The day after we arrived in Ethiopia we went to the Toukoul Orphanage to meet our children for the first time.
The Orphanage is only a 5 minute drive from the Guest House. After going through a dirt road you get to the entrance, the famous blue gates that are in so many Toukoul videos.
Behind those gates there is another world, a world of children running in the big yard, playing ball or hopscotch, or in their uniforms getting ready for school.
Blankets spread on the lawn covered with babies sunbathing under the watchful eyes of their nannies. Cloth lines overloaded with children cloths and bed sheets drying in the sun and swung by the wind.
The children of Toukoul are always ready for a hug, a kiss, and of course for a picture. They love it when you take pictures of them, and they love it even more if you let them watch themselves in the digital camera screen.
There are women that come and go taking care of the daily chores, men that drive parents, nurses or whoever needs to go somewhere in the big vans, or that simply open and close the gates to let cars in and out while they chat or say hello to each other in that particular Ethiopian greeting that seems never to end: three kisses on the cheeks, hi how are you, very well thanks and you, I’m good and how’s everything going, great and how are your things… and so on…
Inside the Orphanage near the main office there is a room with a few couches and chairs that is the place where parents have the chance to meet their children for the first time.
If you stay at one of the Guest Houses of the Orphanage, there are a few possibilities to visit and get to know your children. One possibility is to go to the Orphanage every day in the morning and see your children in the visiting room until noon and then come back in the afternoon until 6 PM.
Another choice is to check them out for the day so they can spend time with you at the Guest House and then return them to the Orphanage for dinner. The third possibility is to check them out of the Toukoul for good.
Many parents choose to visit them during the day at the Orphanage so they can have time to travel, visit the city or go shopping.
We started the first two days by visiting them there and then we decided to take them to spend the day with us at the Guest House but the problem was that the return to the Orphanage every night was very traumatic for Feromsa who maybe thought we were abandoning him.
That’s why after the second time doing that we decided to check them out for good so they could share our stay at the Guest House.
Even if this prevented us from doing some things we have planned before, I still think it was the best for the kids and for us since it gave us the opportunity to get to know each other before the long plane trip home.
About the Orphanage, I only have good things to say. The children were taken good care of and were well fed in a clean and happy environment. The nannies as well as the rest of the staff working at the Toukoul treated them with affection.
Inside the Orphanage there is a small gift shop where we bought some things. All the proceeds of the sales go back to the Toukoul, so I recommend all parents to go and take a look at what they have, since by buying something you will help the Orphanage.
The day we checked out the children we were able to see their bedrooms and their little beds and we said goodbye to the nannies that took care of them all these past months.
As a goodbye gift, they gave us two hand stitched backpacks with traditional Ethiopian outfits for the kids. We also left two suitcases full of donations for the children.
In the US there are two Agencies that work with the Toukoul, Adoption Avenues and Dove. There are other US agencies that do not have direct presence in Ethiopia but use the services of one of these two agencies. The majority of the other adoptions in this Orphanage are for agencies in France.
In conclusion, I found the Toukoul to be a calm and happy place for children despite some scarcities and that sad situation of all those children still need a family of their own.
If you are interested to know more about the Toukoul or if you want to make a contribution, here you have three links in French. The third one has many interesting articles about the Orphanage, Ethiopia and adoption: