Well...I may have finally found a few moments to fill you in on our second trip to Africa! Let's see how far I make it until I hear "Mooooommmmmmyyyyyy!" and have to hang this post up for the 50th time :). The trip started much like the last one...lots of suitcases, but this time filled with wonderful little boy things mixed in with our clothes. We were SO excited and nervous...things progressed so much more quickly than we anticipated and we felt a little unprepared to actually bring him home! In fact, when I left, his room was blank walls with nothing in it - there were some sweet angels who remedied that while we were gone, but that's another post for another day! :) We took a quick hop from New Orleans to D.C. and had an overnight layover. Bright and early we boarded our plane - a direct flight to Addis (so wonderful considering our crazy layovers last trip).
Ready to go!!!
Sixteen hours later, we arrived at about 7:45 a.m. Ethiopia time. After a long wait to get our bags (Hallelujah, they were there!), we met with one of the hotel workers and jumped on a bus. We were unsure of what our schedule would be, but we knew there would be an itinerary waiting for us at the hotel desk to let us know when we could go and pick up our little at Hannah's Hope. By this time, it was around 10:30 a.m., and we saw that they would arrive to bring us to HH at 12:30. So off to the room we went to freshen up and get ready...no rest for the weary! This trip, there were many other families at HH for their first trips, so as we scurried around, another family was taking some cute pics of our T for us to cherish.
After a quick shower, some organizing and unpacking (a.k.a. hiding toys strategically around the hotel room so we could ration them through the week) we saw the familiar face of one of our drivers in the hotel lobby! It was here...time to go get our Tamirat! Let me just go ahead and tell you...all those glamorous videos and pictures of "Gotcha Day" that you see on other blogs and those chill-bump eliciting stories your friend's friend's friend told you...that ain't the norm, people. In fact, our "Gotcha Day" was the complete opposite of all of that. Case in point: Mommy and Daddy brought a cute little stuffed elephant on trip one so that when we went to pick up T-man he would have something comforting and familiar...when we arrived at HH, Daddy asked to see the elephant. He was chilling on the couch in the hotel. Case in point #2: We were ready with the camera and asked our driver to snap a few pictures for us...the camera battery was in the charger, also in the hotel room. Case in point #3: The video camera lived in Josh's pocket the entire time because we were so shell shocked that it was ACTUALLY HAPPENING. I could keep on with the "case in point's," but it's getting old, so on with the story I'll go. :) By the grace of God, we happened to be overlapping trips with a family whose Daddy is a photographer. Score. So, thankfully, he was able to catch a few moments for us, as well as the beautiful pictures above. We are SO thankful for these!!! What cherished photos to mark the memory of our Gotcha Day! More examples of the non-glamor - it was lunch time when we arrived. They run a tight ship at HH, so when we realized this, we also knew that T would not be able to jump up and hug, etc. until he was finished with his lunch. Sigh. But, that did not keep us from hovering over him in excitement...so here are a few of those moments:
Daddy letting T know that we're finally back!
Mommy being super excited about the luscious curls that grew while we were away!
Shell-shocked T-man :)
Talking with Mommy
Washing hands to finish the lunch-routine
Drying hands while I hovered, dying to scoop him up :)
Some warm-up tickles (just like meetcha day!)
Smiles with Daddy and a familiar "mechina"
Gotcha Day! August 11, 2012
Might I also add that my child looked a hot mess that day. :) No offense to anyone, because the thing is...they dress them well at HH. They usually match for the most part. Mind you, T was wearing girl pants one day on our first trip, but you work with what you've got, right?! Well...not this day. My baby had on swim trunks, a polo, and a track suit jacket with high ankle socks and his sweet little red shoes without insoles in them (these were the shoes he always wore at HH). There was not a like color in the whole mess - see for yourself in the pictures above. He was, however, precious. I found him adorable and honestly, Josh would have probably cooked up that ensemble himself. :) Just thought I would add it to my list of non-glamorous gotcha day items since we're on it.
After lingering around HH for a little while, saying some good-bye's to some of our favorite "special mothers" and staff, we loaded the bus to the hotel - WITH our son! Yippee! He was shy and tentative (not at all like his personality) and we knew that his little world was being rocked. As we rode the bus, he enthusiastically gestured to us about how we were all going to fly on an "aeroplan-e" to "Ah-med-ica."
I'm going to spare you the rest of the details of that day, because, well, it was a tough day for all. In fact, it was a tough week. We spent 5 days in a tiny hotel room with a 4 year old and a limited supply of toys during rainy season. Catch my drift? Not to mention the fact that his world was being upside down and he was beginning the process of grieving all he has known in his little life. That's a lot. On the reals. Okay, now none of that is meant to sound negative...it's just real life. It's hard. People hurt and Jesus heals. Praise the Almighty God that He is the mender of broken hearts! Now, in all of this time we had some beautifully sweet moments, some fun moments, and some not so great ones, too. Josh was sick for a lot of the trip, so we tried to give him as much rest time as he needed. We walked a lot of halls, ate a lot of candy, and learned to play in the bathtub (not a known concept for kids who don't have water to waste - they've never sat in the bath before). Here are a few pictures to make you grin:
Movie time with Daddy before bed.
Listening to some tunes and making funny faces.
Modeling for Mommy before bedtime.
One of the afternoons of our trip was filled with an Embassy appointment in which we were able to testify that we understood the circumstances of our adoption and agreed that it was ethical and legal. And then we got to testify that we desire for T to be our son! That was it! Now all we had to do is wait for our proper documents to be processed and we were free to take this sweet dude home! Talk about having ten thousand pounds be lifted for one second and then dropped back on us :). The realization that we were parents! Wowza! Here are a few pictures of us all dressed up for embassy:
Mommy was SO tired.. and T was SO over pictures. :)
Glad to be back in good old Room 203 after a long afternoon.
The next couple of days passed at a turtle's pace, but after a brief documentation overview with some HH staff, we found ourselves heading to the airport. T was doing great...he was definitely overwhelmed, but being so close to bedtime he was being a trooper. As soon as he caught sight of the plane, it was LOVE :). This boy loves machinery - cars, trucks, tractors, boats...if it goes, he's a fan.
T slept pretty well on the first leg of the plane ride. Considering that he is a boisterous 4 yr. old, he did amazing. Thankfully, because about 2 hours into the plane ride, Mommy got super sick with sharp abdominal pain, etc., etc. (I'll spare you the gory details). 14 hours worth of sick, ugh. Daddy did a great job flying solo with GT, though!
By the time we made it to D.C., I could barely stand. While we were waiting on a ramp to board a shuttle to customs, I was literally doubled over on the floor. Let me just tell you, ladies and gents, I have the world's most incredible husband. Seriously. He is amazing. He was wonderful with T and at the same time taking care of me and the five thousand bags we had with us. Don't know how he did it. On the shuttle another adoptive mom that was on our flight came over to me and prayed over me as I cried and it was one of the most precious moments I have every had. This stranger who never even told me her name, found me a seat, wiped my face with wet towels (she may as well have washed my feet) and cried out to our Lord on my behalf. Amazing. And her prayers (and mine) were answered. The Lord gave me strength to get through customs, recheck our bags, and help Josh with T until we made it to our gate. We all promptly sucked down a bunch of Gatorade and freshened ourselves so that we would look somewhat approachable to our friends who would be at the airport. This translates into changing clothes and bathing int WetOnes. :) T was getting so restless and was suuuper tired. Josh literally ran with him up and down the airport to get his "wiggles" out before we boarded for NOLA.
The flight to NOLA was a struggle. T-man HATED his seat belt. Our plane was so small that Josh had to sit apart from us, so T and I literally wrestled through take off and landing to keep his seat belt on. But....finally....we LANDED! And we were home! (or close to it, anyway!)
I know you've seen the airport pictures already, so if you need a refresher, go back and check it out. We were so amazed to have such a warm reception at the airport and so glad to finally go home and crash with our little dude.
I tell you all of this crazy stuff in hopes that you see that life is real and that the one thing that is more real than anything else is that we need God. We simply can't do it without Him. We are so thankful that the Lord brought us through this process and this trip. It has stripped us down to our cores and we are constantly reminded each day of how much we need him and of how INCREDIBLE it is that He would have us. Thankful that our God heals, restores, strengthens, sustains, and more than anything...he loves. May He receive all the glory and honor in every breath of our lives.
"We love because he first loved us." 1 John 4:19