It is October 29, 2012 at about 7:30 at night. I am so utterly exhausted, I have no business writing anything but... I think I need to write every day. So much and so little happen, that I'll forget. I forgot a lot from our trip in August.
Our flights were relatively uneventful, although the woman who checked us in was a complete jerk with a nasty attitude and it took me a glass of wine or 2 to shake it. I think the 1st plane we were on from Boston-Germany was circa 1972. We were wedged between two other people, and if the person in front of us tipped their seat back we were practically resting our chin on their forehead. The next plane (Germany to Addis with a refuel stop in Khartoum was about 1/3 full so we were livin' large.) The flights were ontime and uneventful.
I kept picturing our return flight and how challenging it might be.
We got to the guest house around 10:30 pm, unpacked and slept pretty solidly until the prayer chants started at 3:30 am. They lasted until we got up around 6:45 am, at one point Rob woke me up so I could check to see if there was a radio on in the room. Yes, folks, he woke me up to hear the chanting. And we are still married.
Our plan was that our friends Dani and Tam would meet us for an early breakfast so we could say a quick hello to Tam before he headed out to Kenya for a conference. Then we would run over to Kolfe (the boy's orphanage) and drop off 50+lbs of great sneakers, give out a buncha hugs, and share some smiles... Unfortunately, the boys had decided to meet us at the airport the night before, where someone told them that our flight from the US was cancelled because of the storm... so, thinking we were delayed, they did not show for breakfast. Insert sad face. We love Tam.
So, the Kolfe thing had to be put on the side burner, and we hired a different driver to take us to see Sitota. We arrived at the care center and... honestly, it was a luke warm welcome. Can you blame her? We show up and shower her with love and affection for a week and then: SLAM. Gone. FOR FOUR MONTHS. So- she was NOT her usual exuberant self.
She started to warm up a bit- we showed her some pictures and some videos of the Punks, and some pictures and videos from our last trip... she was coming around. She definitely warmed more quickly to Rob.
In any case, we brought her back to the guest house with us. We have Embassy tomorrow, and the logistics of leaving her at the center were a bit too complicated. When we worked it out to ride back with her good friend Mirhetu, it made the decision much easier.
She wouldn't eat a thing for lunch- nothing, in fact, until she had a few pretzels in the late afternoon. But we played soccer, played with toys in the court yard, took a bath in the sink, she even got us up to speed on her potty training routine. Rob left us alone in the courtyard for awhile and after a bit she was laughing and playing with me- making funny faces for photos, playing soccer, etc.
Then when Rob came out, she was shunning him. It is utterly fascinating to me. It's like she can only be cool with one of us at a time. It varies who it is, but it is never the two of us together. Perhaps most people are like that... they like me and tolerate Rob, or they like Rob and tolerate me... certainly worth considering.
Mid-day we decided to call the Punks. It was 630 am and everyone was getting ready for school. We facetimed with them for about 10 minutes. I know they felt great about starting their day like that, and we were excited. We never skyped or facetimed with them when we were here in August, so this was their 1st realtime interaction with their sister. I get a little choked up thinking about that. I was actually pretty happy that I could say to them, “She wants nothing to do with me right now, but look how comfortable she is with Papa.” And by the end of the call Sitota even waved to them and blew them a kiss. Maybe next time she'll shine that killer smile... it is such a gift.
There are only 3 families in the guest house, us, Mirhetu and his mom (our friend Autumn), Autumn's friend M, and another couple from another agency who is here for court.
Sitota ate a little bit for dinner, then went upstairs with Rob to hang out. She was clearly overtired and a bit freaked out. She rejected me and reluctantly let him kinda-sorta-comfort her, and she was asleep in minutes... At 6:15 pm... so we will see how tonight goes.
Earlier in the day, when we decided that we were going to leave the care center, and take Sitota with us, I told the head nanny, and her face fell. We'll be back tomorrow, I promised. “Oh, okok.” This is part of the loss that I've spoken about. Now Sitota has to walk away from the women who have loved her for the plast 5 months. And they have to let her. And in my heart I know that they battle with happiness because they see how we love the babies, and grief because we leave. We just go.
I brought some photos of the nannies from our last trip to leave with them. Tomorrow, I will try to take a photo with all of the Nannies and send it back to them, with photos of Sitota in her new life. Tomorrow, I believe, will be the hardest of our 6 days here. I fully expect that we will leave with her in a full blown tantrum. In agony. I'm crying just anticipating it.
But right now, the littlest Punk is asleep in bed. With that look of comfort and trust. And tomorrow we'll be sad together, and we will bask in thankfulness that we get to be here. That we get to be her parents.
We will celebrate her birthday with her tomorrow. It won't be elaborate, but we will really be rejoicing that never again will that day pass without a family to love and celebrate her...
And while You are doling out these blessings, please protect the Punks and everyone else, at home.