I'm waiting for the final leg of my trip to take me home.
It's been a long week,
but in a lot of ways - not long enough!
Here's a recap:
Here's a recap:
Friday, Jan 6th - landed in Ethiopia! The smell when I walked off of the plane and down the ramp made me smile! I'm "home"! The driver was there, Binyiam - love him... such a great guy! As we were walking to the car, he called our agency rep (in-country boss) to let him know I was there and he asked to speak with me. He says there's a problem with my paperwork, and that we may not pass court on Wednesday, but not to worry... he has the letter, the judge may just not see it in the stack of papers! Uhm... okay. I had not slept in over 32 hours... so I don't quite remember anything else he said, or what I said in return! I got to the guest house, got checked in, met Missy, Jamie and Brent... and unpacked a few things before collapsing into a mild coma-like sleep!
Saturday, Jan. 7th - Woke up when Missy came to my room to check if I was awake! I forgot any sort of time-telling device, so I never quite knew if it was time to wake up or time to try to get a few more moments of sleep, so I relied mostly on other families schedules to let me know it was wake-up time! Super fast shower, threw on clothes, ran to eat breakfast then Binyiam arrived and we drove to the care center to meet the kids!! There were 4 families total there on that day, so they took my camera and little video camera and captured the moments when I met them for the first time! It was sweet... and I don't know how else to describe it! I knew them when I saw them... I didn't want to smother them with kisses right away... but I wanted to smoosh their little faces and kiss their sweet cheeks.. and mostly, I did just that! That day also happened to be Genna - Ethiopian Christmas! They had a whole "thing" prepared at the care center so we stayed there for the coffee ceremony and a big lunch which included every part of the goat the families had purchased for the care center the day before!! Yes, they bought a goat, tied it (alive) to the roof of the van, and delivered it to them for their celebration!! It was tasty. I drank lots of coffee.
Sunday, Jan. 8th-Tuesday, Jan. 10th - Same morning routine just about every day. One family left on Monday, one other on Tuesday, but Monday night another family arrived! Each day we did pretty much the same routine, or at least *I* did. Breakfast, any errands, shopping one day, then went to the care center for a little bit and brought the kids back to the hotel to play in a smaller-scale environment. 5 kids, 1 adult, 1 driver and no seat belts or 5-point-harness carseats... I may have gone a little bit gray during those car trips!! We had so much fun at the hotel - soccer, coloring books, playdoh, snacks... it was nice to get to see them and spend time away from the other children who compete for attention. I got to see their real personalities (or as much as they will show me at this point in our relationships) and spend more one-on-one time with them than I think I would have at the care center.
Wednesday, Jan. 11- Court date! Had a hard time getting to sleep with the nervousness of the pending court date! Woke up, coffee, got dressed, ate breakfast, and waited for the driver. He arrived and the 4 families who had court the same day all piled into the van to go. Arrived at court, got the security pat-down, entered the building and found the room where we would wait. Signs on the walls in the institutional-feel room warned us all to "Silencia!" because the classroom-like waiting area was one doorway away from the Judge's office! There were many families in there. Some were from Germany, others France, one sounded British, and there were other Americans. Missy, Nicole and I prayed together as Mommies desperately in love with our children, and waited some more. Soon, appointments began. The secretary would call the name of an orphanage, and their representative would move to the door signaling them that it was their turn. Missy's kids were from a different area than the other 3 families, so she went first from our group. She walked in, I held my breath, and moments later - she walked out and they motioned to us to come! I looked at Missy and I couldn't decide if she was holding back happy tears or sad tears, so I asked her and she said "we passed!" I gave her a hug and quickly walked inside the judge's office. The "court room" is her office. There are two desks - one for the (probably) court clerk, the other for the judge. There are about 8 chairs for families to sit in, and their two desks, and the room is full. The agency rep told us to sit, and we nervously found a seat. The judge called the names of our children to verify our appointments. We answered a few questions together as a group - do we know this is final, do we approve of our children, do we agree to help them maintain their culture, etc... then she began with the other families specifically. It took just moments, and they were approved! Then she started with our case. She started off using different words, so my heart fell into my stomach. She said our paperwork was missing a document and that she would reschedule our court date for next week, but that my part was finished and correct. We would not pass court today. She specifically asked me about our other children at home, about if they were adopted or not, and if I had a job (ha ha ha..). After she did the math on how many kids we'd have she said "Whew! God bless..." (why Thank You! God has indeed blessed us!). Then we were dismissed. Suddenly it hit me that I'd be flying home without passing court and I felt the tears coming. I quickly
walked sprinted out of the room and past the waiting families, Ethiopian nationals and police down the hall to a stairway where I felt the tears starting to fall. I couldn't breathe and my heart was racing. Why was I flipping out?? I was told to expect this... it will be okay... and then Missy came over and gave me a hug. I really lost it then. The agency representative walked over, looked at me and said "It's okay - wait here." (like I was leaving??) and he went into an office and talked to a woman at a desk. He returned moments later with a piece of paper and said "please come, we will go back!" Uhm... pretty sure you can't just 'go back' to court! But we did! He waited for the door to open and stuck his arm in with the piece of paper - it was our "missing" document. He explained to the secretary something in Amharic, and looked at me and said, "it's okay - don't cry." I think my crying made him SUPER uncomfortable. It's okay though, I was making all the other families in the room uncomfortable. ha ha! Suddenly, the secretary opened the door and said "Yes, it is Approved!" My mouth fell open and I think I may have squealed! I couldn't believe it!! You know my court story would look and sound different from everyone else's... but sheesh!! I had no idea THAT could happen!! I was so relieved and shocked and just ... EEEK!! We PASSED! I walked out of the room -now crying happy tears and practically ran back over to our group and threw my arms up and said "Approved!!!" Hugs all around, and we were done! Just amazing. God literally goes before AND after our family in this. It's just miracle after miracle!! We are so blessed!
After court, we stopped by the guest house to let families change clothes and I send my hubby a facebook message about court since it was like 2am in the USA! Got back in the car and went to the care center to see our newly legalized family members! We hung out for a little while, but had some doctor stuff to take care of , then went to the guest house with the bigger kids for a bit to play before our awful goodbyes.
Later that afternoon, when I took the kids back to the care center, I asked the nanny to translate to them that Daddy AND Mommy would be back as soon as we could, and for whatever reason, our oldest child kept telling me "March! Mommy, Daddy, Ethiopia... aeroplane America... MARCH!" Please, Lord - don't allow that sweet boy to be disappointed!
Awful to have to say goodbye for now, tears in the van, back to the guest house to get packed up.
The trip was amazing.
I do love Ethiopia...the people especially.
I miss my kids at home, and I miss my kids who are waiting there for us to return.
It's an amazing thing to have your heart broken in half and shared across two continents.
A Mother's heart doesn't divide to share with more children, it multiplies to share with them all.
Here's what you're waiting for...
Arriving at the Care Center.
Me and the youngest of our new 5! This was our first "hello!"
Having lunch together at the guest house!
Our last day together, but the day they became legally OURS!
Oh, my heart...
I love these kids! They are just so great!
the year I became a mommy to 12!
only God could write this story!