March 28, 2011
Well. I guess I didn’t know what a whirlwind was until today happened. I did get 2 hours of sleep last night on the plane and I have stayed up all day (we landed at 9am Ethiopia time) so I can get on the right sleep schedule. It is now 5:30pm local time and so I’m probably bordering on slap-happy, exhausted and who knows what else. The writing may (will) be sloppy but I want to get everything down that happened today before I forget.
Matt only got 2 30 minute naps on the plane, but he made it ok.
The airport was pretty sedate, not loud and crazy.
We stood in line for about 20-30 minutes to get our visas, then changed some money, then went through customs, got our bags, sent them through an X-ray machine and walked out to some guys holding up a sign that said America World Adoption. Yea! Take care of us please.
David is our driver and Yonas, previously a geography teacher, is our guide. Both are great guys.
The moment we walked out of the airport and to their van, Duni, the lady who coordinates court and other stuff I guess, called Yonas’ cell and asked to speak to me.
From here on, things moved very quickly. No time for pictures.
She said “I would like you to come to court now. Our court date was set for today. We will appear and tell the judge we want you to meet Selamawit first and then we will come back later and you can give your consent to adopt.” “Oh, wow! I thought this was on Wednesday. Ok. Do we need to say anything to the judge or what?” “No I will probably do all the talking.”
Oh my. We don’t look very good. No one has prepped us for anything. I guess it will be ok. We drive to an old government building, walk up 3 flights of steps and into a small room stuffed with probably 75-100 people at least. 99% black of course. Not sure why they were there. Not adoption, I don’t think. We meet Duni, a very beautiful Ethiopian woman probably about 30. By this point I need some water. Elevation is 7700ft. It’s hot and we just walked up all those steps and we haven’t slept. David goes to find water bottles.
We meet an American lady there standing with Duni who came to court last December. She was supposed to get her child in January, but they lost her file. Nothing was happening so she finally just flew over here to take matters into her own hands. We are praying they find her file and she gets her baby. Her name is Maureen. One of those nightmare situations.
Anyway, we are all just standing there greeting each other and then Duni told us how she thought it would go with the judge. She would probably do all the talking. I asked her about the 2 children thing and just wanted everyone to know we could do that if they wanted us to. She was somewhat negative about it and gave the standard line of ‘only 2 if they are siblings or one is over 5 and we are only approved for 0-3.’ Ok. That’s fine. God’s got this.
Then she said “Oh and the birth mother is here and you can meet her after we talk to the judge. What? Oh my goodness. She is here? In the judge’s chambers? Yes. I knew that might be a possibility, but did not know at all for sure and now? Today? Ok. We can do this. I say “Yes, of course. I want to do whatever she wants.” She does want to meet us.
A few moments later Duni is called in and says she will see what’s up and then call us in. Ok. She comes out 5 minutes later and says the judge doesn’t need to see us today. We can come back Tuesday or Wednesday, whenever we are ready. I say “Is the mother in there?” “Yes, she just relinquished her rights.” Oh my goodness. “Do we talk to her here?” Duni says “No. At the Guest House.” Right then 2 men and a young lady walk out. She is crying. I know that must be her. They walk right past us through the crowd to sit down, right as we are walking out. I don’t want to stare. She doesn’t know me yet. We walk quickly out of the room and down the stairs. I can’t hold the tears back as I’m walking behind Yonas down the stairs and to the van. And damn I’m trying.
We get into the van and Maureen gets in too. She will come back this afternoon to continue her pursuit at the courthouse. She hears the guys talking about how they will bring the birth mother to our guest house about 30 minutes after we get checked in. We will sit in the lobby at a table and Yonas will translate. Maureen says she spoke to her birth mother too. I asked what it was like and we both burst into tears. She said “It’s just a mom thing. It has to happen for completion.” Yes. I get it.
We arrive at the guest house, get checked in and have to walk up ANOTHER 3 flights of stairs. Oh my again. Yonas says he will come get us in 1/2 hour. I’m thinking, “Ok, I know this will be me talking to her, not Matt. What will I say? What will I ask? Will she be ok? Matt starts to get in the shower and 5 minutes after we had walked in the door they call and tell us to come down stairs. She is here. He doesn’t get in the shower.
Good gracious. Ok, lets get the ipad and iphone with family pictures to show her. I need paper and pencil and a bandana for the tears. We walk downstairs into the empty lobby except for the driver and the front desk people. She is sitting on the couch. She is small, meek, pretty and teary. Her hair in cornrows and pulled back. I go up to her and give her a hug and ask her if she is ok. She can’t understand me, but oh well. Yonas tells us to come to the table and it will be easier. We have water and get her a coke. Matt asks if it is ok to videotape our conversation and she says yes.
I got ahold of her hand and held it the entire 30 minutes or so that we talked. I started to initiate the conversation. I knew what I wanted to start with. And I couldn’t. The tears just flooded and I couldn’t get the words out. Finally, after a minute or 2 (it seemed like a long time) I stopped them with every bit of will power I could muster and told her “You. are. very. brave.” Yonas translates. “We will take very, very good care of Selamawit.” Translation.
From this point on it all starts to meld together. I asked her if she believed in God. Yes she does. Then I told her something about how God would be with her. He would take care of her and bless her. And some other things like that. Then I asked what questions she had of us. Her main question was would we treat Selamawit the same as our other children. Oh my yes. I explained how we believed and taught our children that God brings children in 2 ways. Birth and Adoption. Neither is better. They are the same. Equal. We believe that very strongly. She also wanted to make sure she would be educated. You bet. We talked of other details about her background and family.
Then I asked if she would like to see pictures of our family. She did. I showed her all of the children. Slowly told her each name and age and how excited they were to meet Selamawit. I showed her a picture of the 2 grandmothers.
At the end I asked her if I could pray with her and she agreed. She is an Orthodox Christian. And that was the end. She seemed much happier and mostly, settled. I can’t imagine what she has gone through.
We all got up. We both hugged her and said goodbye. Whew! I will never forget that.
Yonas said in 30 minutes we go to lunch and then to the transition home (the orphanage) to meet Selamawit.
We must go to bed now. I will write tomorrow about seeing Selamawit. It’s all good.
Love and Peace,