I thought this series would be just 4 parts, but turns out I need 5. Shocker.
Continued from Part 3…
We arrived in Ethiopia exhausted and full of anticipation. It was late and we were taken straight from the airport to the guest house where we would be staying while in country. Most agencies partner with a sort-of rental house where families can stay while they are waiting to clear immigration. In our guest house, we had a room with a queen size bed and a twin fold away bed for Abigail, plenty of storage for our luggage, our own bathroom, and a shared living space (kitchen, dining area, living room, patio). All of our meals were prepared for us and they even washed our clothes for us. The people that run these homes are incredibly gracious and probably know more about the adoption process than most of the families they serve.
So the next morning we got ready and loaded up in a van to head over to the transition home where Abigail had been staying. We tried hard not to peak as they brought her out.
She was so LITTLE and sweet and scared and strong and beautiful.
We spent a couple of hours there at the home with her, playing with her friends, seeing her room, talking to the nannies, singing songs with the kids – precious time that allowed us to be the guests in HER world, not the other way around. I honestly wish we would have stayed longer and maybe even let her stay one more day before we took her back with us. But we were so anxious to have our daughter with us, to learn her, to hold her, to be her Mom and Dad. So we gathered up her things and loaded back up in the van to head back to the guest house. Abigail had only been in a car a handful of times and had TERRIBLE motion sickness (sometimes still does) and ended up throwing up her banana into my hands. I think that was the moment I really felt like her Mom. 😉
We spend the next few days getting to know each other – mostly at the guest house, and a couple of outings in the city. Staying at the guest house allowed us to interact with a couple of other families and their new kiddos, which was an unexpected blessing for all of us.
I was learning how to guard her little heart, moment by moment. How to keep her from going to any adult that tried to pick her up. How to communicate with her over language barriers, and how to sit in silence with her and hold her when I knew her heart was grieving. Honestly, the time we spent in Ethiopia with her was mostly easy. I think we were all honeymooning.
Some of the realities of her pain and grief didn’t really start to show until the flights home. It was a long and grueling two days of travel to get back to Memphis and by the time we landed in the states she kind of didn’t want anything to do with us.
Who could blame her? Add to the fact that she’d never flown and already had motion sickness issues – there was no way for us to explain just how much longer each flight would be and where we were traveling to each time. Can you imagine just getting on a plane with people you’ve known for a week? Not knowing exactly where you’re going? Or how long it will take to get there? With no one that speaks your language? It’s a miracle that she’s still not mad about that whole situation.
But we finally made it back home. It was an amazing homecoming with people we love greeting us at the airport.
And I’ll never forget the moment that Charis and Abigail met.
Best friends from this moment forward and never stopped holding hands.
We headed home to start figuring out what life looked like as a family of 6…
…to be continued.