Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Meeting the Uncle, orphanages and First Haircut!

Today I took the two little girls to get their FIRST haircut. I cannot get over how different Miss Julianne looks! The ends of her hair were much lighter and with those cut away, her hair looks so much darker. Of course, she is still a beauty :o) Sophie Le got about four inches cut, but there is still plenty to put in piggie tails. Whew! Hillary Ashton looked at the pictures when we got home and decided that getting a haircut looked like a lot of fun and said "I think I wanna take a cut too." haha. So, I guess we will be getting her hair cut soon :o) I will post pictures later this week of the girls' new hair-dos. I am trying to post everyday for awhile...I hope I can keep it up!

So, our last day in Ethiopia...

I couldn't believe that it was our last day in Addis Ababa when I woke up that Friday morning. The trip seemed to pass so fast. We had a pretty busy schedule for our last day...meeting Julianne's uncle...lunch...visiting four government orphanages...packing...leaving for the airport at 4:30 for our flight home.

We packed Julianne's bottles, toys, and a picture album for her uncle in a backpack, stuck the biggest flower we could find on her head and headed to the Gladney office. I couldn't believe we were actually going to meet her uncle. We walked into the office and I had no idea if any of the men I saw were her uncle. It is a strange feeling. A lady came over and walked us to an office and told us that her uncle would be there soon. After a few minutes two men walked into our room. I had no idea if either man was her uncle or if they were for some other reason. That question was answered quickly and indubitably. I was holding Julianne and one of then men walked straight over to us and began hugging and kissing us...both of us :o) It was one of the sweetest moments of my life. He then turned to Neil and did the same. He was so affectionate and sincere. This precious, precious man had gone through so much in the last 6 months of his life. He lost his sister and brother-in-law, took in many additional children to care for, placed Julianne in an orphanage and traveled a minimum of 85 hours back and forth between his hometown and Addis Ababa in the last few weeks...and that's just the part I know. I feel so honored to have this man in OUR family. I love telling Julianne about her uncle. All that he sacrificed for her. His dedication to her is so inspiring and pure.

We asked him questions about her birth, her parents, his life and his hopes for her. He told us things we would have never know if we didn't get to meet him. One day I will be able to tell my daughter, Julianne that she looks like her birthmom. I cannot find the words to express how wonderful our time with him was. When we started our Ethiopian adoption, it was a prayer of our to be able to meet our child's birthfamily. I am so thankful to God for this blessing.

When we received the referral for Julianne, our caseworker told us our baby's name...Fanose. She then told us that Fanose means "light." Pause. "Artifical light." Pause. "Flashlight." The girls, Neil and I loved to talk about "our little flashlight." We couldn't wait to bring home flashlight. Haha. Sophie Le's Vietnamese name means "to suffer a loss." That meaning I understood, but flashlight? I didn't really get it. So, I asked her uncle who named her. He said that he named her when he took her into his home. So I asked how he chose her name and his answer brought me to tears. He said that when we looked at her, her face would light up the room. And it does. Have I mentioned that I love the name Fanose? :o)

It was so awesome to see Julianne interacting with her uncle. The love he has for her was obvious. I wish we all had an uncle like him :o)

One thing that really took me by surprise was that her uncle doesn't speak Amharic, which is the main language of Ethiopia. We used two translators to speak to him. Although, there were many things we were able to communicate without words :o)

I have debated on whether or not to post a picture of her uncle and have decided not to, for his privacy. I can tell you that he is one beautiful man :o) The picture of Julianne and her uncle was the first picture I framed when we got home and I love looking at it everyday.

After lunch, we visited government orphanages with Travis. Travis said that he wanted us to see where our children would have ended up living if they hadn't been adopted. He said that he knew it was a total guilt trip and that these kids need exposure. We need to know how these kids are living and we need to tell others. It is not fair, not fair at all.

The first orphanage we visited was the older boys' orphanage. The boys were polite, engaging, charming, handsome and sweet....their home was awful. Most of the boys living at this home are too old to be adopted. We were told that adoption paperwork needs to be started by the time they are 15. Most of the boys were past that point.

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This young man was cutting and hauling boards to nail around the windows of a building. Why? To keep people from stealing books that were recently donated to them.
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Laundry laying out to dry
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This is where they sleep. They sleep two to a bed. There aren't enough beds so some of the boys sleep on the ground...some sleep outside.
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Lockers to hold their possessions.
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Are they not the most handsome young men?
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Rooster
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This is the kitchen where their meals are prepared.
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Soccer Field
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When I got out of the car, this guy walked up to me and said, "I am so sorry about Michael Jackson." It was the day he died. Thriller was playing on a little boom box. He is 23 years old and has been allowed to stay at the orphanage because he is a good guy. They have NO adult leadership living there. This guy also asked me for my e-mail address...haha. Totally didn't expect that he e-mailed!
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When we were driving away from the orphanage, a few of the boys held another boy in front of them and starting shouting, "he's 15. he's 15!" Broke my heart.

The next place we visited was a orphanage for younger kids (boys and girls). It was sooooooooooooo sad to see all of these precious babies without families. A couple of these children may be in the adoption process, but there is a slim chance most of these children will ever have forever families. Life is not fair.

We saw one baby that was about three pounds. It was the smallest baby I have ever seen. It was tiny, tiny, tiny. They said he was a month old. Not in NICU...just in a dirty room with 20 or so other babies.

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This little boy loved having his picture taken!
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This room was full of toddlers singing songs. It was the most precious sound in the world.
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Next was the older girls' orphanage.

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There were younger kids living here too. They are sibilings of the older girls. I didn't take many pics of the girls...they were typical teenage girls. They giggled and shut their doors when they heard us coming...haha.

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FINALLY a pic of my sweet hubby!
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The next place we went was full of precious babies, toddlers and kids...same as the rest of the places....kids wanting love and attention.

This little fellow took a real likin' to Neil :o)
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I miss Ethiopia.

3 comments:

The Garners said...

Wow, Amy--thank you for sharing your journey. It is amazing to see, and heartbreaking at the same time--I just don't have any words to express the feelings when I see the conditions and think of those kids without families to love them. I love the meaning of J's name--your whole family is a LIGHT to others. I cry every time I read your blog. I love your heart for children and for the Lord, and I pray God's richest blessings on your growing family.

Renee Moak said...

awwww! Two of of the boys with your husband from the older girls orphanage are my son's best friends. He aches for their company here in America although he has 14 of his Ethiopian friends right here in our area. These children are bonded for life. :) Many of the younger children have siblings at Kolfe (older boy orphanage) that can be adopted until age 18. I would love to know if you happen to have taken any pics of my daughter Mestawet. Can I send you a pic?
www.henokmoak.blogspot.com

Renee Moak said...

Forgot to give you my email address. renee.moak@gmail.com