Monday morning we woke early. Anxious to get my hands on my daughter. I got ready... took a quick cold shower. Got dressed. Went downstairs for breakfast (later I will tell you more about the food... this post is all about my GOTCHA DAY).
Kristan and I waited, and waited and waited. We sat on the sofa in the guest house just waiting. Leslie and Colin were there now - they are the other YWAM family picking up their daughter today. Colin is about Austin’s age.
Around 10 am, Abebe arrives. We greet each other... but we are beyond anxious to get going. So, we leave. We drive through the streets of Addis Ababa, dodging pedestrians and weaving around other vehicles.
OMG! THERE SHE IS!!! I SEE HER! I’m not ready!!!!
Is she sick? Her nose is REALLY snotty. Poor girl. Oh, little girlie is having a hard time breathing. She sounds so congested. What are these knots on the back of her neck? What if she has some type of tumor on her skull. Wow, there are 4 of them, 2 behind each ear. They are hard, and big. Please stop crying, baby girl. It’s ok, I promise to take care of you. And love you. Forever.
Kristan reminds me that there are lymph nodes behind the ears. I have never felt those lymph nodes swollen, though, in any of my other kids. Kristan reminds me that Chaltu has been living with so many other kids, and she is probably really fighting some sickies. THANK GOD I brought Kristan... she’s my sane mind. She’s such an awesome adoption doula!
Please stop crying. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to make it better. I know you are scared. Here, let me massage your eye brows, that always helped Adam when he was sad. OK, you keep looking at me, this is good. Oh poor baby, please don’t cry... that cry is like nothing I have ever heard. Oh poor, poor baby!
Thank goodness... a nanny has come to my rescue. “Chally,” she says. Over and over... Chally. Chally. Chally. That’s it. She is Chally. THAT is her name. Absolutely. Chally... please stop crying. The nanny is holding you, you know her, she is trying to tell you it’s ok.
The nanny hands her back to me... still crying. Still so so so sad. She knows everything is changing. Oh this poor girl! She just had her life uprooted a month ago when she was moved here... and now... this strange white lady is here saying she’s my Mama! WHAT?!
Kristin tells me that the nanny told her that Chally is always this way.
Oh man. What did I get myself into? She looked so happy in those pictures and in the videos. But - she was ‘home‘ in those videos. Even though home was an orphanage, it was her home. THIS is not her home. I am not her nanny. I am not the person she knows. I have no idea how to calm her.
We walk up 3 or 4 flights of marble stairs to see her room. Her crib is already moved out of the baby room. Her picture is there, though - photoshopped into the family picture we had taken in 2008. She’s still crying. The room is lined with cribs, babies in them. One is sobbing uncontrollably, rolling back and forth. Another is standing there just watching. A couple more are sitting in their cribs just looking around. It’s clean - very clean. She’s still crying.
We go back downstairs with a ball. Outside, we get down - and Chally kicks the ball. She’s still crying, but she’s trying to play. (she has an awesome kick, by the way) We walk around the driveway for a few minutes.
I pick her back up, she’s still crying. Kristan says that one of the nannies mentioned that they woke her up from a nap for this. sigh... I would have waited to hold her until she woke from her nap. Oh, this poor girl. sigh...
I sit against the wall of the Thomas Center outside. The other family is inside getting a tour. I’m needed right here, right now... THIS is what I am here for.
Chally, I’m your mama. I promise to love you forever. I will take care of you. I know what you need, it’s a mama. And I am here for you now. I am so sorry I couldn’t get to you sooner. I love you. I love you. I’m your mama. You just need a mama.
With that she let go... and fell asleep in my arms for the first time. Tears still in her eyes... but asleep. On me. Feeling my heart beat. Feeling me breathe. I can feel her breathe, congested. I can finally get a good look at her.
Her little face is chapped. Her cheeks are red. Her lips are chapped and bleeding. Those bumps on the back of her neck. She is so congested. And she’s still whimpering in her sleep.
Before long, we are ushered back to the van. To the Thomas Center offices, located in a different area. She wakes up as we get into the van. Little girl is so confused.
While here, we fill out paperwork that will be needed for the Embassy. There is a spread of Ethiopian food. I just want to get back to my daughter. All this time waiting - and I have to leave her with Kristan in that room. I want to hold her. I want to feed her. I want her to get to know me. I want her to NOT be scared of me. In time. In time.
After the paperwork is all in order, we head back to our guest house. I take Chally up to my room. I want to change her. As I change her, I note that she is wearing a sweatshirt that would fit Lauren, my 8 year old. It’s a big girl size small. The shorts she is wearing are a size 7, too big for Lauren, even. They are held on by the belt tied tight. Her undershirt is a newborn size shorts romper. And she has on Gymboree slip on shoes that are a size 5 - they fit her. In her hair, they have pulled the crown area back into a pony tail, held with a broken bubble hair tie.
I put lotion on her. I put fresh clean clothes on her. I cleaned up her face. I gave her some medicine for her congestion. I washed her face. Her nose is all runny. Poor baby.
We go downstairs and eat dinner with the other families. Wow. What a day. After dinner we head back upstairs and I put Chally in her new pjs. Ready for bed.
We turn in early. I give Chally her baby doll that I made for her over a year before and a bottle of milk as I hold her - she falls asleep in my arms again. I lay her in my bed, and she doesn’t move at all the entire night.