I still haven't finished blogging about our last few days in Addis. So I'll just wrap it up now. (with a few pics from a recent trip to Woodward Park thrown in for good measure.)
I'll start by saying that it was very hard to say goodbye. To Ethiopia, to Genet, to Abiey. I cried as I looked around me at the airport and knew that we were taking a piece of Ethiopia's future away from it. Does that sound nuts??? It probably does. But as I held our bright little piece of sunshine, I knew that whatever she becomes in life, it will not be an Ethiopian. And I was sad for her and sad for Ethiopia. I don't have the right words to express this... but it broke my heart. But then she pitched such a fit in the waiting area at the airport that my heart went right back into mommy-mode again. And then when we buckled her in on the airplane and she didn't like the buckle and was squirming and trying to take it off and EVERY Ethiopian around us was trying to calm her and give her candy... I just totally checked out. I mean it. Not my most glorious moment, but I was exhausted- mentally, physically, emotionally, and I thought "if these people want to deal with her for the next 15 hours- FINE." But then she so sweetly fell asleep on my lap within minutes of takeoff that I got over it. I was an emotional WRECK, though, for many reasons. My poor husband. He is so patient with me and so quick to over-look my over-reactions. (Most of the time. :-)
A note: I did not enjoy Ethiopian Airlines. The plane was HOTTER THAN HADES both there and back- what is that??? Aren't airplanes usually freezing cold??? And I have to say that the staff was, how shall I put this? Well, not Asian. Most of my overseas trips have been either to Indonesia or to Australia and I've traveled almost every Asian airline there is. And I'm not exaggerating when I say that the air staff on those flights make you feel so at home and are willing to bend over backward to accommodate your every need. And... suffice to say, this wasn't quite the same. You can't beat them for price, but good luck getting your water re-filled.
Immigration in DC was another nightmare. She thought it was VERY funny to run away from us. And I have to say I was very self conscious that I was surrounded by Ethiopians and that I could not control my Ethiopian child. So after finally doing the "Okay! Bye-bye Abeba!" thing and walking away from her until she ran to me, I grabbed her and put her in the sling I brought with me (Thanks Anj! I need to get that back to you, don't I???) and I whispered in my best Mommy Dearest serious voice, "When Mommy says NAY (come), you NAY!!! Do you understand me????" And yes, indeed she did. Sometimes you don't need to speak the same language to communicate just fine. :-)
So from then on whenever she started to run away from us I would just point at the sling and say, "Do you want to get back in this? Then when Mommy says NAY, Abeba NAYS!" Yes, including the bad grammar. But it helped me keep my sense of humor. :-)
Arriving in Tulsa will always stand as one of the highlights of my LIFE. It was so beautiful! All these friends and family were there and they ALL felt like family to me!!! It was so amazing to realize that she didn't just have a family waiting to love her, she had a whole community ready to embrace her and love her!!! I was blown away. Balloons, signs, toys and presents, and the wonderful, gorgeous people I am lucky to have in my life. I'm getting choked up just thinking of it. To see the tears of joy in THEIR eyes was a thing I will never forget. I just felt so surrounded by LOVE. It was amazing. (BIG PS- IF ANY OF YOU WHO WHERE THERE HAVE PICS OF THIS AMAZING MOMENT, I WOULD LOVE TO GET THEM! I HAVE RECEIVED A FEW VIDEOS, BUT NO PHOTOS! THANKS!)
Best moment: As soon as we came through the gate all holding hands, Charlie Buck (age 4) ran right up to Lilah and got right up in her face and said, "My mommy said you can come to my HOUSE!!!" I melted. Too gorgeous for words.
And every moment since then has been the same. Even the moment when I put her in time out for the first time for saying something naughty to me in Amharic. How did I know it was something naughty? Oh, a mommy just knows. Am I right, girls??? She looked at me with an attitude and said, "Blah blah blah blah!" And I knew it was bad. So I knelt down on her level and said very calmly, "Don't talk to Mommy like that." And the little precious thing squared her shoulders, looked me right in the eye and SAID IT AGAIN! Oh, yes she did. And I said, "And now you have to sit in time out." I moved a chair by the bookcase and set her in it, and let me tell you, we BOTH knew exactly what was going on. She started bawling right away, which I took as a good sign- she knew she was naughty and knew she needed to get in trouble for it. But even as it was happening I was thinking, "This is hilarious! She's speaking Amharic, I'm speaking English, and we are communicating perfectly well." ;-)