10 more days!!!
I thought I'd update you a little on our travel plans. On January 20th, we leave super, super, super early for LA (sorry Jim -- our chauffeur). From LA, we take a 16 HOUR flight to Dubai. Adam and I have always wanted to see Dubai with the huge islands that can be seen from space, 7 star hotels, and I think the biggest shopping mall in the world. We arrive in Dubai at 1 p.m. and we don't have to leave until the following morning. The airline puts us up in their hotel (it is a Dubai airline), and so we hope to get out and see the ocean and get a bite to eat. As much as I would love to tour the city, our airplane clothes aren't exactly appropriate for most places there, and I don't think we are going to have too much energy. However, we are still really excited to spend a few hours there, and also excited to spend the night in a hotel before finishing our trip the next day.
The 2nd day of traveling (technically the 3rd) is going from Dubai (Saudi Arabia) to Addis (Ethiopia). We arrive around noon. There is a chance that we will be allowed to visit with Allie that day for the afternoon session. I really, really hope so! It is at the director's discretion, and we won't know until we arrive and call him. During most days, we will see Allie a few hours in the morning and a few hours in the afternoon. We will be on our own for lunch and dinner, but we have heard there are some good restaurants by our guest house (and a place that sells bottled Cokes).
Our guest house is not affiliated with our agency's guest house. Because there are 9 other families traveling at the same time, our agency's guest house was full. We were disappointed at first, but now we are really excited about staying at the Ethiopia Guest House. Many adopting families from our agency have stayed there and they rave about the place. It has wireless internet (very rare). The Guest House also provides light lunches and dinners -- in addition to the nearby restaurants. We have requested a room with a private bath (versus a shared bath which most of the rooms have). The guest house provides us with a large bottle of water each day, a free massage, a guard when we walk too far for their comfort, and a cell phone for us to have during our entire stay. We will also have our own phones, but it is nice to have an extra. We will have transportation arranged by our agency to/from the House of Hope (where Allie lives) and to/from court. There are 2 other families in our travel group that are staying at the Ethiopia Guest House. Another nice thing about this guest house is that we have more freedom than staying at our agency's guest home. This guest house is in a better location, and the staff will drive us to the market, etc. so that we can do some shopping and sight seeing. We really want to see the place where our daughter is from.
Court is on the 25th. It is so common to NOT pass the first time. The reason is always a simple paper, but it will take a few weeks to get another court date. We won't have to appear again in front of the Judge, but by pushing back the court approval several weeks, we push back our visa exit interview by several weeks, which means we push back Allie's arrival by several weeks. :-( So please pray that we pass court the first time!
Our agency told us today that our court date is the same as the birth families' court date. The person who relinquished the child must appear before the Judge and give consent. If all goes well then we will have a chance to meet with Allie's birth family (with a translator) to learn/ask about Allie's family as well as talk about our family. We are aware of Allie's story; however, we do feel that it is her story to tell when/if she ever decides to do so. So I won't be giving out any details concerning her birth family and the situation; however, we do ask for prayers as this meeting is expected to be one of the most emotional times in our lives. If this meeting does not happen, then we get another chance during our second visit when we visit her original orphanage.
Once our adoption is approved, we HOPE to bring home Allie in the first half of March. :-)
During our stay, we plan to be able to use our cell phones. We plan to be able to update Facebook and have someone (if not us) update this blog. We should be able to receive texts (for free), and it will be cheap to send them out. If all goes according to plan (Ha!), we hope to be able to update everyone on our trip each day. 10 more days!