One year ago tonight we had our bags packed and sitting at the door waiting for our departure on Wednesday morning. If I remember correctly I got very little sleep that night. I had worked long hours the previous week to finish up reports that needed to be done at the school district I was working for and I had a long "to do" list of things to take care of at home before leaving. I was even writing checks to put in the mail that night to reimburse all the wonderful teachers who had just completed surveys for my dissertation! It is hard to explain what a person feels like the night before they get on a plane to fly to the other side of the world to meet your child for the first time. I was extremely excited to meet our daughter, nervous to leave our son behind, and apprehensive of how I would cope with visiting the poorest country in the world. Here we are with the bags packed. In total, we each had one suitcase with our clothes, one small suitcase with clothes to bring for our daughter, two large suitcases stuffed with donations for the CHSFS care center and mostly medical supplies for AHOPE orphanage. One carry-on each to help survive the 16 hour plane ride and a backpack filled with toys for our daughter. Needless to say packing was a bit overwhelming especially when you are trying to pack for a child who you have no idea what size of clothes or shoes she is wearing. If anyone is interested in getting a copy of my packing list drop me a line and I will email it to you. It is long! There are some medications and basic items I would say that you would definately want to bring such as prescription Cipro, in case you catch a stomache bacteria and some over the counter products for elevation sickness. We also brought several meds in case we needed them for our daughter, such as lice shampoo, antifungal cream, Tylenol, electrolyte mix. I am happy to say that we did not need any of them but other parents have not been so lucky. Many of the infants being adopted were sick and lethargic. At the time that we were there you could buy most anything that you needed fairly reasonable but I am hearing that prices have gone up very high for supplies in Ethiopia.
And of course here is a picture of what all the fuss was about. This is the last picture that we received of our daughter before traveling. After spending 4 months in the care center she looked amazing and if I posted a picture of what she looked like at her arrival to the care center on 10/31/07 you would not even recognize her. She weighed 24 pounds at that time and it is hard for me to even look at that very first picture now knowing that she would have been around 4 years old at the time. Tensae's name means "resurrection" in Amharic and I would say that her transformation before our eyes is close to that of a resurrection. She is the most resilient child I have ever met. Even now looking at this picture and of her most recent pictures I am amazed at how much she has grown. From her measurements on 2/23/2008 to 2/20/2009 she gained 6 pounds and has grown a amazing 4 inches in height.