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.