Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Picking up [T]-- Day 4

Tuesday began our real saga with the Italian Embassy. (No pictures today since taking pictures of an embassy is just a really bad idea.) They had recently made a change to their policy (starting June 1st) where they no longer made appointments for visa applications. Instead you had to show up at 8:30am outside the gates and they would allow around 12 applicants inside. So of course we showed up early, not wanting to be #13 in line. So we waited with [T] in tow from 7:45 – 8:30am to be admitted inside the gate. Then we spent a few minutes in the gates but outside the building. At 8:45am they let us inside the building into a tiny room with only enough space for about 20 chairs and that many people. We sat down and waited until a bit after 9am for them to start helping people. We were called as one of the first people because they must have thought we had Italian citizenship when Dan said he worked there. Getting in didn’t help us, though, because we didn’t have the paperwork he wanted—specifically the US Visa in [T]’s passport, but he also listed a few things we didn’t have such as our marriage certificate and a printout of our travel itinerary in and out of Italy. (We had the one out of Ethiopia, but not of our trip to the US.) They also said that if we came on Friday (since we wouldn’t be getting the visa from the US Embassy until Thursday) they could not get the Schengen Visa completed until the following Mon at the very earliest. We left a bit discouraged. Plus, I will not go into detail, but it is no small ordeal to get a page printed off the internet here, so getting our missing documents printed took about a full day. It may not sound long, but think about how most people have a printer at home and can print something in a few seconds.

To make sure Tuesday was a very full day, our agency then took us on a shopping trip with the other adoptive families then home for lunch and off to the US embassy in the afternoon.

Two embassies in one day is 2 too many. I will say that the US Embassy was much nicer to deal with. They have two waiting rooms for people coming for Visas and one had a big play area for children. While there were twice the number of people there—many who were also adopting children, our wait time was probably about the same. We were at the Italian Embassy from 7:45-9:30am and at the American Embassy from 3:00pm to 5:15 or so. At least [T] had something to do while we were waiting which made the time go much quicker.

So this is how the process goes. When it is your turn, you go up to a window with a worker behind it. They ask you some questions about the adoption and how your child became available for adoption. A form is filled out and signed and that is about it. Our worker was amazing! He was nice and we kept joking with him. We expressed how we needed to make sure we got an IR-3 instead of an IR-4 Visa because of our living in Italy, and he made sure to get that done. We then joked about how this process was so much better than going to the Italian Embassy—and joked about how they must be bitter about losing in the World Cup. Then, I can’t remember exactly what he said, but it came up how we really could use some help speeding up the process since we did have to work with the Italians. He quickly talked to his co-worker and it was done—our Visa would be done the next day by 3:30pm instead of the normal two-day wait. We were ecstatic!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Picking up [T]--Day 3

Driving up to the Thomas Center. This is the best picture we could get.

we got to pick up [T] from the Thomas Center, her orphanage. She was pretty excited to see us, but I think it has more to do with base personality. She has a way of just tackling anything that is thrown at her head on. Plus, we found out later that [T] always loved going in the car to anywhere--just as long as she was going. So maybe she was so excited because she knew she was going somewhere, but I also hope that she remembered us a little from when we came out and visited her in Oct. In any case, she was more than happy to leave her home for the last year and start this new adventure.

Here is [T] in the room she has spent the last year in. She was still in the baby room, so she didn't have many kids her age to play with. She doesn't look too happy here, but she was pretty excited to come with us. Those are molluscum on her face. It's a virus she picked up just a few weeks before we were able to get her. Most of the kids at the center had them, so it must have gone around the orphanage pretty well. Molluscum is very much like having a wart--it spreads by scratching, not much medicine helps it, and it takes a few months to go away.

This day was spend mostly sitting around different places. First at the orphanage after meeting the nannies and letting [T] say goodbye, we had to wait for the other families to do the same. Then we moved to the CHI office there in Addis Ababa while each family took their turn checking through and preparing paperwork for the embassy appointment the next day. It is a little difficult to try to get to know your new daughter while sitting in a room with a group of people you have just met, above your agency's offices, with no toys for a couple of hours. It wasn't bad or annoying, but a weird way to spend the first several hours with a 3 year old that is suddenly mine.

Here we are at the CHI offices trying to entertain [T]. The sippy cup was a new thing and she loved having something of her own. That and soda--she couldn't get enough soda.

So this whole time we thought we were adopting a 2 year old and that [K] and [T] would be almost exactly a year apart. We still believed this last October when we went to visit [T] at the orphanage. She was just learning to walk then and the right size for a 15 month old. So when we showed up this time with a bunch of 18 month and 2T size clothing, we weren’t expecting to find a 3 year old. Since she was abandoned, they guessed her age when she was found. Our guess is that the conditions she lived under before going to the orphanage must have caused her to be delayed in her development, but under the great care of the Thomas Center she was able to catch up more to her actual age. So it looks like we have twins now (or at least close to it). And we are here in Ethiopia with a bunch of clothes that are way too small for her (she’s wearing a lot of capris and mini skirts—with capris under the skirts).

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Picking up [T]--Days 1 & 2

We left Venice Italy on Saturday after spending 3 frantic days of trying to find babysitters for our other 3 amazing children. Our flights were uneventful and we arrived to Addis Ababa only ½ hour late (compared to our last trip which was 2 hrs late arriving at 2am). Upon arriving in Addis Ababa we spent 1.5 hours getting through the immigration lines and Visa Office. Once we collected our luggage we headed into the main terminal to meet our ride to the guesthouse. However, we walked out of security and there was no one there to meet us. We waited about 15 minutes and then decided to call and see where our ride was. (Note that in Ethiopia they use a different clock than we do in the states. Their day starts at 6am our time, in other words 6am our time =12am Ethiopian time. Also their dates to not change until that time also.) We arrived at 12:45 am our time on the 4th of July = 6:45p 3rd of July Ethiopian time. So this was very confusing to our guesthouse and so they were expecting us the next day. Our phone call woke them up in the middle of the night to come and pick us up. Luckily it was the same guest house we stayed at before and so it was like coming home in a way--Tsebay the manager is amazing and we were all hugs when she showed up to get us.

Sunday was very uneventful. We slept in and found out that ALL the families that are picking up children from CHI were staying in the same guest house as us. This is very unusual but worked out great for us because we were all able to get to know each other very well and not have to spend any extra time picking up and dropping off people all over the city. (There was another family there with a different agency who said they would spend almost 2 hours picking up everyone in the group from their different hotels/guest houses.) We all just lazed around most of the day and checked and re-checked all of our paperwork, clothes, and diapers for the next day. Happy birthday to me! A very weird sort of birthday it was, right on the brink of picking up a daughter. I don't think I have words to express it.