Sunday, December 16, 2012

To Ethiopia and Back Again

Our first moments together (this time forever)
One year from the exact date our family first met Kibrom in Ethiopia, I landed on U.S. soil with him in my arms! It's hard to believe, but I am already back from my whirlwind trip to get him. It was a total surprise that we cleared the U.S. Embassy as fast as we did. Usually the process takes two to three months, but it took only two weeks for us. I found out our agency wrote a letter to the embassy staff asking that a handful of cases be expedited and ours was one of them. I just never expected that we would get clearance before January.

So this bit of good news put the Prager family in kind of a bind. The flights this time of the year are nearly sold out and extremely expensive because of upcoming holiday travel. After talking to the travel agent for the better part of a day, it became apparent that our choices were for one of us to go to Ethiopia right away or to wait until the week of January 9 to travel as a family. Tough choice! We had always planned to go altogether to welcome Kibrom into the family and the girls were both really excited. But reality set in. If we picked up Kibrom right now, he would be home with us adjusting and bonding over a nice, long winter break before starting school. Plus after leaving him in Ethiopia for a year now, it just didn't seem right for him to wait another month for us. So with bittersweet emotions, I boarded a plane last weekend to get him.

After spending last Monday with him at the care center, I was able to take him to the guest house I was staying with two other families from our agency. Then on Tuesday, after the good-bye party at the care center, we were taken to the embassy for our visa interview. Kibrom's final immigration paperwork and passport were then delivered to me on Thursday afternoon. Finally, everything was in place to bring him home on Friday night.

Let's just say I am a survivor! The week was eventful in many ways. Busy some days, bored the others. And there were a lot of ups and downs emotionally speaking. I managed to hold it together with just a few sad moments of my own along the way. Through it all, I remained pretty calm, all things considered. I am going to pat myself on the back for how I handled these circumstances:

  • A shell-shocked little boy whose world had just been rocked.
  •  A highly stimulated, emotional boy who had to say good-bye to his friends and nannies who he has been with for most of the last 18 months. 
  • A happy, excited boy who is very curious and already knows how to test me.
  • A very, very sad boy who was inconsolable on three different occasions for two hours straight each time (that was fun).
  • A boy who has a bad cold and congestion (and who gave it to me before the plane trip home).
  • A boy who got too excited swimming at the Hilton in Addis and threw up water and chunks in the pool. (There will be no swimming anytime soon).
  • 30 hours of travel with my boy including a 17 hour flight from Addis to D.C. - all with a huge motion sickness induced barf fest 20 minutes after take off (another great moment).
  • Not being able to share any of these memories with Steve, Lily, and Semira.

I know from experience though that the real work begins now that Kibrom is finally at home. There will be plenty of firsts and a lot of ups and downs as we adjust to life as a family of five.

Sweet boy
The other families who were also reunited with their kiddos this week
Kibrom showing me his bed
Leaving the care center on Monday with Kibrom
The going-away party at the care center - A very sad moment for Kibrom
Happy day - Eating lunch out at the Top View Restaurant
Happy boy!
Sleepy boy back at our guest house
At Bole Airport in Addis waiting on our flight home
Thank you Ethiopia for my son!