Thursday, May 15, 2014

Bringing Robel Home Part 3

28 hours after leaving Addis, we finally arrived in Dallas.  Ugh, I never want to do that with a toddler again.  Ever.  We had a huge group of friends and family waiting on us with signs introducing themselves to Robee.  It was so sweet.  There wasn't a dry eye there.  Finally, our family was together!  2 1/2 years after starting this process, thousands of dollars, piles of paperwork, loads of stress and we finally had our family of 7 together!  To God be the glory for making this happen.  We will forever be grateful that He chose us to walk this path.

We have now been home 5 days and every day gets better with him.  We are learning his personality and quirks.  This is what we know as of now....

Robee does not like men.  In fact, if the Hubby was even in the same room with him when we got home, he would cry.  With lots of patience and perseverance, Ro is slowly coming around.  Let's hope this process speeds up because I go back to work next week and Robee will be stuck with Daddy.
He is a cuddler!  He loves to snuggle and loves to be held.  He gives the greatest kisses and high fives to people he likes.
He is a talker!  Unfortunately for both of us, I don't know what the hell he's saying.  But, he's picking up on lots of new words and using them and will repeat anything I ask him to...if he's in the perfect mood!
He adores his big sisters and probably prefers them over me.  When they are home, he is following them around begging for them to hold him.  Lucky for him, the newness hasn't worn off and they usually oblige.
Robee hates to be dirty.  He always asks for a napkin to wipe his mouth, hands and table off after he eats.  (My other kids should take notes)
He is very active.  He went from staying in the same little room with 8 other kids all day to having lots of freedom to roam and he's loving it!
He LOVES him some bread.  He's definitely an emotional eater.  If he's upset, give him a piece of bread and the boy is super happy.
He scratches his head and blinks super fast when he's tired and taps his feet when he's waking up.
He hates ice cream.  We keep trying to make him love it like the rest of us do, but he is not having it...yet.
He will share anything and loves to clean up his toys when he's done making a mess.
Robee's already learned how to tell on his brothers.  He runs to me and yells Mommy, no, Henny and points at Henny to tell me that he should get in trouble.

This little Ethiopian has stolen our hearts and we are just smitten with him.  He is a handful, but brings so much joy.  I'm so glad that I get to be his Momma and cannot wait to see what the Lord does through our little man!

Here are some of the pictures at the airport courtesy of Sara Hendricks.  Enjoy!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Getting Robel Part 2

So we finally get to Ethiopia at 7am on the 23rd.  The Ethiopian airport is all sorts of disorganized.  We waited for over an hour to get our Visa, then stood in line for over an hour to get fingerprinted, then had to find the 3 bags that we checked on top of the 2 bags that we carried on.  So, we finally walked out of the airport at almost 10:00.  We checked into our guest house and decided to go grab lunch and do some shopping real quick before we had to be at The Thomas Center at 4 to pick up our little man.  Our driver/translator is just an amazing guy who definitely has a heart for orphans and is able to go into a lot of the orphanages with groups that come in to volunteer.  We talked over lunch about the things that he had been seeing and the rumors going around of Ethiopia closing adoptions altogether.  By the time lunch was over I felt like I was going to throw up and it wasn't because of the food.

The Prime Minister of Women's Affairs in Ethiopia doesn't like Americans adopting their children.  They are trying to encourage more domestic adoptions, which is making international adoptions slow down a lot.  The problem with this is that Ethiopians cannot afford to take care of more kids.  They can barely afford the children they have of their own, which is why there are hundreds of abandoned children on a weekly basis.  Now that adoptions are slowing down and the government can't afford to take care of these children, orphanages are overrun with children who get very little or no care at all.  There isn't money for food, formula, diapers or medicine.  There are babies dying every minute in government ran orphanages from simple colds.  Robel spent the first year + of his life in one of these orphanages and only weighed 15 pounds and couldn't even sit up when he was 15 months old.

I don't know how to solve the orphan crisis, I so wish I did.  Obviously, the best thing for the child is to be able to be taken care of by their birth parents.  That is the best scenario for every child.  However, if the birth parents cannot take care of that child, then someone else should.  Every child deserves a family.  Every child deserves that.  Every child should feel loved and wanted and cared for.  Think about if you weren't able to feed one or all of your children and you had to make the decision to give them a chance to survive.  Can you imagine your child being put in an orphanage with tons of other children and 1 caregiver for every 20 kids?  Could you imagine them barely getting fed and never getting rocked or hugged or their diaper changed more than once a day?  Could you imaging them slowly regressing in development because they are under stimulated?  There are MILLIONS of children that are living in these conditions with zero hope of anything else.  What happens to them once they age out of the orphanage?  They are put out on the streets with no survival skills and expected to survive in the world.  Well, they don't.  They turn to drugs or prostitution or kill themselves because they would rather die than keep suffering.  Can you imagine that being your child?  This problem isn't going to go away, it's only going to get worse.  We cannot sit around and wait for someone else to try and "fix" this problem.  If this bothers you as much as it bothers me, do something about it.  Find an orphanage to support financially, pray about adopting, go on a mission trip and serve others who need hope.  Advocate for these kids.

I digress.  So, we get to Robel's transition home and he was ready and waiting for us!  There weren't as many tears on his part this time, until we had to wait for an hour on paperwork and he slowly started realizing what was going on.  We finally got to leave with him and he loved the car ride.  We went back to our guesthouse and he was playing and cuddling and eating great.  I laid down with him and he went straight to sleep and slept all night.  I was thinking, we just adopted the most chill child ever.  I shouldn't of held my breath.  The next day went pretty well.  We had to take him to Embassy to get his Visa and we ate at a pizza place where an older Ethiopian kept telling me what to do with our fussy toddler.  That night he slept great again and I was feeling pretty good about everything.  Then came Friday.  I guess Robel finally realized that we weren't taking him back and he pretty much cried all day.  He wouldn't let anyone but me hold him and every time I put him down, he freaked out.  I couldn't do anything to make him happy and he wouldn't take a nap even though he was exhausted.  By 7pm, when it was time to leave for the airport, we were both bawling.  I took him out on the balcony to rock him and just cried and cried.  I told the Hubby that we were probably making a mistake and that we should just take him back to the orphanage where he was happy.  The Hubby talked me off of the cliff and we headed to the airport for our 17 hour flight to DC.

Honestly, the plane ride is kind of a blur now.  Robel and I did sleep some and we were able to keep him entertained with only a few screaming fits.  We found out quickly that Robee loves bread and eats it very slowly, so we basically just fed him bread the entire flight.  We finally land and we are all exhausted.  I've been holding a 2.5 year old for 17 hours and my back and arms are about to break.  We get off of the plane and wait in line for customs.  I decide that since Ro screams when the Hubby holds him and my arms are limp, that Ro can walk.  Well, he didn't want to walk.  Hell, I didn't either.  What does he do?  Throws down a tantrum like I've never seen before.  Not a tear in his eye, but kicking and screaming and pinching me.  This is when a lovely employee of Ethiopian Airlines decides that she needs to get all up in my business.  Our convo went something like this...

Lady- What's wrong with him?
Me- He's throwing a fit because he doesn't want to walk.
Lady- Why doesn't he have shoes on?
Me- Because he kicked them off.
Lady- Where is his stroller?
Me- I wasn't going to carry a stroller all over Ethiopia to use it for 2 hours in the airport.
Lady- Well, you shouldn't let him cry like that because he could get sick.
Me- Thank you so much for your help!

Well, we are in America now and when American children throw fits like this, they go to the bathroom and get a spanking.  You should be glad that I will give him some time to settle in before we do that.  Seriously?  Mind your own damn business.  I have just gotten off of a 17 hour flight with a toddler that doesn't understand or know me.  I'm exhausted and am about to pull my hair out, but you're worried that Robee might puke because he's throwing a terrible two's fit?  Maybe you should just get me a cocktail and shut up, ummkay?!!

Then the tears started on my behalf and I could not pull myself together.  The weight of the past 2 1/2 years finally caught up with me and I was done.  I cried for about 2 hours straight.  All sorts of strangers were coming up to me and Robee trying to make us both happy, no luck.  The Hubby kept asking what was wrong?  I couldn't tell him because I didn't know.  All I knew was that I was more emotionally exhausted than I had ever been and I had a little leech that threw horrific fits and with all of my years of parenting experience, I couldn't make him happy.  Therefore, I wasn't happy.  I prayed that God would remind me why I decided to do this and reassure me that I wasn't ruining our lives and you know what?  He did.  The Hubby fell asleep, so I had a couple of hours of airport entertaining to do.  Within a few minutes, Robee started to show his personality for the first time.  He started laughing and talking and running around and giving me kisses.  He started gaining more confidence in me and me in him, and started to actually like him!

The second leg of the trip home was in one of those super tiny planes that only seat about 60 people and are super bumpy.  Fantastic.  Our flight attendant was a real peach and told me that I had to put Ro in his own seat and buckle him.  Are.  You.  Kidding.  Me?  I calmly explained that he was super clingy and would lose all of his ever loving marbles if I put him in that seat and locked him down.  She said she didn't care.  I made sure that she repeated so that everyone around me heard that it was her fault their flight was about to be the most excruciating ride of their lives.  So, I lock Robee down in his seat and sure enough...he lost all of his marbles.  Screaming, flopping around, hitting and biting the fire out of me until...he wore himself out and slept for the entire plane ride.  Maybe that flight attendant wasn't such a jerk anyway.  So I enjoyed 2 glasses of terrible wine and soaked in the peace and quiet.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Getting Robel Part 1

Easter Sunday was the day.  The kids woke up to Easter baskets and we got ready for church.  There was tons of clothes drama because one freaking day a year, I get to choose what my children wear to church.  Of course they had coordinating outfits and number 1&3 griped about theirs all morning.  Shoot me.  I'm pretty sure that I lost my marbles on them in the car, on the way to church, and told them they were ruining my whole Easter.  I'm a really awesome parent like that.  After church sped to our favorite Mexican restaurant to try and beat the church crowd and savor the last good meal we would have for a week.

We left for the airport around 3 and there were lots of tears from #2.  She does not like for us to be gone.  She's a homebody and wants everyone in the family home with her.  She's a silent stresser.  We get to the airport and have a flight to Charlotte, then change planes and head to DC.  The Hubby and I were not seated together on the first leg of the trip.  I was in between a man and his 10 year old son.  We immediately started talking and come to find out, he had 4 bios and 1 adopted from Russia.  Then he goes on to tell me their whole adoption story and how they brought their son home when he was 2.5, like Robee.  He immediately started showing lots of anger issues and they couldn't get him to attach.  He was violent and harmed himself and others around him.  They put him in every therapy known to man and eventually, at the age of 8, sent him to a camp that works with children like him and he will stay there for 2 years and then they will re-evaluate.  OMG.  Why are you telling me this on the plane when I'm headed to pick my 2.5 year old, adopted son?  As if I wasn't already stressed about this whole process.

Then we flew from Charlotte to DC and checked into our hotel for the night.  Because we had already received our boarding passes for all 3 flights back in Dallas, I didn't even think to check on our flight status.  So, we get to the airport the next morning, go all the way through security and get to our gate only to find out that our flight had been cancelled.  Are you for real?  Apparently, there was a broken windshield on the plane or something.  Can't you just put some duct tape on that and take us to Ethiopia?  Apparently not.  So, the next flight didn't leave until the next morning and we had a whole day in DC.  Not gonna lie, I was actually pretty excited.  It was a beautiful day and the Hubby had never been to DC.  Impromptu date day?!

So we rented a car and headed to the city.  We saw all the sights that we could fit in, got sunburned and leg cramps from all the walking.  We ate delicious food, shopped, had the best cupcake of my life at Georgetown Cupcakes and enjoyed our little baby moon before our lives got rocked!