sorry for the long absence. motherhood is overwhelming but that is the subject of a separate blog entry or a few and probably a few more  ….

i started this blog when we were already well on our way to adopt a baby from Ethiopia and even if this blog contains many flashbacks and reflections about infertility, i feel it is somehow more logical to develop a bit about how our adoption went. I mean not the paperwork part but in the real sense of the verb: to adopt = to make something your own.

you may remember that we had to pass 2 court dates. well by the 1st december, we really got nervous because we did not hear anything from our intermediary despite our repeated e-mails, so we decided to call her. She told us, that our case was actually passing in Court the next day, 2nd of December, exactly the day my husband and me met 17 years ago ! So when you realize that I had been wanting to start a family with that man, 17 years ago, you can have an idea of how much was a stake and consequently how nervous I was till we got confirmation that we passed Court. We then decided that we would leave for Ethiopia and meet our girl ASAP, it would be important at a later stage to be able to tell her that we went to see her as soon as we were legally entitled to and that we did not leave her in the orphanage for a minute longer than necessary.

Thanks to a very nice management and work ethics at my working place, I was able to leave on a very short notice.

During that weekend, we packed our bags 4 times so as not to exceed the allowed limit. Our hearts, they felt so light.
A dear friend with her 2 children drove us to the airport on Sunday December 4. We were supposed to fly by night and reach Addis Ababa Monday morning. We were longing to just get there.

Unfortunately our flight to addis was delayed and we had to stay the night over in Frankfurt. By Monday 5 December around 11 at night we reached Addis and met the Director of the orphanage who came to welcome us at the airport. To our delight she offered we drive straight to the orphanage and meet our baby. We entered the room with 20 babies, 20 sleeping beauties all waiting for their parents to come, kiss them to start their new life. We were shown to a little bed in the corner of the room. Zoé was sleeping peacefully. I touched her gently. Her hands felt really soft her palms like a rare and delicate silk, interweaving dreams and reality.

we got to hold her for about an hour and we then left. It felt so unreal and at the same time even more weird to put her back into her little orphan crib and leave her. we spent the whole of the next day and every day till we passed our second court appointment, with her at the orphanage. getting to know her, her habits, we changed her, fed her, bathed her, put her to sleep, … and she put us to sleep as well….

We have really been blessed during our journey in Ethiopia. A friend just let us stay in her house even though she herself was away for a couple of months. In the evenings we would go back to our friend’s house and organize our room to accommodate our baby. since we had to leave a lot of stuff behind not to pay overweight on luggage, we bought a lot of things in addis and the orphanage also let us use a lot of their baby stuff. we also got to use zoé’s crib which we hoped would help her make the transition easier at night. By 15 December we confirmed in front of the judge that we accepted zoé to be our daughter and that we understood that this decision is forever and irrevocable. We took her “home” away from our “real home” and put her to sleep in her little crib, as close as possible to our bed. At night, you just never know, our dream may have been be snatched away. … By 30 December we obtained Zoé’s passport, her exit visa out of Ethiopia and entry visa into Switzerland where we landed on the 31. Right in time to start 2012 as a family of 3. Carrying less luggage, a tired baby-girl and a strong desire to be able to soon repeat this wonderful experience for a sibling.

It is a bit late to write New Year resolutions but this first post of the year has to be about a girl who took a strong resolution. A resolve to live. To live a good life.

She was abandoned at the age of 12 hours. Found on the side of the road wrapped in an old rag. Somebody picked her up and brought her to the closest and only police station of a small settlement in Western Ethiopia.

The police officer gave her a name followed by the place where she was found. He took a picture of the 12 hours old, skinny baby and brought her to the hospital. He drafted an advertisement that would be hung public in the hope that a relative would come and claim the baby. Nobody.

A team of nurses took care of her in the hospital until she was strong enough to be transferred to a local orphanage.

A team of nannies took care of her until she was strong enough to be transferred to the capital city where she would have more chances to be adopted.

She travelled with another little girl for 1.5 days in a 4×4 on dusty, potholled roads.

She arrived in an orphanage with her little companion in the capital city and stayed there until a SW took her in the transition home.

Her file was proposed to a couple living in Switzerland.

She became a daughter. The couple became parents.

A team of nannies and nurses took care of her until her parents would come and fetch her in the transition home. Her crib was next to her little companion’s.

She met her parents and moved again. This time in a Boeing for more than 12 hours. She was carried out of the Boeing and got little drops of water on her face and realized with a grimace that she never felt rain before and everything was new. Again.

****

Many adoptive parents do not want to share their children’s story out of respect and privacy. Although I fully understand this, I do not feel like that. I feel so proud of my girl; she is such a brave little, spirited fighter. I hope her story inspires many to hang on, to believe, to overcome, to hope, to be strong and brave.

Many times, the world seems soo damaged that it gets discouraging to contribute, to make it a better place. You probably know that feeling: “what good would it do, if I do good, my small actions won’t even make the tiniest difference.” So, I strongly feel that her story inspires to do good. Starting from the birthmother who not only gave her life but also made the hard decision to give her a better life, followed by the person who picked her up and brought her to the police, the police officer, the countless nurses, every kiss, cuddle and bottle offered by a nanny, a document stamped by an officer, and everybody else offering their own small contribution, eventually created a chain, a chain so strong and reliable and so far-reaching that it would completely change the course of somebody’s life.

Whenever you get a chance, Go for it & do what feels right.

Thank you for this great life lesson, my girl !

Dear readers,

It is 22:55 and I should be going to bed and get some rest…. but I have been thinking about you and your journeys and wondering how you are doing. I have been writing mentally, many posts to you, about the incredible joy Zoé is. About my first steps into motherhood and my couple’s steps into parenthood. About our experience of the adoption procedure in Ethiopia and the wonderful work that is being done in order to give orphans a chance in life. About questions and doubts. About growing love, a baby becoming more and more demanding. About the peace of a sleeping baby, the helpless feeling of seeing your baby crying in distress, about her smile that makes the world feel like a better place, and seeing God in the sparkle of her eyes …

It will come, slowly but surely.

In the meantime, some of the pictures that I found a moment to download and very best Wishes for 2012 !!

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Everything is going really well.

We love our girl and it is a beautiful experience to be here in Ethiopia with her. The orphanage she is in (till tomorrow, when we will pass the final Court) is doing a really good job !!

We do not have regular Internet connection so I cannot update my blog too much or send pictures.

Love you but leave you (till better connection)

 

 

We passed Court!! Leaving ASAP, maybe Sunday …. in the meantime :

Thanks for your tips on “essentials to take care of a six months old”. I got the stuff & activities you advised.

Lately, my husband and I have been a bit stressed. Stressed for next week Monday, hoping our Court date will be confirmed, stressed to get everything ready, stressed for the unknown factors of our baby’s health, stressed for all the unknowns of parenthood, stressed at work trying to get everything finished before our leave, stressed to do everything as good as possible in a short time … All adding up, so that we actually had difficulties to not work on each other nerves and/or hurt each other by short temper and irritated behaviour …

So this weekend we had a good talk and decided to shift our focus. Instead of running around endlessly trying to achieve things and reach an un/existing perfection, we’ll try to remember we have started a dynamic journey, one that will oscillate constantly between change and routine, bliss and frustration, and, motivated by the fact that we have waited for our dear little family for soo long, we want to focus on enjoyment instead of perfection.

Following is some more blah, blah blah ranting about perfection vs enjoyment. To be read if it is interesting for you otherwise just skip and go straight to the pictures. 

Granted, it is in my nature to be a bit of a perfectionist, but I also wonder if and how it could be connected to infertility. Maybe (over)striving for (over)perfection could have had a negative influence on fertility and/or repeated pregnancy loss (RPL) (which does not matter to me any longer),  but surely, IF and RPL have influenced the way I want to do things perfectly now (and this is what matters). While doing ART procedures, and even more so, when confronted with unexplained “failure” times after times, the feeling that: I did not “succeed” because I was not good enough,  seems to unavoidably pop up. So now, that our miracle baby has been “granted” to us, I put extra pressure on myself, something like : “If I do not do everything “perfectly” I do not show I am “deserving” this baby girl and that this “ungrateful” attitude will eventually result in something bad. like carrying the sticky guilt label of a “bad mum” or even worse a cancelled adoption !
Rationally, I know that it is ok that I did not buy the overly expensive BIO milk-powder and that actually, for my baby who was undernourished, it matters little. She just needs food, right ? Well no, emotionally, not buying bio milk-powder is a no-no and I need to go back to the shop ASAP to change and if they do not want to change. Sorry, I will have to spend on the BIO milk powder ànd throw the non Bio one ! Coo-Coo or welcome to motherhood ?
Got it ? Under the need for a seemingly reassuring perfection, hides a deep black fear. Fear of not being good enough and consequently,  the fear of not being loved vs the need for unconditional love.  
Now is the time to shift.

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This time, in two weeks time we hope to be in Addis Ababa with our precious daughter in our arms !

On December 5, we will receive confirmation from our Intermediary. If she confirms our Court date for December 15, we will leave on Wednesday 7 or Thursday 8 December, which gives us 1 week during which we can get maximum info about Zoé’s habits, feeding rhythms, likes and dislikes from the orphanage staff, and then, after the Judge gives us custody over Zoé, it is flying solo …. from embassy to embassy, to get her exit visa out of Ethiopia and her entry visa into Switzerland, and then flying the 12-hours-long-trip home.

Adventurous and I am so.ex.it.ed.ab.out.it.all !!

If, our Court date is postponed due to delays in the Ethiopian Court processing the files, we will see what we do. Either we go and meet our baby and stay for longer, either … ? I don’t want to think about it so much. … hopefully we will not need to think about it !!

We got most of Zoé’s things washed and ready. We saw the pediatrician who will take care of her, once back in Geneva. We bought her feeding bottles and milk powder, the travel medication the pead. recommended we take with us, just in case. We collected many clothes to donate to the Orphanage. And I am now starting to prepare the things we will need for the trip itself. This weekend we plan to have a look at our suit-cases and plan how we best fit everything. ….

I feel so much joy getting everything ready and my otherwise-less-emotional-than-me-DH now really longs to meet and hug his daughter too !

If you have any advise about things to care for a 6 months old that you found really essential, please tell me.
Shops are overwhelming with stuff and info is often contradicting. Also, it will be warm in Addis Ababa (+/- 23°C) and by the time we come back to Switzerland it will be about the coldest time of the year (+/- -8 to + 3°C) !! Added to the fact that we are first time parents, we do not know how big our baby is, how the 23 °C feel in Addis as it is a city on a 2 500 m high plateau, what will be available there in case we forgot something, where we will be staying, if we will be able to boil the feeding bottles or if we should take cold-sterilisation-tablets, how many feeding bottles to take with us, knowing that we might have delays on the flight back  ….  Just “guessing and gut feeling” and trusting that in the end it will spice up the tales we will tell Zoé when she will want to know how we came to be a family !