Day 5 – Embassy day!

Today was the day that we would go to the US embassy to get the visas for the boys that would allow us to take then home. We had been given a prep talk on the evening of the second night that we were there to fill out the forms correctly, and know a bit about what to expect.

Many of the families had brought special clothes for their kids to wear, but we’re just not that organized…so our kids were in orphanage clothes (although the nannies had chosen some slightly nicer outfits then their usual playclothes). We had been told to dress business-casual, which I had interpreted as the kind of clothes I usually wear to work when I’m in Africa. That is: khaki pants, and a solid color top – nothing fancy, and alway with a priority on comfort!! As it worked out, I’m glad we didn’t get too primped up…

We all packed into a bus, with all the kids – that made a total of 21 adults and 10 kids – and it was about 1/2 hour to get to the embassy. We arrived, and the driver parked the car on a sidestreet across from the embassy. That meant that we all got off the bus, and then walked, with kids, up to a large busy street which we all had to cross – this was my first moment of maternal anxiety that our older child would run off and get hit by a car. He was fine, and held hands across the street. The baby was in our arms, and his main problem through the whole afternoon was that he was missing his naptime!! Result: cranky and intermittently tearful all afternoon.

We initally entered a space with some benches lined up outside the security screening area, housed in a small separate building. We all settled onto the last bench, behind the 30 or so people who were waiting, but then we ended up getting called up to go through screening in groups of 2 familes at a time, jumping the queue in front of those folks, all apparently of Ethiopian origin, who had been there before we arrived. As usual, this priority on Americans going first made me uncomfortable…

Sal was very funny about going through security – helping put our backpacks and water bottles through the security xray machine. Then it was the beginning of a very long afternoon of waiting… And waiting… And waiting…

Sal and Ron went outside and played with Sal’s friend E to pass the time. Jelly-Belly couldn’t sleep, and insisted on being held and walking constantly. The room we were waiting in got more and more crowded, and the temperature rose higher and higher. There was a small fan vainly circulating the air in the room, and it was impossible to hear who was being called. I was terrified that we would miss our turn, and not get our visas. And, then, Jelly started crying because he was so hot and bored, and only quieted if I took him outside the room, so we hung out just outside the door, hoping to hear our name when called.

We did finally get called – the last family from our group, and we went upstairs to be interviewed by the official. She was kind, and efficient, and, just as we were collecting all our papers from her, she said “OK, there’s no give-backs from this point out – they’re yours'” and I thought “Wow, are we ready for this?”

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