I'm realizing I had better get our memories of the days in Ethiopia written down quickly. They are fading fast in the midst of our house full of kids. And laundry. And dishes. And diapers (3 in diapers!!).
The morning of our second day our driver took us to Toukoul for the morning visiting hours (10:00-1:00). Raizel's caretaker brought her out first, and as soon as she saw me she started crying and reached up for her caretaker and wanted to go back. We were actually glad to see this because it meant she did form good attachments and wasn't ready to just wander off with whoever came wandering through. The caretaker left her with me anyway, and I picked her up and we went for a walk around the outdoor grounds of the orphanage. She did *not* want to go back into the visiting room! Meanwhile, Avi and papa bonded.
Papa was glad someone was interested in him! :) Raizel calmed down with the distraction of looking at the other kids and the birds. The Ethiopian oriole was everywhere.
We ended up sitting on a chair outside and she kept pointing in the direction of her room and indicating that she wanted to go back there. But she didn't fuss! She did look at me and said, "Mama" but I'm not sure if it was a question, a comment, or what. She fell asleep in my arms. At lunchtime, we handed her back over to her caretaker and she went happily back.
Before we went back to the guesthouse, one of the orphanage guards came up to talk to us, but we needed a translator. We got our driver and it turns out that this man is married to an Ethiopian Jew and he embroiders Jewish pictures (like the one at the top of the blog). I had wanted to purchase several while we were there, but didn't yet know where we could go. Who knew we could get them right there! He had heard about us and already started an embroidery of shabbat. We ended up buying 4 of shabbat (for gifts), 1 of Yonah (Jonah), and 1 of Moshe (Moses). We *love* them and are so happy we'll have them around the house (as soon as we can afford to have them framed and up on the wall, that is!).
We went back to the guesthouse and had lunch and rested. Then we walked around the outside of the guesthouse for a while. The grounds are lovely and well-maintained. There are even a few resident tortoises.
During the morning visiting hours, our driver had also been running around trying to get water for the guesthouse. Our water had been turned off in the morning. There was a lot of construction happening in the road below the guesthouse (government low-income housing construction), and apparently, because of a big leak that was flooding the area, they had shut off all the water for the holiday weekend (Ethiopian Easter). Finally, he was able to get a water truck to the guest house and we got to watch the exciting filling up of the water tank. :)
After that welcome hullabaloo, we returned for the afternoon visiting hours (3:00-6:00). We got there a little early, so we walked around a bit while we were waiting.
Here is the "toukoul" where the youngest kids play and nap.
Then they brought out our kids. Here all of us in front of the offices.
This time when they brought Raizel out, she didn't try to run the other direction when she saw us, but she definitely was not thrilled about it. :) Another outside walk was a good distraction (while papa continued to bond with Avi). We were really wanting to bring her back to the guesthouse with us and spend shabbat (Friday night/Saturday) just getting to know her and take care of her. I thought for sure that she would have an absolute meltdown fit when we put her in the car, but NO. She sat in my lap (no, no car seats or seat belts are to be had in Ethiopia) and looked out the window and that was that.
We went home, made sure all our food was set for shabbat, and there we were with our new daughter. We were greeted by the wonderful aroma of cardamom pods being shelled. Cardamom is the secret ingredient we put in our challah each week, but it doesn't even compare to the fresh, fresh pods. YUM! On Day 4 of the trip, you'll get to find out what the used the cardamom for... :)
That night we made kiddush (blessing over wine) and motzi (blessing over bread... well, er, matza... bleah.... I mean, YUM) and the blessing for daughters and she just looked at us like it was all good. She ate at least as much as I did. The staff was very amused listening to all the Friday night goingson - in Hebrew to boot - and I'm not sure they could really connect who we were to Beta Israel (one name for the Ethiopian Jews) or to anything really. We sang the full bentching (after-meal blessings) out loud too... and that's no short song either! I think they just all thought it was, well, different! The other nice thing - just for shabbat we were the only family in the guesthouse! The other family there had the good fortune to travel south to meet their new daughter's birth-grandmother. (We had no such opportunity with our children. Both were found abandoned - 0ne in Bonga, one in Dire Dawa - and there were no known relatives. I do hope that somehow each of their birthmothers senses or knows that their children are in good hands and thriving.)
It was really a lovely evening. And that night Miss Raizel slept straight through for 10 hours, much to my surprise, and from Friday afternoon onwards she was glued to my arms and I was definitely MAMA and no one else would do.