We are the Snyder family and ... we are different

This is the story of our journey to our daughter in Ethiopia. God is preparing our family for her and preparing her heart to come home to her family. We chose the difficult road of trusting and obeying God. It is worth every step!

Monday, July 18, 2011

beginning of a new week

Sorry I didn't update the end of the week, I just haven't had a chance to get online and update the past few days.  We have been having lots of fun getting to know each other more and getting to see more and more of Aliya's personality.  We have had so much fun playing up on the terrace and in the playroom eventhough there aren't a ton of toys up there it's still an open space that is different scenery than our room.  We blow bubbles off the terrace, play soccer, play with balls and balloons and chase each other around.  One day when we were blowing bubbles two little girls out in the street in front of the guest house were waving and calling to us.  I convinced Aliya to go downstairs and give them a couple granola bars, raisins and hair clips.  The girls were so excited to ge them that they were squeeling with delight.  They kept saying, "thank you, thank you, we love you so much."  It was so sweet.  When I went to put the flower clips in their hair they had lice just crawling all over the braids in their hair and they were just filthy.  Those girls hang out quite a bit at the store next to our guest house and are so sweet, I just want to give them a bath and put some new clothes on them.

We have discovered how silly Aliya is.  She makes the funniest faces and does some crazy things.  She is teaching us a few things in Amharic and Wolatigna which is so wonderful.  Her little accent is absolutely adorable and she surprises us everyday with more and more English.  The other day she and Dustin were playing and teasing each other and she kept saying, "No Dad, Go Dad Go!"  She then told Dustin, "dad you go America, see you tomorrow!"  It was so hilarious!  He then pretended to leave and walk out the door but he didn't have shoes on so she told him, "Dad shoes, Dad shoes, Dad go America!"  She is definitely sassy pants ;)  We have also found out that she loves to flip and be upside down and all those other fun 5 year old girl things.  She is constantly climbing on, jumping off and rolling all over the furniture.  Definitely something that will be changing once we get home.













This weekend LOTS of other families have come for court and embassy appointments.  Many families I have been following along on the yahoo group, blogs and facebook for months.  It's so nice to finally meet these people in person and talk with them.  It's amazing to hear everyone's stories and the ways God has moved and changed them.  There are so many wonderful stories of God's provision that it makes my heart sing to hear them.  What a blessing to be part of this group!  There is also another family staying at our guest house that is adopting a four year old girl from another agency so it's interesting to hear about their experiences as well.  The guest house is filled to the brim this week and I love having all these people around to share this experience with and to have community with.  I look forward to keeping in contact with many of these families in the future.

Today we went to the embassy to "say hello" and let them know that yes we are still here in country and would greatly appreciate an appointment this week.  We were basically met with the same response we have gotten via email "the embassy is short staffed, they are very busy, there are no appointments but if one does open up they will let us know".  Basically, we will see you on the 26th.  Oh well, at least we tried.  So for now it looks like Dustin will come home this Sunday but Aliya and I will not come home for almost 2 more weeks.  We are all ready to come home, but at least we are together.  Aliya even said to me the other day, "we go America".  Yes we will get to go to America  very soon :)

Just in case you are wondering how our bonding is going, it's going very well so far.  We have had lots of hugs and kisses and many "I love you" as well as lots of eye contact.  She is eating well, although her tummy has been upset the last day or two.  She knows who "mommy" and "daddy" are and stays very close to us for the most part.  When we went to the orphanages with her she did not get in the mix of kids trying to get stuff from the people handing out toys and snacks.  She likes to sit on our laps and be held quite a bit and she loves to have her arm around my neck and stroke my hair.  She is such a sweet girl and actually reminds me a lot of our son Christian who also loves to snuggle and just be close.  Today I did see some potential fits and got some screaming so we will be exiting the "honeymoon" phase shortly.  She is getting more comfortable with us and others around us as she actually played tonight after dinner downstairs in the lobby with all the other families around.  It's the first time people really got to see a glimpse of the real Aliya.

I will probably not be updating a lot for the next week or two just because we are still really staying low key and not going too many places because of her comfort level and budget.  With me staying another week that is another week at the guest house, another week of meals and another week to pay for a driver if we go anywhere.  You can tell as time is going on we are taking fewer pictures.  There's only so many pictures you can take of us playing with the same toys day after day.  There are some pictures that other families took I hope to be getting soon so I will post those once I get them.

Continue to pray for us as we will be here for a while longer, pray for safe travel and pray for all the families that are here for court and embassy this week.  Our God is greater, greater than any other, our God is stronger.

Friday, July 15, 2011

day4

Thursday we had another low key day.  We did decide to finally go up to the playroom at the top of the guest house and check it out.  You have to get a key to get in and it's a little 10x10 room with some toys and little chairs and things in it.  Dustin played with her quite a bit in the room which was really nice for some daddy and daughter bonding.  Dustin also used the pocket Amharic dictionary to communicate with her, it was great because we got to hear her talk more and she taught us a few things.








We had another makeshift lunch, this time with Ramen noodles, and took another nap today.  We ate dinner at the Zebra Grill and had the best, no really, the best chicken wings ever.  So delicious!  We did decide that she is not comfortable with new environments as we went down the street to a couple of shops the night before and she held onto my neck for dear life and at the restaurant she seemed very uneasy.  We will try and not take her anymore places than we can help.  She is very shy around new people.

That night we had the Snyder dance party in our room, complete with lots of party balloons.  While washing her hands she started singing, "baby, baby, oh" the Justin Beiber song so Dustin uploaded the Beiber album and we danced and laughed.  We had so much fun together!










We knew she was a lot of fun, but we didn't know she was so so hilarious!

day3

I was planning on keeping updated every day because the days tend to blend in together and I forget things but the internet in Ethiopia had different ideas.  We did not have any internet in country at all Wednesday night and a great deal of Thursday.  So here is the update for Wednesday day 3 from what I can remember.  It may end up being mostly pictures since we are currently towards the end of day 5 while I am writing this :)

Wednesday we decided that it was going to be a pretty low key day.  We had been pretty busy since we got here so wanted to just relax.  Aliya also really needs a nap in the afternoon and going out to lunch with the group doesn't allow for that.  We ended up just playing upstairs in our room and downstairs in the lobby most of the morning.  We had a make shift lunch of crackers, peanut butter, spicy tuna, beef jerkey and granola bars (not all together).  After lunch we all laid down for a 2 hour nap and then went back downstairs to the lobby to play some more.  There really isn't anything to do down in the lobby but it's different scenery from our room and we can go outside and play soccer, play with balloons and blow bubbles.





This is the first night we really saw her be silly too.  I can't seem to find any pictures of it but it was hilarious to see her funny faces and funny personality come out.  It was kind of a mommy day so dad didn't get a whole lot of attention.  Aliya did get to bed at a good time though and had a great night's sleep.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

day2

Our second day together started out better than the first.  Instead of waking up to a stunned zombie we woke up to smiles.  She went potty and then cuddled in bed with us for a few minutes before we got ready to head down to breakfast.  It was a little cooler that morning so we made sure to have her jacket with us.  Tuesday we knew we were meeting the doctor and psychologist at the transition home as well as taking care of our care packages and photo releases.  We were a little unsure of how she would react to going back to the transition home as we had heard from previous families that some of the children reacted very negatively to going back.  When we pulled up a huge smile broke out across her face and she was anxious to see her friends.  It was nice that she got to play on familiar ground again.  The equipment was much more worn since our stay in April, even the beloved merry-go-round was broken.  Aliya was much more adventurous this time on the equipment compared with last time.  She had figured out how to work the swing of death by herself.  She also knew how to go down the slide by herself, this slide rivals an incline of any cliff.  She also learned how to hang upside down from the monkey bars.




We talked to the psychologist and gave him the books that Brad Mowen had given us for him.  We talked about the transition with her and her brothers, we know that it will not be an easy road.  The doctor told us of her medical conditions since entering the transition home and checked her ears and breathing again.  There were two nursing interns there from the University of Virginia who looked in Aliya's ears also becaues they don't see very many clear ears and hers are great.  We handed the transition home a duffle full of donations and I made the mistake of getting out a few cars from a couple of the boys that have their family here.  I was trying to be discreet but obviously not enough because suddenly I was swarmed by kids from all over the yard digging their hands into the bags of cars pulling out as many as they could hold.  Eventually some of the nannies came out and dispersed the crowd.  They made all the kids put back all the cars, which I felt bad for becaue they could have each had one.  After all the kids went back to the classroom I got a couple cars out again for the two boys because the nanny even made them give them back.  A few minutes later we were directed into the classroom where the children were lined up and had to apologize to us and to Aliya for acting that way.  Aliya told them in Amharic, "you should not act like that again."  It made us all laugh.  We then gave the care packages to our friends the Seevers' children.  Absolutely adorable!  Then took photos for the Bosmans and Rowells.  All the kids are so beautiful and precious.  Dustin even got some video of it and with the internet being somewhat fast now we were able to send them all to the fmailies after we got home that night.  It is such a blessing to get to do that for other families.  We were blessed many times by familis doing it for us and I remember wanting to get them as quickly as possible :) 

When it was time to leave the transition home the girls were all lined up ready to head back for lunch.  Aliya kissed each one of the goodbye as they left and kissed a couple of them several times.  I was so happy that she got to say goodbye to them since she didn't really do it when we took her out.



We ate lunch at Makush, this fantastic restaurant that has an art gallery.  There was another group of adoptive families from AGCI there as well, must be the tourist spot :)  Then it was off to the orphanages to take the rest of our donations.  We went to Abeneezer which was not one we had visited before.  It was really special because another family from a different agency was actually picking up their baby girl that day.  The kids all had on traditional Ethiopian shirts on and they were having a special birthday/farewell party for the little girl.  A woman from their agency gave a little presentation and the entire thing was videotaped for them.  It was so cool to be part of that.  We found out that the family was from California and they had gotten their referral in September.  We gave a bag full of baby items as well as cars and granola bars to all the older kids.  After that we picked up a family at the transition home and headed for KVI to give out more cars and granola bars as well as the pillowcase dresses and t-shirts we brought from missional mamas.  Our time there was very short and nicely enough they obliged us by having the kids put some of the dresses and t-shirts on.  It was very sweet of them to do that for us.  Going to the orphanages is always hard.  It breaks my heart to see all of the kids there.  I just want to take them all home.  I wish that everyone who questioned adoption could visit an orphanage because they would NEVER question it again.  It is giving a child that is deemed for death new hope and life.










We had some terrific lasagna back at the guest house for dinner and then got ready for bed.  Aliya did not get a nap in that day so we put her to bed a little early.  She went to bed without anyone laying next to her.  Although I will say that there is no longer any polish on her left thumbnail from her sucking it off.  Hopefully as time goes by she will be comforted enough in her environment that she won't have to do that :)

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the pictures.  I will continue to update.  Tomorrow may not be as exciting because we have decided to relax since we have been pretty busy since we arrived.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

our first full day

Since our arrival here on Sunday we have been on the go.  Aliya's first morning with us she wasn't sure of what was going on.  She looked stunned, sort of the deer in headlights look.  She let me get her up, showered, lotioned, dressed and hair done but without a smile or any ounce of personality that I know she possesses.  We ate breakfast with the other families and then played in the morning while the families went to the transition home.  She ate well at breakfast and started to open up once we started to play.  We played with a balloon, puzzles and slid cars across the lobby floor..








Our guide Job arrived and we left for the restaurant, Island Breeze, where the other families were having lunch.  Aliya shared some mushrrom sauced steak and pasta with me, she really liked the steak and would only eat the pasta when i smothered it in the mushroom sauce not in the marinara sauce.  She seemed sort of lathargic during lunch until she was done eating then the smiles came out and she was playing around with me.  We assume this is her first visit to a restaurant, she did very well with it :) 

So what do you do with your new daughter that you are adopting from a third world country the first full day you have with her?  You take her to the spa for her first pedicure!  Some of the other girls were going to get pedics and manis at the Boston Spa so we decided to go with them.  Aliya's feet were extremely nasty and dirty so I was very excited to get her feet really clean.  She was a little unsure of the water and the bubbles at first but her attendant was very good with her and got her used to it.  The woman working there were trying to get her to talk to them but she was being shy and wouldn't ackknowledge them at all.  Towards the end of our visit she finally warmed up enough to them that when my attendant asked if she spoke English she replied, "yes, I speak English."  Consequently that is the most I have heard her speak English at all.  Then suddenly she would answer the questions the women had been asking her the whole time.  It was really funny.  When we were all done the woman gave her hugs and kisses and spoke a little to her in Amharic.  We had a great time!  Did I mention that the best part was her feet were actually clean?  lol





We got done at the spa a little late so we were glad to see that dinner was still being served at the guest houes.  Our chef David had prepared a delicious pasta and vegetable dish for us.  Aliya ate quite a bit from my plate.  The we went upstairs and got her into some new jammies.  She opted for a nightgown I brought instead of the long sleeved jammies which was fine with me.  We also found out that she is a master braider.  She definitely broke in her new Barbie.  It was completely hilarious because she thoroughly brushed Barbie's hair, used the pointy end of the comb to section off some hair, used the comb then to keep the other hair out of the way and then tightly braided each section.  Barbie never looked better :)


She got to bed at a more regular time, 8:30, so we could get her on more of a schedule.  Our first full together was absolutely wonderful.  We got to share in many firsts with her and got to learn a little more about each other.  What a great start :)