Our final goodbye to Hannah's Hope. We loved our time there, but are even happier leaving those gates with our girl in our arms.
My good friend and my favorite waiter Sebesebie. I can't begin to tell you how warm and kind the people here are.
A little exercise at 7500 feet elevation!
Fun in the hotel room with games and toys
We love you Meddie Grace!
Update from Day 2 – Thursday 3/24/11
Last night sleep was somewhat elusive as my body was convinced it was daytime. But, we both managed to get more sleep than we thought we would and Meddie slept for a solid 12 hours! We are very thankful for that.
Breakfast consisted of the usual omelet and porridge for me. Heather had an omelet and we could not get Meddie to eat anything. She would just shake her head and make it clear that she was not eating. Our favorite waiter, Sebsebie, was so kind to continually offer different things to her, but she refused. There were three very nice ladies from Nigeria in the restaurant this morning that took an interest in Meddie and us. They asked about her and when we told her that she had been left as an orphan and we were adopting her, they were so excited and said over and over again, “God bless you, God bless you, you will be wonderful parents to her.” It was fascinating to think that we were adopting a child in Ethiopia and talking with women from Nigeria and there seemed to be a commonality between us.
Later in the morning we ate an early lunch since we were to leave the hotel at noon for our Embassy appointment. Meddie ate a good amount of spaghetti noodles and chicken which she seemed to enjoy. We then loaded into the Hannah’s Hope bus to head to the US Embassy. The two other families and us have all been to court together on the first trip and were now all headed to the US Embassy together. It’s been fun to share this experience with two wonderful families.
We drove for maybe 45 minutes or so through the heart of Addis. The city has a population of 4,000,000 people, but has no stop lights or stop signs. So it’s a constant merging of traffic that occurs. There seems to be an understanding of how things should flow and together the traffic weaves in and out of itself creating a somewhat productive flow. We saw much poverty along the way and were reminded of the incredible wealth of America.
As we made our way down the final street toward the US Embassy, we could see the US flag waving in the distance. It was a good sight. When we pulled up the Embassy, we were impressed by the massive walls and building that stand amidst the adjoining poverty. We got out of the bus and approached the building, showed them our passports and then were allowed entrance into the gate house.
We were told before leaving the hotel to go to the Embassy that we should leave all electronic items in the hotel rooms. No cameras, ipods, chargers, batteries, etc. No electronics! We were told anything we brought in would have to be checked at the security gate and it would result in a delay. We were all sure we had cleaned out all of the electronics from our backpacks. When we began to pass our backpacks through the scanners at the Embassy, they noted one by one that each of us had some type of electronics items in our backpacks. It turned out that I had an ipod, two chargers, and some cords. Another family had a camera battery and charger cords, and the other family had some “AA” batteries. It’s funny how we Americans have so much electronics stuff that even when we’re told to completely purge our backpacks of those items, we can’t manage to get it all out in one try (mine actually had to go through the xray scanner multiple times before I found everything)! The electronics items that I carry in my backpack on this trip have a greater value than the average Ethiopian makes in an entire year. That’s a staggering thought with regard to our own affluence and with regard to how we use that wealth when there is such poverty throughout the world.
We walked from the guard house to a waiting room area where we waited for our names to be called. The three toddler girls had a lot of fun playing on a small slide and small playhouse located in the waiting area. I don’t know if everyone in the somber, stoic room appreciated all of the giggling from these three girls, but I know the proud parents all enjoyed seeing smiles on their girls.
Eventually our name was called and we were to go to window 15. We approached window 15 and a man stood on the other side of the bullet-proof glass and asked for our passports and then asked us to raise our right hand and swear that we would tell the truth. We were then asked to sign two documents. The paperwork was slid back and forth through a typical sunken metal trough that went beneath the thick glass. He asked us a series of questions, maybe 4 or 5, dealing with our adoption. Then he told us about the paperwork that we would receive tomorrow and how we would use it to enter Meddie into the US. He said she would enter the US as an American citizen since we traveled to her Court appointment three weeks ago. Then he looked at us and said, “Your adoption is final and complete.” And that was it.
I got goosebumps as he said those words. It was finished. It was done. All of the paperwork was over. She is ours and she is allowed entrance and citizenship in the US. I wanted to yell in celebration but the somberness and formality of the waiting area said not to. We thanked him and walked away from window 15 with the excitement that she was coming home.
We’ve seen playfulness from Meddie today and we’ve seen sadness. She generally gets quiet, reserved, and even cries at bedtime or at naptime. There is certainly some grieving that is taking place in her little heart during those times. She has more of an affinity for Heather right now than she does for me. Our lack of a common language will make the next several months interesting. But we know she we learn quickly – or we’re hopeful for that anyway because if our communication rests on our learning of the Amharic language, there could be a lot of grunting and pointing for a lot of years!
We’re thankful for this latest milestone and want to give God the thanks and praise for His workings in our lives. He put a burden in our hearts to adopt almost 16 months ago and has walked the journey ahead of us in unimaginable ways. Many have said how fortunate Meddie is to be joining our family, and we have said over and over again how fortunate we are to be blessed by God through the addition of Meddie to our family. We have seen Him at work and have tasted His goodness to the point that we just stop and say, “why us Lord, why us?”
Since the adoption is finalized, we are now able to post pictures of Meddie on public forums and you will begin to see pictures of her on our Facebook page and blog when we get home. The internet here has been unavailable so I don’t know when this update will even go out.
Thanks again to everyone for their thoughts and prayers! We feel supported by such a great network of friends and family and can’t begin to express our gratitude to everyone.