We arrived in the Addis Ababa airport and moved through customs quickly. We found our driver easily – there were few people around. It was a quiet Sunday afternoon. He spoke perfect English, with a fairly thick accent.
We were exhausted from travel and with anticipation.
We were not sure if everything was closed on Sundays, or if we could see Meaza. He said that he would take us right to the transition home where she was staying.
We drove up to a solid wall that opened onto a wide compound with a moderately sized house. When we entered, no other children save one was present: Meaza. We recognized her instantly.
Being a mom, I approached her first. She looked back and forth from these two white ghosts to her nannies. She started to cry. I backed away. I had not meant to upset her.
After getting her settled down, my husband, Mike, was encouraged to hold her. She did not see many men in the places she had been staying. She seemed to accept him more easily.
Here is our first picture together. (Please excuse my hair, as I didn’t figure out how to bring a hair dryer that would work in country). We learned that her name was actually pronounced: /Mah-za/, not how we were saying it: /Mee-ah-za/. Her nickname in Ethiopia was: /Ma-zee/. My husband still uses this name with her.
They asked if we wanted to take her with us to where we were staying. Were we horrible? We said we would bring her with us tomorrow, but we hadn’t seen where were were staying yet, had not eaten (we weren’t sure how that would work), and were a little overwhelmed with her reaction to us (me).
We left her for one last night at the transition home. She went back to playing with the toys and nannies. She seemed happy to us. We hoped we weren’t making a horrible first impression.
As we were leaving, more kids started to appear. They were beautiful. They were a little older than Meaza, so were less shy. They smiled and hugged us. We said hello and thank you in Amheric (the only two words we had learned). We thanked everyone and said we would see them tomorrow.
It might have helped Meaza to see us interact with the other children. As we were leaving, we got this smile: