Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Day 6 – Part II – The Start of the End…could it get here any faster?

Day 6 – Part II – The Start of the End…could it get here any faster?

After getting back from our small excursion, I finish getting us packed while trying not to think about the visas and passports we don’t have yet from Abdissa. I spoke with Abdissa right after we got back making sure he would be dropping our visas off before we leave for the airport. We can’t leave the country without Isaac and Jocelyn’s visa packets and passports. He reassures me he will be at our Guest House in the next hour. Hmmm what does “in the next hour” mean? Well…for an American like me…it means he will be here in the next 60 minutes. Two hours later we see Abdissa’s car pull up to the Guest House. Every last one of my nerves is fried. It is a good thing I married such a calm man. Hubby looks at me smiles and says, “See everything is going to ok.” I am so blessed.

The documents that we are able to look at are amazing. We have birth certificates for them showing us as their parents. I have to hold back my tears as I see them for the first time. The certificates are made of thick shiny paper with a pale yellow pattern covering the paper and a silver border. They are written in English and Amharic. We also receive the Judgment approving our adoption. One is in English, the other is in Amharic. As I said in the first sentence, we were not able to look at all the documents. We were handed two packets that have been sealed and can only be opened in Washington DC by the immigrations department. If we open it for any reason before then, we will not be able to enter the US with our sweet peas. Holding these packets is like holding our sweet peas. They are precious cargo.

It is less than a ½ hour before we are supposed to leave when we are asked to come downstairs to the living room for a coffee ceremony. We gladly accept. In the living room near the entrance to the guest house there is a woman crouching over the ceremonial mat preparing our coffee. The coffee beans were ground by her and placed in a traditional coffee pot. The pot is then placed on top of hot coals. She then uses a grass weaved fan to fan the coals. The tea cups have been perfectly situated on a serving tray with another serving tray next to it with raw sugar and fresh milk. The cups for the coffee ceremony are beautiful, delicate and small. As I have said before, their coffee when served this way is VERY strong. There is no need for the 24oz cup.

Hanock arrives before the coffee is ready so we ask him to join us. He humbly accepts our offer. Earlier in our trip, Hubby had asked him if he had ever seen snow. He laughed and said “no.” Since we had time, Charlie pulled out our camcorder and showed him the shots we had taken of one of many nasty snowstorms we had last winter. We also showed him the 4+ feet of snow on top of our truck. He looked at the video in amazement and asked us “you drive in this?” We laughed and told him yes. He just shook his head. We were so glad Hanock could join us for coffee since he had taken such good care of us all week.

After a cup of wonderful coffee, we load up the van and head towards the airport. Hanock informs us that Isaac and Jocelyn’s primary nanny will meet us in the parking lot of the airport. We were thrilled and couldn’t wait to get there. We wanted to make sure we had time to take pictures and let her know how much she means to us. The drive to the airport is somewhat surreal. We are leaving a place where our kids were birthed not knowing if we will ever be able to return. In just 45 hours, we will be home. A place where our babies will grow up that will be just as foreign to them as Ethiopia has been to us. I am ready. I am ready for this journey to end and our new journey to begin.

There will be some things I miss about Ethiopia like the people. Their hospitality is wonderful and they have such a kind spirit about them. I will miss seeing all the things carved and made by hand. There is so much beauty in items that have been perfectly fashioned with ones hands. And yes, I will miss the coffee ceremonies which take place every evening in the homes of the Ethiopian people.

There will be some things I won’t miss about Ethiopia too. I won’t miss the seeing children along the roadside waiting to shine people’s shoes. I won’t miss seeing the crippled and woman who have been widowed begging for food or money. I won’t miss the dirt, garbage and the smell of diesel fumes mixed with burning garbage.

We arrive at the airport and park. Hanock informs us that the Nanny is still on her way and should be here any minute. We have the men load our luggage on carts while we wait. I teach Isaac and Jocelyn to twirl while holding their hands out. They and the people around us get a big out of the twirling. Hanock calls the Nanny again knowing we no longer have time to wait. There is no answer. I can see the concern in Hanock’s face. He knows it is important to us but it is just as important to her. Hubby finally steps in and says “Kelli, it is 6:30. We were supposed to be inside at 6:00. We need to go.” He is right. We can’t wait any longer. We hug Hanock one last time and thank him for everything. We tell him if he ever comes to the US, he can stay with us and help us shovel snow. He just laughed and said “no that’s ok.”

We cross from the parking lot to a walkway where two men stand vigil. You can only enter the airport if you are flying. No other guests, relatives, or friends past this point. It is a weird scene to me. Across the parking lot you see gatherings of people saying their farewells. We pass by the men and head inside where we are ushered to an area where our luggage has to be screened before we enter the airport any further. Our passports are also checked. A man working for the airport stops us before our luggage can be screened and says “whose children are these? Where did you get them? Who do they belong to?” He was not going to let us through. “God is this really happening? Have we come this far to be stopped at the airport?” I tried to explain to him that we adopted them and showed him their passports but it was not good enough. Hubby sees a woman in an airport uniform close by and informs her that these are our children. When she realizes what is happening, she immediately scolds the man and then begins putting our luggage through the screening process.

The airport is hot and muggy. I am not sure if Isaac and Jocelyn sense something is different or the stress in my voice or the heat of the building but they are restless. We tucked them into their Ergo Carriers to get them through the airport and it has become a life saver. We make it to the Ethiopian Airline counter where we are handed forms we need to fill out to leave the country. One for each of us including the babies. Boggled down with luggage, carry-ons, and children we scramble for the information they need and struggle to remember the dates they asking for on the form. I am frustrated because none of the information pertains to the twins since they are from Ethiopia. I also can’t fill out their Visa information because it is sealed in an envelope and can’t be opened. Is this a sign of things to come?

I hand the lady at the Ethiopian Airline counter our information with all of our passports. She proceeds to inform us that the children are not ticketed. “Seriously…is this really happening? God you tell me in your Word that you do not give us more than we can bear. I believe you have more faith in me right now than I do. Please Lord, let this be over, let her find the information she needs.” I am not sure how much time has passed but all the other families have made it through and we are still here. I point again to the information for the babies on our paperwork. Finally, she finds them. I then spend the next 15 minutes trying to get her to understand that Washington DC is not the same as Washington State. She wants our luggage to stop in DC. Somehow she finally understands that there is more than one Washington in the US but she doesn’t have the airport code for Spokane, WA. By this time I am hot, angry, frustrated, completely stressed, and Jocelyn’s mood is not much better. Thank goodness my hubby shouts out “GEG.” Many minutes later we have our tickets and we are off to the next check point.

I am not sure what this check point is called nor do I even care. We are ushered to a window where we are asked for our passports and the forms we filled out while in line at the ticket counter. I shoved them all in my satchel but two have literally disappeared. At this point, Jocelyn is crying and I am trying to help my mom fill out a new form so she doesn’t have to find her glasses. The somewhat rude woman at the booth hands me back Isaac and Jocelyn’s forms and tells me they need to be completely filled out. I told her that wasn’t possible. They didn’t travel here with us so most of the information we couldn’t fill out. I also informed her that they are not old enough to be able to sign the form. I tossed the paperwork back at her and turned my back to her before I said anything I would regret. I knew at this point I was probably being an “ugly” American but what would have transpired if I hadn’t turned around would have been much uglier. While I tried to cool down, I focused on trying to calm Jocelyn. She has soaked the front of my shirt with sweat and is in no mood to be consoled. But with a little bit of coaxing she begins to settle down.

For the first time since we arrived, I am counting the minutes until we leave. The airport is one big debacle. I can’t leave this place fast enough. Could anything else go wrong?

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