Ethiopia Adoption-Part 6-Going to Court

March 30, 2011  Wednesday  10:30pm
So this morning the big decision was do I wear mascara or not? Am I going to cry during or after court, or not?  I did in Russia, but I think maybe a big part of that was court was very stressful there.  It was probably around 45 minutes with essay questions and we were prepped with lots of things that we needed to say.  I was writing acronyms on my hand to remember everything.  So it was sort of a release, partly, when that was over.
We have heard this time it will be about 6 questions and the correct answer to all of them is “Yes.”  And that we will only be in there a few minutes.  So, this time Im really not stressed at all.  I choose to wear mascara.
At 9:30am we head to the courthouse.  Dressed up.  I actually have the same dress I wore to the Russian court and Matt has on his same tie.   They pull the van up to that same totally nondescript, narrow, maybe 5 story building without even a sign in front, courthouse.  Here we are, they say.  Oh, ok.  Is this it?  Right then we watch 12 prisoners, 2×2 in handcuffs walk into the door we are about to walk into.  Oh wow!  Ok.  I find myself being just a little jumpy in Addis now.  I feel like I could totally see a riot breaking out on any street corner.  And I don’t even watch the news that much.  Finally later tonight I ask Matt, “am I being silly to be sort of jumpy and a little scared around here.”  No not at all he said.  I mean I have traveled a lot.  The closest I might have come to being nervous somewhere was Thailand or Morocco or Mexico, but honestly I wasn’t scared in any of those places.  They seemed totally safe.  Matt was reminding me that this country is in total poverty.  The average daily wage is $1.  Chaos reigns here so even though it seems ok now, there is potential when you have those kinds of characteristics.
We head up those 3 flights of stairs again.  Out of breath.  I see that there is an elevator, but it doesn’t work.  We go back into that same 20×20 bare room with chairs around the edges and a big window looking out on Addis.  There are about 35 people in there.  We and 2 others are the only white people.  We sit down and just about everybody is staring at us.  The judge is not there yet.  We end up waiting for a good 30-45 minutes.  Job is with us today.  A different guide.  So he and Matt sit there and talk about the Ethiopian culture, different ethnic groups, the languages, etc. etc.  Everyone else was pretty quiet.  I found out that yes, everyone in there WAS there for something adoption related.  Birth parents and adoptive parents.  And all those people in there on Monday were there for the same thing.  Surprising.  That is all this judge does.  So that explains why everyone was staring at us.  Many, if not most, might have been wondering if we were going to be the new parents of their child.  Thats heavy.  Matt was texting a lawyer friend about the beer in Ethiopia.  Great.  Trying not to get uptight.   Im worried we arent even supposed to have cell phones in there, but then I realize several people are looking at their cell phones, so I pull mine out and try to be involved in it.  I had to do something.
Sitting there you get the feeling that this is more like it was when judges began back in Moses’ day.  For us it is so modern all about rules and procedure and briefs and motions, but here it is just a bunch of people hanging out, quickly in and out of the judges chambers trying to get someone to tell them what to do.  Matt agreed with that assessment.
Finally we are called in with the court coordinator who Job hands us off to.  A young man.  The judge’s office is very small.  Long and narrow.  She is behind a metal desk.  We sit in 2 chairs in front and to the side.  Matt is closer to her.  The court coordinator sits sort of behind us.  She asks us, You have other children?  Yes.  How do they feel about this adoption?  They are very excited about it.  Why Ethiopia?  Matt answered all these questions.  On this one he tells her a story about a cousin who adopted a boy from Ethiopia that we sat with at a wedding 5 years ago.  We were so impressed with him.  He was about 15.  etc. etc.  You have met Selamawit?  Yes.  You wish to adopt her?  Yes.  You realize that after today there is no way, not matter what, that this decision can be changed?  Yes, we understand.  And you still wish to adopt her?  Yes.  That was it.  At that point I added a few comments about how interested we had been in this country for quite a while.  She smiled and thanked us.  We thanked her and left.  She was probably in her  40’s and very pretty.  Serious, busy, somewhat demure, and kind.
We walked out into the hall and talked to Job and the coordinator.  They spoke Amahric (sp?) the major language and then Job translated to me.  I wanted to know since we had expedited, could we expedite the rest?  What about the MOWA letter?  Was it here?  No.  Not yet.  But he expects it today or tomorrow.  I said we need to make a decision about whether to stay or go.  As we walk out of the building, Job tells me what I really already knew, but was still trying to pursue.  The judge has no power in these other areas.  Once we get that MOWA letter it will be about a month until our Embassy interview.  There is just no way around it.  Ok.  That fine.  We go home this Friday night.  We come back probably in about a month with the girls.  I really do think God has a plan  and it is important for these girls lives to see Ethiopia and where Sally is from.  Intellectually, Im glad it is settled and its ok, though emotionally I cant stand leaving her here.  She is starting to bond with us this week and now we are going to leave her, just like her mother did.  Abandonment issues.  I just have to hand this over to God and know that it will be ok.
Next we head to lunch with the rest of the families.  There are about 30 of us at the table this time.  Again it is western food.  Mexican.  I really do think Matt and I are the rare ones that would prefer to eat Ethiopian every meal.  Its ok though.  We have great conversations with everyone.  And most of the people need the comfort of their western food.  One mom that just came in this morning was about to meet her 2 new children, about ages 5 and 6 AND the birth mother.  She was asking all about my meeting.  She was very nervous.  Of course, as I start to tell the story, 3 of us all burst into tears again.  My goodness, Im getting tired of crying, but this whole trip the tears are just at the edge of popping out every time I turn around.  Whether its just with Sally or seeing other children without parents or seeing new families meet their children for the first time, or seeing the totally poverty of this city and the real meaning of “scratching out a living” being right in my face.
After lunch we go to the transition house with a different new mom that just arrived.  Husband couldn’t come.  She was also seeing her 5 year old for the first time.  And a couple who were seeing their children for the second time, though Matt and I had not seen them.  So we three families hung out on the porch of the transition home all afternoon playing with our children and watching the 30 older children out on the playground.  The little 5 year old girl who had never seen this woman was brought out to the porch.  The nanny holding her hand.  The nanny pointed to her new mom.  The other couple was taking pictures for her.  And that little girl went right up to her with open arms and a huge smile and just hugged her right away.  She finally got a mommy.  Ok.  Im crying again right now.  Oh it is just such a sight.  She’s known for a long time that children meet these white people.  They play with a certain child and then that child leaves with these people.  They know what is going on and they want it too.
Around 5 we left and the van dropped me off with Job at the spa.  Oh boy.  I spent the next 3 hours there getting a pedicure, then manicure, then massage.  Each thing was an hour.  The total bill was $43.  Everything was excellent!  A perfect french manicure and pedicure by an about 55 year old woman who knew what she was doing and also an awesome massage.  Verging on the hard side, but very, very good.  She called me madam.  Sweet woman.
**For those of you reading this to your children, you might want to read the rest first and then decide whether to read it or not.  Don’t want to scare anyone.
Before the massage several other moms were there and they were heading back to the guest house.  I saw them and they said the driver would come back and get me when I was done.  He was a new guy that I did not recognize.  I thought “I hope I recognize him.”  So when I was done at 8pm it was dark outside.  The lady at the register said your driver is outside.  Ok.  I walk out, in the dark, alone and see about 10 drivers and tons of cars.  Ugh.  Where the heck is he?  A few come up and ask if I need a taxi.  No.  Then he comes up and in very broken english says “Adoptive parent?”  Yes! But many white people like me are, so I said, were are you going?  I wasn’t going to tell him.  I needed him to prove he was the right guy.  He said the right guest house.  Ok.  lets go.
Jumpy again and now, damn, Im alone and its dark and we aren’t supposed to go out in the dark.  He locks the doors.  I decide to take exact notes on my iphone (and pray) of where we are going in case he is going to kidnap me.  Then I can just email it to someone, assuming there is wireless.  Unlikely, but just in case, you know.  I know my mind is racing, but I thought that was smart. :)  A few blocks.  Big shopping center. Turn right.  Left at tall light and pointed roof.  2 blocks.  Curve right.  Pass Malawi Embassy.  Turn left.  Around a circle to a 90 degree right. Pass Addis Guest House on left.  Digital studio on right.  Ahhhh there is my sign.  Yay!
Matt has been hanging out doing not much for 3 hours.  He is bored and hungry.  Ugh.  I know he is going to want to go out.  And its dark!  I am hungry too though.  He said he talked to another couple and it is safe to just walk back down to that street of shops, head left go 2 blocks and there is a nice restaurant.  Ok.  Ive been pampered and he has been waiting.  I will go.
And it is scary again.  You can see people checking you out all the time.  You feel like they are trying to walk close to you to grab something or mess with you.  We walk fast, holding hands and finally get to the restaurant.  Relief.  Its sort of a thatched roof type place.   A big open fire grill they are cooking on. Looks like some upstanding people eating there.  About 5 tables of people.  I feel safe.  Its a local place.  All Ethiopians and sounded like one table of french people.
We have a very nice dinner and great conversation about this country, about maybe sending in our dossier again to adopt again.  Who knows.  We both seem open to it, though we want to give Sally a good chance at being the new baby.
At the end of dinner Matt plans out our strategy for walking home so that when we turn the corner to the alley to go to our guest house, we have the best chance for not being followed.  Heavy sigh.  Ok, lets do it.  Part of it is not appearing afraid.  Pray again.  The streets are almost deserted now.  We walk by about 4 or 5 obvious prostitutes.  They want to talk.  Are we there, are we there?  Not yet.  Ah, there it is.  Matt also had a flashlight.  He was really watching all around us.  We get there, bang on the tall metal gate and we’re in!
Time for bed.  Not sure what tomorrow holds.  Love you all!!
Allison
PS  We will not be walking on those streets with the girls on the next trip says Matt, day or night.
PSS We find out later that prostitution is legal.  I would think so.  It IS a way for these women to make a living.

March 30, 2011  Wednesday  10:30pm

So this morning the big decision was, do I wear mascara or not? Am I going to cry during or after court, or not?  I did in Russia, but I think maybe a big part of that was court was very stressful there.  It was probably around 45 minutes with essay questions and we were prepped with lots of things that we needed to say.  I was writing acronyms on my hand to remember everything.  So it was sort of a release, partly, when that was over.

Just say “Yes”

We have heard this time it will be about 6 questions and the correct answer to all of them is “Yes.”  And that we will only be in there a few minutes.  So, this time I’m really not stressed at all.  I choose to wear mascara.

Time to go

At 9:30am we head to the courthouse.  Dressed up.  I actually have the same dress I wore to the Russian court and Matt has on his same tie.   They pull the van up to that same totally nondescript, narrow, maybe 5-story building without even a sign in front, courthouse.  Here we are, they say.  Oh, ok.  Is this it?  Right then, we watch 12 prisoners, 2×2 in handcuffs walk into the door we are about to walk into.  Oh wow!  Ok.  I find myself being just a little jumpy in Addis now.  I feel like I could totally see a riot breaking out on any street corner.  And I don’t even watch the news that much.

Still nerval (my dad always used to say “nerval and excital” and it made me laugh)

Finally later tonight I ask Matt, “am I being silly to be sort of jumpy and a little scared around here.”  No not at all he said.  I mean I have traveled a lot.  The closest I might have come to being nervous somewhere was Thailand or Morocco or Mexico, but honestly I wasn’t scared in any of those places.  They seemed totally safe.  Matt was reminding me that this country is in total poverty.  The average daily wage is $1.  Chaos reigns here so even though it seems ok now, there is potential when you have those kinds of characteristics.  And add to that, the pick-pocket experience yesterday.

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About to walk into court.

We head up those 3 flights of stairs again.  Out of breath.  I see that there is an elevator, but it doesn’t work.

Waiting

We go back into that same 20×20 bare room with chairs around the edges and a big window looking out on Addis.  There are about 35 people in there.  We and 2 others seem to be the only non-Ethiopian people in there.  We sit down and just about everybody is staring at us.  The judge is not there yet.  We end up waiting for a good 30-45 minutes.  Job is with us today.  A different guide.  So he and Matt sit there and talk about the Ethiopian culture, different ethnic groups, the languages, etc. etc.  Everyone else was pretty quiet.

Be calm

I found out that yes, everyone in there WAS there for something adoption related.  Birth parents and adoptive parents.  And all those people in there on Monday were there for the same thing.  Surprising.  That is all this judge does.  So that explains why everyone was staring at us.  Many, if not most perhaps, might have been wondering if we were going to be the new parents of their child.  That’s heavy.  Matt was texting a lawyer friend about the beer in Ethiopia.  Great.  Trying not to get uptight.   I’m worried we aren’t even supposed to have cell phones in there, but then I realize several people are looking at their cell phones, so I pull mine out and try to be involved in it.  I had to do something.

Simpler times

Sitting there you get the feeling that this is more like it was when judges began back in Moses’ day.  For us, it is so modern all about rules and procedure and briefs and motions, but here it seems like just a bunch of people hanging out, quickly in and out of the judges chambers, trying to get someone to just tell them what to do.  Matt agreed with that assessment.

Our Turn

Finally we are called in with the court coordinator who Job hands us off to.  A young man.  The judge’s office is very small.  Long and narrow.  She is behind a metal desk.  We sit in 2 chairs in front and to the side.  Matt is closer to her.  The court coordinator sits sort of behind us.

She asks us, You have other children?  Yes.  How do they feel about this adoption?  They are very excited about it.  Why Ethiopia?  Matt answered all these questions.  On this one he tells her a story about a cousin who adopted a boy from Ethiopia that we sat with at a wedding 5 years ago.  We were so impressed with him.  He was about 15, etc.  You have met Selamawit?  Yes.  You wish to adopt her?  Yes.  You realize that after today there is no way, not matter what, that this decision can be changed?  Yes, we understand.  And you still wish to adopt her?  Yes.

That was it.  At that point I added a few comments about how interested we had been in this country for quite a while.  She smiled and thanked us.  We thanked her and left.  She was probably in her  40’s and very pretty.  Serious, busy, somewhat demure, and kind.

Now what?

We walked out into the hall and talked to Job and the coordinator.  They spoke Amharic, the major language, and then Job translated to me.  I wanted to know since we had expedited, could we expedite the rest?  What about the MOWA letter?  Was it here?  No.  Not yet.  But he expects it today or tomorrow.  I said we need to make a decision about whether to stay or go.

As we walk out of the building, Job tells me what I really already knew, but was still trying to pursue.  The judge has no power in these other areas.  Once we get that MOWA letter it will be about a month until our Embassy interview.  There is just no way around it.  Ok.  That’s fine.  We go home this Friday night.  We come back probably in about a month with the girls.

A Bigger Plan

I really do think God has a plan  and it is important for these girls lives to see Ethiopia and where Sally is from.

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Intellectually, I’m glad it is settled and it’s ok, though emotionally I can’t stand leaving her here.  She is starting to bond with us this week and now we are going to leave her, just like her mother did.  Abandonment issues.  I just have to hand this over to God and know that it will be ok.

Let’s Eat

Next we head to lunch with the rest of the families.  There are about 30 of us at the table this time.  Again it is western food.  Mexican.  I really do think Matt and I are the rare ones that would prefer to eat Ethiopian every meal.  It’s ok though.  We have great conversations with everyone.

One mom that just came in this morning was about to meet her 2 new children, about ages 5 and 6 AND the birth mother.  She was asking all about my meeting.  She was very nervous.  Of course, as I start to tell the story, 3 of us all burst into tears again.  My goodness, I’m getting tired of crying, but this whole trip the tears are just at the edge of popping out every time I turn around.  Whether it’s just with Sally or seeing other children without parents or seeing new families meet their children for the first time, or seeing the total poverty of this city and the real meaning of “scratching out a living”  right in my face.

To see Sally again

After lunch we go to the transition house with a different new mom that just arrived.  Husband couldn’t come.  She was also seeing her 5 year old for the first time.  And a couple who were seeing their children for the second time, though Matt and I had not seen them.  So we three families hung out on the porch of the transition home all afternoon playing with our children and watching the 30 older children out on the playground.

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The little 5 year old girl who had never seen this woman was brought out to the porch.  The nanny holding her hand.  The nanny pointed to her new mom.  The other couple was taking pictures for her.  And that little girl went right up to her with open arms and a huge smile and just hugged her right away.  She finally got a mommy.  Ok.  I’m crying again right now.  Oh it is just such a sight.  She’s known for a long time that children meet these people that look a little different.  They play with a certain child and then that child leaves with these people.  They know what is going on and they want it too.

Time to be pampered

Around 5pm we left and the van dropped me off with Job at the spa.  Oh boy.  I spent the next 3 hours there getting a pedicure, then manicure, then massage.

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My only picture from the spa

Each thing was an hour.  The total bill was $43.  Everything was excellent!  A perfect french manicure and pedicure by an about 55 year old woman who really knew what she was doing and also an awesome massage.  Verging on the hard side, but very, very good.  She called me madam.  Sweet woman.

**For those of you reading this to your children, you might want to read the rest first and then decide whether to read it or not.  Don’t want to scare anyone.

It’s dark outside again

Before my massage several other moms, that were there too, were heading back to the guest house.  I saw them and they said the driver would come back and get me when I was done.  He was a new guy that I did not recognize.  I thought “I hope I recognize him.”  So when I was done at 8pm it was dark outside.  The lady at the register said your driver is outside.  Ok.  I walk out, in the dark, alone and see about 10 drivers and tons of cars.  Ugh.  Where the heck is he?  A few come up and ask if I need a taxi.  No.  Then he comes up and in very broken english says “Adoptive parent?”  Yes! But many white people like me are, so I said, were are you going?  I wasn’t going to tell him.  I needed him to prove he was the right guy.  He said the right guest house.  Ok.  lets go.

Taking Notes

Jumpy again and now, damn, I’m alone and its dark and we aren’t supposed to go out in the dark.  He locks the doors.  I decide to take exact notes on my iphone (and pray) of where we are going in case he is going to kidnap me.  Then I can just email it to someone, assuming there is wireless.  Unlikely, but just in case, you know.  I know my mind is racing, but I thought that was smart. :)  A few blocks.  Big shopping center. Turn right.  Left at tall light and pointed roof.  2 blocks.  Curve right.  Pass Malawi Embassy.  Turn left.  Around a circle to a 90 degree right. Pass Addis Guest House on left.  Digital studio on right.  Ahhhh there is my sign.  Yea!

Really?  Seriously?

Matt has been hanging out doing not much for 3 hours.  He and Yonas got their wires crossed and never hooked up.  He is bored and hungry.  Ugh.  I know he is going to want to go out.  And it’s dark!  I am hungry too though.  He said he talked to another couple and it is safe to just walk back down to that street of shops, head left, go 2 blocks and there is a nice restaurant.  Ok.  I’ve been pampered and he has been waiting.  I will go.

And it is scary again

You can see people checking you out all the time.  You feel like they are trying to walk close to you to grab something or mess with you.  We walk fast, holding hands and finally get to the restaurant.  Relief.  It’s sort of a thatched roof-type place.   A big open fire grill they are cooking on. Looks like some upstanding people eating there.  About 5 tables of people.  I feel safe.  It’s a local place.  All Ethiopians and sounded like one table of french people.

Potential is in the air

We have a very nice dinner and great conversation about this country, about maybe sending in our dossier again to adopt again.  Who knows.  We both seem open to it, though we want to give Sally a good chance at being the new baby.

The route home

At the end of dinner Matt plans out our strategy for walking home so that when we turn the corner to the alley to go to our guest house, we have the best chance for not being followed.  Heavy sigh.  Ok, lets do it.  Part of it is not appearing afraid.  Pray again.  The streets are almost deserted now.  We walk by about 4 or 5 obvious prostitutes.  They want to talk.  Are we there, are we there?  Not yet.  Ah, there it is.  Matt also had a flashlight.  He was really watching all around us.  We get there, bang on the tall metal gate and we’re in!

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The gate to our guest house.  Of course, this is during the day with the guest house behind me.

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A close up showing outside the gate.  As if you needed my “play by play”

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And a look at the vans we drove around in.

Time for bed.  Not sure what tomorrow holds.  Love you all!!

Allison

PS  We will not be walking on those streets with the girls on the next trip says Matt, day or night.

PSS We find out later that prostitution is legal.  I would think so.  It IS a way for these women to make a living.

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