This is not a good feeling to have in the country of your children's birth. Those of us who consider ourselves to be thoughtful people, who have carefully considered the ongoing impact of international adoption, know that it's hugely important to honour our children's heritage. Nobody wants to love Ethiopia more than us. We read books. We listen to music. We go to restaurants. We learn Amharic. And then, in our case, we arrived, and POW. Instant, intense desire to leave. I couldn't believe it. Why? WHY? After all this time? I lived in Africa as a child, and the smells and sights brought back happy childhood memories. The goats being herded down the road kept making us point and say 'oooh, look!' The music was infectious, and the food was cheap and good. And still I wanted to leave. Why? I hated myself for it, which was convenient, because I already hated myself for not hearing angels sing when I met the babies. And then I remembered - I felt exactly the same when I arrived in England. And I liked that so much in the end that I decided to stay. I think the reason things felt so difficult was just the disorientation. I didn't really hate the place, I just hated the fact that I didn't know how to procure a sim card, or I did (get it from your driver) but I couldn't contact our driver because we didn't have a sim card. And we had a map, but we didn't really know where we were on the map, and we had dollars but not birr and we had been raced out of the airport so fast that we hadn't had a chance to change any money. In England, I hated it because I had a cheque for my scholarship money but nobody would let me open a bank account, so I couldn't access any of my cash. And I spent a large chunk of my first night there standing in a telephone box in the freezing January cold, frantically trying to call home and not knowing what the international dialling out code was (it's 00, just in case you ever need it).
Money and communication and orientation. Sort them out and most other things fall into place. We now have birr. We paid a huge fee to use someone else's phone, contacted our driver and we now have a sim card. And we now know that the orphanage is there, and the hotel coffee stinks but wonderful coffee can be obtained here, which is en route. And I still feel a bit shaken up, but I no longer want to leave. I'm glad. Now I feel like I can look my babies in the eye again.