Friday, April 13, 2012

Gotcha Day (Day 2 in Ethiopia)

Our Day 2 in Ethiopia started out with great anticipation.  What to wear (like Elliana would care!), what trinkets should I bring for her to play with?... Would she remember us?  What if she hates us?  Was she feeling better? Lots of questions and actually a bit of fear.

We were to be picked up at 9:30 at our guest home.  Our friend Tom and his son Henok were joining us so that Henok could celebrate this birthday with his friends at Acacia Village before we went home to the USA!  At about 9:45, CWA called us and indicated that they were running late.  They hoped to be there by 10:30.  Uggh... Luckily, Tom and Henok walked over to our Guest Home to keep us company while we waited. That was truly a blessing as I was a bundle of nerves and just felt like I couldn't wait a minute longer.  

Finally, our driver arrived to take us to the CWAE office for some final paperwork.  After just a few minutes at the CWAE Office and a few signatures, we were ready to head to Acacia Village.  Although the care home was only 10 minutes away from the office, it seemed like it took forever to get there!

As we arrived at the Acacia Village gates and the van made it's infamous 'honk' to open the gate, I just wanted to jump out and run into the building!  But, I patiently waited for the van to pull in and park... then I don't remember much ....except them saying something about Elliana not liking her bath that morning and that she was grouchy today.  Great!!  It was also right around lunch time until we arrived, so she was ready to eat.

As they brought her to us, it was surreal.  I can't even describe it, knowing that once she was in our arms, it would be forever.  We were leaving with her forever... this would no longer be her home.  My heart ached for her.  My heart ached for her Nanny, who had taken care of her for the last 4 months.  It was hard.

She had on her traditional Ethiopian dress and head scarf that she received for Christmas.  She looked so darn cute.  She also had on little patent leather shoes and little socks with an orange stripe around the top.    Under her dress, she had on a blue onsie with a basketball.  Too cute.  I took a few other outfits to leave at the transition home -- so that we could take all of her original clothing with us.  (I haven't washed them yet -- I want to let the 'smell' of Acacia Village on them for as long as possible).  Her hair was in 3 little puffs... two on the top and one in the back -- a style I've been able to duplicate :)

She was frightened and didn't want to come to us and clung onto her Nanny and cried the biggest tears I've ever seen.  After her Nanny handed her to us, she walked away quickly, wiping away tears.  Elliana continued to search the room for her Nanny and looked at us again and cried and screamed.  Wow... I didn't picture it happening like this.  I just can't imagine what was going through this little girls mind.  I felt so much grief for her.  I wish she knew how much we loved her already and how much fun was waiting for her at home, but at that moment, she was frightened.  Finally after some time, she settled down and didn't feel so tense.

We attempted to feed her lunch, but she wouldn't eat, so they suggested we take her back up to her Nanny to be fed.  I was conflicted over this and didn't want to repeat the Nanny good-bye situation again, but agreed to it, since I didn't want her to go without eating.  While her Nanny fed her, we went over to the baby room to give hugs, kisses and prayers to our friends' babies who were there.  Most of them were sleeping so peacefully, completely unaware of the turmoil their parents were going through trying to get back to Ethiopia to bring them home.  There was a feeling of peace in that room though, and all the babies look so much healthier than they did in January.  It was nice to have good news to report back to the waiting parents.

After her lunch we went into the cafeteria where Henok was celebrating his birthday complete with cake from Kaldi's Coffee and soda!  The staff was also preparing a coffee ceremony for us.  By this point Elliana was emotionally spent and fell asleep in my arms, just like she did during our first visit in January.  After the coffee ceremony, her nanny came back down and prayed for her (in Amharic).  We have no idea what she said, but it was the most emotional and intense prayer I have ever heard (and very sweet).  

Shortly after, we said our good-byes and got back in the van; but this time, we had our baby with us!

Once we got back to our guest home and adjusted, the first thing we did was cut off her identification bracelet around her ankle.  That was a glorious moment... knowing her identity was no longer limited to the ID tag on her ankle.  She was now ours, and we were hers. It was a new beginning for all of us!

Elliana back at the Guest House on Gotcha Day
Elliana on Gotcha Day at the Guest House
After dinner we got her ready for bed and she fell asleep in our arms. We were able to Skype with our kids at home, and show them their sister sleeping in her playpen beside our bed.  That was a really cool moment too!  

That night I could barely sleep as I reflected on the 2 1/2 year process to bring this little girl into our family --- and there she was, sleeping right beside us.  God is good... He's really, really good, and faithful, and knows the perfect plan for us indeed.  

Ellie & her friend Henok


  1. First of all...Ellie is absolutely breath-taking. What a beautiful little girl!

    I love the way you wrote this Angie, all of your details really make me feel like I was there.

    So happy to see pictures of Ellie with her mommy and daddy :)

  2. This description is so eye opening, and really gives me a feel for what to expect. Thank you for sharing such intimate details of that day, it was fun to read & helpful as we await our turn. So glad you are writing it all down, how fun to look back one day and see those first pics. Praying for you! How is she sleeping now that you've been back a short time?