Where to begin? Since I don't know how much time I'll have to blog in the next few days/weeks, I will first post a summary of our trip and then go into more detail later when I get a chance. Here are the main highlights of our trip:
*We started off the trip with a fun evening in Washington DC with a college friend and her husband. I've never been before so it was fun to see the White House and all the monuments lit up at night!
*We arrived safe on Saturday AM and though we were tired, we hit up the shopping district to stay awake and try to get on Ethiopia time.
*On Sunday we drove 9 hours to Nekemte. The road was everything we had been told it would be: bumpy, crazy, crowded, interesting, and beautiful!
*We visited a 130 year old palace on Monday morning before driving the final 2 hours to Gimbie.
*Monday afternoon we spent time with our son's grandmother and saw the home he lived in for the first 9 months of life. It was a total shock to find any of his relatives -- the experience was nothing short of miraculous for us. The conversations and experiences we had on that day will bless our son and our family for the rest of our lives.
*Tuesday was a long day of travel - 14 hours from Gimbie to our guest house in Addis. From carsick toddlers to minor traffic accidents, there was never a dull moment!
*Wednesday we went to Adama to meet our boy! Although our first hour with him was mostly punctuated by screeching and crying, he did eventually warm up to us and show the sweet personality hiding behind the screams. I can't put into words how much we love this child. The time we spent with him was truly a gift.
*We were graciously given the option not to take our son from the Adama orphanage to the Thomas Center in Addis. Instead the orphanage director, Tezera, will make this trip with him later this week. This gave him the opportunity to stay in his familiar environment for a few more days and gave us the opportunity to say goodbye to him on happy terms. He would have no doubt hated every minute of the 2 hour drive in the arms of strangers, and will be much more comfortable traveling with Tezera, whom he knows and loves. It was a blessing to be able to leave him in the arms of his caring nannies - he even gave us kisses when we said goodbye!
*We spent most of Thursday in the courthouse waiting room. We had already been made aware that all the YWAM cases were missing one document from the orphanage which would delay the final deciding of our cases. Still, we were thankful that we got to appear before the judge and our part went well. And we are VERY thankful that the case can now be decided without our presence so we did not have to extend our stay in-country or make (God-forbid) yet another trip back for a 2nd court date. We hope and pray this document will come in soon so that we can officially become his parents! At this point it looks like we may still be able to bring him home in December or January... It is hard to have all these things out of our hands, but we not only have trust in the awesome YWAM and CHI staff who are working on our behalf, but also ultimately in the God who holds us all in his hands and will bring about the fulfillment of his promises at just the right time. After court we went back to the guest house and enjoyed a coffee ceremony before heading to the airport to begin our 32 hour journey home.
*We thank God for keeping us safe and healthy the whole way - no problems with food, water, or travel.
Now... we wait. The only way to describe how we feel right now is that it feels like we left a part of ourselves in Ethiopia. During this time we will live our lives - love and care for our kids, do our best at work, keep up with our responsibilities and relationships - but in everything we do there will be a subconscious recognition that a piece is missing. And in one sense, I am not sure that bringing our boy home will change this feeling. Yes, our family will be whole -- and what an incredible blessing and answer to prayer that will be! But Ethiopia has captured our hearts and it will always be our son's first home. I almost feel like having pieces of our hearts on both continents is just the new "normal" for our family. I'm not sure I ever want to lose this deep love and longing for that amazing place... So my prayer is for us to be together soon, but also for God to show us how to live with peace wherever we are... and to live with peace in two places at once.