Blog Entry Week 10- Sunday 11/9 to Saturday 11/15
This week has been very emotional. A sibling set of 4 who had been at Layla for around 4 years was adopted this week. As a volunteer, I considered myself very lucky that I was able to be here to meet their "forever" parents and help send them off to America after they have been waiting for such a long time for a family. As happy as we were for the siblings, Layla will not be the same without them and their adoption was bittersweet for many of the children and staff that have known and loved them for the last 4 years. We had the normal adoption party on Friday after school for all the kids that were taken home this week and then one of the older girls put on a smaller party specifically for the sibling set in one of the bedrooms. The head teacher, 2 of the social workers, a bunch of the kids and all of the volunteers made statements about how excited we were for the siblings and how much we were going to miss them. While it was REALLY hard us as volunteers, what we talked about afterwards was how hard it must be for the kids to constantly say goodbye to their friends. And at Layla, the kids are with their friends all the time and are actually more like siblings than friends. The constant emotional upheaval of saying goodbye to their friends would be heartbreaking but one thing that we had to keep reminding ourselves of was that eventually all of the kids are going to be adopted and they will be able to see each other in America!
Also this week Anna got to tell one of the boys in 1B that he and his sister (a toddler in Wanna House) got a family! While we always get to be there when kids are told that they have families, this little boy was especially close to Anna so it was great that she was able to give them the news. He got tears in his eyes and didn't want to let go of his sister- it was so sweet! We also got to witness a mom and dad meeting their baby this week which was also amazing. Anna and I were taking pictures while Alan videotaped the first meeting for them. While the parents had seen their baby in pictures before, I'm sure nothing compares to seeing him and being able to hug and kiss him for the first time! It was a very joyous occasion.
Some of the kids' extended Habasha (Ethiopian/biological) families came to visit this week and I was able to be there for the visits. In Ethiopia, kids can be adopted if they have no living parents, 1 living parent who is willing to relinquish their rights or 2 living parents with HIV/AIDS. Because of this, kids often have living parents or extended family members that come to visit them. The kids seemed very happy to see their families, but for the kids with living parents it must be hard to know that your parents simply can't afford to take care of you or that they are going to die. Since cameras are expensive here and photo printing is both expensive and scarce, the kids and their families rarely have any family photos.
One of the situations that has been very difficult for me and has just arisen this week has been kids asking me to adopt them. Before the adoption party on Friday, I was taking out braids for one of my favorite little girls in 1B. She had her head in my lap and while we were talking she looked up at me and said "You go America when?" And I told her that I was leaving next week. She then told me that she wanted me to be her mom and take her and her brother to America. There are a lot of volunteers that end up adopting kids so it's awful to have to tell her that I can't adopt her. However, even though I felt awful after telling her I couldn't adopt her, she didn't seem to be fazed at all and immediately went back to chatting with me and singing away! On Saturday, I visited Kidane-Miheret with an adoptive family. After visiting a few times, I have gotten close to two boys there who are best friends and they asked me to adopt them together so that they could be brothers in America. To top off that experience, one of the toddlers that I have taken on a few trips to the doctor called me Mommy the whole time I was at there! All of that and the fact that it was my last visit to Kidane-Miheret, made it a difficult trip so after I got home I went and laid by the pool at The Ghion Hotel with Alan and Anna. I needed the relaxation time and it was well worth the entrance fee (20 birr = $2 USD) and cab fare (50 birr = $5 USD) it cost!
I am starting my last week in Ethiopia and I can't believe how fast my time here has gone by. One of the things that I have come to really enjoy when I am at Layla in the afternoon is that there are always kids willing to share their snack with me! Kids run up to me and pull nuts out of their pockets and force me to eat them right then or they want me to have half of their orange. It's a small gesture but it's one of the things I love most about Layla!