Thursday, January 13, 2011

Safe and Sound

We've had a bit of drama, really it's all okay, and I don't want to start with it and bury the lead, the lead being that Adai Marion Young is an amazing, 7-month-old light who smiles and squeals on demand; that Dessi is an ahMAZing big sister and never ever tires of kissing and hugging and making funny faces at her little sister and has yet to be even remotely jealous or unkind; that our family is full of love and happy and that we are safe.

The drama being that Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast, where we have been posted) had elections on Dec. 4. I waited until Dec. 8 before leaving for Ethiopia to wait for our US embassy appointment -- things seemed peaceful enough at home (no election clashes or problems) and so I got on the plane, leaving Dessi and Eric behind. That night, the current president (Gbagbo, with a sileng "G") decided to throw out thousands of votes and, despite pretty amazing international protests, declared himself the winner, swore himself in, closed down the airports and borders, and called it a night.

The next two weeks passed in a frenzy. I could not leave Adai in Addis, obviously, and I could not leave Dessi in Cote d'Ivoire, nor could I patiently wait for my US embassy appointment any longer. Suffice it to say I lost my voice after a week of talking people into things every single day, all day long. Ultimately, I got Adai's paperwork and photos, applied for her Ethiopian passport, ran the immigration hurdles, the US embassy moved our court date forward for us (please know, we didn't take any other familiy's place -- we were squeezed in because were a State Department family caught in a political crisis) and then . . . waited. Somewhere in there Cote d'Ivoire lifted its border closings and reopened the airport, but regardless, the government was in no hurry to do an American diplomat any favors (we were refusing to acknowledge the president, thus his government, and he controlled the embassies). So I was stuck. I couldn't get adai an Ivoirian visa, even to fly in and transit out 12 hours later with Dessi (to fly back to the US). It took me a week more of fussing and talking before I realized what we were up against.

Ultimately, Adai and I flew to Ghana, Eric and Dessi flew to Ghana, we had 7 hours together, then I flew to the US with the girls and Eric flew back to Abidjan. Although all US families and non-essential staff have been evacuated from Cote d'Ivoire, there are 15 US diplomats left; Eric can't leave Abidjan (the capital) until things get either a lot better or a lot worse. And at the moment, neither seems likely. (A good source for more information is BBC Africa or this story,, if you're interested.)

So the girls and I are in our sweet little two-bedroom house in Whitefish, Montana, wearing a collective $800 worth of winter gear between us. (It's friggin FREEZING!) It's a little small, and I'm ridiculously busy (thinking of changing our blog's name to, ha ha, but we are laughing a lot, sleeping a little bit less (Adai was up every two hours on a 24-hour cycle for the first 20 days. She's doing a lot better now) and staying warm. I'm perpetually stunned that I've kept it all together (my hair stopped falling out a few days ago, wahoo!) and Dessi is in love with the snow (everything about the snow. The fluffiness, the coldness, the gear). She adores her new Montessori school, and I just glad to be home in this community of amazing friends and love and support and aunties and yoga and sushi and fantastic hiking and running every day.

I see so many families still waiting for embassy appointments, or dealing with setbacks, and my heart breaks for them. When I feel overwhelmed or barely above water, I think of them. When I think of being separated from Eric and how he is missing these sweet, sweet days, I also know that this is an inconvenience for our family, but it is a complete disaster for the beautiful, kind people of Cote d'Ivoire. Plus, in our separation, I try to remember that this is what military families go through all the time. Hi honey, welcome home, here's your new baby.

Plus, he does still have the cat. (They both sleep at the US Embassy nowadays.)

That's our story. I just reread it, it's really crap. It says nothing about the amazingness of what we're all feeling right now. But I'm tired (it's 7:30 pm, betime) (no joke) and it's a start.

I don't have a single picture available of the three of us in our new digs, but here's a pic taken from my iphone the day I took Adai from the Thomas Center. (By the way, her name is pronounced like I couldn't wait a day longer. It's an Ethiopian name, it's a species of Ethioipan daisy, but it's traditionally spelled Adey.)


Julie said...

Holy cow! What a harrowing story. I'm glad that you are okay! She is beautiful, just like her sister. Hope you are reunited with your husband very soon. Wow!

Dani Schmidt said...

Wow! I've been checking your blog daily for updates. This was not what I expected. So happy to see that you and the girls are safe at home. Hoping your husband will join you soon.
Looking forward to more pics when you are settled.

Danni and Tommy said...

Whoa. I don't know what to say. Adai is beautiful. You are beautiful. I'm so glad you are safe. Know I'm thinking of you and hoping Eric is able to join you soon. Isn't it strange that at one point while reading your post I actually felt happy because you are now a lot closer to me? Sick and selfish I know, but I shared because I think it's indicative of how much I adore you.
Anyway, sending lots of positive thoughts and energy your way. So happy that your lovely girls are bonding and happy. Much love to you all.

Christine said...

Jeez, what a stressful time you have had. But you do sound good now, despite the separation from your husband. I hope he is home soon with all of you. Adai is a thing of beauty!

Leah said...

I have been checking your blog daily and thinking of you guys. So, so glad to hear that you are all safe and that your life as a family of 4 (maybe 4.5 if you include the cat!) has begun. We're not-so-patiently still waiting for an Embassy date...we'll keep you posted, and please do the same! Leah

Zoe said...

How stressful this all must have been and still be. But it's a testament to how amazing you are that you've dealt with it so well and come through. God bless you all and hope you stay warm and are soon reunited with your husband.

Mummy Bear said...

We're so glad you and the girls are safe. We are thinking of and praying for Eric and all the staff still holding on.

Lauren said...

I have been checking daily too. Glad you are home, hope Eric joins you soon. Adai, love the name! I almost used it too, is beautiful.

Katy said...

I've been thinking of you and wondering. I'm happy you're all safe.

Lee said...

I'm glad that the three of you are in Montana, surrounded by your friends, and enjoying home. And, of course, huge bonus that your hair is no longer falling out.

Debbie J Abdullah said...

Hope everything works out for you. Wonderful blog you've got there.