Wednesday, December 28
Last night for dinner we went out with two other families to a great restaurant called Island Breeze. The food in Ethiopia is really so good, and they have basically everything, italian, chinese, american, and really good pizza. It was fun to get out for a while and Hope did great. It was our first time riding with her in a car, and they don't have carseats, so I just held her. We also gave her a bath last night, and she didn't love it, but didn't scream too much either. I felt a little more prepared for bedtime, and swaddled her for the first time. It helped me hold her better, and I felt a little more in control. Before, she would flail around everywhere, and I would just have to change positions constantly while trying very hard not to drop her as she tried to launch herself out of my arms. She fought for about 20 minutes with all her strength, but finally fell asleep. I put her in her crib, and she slept about an 1 ½ before waking up. I gave her a bottle and then brought her in our bed where she slept the rest of the night without waking up crying! And she woke up about 5:30, but fell back asleep until 6:30. It was so much better than last night! I'm still not sleeping a ton, because I am just waiting for her to wake up, and I am totally not used to sleeping with a kiddo in our bed, but it was definitely more restful.
This morning we had our embassy appointment at nine which ended up being so easy. I was nervous about it, that they would ask us a bunch of questions, we wouldn't have the right paperwork, etc., but it was so simple. Everyone is in this big room, and when they call your name you go up to this window, sort of like at a bank. The guy there had our file, and had Aaron sign something, had us swear that all our info was correct, and asked us one question about Hope's birthparents. That was it! No more paperwork, or anything, and we can pick up her visa Friday morning. It literally took about 10 minutes. It's funny thinking how much work has to be done and redone, all for an interview that is just minutes long.
After our embassy appointment we went back to her foster care house for a coffee ceremony. We walked into the yard of the house, and all the kids from her room were outside playing. Several of them yelled her name and came up to her and hugged and kissed her. And all the caregivers were so happy to see her. She also has a little friend there, and they were unbelievably cute together. They were laughing, and interacting with each other, you could absolutely tell they were so happy to see one another. Her special mother wasn't there, I guess she is on leave for about 2 weeks, so another caregiver took her and changed her into a traditional Ethiopian dress. We played outside for a while with all the kids, it's funny how some of them are so outgoing and will climb right up into your lap, and others are very shy. Hope seemed totally fine with everything. I really wasn't sure how it would go, if she would be upset about going back, or if she wouldn't want to leave again with us, but she really seemed fine. After a while they took all the kids in to eat lunch, which was interesting to see. There are kids her age, and ones that are older, so the older ones sat at a little table and fed themselves and the younger ones took turns being fed by the caregivers. They fed Hope too, some crackers or cookies mixed with milk and mushed up and a bottle of milk. After she ate we walked over to another house and had the coffee ceremony. There was a girl there who first roasted the coffee beans, then ground them, and then made them into coffee. It was so good, but so strong! She served it in little teacups, and if you kept drinking it, she would refill it for you. I had about 2 ½ cups on an empty stomach, and was a little shaky afterward. :) Again it was a blessing to see the women who have raised Hope and taken care of her. They truly love those kids, and the foster care homes are a peaceful and happy place. At the same time, it was good for me to see that as good as a home like that is, it really isn't a family, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to offer that to Hope.
On the way home, Hope fell asleep in the car which was huge because she has never fallen asleep peacefully with us. She has so far only fallen asleep after fighting with all of her strength. We came back to the guest house and talked to the other families for a while before I decided to try and lay her down for a nap because she was acting tired. I swaddled her again, and she whimpered a bit, but again fell asleep peacefully! I almost cried with relief. I'm not sure if we have turned a corner or not with this, but I am just so thankful that her heart and mind were more trusting of me and she felt more secure. I am praying this only continues and grows!