Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Travel Journal Trip 2: Day 3

June 26, 2011

Gotcha Day

Dear Lil' Miss,

We woke up this morning so overjoyed that this day had finally come, the fact that we still didn't have our luggage didn't even matter.  Our clothes were stinky, our hair greasy, we were unshaven and sweaty in clothes that didn't match the weather...but we were HERE and we were gaining custody of our DAUGHTER at last!!!

We had lots of time to get ready this morning b/c we weren't being picked up until 10:30am.  That didn't even matter though considering we had nothing to get ready WITH.  We headed down for breakfast, feeling the routine of life in Addis coming back to us quickly.  I was excited for a cup of coffee....and as usual, it didn't disappoint! =)  After an omelette for each of us, we realized that we only knew one family here and they weren't currently down for breakfast.  So we headed to the front desk to find out what room the S family was in.  There were only one floor below our it WAS their daughter we heard crying in the middle of the night!  ;)

We were hesitant to knock on their door knowing they had only been there a night or two with their daughter.  We felt sneaky and a little stalker-ish as we listened at their door for any sign of movement.  Sink running, baby crying, footsteps...yep!  =)  Mike quickly answered the door after we knocked, and a moment later Chantel emerged from the bathroom with their daughter on her hip!  What a BEAUTIFUL moved me to tears knowing in just hours it was going to be our turn!  They greeted us with smiles and told us all about their new addition.  And they were almost as excited as we were for us to gain custody you!  They were just getting ready to head down to breakfast themselves, but they invited us in as they finished getting ready.  We spent a couple minutes catching up...we shared with them about our lost luggage and they shared with us some shampoo, socks...just a couple things to make us feel a little better.  Then we went back downstairs with them so they could eat as well.

In one sense, time seemed to drag by as we waited for Danny to come and pick us up.  And yet, before we knew it, we had only minutes to run to our room, grab our things, and head back down to the lobby before our ride would be here.  And we SURELY didn't want to hold him up! =)  Mike and Chantel wished us luck before we headed out the door, smiles glued to our faces.

In the van, another family was sitting waiting.  We introduced ourselves, and found out that they were a couple days into their first trip!  They told us about their sweet daughter and kindly offered to take photos of our reunion with you.

Unlike the day we MET you, the trip to Hannah's Hope felt familiar and routine....we were SO thankful to be back.  And not JUST for this moment.  There is something about the country of Ethiopia that feels like home.  I never thought I could grow to love a place so far away so much that it would feel like home.  I knew this week was going to go by fast, and I wanted to enjoy every SECOND!  Instead of snapping a thousand pictures on the drive, I gazed out the window soaking in every view and every face we passed.  Hunched over men carrying brick from place to place.  Shop vendors trying to make a buck.  Children riding donkeys.  Mother's carrying their young ones on their back so they can have their hands free for work.  When I saw these things, I didn't pity them.  When I looked at their faces and watched their movement, it was filled with pride and dignity.  Coming from a world where a lot of people are looking for the easy way out, or a free was refreshing to see a true work ethic.

Believe me it did not take long before we were at the gates of Hannah's Hope!  I handed our camera to our new friends as we stepped out of the van.  Danny opened the gates and just a few steps inside, three or four special mother's were sitting with about a dozen babies, one of them our own!  I didn't spot you instantly, but being that you were one of the few laying on your back, it didn't take long!  You were an angel in a mostly black outfit - sweat pants and a sweater vest over a floral onesie, laying on a pillow and bathing in the sunshine.  The special mothers broke out in smiles when they saw us, but as I said hello, my eyes were locked on only you.  I rushed in your direction and without a thought about the camera or anything else...I swooped you into my arms and gave you a great big hug and smothered your face with kisses.  I expected a glazed or scared look as you looked at me, being that you hadn't seen me in over a month.  But instead I got a smile, and what daddy and I BOTH swear was a look of recognition!  It was SUCH a joyous reunion!

You with Enat
Instantly your special mother's broke into tears knowing that this would be their goodbye.  We assured them we would stay for a little while, even though we were anxious to have you all to ourselves.  But after playing a mother role in your life for so long, I couldn't deny them the opportunity to say goodbye properly.  Even though I had just had you back in my arms, your special mothers swooped you away to smother you with hugs and kisses...and I let them.  I took this moment to love on some of our other friends' kids and take pictures and video for them.  During all this, the special mother's were moving the mats and all the babies over into the shade in the courtyard, so daddy and I helped.  Enat, my favorite special mother, brought out a new outfit to change you into.  Since I wasn't holding you, I couldn't tell why - had you sweat through the sweatpants or did she just want to change your clothes one more time?  =)  After that she laid you on the ground to show off what you had learned in the last month.  You laid on your tummy and held your head up stronger and prouder than before, smiling at us just like you knew how proud we would be!  Then you ROLLED OVER!!!  All the special mothers giggled as daddy and I whooped and hollered at your success.  We had seen how close you were during our first trip and we just KNEW that you would figure it out before we got back.  As sad as I am to have missed that milestone, seeing it then for the first time was incredibly meaningful...I can't even describe the pride I felt at that moment! =)

Your special mothers love you soooo much baby girl.  I could just see them melting as your daddy rolled around with you and flew you in the air like an airplane!  I can imagine after investing their all into you for four months, it was a relief seeing how much we loved you.  And how much you loved being with us!

Soon they broke out the baby food for those 6 months and older.  I was relieved to see that they hadn't started that with you's such a fun and messy first that I wanted to be a part of!  Before long it was nap time and we helped move all the babies inside and put away the mats.  We asked Seble and Enat if they would record a goodbye message for you after the babies were asleep.  Enat asked if we were Christians and tears rolled down her face as we said yes.  She prayed a beautiful prayer over you (and us) in Amharic...tears flooded my face.  Daddy recorded the entire prayer, it was so beautiful.  Afterwards, someone gave us a rough translation of what she said.  Seble was a little more hesitant, but spoke some beautiful words to you as well...and then Enat encouraged a song and before we knew it all the special mothers were clapping as Seble and Enat sang over you!  A big smiles spread over your face as they sang and danced with you.

I had daddy go out and find Danny and ask if we could leave in the next little bit.  At this point we had been here for a couple hours.  We still weren't caught up on sleep and we were ready to get back and start our lives together.  Tears fell again for the special mothers as soon as we picked up our stuff.  Enat asked to change your diaper one more time, and of course I let her.  I heard her talking in Amharic to you and saw your sweet smiles, but as soon as I spoke, you strained to see me....and I melted!  At this point, daddy offered to change your clothes into the outfit we had brought and a little panic swept over me.  I apparently had forgotten to tell him that I wanted to save that outfit in a ziplock baggie so that it would smell like Hannah's Hope.  He thought it was a little ridiculous, but the staff encouraged me to do it and I promised to bring our two suitcases of donations for them in the next couple days.  She was only wearing a onesie and socks by this point, so I didn't feel TOO bad.  =)  I wrapped the Moby carrier around me at this point, and they all laughed at this unique contraption as I put it on and put you in it!  They told me about how Ethiopian women carry around their babies and how similar it was...but not so big! =)  Danny came in and said it was was the REAL goodbye.  Not knowing if and when we would ever see them again, we wrapped our arms around Seble and Enat one last time and thanked them for loving our little sweet pea in our absence. There is nothing that could possibly express our will never be enough...but I hope they know that they will always be a part of our little M&M's life.

Seble - You - Enat

We are SO grateful for these amazing women!!!

Just like our last visit at Hannah's Hope, we left with tears streaming down our faces and a gut-ache.  The difference was that this time, I was also filled with an indescribable joy, having you finally in our arms FOREVER!  There's adoption summed up for you right there - insane heartache and incredible joy.  And you really can't have one without the other.

I wanted to take a picture with you outside the gates of  Hannah's Hope, but we had already made Danny wait for us as we said our goodbyes, plus we had tear-stained cheeks.  I figured we could get it on another day....but of course, this turned out to be our only day of sunshine.  I'll forever regret not taking a moment to snap that picture, but oh well.

We hopped in the van to see our new friends there waiting for us.  We felt kind of bad, we didn't realize that by asking Danny to leave that they would have to go as well.  They assured us it was fine and that they were exhausted anyway.

Our trip back to the Riviera was rather un- eventful.  I expected tears from you, but you were rather relaxed.  You just gazed out the window and occasionally checked to make sure I was still there (and maybe to see if you still liked me =).  I can't possibly describe the joy I was experiencing at that moment..

When we arrived back at the hotel, it was about 1:00pm.  We checked down- stairs to see if Mike and Chantel were maybe eating, but there was no one we recognized.  On our way up to our room, we noticed the "Do Not Disturb" sign on their door and figured that their daughter was asleep.  We went straight to our room to get settled in.  I took off your sweaty onesie and socks and laid them out to dry on the coffee table with the fan blowing on them and changed you into your first outfit.  I had a hard time deciding what to put you in, and finally decided on a white dress with pink flowers, with grey striped leggings...and a big bow of course! =)  You looked cute as ever all girlified!  =)  You were full of smiles as we played with you on the hotel bed.

It wasn't long before Mike and Chantel came by to see how you were doing, and by that point, we were ready to get out of our room for a while.  We decided to checkout the rest of the hotel and wandered down to the ballroom.  The staff let us in, and we sat the the beautiful and unusual chairs down there and talked.  Eventually, we decided we were too hungry to not eat.  After all, we had all skipped lunch that day.  We decided to head upstairs to an early dinner and maybe go to bed a little early.

You were doing so well, sweet girl.  You were looking into our eyes, touching our face, smiling, kicking, active...there was no sign of fear or uncertainty.  You seemed completely content.  Now, we were still getting to know you yet....but you simply amazed us!

The rest of the day was a little bit of a blur being that our jet-lag kind of caught up with us.  I couldn't even tell you if we skyped family that night or if we waited until the following morning....hahaha!  Luckily it seemed that you were as tired as we were that night.  It had been a hugely eventful day for the three of us!

For your bedtime routine, we started by giving you a bath in the giganto bathroom sink we had in our room.  Since the drain wouldn't plug, daddy laid a towel at the bottom and we washed you rather quickly.  Since our luggaged still hadn't arrived, I was thankful that I put a sample size of baby wash in my carry on.  We used it to soap up your body and wash your hair...all of which you LOVED!  At this point though, I was really wishing I had some conditioner and the tangle teezer for your...the front of your hair managed pretty well, but after laying and rolling and rubbing the back, it was a knotted mess.  I did the best I could with what I had, but that wasn't much.  As I rubbed you down with the oil that Chantel let me borrow, daddy picked out your first pair of pajamas - brown with pink trim and pink bows on the buttons and little teeny bright colored flowers.  We just drooled over your cuteness!!!  I had to carry you down to Mike and Chantel's room to return the oil just to show you off! =)  After that it was a 4 oz bottle and sweet dreams for you!  We were shocked - this was really too easy!

We got on FB for a little while to announce that we GOTCHA{!!!} and headed to bed ourseleves.  We couldn't have asked for a smoother start to our lives together!



leemeandthegirls said...

This post made me cry. I am so overwhelmingly happy for you and your family!

Elle J said...

Shedding tears, Mama Mimi!!! This is so beautiful. What a true blessing!

chantel said...

ahhh I love this post, brings back so many memories, made me cry. We sure do miss you guys

Mindy said...

I am hanging on every word! It is so neat to hear everything you did so I can take note of it for some day when we go.

M is just the cutest little thing!!!! :)

April said...

Thanks for sharing! What a beautiful day - and absolutely perfect daughter!!! I am sooo happy for you.

BTW - I saw my baby "T" in one of the pictures. :)

Terell said...

Thanks for sharing - brought tears to my eyes! What an awesome story to share with her someday.

Kim said...

What an absolutely BEAUTIFUL day!!

The Kimmels said...

This post was so great! The smiles on your faces say so much...I know our situations are different, but we had to wait awhile before we got to hold Cohen for the first time too. It's so worth it when you get to hold your baby in your arms. What a happy time for you guys...can't wait to get our boy home with us too!