Monday, January 31, 2011

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face~one year later

January 31, 2011

One year ago today, I awoke in a hotel room in Dubai, UAE, with the anticipation of seeing our son and daughter for the first time. It was not a definite, as we were told Sundays are “family days” and our drive may not be available and the orphanage may not be open to visitors. So with a prayer in my heart to see them on this day, we set off for Ethiopia. We landed four hours later on a runway surrounded by fields and random people standing at various places throughout the fields. I have not a clue what they were doing. I never even thought about them until now. It was such a surreal moment. I fully expected to land in Ethiopia and feel an overwhelming surge of familiarity, but it did not come. It felt foreign, just as it was, some 7,000+ miles from home.

We piled out of the airplane and went through the paperwork in the airport. The Ethiopian woman behind the desk was annoyed with a dignitary in front of me for some reason. There was a problem with his paperwork. On one hand, I was glad she wasn’t allowing just anyone to pass through, but on the other, I knew he was getting frustrated and angry and I was already feeling a bit out of my comfort zone. We got through the paperwork and getting our luggage and finally met Sintayew, our lawyer.

I asked someone if they knew him, as we missed seeing him holding the sign. I think he overheard me and came over. He said he was standing there holding the sign and we missed him. Anyway, we were off to the van, after tipping some men for “helping” us with our luggage. We met Ephraim, who would be our driver for the week. He didn’t speak much English, but we didn’t speak any Ahmaric, so who could fault him. He was a sweet man.
As we drove to the guest home, Sintayew asked if we’d like to see our children. I immediately said, “YES!”. I don’t even remember hearing Jim’s reply. I took a deep breath and settled into my seat. All was well-I would see my babies today.

We settled into our rooms in the guest home. It was a beautiful place. We had two bedrooms and a bathroom. We had two cribs waiting for our children. I don’t remember much of the wait, except for the things I managed to scratch in my journal. We were told Ephraim was ready to take us to the orphanage.

We got our first taste of the roads in Addis. There are no road signs, no stop lights, and few if any lines on the road. Interestingly enough, it didn’t really bother me. It reminded me of being in Guatemala City a year prior, and I loved it. As we drove down the road, I saw the “Toukoul” orphanage sign as we approached. We turned onto a dusty little road, waited for an animal to move (I think it was a goat.) and were ushered through the blue gate of the orphanage. Once inside, we were taken to the guest room for our first meeting with Kibrom and Feven.

While our friends prepared the video camera and regular camera, we were pretty much overwhelmed. There were so many emotions zipping through our bodies. Again, a surreal moment. Much like Jim coming to my workplace and telling me about our referral. Much like getting the phone call that we passed court. Much like landing in Ethiopia. And here we are. This is it. The moment we’d been waiting for. Our eyes stayed glued on the door through which they would enter with our babies. And then it happened.

Two nannies entered through the door with our children. Words can’t describe it. Only through our photos do tears and stunned looks of amazement allow one to imagine what we were feeling. We each took one into our arms. Now, for months prior, I had coached myself on how not to cry when I met them so they wouldn’t be scared. Well, as soon as I held Ana/Feven in my arms, hot tears poured down my face. I couldn’t believe I got to be the mom in this moment. I couldn’t believe God chose me. Why me, Lord? Thank you, Lord-I whispered in my heart.

Jim and I took turns holding each one. Our friends graciously stood back, took video, and watched this family grow. The both smiled and laughed as though they’d been waiting for us. It was amazing.
Feven’s/Ana’s hair was straight. She was wearing a yellow outfit. She was so tiny and so cute. She was small but mighty. She could army crawl and roll over. She loved my tree pendant on my necklace and played with it every time I held her in Ethiopia. She had sad-looking eyes when she wasn’t smiling. I actually asked Jim if he thought she might have Down’s Syndrome. Looking back now, it is only by God’s grace that this little girl smiled. From this moment on for many months, every time she met a stranger or went to an unfamiliar place, she stuck her hand in her mouth and froze.
Kibrom’s/Gabriel’s hair was curly. He was wearing a pink outfit. He was skinny and tiny. He didn’t do anything but sit in your arms and look cute. He smiled and laughed, despite a very raspy cough.

They both had scabies and diarrhea, which really wasn’t a big deal, except for the blow-outs on the plane ride home.
We studied them and wondered over them for a little over an hour. It was time to go back to the guest house and decompress. We had met our children.

Meaning of Their Names
God clearly showed us their names in November of 2007. At the time, we only knew Gabriel John and Anna. Over time, God gave us Grace as a middle name for Ana. Feven and Kibrom are their Ethiopian names. We chose to spell Ana's name with one "n", as this is how it's spelled in Guatemala. We met a little girl in Guatemala whose name was Ana and God drew my heart to hers.

When I looked up the meanings for the first time, I was amazed at what I found. It was clear that God had a plan for these two little ones.
Ana~ Grace
Grace~ Favor
Feven (given Ethiopian name)~ brilliant
Gabriel~ God is my might
John~ God is gracious
Kibrom (given Ethiopian name)~ Our pride
I recently read that God doesn't call us to a thing, that is, a mission, an occupation, adoption, whatever. No, He calls us to Himself.
We praise you, God, for who you are and inviting us in.
We praise you for your Amazing Grace.