Ethiopia Days 1 and 2

Monday, December 14, 2015

Our first day was taken completely by air travel. We took off from LAX airport at approximately 12:30am on Friday and landed in Addis Ababa at 6:00am on Saturday.  With the time difference it ended up being about 17 hours of straight plane time. The Lord graced us with the gift of a partially full plane so we were at times able to lay across entire rows of seats and get some sleep.

The boys did remarkably well. It wasn’t until we hit the Visa desk in Addis Ababa Bole International Airport that Parker really started to lose it. Parker’s one of those kids that acts out when he’s exhausted, so it was about 45 minutes into our Africa experience when I started to wonder if we did the right thing bringing him along.

Our guide was late picking us up from the airport so it gave me a chance to look around and gather my first impressions of the county. First off, the Ethiopian people are beautiful. Absolutely stunning. Smaller in stature most of them are slim with a lighter complexion, dark hair and big brown eyes. The men and the women are all well dressed. Even when we got into the poorer section so the city I noticed how careful people are with their physical appearance. While many do wear sandals on the dusty streets it’s not uncommon to see them stop to wash their feet or if they are wearing shoes pause to have them shined.

Once we connected with our guide he shuttled us into a twelve passenger van to take us to our guest house. The ten minute drive over left a huge impression on our Landon. Driving is absolute chaos, we saw herds of goats in the middle of the city for sale at Saturday market, poverty is everywhere, as well as people milling about all over the place. There are tin sheds next to concrete buildings, bags of coal being hawked on corners and old men with bundles of grass on their heads as they charge through the streets. It’s absolutely fascinating and humbling and inspiring all at the same time.

Our guest house is safe and comfortable and perfect for our family with a large living area and kitchenette. We were given only an hour and a half before being whisked off to meet our daughter.

Minutes before climbing into the van to go see Baby Girl Parker started really losing it. Poor kid was just exhausted. RJ and I gathered the kids to our sides, laid hands on them asking the Lord for his strength and provision for them as well as for ourselves.

The Lord gave us a miracle and Parker not only did exceptionally well through meeting his sister but he managed to go out to lunch with our group (we are travelling this week with another family meeting their baby boy) and out to coffee before passing out in the van. Thankfully he was able to continue to sleep during our second visit to see Sister later that day.

The home where our daughter currently lives is called the Transition Home. While not fancy it is clearly a very warm environment where the kids are well taken care of. Our guide, Champ, asked us to stand outside the front door of the home and wait for a nanny to bring out our daughter. First, we watched the other family meet their son. It was such a privilege to watch. Then our turn finally came. After five years of waiting for this moment, and 9 months of waiting specifically for our Norah, the Lord’s faithfulness was manifest.

I knew to expect her to by shy and apprehensive based on her monthly update reports and observations from other families who had visited. She did better than I anticipated. At first we just looked at each other but after a moment she began to cry. I rubbed her back and murmured that “I understood” while being mesmerized by her big brown eyes and full lips. She is the most beautiful baby girl I’ve ever seen.

It is hard to put into words the feeling of seeing your child the first time at the age of 15 months and living in a very foreign country. Because of the long wait it felt somewhat surreal. I had imagined it so many times and in most ways it was exactly as I imagined it to be - while still being completely different. I’ve loved her for 9 months already and that love just intensified holding her and feeling her and smelling her. Yet, I don’t know her. I don’t know her personality or her quirks or likes or dislikes the way her nannies do. I don’t know her favorite food or unique cry and another woman does. And she doesn’t know me at all. She has no connection to me whatsoever. I’m learning that there is even more gospel in adoption than I ever knew. Norah can not love me back at all right now but I still love her…a love Christ gave me for her. And this is how He feels about me. Love without anything in return. Love without conditions. We love Him because He first loved us.

She cried when I reached out to grab her but quieted down relatively quickly. RJ and I carried her to the porch with her brothers and she actually sat quietly on my lap for quite a while watching Landon and Parker play. The quiet only lasted a short bit however before she started crying again. From that point on she was very content being held but would burst into tears whenever she made eye contact with RJ or I. She’s was particularly frightened of RJ. She allowed me to feed her half of her bowl of lunch before deeming it too much face-to-face time for comfort and burst into tears refusing another bite. Thankfully a nanny came to her rescue and fed her while she sat in my lap safely facing away from me.

I know how scared she must feel.  My heart just breaks for her.  I am so glad to see how attached she is to her loving nannies. It means that she will attached much easier to RJ and I. However, it’s a horrible feeling asking her to say good-bye to those she loves. I know it is best for her but as a mother it is so hard to watch her hurt. I am thankful the Lord has given me eyes and a heart to see and understand what we are asking of her. She is going to experience a huge loss when we take her into our custody in a few days.  Of course, having a forever family is best in the long run but meanwhile she is leaving all she knows. Adoption is beautiful but it is hard. There is no adoption without there first being loss.

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