Saturday, August 21, 2010


Day 3, July 20th

Since we only met Kenenisa on Monday, and had to say good-bye to him that day, we view the 20th as the day that we welcomed him into our family forever - "Gotcha Day" is a day that most adoptive families celebrate as much as their birthdays. 

The day started off with some amazing pampering for the "mom's to be".  We were taken to a spa that was every bit as nice and elegant as any I've been to here ... not that I've been to that many.  It was extremely nice, and the one hour massage cost the equivalent of $15 US. A great example of Western amenities in a country with so much poverty.  While Jen and I were at the spa, Dave and the kids got ready for the day which would include our first shopping trip before we went to pick up Kenen.  There's a saying in Africa, "Europeans (Americans) have watches, but Africans have time."  This is so amazingly true. When they say what time to get ready, you have to always be ready to just hang out a wait for a while.  So on this day, I thought we would go to the spa and then return to the Guest House, and all leave for shopping together.  However, because of this whole "time issue" ... we were picked up at the spa, and then met the shoppers at the shopping area.  This is important because I did not grab the backpack that had goodies and things for Kenen beforeI left. 

We went shopping at 3 little shops.  A little overwhelming, but was re-reminded that my husband loves this kind of shopping ... the kind where everything seems really cheap and it's your once in a lifetime chance to buy any of these things.  For me, there were too many choices, and it was too difficult to decide what to spend money on.  We also had our first encounters with some of the many street children in Addis who "make a living" selling gum, tissues and shining shoes. A number of the boys that we met that day are helped a great deal by one of the America World employees who helps these kids get into school, and makes sure they receive at least one good meal a day. One of his requirements for his help, is that they don't flat out beg ... that they have a business.  So we bought a lot of gum and tissues. :-)  My friend, Jen, who traveled with us, was deeply touched by the stories of these boys and was even able to meet them and learn more about them.  I've no doubt that more will come of this part of our story

After shopping we went to lunch at an Italian restaurant that is frequented by adoptive families called Makush.  The owner makes a point to come over to each group and lets us know how appreciative he is that we are willing to help the children of his country ... which is quite impactful.  It is an art gallery and restaurant, and there were some amazing pieces.  I would have loved to buy a piece of art, and some day if we ever go back, that would be at the top of my list of things to purchase..

After a very eventful day, it was finally time for the MAIN EVENT.  We returned to the transition house to pick up Kenenisa ... and this is where the no backpack was a bit of a problem.  We ended up having quite a bit of time to play with him before we left, and once again, the other families had all sorts of fun things and snacks to eat, and poor Kenenisa had very little to play with.  It didn't help that it was raining so we couldn't play outside as much. This was also our chance to talk with the doctor, social worker and psychologist that work for our agency. I was so impressed that they had people who knew our son to talk with us in detail about the things that we needed to know.  While we had many questions about Kenenisa and how he was coping with all of the changes in his life, the psychologist left us with one important thought.  He told us that who Kenenisa will be will be determined most by what will happen in the future not what happened in the past.  This was encouraging at the moment.  We then went  and loaded into the vans ... with Kenenisa this time, and went to see the older children's home where he had been living, so that we could see the room and bed where he slept.  When we got to the transition home, he definitely did not want to get out of the van and was quite upset that we were back there. He obviously understood that he was supposed to be going with us, and was concerned that we were going to leave him. So we held onto him pretty tightly as we walked around.

Robel and Jennifer at Makush

No toys or food - so we just played with the camera

Kenenisa's bed at the transition house

His first night with us

When we arrived back at the guest house, we went straight up to our room, and played with him until dinner.  He did not eat much at dinner.  I'm sure it was all pretty overwhelming for him.  We were thankful that there was at least one other boy that he knew during our stay.  His friend, Ashenafi McKinney was quite sad that first night.  Kenen seemed to be quite excited to be with us, and was very agreeable and got ready for bed happily.  I went to sleep in the bed right next to him ... close enough to reach out and touch him ... and he slept all night.  All in all, a pretty great day. 

Welcome to the family, Kenen Elder

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