Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
I had such hopes for bringing him home by Mother's Day and now that looks more and more like it's not going to happen. We lost our first baby on April 14th, 2009 and our third April 16th of the following year. Our second, we lost on May 6th of 2009. Needless to say, this time of year is REALLY difficult. I wanted to finally have some good memories to fill the deep gash that the pain of the past has caused. Instead, it looks like I'll be spending another Mother's Day without my child. Please, oh please, God bring our son home to us.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Our driver arrived, and we traveled the short distance to the Holt office in Addis. We had a brief orientation, where Mesurak (one of the women that work at the Holt office) told us what to expect during court. We were surprised to learn that we would all be going into the room with the judge together. That she would ask us a few short questions, and we were expected to answer either "yes" or "no" in unison. And that after about 5 minutes of questioning, we would leave either having "passed" or "not passed"- this just means that one of the documents needed to pass was not present, so another day would be assigned as a follow-up court date. After Mesurak spoke, our lawyer spoke for a bit and just reassured us that everything would be fine and not to worry. Yeah, right! When he was finished, we were ushered upstairs to look over our files and our child's paperwork.One of these files is Aidan's (photo borrowed from another blog)! As we were looking over the paperwork, we came across a photo of a young woman. With shock, we realized we were looking at Aidan's birth mother! It struck us immediately how much he looks like her. She's beautiful and definitely passed her big eyes, flawless skin and perfect nose onto him. We stared at her for several moments. I can't tell you how surreal it felt to finally have a face for this woman that we share SO much with...the woman who gave birth to our son, the woman that loved him first. Words can never explain what we felt looking at her face.
With my stomach nearly in my mouth, we boarded the van that would take us to the courthouse. We climbed four flights of stairs and walked down a long hallway to a medium-sized room with a large row of windows.
Looking around, I instantly saw that we were in the company of both Ethiopians and foreigners. I had read on someone's blog that our children's birth families were present in the room waiting for their court appointment too. I was almost afraid to look around, for fear that I would see her. But I couldn't NOT look around, because I wanted to see her- so many mixed emotions. I recognized almost immediately another couple's birth father and subtly pointed it out to them. In the same breath as I was saying that I didn't see Aidan's birth mother yet, she walked through the door. My heart stopped. For an hour we sat there, trying not to look at her, but finding it impossible not to. Liam and I both felt a strong connection to her and I had to stop myself from flying across the room and giving her a huge hug. Can you imagine? We were so elated by the whole process of finally becoming legal parents to our son, yet so careful to hide those emotions, because it was a very difficult day for the birth families. Liam and I kept looking over at Aidan's birth mom and we'd see her glancing around the room, wondering, I'm sure who we were. I have NEVER been so nervous in all of my life. I kept asking Liam, "what if she doesn't like us?" "What if she looks at us and immediately thinks 'oh, I hope it's not them'". I wanted her to like us and kept praying that she would.
The birth families were called to the back room where the judge was waiting. They were in there about 5 minutes and then came out. Afterwards, they quickly left the room and then it was our turn.
We each filed into the room. The judge was in the front at her desk, along with her assistant. There was another desk in the middle of the room and then a row of chairs in an L shape in the back of the room. Don't even try to picture it, it's NOTHING like what I imagined from tv shows of our courtrooms. The judge asked for our passports and then asked a series of questions. We all answered "yes" or "no". She seemed particularly interested in one of the families that had adopted previously from Ethiopia. After about 5 minutes, she called out Aidan's Ethiopian name along with another child's. "You have passed, the child is your's", she said. Liam and I had been holding our breath, looked at each other, and started crying and hugging each other. We instantly realized, however, that the other two families in attendance had not passed, so we composed ourselves quickly. There was one paper missing from their files, but they were reassured that it would be there within a couple of days. Afterwards, we all shoveled out of the room and left to go to lunch.
The restaurant that Mulu took us to was called Top View. I've since looked it up on the list of restaurants in Addis and it was listed under "splurge". It was very reasonable, though, in price and the food was amazing. Liam had a traditional Ethiopian meal and I had, wait for it, PASTA! Below you'll find why the restaurant got it's name. It's up on a mountain and has the most breathtaking view of the city.
After lunch, we piled back into the van and went back to the Holt office for the birth parent meeting. I'm not going to say too much about that, because, well honestly, it's not our story to share. It's Aidan and his birth mother's story, and really the only thing that we can offer her (besides promising to love her son with all of our hearts) is privacy. I will say that meeting her was the most incredible experience of my life. She is beautiful and warm and funny. Through tears, we thanked her for the gift of her child, and she thanked us for giving him a home. We told her that he looked just like her, which made her smile, and when I offered her a photo album of all of the pictures that we had received of him, she started to laugh and kissed his picture over and over again. We only spoke for about 30 minutes, took some pictures for Aidan later on, and then hugged each other and said good-bye. I will never understand the deep sacrifice that she has made to give her child a chance at a better life. I only hope that one day Aidan will meet this remarkable woman that gave birth to him. She is part of our family now, and I have nothing but love and admiration in my heart for her. Each night before bed, I say her name and wonder what she's doing and hope for her a lifetime of happiness and love.
Once we left the Holt office, we did a bit of shopping at the market. We bought some things for Aidan's nursery. We had to rush, because we had very little time. While we were there, we were approached by several people begging. One woman held her daughter up to me and motioned that she was hungry. I've never felt so powerless in my life. What do you say to a woman that is holding her child out to you and begging you to help her? It's heart wrenching.
We went back to the Guesthouse and started to pack for our plane ride home. We had our last meal before leaving. You guessed it, PASTA (macaroni and cheese). Liam had a Middle Eastern meal- love how adventurous my hubby is.
We arrived at the airport about two hours early. When we got there, we were again greeted by people begging for money. One woman had a baby younger than Aidan, held her up to me, and said in broken English, "Save her, she's hungry". Africa will inspire you and break your heart all at the same time. We have left as different people. People more aware of the suffering of others, and our responsibility as humans to try to aide the Least of These as much as God will allow us to.
There has been TONS of startling news of changes with both MOWCYA and the United States Embassy. While the news that was circulating about changes in the daily case load that MOWCYA is prepared to handle has SO FAR not come to fuition, we are smack dab in the middle of the changes that our embassy is proposing. This, of course, means possible HUGE delays for us.
We were within a month or two of bringing Aidan home when we got an email from our adoption agency on Friday that told us about the changes and which families will be affected. I think we've whethered every change possible in the last year with the Ethiopian program. I was beginning to believe that we could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, when...WHAM! Here we go again.
I'm purposely being a bit vague about the changes, because one, we were asked by our agency not to post this information on a blog or on Facebook, and two, it deals with Aidan's story, so it is his to share when and if he chooses to one day.
Right now, the information that I can share with you is that the Ethiopian government and our embassy are at a crossroads on some paperwork that the embassy is requesting. Until they come to a compromise, our case and MANY others will not be submitted to the embassy for permission to bring Aidan home. Good news, Aidan is legally our son. Bad news, we can't bring him home yet.
Please pray for both sides to reach a quick solution and that all parties involved will open their ears and hearts so that a compromise will be made. We ask for God speed in reaching a compromise quickly, so that we can return to Ethiopia soon and bring our son home. I am choosing to put faith in God and trust in His perfect understanding of the situation. I know that all sides, including us, just want to make sure that each child being adopted is done so in an ethical, legal manner. We know that Aidan will come home in God's timing. We're praying that that timing is soon. Thanks everyone.
Friday, March 18, 2011
Holt did an exceptional job of putting us up at very nice hotels. Both the Jemimah Guesthouse and Awassa Hotel were lovely to stay at and VERY clean. The beds were a bit hard, but that's just the difference in cultures and preferences. The two years that Liam and I lived in Korea we got used to hard beds. The staff at both hotels were wonderful at trying to prepare us western style food if requested and were so friendly. If you're ever planning a trip to Ethiopia, I highly recommend both places.
Here's a few photos of the outside of Awassa Hotel. I forgot to take any of the room.
Mulu, Liam and I. Mulu is an amazing social worker and doing such wonderful things in and for his country and people. It's so inspirational being among people that care so much for the poor and destitute, especially when they are children.
We had agreed to meet around 7am again (gotta love early mornings) for breakfast. Getting ready that morning was a bit more tricky as the electricity kept going out and I didn't have the right converter for my hairdryer. Oh well.
We ate again at the hotel restaurant. I had the BEST egg sandwich and tried a mocciato for the first time. It was pretty good, but again, I'm not much of a coffeee drinker so Liam finished it for me. Here's a picture that Liam took of Mulu and I at breakfast. Notice all of the bottled water. :)
After breakfast, we boarded the van for the 5 hour drive back to Addis. Before we left Awassa though, we stopped off at Awassa Lake and resort and took some pictures. While we were there we found a cute gift shop, so Liam and I purchased our first suveniers of the trip; a traditional Ethiopian guitar and drum for Aidan and a picture of various Ethiopian instruments. At the bottom, it reads "remembering" in Amharic and then at the top it reads "Ethiopia"...Remembering Ethiopia. We thought that would be poinant for Aidan's room.
And finally, Liam with some American military guys that are stationed at the Awassa resort in Ethiopia. Leave it to Liam to go as far away as Ethiopia and still find fellow soldiers.
A picture of the oldest church in Awassa, though the name of it escapes me at the moment.
Taxis were everywhere. Can you see the steeple of the church in the background?
Our friends that joined us on the trip had children from the Wolyta (or Wolaita) tribe.
Throughout Awassa were the largest birds that I have ever seen in my life. They were the stuff of children's nightmares really. One swooped down near our van and I pictured a scene from The Wizard of Oz when the flying monkeys took off with Dorothy. They resembled dinosaurs. I kid you not. Too bad that we only got them perched in a tree and not in full flight. I know they may look like ordinary cranes, but I've seen cranes, and these were not! Maybe prehistoric cranes!!!!
And finally some pictures of our journey back to Addis. The landscape is breathtaking at times and unfortunately, no picture can do justice to it. I will cherish my time in Ethiopia with its history, landscape and wonderful people as long as I live. I'm so excited that we'll be back there in a couple of months!
We arrived back in Addis and the Jemimah Guesthouse at around 3 or 4 pm. Liam and I were pretty exhausted, so we took a 3 hour nap and then went out to eat with the Andersons at a traditional Ethiopian restaurant. It was so yummy!
At first, we were a bit disappointed, because the restaurant was pretty empty when we arrived around 6:30. I think Ethiopians eat later than we do, because around 7-7:30 everyone started to arrive. Before long, the restaurant was full.
They had a musical group that was playing traditional Ethiopian music and then several dancers that danced the different dances of the tribes throughout Ethiopia. It was such a wonderful experience.
While we were there, it started to rain. Our driver came to get us and the staff at the hotel held umbrellas over our heads until we made it into our vehicle. Talk about royal treatment. I think I'm going to start requesting that at every restaurant that I go to from now on. :)
We had a busy day ahead of us the next day with the Holt orientation, court, our birth parent meeting and shopping. Not to mention, our airline flight at 11pm. I'll write more about the whirlwind of March 8th in my next post...