Meet-cha Day will always be one of those days that we will always remember. We arrived a day early prior to our actual meet-cha day so we could do some site seeing of Ethiopia. So, when we actually received the word that instead of going site seeing in the morning, we were going to join the other families that were heading back to Hannah's Hope the next morning, we were THRILLED to change our plans. We didn't realize that we would be able to meet Seble a whole day early so we woke up early the next morning and got ready to meet our daughter. The excitement was in the air and bats were flying around in our stomachs. Neither of us could believe that we were actually going to go to the famous Hannah's Hope Orphanage, see our baby girl and get to HOLD HER! We got ready with the other couples that had been there all week picking up their kids. Wass, the HH driver, came to pick all of us up. HH was only about 5 minutes away so we were there in no time.
We passed the AGCI advertising sign as we pulled off the main paved road and onto an unpaved side street which felt more like an alley. We drove down one block and turned left driving about another two blocks and then we were there. Wass drove up to the big black gate to Hannah's Hope and honked his horn.
A few moments later, the gate opened and we drove inside to park the van. As we all got out, we saw the babies sunning-there were several babies and some were in bouncy seats, some were being held by Special Mothers and others were laying on blankets. (Sun-time is a time each day that the babies are out in the sun-someone told me that Africans don't absorb vitamin D very well, so they need extra sun to get enough in their systems-maybe that is why they do it-we don't know).
Anyway, we weren't sure what to do. We saw all the babies and asked Wass if he could go find Seble. He walked over and asked the special mothers, but they must not have heard him correctly, because he went off in another direction saying that he would go find her. We stood there and just looked around cautiously at some of the babies.
A couple of the adoptive mom's that had taken pictures on their previous trip and were there now picking up their kids, and had come to HH to say goodbye to everyone, walked over to look at the babies with us. One of them looked right below our feet and said, "Amber, I think that is Seble right there." I looked at the baby in front of me who was sitting in a bouncy seat but had been facing away from us. I kind of looked at her, but it didn't look anything like the last picture we had gotten of her and so we were not sure. Then the other adoptive mom came over and said, "Yes, I think that is her." The first mom continued to encourage me that it was Seble. The last picture we had received of her, she looked totally different and because of that, we were feeling hesitant to just jump right in with all the excitement thinking it wasn't her.
So we asked the special mothers-"Is there any other Seble here?" They said, "Yes, that Seble." We smiled and asked again, "Yes, but is there another baby here that is named Seble?" They said "No, No, that Seble." So I looked at her more closely and figured that this had to be her...so even though I wasn't 100% positive and had been waiting for Wass to come back carrying our baby, whom he was still looking for, I asked if I could pick her up. I bent down and tried to get her out of her seat. I finally was able to unbuckle her and picked her up.
***I can't put her full face view on line until we get her home, so I put on here what I can and will add the other pictures after we get her home.***
She looked at us with such intent and a serious look on her face, like "WHO in the heck are you?" It was so cute and she was just studying me, then looked at Adam and at Jacob, who she really studied-we think it was his glasses as we didn't see very many people in Addis with glasses. She just kept looking from one of us to the other. She didn't seem scarred and she didn't cry, she just studied us.
Although it wasn't the fairy tale moment that we had thought it would be after watching all the gotcha day videos, it was very special. It was weird to stand there discussing for probably five minutes as to whether or not that this was our baby daughter and think, "is there another Seble here." Then again, as we continued to hold her, we knew that this was our baby. We started to notice all the little characteristics we saw in the photos we had of her and as funny and awkward as it was, each day we saw her, we felt ourselves grow more and more, bonding and falling in love with her each day. By the end of the week, we were totally gone as far as this being our daughter and the love was incredible! After all, neither of us knew each other...we knew all we could about her, but she didn't know us at all. As the week went on she warmed up well.
Almaz finally made it out to the courtyard where she came up to congratulate us and confirm it was Seble.
Sun-time was over and it was time to go inside for feeding time.
It was amazing at how these special mothers have these kids on such a wonderful schedule. It had to of been only about 15-20 minutes that went by before that room turned from baby noise to a quiet room with sleeping babies.
As we were inside, Seble started to get a little fussy herself. She was rubbing her eyes and the special mothers said that she couldn't have a bottle for about 2 hours. They feed them about every 3 hours round the clock-even at night. So, I stood up and was walking her around trying to get her to sleep. One of the special mother's came over and put a pacifier in her mouth and she sucked away and was asleep in no time.
As a side story here, we had NEVER heard of them giving babies pacifiers at HH. We had been told that they didn't and had never heard anyone talk about them. I have joked with Adam during this whole time that she better take a pacifier since she is one of our kids-but never was really serious about this, as I figured that she wouldn't. All of our kids took them and loved them and it was very convenient when we were out somewhere and they were fussy to soothe them. Anyway, when she put that pacifier in her mouth, I just looked at Adam and smiled, NO WAY! That night some of the other adoptive mom's on our adoption group were talking about whether or not they give kids pacifiers and everyone said NO they don't give them to the babies-it would be too hard to know whose was whose and to clean them, etc....I had to smile because I too believed this, except that I felt that it was just another way that God confirmed to us that THAT was OUR baby! Now that might sound weird, but to us, it was just another gift from God.
After putting her down to sleep, we got to go upstairs and see Seble's room and her crib. It was a surreal feeling to be there. We spent a total of about two hours at HH this day.
(stairs looking down to front door)
(Top of stairs looking down)
Then we got to walk into her room. It was beautifully decorated as seen in other pictures and described. It was again just so surreal to actually be standing in her room.
Seble's rooms bathroom
Then we were able to take some general pictures around another upstairs baby room and some photos from off the balcony of the outside surroundings of Hannah's Hope.
baby room across the hall
baby room across the hallway
wass in baby courtyard
laundry view from 2nd story balcony
laundry hanging outside house
more laundry drying
more laundry on side of house
Seble's bedroom window
Wall Quote found in bigger kids house
House finishing up construction
Neighbor right across from HH - working NON-STOP!
Man out front breaking up rock with sledge hammer
Women carrying the broken-up rock
donkey drawn cart
Then it was time to go back to the Hotel. Before heading back, we had the priviledge to tour the Fistula Hospital.
So, after we left the orphanage, we went to the famous Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital. If you don't know about this amazing place, please watch this documentary-it is awesome and the library has it for check-out too. I loved the video. Here is the link for the information on it and what the Fistula Hospital does. http://www.walktobeautiful.com/
We took a tour of the fistula hospital and let me just say that what they do there is phenomenal! Since I am a labor & delivery nurse, this place was SO interesting to me.
Most women in Ethiopia don't have any help at birth and so when things go wrong, there is no one to help and nothing they can do. When they go into labor, and the baby won't come after a few days, it usually dies...they have to literally wait until the baby decomposes enough to pass through the birth canal...then then go home in sadness, but think that the several day ordeal is over.....only to wake up and have urine or feces still leaking out of them....they don't know what to do, but when their family/husband's discover the stench, they kick them out, divorce them or build a shed outside that they have to live in for the rest of their lives......In comes the fistula hospital, if the girls can make it to them-walk, get a ride, save up money for months to years, just to get a bus ticket, then they take these girls that are outcasts and kicked out of their homes, give them a bed to stay in at the hospital, have them evaluated by a surgeon and repair their fistulas, they then keep them for several weeks making sure they are healed, give them a new dress to signify and new life and send them back home where there families are thrilled to have them fixed and whole and welcome them back. It costs ONLY $200 to keep the woman for about 4-6 weeks, get surgery, tests, etc, and recover, as well as learn a skill like sewing, beads, etc. while they are waiting or healing. Then they have a skill to take home and possibly bring in some money to their families. $200 for ALL that-can you even imagine what a surgery and 4-6 week hospital stay would be here in America? Amazing! There are some cases that even after a couple surgeries are not repairable-in this case, they either do some physical therapy with the girls trying to strengthen their muscles, or if they are not repairable, they often live there and work for the hospital so they can have a life-they use catheters or a form of colostomy bag and have a good life, or go and work other places that the hospital is affiliated with like an orphanage, etc... The women are told that IF they do get pregnant again, as soon as they feel their baby "walking in their stomach" they need to start walking to the fistula hospital so that they can live there until the baby is born and get an assisted delivery with a c-section IF needed. The fistula hospital has also been training "midwives" and have opened some outreach clinics where women from far away villages that can't get to a hospital, can at least get to their midwife clinic and if she thinks they need a hospital and she can't help them, she has a way to call or take them there. What they do is amazing and I would love to work there for a time-such small things that are unthinkable here (I mean if you have a fistula it is repaired) it would be an awesome experience and many doctors from all over come to volunteer or get trained to repair fistulas-since they are not seen much here and in other modern countries-so they get trained and then go back home with the knowledge.....it was great to be able to go there and see the women in person-they are such brave and gentle women and I was so glad they were getting help!
We then drove home and as we did, we saw some of the city-it was our first real glimpse of life in Ethiopia as it had been dark the night before. We first stopped at a little corner store which at least was named something we were familiar to. We purchased some bottled water for the week and then back on the road to the hotel.
Goats were being herded and sold on corners
Nice house we were told that was being built by the Chinese
Horse drawn cart
Business selling scaffolding for construction
One of MANY building projects using scaffolding (The strength is AMAZING)
One of many corners with foosball tables
Manufacturing plant for concrete cylinder blocks
Donkeys were used to carrying the bricks
Randomly, some kids rolling truck tires down the street
Another crowded sidewalk
It was pretty unreal-people were everywhere, and blue taxis were everywhere people just drove wherever they wanted, there are no rules! It was scary and it seems no one wears seat belts/car seats but we did find out that the traffic police will give the drivers an $800 Bir ($50 US) ticket for not wearing their seatbelts. They honk a lot-like one honk would mean watch out, two honks would mean seriously watch out because I'm coming up on you or passing you. Oh and pedestrians DON'T have the right away, if you are in the street, you will get hit and it will be your fault. It was an interesting day and we couldn't wait to see Seble again and see more of her country the next day. We went back to the hotel and crashed.