That is what she is, after all. An amazing gift. We started this journey with a God given desire to reach out, to ACT, to love an orphan and give her a home - to GIVE a gift to someone. What has happened is that we have been given the gift. Isn't that so like the Lord??
We left to go back to Ethiopia to get our daughter almost 2 weeks ago. Amazing how so much happen in just 2 weeks. We arrived late on a Saturday night, ET time, and spent our last night without her in our arms. Sunday morning we woke up READY to go and get our sweet girl. The morning was long, the short ride to the transition home felt like forever, my arms ached for the feel of her. Finally we got there, they brought her out to us and put her in my arms - my arms that had been longing for her, and had not forgotten the feel of her, she smiled for a few minutes,
then...she cried hysterically. Cried and cried, so hard that the special mothers had to take her from my arms and calm her down. The special mother gave her to Matthew, who walked her around outside, not making eye contact, and eventually she feel asleep in his arms and he held her for a long time. I could not even talk to her or she started crying! My arms were empty again, and I was a little shocked - she had LOVED me last time, didn't she know I was her mommy, couldn't she feel my more than capable arms that have loved and cared for 3 other kids, couldn't she sense my love for her? But in the place of that "wanting it to be all nice and comfortable and a joyous reunion" grew a broken compassion that I had touched on, but not yet fully grasped. Our presence there was about to rock her world. Turn it upside down. She had already once felt the loss of her mother's arms, now I was about to take her out of the arms of the special mothers that had been caring for her for the last 4 months.
I, mentally, had been prepared for this. Taken the hours upon hours of education courses on it, been briefed and talk to by my case worker on the ins and outs of what it could look like, but I think in my mind I really just thought, "Oh, she is only 6 months old, is she really going to be feeling all that? How can a 6 month old really express that much grief?" My heart broke over and over for her as the weight of just what all she had gone through in the past 6 months, and was about to go through, washed over me like a flood. We stayed there a brief time, then we loaded back up in the van to go back to the hotel where we would be mostly room bound for the next 5 days as we bonded and attached to our daughter. The grieving continued. She cried on and off (mostly on), for the next 36 hours.
Our case worker had told us that there would be a time about 24 hours after we got her, that she would really focus on our face, and the realization that we were not taking her back to her "home" would hit, and she would be inconsolable for a time. Can you believe it - THAT HAPPENED TOO!! I don't think I really believed it would - after all I am a pretty well educated mom when it comes to taking care of kids. Thinking that anyone that has lived through the kind of colic my 2nd child had, knows all the tricks to comfort even the most distraught baby. I didn't, not even close. As I was giving her a bottle, cuddling her close and her tired, red eyes were closing, she suddenly popped them open a little dazed, and then she focused, really focused in on my face and you could see the reality hit her, the "oh my goodness who is this stranger and why is she not taking me back" look on her face happened only seconds before the saddest cry I have ever heard came forth. She did the same thing with Matthew. He walked out of the bathroom and said her name, and she really LOOKED at him, and lost it, so sad. Heart break over an over. All I could do is hold her close, cry with her, and tell her over and over that I love her, that I will never leave her, that she is forever my daughter.
Things got a little better after that. We spent a lot of time walking outside behind the hotel, we ate when she slept, held her most of the time, slept when she slept, and loved being with her. It was hard, very hard at times, but such a sweet time. As I would be giving her a bottle, and gazing down at her sweet little face, reality would hit me again and again - the heart ache, the pain of her story. Adoption is so beautiful, but it is so broken.
We had Embassy on Monday morning, then on Wednesday we had to go back to the transition home to pick up our paperwork. We had already decided that we would not go back to see the Special mothers because it was so hard to leave the first time, we didn't want to go through that again. When we got there the director was in a meeting so we had to wait at the baby house. All the special mothers came out to see her, took her from my arms, my heart was full of dread at what that might be doing to her, and she cried, cried and cried so I took her back, and she STOPPED!!! She wanted back in my arms - it was hard, but so good to see that she was attaching to us already.
We left at 11:15pm ET time on Thursday night. It was LONG and crazy - our flight got cancelled in Chicago - when we were SO CLOSE! We thankfully got on standby by for the next flight out, so we ended up getting home at 10:30pm Friday night, 36 hours of traveling later. Exhausted but jubilant to be home and have our entire family together!
I feel like this has been an amazing gift to me, to my family. Even the LONG wait has been a gift. My eyes have been opened to so many things, the Lord has broken my heart for his children, and now this sweetest gift of this precious daughter, this sweet gift to my 3 bio kids of this amazing sister. We are enjoying her so much - can't stop kissing her round little face, and I am praying that she can survive the smothering hugs and kisses from her siblings because they can't get enough of her!
So happy to be the momma to these 4 amazing kids!