Monday, September 28, 2009

Day 3 - Part II

Day 3 (September 14th) Part II

…As we enter the orphanage, Charlie begins to tap my leg excitedly saying “there they are, there they are!” He didn’t need to say a thing. I had already spotted them. I was afraid that maybe I wouldn’t recognize them but one glimpse was all it took. There were our babies standing nervously next to a nanny on the front steps of the orphanage…

I am trying not to cry…I know the tears will scare the babies. But how do I keep from crying? I have longed for this moment for 17 months and 18 days. As Hanock parks, the nights I spent lying prostrate on their bedroom floor crying and praying for them to come home came flooding into my mind. I can’t take my eyes off them…time seems to stand still as we wait for Hanock to open the van door…breathe Kelli breathe…hold back your tears…don’t let them fall down your cheek.

Isaac is being held by what I thought was a Nanny but later learned it is Abdissa’s (our POA) wife. He is quiet, somewhat sullen and wearing an outfit that looks way too small for him. Jocelyn is standing timidly next to Abdissa’s wife while fidgeting with her pant leg. Her hair has been braided and she is wearing a pink outfit that is way too big for her. As we get out of the van, we are handed two sets of a dozen roses one wrapped with a pale blue ribbon and the other with a pale pink ribbon. It was a nice gesture but I immediately handed them to my mom. Who can think about t roses when you are meeting your children for the first time?

I walk quietly over to them wiping the tears from my face trying desperately not to cry. Charlie and I call them by their Amharic names (Mechot and Tezerash). Abdissa’s wife encourages them to go to us but Jocelyn refuses and begins to get upset and reaches for her. The lady takes Isaac and puts him in my arms. He comes to me but it is obvious that it would not be his first choice. He allows me to kiss him but there is no response in him. It comes very apparent to us that he copes with change by becoming lethargic, accepting, and quiet.

They bring us inside the orphanage to show us around. The main floor is obviously the area where they are fed and maybe play? The two large rooms are very simple, plain with no real furniture. The one has children eating what I assume to be their lunch. We are ushered upstairs with hand motions since the nannies do not speak English. We are grateful that Hanock comes with us since he speaks very good English. We are ushered through several rooms on the second floor without a lot of understanding as to the meaning. We greet the children in the rooms and continue to follow the people motioning to us. We are brought to the 3rd floor where we are finally led into a room where Isaac and Jocelyn slept. Now it makes sense. I don’t believe they were sure which room was the right one until we came to this one. Our pictures we had sent earlier that year were positioned above Isaac and Jocelyn’s cribs.

After a very brief time in the room we are ushered out of the orphanage and back into the van. I was thankful to be leaving. It was hard to see all the children in the orphanage. I had an overwhelming sense from them that they were all wondering the same thing, “Why didn’t you pick me?” Even now it is very difficult to reflect upon. There is such a great need not just in Ethiopia but in other places too including our very own foster care system. I find that I must remind myself that I am only one person, we are only one family. Besides, there is not a house big enough for the 5 million plus orphans in Ethiopia. To give you a little perspective of 5 million, Addis Ababa (Ethiopia’s capitol) has a population of 5 million people. Los Angeles would have to have 1 million more people in it to equal the orphan population in Ethiopia. Yes, I agree. These facts are mind numbing and overwhelming. But God does not ask us to fix the “big picture.” He is asking us to listen to Him and what He would have each one of us to do. For us, it was adoption. For us, it was adopting from Ethiopia. What God calls us to is as individual as the thumbprint and DNA He has given each and every one of us.

Jocelyn is refusing to go to Charlie or me. Abdissa’s wife sets her carefully on the seat of the van and she instantly begins to cry. I quickly hand Isaac over to Hubby since he didn’t seem to mind who held him. I slid in next to Jocelyn and set her on my lap. Hanock asked if I had candy for her. Candy? She is 20 months old, why would I have candy for her?! Oh, wait I have cereal. Hanock smiles at me nods and motions for me to get it. With every Cheerio I give her she calms a little bit more. The shutters and hiccups from crying become less and less. Isaac is also more than happy to indulge in this delightful snack as well.

We are taken by van to what looks to be a home but it is the Ethiopian office for our agency. Once inside we are taken to the third floor (nothing seems to happen on the 1st floor in this country). On the way up we are greeted by Abdissa. Finally we get to meet the man we signed all of our power over to in Ethiopia. His smile is radiant. The unspeakable joy he has overflows his spirit and exudes itself through every part of his being. He shows my mom how to properly greet with a handshake and 3 kisses on the cheek. He then proceeds to greet each one of us including the babies.

As we begin our ascent to the 3rd floor I am amazed at how different things are here. I mean yes, there is the obvious differences but then there are the small things that fascinate me. Like the fact that there was no hand rail on the winding staircase between the 2nd and 3rd floor. It was a little unnerving to be carrying a baby up smooth tiled steps with nothing between me and the 2nd floor below. I find myself repeating the same thing I had earlier on the drive, “this wouldn’t pass inspection in Washington.” We are taken into a room with couches and a very large round coffee table. We are left there along with another family to bond with our new children. The walls have floral wall paper which is partially covered with pictures of families with their new little ones. There is a table off to the side towards the entrance which is where they serve food. Isaac and Jocelyn settle into our laps with no desire to go anywhere.

Later we are called down to Abdissa’s office to go over the rest of the paperwork needed for tomorrow Embassy appointment. Jocelyn joined us since she got very upset when I tried to leave the 3rd floor room. Abidssa’s office is small and every bookcase is lined with binders. Each binder has the last name of a family from the US with a picture(s) of a child(ren) below it. It brought new appreciation and understanding to the magnitude of Abdissa’s job. He must live, eat, and breathe these precious children. I have not always liked our agency or have been in the least bit grateful for them. But Abdissa I adore. His passion for these kids is evident in his eyes. I am so grateful that we have him.

We are sent back up to the 3rd floor to continue to bond with Isaac and Jocelyn. Jocelyn has become very attached to me very quickly. She already won’t let anyone else touch her. She begins to cry even if she thinks I am going to put her down. Lord, I just praise you right now in this moment. I was so worried they would be afraid us. Now I have a daughter who will not let me put her down. Thank you Lord. You are so good. A beautiful young woman by the name of Mika comes up to help us with the babies so we can eat. Jocelyn will not have anything to do with her but Isaac goes with her. He looks and listens intently as she speaks to him softly in Amharic.

The food is so foreign to us (no pun intended). I expected it to be different but not this different. All the food is served with anjera bread. At first glance, it looks quite yummy. Its appearance reminds me of an enormous, very thick brown crepe that has been left unrolled. Let me just inform you now, it isn’t a crepe. I think I might have liked the anjera bread if it wasn’t served cold. How can you eat warm finger food with ice cold spongy bread? The bread has a very distinct sour taste and its texture is like chewing on an old, cold, wet sponge. The beans that are served with it are good but extremely spice. My stomach has been queasy since we got off the plane and I have lost my appetite from all the travel. The last thing I want right now is spicy food. Thankfully there is a pot of boiled potatoes and carrots. Ah, safe and soothing to the stomach.

Isaac eats from Mika’s hand like it’s his last supper; literally. She fed him 3 full plates of potatoes, carrots and anjera bread. Jocelyn took in quite a bit too. They don’t use utensils in Ethiopia so it was interesting to smash the carrots and potatoes with my fingers to get the portions and consistency right for her. But she was patient with her new mama.

After eating, we were left in the room for quite some time. We were exhausted and ready to get back to our Guest house. We were ready to get the kids clothes changed. We learned when Hubby changed Isaac that they had squeezed him into a size 12 months shirt and pants. I do mean squeezed. Isaac is a healthy size 24 months in both pants and shirts. I wasn’t sure Hubby was going to be able to get his pants back on or not.

On the ride back to the Guest House I realize that I have Jocelyn in my lap and not in a car seat. I couldn’t help my mind from wandering back to the same familiar thought, “this wouldn’t be legal in Washington.” It felt so good to have her fast asleep in my arms with her head resting on my chest. I looked at Charlie who was sitting one row behind me and I could see the contentment in his eyes as he held his son. This is how life should be…children to hold…children to love…children to cherish until the Lord calls us home.

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