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.