Sunday, November 28, 2010

Court Trip - Post 4 - Meeting our Babes & Celebrating

After our sightseeing on Sunday morning, we returned to the guest house for some lunch - yummy little pizzas...lots of pizzas - and anxiously awaited the Holt driver picking us up for orientation and our first meeting with our children. He arrived around 2:15 or 2:30 and we all piled into the van. Our first stop was the Holt offices for orientation and a meeting with our attorney to prepare us for court.



We were introduced to some of the people at Holt Ethiopia (whose names I don't have handy & can't remember). We were given the do's and don'ts of meeting with our children. Do take all the pictures that you want of your own child. Do NOT take any photos of anyone else's children. (darn) We also sat through a short presentation by Holt's legal advisor. He gave us the run down of the do's and don'ts of court. He also gave us 2 pages of possible questions that we needed to be prepared to answer, and then 2 of the ladies from Holt went around and quizzed each family on the one page. (oh, the pressure!) ;-) Because it was a Sunday, and most of the staff were off work, we did not tour the Holt offices at this time. We got to get back into the vans and drive off to Care Center 2 -- the infant & younger children's care center next to the Union Hotel. When we were first told this is where we were going, I asked if they had brought Markos to CC2 for our meeting, or if they'd be taking us to CC3 -- the preschool care center. The lady from Holt informed me that I was mistaken and that Markos was at CC2. Eric and I were a little worried, because we knew that he had previously NOT been at CC2, so we thought he was moved again and the fewer transitions, the better for the kids.

Care Center 2, by the Union:


The inside of the gate at CC2:


The play area off the main lobby inside CC2:


The stairway inside CC2 where the nannies bring the kids down to meet their new families:


Upon arriving at CC2, the lady from Holt talked with the head nanny who was there at the time and discovered that we were correct and that Markos was not, in fact, at CC2. So, she called for a driver to take us to CC3. While we waited, we have the privilege of seeing all the other families unite with their kiddos for the first time. What a beautiful thing to witness! Only a few tears (from the children), many more tears from the parents! Of course, as we are not allowed to post pictures of our own kids, we also aren't allowed to post pictures of others kids, so no pictures to show you. Since Eric and I didn't have Markos yet, he was able to videotape the whole thing for the other families so that was nice. Such sweet, sweet unions.

Mariah & Brian were the only ones picking up an infant, but were still caught off-guard when the nannies just brought their little one down without any warning and he was wearing a purple sleeper.

Kendra & Dic united with their 2 year old little girl. Daddy's girl ran from the nanny and threw her arms around Dic who was trying to videotape while Kendra sat by and fought back the tears, patiently waiting for her turn to give her little girl a squeeze.

Stephanie & Mike were adopting 2 year old twin boys who had some super big smiles when they were handed some little wooden cars.

Amanda & Justin were also adopting siblings -- a 2 year old boy and a 3 year old girl -- who both ran from the nanny and threw their arms around them. Brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it.

Heather & Tyler were adopting a toddler aged boy. He was darling - just taking everything in - very relaxed and sweet.

And, Jolie was adopting a little girl. She was the serious, thinker of the kids. She wasn't upset and didn't seem scared, she was just serious. She sat and stared for some time, just checking Jolie out. Very funny to watch.

Then, they told Eric and I it was time to go meet Markos, so we headed off to CC3. I posted a few "teaser pics" and shared a little about our meeting here, but can't post anymore pics, unfortunately.

He was really adorable. A little shy when we first met up with him in the court yard area, but he warmed up quickly inside the room where we were playing. He loved the car we gave him and played with it almost the entire time (or at least, ran around with it in his hand while he played with the balls & balloons). He was allowed to choose a friend to come and join us, so the 4 of us played for a few hours. It was a lot of fun. He is extremely curious & independent. He is an awesome kicker. After watching some of our videos, my dad was joking that the Steelers could really use him. There is just so much to tell, that I don't know where to begin really.

He laughed and talked to his friend, but he didn't talk to us at all. He did seem to understand English a good bit, but we never heard him speak it. His friend, on the other hand, seemed to know a fair amount. In fact, his friend was so adorable and excited for Markos, that everytime someone would walk by the windows, he'd yell out, "Markos America!". When the nannies would walk by and would see us with him and knew that we were his family, they would poke their heads in and congratulate him, kiss him, and hug him. The love between the nannies and the kids was so very obvious and beautiful.

They brought Markos' favorite nanny in to talk to us and answer any questions that we had. We also met with the pediatrician for a short time. We discovered that Markos had pneumonia a few months ago, but he's finished the treatments now and is fully recovered. Aside from that, he is very healthy.

After a few short hours, the Holt lady peeked her head in and told us it was time to go. She took Markos outside and talked to him. She explained that we were his family and that we were going to take him to America, but that we couldn't take him yet, that we still had to do some paperwork and that we would come back to take him later. I hope he understood.

We returned to the guest house and all quickly freshened up (or spent some time crying tears of joy alone in our rooms...), and then we had the driver for the guest house take five of the couples who were there to dinner at an Ethiopian Restaurant to celebrate. We went to a place called Yad Abyssinian.

We laughed because we had to go through some security to get into the restaurant, having our purses checked, etc. This was funny because to get into Ethiopia through customs and such, we weren't asked a single question. Regardless, it was a lot of fun. We ordered the sampler platter (I forget what they called it), and of course, some of the guys just HAD to try the goat so we got some of it, too.

Stephanie & Mike having their hands washed before our meal.


Dinner is served:


And, here's the goat:


Justin, Amanda, Heather & Tyler:


Brian, Mariah, me & Eric:


We aren't really sure what that was that Eric ate (yep, don't know why Eric got sick...):


The entire time we ate, there were traditional Ethiopian singers and dancers on the stage in the middle of the restaurant. At one point, I recognized the music from a previous Holt families' videos and knew it was a dance where the dancers come out into the audience & pull audience members to come up on stage and dance with them. Of course, I was shrinking back in my seat (and thankful I was back in the back, near the corner!). Eric thought he'd be funny and he had his hand over Mariah's head, pointing for the dancer to pick her. Instead the dancer came and tried to get Brian to do some weird shoulder dancing thing. He tried, but it just made the dancer (and the rest of us) laugh. I have it on video, but will spare Brian the humiliation. (you can thank me later, Brian)



All in all, it was a wonderful, emotional, exhausting day. I don't think too many of us had a hard time falling asleep after we returned to the guest house and hopped online for a few minutes (when the computers would work). Tomorrow morning, COURT!

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