Every night I sleep with a sound machine on but since it was stuck in a suitcase in London, I was worried that all the unfamiliar noises would keep me awake. Well, I did wake up off and on throughout the night, but I also slept off and on and really think I was more asleep than awake. At one point, I just had to giggle as I listened to all the snoring and heavy breathing going on around me. It was so sweet for just about two minutes, and then I put the ear plugs in. LOL
As the sun started to rise, so did our kiddos. I had no idea what time it was because there were no clocks and I didn't ever have my phone on, but I was guessing it was somewhere between 6:00 - 6:30 since that's when we had flown in the previous morning and were watching the sun come up as we were descending. The sweetest thing happened - Kaleb got out of his bed and came straight over to Brian and put his arms around him and laid down beside him. Heart-melting. He laid there with us for about 15 minutes. Kaleb was very quiet the first day - although he was very happy, he hardly spoke. I wanted to hear his voice and so I started counting his fingers and toes and was hoping he'd join in. Instead of counting, he told me their names....Thumb, Index finger, Middle finger, Ring finger, Little finger. The best part was the Ring finger, cause his accent rolls the r's so it was, "a,Rrrring, finger". Adorable. Later, he called out, "Mom", when he wanted to show me something. Sweetness. But those were the only two times I heard his voice that first day.
Kaleb eventually got up to use the bathroom (and I'll insert here that we quickly had to teach about putting the seat up cause things were pretty messy his first go - but once we taught him, he did it right every time) and Kali decided it was her turn to join us in our bed. She jumped in between us and Brian began to rub her back. Her skin is so stinkin' soft - it is crazy soft. She was so content lying there - it was precious. She likes my hair, so every now and then she would just reach up and run her fingers through it. Love! Brian rubbed her back for a good 15-20 minutes and then everyone was getting hungry so we all decided it was time to get up and go downstairs to breakfast.
The ladies that work at the guest house were so wonderful....they cook, clean, babysit - just lovely people. They had prepared pancakes for us and they were so yummy. We all loved them - they're thinner, like crepes - no butter, but we did have syrup. Tasty. I had to tell the kids they couldn't have Pepsi or Orange soda for breakfast (I know, mean Mommy) so instead, they opted for milk. However, I then saw them putting sugar in their milk. LOL I asked Yonaton (amazing guy that works at the guest house) about it and he said, "That's just the way we do it". Ok...decided to just wean them off the sugar in the milk when they get home. So, sugar milk it was.
After breakfast, the kids hung out and played basketball, kicked around the soccer ball, and played on the iPods. The iPods were the biggest hit of all and at times their were small squabbles over them. Bennet quickly learned how to play Solitaire (she must take after my mom) and Kaleb listened to music as loud as I would allow it. ha! He also loved Angry Birds, some block stacking game and some gun thing that drove Sallee Couch crazy. LOL Kali really liked Angry Birds, too, but mostly she liked pretending that she was talking on the phone.
Brian and I had to get ready for court so we were busy bumming clothes from our new friends. Brian wore his own jeans (which he wore for 6 days straight) but he borrowed a shirt from Nick. There was no way I could wear sweats (we were told to wear nice clothes, but not suit and tie nice) so I borrowed jeans from Amanda Flores and a shirt and sweater from Angela Van Neste (such awesome ladies). I had to wear my Uggs because apparently I have big feet. LOL So, I was feeling pretty special in my borrowed outfit with my old, dirty Uggs. But, what can ya do? I just kept telling myself it wasn't about what clothes I was wearing, it was about getting those sweet kiddos home. And honestly, I am positive that they did NOT care what their new Mommy was wearing. So...we finished getting ready and we headed to court with all the other families (all the kids stayed at the guest house with the nannies and Cooper and Gatlin, except for Bennet - she had to come to court because she is over 10 years old).
When we pulled up to the court it was so different than what I expected. I mean, I didn't expect the White House or anything, but this was just a little building on the side of a random bumpy road. We walked up four or five flights of stairs that were lined with people - and ya'll, it smelled SO BAD. The people are precious, but the BO was not. Oh my word. One of the moms with us (Lana) was pregnant and got very nauseous. Sweet Ann Tunheim was already nervous (it's all a bit overwhelming) and the intensity of the smell just made her start shaking and I'm pretty sure she thought she might faint. I felt so badly for both of them. Thankfully, once we got into our waiting room we were past the "smelly zone".
We didn't wait long at all before we were called in. Again, I didn't know what to expect, but the room they called us into was the size of my closet. Seriously. They took three couples in together (and I was so grateful for that) and the judge (a beautiful Ethiopian woman) asked us a series of questions. I don't remember all of them exactly, but some were, "Do you know other people who have adopted from Ethiopia?" "Do you interact with those families?" "Have you taken courses to educate yourself about adoption?" "Will you teach your adopted child about the Ethiopian culture?" "Do you have other siblings and are they ok with this adoption?" "Do you understand that adoption is permanent?" There were maybe a couple other questions, but this was basically it, and after each question, we simultaneously answered, "Yes". The judge was kind of "cute" then and said something like, "Well, I suppose you didn't fly all the way over here to say, 'no'", and she giggled. She then said, "We will let you know later today". And with that we walked back into the waiting room and the next group of families went into the closet room.
When they came back out, they said that they "had passed" and were the official parents of their children. Well, our group wasn't told those words and so at that point we were all looking at each other, like, "uh, oh - did we not pass?" We found out later that it was simply a matter of the "sign the paper guy" got there right after our session and so he was there to sign their papers, but not ours, and ended up signing them later that day - and we were given the official word that "they were ours". Ok - back to the court room -- we were waiting and then they realized that the judge needed to speak to Bennet. The families who were finished went back to the guest house and we stayed. After about 15 minutes or so, they called Bennet back to the closet room and that very brave little girl stood in front of the judge and answered her questions. When she came out she said that the judge asked her if she understood that she was going to be adopted and that it was permanent - and she said, yes, she understood that. The judge also asked her if she wanted to be adopted. I said, "What did you say?". She said, "I said, YES, Mommy", and she just squeezed me and laughed. (And yes, I am now typing through tears cause I'm telling ya'll, this is one brave and strong little girl).
From there we went back to the guest house and ate lunch - pizza from a place around the corner. My friend, Gina, had said the pizza they had was good, but she must have gotten it from a different place. LOL I'll need to find out where to get it for the next trip cause this wasn't our favorite. But the funky food is just part of the adventure. After lunch, Cooper, Kali and Kaleb took short naps, Gatlin and Bennet made bracelets and necklaces and played with the other kids, and Brian and I headed out to shop for socks and underwear. We had two suitcases of donations for the orphanage that actually got there that day and I was able to pull clothes out of those for the new kiddos, but there was nothing in bigger sizes, so we ended up buying a new shirt for Gatlin, Cooper and Brian. I just stuck it out in my tank top and sweats.
I'll tell you a funny thing - I had packed a few things in our carry-on suitcase because I did have that moment when I thought, "What if our luggage doesn't get there". So we did have some basic toiletries, but not much. Anyway, for some reason I packed a pair of underwear for everyone except me, so since I was changing to go to court and Gatlin wasn't going, I figured I'd just wear her underwear and then buy new ones for her and she could shower and change after we got home...so that was the plan. However, I will tell you now, Gatlin's stretchy HELLO KITTY underwear do not quite stretch far enough for me. I mean, they were on, but that poor kitty may never look the same. LOL
Cooper also got to experience the Kitty. I didn't know it at the time, but when we got to the guest house on the first day he went ahead and changed socks - into the only extra pair for him we had. So the next day, he had to borrow the socks I brought for Gatlin - which, of course, were HELLO KITTY. We assured him it didn't matter because nobody would see them inside his shoes. However, when he and Brian went to the airport to see if our luggage was there, they had to go through security and yep, he had to take off his shoes. So, there he stood in his Hello Kitty socks for all the travelers to see. Hysterical. But, that poor kitty was stretched out so far to fit his size 12 feet that I doubt very seriously anyone knew what it was. And I'll go on record as saying that his kitty had to stretch farther than mine. LOL These are the funny things in life that I love!
So, the rest of that day we just hung out at the guest house with the other families - just enjoying our children and getting to know each other. And I'll say again, we were there with the most wonderful families and I'm so grateful to God for that!! For dinner, we all decided to just stay in and have the guest house folks make dinner for us. Everybody ordered what they wanted off the menu and we ended up with a couple burgers, some spaghetti and some traditional Ethiopian. After dinner, Brian and some of the guys went to get ice cream to bring back because Bennet had been asking about ice cream from the minute she walked in the door. It was GREAT ice cream from the wonderful coffee shop around the corner.
After ice cream it was time for baths. Like I said in Day 1, they were so clean when we picked them up so there was no need for baths on the first day, but on Day 2, it was time. Plus, I felt like it was very important for me to see their bodies and to make sure that they knew how to clean properly. We started with Kaleb and it was a cake walk - he just laughed the whole time and kept telling me the water was too hot. He was ticklish and was cracking me up. Too cute! His little body is adorable and I will admit that I told him to turn around just so I could look at his little butt cheeks. SO stinkin' cute. LOL
Kali was really easy, too. I didn't wash her hair because it had a couple braids in it that were super tight and I felt it was best just to leave it alone since I'm not an expert yet. But she was great in the tub and washed herself from top to bottom, just like Kaleb had. Cutest little body. So stinkin' adorable.
Ok - I know this is long - I'm almost done, but this is the most emotional part of this post for me to write because honestly, it tore me up a bit.
I called Bennet into the bathroom and told her it was time for her shower and that I'd need to stay in with her to make sure she was safe (cause the shower was super slippery) and to make sure she was washing properly. She was fine with that until she realized that I meant I was going to actually be looking at her naked. Ya'll, that sweet child welled up with tears and stood covering her private parts and just looked at me so unsure of the situation, but wanting so badly to please me and do what I was asking. Remember, she is 11-12 years old and is aware of the awkwardness of being naked. I said, "Bennet, I am your Mommy now, and I need to see you and I need to make sure you are getting clean the way you need to". She nervously said, "Ok, Mommy" - I'm positive that I'm not doing this justice, but it was so emotional. I explained to her that Gatlin and I both had all the same parts that she did and that she didn't have to be embarrassed. I told her that nobody else should be looking at her, but that Mommy needed to look at her then, but not every time she showered. She was very trusting of me and got into the shower. She is precious - she has been taught so well and I only had to go over a couple little things with her. She laughed when I lifted up her arms and told her to get "the pits". I just can't tell you how sweet this child is.
After baths we called it a night - we said our prayers, we gave our kisses and we said goodnight.
To be continued...