Sunday, August 30, 2009

Catch-up 4

We left Ethiopia on Thursday night, instead of our original Saturday time. We were out of soy formula, almost nothing ever stayed down, and what did came out as water. We arrived home on April 17th, after an interesting and adventurous layover in Amsterdam.

Unbeknown to us, we were not allowed to bring the water we bought at the Amsterdam airport, onto the airplane. This gave us somewhat of a dilemma-- Soly could not go long without eating and we had to go through gate security (questions, search, x-ray, gate check, wait on plane) again. We figured there was no way we could make it that long without feeding Soly. Further, Soly's name had been changed in Ethiopia (from Siloty to Soly) and the ticket we had for her had the wrong name. We also wanted to get a bassinet seat for her.

We went to the desk for KLM/Delta to see what we could do about getting the bassinet seat. The woman at the ticket counter kindly asked us for our paper ticket for Soly. I was shocked-- a paper ticket?! We never received a paper ticket for her in the United States and were left with nothing. We asked what we needed to do. She asked us how old Soly was. When I told her almost six months her eyes flew open and her mouth dropped. Who believed this tiny baby in 0-3 month clothes, weighing about 9 lbs was 6 months? We explained she was quite ill... in fact we'd had her expedited through the United States embassy. She quickly found her manager, rallied the forces, issued us E-tickets for Soly and arranged a bassinet seat for us at the front of the coach section. Every woman (they were all women) at the ticket counter came to see Soly, all amazed at how tiny, but beautiful she was.

Our next problem was that we could not bring water onto the plane. When we arrived at the gate, I walked up to a young man stationed at the gate. I asked if we could bring just ONE bottle of water onto the plane, explaining our daughter was very ill and we couldn't sit at the gate or on the plane for too long without feeding her. He first said no, but after I begged and pleaded, he said I could bring 1 bottle of water on the plane. I thanked him and went back to Terry and Soly. About 10 minutes later, he came to us with his manager. His manager said we could NOT bring on a bottle of water, but said we could make 2 bottles of formula and bring them on the plane with us. Again, I thanked him generously.

We also sat next to another adoptive family. She was returning to the United States with her son and new young daughter. We shared stories and talked about our experiences. It's always nice to have someone to talk to, a friendly face who you can identify with and who helps to pass the time.

When KLM started boarding procedures we waited as long as we could to get in line. I made two bottles and we chatted a while. Finally, we got in line and decided to wait it out. Within minutes of getting in line, the manager came over and pulled us out. Terry and I shared looks of fear-- they weren't going to allow us on the plane! Soly's name was wrong, we needed to bring water... What to do?! Alas, this wasn't the case. The manager pulled us in front of all of the people waiting in line at security, rans us through the questions, stamped our passports and escorted us to the front of the x-ray line. As we waited for our baggage to pass, my name was being loudly announced overhead. They were putting us on the plane first!!

We were elated. The attendants on the plane set up the bassinet, showed us how to use it and tended to our every need. Soly got a super cute KLM bib for flying and got a lot of attention! Our flight from Amsterdam to Mpls was probably the most relaxing part of our journey. We slept as much as we could, taking advantage of the bassinet for Soly. We landed in Minneapolis on Thursday, April 17th. Home to our families, our precious TN who we missed too, too much, and to the great unknown.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Catch up 3

We stayed at Kidane Mehret a bit longer to visit some of the other babies. We were able to take video and pictures for a friend and visit with her son, Addis. He was so cute and alert. All of the babies had their own little, tiny cribs with mobiles above. Some had bottles in their mouths, others were sleeping and still others looking around their room or being cared for by the nuns. We were amazed how many babies could fit in such a little room. We looked at the bed where Soly once lived the first 5 months of her life and then took her from the orphanage and into our arms forever.

The nuns gave us an 8 ounce bottle (?!?!?!), but said she drank a lot less. They then informed us that her bottle had a lot of sugar-- this is how they got her to gain weight. We got in the car and were whisked away back to the guesthouse. It didn't take long to figure out that there was something severely wrong with Soly. She vomited up all of the formula we would give then be hungry for more. We switched to Soy formula and she quickly went through that. Of each type of formula we brought with us, she quickly threw it up. We were at a loss. The agency director said we were just "feeding her too much"... She went on to say that she had "saved" Soly multiple times and that she was "completely" healthy. We knew she was not.

The rest of our trip was a whirlwind of events. BFAS was "not prepared" for us to come, although they had notice. They had not prepared her documents for the embassy and we spent days running around town picking up one document or another. Hospital records were wrong, and had to be redone and re-delivered to the Embassy. The whole process was a disaster.

Within a couple of days, we also determined we would need to leave Ethiopia early. Soly was just too sick to stay. We visited the hospital where she spent so many weeks. The doctors and nurses gasped at seeing her, disbelieving she was actually alive. Each asked for their picture to be taken with her and to email them the picture. It was then we realized how deathly ill she had been. However, it wasn't until I received her medical records, months later, that we realized just how bad it was, and how horribly we had been lied to by our agency about poor, poor Soly's health...

Addis Ababa Time