Thursday, 20 June 2013

Annnnnd breath.....

Forgive me for being so remiss in my blogging, but well, I've been kind of busy!
I know that there might be some interest in the odd photo, but just so that I can maintain some semblance of order I am going to paste in the facebook posts which helped keep our friends and family in the loop - be patient, the pics of baby Noah are worth the wait!!

Oh yeah, just so you know, WE ARE HOME!!!!

So this is how it happened......

April 27th

Most of my FB friends will have read Gayle's post about events in Addis, but to fill in ...we've arrived safely in Ethiopia and this should be the visit on which we complete the adoption of our son Noah Sintayehu. We did expect his mother (who is his only living parent) to attend court yesterday to confirm her decision to relinquish him (he is 11 months old now and mum signed him over to an orphan...age at 2 months), but mum failed to attend court and cannot be traced (she has moved and left no forwarding address). This is unlikely to prevent our adoption, but could slow things down quite a bit First the police need to log their report (saying they have been unable to trace her) this will hopefully take place on Monday; then a newspaper advert appealing for her to contact the court has to be placed, to get the ad in the paper without waiting ages will probably require greasing a few palms. Then some time (not quite sure how long) has to pass to give the mother a reasonable opportunity to see the ad and respond, then if she still hasn't been heard from the court will proceed without further permissions from the mother. After that we'll still have the passport and visa hoops to negotiate, so looks like we're here for a good while ...optimistic guess is 6 weeks. It is great to see Noah again, other than a bit of a cold he is well and gorgeous. I'm sure we'll look back on this time fondly in a year or two, but right now wishing the wheels of bureaucracy would turn a little faster.
May 1st

I am afraid that yesterday I got nasty..... I have point blank refused to stay in the crappy UK house until we have some progress, A really not happy, especially as I think she didn't tell us about the no-show mum because she wanted us to come and pay the rent because it was empty. I also texted W all day Tuesday with irritatingly cheerful comments and offers of accompanying her to the court/newsp...aper/police station, which seems to have worked as we have been told that the report is done (hmmmm, haven't seen it) and the ad goes in next Tuesday, I was like huh? That's a whole bloody week away, she said in a rather harassed way that this was a miracle as usually it takes two months to get a space..... So I said great, court next Friday then! She went a bit pale! Well we will see!
Ivan is now an expert at nappy changing! But neither of us are any good at getting his injera down him - this is a staple kind of pancake affair which arrives with boiled veg and is almost grey, it looks revolting, and I suppose the fact that he spits it back out says it might taste pretty horrid too! It didn't look too great when it was vomited all over us this afternoon either!
A man on the street today asked me if I would buy him as he has no parents either,hmmm, makes you think!

We visited the local park today where two enormous tortoises were ambling along, I am talking the size of a large microwave! We were gently escorted away from them by the park guard!
Noah's walking is getting better, he stands alone now without even knowing he's doing it! We played outside with him and one of the little girls today who just wanted to be cuddled, he got really jealous, it was quite sweet, except when I tried to cuddle him too she screamed the place down - he just looked fed-up! I am so glad that he's a boy, it's true,they are easier, this particular little girl can throw such a tantrum that she leaves a whole puddle of tears in her wake! When we said good night to him this evening he cried and cried, the was so hard, but at least it looks like he is properly bonding with us.
That's it for now. XXX

May 7th

Some progress at last... The newspaper appeal to Noah (Sintayehu's) mother should be published tomorrow, this will ask her to attend court next Tuesday (one week today) at 2pm. We will go to court on this day too, and if she does not appear (which seems likely) then we understand that the judge will proceed with our case as if Noah were an abandoned child, if the judge is happy with the efforts made to find his mother and with us as prospective adoptive parents, then we might be fully responsible for a little boy this time next week! There will still be birth certificate, passport and visa to arrange which is likely to take around 3 weeks, but there looks to be light at the end of the tunnel.

May 9th

Nothing new to report on the progress with the adoption on the official side, we are still expecting to be in court on Tuesday afternoon (midday UK time). Little Noah is delightful though, very affectionate and clearly getting attached to us. It is a challenge to get him to eat enough, he starts each meal/bottle with gusto then rapidly loses interest, if we cannot get more food down him he is goin...g to be too small for the clothes we have for him ...he doesn't seem much bigger than when we visited in February. He is mastering a few new tricks though, such as high fives, waving and he got up from sitting to standing without pulling on anything a couple of days ago. Not quite walking yet, kind of pleased we didn't miss his first independent steps. Turbo crawl and traversing skills are in good order. We're really grateful for all the good wishes and messages of support, please continue to keep everything crossed for us.

May 14th

We are back at the guesthouse and there is a cot with a beautiful baby boy in it in the corner! Yup, I'm a Dad ...we passed court this afternoon and are now Noah Sintayehu Peter Bicknell's parents forever, and I think I like it Thanks for all the positive vibes, we really felt them and maybe so did the judge (she was lovely). We have a stack of court judgement, birth certificate, passport and UK visa paperwork to sort now, but hoping to return to the UK in early June.

May 20th

Still no concrete progress with the post court paperwork yet, grrrr! We are hoping to get a birth certificate for Noah sorted today, then we start on the passport. Seems there was a delay releasing the court decision papers that prevented anything happening before the weekend. In terms of progress with the young man things are going good, largely settled into a meals/sleeping times routine and he has done 10 -10 1/2 hours solid every night. He is playful and fun, but getting more confident about the benefits of grouchy behaviour despite our best efforts at discipline! He loves bath time and going into the baby carrier for walks.

May 21st

Things go from static to a flurry of action, it seems to be the Ethiopian way. Yesterday we spent a hectic afternoon dashing from photo studio to birth certificate office, to crazy passport compound with a scary stampede of humanity, to MOWA offices (ministry of women's affairs - who regulate adoption) and then to court to pick up translations. Noah's eating and sleeping patterns were thrown into ...disarray, but we now have a birth certificate and the passport should be ready for collection on Wednesday, amazing! We did a bit of onliNe homework about the visa process last night, but will need the passport before going any further with that. It turns out that Noah's birthday was 2 days before we were approved as his adoptive parents at court (12 May), so he is already a year. Suddenly we are hopeful of making our flights - tentatively booked for June 5th, but there is many a slip twixt cup and lip.

May 22nd

I should never have ended my last post with the cup and lip proverb - it's only gone and happened. The birth certificate we got had Noah's birthdate as 12 May 2013, when it should have been 2012! The passport was ready today, but duplicated the mistake. So it was a severe case of de ja vous as we did the circuit of the various offices again today in scorching temperatures with poor Noah becoming i...ncreasingly agitated cooped up in a car without air con. By the end of the day we had managed to get back to where we thought we were at the end of Monday, revised birth certificate done, passport should be ready Friday. So action on the Visa can't start till Monday and that probably means rescheduling our flights home. Last hiccup hopefully.

May 26th

Addis update: we have Noah's passport and have done our best to fill in all the Visa Forms 50+ pages, no exaggeration. The earliest appointment we could book online at the visa office was next Thursday morning, but we are going to turn up tomorrow and try and wangle an earlier time. The amount of accompanying documentation you need to provide is staggering, everything from wage slips, utility bill...s, birth certificates, bank statements, passports before even starting on all the medicals, adoption papers, etc. for Noah. We were alarmed at the end of the online visa application to see a cost of 255,530.00 Ethiopian Birr quoted - over £9000, we were anticipating about £900 - £1000, everyone is telling us it must be a mistake and a rogue extra digit has been added to the figure. We are praying that this is the case, the whole process has been revamped in the last couple of months, so it is just possible that the current xenophobic attitude of our government has brought about a massive increase in fees, all will be revealed tomorrow. Noah himself has been delightful today after a couple of very grouchy days when he was suffering from a cold, he's still snotty but much more cheerful. The orphanage he came from has an outbreak of scabies so we are all going to have to have treatment, although none of us are showing much in the way of symptoms yet. Gayle's brother has kindly sent medication via courier that should arrive tomorrow, as the most effective treatments are not available here. The days here are getting rather repetitive, we are really longing to get home now. We might make a few excursions once the visa application is in which should break the monotony, although we are limited to highland destinations within driving distance of Addis as we haven't got any anti malarials with us. The visa is likely to take 10 - 14 days from our appointment, so our June 5th flights are going to have to be moved (for a fee), best guess is getting home round 12th June. Words of wisdom from our friends Stuart and Roisin who adopted from Ethiopia and recently moved home in the UK: "whoever said moving house is the most stressful thing you can do has obviously never tried adopting a child from overseas!"

May 28th

The good news: we went to the Visa office yesterday and the notice board outside stated the settlement Visa price as 25,530 Ethiopian Birr, not 255,530, phew! On the downside, the office was closed (for the UK bank holiday, what country are we in again?) to be double cheeky they are also closed today for Ethiopia...n independence day, so no chance of any progress towards home . The scabies medication arrived yesterday, thanks Guy! We still seem to be clear, but will probably go for a precautionary treatment anyway, think we have enough to help out some of the babies/nannies in the orphanage who are suffering too. The days are dragging, but we have found a new supermarket that has more choice of baby food and also more European treats, chorizo and emmental have been enjoyed. Next attempt at starting the Visa is on Wednesday, guessing that around a fortnight later we'll be home ( no longer, please) ...if it takes much longer we may not be recognisable on our return, the lack of luxury foods and stress has certainly had a welcome slimming effect on us both!

May 31st

So we got the Visa application in and have heard it has been dispatched from Addis now goes to Nairobi then London, before returning to Addis via Kenya again. The British embassy in Addis occupies several acres, you do wonder what goes on in there, Dilu (our driver) speculates that the British Diplomats spend all their time riding horses around the embassy grounds, well they certainly don't anything useful like issuing Visas!
So now it is just a waiting game, probably around 2 weeks, although we were warned that settlement Visas can take up to 12 weeks - no, just NO! Yesterday we had a day of luxury at the Sheraton pool with Noah, he was a little timid and clingy in the water, but enjoyed himself I think. Hoping for an excursion into the Entoto hills outside Addis and maybe a visit to Ambo (Noah's birthplace) before we fly home. Dilu kindly gave Noah a DVD of Amharic children's songs, which along with several purchases we've made should help him keep a sense of his African roots. Our progress with learning Amharic is pitiful though!

June 8th

Seems like we've been in Addis forever. We are getting increasingly fractious and are spending far too much on treats to break the monotony, all this whilst the weeks on unpaid leave are stacking up and still no word on our Visa.
We emailed the British High Commission in Nairobi to hassle them yesterday at 4pm, only to find they close at 3, so no one will read our woes till Monday. We are effectiv...ely living off savings we hoped to keep secure for Noah's future.
Addis is not a cheap city by developing world standards, especially when you indulge in Spa treatments, meals at the best Italian place in town (Castelli's), days swimming at the Sheraton, imported Wine (the local stuff is undrinkable) and new jewellery. All these things have been fully appreciated though, along with a visit to our ancient ancestor Lucy in the National Museum.
Castelli's is fantastic, the guy who runs it looks like he has stepped straight out of the Godfather! At the Sheraton yesterday Noah made a walking breakthrough - without any parental prompting he stood up on his own and managed 8 tottery steps unaided! He continues to eat and sleep well and is putting on a real growth spurt - some of the clothes we were dressing him in 3weeks ago are already too small.
Our already twice rescheduled flights look like they will have to be moved again (at further expense), I'm trying to stay optimistic, but Gayle is convinced we'll be here for another fortnight. The family bonding time is special, but 7 weeks of living in a single room is a sore test for anyone. Hopefully we can update with more positive news soon. Love to all at home X

June 10th

After getting to the stage where we had begun to think that Noah had adopted himself two parents to Ethiopia it finally appears that we may be homeward bound! Apparently Noah's Visa has been approved and processed and should be back in Addis ready for collection tomorrow afternoon
Hoping to be on a flight home either Wednesday or Thursday as long as the Visa arrives as promised by the British High Commission in Nairobi. Actually did an impromptu jig when we heard! (Just practising my embarrassing Dad dancing - Noah has many years of squirming ahead!)

June 11th

YES! The Visa is in our hands and we are booked on a flight at 00.10 tonight, arriving Heathrow at 6.50am tomorrow morning. WE ARE COMING HOME!

Ta da!!!!!!!

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