Picking up Rose: Gotcha Day!


We eat breakfast at the guest house, then get a six-block ride over to the Care Center (if you haven't noticed, I'm using Care Center and orphanage interchangeably here).  We are warned that some families do not like to see all of the orphans calling you "mommy" and "daddy" and are told that we can have our children brought to the guest house if we like.  All of the people in our group chose to go to the Care Center.

Of course, I didn't think for a moment that we would not go, but going affected me in a way that I was not entirely prepared for.  We sort of expected Rose might be at the School. (A quick note here: The entire operation used to be in the building now known as the guest house.  The program has expanded very quickly in the two years it has been operating in Ethiopia, and now there is the guest house, where the program offices are and adopting families stay, a separate compound where all the children sleep and the babies and youngest children spend their day, and another separate school compound where the older children go from 9am-5pm.  Basically many of the buildings in Ethiopia are gated, with huge walls with either barbed wire, razor wire, or if your budget got low, you might have just cemented broken glass bottles on the top of your wall to discourage people from climbing over.  The program employs around 100 people in Ethiopia, and there are guards on duty there 24/7.  Among other things, they open the gates for visitors.)

So, we expected Rose might be at the school with the older children, but we went to the Care Center first because all of the other families in our group were picking up babies.  But when we pulled in to the compound there were a bunch of toddlers on the stairs sort of chanting "mommy! daddy! mommy! daddy!" and I saw Rose right away.  We got out of the car, and I really think she recognized us right away as well.  (I had sent a photo album a month or so ago with another traveling family and when they gave it back to me later, she knew what it was and that it was hers.)

A bunch of children ran around me in the universal toddler "pick me up" position, but I reached over the ones on the ground and picked Rose up off the stairs.  She immediately was laughing and playing with us- I never expected she would warm up so quickly.  Within a couple of minutes it was the toddler group's snack time, so we let the nannies take her and went with the other folks looking for the infants.  It was very emotional for everyone.  The babies are so beautiful!

Chuck and I sat in a large hallway connecting all of the baby rooms and watched as the nannies brought the babies out and fed them.  It was obvious all of these children are sincerely loved.  And amazing what this love and a couple of square meals a day will do for the children.  Some of the babies had pictures above their cribs of what they looked like when they entered the center, and some of them were terribly skinny or even emaciated, and in the last few months have become fat and happy little babies, looking healthy and happy.

We had received a copy of the toddlers' schedule, which is a very important item as they go by it religiously, and at 10:30 am we went downstairs to hang out with Rose again.  All of the toddlers are doing a group potty on like, 20 little potty chairs lined up in rows in the courtyard.   it is super-cute but Chuck won't let me take a picture.  (We later receive instructions that we should try not to take pictures with other children in them for confidentiality purposes.)  Rose waves to me from her potty chair.  I wave back, and soon all of the children in her vicinity are waving at me.  I try to kind of hang back and not distract the children from their "business" but want to try to stay within Rose's line of sight.

As soon as she is done, she comes over to Chuck and me to hang out with us for a while during the designated toddler playtime.  The other kids head inside and we have some family bonding time.  There's one moment when things get a little serious, she starts to look a little worried, and I ask Chuck if he thinks we should give her one of the toys we brought with us.  He says "sure", but tells me to give her one we don't mind losing (in case it disappears at the orphanage).  So I gave her this [what is Barbie's little sister's name? Kelly?  Anyway, the brown version.] doll, it's nowhere near my favorite and of all of the toys I brought with us I truly wouldn't mind never seeing it again.  Rose warms up again right away and she starts putting the doll in Chuck's shirt pocket and totally cracking up, and does the same thing to me, only I don't have a shirt pocket so she sort of rests it on my sternum.  A little boy comes out from another building and sits near us on the stairs, he has a butterfly needle IV hookup thing sticking out of his hand all bandaged up.  He looks very sick.  The doctor later tells us he has malaria.

We meet with the onsite doctor and consulting pediatrician about Rose, where we ask a few questions but they don't have much information about her since she was only there a short while.  They say she's been completely healthy-she was healthy when they received her and hasn't been sick since.  I ask about a few little bumpy things on her face and neck which weren't in the initial pictures, apparently some sort of virus had gone around, they say the bumps might go away or our US doctor can treat them.  The main thing I'd hoped to find out here is what ethnic group Rose is from and what language she speaks (Ethiopia is a very diverse place with around 85 spoken languages and even more dialects).  Apparently no one at the orphanage has been able to figure that out, and during her time with them they guess she's understanding a bit of Amharic (the main language there) but don't know for certain how much, and she doesn't really speak it back at all.

We spend about another hour with her there sitting on the stairs outside in the courtyard and then a nanny tells me it is time for Rose to eat lunch.  She's supposed to go with the other kids while we wait, only she won't let them take her away from us.   We ask if it would be okay for us to go with.  The kids eat in a little lunchroom (teeny! smaller than my bedroom) and it is just packed with toddler-sized tables and chairs.  The nannies each feed four kids, they eat some sort of pasta dish that looks like it could be an Ethiopian version of spaghetti-o's with ground beef in it.  Towards the end of the meal, some of the kids fall asleep while eating, which is terribly cute and funny.

Then comes nap time, and we are supposed to give her back to the nannies at this point, but Rose will not let us leave her.  So even though we were advised (and our initial plans were sort of) to hang back the first day, leave her at the Care Center one more day and go back to the guest house to sleep off the jet lag, she panicked when she thought we were leaving here there and we wound up taking her back with us to the guest house, where she ate second lunch with us (about four bowls of vegetable soup).  I was a bit worried about the potty thing (remember, she can't really tell us when she has to go) but she's on such a regimented schedule that she pretty much goes like clockwork after each meal and doesn't need to go in between.  I am still concerned about the plane, though, because so far I've only seen her go on a potty chair (which they have at the guest house for us to use, thankfully!). 

Another family had left those giant Legos in the family area of the guest house so we played with them (she tried eating the small ones). We ate dinner.  Then we had a bit of a tough time sleeping.  I fell asleep right away, slept like a rock for two hours while Chuck got Rose to sleep, then I woke up.  Chuck fell asleep and I watched them both sleep for three hours until I took some tylenol pm.  Then everyone slept until the breakfast call on Tuesday.

One Response to “Picking up Rose: Gotcha Day!”

  1. Rachel says:

    I’m sort of overcome. I can almost feel the anticipation and joy of seeing her!

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