the plane began to move down the runway when all of a sudden verything kind of just stopped. It was a really strange feeling but the brakes were suddenly on and it was clear we were not taking off. I immediately looked to our flight attendants who were seated on either side of us facing our section. I know they are trained to always look calm during any sort of problem. And of course they were smiling away. But then I saw them exchange a few glances and I just knew something wasn't right! The one kept looking out the window as well... and now I was nervous. Then the pilot announced that there was some problem with the gear for taking off and that we would need to wait while they sorted it out. Now, I'm not a nervous flyer. I LOVE flying, I love everything about it but when you are sick and you don't know how your baby is going to be on the flight you don't want any delays. I had visions of us having to get off the plane and wait hours for the next one. Or of us being forced to taxi for hours while Moses screamed and we were sick in the toilet. And so more fanning of the face continued until about five minutes later when the pilot said the problem was fixed.
Hm... that was fast. Maybe they shouldn't of told us there was a problem and just said they needed to wait for something!
And so we took off again and this time we made it off the ground!

Moses was amazing and slept through the flight so well. I actually fell asleep too but woke up when the lady across from me was grabbing my arm telling me that my baby was crying! I guess I didn't hear over the engine of the plane. Anyways, from this point on I was paranoid and couldn't sleep.
And so I watched movies. The great thing about international flights is you have about 30 movies to choose from. Woohoo!
At one point Mike and I started to feel better and decided to eat one of the meals. Big mistake. Stomach pain quickly came back with a vengeance.

By the end of the flight I was so exhausted, weak, and so feverish that I wanted to die. Luckily, mike was feeling a lot better than that and was able to carry most of our bags and Moses.

Our plan was to go the baby lounge and relax... or find those cool chairs that actually lie down in the airport. We were going to meet Mike's cousin who lives in Amsterdam in a few hours for lunch. I was no longer looking forward to this. And so we began walking through the airport like zombies looking for a chair that was somewhat comfortable. Everything seemed to be taken. And then we saw a sign that seemed to appear out of the clouds like an oasis in a desert.... YOTEL. I think the sign said: Tired? Sleepy? And needless to say we walked towards this purple heaven (all their lights have a purple glow) and I have never been so happy to hand over my visa card in my life.

We didn't ask how much, we just asked if they had room and we went to bed! We didn't take any pictures of this gorgeous little bedroom but I found a youtube video that shows just how tiny yet gorgeous the room is! Seriously, it was the most comfortable bed I have ever slept in. And I'm so glad we treated ourselves to this because to my surprise I got my period! That's right ladies. Always be prepared when you travel (I wasn't) because I totally forgot how traveling changes my cycle. Anyways, I figure 98% of my readers are female and don't mind this detail.

After a few hours we were feeling a bit more sane, we had a shower and I felt "good enough" to go and meet Mike's cousin outside of the airport. And I actually managed to keep down a croissant and some juice. Yeah! After our lunch we had to get back through security and enter the boarding area once again.

To our surprise when we went through the check-in we were told by the women at the counter to expect delays and cancellations due to a plane crash.

Um..... panic!

Hearing this kind of news while at an airport is freaky. I asked her where the plane crashed and she said "Here, at our airport." She honestly looked very choked up and didn't give us any more details so we went in and saw on the TV what happened. It turns out a plane missed the runway at Schipol and crashed into a field. There weren't a lot of details as to how many people may have died but there were defiitely injuries. So now, I started to turn into a nervous flyer. First our freaky "take off" and now this. Thankfully our flight wasn't cancelled and we said a prayer and made it safely home.

Once again, KLM was amazing. The flight attendants gave Moses a KLM bib and at the end of the flight they came over with a card that the entire crew signed for him and a toy airplane. They told us that they were so happy we adopted and that they want Moses to remember the flight he came home on. It was so sweet!

This flight was long and Moses was a bit more fussy but I didn't care.... we were on our way to home, family, comfort, and we were sooooo excited to see everyone.

When we landed in Vancouver it was so surreal. I think I was shaking. I suddenly just felt so nervous and emotional. This was our dream becoming a reality, all my life I have wanted to adopt and now it has happened!

We made it through immigration without a hitch (I was so freaked they were going to take our baby away for some reason). And walked through the gates to see our family and friends. Here are a few pictures from our home-coming! Moses looks so small here to me. I can't believe how much he has already grown since being home!

(The grandma's)

(Cousin z. wearing her "Holy Moses" shirt)

(Moses is not so happy about the winter coat we brought him for the suprise snowstorm we came home in!)

I suddenly feel choked up. Like this is the end of this journey. I know of course that it is only the beginning..... of not only knowing and loving Moses as our son but of opening ourselves up to however our next child will come to us. Mike and I are so blessed for being able to adopt. We have gained so much more than a family through this process. I think that once you open yourselves up to adoption it feels like you adopt a country, a culture, and consequently a richer and more beautiful life. I continually stop each day and am overwhelmed by the fact that I have been chosen to raise this child. We are so lucky and we love Moses so much. The fact that my childhood dream has come true already merely shows me that I need to continue to dream. Who knows what is next. But don't worry, I think I am going to continue to blog : )

Thank you to everyone who prayed for us while we were gone, thought of us, and left encouraging comments to us on our blog. And to everyone for making our transition home a smooth one. xoxo.

"Adoption feels like a genetic connection because it links you directly not only to your own gene pool but to the genes of all humanity, all the way to the roots from which we all originated... Adoption carries the added dimension of connection not only to your own tribe but beyond, widening the scope of what constitutes love, ties, and family. It is a larger embrace."
-Isabella Rossellini (adoptive parent)

April 23, 2009

Day 12

On our last day in Ethiopia we managed to squeeze in a visit to the world famous fistula hospital. I actually woke up that morning starting to feel really sick and almost stayed back at the Weygoss and let Mike go on, but I knew that I would regret it. So off we went. It is so horrible traveling when you feel ill but I am glad that I pushed through because visiting this place was something I will never forget.

In order to appreciate what we saw you HAVE to watch the documentary "A Walk to Beautiful". Mike and I saw it months before and were brought to tears. I don't think it is possible to watch this film and not be. It is now available online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3w-fOmovijc

But here is the trailer to get you interested....

And a little more...

Mike and I even got to meet the amazing Catherine Hamlin. We were walking along the grounds on our tour of all the facilities when all of a sudden she was in front of us. I honestly felt like I was meeting Mother Theresa or some superstar! She is just that amazing. She had just finished performing a surgery and she is in her 80s!!! The hospital that her and her husband started is so comprehensive. The program involves prevention, education, physiotherapy, counselling, and even a chance for the women to gain skills and sell crafts and find a new livelihood for themselves when they leave. I was blown away by how thorough it was. We even saw the center that Orpah Winfrey donated to, which is for the women who were unable to be healed by the surgery.

Anyways, they are always in need of volunteers so if you are a nurse, doctor, midwife, or physiotherapist I cannot think of a better place to recommend volunteering at. Seriously! Do it!!!!!!! Life is short!!!! lol.

After our tour we went for lunch and then did a bit of last minute shopping. By the time we got back to the Weygoss I was now feverish and not just sick to my stomach and Mike was beginning to feel really sick too. It was horrible. Luckily I had done most of the packing the night before. But we were leaving that night for the airport at around 9pm and being stuck in an airport or airplane was the last place we both wanted to be. I can remember so clearly taking turns holding Moses while the other person ran to the bathroom with diarrhea! It was awful!

I'll describe just how awful it was in my last post but for now I will describe saying good-bye to Ethiopia.

Oh... driving in the dark to the airport with Solomon and Yehuala was so bittersweet. We were so excited to see our family and couldn't wait to get home and introduce them to Moses, but we were so sad to leave Addis and all its beauty. When we got out of the van at the airport Yehuala loaded up our bags and we realized that this was it. The hug that they both gave us was one I will never forget. I started to cry and basically we all just looked at each other and had very little words.

Solomon of course said something about how we were doing such a good thing for Moses.

We promised we'd come back.

And then we walked into the airport and began all the stress of tickets and all that stuff you do at an airport combined with the urge to visit the bathroom. Moses puked up his entire bottle all over the floor by the ticket counter. I think he could feel our stress.

I kept holding back tears.

Then we made it on the plane and met the wonderful KLM flight crew. Thank goodness for friendly dutch people!

Details of the 30 hour journey home to come soon.

April 19, 2009

Day 11: Meeting Wasiyun!

The next day was a day I will never forget. Yosef from Compassion picked us up and took us to visit our sponsor child Wasiyun. He lived in Akaki which is in the outskirts of Addis. Everyone their seemed to use a horse to get around.

When we arrived at the Compassion Centre the gates opened and I saw Wasiyun standing their with the most adorable shy/surprised/in awe grin. It was so adorable. He presented us with flowers!

We chatted through our translator and got to know him and his mom a little more. W then asked to be taken to their home. Their house was one room, and it looked like he shared a bed with his mom. She offered us popcorn (this is traditional Ethiopian food!) and we presented her with a bunch of food and coffee. Her eyes welled up. We then gave Wasiyun a soccer ball and pump and he was so excited.

He went into his room and pulled out all the letters I had sent him. It was so amazing to see my hand-writing in his room in Ethiopia!!! This for me was huge. These letters we write really do encourage these kids and the money we send really does make a difference. This brings me to my challenge for all my readers! Ha ha!!!

The compassion project that we visited needs 11 more kids to be sponsored. When we left their office we made them a promise that we would go home and talk to our family and friends and see if we could find 11 people to sponsor them.
So... if you have never sponsored a child before I highly recommend you consider it. It costs $35 a month and the organization does not have high administrative costs at all so the money will go directly to those that need it. It's even easier to write letters to your sponsor child now because you can do it online! Woohoo! If you are interested please email me (mike.emily.k@gmail.com) and I will give you the project code so you can request a child from the area we visited.

April 17, 2009

Day 10

Today we were invited to Yehuala's church. Yehuala is an orthodox Christian and he is very devout. He goes to church every single morning before work!!! Anyways, when he told us he would pick us up at 6:30am I almost died and I wanted to back out of it, but I knew that we wanted an authentic experience and that we had to go. So... we actually managed to get Moses up and dressed and were on time for church!

Now, I asked Yehuala beforehand what I needed to know and how I should dress and all he said was cover your neck with a scarf and wear a dress. So I did. Except when I arrived I quickly realized that wearing a dress that barely reaches your knees is not a good idea. I of course don't own any dresses that go to my ankles but really wish I had of worn pants! Not only were we the only white people in this conregation of a thousand but I was also the only one showing so much skin! I felt so uncomfortable! When we walked up to the church Yehuala told me I had to go through another door. I assumed that we would meet up inside but men and women were separated and it felt like I was miles away from him and Solomon and Mike and mose. So any questions I had were left unanswered and I just tried to "fit in". Ha!

The service was in Amharic... I wish I could've understood it but it was still a very beautiful experience. This older women beside me often grabbed my arm and helped me to stand when I was supposed to stand and sit when I was supposed to sit. After two hours of this I noticed that Mike and moses had left with Solomon. I tried to stay till the end but realized I never asked Yehuala just how long a service was.... and if you know me, you know I need to eat every two hours or I feel like fainting. So I tried to leave indescretely out the back! Ha! Nothing is indiscrete when you are white and wearing a short dress. But I put my head down and walked out the back of the church. When I got outside there were hundreds of people outside worshiping as well. It was quite amazing to see. I found my way to our van and about an hour later Yehuala came out and we left.

(Moses being blessed... I love this picture!)

After church, Mike and I decided to take them out for breakfast to this cute cafe. After a quick stop at the Weygoss so I could put on jeans of course. I can only wear a dress for a maximum of two hours at a time. Once again, the food and coffee at this cafe were AMAZING. Oh how I miss the food and service in Addis. It's unlike anything here. My juice was all freshly squeezed, our cappuccinos were to die for, and hanging out with Solomon and Yehuala in the sunshine was a perfect Sunday morning. I will never forget how good they were to us. Their priority is making sure you are comfortable at all times and that you are enjoying your time in Addis. Their love for Moses is also so evident. I think the love for children is definitely a cultural thing as it seems that everyone you meet adores children. I also found it quite interesting how it is not just the women who bend down to talk to your child as it would typically be in Canada. Here, the men are almost more often the one's reaching out and congratulating you on your baby. Yehuala would lean over and grab mosey's hand or talk to him every single time we were stopped in traffic. I'll never forget that!

Okay, this is getting long. After breakfast we returned to the church because Mike really wanted to take some pictures and we obviously couldn't do that during the service. For a small fee we were allowed back inside and we took a bunch of photos. Here are just a few! Enjoy.

April 12, 2009

Day 9

There was a group of volunteers from Canada working with Canadian Humanitarian that were staying at the Weygoss. It was really nice chatting with them and getting to know some of them. The doctor who was leading the trip invited Mike and I to go to a soccer game with all the kids from the various projects that they work with. It was so much fun! There were probably around 100 children there that day. The cheerleading on the sidelines was unlike anything you would see in Canada. Their cheers had so much rhythm. Mike decided to go over and try out their drum! Some of the girls came over and sat with me and chatted. At one point this one girl started touching my wedding ring. And I was overwhelmed with the realization that the cost of the ring alone that she was touching could drastically change her life and countless others. Providing them with school and food for years to come (most Ethiopians make a dollar a day). Ugh, it made me think of the quote from Mother Theresa: "No one has a right to a superfluity of wealth while others are dying of starvation and suffering from every kind of want".

After the soccer game I decided that I wanted to go and get my hair-cut! I had run out of time to get it cut before leaving Canada so I thought it would be a fun thing to do in Addis! And I was not disappointed!!!
I wanted to go somewhere pretty authentic (this house down the street that had a salon in it) but Mike is more nervous about my hair than I am and convinced me to go to a shopping mall. We did and it still felt pretty authentic! When we got their they had to find what seemed like the one girl who spoke English to come and figure out what I wanted. She was so nice and told me how so excited for us and our baby. Anyways, she led me to the back where the sinks were. Now, these sinks were like beds. Instead of sitting in a chair and awkwardly bending backwards you lie down and your head lands in a sink. It was so much more comfortable! Then the washing began. I don't think I have EVER felt such cold water land on my head in my life. It was icy cold... but I actually really liked it once I got used to it. The girl washed my hair vigorously and then rinsed it out. And then she did it again, scrubbing my scalp SO hard. rinse and repeat. rinse and repeat. I think this went on for 20 minutes no exaggeration. Finally she asked me "okay?" and I said "yes" and she started the conditioning process... maybe another 10 minutes. I quickly figured out why they have lie-down sinks and not chairs!
When we were finally done she walked me to the chair and the women who spoke English came over and started cutting it. And I mean she just went for it. I have never seen someone cut hair so fast. I think my trim was done in literally 2 minutes! She then blow-dried it and I was done. It was so much fun, and she did a great job (minus a few pieces she missed). I'm so glad I did this. I love doing "everyday/routine" things in a new country. And I think my hair-cut came to $3 US so I tipped them pretty good.

That night I sported my newly cut hair at Cloud 9, they have amazing food and unbelievable service there! If you go, you should order the lamb curry.... so good. And their steak is really good too. The meat their is so tender and so fresh... no deep freeze and shipped across the country like we have here. We met some really friendly people their that invited us over to their table for dessert. I love Ethiopians! They are so friendly and kind. We had such a great conversation with them.... just remembering all of this makes me miss Ethiopia so much.

April 2, 2009

Day 7 and 8 (I will finish this eventually!)

Day 7: Unfortunatly we weren't able to meet Moses' birth mom, but we were able to visit the orphanage that she brought him to and it was a heart-wrenching experience in itself. It was really emotional to see the gates that she would've walked up to with him in her arms. The orphanage director was great, she remembered the exact crib that Moses was in and other details that were nice to hear. The older children at the orphanage were so beautiful and I just wanted to adopt them all and bring them back with us. Thankfully, we were told that most of them will be adopted by families in the US and somewhere else in Europe.

Day 8: Today we wanted to just relax and not do any touring around of any kind. So we went to the Hilton for some pool time! It was SO relaxing and Moses just loved chilling outside. The air there seemed cleaner somehow, and it was refreshing to see flowers and greenery. I was just really surprised to find out that the pool was heated in an extremely hot country! Not what I was expecting when I jumped in.