Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Exploring Addis Ababa with Becky and improvements everyday!!

Julianne continues to do amazing. Her eating has improved so much in the last few days. When we first arrived home, she wasn't very interested in eating baby food. She would eat a couple bites and refuse anymore. Today she at an entire stage 3 jar of baby food and dessert at each meal. I was so proud of her!!! We are keeping her on baby food and formula for awhile because of her history. She is still pretty small for a 12 month old and she doesn't have any teeth yet. She has also gotten soooooooooooo much beter about riding in her car seat...PRAISE THE LORD :o) She yelled all the way from our house to the doctor's office earlier this week so you can imagine that we were all so thankful that there has been improvement in this area. She is also getting more comfortable with her daddy. It is pretty common for adopted children to attach to one parents at first. While we were in country, Julianne didn't really have a preference between Mommy and Daddy. However, once we arrived home...totally different story! We have been working with her to help her realize that daddy is a pretty great option too :o) But, we don't want to get ourselves carried away with that...haha! Sophie Le thinks her daddy hung the moon :o)

Okay, back to the trip...

One of the newer "rules" when adoptive families travel to Ethiopia is that children under the age of 4 are not allowed to leave the guesthouse with you. If you are staying at a hotel (e.g. Hilton, Sheraton), your child remains at the care center until you leave for the airport. You can visit your child at the center everyday. If you stay at a guesthouse, you take custody of your child when you arrive in country. This was a huge reason we stayed at a guesthouse while in Addis. When you go out for lunch or to shop or sightseeing, you arrange for a caregiver to come to the house to take care of your child. This seemed so strange to me before we traveled...you wait so long for your child and then leave your baby with a babysitter the next day. We don't even use babysitters with Hillary Ashton and Sophie Le :o) However, it wasn't that big of a deal. The kids are comfortable with their caregivers and Julianne seemed perfectly fine with the arrangement...and that's all that really matters :o) I definitely didn't want to miss out seeing her birth country.

We woke up our first morning in Ethiopia and Neil was sick...very, very sick. Stomach pains, nausea, chills, etc... We waited several hours and it wasn't getting any better so I decided to call a caregiver for Julianne and go exploring on my own...well with our driver :o)

Have I mentioned how cool it was to have a driver? I LOOOOOVED it. Anytime we needed anything we just called him on his cell phone and he would either bring it to us or take us to get it. Each family had a particular driver assigned to them which was really nice because you were able to form a relationship with your driver. It was so interesting to hear about his life, hopes and family. Becky would go shopping with us, translate for us with the locals and recommended things for us to do. Having a personal driver was definitely a huge benefit. Not all agencies arrange for their families to have this luxury so yea of our agency :o)

So Becky came and picked me up at the house and he introduced me to Addis. It rained most of the time we were out so we didn't get to walk around, but we saw alot of the city. It rained each afternoon we were in country. We were so thankful to have our raincoats! Our driver told us that it will continue to rain everyday for a few hours and then once rainy season starts, it will rain ALLday. You may remember me writing about the courts closing during rainy season. Btw, did you know that the population of Addis is 4 million? Wow! He was shocked when I told him our whole state only has around 2 million people.

I had read quite a bit about Ethiopia and seen pictures on the Internet and watched documentaries on television, but seeing it in person was completely different. It probably won't surprise you that my eyes and heart were drawn to the children. I saw little kids around Hillary Ashton's age carrying heavy water containers up hills to their homes. Water that we were told not to use to brush our teeth. Children ran up to the car every time we stopped begging for food. They have learned English phrases to really pull at your heartstrings (as if just motioning to their mouth wasn't enough). The government doesn't pay for children to attend school so if their parents don't have enough money, the kids just roam the streets during the day. There were children as young as Sophie Le and Hillary Ashton walking around the streets without an adult. I asked our driver where the kid's parents were and he said many of them probably don't have parents.

Ethiopia is a very religious country. There were churches everywhere and they were some of the nicest building we saw. Most of the people are Orthodox with a large minority being Muslim.

By the time I returned from my afternoon trip, Neil was feeling much better...but pizza was out for the rest of the trip...haha :o)

What a sweet little face to wake up to! DSC00306
You may have noticed the blue, green and orange braclets I was wearing in the pictures yesterday. I bought them at Target the day before we left hoping it would be a good icebreaker when we met Julianne...well it worked! She loved them and played with them the entire trip :o) We ended up sending one with her uncle too :o) More on that meeting later.
I know I her mama, but isn't she just the cutest little baby?
I saw lots of donkeys. They use them to haul everything...even cinder blocks. Our driver told me that Ethiopia has the second largest donkey population, only behind China.
Yes, this is the road we were driving on. I can only imagine what a mess it must be during rainey season!
The shops were arranged similiar to Ho Chi Minh City. The books stores were all on the same street/block, the music stores were all in the same area, etc. We were driving past this guy's shop and I asked the driver if this was the automobile repair area. He told me this is where you come if your rearview mirrow or hubcap is stolen. The parts are brought to this guy's shop and you have to buy it back.
This is a sheep market. If a family has the money, they buy a sheep on holy day to eat. You can buy meat at a super market, but it is not uncommon for families to butcher the animal themselves.
There were lots of coffin shops around the city. The coffins were just propped up against a wall. They are the right side of the picture.
Another beautiful church
Ethiopia has an amazing, tragic and inspiring history. Our driver drove me past many important monuments throughtout the city and explained the significance of each one. This one was built to celebrate the fall of communism.
Here is the first movie theatre in Ethiopia. The blue van in front of the building is public transportation.
The billboard says "Electric power for all"
Elementary school


The Jennings said...

I love reading about your trip! So amazing! I am sure Neil told you we saw him in the Target parking lot the day after you all got back. We got to meet Julianne! She is just as beautiful as her pictures and seemed very happy with her Daddy and big sister.

Can you email me your address? Do you have my email?


Nadra said...

Yes Amy...she is adorable. Love her big brown eyes. Great pictures and description of your trip. Looking forward to the next post. Hope you guys are doing well!

Anonymous said...

Reading about your trip is wonderful ! It is great to read about your experiences. Julianne is beautiful. I can't wait to meet the newest Arnold addition!

Heather M. said...

I am enjoying reading about your trip. It looks like such a depressed country with so little...but it amazes me how God's beauty shines down in the faces of the people. Your daughter is beautiful & what opportunity she will have here in the states...a true gift. I know you are having so much fun with three little girls!

Heather M.

Willis said...

Thanks for sharing your journey. I just love reading about your adoption story, especially since Sophie Le and Rocco grew up in the same orphanage. It's good to see your family grow. I'm praying for a miracle with ours. Pregnancy hasn't happened in our 12 year marriage and my husband says no to adoption right now. One day. . .

So, so happy for your new addition!