Sunday, January 1, 2012

Meeting K!

The few broken toys at the care center
By now, I was hoping I could share more about K with everyone because Steve and I would be his legal parents. But sadly, I cannot. Let's just say that our adoption business didn't exactly go according to plan. According to the schedule given to us by our adoption agency, we were to arrive in Addis Ababa on December 14th. We would then meet our son on the 15th then appear in court on the 16th to provide our testimony to the judge. At this point, if all the paperwork was in place, the judge would have finalized the adoption and we would be the his legal parents.

Well, we left for Addis Ababa a few days earlier than we had to in part due to the high price of tickets during the holiday travel season. Well, our early departure backfired on us when I opened an email from our agency on the 13th saying that our court date had been postponed indefinitely.

Without getting too much into the boring details, K is from the Southern Nations (SNNP) region of Ethiopia. Because of several circumstances with Ethiopian adoptions right now, the rules have been changing as fast as they can make them. Things have been pretty unpredictable especially with kids coming from the south. With that, a new paperwork requirement was put in place right before our court visit. Basically, the judge needs a letter from the SNNP authorities stating that K is eligible for adoption. That's it. A simple letter. Yet, the letter hasn't been written so the judge put our case on hold. As a result, we were not able to appear even though we were already in Addis. On the surface, the whole thing defies common sense! That is, except for the fact that unscrupulous people are willing to exploit the system and all of the people involved in order to profit individually, or to "save" children that have the potential to lead a reasonable life in Ethiopia.

Although I understand the rationale, the situation is disappointing on several fronts. First and foremost, it means that it will take several months longer before K will be able to come home. Second, in Ethiopia and in many other countries, people are willing and able to exploit the system. It is important to carefully consider the ethics and the morals of the adoption agency and their partners. On a more immediate note, it also means an extra trip to Ethiopia... Hopefully only one of us will have to go. Either way, the travel time is long and the tickets aren't cheap! That is all we know right now. We really don't have any sense as to how this will all unfold and when. I am not expecting to hear anything until we are well into January.

On a positive note, we did get to meet K and spend the day with him at the care center in Addis. He is a sweet, very cute boy with a charming personality. After getting over some initial shyness, he warmed up to our family right away. He seemed comfortable hanging out with all of us. He also liked being picked up and held. Lily and Semira were great with him, as they were with the other older children. I think they are going to make great big sisters! Adoptive parents have no say in what child will be theirs in this process. You are simply matched with a child that falls within your age and gender parameters. I guess it is possible to be matched with a child that isn't quite right for your family (personality or behavior wise). But for whatever reason, after meeting K, we feel really good about him. Call it a vibe or something, but he seems like a good egg. I think he will fit in just fine with the Prager clan.

Before we met K, we wondered what he would be told about us and did he understand what was happening. With babies, there is no explaining to do. But the situation is different with the older kids. With the current Ethiopian adoption process, the kids meet their parents then watch them leave and wait many months for them to come back to get them. Since kids have little sense of time, I can only imagine that a few months must feel like a lifetime.

Our agency's Ethiopian staff told us before we went to the orphanage that we would not be introduced to K as his new family. Instead we would be announced as visitors. The whole time, I am thinking "yeah right." These kids are too smart to fall for that. Well, I was correct in my thinking. Within 10 minutes of being there, it was clear to him that we would be his new family. The other kids knew it too. They know the drill.

I really wish I could show pictures! I have a hundred of them. He does have a name. He is is real.

The kids at the care center loved taking pictures with my camera!
Steve, Lily, and Semira hanging with K
K's care center in Addis. A rare moment without any of the 70 or so kids around.
The classroom building at the care center. The older kids go to "school" in the morning. They proudly counted to 10 in English and said their ABC's.

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