Sunday, August 19, 2012

Embassy Day

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Embassy day!  Yay!!

We met Julie and her son Chaz in the lobby of the hotel and set off for the care center to get her son Ujulu.  We were a bit concerned about how Eli would react to going back to the care center, but we needn't have worried.

Being back at the care center popped Eli right out of his shell.  Seriously, it was like a switch was flipped.  Our quiet boy was suddenly very animated, showing all the other boys his shoes.  His cars.  Eli talked nonstop, his excited chatter in Anuak peppered with references to "in America!"

Hmmm, it seems Eli may think the Addis View Hotel is "America."

When we all left the care center, Eli and Ujulu sat at the window of the van and took in everything on the street.

Dogs were exciting.  Donkeys, even more exciting.

But the buses were the most exiting thing of all.

Our Embassy appointment was as anticlimactic as we'd heard it would be.  Once checked in, you sit in a waiting area that is very much reminiscent of the DMV.  A nice DMV.

After some time our name was called and we went up to the window.  The Embassy employee had us all swear to tell the truth, including Eli, and then asked us a few questions about our case to confirm the information in our file.  She explained to us that the Embassy had decided to forgo the birth parent interview because our file was complete and the basis of Eli's orphan status was clear.  She seemed apologetic that she had no other information to offer as to Eli's background because they'd not conducted an interview.  We, of course, were still delighted that the Embassy did not schedule a birth parent interview because that meant we were able to bring Eli home faster.

But we were hugely disappointed that we did not get to meet Eli's birth mother.  In fact, "disppointed" doesn't even come close to how we felt.  We were devastated.

Brad and I requested (and paid for) a meeting with her.  And our agency's US staff had assured us that she would travel to Addis to meet us, even though she didn't need to come for an Embassy interview.  That she would want to meet us.  It would be as important to her as it was to us.  And the US staff told us weeks ago that the in-country staff was working on setting that up for us.

But our agency's in-country staff seemed to have no idea they were working on this.  When we took Eli out of the care center on Friday, Brad asked about our meeting with Eli's birth mother.  The staff member seemed surprised and said they'd try to schedule it.

Try to schedule it. As in, they hadn't yet tried.

And when we were back at the care center on Embassy day, we were told they tried contacting the orphanage in Eli's home region and were told his birth mother was not around.  No sense of an apology in this announcement, just "we tried, she's not around."

This birth parent meeting was very important to us, and we'd made that clear to our agency.  We made his birth mother a photo book, we brought a portable photo printer to Ethiopia so we could send her home with pictures of Eli and her together.  We were frustrated that apparently no effort was made ahead of our arrival to contact the birth mother, but I can't say we were surprised.  Just another disappointment by our agency in this process.  Honestly, I sometimes wonder if the US staff ever actually talks with the in-country staff.

After our Embassy appointment, we went to Top View for lunch but found they were closed for annual maintenance.  So we went back across town to Lucy Restaurant.

By the time we got there it was 3:00 in the afternoon, and we were reminded that "late lunch" is not such a great idea with a toddler.  Brad headed for the bathroom while we were being seated, and when Eli and I got to the table he refused to sit.  I tried picking him up to put him in his seat and he went rigid.  And threw my arms off him.

Oh, boy.

It was a short-lived resistance because once Brad was back he scrambled right up onto his seat, but then he wouldn't eat.  It was nap time according to the routine we'd established with him.

Overstimulation from the care center + no lunch + no nap =  Very cranky boy.  Lesson learned.

Once we got back to the hotel we laid down for a bit, but I think our fate for the day was already sealed at that point.  And no surprise we had our first official melt down that night after dinner.

Eli was so tired but wouldn't let us turn off the light to go to sleep.  Brad and he matched wills with the light switch above the bed, and I finally had to lay on top of Eli to keep him away from the switch.  I know that sounds awful, but it worked.  And thankfully he fell asleep quickly.

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