Sunday, January 29, 2012

Ethiopia - Days 5 -7

As I mentioned in a previous post, on Sunday, January 1, 2012, we rested our weary souls.  We needed a day to process our thoughts, feelings and our first few days in Ethiopia. I even had a massage at the Guest Home.  It was wonderful!  

Day 6, January 2 - Court Day! 

Just outside the court building after passing court
Our group was up early in anticipation of court.  Our court appointments were at 9:00, so imagine our surprise when our driver didn't arrive until around 8:30. We all scurried into the van and were on our way. I nervously checked the time every couple of minutes as we were driving.  We didn't arrive until about 9:15.   Luckily, court in Ethiopia isn't as stringent as courts here.  I don't really remember many details except that all 8 of our agency's families entered the building together.  I suspect we looked like quite the entourage to bystanders.  We went up several flights of stairs and entered into a waiting room lined with chairs. All the chairs were taken by other families waiting to adopt.  We were told by our attorney that they would probably take us in 4 families at a time. We all nervously waited. Not long into our wait, they started calling for the parents of Geneme... Yay, that was us.  We went into the court room (which is more like an office with a Judge sitting behind the desk), with 3 other families.  The Judge asked a few questions that we all answered in unison, and that was it.  Geneme was ours forever!  It was pretty anti-climatic, but such a relief! 

 After court, our driver dropped us off at the Hilton where we met up with all of the other families from our agency.  Because it was so early, the outside restaurant was not open yet, so we all hung out, checked our email and caught up with each other.  We at lunch again out by the pools.  

After lunch, many of us headed to the ALERT  hospital (All Africa Leprosy, tuberculosis and Rehabilitation and Training Center) shop.  This is a work group that trains members to engage in hand-craft activities instead of begging, as a means of income.  Many of the members are disabled due to the toll that their leprosy has taken on them.  Don’t be mistaken, however, because the smiles and joy on their faces told a different story.  The old and young alike can be found at this compound.   The children pictured here were children of the ladies who were embroidering beautiful tablecloths and such.  They were so sweet and totally in awe of seeing the digital pictures of themselves!  We bought a tablecloth for E for her wedding day and it was really neat to see the ladies who were making them.  The hand-crafting here was out of this world!  

After we arrived 'home' to our Guest Home, they prepared a traditional coffee ceremony for us.  It's quite the ordeal, and the coffee was oh-so-good!  I feel guilty using my Keurig now! 

Day 7 - Tuesday, January 3 - Our last day in Addis :(  

Because our flights were not until the late evening of January 3rd, we were given the opportunity to see our sweet children again.  We were even allowed to go a little earlier in the morning.  We were all excited, as we hadn't seen them since Friday.  

After our Friday with Elliana, we weren't sure what to expect.  Would she be happy to see us, or frightened again?  Luckily, and with God's grace, she eagerly reached out to us when we arrived.  She was still frightened, but at least she recognized us, and we could 'officially' say we were her mommy and daddy!  

On this day, she seemed to be more comfortable with us and even played blocks with us.  We fed her snack again, showed her out the windows and took her for a walk outside.  We weren't sure how long we would be allowed to stay, so each time I saw the director walk into the room, I held my breath.  We both had enormous knots in our stomachs that whole morning.  As time seemed to be getting near, we both were able to pray over Elliana and tell her we would be coming back for her very soon.  Her big brown eyes just looked at us -- it's hard to imagine what she was thinking.  

Soon it was time to take her up stairs for lunch.  I immediately started to cry because I knew that meant it was time to go.  We took her up and gave her to her nanny who was ready to feed her.  At that point, we weren't sure if we could stay while she ate, or if it was time.  We poked our head out into the hallway, and Helen said it 'was time.'  Tears were overflowing my eyes at this point, so we peaked back into the room, said a prayer for sweet Elliana, blew her a kiss, and started down the stairs.  I knew if I went back in to hug and kiss her, it would alarm her (and luckily we had time before we took her up to say good-bye).  That was, by far, one of the toughest things, we had ever had to do.  I know she is in good hands, but not in 'our hands.'  She needs to be home with her family now and we are praying that it will happen soon.  It was a bittersweet day -- we were very distraught to leave our little angel, but we were also missing our kids back at home too!   

The ride back to the guest home as a quiet one.  We got back, had another coffee ceremony, packed our bags and headed to the airport.

The flight home was long and grueling.  Brad started feeling bad before we even got to Rome.  By the time we landed in Rome, he was very sick and pretty much incoherent.  Luckily he was able to make it to the bathroom each time he was feeling sick, but it was a long and rough haul.  By the time we landed in DC, he was feeling much better.  Unfortunately, the bug reared its ugly head later that night, and he was down and out for 2 days! 

At this point, we have our original  Court Decree... but we are still waiting for the original Birth Certificate.  We are praying that it comes this week.  Then, Elliana will need her physical and passport.  If all of that can get accomplished this week, we will be able to be submitted to the Embassy next Tuesday (our Agency can only submit cases on Tuesday).  If not, it will be the next Tuesday (hopefully).

Please join me in praying that we can get this little girl home soon!   

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