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!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

we've been home 2 weeks now

Well you can tell I haven't had a lot of time to update.  It's been a while since my last post.  Since then Dustin left and went back home while Aliya and I spent another week in Ethiopia.  His flight through Frankfurt went well and was picked up by the Murray's in Chicago.  It was so nice of them to let us park at their house and pick Dustin up at the airport.  He got to hang out with their family a little more before he headed back for home.  I missed having him around a lot the first couple of days but then Laura Unruh got there with her two kids so Aliya had her friend Yaruse to play with, that was wonderful! 

When Dustin left so did most of the other families.  It was sort of a sad night to see the van full of familiar faces leave.  There were many pictures taken, many hugs and a few tears.  It's amazing when you share these experiences together how close you become to people that you barely know.  It's such a gift to have that though.  We met lots of other families from lots of other agencies and most of them do not have the same experience that we do.  They don't have a network of people before they go to consult with and share with.  They don't have a travel group that they become life long friends with.  We are very lucky to have the agency that we do.  There are many other stories that I will have to put in another post about that.

Laura and I took the kids one day to get their hair done.  I wanted Aliya's hair trimmed before we left and Laura wanted both her kids shaved.  We ended up going to a different place than we had when we got her hair braided because I turned down the wrong street.  Laura had to go to a barber to get her kids' done because the woman we went to did not have clippers.  She did a good job on Aliya's hair, especially since they don't have running water or chairs that elevate or real barber scissors.  She washed her hair in this sink that had a tube connected to a bucket for the water to drain into and used pitchers of water from a large plastic barrel.  She also used what looked like sewing shears to cut Aliya's hair while she hunched over her in a regular chair.  It cost 30 birr which is a little less than $2.  I had 60 birr in my pocket so I just gave it all to her for a tip.  For Laura to get her kids' heads shaved it cost 10 birr a piece.  She gave the guy 100 birr which is still only $6.  I'm going to miss the prices.  Aliya of course did a great job getting her hair cut.  The lady's teenage son and daughter popped in and out and helped put gel in her hair at the end.  When they asked her name they giggled after she told them.  The boy asked me if I knew that her name meant bird to which I replied yes and the two laughed.  Wefe is not a common name, but c'mon.  You don't have to laugh!

We also had our embassy appointment on Tuesday July 26th.  We got there around 1:00 and waited for about an hour or so.  They were not nearly as busy as the day we went with the other families but it still took a while.  It's like if you had to go to the DMV to get your driver's license renewed but had to be granted an appointment just to take a number and wait for your chance at a window.  It's a very American process.  We finally had our name called, went up to the window and answered a few questions and signed a few papers.  We were done!  No, really, DONE!  I felt a rush of emotions that cannot be pinpointed to anything in particular, just a rush.  When we got back to the guest house I was exhausted.  I wanted to just cry and let out all the emotions of the past 16 months, but I couldn't.  It wasn't until several days later that I was finally able to do that.  More on that story a little later in this post.

The rest of the week we didn't do too much.  We did end up having to go back to the transition home a couple more times because I thought that Aliya had ring worm and needed to see the doctor.  The doctor gave us some cream that made the spot bigger so we're still not really sure if it's ring worm or not.  It was nice for Aliya to go back and see her friends again and play with them.  There was never any weirdness about her going back, I don't think she ever felt like we were giving her back or anything like that.  She was obviously very loved there.  In fact, it was so cute because she went in the classroom and they all clapped and cheered.  When she left they all kissed and hugged her.  It really was so sweet :)  We also went shopping again and only got a few things.  I was trying to conserve the birr I had left to pay the driver and the guest house but didn't want to bring too much home either.  Turns out I accidentally hid 1000 birr from myself and found it stuffed in my backpack on the plane home.  Looks like that didn't work out exactly the way I wanted.

We left Cimbrey and her mom Thursday afternoon.  They and Laura were the only ones left at the guest house.  Cimbrey was staying between court and embassy and was still waiting on her MOWYCA letter, hoping it would be there before the court closures.  Between then and me writing this she has passed and has her son with her now.  If you would like to read more about her stay, visit their blog (she actually keeps up with hers unlike myself) Cimbrey's blog.  So our flight left on Emirates at 7:30pm from Ethiopia to Dubai.  The flight was very nice and we didn't have any problems.  Aliya did great on the take off and landing and loved looking out the window.  She slept some of the time but was mostly happy to sit in her seat listening to her headphones and watching a movie.  She really couldn't have done any better.  When we got to Dubai I thought we had an hour and half to get on the next flight.  Turns out with the time change and the time it took for us to get to the next terminal it was actually about 15 minutes.  While we were still waiting in line to get through to the gate they were already calling final boarding.  Luckily we made it on the plane with plenty of time.  We even got a seat in the first row so we had more leg room for the long flight ahead.  The flight from Dubai to New York was going to be our longest one at 12 hours.  The flight we had just been on was 5 hours or so and then the one from New York to Chicago is only 2 hours.  The flight was mostly during the night so we both slept most of the flight, besides the meals they brought to us at weird times.  It was on time and got into NY at 8:15am.  I knew that we would be spending all day in the JFK airport because our last flight didn't leave until 3:50pm.  We ate and walked around and went in a couple stores.  I bought her a cupcake sticker book and she danced around.  We then found out that our flight was delayed 2 hours because the incoming flight was late.  Well after a couple more hours of taxing around and then coming back into the gate, our flight got cancelled.  I called Dustin to tell him what was going on because he had driven up to Chicago with the boys to surprise us as well as the Mowen family.  We had to figure out what was going on and Aliya and I ended up staying at a Holiday Inn Express in Queens, NY that night.  We finally got to the hotel at 12:45am.  On our way to the hotel our cabbie had no idea where he was going and was lost.  I was so tired and emotionally exhausted that during the car ride is when I wept.  All the emotions had finally caught up with me and came pouring out in the backseat of a yellow cab.  Aliya just looked at me and held my hand.  I'm glad that my 5 year old daughter could be my comforter.  When we got into our room there was a comfortable king sized bed awaiting us.  There was also a 45" flat screen TV (which is very large for a single room) sitting in front of the bed.  Aliya saw it with big eyes and said, "BIG!" while making a big motion with her arms.  I said, "television".  She looked at me like I was lying and said, "NO!  BIG!"  It was pretty funny.
We got showered the next morning and had breakfast.  I found a man with 2 teenage girls that were also going to the airport so we shared a cab.  Our flight didn't leave till 12:50pm but their flight was a little earlier so we ended up getting to the airport around 10:30am.  We ended up walking around and looking in some of the nearby kids' stores.  We had also cancelled our airline and went with a different one that had an earlier flight because the original airline couldn't get us on another plane until 8:00pm.  Well while we were waiting for our flight we got notice that our flight had been delayed to 3:00pm.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?!  I didn't think we were ever going to make it home.  I didn't feel relieved until that plane had finally taken off and we were actually in the air.  We got into Chicago around 5:00pm and were greeted by the Murray family and Dustin and the boys.  The Mowens ended up having to go home since we had to stay the night, which was such a shame.  After a wonderful homecoming we headed back to Iowa.  We pulled into our house at 9:30pm on Saturday July 30th after 53 hours of being in transit.  Wow!  Aliya did great the entire time too, not a single fit.  She played, sang and danced the entire time.  She was amazing!

Aliya felt very comfortable the moment she walked off the plane.  She hugged everyone and walked out of the airport holding hands with her brothers.  On the way home she and Christian fell asleep against each other, it was probably the cutest thing ever.  When we got home she was very comfortable in her room and everything.  She slept in her bed all night without any complications.  She has slept well every night.  She is eating well and eats most everything.  There are only a few things that she has not cared for like strawberries, watermelon and fish.  Other than that she seems to eat about everything.  She has adjusted to meeting new people.  We have tried for the most part to have people come to our house where she is comfortable.  When we are out and about when we see people she tends to be more reserved and lots of times won't acknowledge them.  She is a natural part of our family.  She blends in as if she has always been here.  There is some competition between her and Christian (he's 6 and she's 5) but I knew there would be.  So far I am trying to find the balance of bonding with her and giving the boys enough attention.  It's a struggle but it's going okay.  I am not a physical touch sort of a person so my cup has been getting very full with 3 biding for my attention all day.  We're working on that.  There are things we are working on every day and each day brings something new.  She is learning English, she quizzes us on Amharic, but she communicates very well.  We are anxious to see what the days ahead of us bring.  The boys start school next week so it will be just us girls at home very soon.  Hopefully we both make it, lol :)


Me said...

I'm glad to hear that things are going smoothly for you. One of these days we'll have to try to get together...maybe in Ankeny. :-)


Debb said...

SO GLAD you finally made it home! I was stressed for you when reading your FB!!! Ugh! Sweet that Aliya is adjusting so well and blending so naturally with all of you! Praising God! Sure do miss you, girl! Let's make sure we stay in touch! YES! I agree that our friendships are a special blessing of AWAA!!!!! *HUGS*

Anonymous said...

I found you blog through a friend and was so blessed in reading your story, specifically the tone in which you describe that transition with your daughter. What a lovely family you have.

Thanks for sharing your journey!

In Him,
Lauren McLeary
My family is comprised of two Liberian daughters (9 and 7) and a son (7) and it is amazing to see how that Lord binds His families together. We are coming up on our five year "family birthday" and it moves me to reflect on how many things have been growing surprises that molded to rich blessings.