We'd been told to be at the Gladney office by 10:30 so that we could go to court with the attorney at 11. So we were a little surprised when our driver told us on Wed evening that he needed to pick us up at 7:30 because court was early! We figured something had changed so we planned to be up early.
That morning, Riley woke up feeling sick. He kept saying he thought he might throw up but he never did. We all dressed in nicer clothes that day for court (you don't really need to be super-nice... more like church clothes). Since Riley was in nice clothes, I grabbed some extra clothes for him because we planned to go back to that awesome playground that afternoon (and you should have seen how dirty he was when we left!) As an afterthought, I grabbed some plastic bags just in case he really did need to throw up.
We got in the car with our driver and headed to the Gladney office. After a little bit Riley said, "I really do think I'm going to throw up." I reached for the plastic bags just as he threw up all over himself (and me). Poor baby. This may be TMI, but at least I was able to catch most of the 2nd round in the bags. We pulled over on the side of the road and took his clothes off and I wiped him down with the antibacterial wipes I carried with me (BRING LOTS OF THOSE if you're going to be traveling to Africa, by the way). Thank goodness for the extra clothes I'd brought along!!! Abey, our amazing driver, ran over to the nearest stall and came back with toilet paper and a bottle of water. Have I mentioned Ethiopia is the land of no paper towels? I'm fairly sure I never saw any the whole time we were there. We cleaned Riley up the best we could & continued on to the Gladney office.
We got to the office & went to the bathroom to finish cleaning up. Still no paper towels. I always figured it would be hard to clean up throw-up with toilet paper; now I know. I scrubbed myself up the best I could and we went to the conference room to wait. Riley was feeling better, but I was worried about what the rest of our day would look like! And just another note about how awesome Abey is - he cleaned up the car AND washed Riley's clothes. I tried not to let him 'cause I really didn't want him to have to clean my kid's throw up, but he insisted and I was so surprised to see that he also washed Riley's clothes. I figured we'd just rinse them & throw them in a bag and I'd deal with them later. Abey is just awesome.
When Belay, the director for the in-country staff, got there he was confused about why we were there! He said we didn't need to be there till 10:30!!! Our driver and one of the other in-county staff had gotten confused and brought us 2 hours too early!!! But by the time Belay told us, we only had a little over an hour, so we didn't have time to go back to our guest house.
We went to Kaldis, which is like Ethiopian Starbucks. It's funny. There are Kaldis everywhere, just like Starbucks, and their logo is the same shade green. But sorry Starbucks, Kaldis is better! You just can't get better coffee than in the place where coffee was invented! Riley felt better enough to eat some toast. Abey, Rob, and I had coffee. (and we had a tiny bathroom incident in which I thought I was in the men's room... ask me about it - it was very funny).
We had a little time to kill so we asked Abey if there was anywhere where we could do some shopping. He took us to the Ketchene Girls Shop! We had wanted to go there anyway!! It's a little shop near the Gladney office and all the proceeds go to the Ketchene Girls Orphanage (we visited there the following day - I'll write about it, I promise).
You know what I've noticed? The places where the proceeds go to an organization or an agency have better prices than the retail places. Interesting.
Now might be a good time to tell y'all about my plan of the 18 gifts. I planned to buy our boy 18 different things while we were in Ethiopia. And each year on his birthday, I'll give him one of those items that we bought and can explain to him why it's a part of Ethiopian culture or how it related to our trip to see him. It sounded like a great idea, but once you're in-country, 18 different things begins to feel like A LOT! But we found some things at the Ketchene Girls Shop.
We headed back to Gladney and by then, Riley was back to normal! He and I even were racing around the little grassy area they had outside the office (he beat me, but I'm convinced he cheated somehow!) We met with the attorney and headed to court. I felt like we'd already had a full day and it was only 11 am!
Our caseworker, Sara, is just awesome and had prepped me really well with what to expect for court. I wasn't nervous at all, although I did spend most of our time waiting praying that somehow our MOWA letter had magically appeared and we'd actually pass court that day.
We waited 2 hours to see the judge. You wait in a big room full of people. It's mostly adoptive parents and their attorneys, but also some birth family. People are called in in groups to see the judge and then they come back out very quickly. Most of the time people were chatting (sort of) quietly. But when some birth family went in to the judge's office and came back out there was a hush that fell over the room - you could feel the respect and empathy towards that family. We waited. Riley had begun to feel sick again (we brought along a plastic bag, thank goodness) and after several "false alarm" runs to the hallway, he fell asleep.
We waited until that entire room cleared out. We were the LAST family to see the judge. It was a long wait, but the good part was that Riley got a pretty good little nap in. It turns out the clerk never pulled our file so our name was never called. We went into the the judge's office and sat down. I was very impressed with the judge. I knew she was female since our agency always says "she" when they talk about the judge. I guess I was expecting someone older. She is beautiful and young and elegant. And her questions are thoughtful. We answered a couple of questions for her and she told us she couldn't approve our adoption until she received our MOWA opinion and that was it.
Since Riley was sick, we tried to grab a quick lunch before heading back to the guest house so he could lie down. We ate some Ethiopian food (all Riley could manage was to eat some injera) and we headed home. Poor Riley was sick again in the car on the way home but I was MUCH quicker with the bag so we made no mess that time. blech.
By the time we got home, I wasn't feeling so well either. We had plans to meet Hirut (from Connected in Hope) for dinner at Yod Abyssinia and I didn't want to miss it so we rested all afternoon and headed out.
Yod Abyssinia is amazing. I need to email my caseworker and tell her to put it on the recommendation list of things to do in Addis. If you are going to Addis Ababa, you MUST go. We got there at 7 and the singing started around 7:30. The food is amazing (well, I don't know that personally - I'll explain later), and they have traditional singing and dancing. It was great. Plan to stay all night. We were there till almost 9 and had to go 'cause Riley was tired but the dancing was still going on when we left!
Unfortunately for me... I got sick once we got there. At least the bathrooms were clean! :) I felt better enough after that that I made it through the rest of our time there and really enjoyed the singing & dancing. I couldn't eat a thing. And I barely made it home before being sick again... although I did bring myself a plastic bag just in case! Ugh.
Court day was much more eventful than we had expected. We all went to bed early, very aware that the next day was our last visit with our boy...