Monday, December 1, 2008

Today we met our sons!

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 America.  We spoke about 20-30 minutes, she gave us a picture of her and Dagmawi as a younger child, and then we parted with hugs and tears.  She kissed Dagmawi on both cheeks and left through the green gate. 

Hutchinsons also had the opportunity to meet with the birth mother of their daughters.  I will leave the details for them, as that is their story to tell. 

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 Ethiopia and we recently returned from dinner at Yod Absynnia, a traditional Ethiopian restaurant with traditional Ethiopian dancers performing during the meal.  Absolutely amazing!  Some of the chest and shoulder rhythmic movements seem impossible, and the neck and head maneuvers are unimaginable.  The singing was beautiful too!  The food was delicious and better than what we experienced in the ET restaurants in Mpls.  At dinner, we were joined by 3 of Robel's friends who are here to help him turn his street children ministry into an official program.  More on that later…

We are exhausted and drained and happy - and trying to process everything that happened today!!

15 comments:

Sherry said...

Karen - I feel like I am almost there. Your descriptions have tears pouring down my face. How precious to FINALLY meet your boys! If you hear of our court passing tomorrow, tell Fasika, Kasahun and Ayane we will be there in two weeks to get them. We are praying for your family! Blessings! - Sherry Semlow

ethiHOPEia said...

Karen, I agree, I feel like I am almost there too! Your posts have been wonderful to read. Thanks SOOOO much for your comments to us about our kiddos. I especially love to hear that they are healthy and strong! Thanks for everything you are doing!
Blessings,
Hilary

Karla said...

Crying!! We all want to tell you that we thank you for your posts! It is making us feel a part of things! Can't wait to hear more! Love you - Karla

Karen said...

Karen, this is amazing - what an unexpected turn of events and a blessing to you and your son!

I hope you receive good news about families passing court, and who knows, you might even be able to meet a little girl waiting for us that we don't know yet! Take lots of pictures of them all, as I know you all will!

I know that the comments you have left for families is so special to each of them - thank you for taking the time to share!

Can't wait to hear about the rest of your week and thanks for the tip about Friday flights!!

*karen bowman

Patty V. said...

Thank you so much for telling us about our precious Meti!!! Please hug her for us again! I am so excited for you guys and we will continue to pray for you!

Love in Him,
Patty

Rob & Candy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pete Juvinall said...

I know others have said this, but get Robel to tell you his testimony. He and those guys have a wonderful story to tell.

You hit the nail on the head for that *moment* where you meet your kids. God bless you as you start this journey together!

Kelly said...

WOW!!! I so appreciate your descriptive posts. I am in tears!!! Our daughter is at the TH, and I am getting a real sense of what we have in store for us. Thank you so much for your attention to detail... GOD bless!!!

Rob & Candy said...

wow- what an emotional day! I'm exhausted reading about it. So glad you finally met your boys today and had the opportunity to meet their birth mother.
thanks for the note about Henry!
Candy

alisafmartin@yahoo.com said...

Wow...your stories are food to my soul as I wait to pick-up Little Martin!!
Alisa

Ponz and Lil Ponz said...

Thanks so much for your advice! We are preparing to travel soon and we appreciate all of your advice and descriptions. We are happy for you and your family and are glad that you are able to experience this with your girls. We are praying for you. We are with CWA and will be meeting our son 2 weeks from today. Blessings to you and your family.

Apryl said...

WOW!! What a long road and you have finally met your boys! We are praying for you, I can't imagine the emotions of meeting your sons birthmom. A wonderful gift for him, that you can tell him about this day. We are so excited for you and pray that the rest of your week goes smoothly!
apryl

small world said...

Congratulations Karen! It all is so familiar, I can picture it all. We will continue to pray for your time with your boys. Tell the Hutchinsons we are praying for them as well!
Theresa

Danielle said...

Thank you again for your gift to all of us back here with all the details of your trip. It is emotional to read and we do feel that we're there. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU. I will look forward to pouring over more of your thoughts.

Blessings,
Danielle

Jenna Marie Howard said...

Hello
I am so touched by this blog. so many times you read about the waiting and yearning and i LOVE this blog because i felt i was there and i was seeing your children finally come home to you! Oh, tears well up! its personal to me because I am adopted and have three other adopted siblings and find such encouragement knowing you are an adoptive parent who obviously loves your children and waited so long. FINALLY they are home and you are home in them! oh Bless you for writing this, i was so encouraged that i am not alone!

I am the Director of Public Relations for a non-profit organization called World Orphans. We build family style church based orphan homes all over the world and our mission is simple E3 to reach each church…each child…each community. I would love for you to take a look at our website and let me know if you have any questions. (www.worldorphans.com) I hope you will have a glorious blessed day!

Jenna M. Howard
-Director of Public Relations
www.Worldorphans.org
Jennah@worldorphans.org
www.JennaMarieHoward.com