On Thursday, July 5th, 20 children from Ethiopia arrived at Dulles International Airport and were greeted by their host families. All the kids continued on to Pennsylvania, Maryland, California, Texas and Indiana. Tomorrow, 4 more children will arrive and meet up with their host families. After a full weekend together, we have received wonderful stories and endearing moments from the families. The families are excited to share their experiences.
A Texas Family (hosting a sibling set of boys)
Things are going better than I ever dreamed. The boys were very excited and still are. The first day we went to a splash pad and they played, laughed, did karate chops and played on the playground in our neighborhood. At first, they thought it was a shower to wash in. Then they quickly realized it was for fun. They had a super fun first day and also enjoyed opening the back packs with food and toys. They put their Houston Astros hats on and the next thing I know they were drinking Capri Sun's on their own. Very different children than the ones that I met at baggage claim with a look of anticipation and concern.
They have no problems eating anything. They have eaten spaghetti, waffles, eggs, mango, apple, grapes, cherries, chicken patties, french fries, grilled cheese, ice cream sundaes, popcorn, pizza, coffee and more. The only things they do not like are mac ‘n cheese and cucumbers. Showed me at least they are being honest. We have had movie nights trying to relax and get over jet lag. But if it was up to them we would be going until, as they say after they have hit the wall of exhaustion , “I sleep”.
The second day we taught them how to swim at the pool. The third day we went swimming with another host family and more Ethiopian children that have been adopted and live in Texas. They had so much fun with their friends and were able to speak in Amharic to each other and boy did they laugh! One of our host children is a very good comedian, and the other child is very analytical.
On the third day we went to the Houston Astros game. They loved the 7th inning stretch song and caught a stuffed animal. The loved the wave they did in the stadium. After that night they were finally tired for the first time. We all were!
Church was fun and we have been doing a lot of activities with the other host children. They sat together at church. They prayed for dinner last night and read books we got from the library. They loved the computers at the library where they drew pictures. They are having and we are having so much fun learning new words. They laugh so hard at us some times when we try so hard to get the sounds right that come from the back of our throats. We are taking the boys and the rest of the Ethiopian kids to an Ethiopian Restaurant call the Blue Nile. We know it won't be perfectly like Ethiopia food in every way but we thought it would be a blessing. Needless to say this has been a dream come true.
Pennsylvania Family (hosting a sibling set of 3)
We have been having a wonderful time with our two host boys since they arrived on Thursday, and cannot wait for their sister to join us on Tuesday. The last few days have been a whirlwind of new experiences for them. Watching the Cars movie, trying lots of new food, swimming, visiting the Kutztown PA Dutch Fair, shopping for clothes, and playing with our other kids. They have been trying to help our adopted Ethiopian son remember some of his Amharic, his pronunciation makes them giggle. They have played lots of soccer with our sons, real soccer in the yard and the Xbox FIFA soccer game - they are excellent at both. Next week they are going to join our son at his travel soccer practice and play with his team. Today we introduced them at church and then enjoyed a picnic with another host family and their host child. There were lots of burgers and hot dogs eaten, cookies, apple pie, and tons of time in the pool.
The funniest thing I overheard was when our adopted son was showing them how to take a shower. I overheard him reminding them to take their socks off before getting in. Our son admitted later that he forgot to do that once when he first came to the US!
Just like all of our other kids they love frosted flakes, popcorn and are getting quite the taste for ice-cream of all varieties.
We are having a wonderful time, and the boys seem to be thriving and enjoying their time here. They are a blessing and joy.
Indiana Single Mother (hosting a girl)
Communication has been tough, but we have learned that words are nothing in comparison to smiles, laughs, and a hand to hold. We took our host child for her first swim a few days ago and she instantly loved it. She was all smiles and laughs. This was one of the first times we saw genuine happiness and a child playing as a child should. My daughter and our host child played " king of the raft" and snorkeled for shells and rocks all day. Our host child said she had only swam one other time in a deep river. The water seems to be her sanctuary and where she's the happiest. Today I was watching from the shore as my daughter, our host child, and another child were swimming. Suddenly I heard our host child begin singing a song in her native language! It was beautiful. The other children picked up on the song and began singing too. My heart filled with joy and my eyes with tears. My lesson: After everything that this child has been through in her life...she is still joyful. Shouldn't I be? God is great. It is definitely true that we may end up learning more from her than she learns from us.