Archive - April 2012

Our week in Ethiopia: Liam’s Gotcha Week
One Thousand Thanks
Ah. 5 in the picture.
“Gotcha” Day

Our week in Ethiopia: Liam’s Gotcha Week

After picking Liam up from the orphanage we took the bumpy van ride back to the hotel where we would spend the week trapped hanging out in the hotel. Our agency prefers that we stay in and work on bonding with our kiddos rather than gallivanting all over Ethiopia. It’s probably a very good rule to follow. So we followed it. I love Ethiopia, but being cooped up in a hotel room in Ethiopia just isn’t the same. We were SO ready to get home. However, there were still days to wait, an embassy appointment ahead and a very long plane ride looming in the distance.

Mom and I outside the gates of Hannah’s Hope

First Van ride together!

Once we arrived at the hotel I quickly worked on getting reacquainted with my little guy. I was dying to study every little finger and toe. To snuggle and kiss his cute little cheeks. He was probably totally overwhelmed by me but he was taking everything so well. Within an hour or so he was very at ease. Smiling and babbling like I had never left the first time. This made my heart sing. I had worried myself to pieces thinking he would initially reject me. Thankfully this was not, and has not been the case for us. We have been incredibly fortunate. Liam was quite sick during the week we spent in Ethiopia. He was extremely congested and could not lay on his back for any period of time without going into coughing fits and vomiting. He also had a very itchy rash on his face that he scratched continuously. I was very nervous and couldn’t wait to get him to the pediatrician. His little lungs were just so full of mucus and fluid and it also seemed that he could possibly have an ear infection on top of everything. My children have been sick before, but I’ve never felt this anxious before. He remained in good spirits, however, and I could tell he was improving simply from having good one on one attention from momma.

The sleeping wasn’t great. But it wasn’t terrible. Honestly, I’m not sure I slept at all. But he did, so that definitely made things go much more smoothly. We went to breakfast in the lobby everyday and enjoyed our delicious Ethiopian coffee. The hotel restaurant was a bit busier in the evenings so we opted to order our food and eat it in the room. I think we ate Tilapia at least three times. Glass bottle Pepsi and Coke Light were also staples of our diet.

Embassy day went smoothly and oddly enough the guy who did our Exit interview used to date a girl from our little town, Hendersonville TN. Small World. We did go on one Taxi ride and Mom did well. I give her serious props for how she conducted herself on her first trip to Ethiopia/Africa. The first few moments in the taxi were a little intense for her, see picture below, but in the end she and our driver Solomon were BFFs.

After embassy day we had to wait 48 hours before heading home. On the morning of the last 12 hours we received a package with Liam’s passport and our immigration items. BEST PACKAGE EVER. It was almost time to go home. We spent the last day packing and drinking copious amounts of coffee. Did I mention we didn’t sleep? I think we may have gotten a total of 12 hours the entire week. We were really running on empty, but it helps when you have a smiley little guy to brighten things up. The trip home? That it yet to come.

One Thousand Thanks

A few weeks ago I tried to create a blog post with every name of every person who has helped us in some way. Donated stuff for our 7 yard sales, donated money, donated time, cooked a meal, watched a kid, prayed, spread the word, bought our stuff, held our hands…

Like I said, I tried. It literally became impossible. I had hundreds of names. And with every blink of the eye one more name came to mind. That friends, is how you bring a child home. When there are too many names, too many acts of kindness, too many acts of obedience. So many that eventually everything comes together and a miracle happens. A family has a child and a child has a family. So thank you to all of you. More than we can even figure out how to say. People always say things like “words aren’t enough.” Well, people say that because it’s true. You were used in a great way, and we pray that God blesses you as He has blessed us.

Ah. 5 in the picture.

“Gotcha” Day

On March 19th, 2012 I arrived in Ethiopia at approximately 7am.

A driver from the hotel picked us up, Mom went with me, and we headed back to the familiar Riviera Hotel. Wass, from Hannah’s Hope, would be on his way to get us in a couple of hours. Talk about a long two hours! Mom and I got to work. We set out all the baby gear, bottles, formula, wipes, diapers and Clorox wiped the surfaces. I’m not usually a germ-a phobic, BUT I didn’t want my baby getting any new viruses for the plane trip home. He was already feeling pretty crummy. That task took all of 30 minutes. So then we just sat around. I entertained myself by watching Mom adjust to being in Ethiopia for the first time. In Africa for the first time. Lots of firsts.

THEN! He was there. Wass was early! We charged down armed with cameras and iphones to document THE moment when I would reunite with my son! I’m not a crier. So I was hoping I would at least have one beautiful tear. One that would trickle down the right side of my face as I caught a glimpse of my son. That’s my good side you know… Little did I know MY moment was going to be a bit different than I had planned.

We bumped along the road up to Hannah’s Hope and I sucked in my breath as I saw those big black gates. Knowing my son was waiting right behind them. I very patiently waited and fought the urge to rip open the van door and scale the gate myself. Seriously, the anticipation felt unending! Very dramatic, I know.

Wass honked the horn and the person-sized part of the gate was opened. We filed out of the van with the Smith family, who were also there on second trip, and made our way into the courtyard of the orphanage. And there he was. Right there! His caregiver was holding him. All of the sudden I felt really out of place. Weird. I don’t know how to describe it but I was fairly slow as I made my way over to Liam Alula. My weird feeling proved to be on track. At the site of me Liam’s caregiver began to tear up. She did not hand him to me as I reached out for him. Talk about awkward. At first I was like “woman, are you kidding me!” Not out loud of course! But I was certainly thinking it! And then I began to cry. For her. Not me. For her and for Ethiopia. For loss. She loved him. She cared for him for months, and as she turned her back to me, with my child in her hands, all I could do was pray for her sweet heart and hurt for her. This went on for several minutes. Me feeling like a not-so-great person and her trying to grieve and figure out how to relinquish him to me. Then I remembered something! I had taken pictures of them together on my first visit. I had those pictures in my back pack to give to her! Yes! I pulled them out and she turned to me and gave me my son. I stayed with her, trying to comfort her but we don’t speak the same language. I just hugged her and rubbed her arm and gave her the pictures. A staff member who could translate finally came over and allowed me to speak to her. To tell her how much I loved this child. How God loves him, how we have waited and how we have dreams for him to grown strong and healthy. She responded with tears in her eyes that these were her dreams too and we held hands over this baby boy we both love. I will never get to meet any of Liam’s biological family. They were never in the picture. We will never know anything about them. That has been sad for me in some ways. I’ve wondered who I will tell him about. Well. I will tell him about his sweet, loving caregiver from Hannah’s Hope. She knew how to love him well while we waited for him.

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