Saturday, November 13, 2010

"They are your children"

The last week has been the most amazing experience of my life. Kathy and I left for Addis Abbaba, Ethiopia on Saturday, November 6. We arrived to the Grace Guest House on the evening of November 7.
Early in the afternoon of November 8 I met Joseph and Jacob. They were everything I imagined. Joseph has a calm, quiet, loving personality. He is a protector of his brother. Jacob is very strong-willed and very cautious in showing his true self. As we left Miskaye orphanage Joseph told us that his feet hurt. His shoes were about two sizes too small, so at our next stop, an orphanage to pick up a little boy for a Phillip and Gina Payne (another CCI family from Franklin), Joseph was given another pair of shoes and some lunch. Both boys slept on the ride back to the Guest House. Joseph woke happy and accepting of the circumstances of his new life. Jacob remained quiet throughout the first day. I saw quickly that Joseph is quite the athlete as he kicked anad threw ball all afternoon. He was thrilled with a pair of shoes that fit his feet and acted as though I had given him a brick of gold when he also got new underwear. Jacob accepted his meals but remained quiet throughout the day. Both boys slept soundly until the call to worship early the next morning.
November 9 Jacob awoke a new child. The first time he was up during the night he was on his knees. The second time he was standing. He quickly showed off his ability to crawl and is almost walking. Both boys played well, napped, and ate great. Until the night that is. I'm still not sure if Jacob sensed my apprehension over the pending court appearance or if his stomach was upset from the change in formula, but he cried most of the night.
November 10 both boys were again happy and playful. I headed to court late morning leaving Kathy in charge. Apparently Joseph had quite a come apart when I left asking where his mama had gone. With the help of an interpreter it was explained what was happening. He begged to not return to the orphanage, agreed to get on an airplane "just one time," and he, Jacob, and Kathy went to the room to cry together and look for distraction.
I sat in the court room knowing that their mother was present. As I scanned the sea of faces I quickly found her. Jacob looks just like her! After her appearance she agreed to meet with me. Though few words were spoken (and none with an interpreter) I hope that she understood my love and gratitude for these two little ones. I was called in to see the judge soon after. There were a few brief questions followed by a period of silence and then those long awaited words..."they are your children." I practically ran from the room and could not wait to return to tell Kathy and the boys.
The afternoon was hectic as we packed for our return trip. Joseph watched anxiously as we filled our luggage. When we went outside to await our ride he climbed in my lap and went to sleep. Jacob sat quietly with Kathy. Joseph slept the entire ride back to Miskaye for which I am grateful. There were many tears as we left these boys in the care of those who obviously care deeply for them. I left them with photo albums and toys and a promise to return as soon as possible. I only hope that someone is telling them daily that I am coming back. Our afternoon was spent shopping before returning to the airport. There are many stories to share another time.
Kathy and I arrived back in Nashville on November 11 exhausted emotionally and physically. I pray now for a quick turnaround as paperwork arrives to the Embassy. My prayer is for a homecoming prior to Christmas. I spend each day watching videos and looking at pictures praying for the moment when Joseph and Jacob are again in my arms.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Ethiopia bound

As I sit here on the eve of my first journey to Ethiopia I am filled with every emotion known to man. I am overjoyed, excited, scared...perhaps a bit what lies ahead. In just two short days I will come face to face with two boys born to another mother but ordained by God to be my sons. How do you possibly prepare for that? I have always been a bit of a control freak and have never felt more of a sense of loss of control through this entire experience. Let go and let God...a tough one for this type A personality.
I liken this experience to the hours of labor before giving birth to Kathy, Amy, and David. When these three were born I had no idea what was in front of me. I didn't even know their sex, much less the personalities that were coming my way. This time I can confidently say "it's a boy, well two!" and look forward to learning about them as they do me.
I pray for safety for Kathy and myself. See, we both have health issues and she had a really bad experience on her last flight (blew an ACL). I am recovering from hives resulting from an antibiotic. She is fighting a sinus infection. Then there is the whole latex allergy thing that scares me to death. I saw pictures of an Ethiopian ICU today and I sure do not want to experience any part of a hospital. So, I pray. I pray for the pilots who guide the planes. I pray for these two boys that they may somehow accept me as their Mama. Most of all I pray for their mother who will appear in court on the same day I do. She is perhaps the most courageous woman I will never know as she surrenders her children to a life she cannot offer. I can't even begin to imagine the emotions she must be experiencing even at this moment.I pray that I pass court the first date and that the time from court to embassy is short. Joseph and Jacob, as I prepare for this journey I am filled with love and I am filled with awe and wonder and I thank God for bringing me to the wildest adventure of my life.