Posted by: Kristin W | December 17, 2011

Day 2/3 – Friday/Saturday

(Note: to read about our trip from the beginning, start HERE.)

We flew out Friday morning and arrived in Ethiopia Saturday morning.  The flight was pretty uneventful.  I did try to stay awake until bedtime Ethiopia time, then popped an Ambien, but I still only slept a few hours.  A little too anxious for even drugs to work!

On the plane GPS

We landed in Addis Ababa about 7:30 am – about 30 minutes early.  There were eight families from Wide Horizons on our flight, four of us here for court and four for their Embassy trip.  Eight families, all with a ton of luggage.  One van.  Mulat, our driver from Wide Horizons, tied all the luggage to the top of the van and we piled in, with one family taking an extra car.

About a third of what was eventually put on top of the van.

We drove out of the airport and got our first glimpses of the city.  It is a really large, bustling city.  The roads are good, and the traffic was not too crazy.  There are a lot of tall buildings – taller than I expected to see – and people are everywhere, including the street.  It seems like everyone is walking in the street.  There is a lot of construction going on, and they use this scaffolding that is made out of small twigs tied together.  Workers’ comp nightmare!  We even got to see some donkeys strolling down the street.

Donkeys outside the guest house

We arrived at Horizon House and the doors to the baby rooms were open.  We could hear the babies inside.  We were supposed to wait in the dining room while they unloaded our luggage and got our rooms for us.  But, you can imagine how well that went over, so those of us with babies went to the baby rooms.  The other two families with babies quickly found their kids, but there was no H.  I kept repeating her name and the nannies kept looking at me like I was crazy and shaking their heads “no.” So, I waited with the others until it was time to walk over to the big kid house, which is about 100 yards down the road.  I knew it was unlikely she would be there since she is only seven months old, but was still hoping that for some reason both the kids would be there.  Fail.  When we got there, there were kids everywhere, playing in the courtyard.  It is so surreal to finally be there and recognize these kids that I have seen in other families photos and on the waiting kids list.  They are real, live kids, no longer just two dimensional photos.   I kept thinking that maybe A and H just looked different now than their referral photos, but after asking around realized that our kids were definitely not there.  Finally, we talked to Mulat, and he said that they were at a different orphanage and he was going to get them and would be back in 20 minutes.  That was the longest 20 minutes of my life (probably because it was more like 45).  He returned alone, and said that there was a misunderstanding about the names and when he got there, realized that they were not our kids.  Ours are still in Afar, and would be here Sunday.  Or Monday.  Imagine the most disappointed you have ever been in your entire life then multiply it by 10.  I was about to lose it, so we left and went through our day robotically, going back to the guest house, having lunch, taking a nap.  Then, we went back to the big kid house for the afternoon play time.  Since there were several families there with their kids, the nannies kept the kids inside to play, unless their parents were there. That way, the visiting families could play in the courtyard and bond without being mobbed by a bunch of other kids.  So, that left us in an interesting situation, just watching the families with their kids, not really wanting to engage too much.  Eventually, I went on inside with the rest of the kids.  The playroom/dining room is about 12 x 12, with a TV in one corner and a few toys scattered around.  I took a seat against one will and a little girl brought over some trucks and we rolled them back and forth.  That was all it took for me to be mobbed with kids who wanted to climb all over me, sit on my lap, and get tickled.  They all call all American women “mommy,” so all I could understand was “mommy, mommy, mommy…” If you have ever felt unappreciated, you should definitely spend some time in an African orphanage.  These kids were so glad I was there and so happy to have someone new to play with.  It was really amazing, and I left utterly exhausted, even though all I did was sit on the floor for two hours.

In the end, the day was a total disappointment, because we didn’t get to do what we came halfway around the world to do.  But, it was a great learning opportunity for me.  I realized in the middle of my love-fest in the play room that I had been concerned about playing with A when we meet him.  Not knowing the language and not being able to explain things to him, I worried that we wouldn’t connect.  But in that small room, those small kids taught me a valuable lesson about happiness.  You don’t have to have anything, even a common language, to love each other.  And hopefully tomorrow I’ll get to share that with A and H.



  1. I’m so sorry they weren’t there! It must have been devastating, to travel all that way and have all that anticipation. After hearing your story and another similar story, I think I am going to have to mentally prepare myself, when our time comes, that he or she might not be there.

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