Thursday, January 20, 2011

Day Nine, Friday

We visited A. Upon greeting me, she spun around, wrapped my arms around her tiny body and playfully hung; laughing. To see a book a foreigner brought, she held my hand tightly as she pulled and stretched to steal a peek. I am hers. She knows.

Inside, there were tickle games and more fun. We looked with her at the photo album we brought for her. She had decorated pictures with small stickers and was proud of her contribution. It was clear that she had memorized each photo.
Searching for activities, we showed A our pictures from our travels to southern Ethiopia. Not A's home, but both areas are rural and look very different from the city of Addis.
Her eyes widened and focused as she looked at pictures. She visually consumed each one. Especially of the round, traditional homes. Not identical, but similar I'm sure, to where she grew up.
A can change her face in seconds. She can go from what appears to be happy, to what appears to be sad, instantly. A also thinks of others constantly. As much as she loved us to visit, it was also hard for her socially. There was jealousy. It was hard for us to pay attention to all of the children and make her feel special simultaneously. The whole situation was so complicated emotionally. Obviously.
Today I saw a glimpse of the very top of the iceberg of how, even A, the most brave soul I’ve ever met, finds all of this too much.

After, we went to Judah’s old care center. Abdissa, the kind coordinator from the agency we used to adopt Judah, picked us up at our guesthouse. It was so wonderful to see him. He is very warm and hospitable. He is family.
The first place he took us to was the "administration building." I didn’t realize until we were minutes away that the administration building was actually the old care center. Judah’s old home.
When the gates opened, I was clearly brought back to the day, almost three years ago, when the same gates opened and we met Judah. We pulled in and my eyes locked on the spot, where 34 months ago, Abdissa literally handed Judah to me. We walked into Judah’s first bedroom, now an office. The room was empty except for two desks, but I could clearly see all the cribs lined up. Judah’s in the front left. We went upstairs and sat in the room where we first cared for Judah. I could see our friends and their babies, in the spots we had worn well over our days visiting.
They left us alone, perhaps knowing better than us about the big tears that would be shed. We looked out the same window, the same view and couldn’t believe the time. I love that room. That window. That view.

After we went to the new care center. It was gorgeous. The babies were absolutely gorgeous.
There was one woman that I was searching for in particular. She was the main reason it was so important to bring Judah back to Ethiopia. She needed to see him.
Walking up the stairs, I instantly knew it was her. She was laughing with full eyes and talking. The others were translating for her.
“I cried so hard when he left.”
While getting full eyes, “I don’t want to cry again. I cried so hard.”
She gave me one of those big, tight, long hugs that say a billion words, while thanking one another repeatedly both in English and Amharic.
She told me that she was so happy to see that he was well taken care of.
I told her that I tell Judah about her. He knows about her. He knows her. We took pictures and she asked that we send one to her.
I could tell during our entire visit that she was overwhelmed with emotion. She loves Judah. Still. I feel so relieved that she was able to see her baby. She taught him how to love. Something she did very well.

That night we went to a Jazz club with beautiful new friends and laughed till it hurt.

It was the best birthday I could have ever had.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Day Eight, Thursday

We made bracelets with A today. She was proud of her beaded bracelet, but seemed a little bit sad also. She finally communicated with us that she wanted to make one for her best friend, even requesting another of her favorite bead.
Later our family shared cookies. The three of us gobbled ours. A saved half of her cookie for her best friend and carefully brushed my cookie crumbs off of my pants.
A shared everything she had with her best friend, no matter how coveted.
Everything she did was magic to me. She was beautiful and gentle and just the easiest person to fall completely in love with.
She had learned the routine. When it was time to go, we found Sister (the strong, kind woman who runs the center). Sister tells A in Amharic that we will be back tomorrow. A’s long, very skinny legs stiffened and she refused. She looked exactly like baby Bambi when he was learning how to walk. She silently objected to us leaving. Although my heart hurt, I was proud of her.

*Update: A’s best friend left last week. Although I am thrilled for her friend and her friend's sweet family, my heart breaks for my little girl. She was her family. I cried the day she was going to lose her best friend. I cry as I write this. My little girl. How much loss can one person experience…

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Day Seven, Wednesday. Court Date.

I should have known. I had spent the evening before looking for a scarf. I needed one. Obviously. My planned outfit consisted of black pants and a mostly black shirt with some white on the sleeves. I found a little shop with a friendly and helpful owner. He showed me the bags of scarves. Black, white, red. I bought it. I did not take it out of the bag.
I’m not so into labels of any kind. In fact, I hate to admit this, but I’m sort of a reverse label snob. Second hand store shopping in the back alleys of Istanbul = clearly awesome. Gucci, Prada, OthersIdon’tknow = clearly not awesome.
I took the scarf out of the bag, placed it next to my outfit. I noticed it had odd patterns, “Tommy, look it has checkers and circles and stuff…”
Tommy laughed and explained to me that Gucci, Prada, Couch and more were all over my scarf.
Not thrilled. I wore the scarf anyway. I needed to wear a scarf. Obviously.
While getting ready, I was nervous. Nervous.
When I looked in the mirror that morning, I thought about how silly I am, how I wished I was braver. I took a deep breath and decided that I was a little bit brave just for standing in front of the mirror, half way around the world from home and for wearing that scarf. Hoping with every cell that all the pieces would come together to let us become A’s parents. We have fallen in love and now have so much to lose.
We were told that there were some paperwork issues with the area of Ethiopia A is from. Our agency assured us that they were not concerned and it looked like it would be cleared up very quickly. Any day. I expected not to pass court until the issue was resolved. I was ready for that. It would be resolved any day. We have been waiting for months, just a few days.
We were told to follow her into the room. The judge was beautiful. More beautiful than most models. She asked us a few questions. Yes, we have met A. Yes, we have taken classes. Yes, we understand this is final. YES. Please. YES.
“A’s ___ (birth family member) did not come. I have set a new date for Jan. __th.”
We were done. No, we were not awarded custody of A. It would be at least one more month. We would go home without being able to count down until Embassy. We would go home and wait. We will not be able to celebrate with A. We are not her mom and dad.
These are parts that I dislike.
The part that I hate is that we would not be able to meet A’s birth family member. We would not be able to ask questions. As a mother I felt like such a failure. Now I have no answers for both of my children. Yes, A will remember, but the mind changes memories, especially when you are very young. She deserves to know. Everything.
By the time I reached the hall, tears fell. As the tears fell, I wished again with all of my heart that I was braver. I looked around at the brave women and men and aunts and grandparents. The people who were here to do something a zillion times braver and harder than anything I will ever have to do. They were here to give up custody of their children. Instead of this stopping my tears, it just powered them. It was too much. A kind Ethiopian man looked at me and said, “It will be ok.”
After court we went to visit beautiful A.
Judah told us, “I love A so much. I want her to come live at our house.”
We do too, baby. We do too.

Week #1 Home Without A. Sad.

I love that she said, "I didn't bring it up, just in case you weren't thinking about it this minute." Wise girl. Wise, thoughtful girl. Best Ethiopian Christmas present ever. Love her.

I love talking about my girl and I want to talk about my girl. I also love, love, love that people are thinking about us and want to be updated. But, it hurts. A lot.

I thought I should send an update since writing individual emails is just making me sad. There is no update. We still haven't passed court. There are still THREE issues that need to resolved. We are heartbroken. The wait seems impossible. I feel like I am just going through the motions. I don't think I'll feel better until I know when our little girl, who we are already completely in love with, is coming home. No, we don't know. We won't know until we pass court. No, it won't be until a fairly significant chunk of time after that. She's not home. She's not coming home this month. Or next. No, I don't think God wants my little girl to be living in an orphanage and definitely wasn't a fan of the tragedies in her life that led her to this point.

I'm finding it difficult to be my usual springy self. I'm ok, but I'm not full of happiness.

I'm going to continue to post about our adventures while in Ethiopia and you'll hear us screaming and the champagne bottles popping when we do finally pass court.
Much love,

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Day Six, Tuesday

I'm skipping days because 4 and 5 weren't that eventful...well, except for Judah getting wiped out by a big, metal swing. Nope I don't want to talk about that either.

Since Papa was in charge of watching Judah when he encountered the swing of death, he was not allowed to take his camera with him today. Papa’s care taking skills greatly improved. Today Judah only fell once, scraping off his elbow. My child is going to be a great big band-aid before we leave.
Since Papa was now able to concentrate on looking after Judah, we could spend all of our time hugging, teasing and laughing with A. We spent about 2.5 hours at the care center. My favorite moment of the day was when A, while sitting behind me and playing with my hair, leaned over and whispered very softly in my ear, “I love you mama” and then cracked up laughing. A few minutes later, in a barely audible voice “I love you Judah. I love you daddy” and giggled.
We love you A.