Thursday, May 15, 2008

To Travel Or Not To Travel


I am hoping you will treat this post like an interactive web tool, because we need your thoughts.

While we have yet to get our referral, (and it will probably still be at least another two months, and maybe more until that happens) we are starting to think about our travel to Ethiopia. We are thinking it will be sometime in October or November and already can't wait.

As far as details, the basic plan is that you fly into Addis Ababa, the capitol of Ethiopia, get your child and essentially spend the week bonding with them. Apparently it is pretty low key and a lot of down time so that you can immediately make the connection with your child. I think there are a few day trips and some night stuff, but it is pretty much hanging out in Addis Ababa and then going to the embassy for your formal approval before coming back to the States. It is going to be amazing!

One thing we are considering, and this is where we need some feedback, is whether to head to Ethiopia a few days before our scheduled arrival for our adoption so that we can tour the interior of the country and really get an understanding of the culture and country that our son is from. Make no mistake, this would not be a safari or some luxury trip, but rather a tour of some of the historical, cultural and geographical points of interest in Ethiopia. From what I have read, tourism in Ethiopia outside of Addis Ababa is not a well known entity, so it would certainly be an adventure (perhaps just hiring a guy with a jeep to take us around the country for 3 days).

On the plus side, it would be amazing to tour Ethiopia well off the beaten path and to experience much of the tradition and cultural heritage of Ethiopia so that we can better preserve some of those things in our family. Further, a three-day adventure for just Leah and I would feel like heaven, even if we were in the middle of nowhere in Ethiopia!

On the negative side, as soon as we actually know who our son is - know what he looks like, how old he is, what his circumstances have been, etc... - I know that we are going to be counting down every minute until we get to hold him in our arms. Thus the thought of being within 20 or 30 miles of him and then going on a three day tour before we go get him, seems like something that will be impossible for us to do or maybe even wrong to do.

Yet, we can't just travel at any time and there will be a set date for us to arrive in Ethiopia to get him. So theoretically, even if we felt bad about being so close and still not getting to him for another three days, we probably could not do that anyway, even if we were in the country.

All to say that we really don't know what to do. I can clearly see the good and the bad in this decision but would love some comments, especially from those who may have already traveled to get an adopted child. In the end, if we decide not to do the trip before we get our son, I think we will probably regret it. But, that does not make it any easier to decide to do it now or in the moment.

10 comments:

the albertsons said...

EEk!
This is a hard one for me. It's pretty personal, I guess. And if someone else comments here that they'd love to travel, I wouldn't want to be the "downer" person. But I wouldn't have traveled (on that particular trip), simply because I wanted have the focus of the trip to be our son. So for me, I'd beat myself up if something were to happen in those days before picking up Sam... I know... I'm so morbid! But you know, like a car accident or getting really sick or something... that would totally take away from meeting my child for the first time ever. Remember these are personal thoughts... I'm not saying you or whoever shouldn't travel, I'm just saying it wouldn't have been right for us. I also think that, even though the in-country staff wouldn't be in charge of you at that point- it still puts extra stress on them, b/c they know you're there and will be worrying about you a bit (b/c they are very caring like that). Plus you can't drive too far away from Addis (In terms of the places you're thinking of) easily- most people fly to the far-away places (the churches, etc).
I hope that helps a little?
love you guys!
becca

graceling said...

I would actually talk to Gladney about this. Even though you will be scheduled to arrive in Ethiopia at a certain time based on your embassy appointment, it is not unheard-of to arrive earlier and spend extra time bonding with your child.

I do know that Habesha Child (http://habeshachild.wordpress.com/) was with a different agency and spent some time touring the country before picking up Elsa from the orphanage. Again, I would speak with Gladney as their travel packet makes it clear that they anticipate you will be accompanied by a driver at all times when you are traveling in Ethiopia. Habesha Child might be a good resource for you to consult- ask if she would do the travel all over again (the tour she took was exhausting, by the way.)

Personal opinion: if you are going to arrive in Ethiopia early, spend the time bonding with your new little one. There is plenty to see and do in Addis, and you can still spend time with your little one. And it might be nice to be doing something low-key before taking baby from the orphanage, espcially since baby might have a lot of needs as he transitions to his new family. It would give you and Leah a chance to spend time together while also "resting up" for the new baby. IMHO.

Hope that helps!

Hope that helps!

Townes said...

Just follow your heart TC...

I do think your expectation of getting an understanding of the Ethiopian culture in 3 days is a little idealistic though. Might be time to get outta DC... I think the 'politics of hope' are rubbing off on you.

JTP said...

Hmmm, tough call Tom. It was easier to comment on the Cinderella video or the haircut story :-) When do you think you'll be going back to Ethiopia for a second trip? If so maybe you could visit more stuff then. I've got a great friend Ross who was an Intern at Windy gap with me who spent almost 2 years in Addis Abba on YL staff- let me know if you want his contact info. His stories of the people there were AMAZING. Good Luck making your decision- whatever y'all choose, you have to trust that it will be the right one.

KCG said...

I think a few days to get out of DC and refocus on each other before the whirlwind of another small child in the house sets in sounds like a great idea to me. Crawling into a jeep and driving around rural Ethiopia for 3 days when you haven't traveled in the developing world much previously seems risky. I don't think any of the options are "wrong".

It all sounds pretty exciting to me!

Anonymous said...

we are also waiting for a referral... we are both semi seasoned world travellers... so from our perspective i would YES absolutley as much as your employer(s?) and budgets will allow.... our current kids are of the canine and feline kind and they stay at our 'rents all the time so its not loss for them.... I'm told the stone churches north of Addis (~2.5 hrs by plane) are not to be missed, and once you are with child in Ethiopia i think it would be quite difficult to do this.... climbing, crawling etc can be required...... bu that's my take on it

The Trone's: James, Misty, and Bella Grace said...

My initial reaction is to have fun & travel! This may be your only chance to be able to explore Ethiopia for quite some time. And, it would be really amazing to be able to share your experience with him in the future w/ photos, etc. I would not think of it as selfish at all. Can't wait to see him...

Cary said...

Leah! I'm a blast from the UT past - Anne Taylor found your blog and sent me the link. There is an adoption blog I found that I read occassionally - they adopted a son from Ethopia about a year ago. Here is the link -
http://bottomlysandethiopia.blogspot.com/
I don't know them, but they may have some good info for you. How exciting for y'all! I'm glad to see you are doing well with your beautiful family.

Cary Reams Luhn

hpg said...

sounds like you wanna go early, for numerous stellar reasons. i would def say let your desire have more say in the decision than fear/anxiety. aka i would go for it!

hpg said...

oh--whoops--haha, i put it up twice b/c the first time i thought it didnt publish right but then i realized it just had to be approved.....