Monday, October 5, 2009

Day 5 - Part II - Grace House

Day 5 - Part II – Grace House

After about 40 minutes, we leave the postal shops. It is just too difficult to do with the babies and we want to make sure there is plenty of time to go to their orphanage, Grace House. The drive to the orphanage seems long. Isaac and Jocelyn are becoming cranky and impatient. I can’t figure out what is wrong. Then I realize that they haven’t eaten yet! Oh my gosh…I am such a horrible new mother. I didn’t even remember to feed my children! Thankfully we have Cheerios with us because we really haven’t been given the time to in our schedule today to eat lunch. For us, this isn’t a big deal but I didn’t think about our sweet peas needing to eat. My greatest fear has just taken place...the fear of being inadequate. Charlie has to constantly remind me that I need to allow myself to fail without being so down on myself. But it is hard to do when you have 2 little ones completely dependent on you. There is so much for me to learn.

Grace House is located Addis Ababa but it is nestled deep into an area where there are no paved roads. The best way for me to describe the roads you ask? Well, let’s just say you don’t want any hemorrhoids. The minimal shocks on our van give no ease to the roads. Every bump, rut, and pot hole is felt. I now understand why DHL does not use trucks to deliver packages here. ALL of their vehicles are dirt bikes with containers attached to the back of the motorcycle to carry packages.

Just about the time we thought the drive would never end, we slow down outside a gated home. I can only see the second floor but I recognize it as Grace House immediately. Michelle from Kingdom Kids (owner of the orphanage) had sent us several pictures of the compound. The building is 2 stories tall and is in an L shape. There is no real landscaping just compacted dirt inside the walls. The sidewalk is made out of broken pieces of some type of smooth stone. The building is made of a beautiful large style brick in varying colors of deep gray, dark rust, and a marbled tan/rust. We see a man dressed in nice clothes coming down an exterior staircase painted in white. He introduces himself as Getachow (director of the orphanage). We are grateful to meet him and we quickly pull out the two 50 pound bins we had brought full of items for the orphanage.

I must interject a little bit of information about these 50 pound bins. If you read my blog on “Weight Management” on September 11th, you will understand the frustration we had with trying to keep our luggage under 50 pounds. Part of the problem with this is that we were trying to limit our luggage so we could take 2 large plastic bins for Kingdom Kids filled with things for the orphanage. The problem we ran into the night before we left is that one of the bins was over 50 pounds. This meant we were going to have to remove some things to get us under the limit. We just couldn’t afford the additional $250 for an overweight piece of luggage. My thought at the time was no problem. We will just remove 2 pounds of items and give them back to Kingdom Kids. It all sounded good until we opened the bin. It was filled with little shoes, clothes, and books. Everything in the bin the orphanage badly needed. How do you decide what to remove? We had to take it. There was no way for us to leave any of it behind. In that moment, the reality of the need for our orphanage and others like it hit for me. It felt good to know we were able to get every last item in the bins to Getachow at our orphanage.

Getachow takes us to the first room that is nearest to our van and the front gate. It is the original room where Isaac and Jocelyn lived until the toddlers were moved so the room could be used for the older girls. My heart ached to learn that not only have our children experienced several moves and caregivers (6 total in their 20 months of life), but they have also experienced moves inside the orphanage. It made me question how they were feeling about all the change that had taken place this week. We are bonding quickly with them but I wondered if they feel safe. Do they feel secure or are they wondering when we will leave them too?

We follow Getachow to the other end of the L shaped building. All the while he is telling us about Grace House and answering as many of our questions as he can. He takes us into a large room where the walls are pretty much bare other than 4 small posters. The chairs are inexpensive white plastic patio chairs. There are 7 plainly built end tables that are being used as desks; three blue and four red. Up against one wall is a bookcase with 4 books in it and a sign that reads Happy New Year. As we enter, the room is filled with the beautiful sound of children singing. The bare walls and tile floor allow their voices to echo loudly. Their singing fills the room with color and joy that the walls and furniture were lacking. Their voices penetrated our heart and soul.

As soon as the children finish a couple of songs, several of the older girls come rushing over to see Mechot (Isaac) and Tezerash (Jocelyn). The kids are thrilled to see them but our sweet peas are now unsure of them. Isaac was willing to go with the older girl who had a smile that could light up the darkest night. Her eyes were so kind. You could see the love she had for our babies. It made me want to take her home too. Jocelyn would not go to anyone or allow them to touch her. I was grateful to see she felt so safe with me. We asked the children to sing us a few more songs before Getachow led us to another room that is now the toddler room.

As we enter the toddler room, the eyes of the two nannies light up as they begin to speak rapidly to Getachow in Amharic. They move quickly to us with arms outstretched ready to embrace Isaac and Jocelyn. Isaac goes to them only because Charlie places him in the woman’s arms but Jocelyn would have anything to do with them. Their reaction to the nannies is a good sign for us. We were warned that our sweet peas might prefer the nannies over us when we visited the orphanage. The fact that ours don’t shows that all of our hard work is paying off.

The two women are thrilled to see our sweet peas again. We are disappointed to learn from Getachow that their primary nanny for Isaac and Jocelyn is not working today. We desperately wanted to meet her, take pictures with her and personally thank her for pouring into our babies’ lives. I am still overcome with emotion for the two nannies now smiling and talking softly to Isaac and Jocelyn. I gently grasp the woman’s hand that is holding Isaac and squeeze it tightly as I look deeply into eyes hoping the tears brimming up in my eyes can say what I can’t say in her language. She gazes back at me with tears streaming down her face. It is good to know that although she can’t understand my words of gratitude, she can understand my tears that are now freely flowing.

While in the toddler room we are met by a very petite little girl who has seems to have lost the joy in her eyes. Getachow tells us that she is from the same region as Isaac and Jocelyn. He continues to tell us that she has a heart condition and will not live much longer if she is not adopted. Her problem can be resolved in the US but not in Ethiopia. “God the need is so great. Please heal this little girl’s heart. Give her a family who will shower her with your unspeakable joy and love so that the joy may once again return to her eyes.”

We are then led up to the second floor to a very small room with only 2 cribs. We are introduced to a young radiant nanny who is caring for 2 babies; a boy and a girl. Both of them are 3 months old. I pick up the little girl and hold her close. Her eyes dance with joy that comes from being held and she begins to coo. After some time of holding her, I reluctantly place her back in the crib as she reluctantly accepts leaving my arms. I then move over to the baby boy named Michael and swaddle him close. I can’t help but think about the irony of being in this room with these two precious babies. They are the exact age that Isaac and Jocelyn were when they were assigned to us – 3 months old. Oh how I had longed to hold them. We had always said if we were rich, I could just go to Ethiopia and volunteer for the orphanage until our adoption was final so I could be with them. Holding these two precious souls seemed to ease some of the pain of the time we had last with our little ones. I couldn’t help but wonder what might lie in store for the two little angels. “Lord, I just ask that your hand may be on these two babies. I pray the paper work maybe swift and that you may bring the right family of your choosing here to receive them.”

We thank Getachow for the tour and the chance to meet the children. We take several pictures with him and the staff before we leave. As we drive back to the Guest House, I find myself holding Jocelyn a little bit closer; thanking God for the two blessings we have been given.

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