It has been 3 weeks since we first got on a plane to go to Addis Ababa. To make the long trip over to meet our precious daughter at last. It has been a little over 2 weeks since we came home and let me tell you...those 2 weeks have been long.
It was hard to leave Ethiopia - the sweetness of the people, the amazing JOY they have, amidst the poverty and dirt. The beauty of the terrain. So many things that heighten your senses. We had such a sweet, sweet time there with our little girl. I feel myself longing for not only her, but for Ethiopia as well. Craving the food, the bustle, even the crazy driving. To leave that sweet week and come back into the crazy busy, crazy commercial, crazy hustle of the holiday season. My kids had one week of school left and it was full of Christmas parties and such - the scramble of the forgotten teachers presents! Last minute presents to buy. Loads of laundry. Trying to grieve - oh how my heart felt paralyzed. Such a dear reunion with my kids, but they had suffered our absence as well. They had a great week with friends, but within an hour of being with them, I could feel the release of a weeks worth of pent up emotions coming out of them. Trying to be present with and for them, to just sit and hold them, to not get frustrated with their whining when I really wanted to whine myself. Loved being back with them, but it made the "unfinished" part of our family even more obvious. Trying to process out all I was feeling, getting in the Christmas "spirit", when the meaning of Christmas felt so very different than any other year of my life probably. Honestly, this paragraph wears me out just writing it!
We had a sweet Christmas - spent together as a family and with some extended family. Celebrating the birth of our Savior, loving watching my kids open their gifts and the excitement that they always have.
But the absence is never far from me. My arms longing for the weight of her. Wanting to start this new stage of our life. Our kids are very excited to bring her home and love looking at the pictures of her over and over, the videos showing her sweet smile and giggle. My 3 year old asking most days if we can go get baby "R" after dinner, or after nap, or tomorrow when we wake up. My almost 8 year old telling me that the thought of R coming home ranks a 10 on a scale of 1-10, but sometimes the excitement gets bumped down a couple of points by the fact that he is now having to share his room with Micah (the 3 year old!). My sweet Kate is ready to go shopping for her new little sister! Not a day goes by that I don't go through all the pictures - memorizing her face again and again.
So, what are we doing now? Waiting...again :-) Once all of our paperwork is gathered from passing through the Ethiopian courts, it will be submitted to the US Embassy in Ethiopia. That normally takes a few weeks. Then it take another couple of week for them to process your case. Typically there are request for further information, such as requesting to meet with R's birthmother. Sometimes it can get referred to a bigger US Embassy in Nairobi. Then eventually, though we do not know when, the Embassy will clear our case and we will be issued an Embassy date - THAT is when we get to go back!!!! So, it could be 5 weeks, it could be 3 months. Please pray with me that it is the former, and we can get this baby girl home to our family!
So, in the meantime, I am nesting some more. Moving Micah into Daniel's room. Unpacking the crib, going through girl clothes - what do I have, what do I need. Learning all I can about caring for african hair and skin, practicing my techniques on Kate (though she has silky straight blond hair). Shopping :-) Working on being in the present. Savoring this time with only 3 kids, and no infant. Movies, putt-putt golf, ice skating, sleeping in! I know that will change for a time when little miss gets home, but I am ready and excited about the change.
Can't wait to be able to show you the sweet little smile that is behind this heart!