Wow. What do you say about the day you meet your daughter for the first time? I have so many thoughts whirling around in my head. I will start, though, with the lighter stuff. God’s provision on our trip was clear, as every step of our adoption journey has been. Because of an impending snow storm, Karl and I decided at the last minute to leave for Chicago the night before and stay with my bro and sis-in-law. So, we had our last pizza night on the couch with the boys and then Mom and Dad took them to their house and we ran around doing the last few items on our to-do list. We ended up getting to Chicago around midnight their time (an hour later for us). We had a wonderful tour of Justin and Erica’s new place, gabbing for a little, and then went to bed. We were up and around by 9 because we had forgotten something (go figure!) so we had to get to a store before heading to the airport. Our entire trip went so smoothly. We just missed the snowstorm (my friend, Melissa, called upon hearing 200 flights were cancelled at O’Hare!) and had a nice layover only to leave on time again in D.C. The flight really wasn’t bad at all. I kept finding myself thinking, “Is this really happening?” “Are we really going to pick up our daughter that we’ve waited for for so long?!?” When we got to the airport in Addis, we had to wait in a long line for our visa and then another line for immigration and then got stopped by a man about the donations we were taking in. That felt like a close call to me, but Karl thinks he was perhaps trying to get paid off, so we just did what he said (not paying him anything) and were able to get by and go out to meet our driver with no further problems. I kept thinking we’d meet people from America World, but we ended up not meeting anyone until our “official meeting” at 10 the next morning after a fitful but good night sleep.
It’s so crazy to meet people that you’ve heard so much about for so many months. Our group is wonderful with a lot of variety. We have first time parents, parents of about to be nine children, and us. Duni and Robel have been great walking us through the process of yet more paperwork and taking us where we need to be. Also, it has been a joy getting to know a little more about the other families that we will now forever be linked to. I started getting nauseous—in a good way!—as we prepared to leave the Hilton (our paperwork party place) for the transition home. I get butterflies now just thinking about it! We had about a 20 minute drive and pulled up to a set of silver doors. We were there!!!! We quickly assigned who would take video/pictures as each of the families went, family by family, to meet their kids. The Renos helped us out and then we returned the favor. We got to go first because of our last name, but when we arrived we were told Gelila was sleeping, so we said we’d wait. Then, a minute later, here she came!!! It was so amazing and surreal at the same time. They had dressed her in the outfit we sent over and had done her hair in little pigtails all over her head. It was so precious. She was sleeping when they handed her to me and she was so tiny! She started to wake up and look at me and I think she (of course!) didn’t know what to think. But she just studied my face with her gorgeous brown eyes, as calm as can be. She is so precious! I can’t wait to introduce her to people. Fairly shortly, I handed her to Karl and she began studying him, too. She was really out of it (that precious I’m-really-still-sleeping-here kind of out of it!) but one of the things we learned about her is she can suck down a bottle (slowly, but consistently) while appearing to be sound asleep!) Karl and I both spent time feeding her a bottle for about 30 minutes, I’m guessing. It was when her bottle was done that she woke up and really came to life. She started being very interactive and making lots of squealing sounds. We also learned she loves her tongue and may be a thumb-sucker! She spent a long time interacting with us. Duni told us that this was the day to interact and get to know our kids/babies and tomorrow we could be passing out care packages, giving donations, etc. but I couldn’t help myself. The toddlers especially were a riot! They just crawl all over you! Karl and I both had a couple of buddies that were just dying for attention. Sherry, I got your middle son on video bouncing on Karl’s lap, talking and laughing. He was so precious. And Kristen, your sweet girl shared a room with Gelila (along with many other babies) and when I walked in she was laying on the mat watching me. The second I bent down and picked her up, she just SMILED this beautiful smile! I wish I could have captured it on camera, but the memory is precious. Anna spent a lot of time holding her. Hilary, your little girl looks so big, I didn’t even recognize her. She had the cutest little outfit on (it was the Olivia line from Target—the same as Selah’s nursery—I’m thinking maybe you sent it to her? J ) and she was sitting in the bumbo seat. I think she’s gotten more hair! But she was still so tiny and precious, she just looked really healthy. Your little man came up to me (along with a whole crew of toddlers) when I opened up my bag looking for something. I felt so horrible, because I didn’t have treats in there or anything, just care packages, and you could tell they were like, “What in the world! Who is this white woman that comes in here, opens up a bag in our presence, and doesn’t have anything in there for us!” It was funny, but I wish I had brought them little treats today. Don’t worry, tomorrow I’m going to ask the nannies if I can give them stickers….and chocolate J Tomorrow will be the day that we work really hard at passing out care packages and taking pictures with all the families we have care packages/consent forms for, but let me just say as all those who have gone before me have as well, the nannies love these kiddos! Speaking of nannies, we also got to meet Gelila’s nanny (I’m using Selah’s Ethiopian name mostly here since that’s what she’s used to and what all the workers at the TH know her as). She was only there near the end, but it’s obvious she loves her very much and the feelings are mutual. She was the one that got her hair all ready and, probably dressed her in the clothes we had bought her. I am hoping someone can translate tomorrow so we can talk with her more.
One more blessing is as we were preparing to leave, the pediatrician came that takes care of the kids. We were each able to meet with him and go over our child’s records for the last several months. He described Selah’s skin condition as an allergy/sensitivity/eczema and instructed us on how to care for it, but seriously, it already looked so much better! He also gave us the growth chart and her page of medical records since she’s been at the TH, but she’s been so healthy, that there wasn’t much to see except for all the info on her skin.
Speaking of this, if you could all be praying for little Liam Chan. When we arrived, the Chan’s found out that their little man is running a high fever and is not doing well. Before they left, the doctor spent a long time examining him and hooked him up to an IV. Of course, Shelley and William are very overwhelmed by this new development and would really appreciate all your prayers. (If this hasn’t made it to the yg, can someone please post it there? Shelley asked that the yg prayer warriors would go to town!)
Well, it’s 11 o’clock and tomorrow is Gotcha Day—the day we get to take Selah with us forever—so we need to get some sleep. The internet was down and is now running impossibly slow (I couldn’t get onto my e-mail account) so Robel said tomorrow we could go into the office and e-mail. I will be sending this entry via e-mail to my sis who will then post it to the blog. Because of the internet issues, though, and the fact that we’re not going to the TH after tomorrow, this may be my last post from Ethiopia. Rest assured, though, that I will be journaling and catch up for lost time when we return. I know it’s not the same for all you blog stalkers (I have been one for so long now, I know!), but it is hope for the future, at least J
We are SO happy. They say not to have expectations or, rather, to expect anything, but today was better than we could have dreamed. We are blessed beyond measure.