Wow! Where do I begin. Our time in Ethiopia… well it was a lot of things. When we left home we looked at it as an adventure with no expectations. The thought of meeting our three children blew my mind- and the thought of beginning the fragile stages of attaching with each of them seemed challenging yet exciting. So, we went in overjoyed- but like I said with no expectations. We knew The Lord had lead us here and those were our babes, so no matter their reaction to us- we were going to choose love. I had no intention of having this magical, head over heals “immediately smitten” sort of feeling the moment our eyes met… I had no idea what this would, should or could feel like. Going into it, to be honest I just couldn’t wait to see them, and fall in love with who they were over time… But looking back at the photos of our first meeting I have a permanent “mile-wide” smile, so I guess that says a little something about how joyful it was for me!!
I’m going to try and be as honest as possible about our time in country. As joyful as it was, at moments it was also really tough. Like have to catch my breath… feelings of deep- honest hurt, almost to the point of physical pain. Adoption is always rooted in loss, in grief, in circumstances many of us just want to avoid. But it’s the reality, and when we decided to embark on this journey we knew the Lord would have to lead us STRAIGHT into pain to then find joy and see hearts begin to heal. There were moments i’ll admit, I felt like we were in the trenches, seeing for ourselves the specifics of our children’s heartache- and it hurt. It was also in those moments where we felt His strength to rise up and carry on.
“Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name… weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:4-5
So- back to the journey. Our flight was scheduled to leave from Atlanta at 5:30 am Friday morning, which means we got about 2.5 hours of sleep the night before. It ended up being delayed, so the layover we thought we’d have in Washington Dulles, we ended up spending in Atlanta waiting for departure. When we arrived in DC we were excited to see another family from our agency. They were on their second trip traveling to bring their son home. When we finally arrived in Ethiopia (after 13hours on that leg of the trip) they helped us navigate through customs and baggage claim.
We then boarded the bus to head to Hannah’s Hope at about 9 am (Ethiopian time) and learned that almost immediately we were going to meet our children. Like, virtually right away. We have been traveling for about 24 hours- and it was time to hit the ground running! My brain was foggy, but I knew I wanted to soak in every minute of this… I took a very drizzly shower (at least it was warm!) and we were off.
We sat down to complete a little paperwork and then walked over to the nursery where baby girl was staying. She was so precious, extra talkative and wouldn’t take her eyes off of us! It was absolutely surreal. We’d been starring at the few referral photos we had of them for a few weeks, and there she was in person! We soaked up a few minutes together and then headed off to meet the boys.
We walked up to the outdoor playroom they were in with other children their age and slowly both boys walked to over to us. The oldest was smiling, the three year old seemed a little more hesitant. I just hugged and hugged them. Mark later told me I was hogging them and didn’t give him room to get in there good… my bad- sorry love! I guess I was smitten after-all.
Not even an hour after we met our children in person I experienced the first of that pain I was talking about. I saw our oldest overcome with intense sadness and I knew exactly what about, and it hurt. I wanted so bad to scoop him up and make it all better… but to him, I didn’t have that power yet… he didn’t know to trust me. It makes me think of how often the Lord sees our tears, and our hurt and wants to be our comforter, but we push away, we refuse to fall into His embrace, and allow Him to do what only He can. Father help me to fall more in love with You every step of this process, to trust you more, to know that these have always been Your children- long before they were mine and that You are holding their hearts.
This will be slow, this will hurt, but this will be beautiful.
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.” 1 John 3:1-3