June 11, 2012
This was most certainly a day that will forever change our lives. It filled us with wonder and bonded us together forever…
It started with an early morning, restless, unable to sleep after such long travel and anticipation. We meandered down to the grassy courtyard and ate poolside, taking in new smells of burning vegetation and foreign foods. After our meal of simple eggs, fruit, and oatmeal, we were introduced to the robust coffee of Ethiopia. Tasting its strength and energy, we were ready to conquer the day. Before leaving the room, we asked God to bless the day, create a divine meeting with our children and remove any obstacles in our way. Above all, we prayed for peace and joy- the same blessings that come from being adopted as children of God.
The drive seemed to make every second lengthen. There were sheep being herded down the main highways, workers cramming into buses to the brim and every possible combination of driving etiquette without rules. And then we saw the gate: an opening, an entrance, a beginning to a certain bond only God could put together. Beyond the gate was Jane’s House- the beautiful transition home that shows God’s love to orphans. We met the nurse, a greeting involving a handshake and a kiss to one cheek, the other, and back to the first. The front door led us to more nursing staff going into a room with small wooden box cribs, laying side by side. We were quickly told to focus on the last bed labeled, “Amanuel,” a gorgeous, full, happy baby taking in his surroundings. Picking him up, he continued to be content and calm. They placed him in my arms; our beautiful, healthy baby boy. Tommy and I stared in amazement at how perfect his features were and how little we deserved this perfect gift. But very quickly, thereafter, we were told to see a little girl walking through the doorway named “Helen.” Stunning of course, with a petite frame and timid personality, she approached us cautiously but with open arms.
Time stopped… it was so much compacted into one moment. The lengthy application, home study, fundraisers (month after month), the online education, the hundreds of trips to offices and post offices- but most of all the TIME, the WAIT. Holding on to something unseen, unpromised, but worth every second. The time with the children was sweet, smiles, hiding and snuggling. Helen’s eyes were priceless. Amanuel’s smile was unforgettable.
We toured the home seeing about 20 children placed in rooms based on their ages. The home was small, simple but orderly. Injera (home made Ethiopian bread) was piled on the counter top, covered by towels in the kitchen and a lovely woman cleaned dishes in the sink. Beyond the back door were plastic washing containers where all the clothing was cleaned and nearby was the injera stove and cooking area. The courtyard was decorated with colorful, drying childrens’ clothes of all sizes and the greenery of the perimeter was thick and beautiful. It truly was a little oasis of comfort among the surroundings of poverty and despair.
The next few hours were amazing. Helen fell deep into my arms, and as I rocked her she peacefully slumbered. Her skin, lips and eyes were too perfect. She was a little angel we had prayed for. Perhaps, this would be the beginning of our closeness. Perhaps we will always be connected. Perhaps she would always be “safe” and truly her name would be become HAVEN; God’s protection reigning and conquering all our fears. And as for our little boy, Tommy spent time feeding and rocking him. Never did he seem upset or impatient. He was attentive and joyful. Often he smiled and occasionally giggled. A full, happy and healthy baby we prayed for. He was a symbol of God’s goodness despite the world’s failures and our inadequacies. He truly deserved the name TRIUMPH. He was a way to show how God conquers and restores despite sin, pain, and loss.
Our court appointment that afternoon was the most simple but profound moment. A few questions we answered without hesitation. “Do you know this is forever and cannot be undone?” the judge asked us. “Yes!” we answered emphatically. And then, she congratulated us declaring the adoption finalized.
And so the day continued in celebration with an exciting, musical cultural dinner with dancing and communal eating. Honey wine we’d rather forget, but a coffee ceremony we’ll always remember. We were soon to be a forever family.