Today was our day to visit the Gladney Foster Care center. While we waited for our drivers to come, we spent time with these lovely folks and their darling boys. They were too much fun, and great Ethiopian dancers, but more to come on that tomorrow :)
The first thing I can say, is the children at Gladney are L.O.V.E.D. By all. The caregivers truly adore each baby and child. We toured around the facilities, spread over 3 homes. We didn't visit the older childrens home. We saw the ladies doing loads and loads of tiny laundry. We visited each baby room...Travis, one of the incountry staff encouraged us to pick up and love any baby we wanted to, no matter if they were sleeping or not. He said they like to stir up trouble and love on the babies as much as possible. It was SUCH an honor to meet the babies we knew would soon be going home to families, and even some who were matched with families that didn't yet have their referrals. There was an ADORABLE set of tiny twin girls, who were matched with a family, but the parents did not yet know about them...So, if you recently got twin girl referral of little twins, I have some sweet photos for you!I snapped a few others of babies I didn't know who they belonged to, so please inquire if you think your babe was there the last week of May. We were so happy to meet all the babies and toddlers. A few things I mentally noted while there:
- babies go to bed on thier tummies or in a boppy type pillow on there back. (Janet, Ely was in a boppy). The beds are also lined with plush, soft blankets mostly. Lucy really likes something soft against her fact when she goes to sleep, even now.
- There were prepared bottles of water in the rooms. Each room had a shelf with the babies names listed on them, each with their own row of bottles. They serve at room temp.
- they hold all the babies while feeding, no bottle propping here!
- the babes seem to get plenty of tummy time on the floor on a playmat with some toys.
- The cribs are in little sets of 3, and there were 3-9 beds in each room, but they werent' all full in every room.
- Belay knows every child by name, and there are over 100 kids in care. I was amazed by that. Genet, Belays sister and manager of Bejoe, also knew most of the kids by name.
LOVE this picture, and how delighted Lucy looks!
Belay told us that the care givers love "their" kids so much, that they sometimes stretch the truth about the little ones physical development. When the babies learn new skills, like crawling or walking, they are moved into a new room with other kids with those same abilities. BUT the caregivers are so attached and want to keep "their" babies. One little toddler girl in our travel group was clearly an experienced walker, but it was news to her family. Belay said when he came into her room to say goodbye, he noticed she was walking, and her caregiver acted as if it was a miracle that she had just taken her first steps that day...so sweet! They truly LOVE these babies and children.
We closed our time there with a traditional coffee ceremony and popcorn, which was sooo delish. My coffee was interrupted by an explosive diaper from baby girl...but it was a nice time. Matt was really impressed when Travis mentioned she was crushing the coffee beans with a peice of an axle of a toyata pickup. We left the care center and went to lunch together with Travis and Joanna Norwood and our kiddos, at Top View. It was a nice, private place with yummy food. We returned to the guest house beat. It was an emotional day, but a good one.
Note: I left care packages I brought for other families on our bed. I was so nervous about how Lucy was going to do, I was braindead. I sent our driver back for them, and just after he left realized I left our video camera on the seat of the car! Sheesh. But, I did get the packages delivered, and some video. Lesson, put your stuff in clear sight or give them to your driver because you might be distracted :)