As enthralled as I was upon arrival in Addis, I was well aware that in a few short hours I would see my son for the first time. I was introduced to the nice couple who had arrived at the guest house the previous evening and would also be meeting their son for the first time. We ate breakfast, I took a cold shower, and soon the driver arrived and we rode the short half kilometer to the foster home. A toot of the horn and the gatekeeper let us in. The driver called upstairs to the nannies, shouting the names of our sons.
We waited with bated breath for moments that seemed ever so long before a woman emerged from the staircase into the courtyard with a boy that I recognized from dozens of photo updates perched on her hip. I approached him cautiously, reached for his hand. “Selam. Andemnedeuch?” I said to this beautiful child. He is a naturally curious baby, looking around at all the people gathered around, not wanting to miss anything. This quiet white woman is not very interesting. After a few moments though, he came to me easily enough, and I took him inside the visiting area to show him the toys I’d brought. He has two bottom teeth all the way in, and two top teeth breaking through. He’s looking for anything to put in his sore mouth. I gave him the wooden giraffe and he sucked on its leg.
I stood him at the table where he held on, but wobbled. He can sit by himself most of the time, but plays contentedly through our visits propped on the floor between my legs. He army crawls after things that look tantalizing, most notably the Christmas tree balls and the brightly colored Croc shoes in a row on a shelf; and he once cries briefly at being denied a Christmas ball to eat. He laughs and smiles easily at any silliness, or at anyone he knows. He giggles when swung upside down. He took his bottle from me that first morning, falling asleep while still sucking, nestling into me, his small hand wrapped around my finger, and I feel as content as he looks, cradling his warm body against me.