Monday: We are mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted after today. Bob and Kate Hutchinson arrived safely on a full flight (note to future travelers - take the Friday flight if possible which is usually about half full). We chatted for awhile before trying to sleep before the big day on Monday. The girls had a tough time falling asleep as they were so full of excitement and anticipation about meeting the boys.
We met Robel in the lobby at 10 am and then met Rachel for an orientation meeting at Kaldis (coffee shop). She filled us in on all the little details so we knew what to expect – and then she dropped a bombshell on us when she said that we would be meeting Dagmawi's mother at the Transition Home today! I did not anticipate this meeting in any way and I was full of nerves and emotion about meeting his birth mother – what do you say and what question do you ask? Rachel had a few suggestions and I jotted down some ideas during lunch. I knew that when we were face to face, all logical thought would evaporate and I would later regret not asking questions about the things that we would wonder about later.
After a quick lunch, we left for the Transition Home. Normally, families are presented to their children in alphabetical order, but because the Hutchinsons and Rachel were concerned about Furtuna's reaction, we were to meet first. We turned a few corners and suddenly … there were the green gates! 18 months of waiting and anticipating this moment gushed to the surface. We couldn't speak and our hearts were pounding. Rachel tapped on the door and we were all ushered into the yard. Everyone was expecting us, so the nannies and all of the children were indoors. We waited in the courtyard, Rachel went into the Transition Home and a few seconds later … the door opened and our two tiny little boys slowly walked out, holding hands.
I was struck by how small they both are. There are no words to describe the moment – they walked so slowly towards us with big smiles on their faces. And then we enveloped them in our arms. Emme and Maea were very emotional and after hugs, we held them at arm's distance so we could just look at them. And they did the same – recognizing us and hugging us and touching our faces. The moment is so surreal and strange and indescribable and breathless!
We then stepped aside and watched with tears streaming down our faces as Bob and Kate met their daughters for the very first time.
Shortly after we arrived, Dagmawi's mother appeared at the gate. She's only 21 years old and pretty, and we could see that Dagmawi looks like his mother. I was expecting somewhat of an emotional meeting between the two, and that did not occur. Fortuna the nurse helped us translate and we were able to ask a lot of questions. I asked what she wanted for her son – and she said for him to grow up to be a good man, to get an education and to know Jesus. I assured her all those things would happen and she beamed. She explained that she was very happy for her son to have a loving family, with 2 sisters and a full life in
We spent about 4 hours at the TH – playing with all the kids, getting comfortable with our boys and taking pictures of each and every child. Dagmawi and most of the older kids really know how to use a camera. They reach for it to see the picture I just took, and then they ease it out of your hands and off they go to take their own pictures. We had 2 cameras and we used up the battery on both. Dagmawi is going to attach very quickly to his daddy. He would come up to me while I was talking with Rachel or the nannies and wrap his arms around my waist for a few minutes – then he would go back to Jay and rough-house. He was really examining Jay – touching his face and climbing all over him, wanting to see his muscles and comparing them to his, and astonished when Jay spun a basketball on the tip of his finger. Every little boy so needs a daddy!!!
Tariku is so tiny! I watched the nannies give him a "bath". The toddlers stand in the tub near a bucket of water. They shampoo their hair and then soap up their body with a washcloth, and then they rinse them with a cup out of the bucket of water. Tariku would look down and his nanny would poor the water over his head and he was perfectly content with the water coursing down his face and in his eyes. Within an hour or so, Tariku was so exhausted and just a limp little zombie. They had awakened the kids early in the morning for their medical exam at the embassy and then he missed his 2-3 hour nap in the afternoon. He is very attached to a pair of patent-leather boots. Fortuna explained that the boots are falling apart and are stinky – but that they would be sending them with him because he insists on wearing them every day. He is also very attached to one of the picture books we sent him – he pages through it examining every picture. Emme and Maea spent a lot of time holding him today and he was very interested in their hair.
We were able so spend quite a bit of time with the other kids at the TH. They are all so beautiful! Honestly – each and every child here is just gorgeous.
Tennants – your little Henry is quite the charmer. He watches for the camera to turn his direction and he is all smiles.
Forrests – Ephrem is so sweet and quiet – and he smiled often. Your daughter's face lights up when she smiles and she sits up quite well in the bumbo seat. She is so healthy and strong. Rachel commented that she was so sick when she first arrived and they delayed her referral because they were worried for her health. Her transformation into a vibrant, healthy and smiley baby girl is amazing!!
Violet family – you already know this, but Meti is one-of-a-kind. I am in awe of your little girl as I watched her "mother" all of the other kids. She wrapped her arms around my waist many times and played with my hair. She is truly a delight and she shared all of your family photos with me. You will be so blessed by her, and she will be so blessed to have a family!
To the family adopting the sibling group of 4 – I spent a lot of time with your oldest daughter, Kidist (?) today. She is very bright and very outgoing and she mothers the little kids too.
There are so many other children that stand out in my mind today but I do not know who they belong to. They are so amazingly affectionate and even the babies are quick to smile when we cuddle them. It is quite a scene walking into the living room and seeing all those babies lined up on the mattresses. Tomorrow we will spend the afternoon at the TH and Rachel will go over each of the families with us so I can match up kids and families, so I can specifically comment on your kids. We will deliver care packages and all of our donations tomorrow as well. The nannies are so devoted to the kids and stay focused on their needs despite the commotion of arriving families. Dagmawi's nanny is Zenesh and Tariku's nanny is Helen – tomorrow will be an emotional day as the boys say goodbye to them.
It is now 11 pm in
We are exhausted and drained and happy - and trying to process everything that happened today!!