I am emotional.
This morning we had a meeting with the America World in-country director, Duni, to help prepare us for our court appointment tomorrow. When we arrived in the lobby, we were shocked to be met by a film crew. Duni had given them permission to follow us during our week here in Ethiopia for a documentary they are making on international adoption. (I, of course, immediately ran for my lip gloss! Ha!!) The film will debut later this year at different film festivals around the world (like the Heartland Film Festival in our hometown), so I'll keep you posted on when you'll want our autographs! : )
Our meeting with Duni went really well. She explained the court process to us and really helped us understand what to expect. She also talked to us about meeting with the birth families after court and how to prepare for that. (In Ethiopia, a birth family member must be present in court to give their consent for the adoption. They attend court first in the morning, and then the adoptive families appear in court later to give their consent. After the court proceedings, the birth families and adoptive families are able to meet.)
After our meeting with Duni, we went to visit two government-run orphanages here in Addis Ababa. When a child is abandoned or relinquished, they are taken to one of these orphanages (there are many throughout the country), and once they are matched with an adoption agency, they will move to that agency's transition home. (That's where Elias is now.) Many of you helped us collect donations for these orphanages, and we were so blessed to be able to deliver them today! Our first stop was Kingdom Vision. When we arrived, the older children immediately came out to greet us. They were so excited for our attention. They loved giving us hugs, taking pictures with us, giving high-fives, etc. They sang several beautiful songs for us, and we passed out treats to each of them. They were ecstatic! Next we visited Kids Care. When we arrived, we were taken into a small room where the older children were having school. They were so well-behaved and respectful. We were all so impressed with them! They, too, sang songs for us and we handed out treats to them as well. We went to the baby rooms next and held and loved on many different babies. The staff at the orphanage then provided us with a traditional coffee ceremony. It was such an honor.
I wasn't able to process everything emotionally until we were back in the van. These precious children with gorgeous smiles and huge eyes and beautiful laughs deserve homes and families just as much as our own children. There are 5 million orphans in Ethiopia, and I wonder what the chances are for these children we met today to be adopted into loving homes? It truly wrecked my heart.
After lunch, we went to the Transition Home for our time with Elias... always the highlight of our days! We walked in to his room, and he was sound asleep. The nannies asked if we wanted to wake him up, but we decided to let him sleep for a little while longer and really enjoyed the opportunity to watch him sleep! We finally woke him up, and he rested quietly in my arms for about 15 minutes. When he had fully woken up, he got a bit fussy and Charlie and I took turns walking around with him. Elias definitely prefers Charlie over me... a total Daddy's boy in the making! He tolerates me well, but is actually reaching out for Charlie. Its really special for both of them!
Today was also our day to meet with the social worker and psychologist who are on staff at the Transition Home. We took Elias back with us to their offices, and it was great having him just sit in my lap the whole time. The social worker and psychologist began discussing issues such as bonding and attachment and personality, etc. They talked a lot about what to expect when we get home, etc. It was at that exact moment that it really hit me that we would be leaving him. I asked if they thought he would remember us when we left after court, and they said we could leave pictures that they would go through with him to help him remember us. I really broke down at that point and the tears were streaming down face at the thought of having to say good-bye and leave him. Ugh. Today was such a tough day emotionally, and having the film crew with us, made it even harder because I felt like I always had to be "on."
After we left the Transition Home, the ladies were taken to a spa for manicures and pedicures... a strange juxtaposition to all of the poverty and despair we had seen earlier today. As much as I just wanted to go home and crash, it actually turned out to be very relaxing and a nice end to this day.
Tomorrow we go to court, and we are praying to hear the words, "He is yours!"