since i poured my heart out yesterday, i'll try to give you guys a play by play of today-- cuz i know its a day i never want to forget.
we woke up saturday morning earlier than we wanted, methinks the jet lag was catching up. our driver, abraham was coming at 8:45 to pick us up and take us to hilawe (the orphanage elliot is at). we had about 2 hours to kill. thankfully the place we are staying provides a really nice breakfast and a quaint little cafe with free wifi to hang out at. we got caught up with emails and facebook and had some time to read. god had given me psalm 121 about a week after we got our referral for elliot. i read it today and was reminded again, just as this entire trip has been one GIANT reminder of god's love for his children. these verses specifically have continued to resonate with me as i think about our boy... 'the lord will keep you from all harm- he will watch over your life; the lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.' what a promise.
i kept thinking i was going to start feeling anxious or nervous to meet him, but i had a real surprising peace (probably due to all that praying i've been begging for). up until this point, this moment wasn't one that i had thought much about. i think i wanted to protect myself from to high or to low expectations.
abraham--who happens to be a super cool guy and amazing tour guide was right on time. he did his usual bit about all the touristy things we might want to know, which consisted mostly of unmanned herds of sheep, goats and cows strewn about in the middle of the city. i was surprised now that i was seeing the city in the daylight how much it reminded me of mexico. a midst shacks there were lots of unfinished buildings but also sprinkled in were super fancy high rises. it was very polar to say the least. abraham first took us over to the layla house, which is where our agency used to have their orphanage.
i had heard lots of great things about the place, so it was weird to see it almost totally empty. now our agency doesn't pull children from one orphanage, but several. after layla house we picked up a gal from our agencies ethiopian staff. next thing i knew we were pulling into the gates of hilawe. we were minutes from seeing tegegne for the first time.
as we parked the car there was a big group of americans gathered right out front. they were a group from the US doing some medical mission work. they were basically a group of doctors and nurses going from orphanage to orphanage doing check ups on the kids. it was nice to have them there as we weren't the only 'ferenge' (what ethiopians call white people). the orphanage was big and actually really nice inside. hardwood floors, clean rooms etc. it seemed very organized. we walked in the front door and went up the first flight of stairs to the second level. there were quite a few older kids (5+) hanging around. these kids were so stinkin adorable and so so so so sweet. they wanted to shake our hands and they just smiled and smiled. the boys were outgoing and girls shy. seriously such beautiful children. it was then that i started crying. i was really surprised how affected i was by these kids. i've seen posts on our adoption group with people pleading to consider adopting older children. now i see why. perhaps some of it was seeing lily and ozzy's eyes among the ones i saw today. it really shook me.
we made our way up to the second set of stairs and saw 2 rooms. the first room had a gate and 3 little ones probably all under 18 months hanging on the gate. they were adorable, and my first glimpse of babies. i looked into the room next to it and sitting on the floor i saw him. i recognized him right away. he looked just like his pictures, but even cuter. the thing that surprised me the most was how tiny he was. the pictures made it seem like he was bigger, but the kid is seriously little. the nannies (caregivers at the orphanage) immediately start saying 'tegegne, mommy poppy' and pointing to us. i bent down and more and more tears came. as i sat down to be at his level he just looked at me, taking it all in. next thing i knew he was in my lap cuddled right up. the staff suggested we go downstairs in the lobby area and play with him. we walked down and sat on a chair. he wasn't interested in getting out of my lap. we gave him a little truck we had brought and he held onto it as we showed him some pictures from the little photo book we gave him. he kind of started to get a little fussy and at that point one of the nannies brought him some milk in a sippy cup. we realized it might be better to take him back up to his room. this was the right choice. once up there he climbed out of my lap and started to loosen up a bit. it was cute to see him interact with his little roommates. we played trucks, looked at more pictures and really just hung out. babies would cry and we would hold them as the nannies went about their work. we gave him some jammies we had bought him and the nannies put them on him. i wish i could show all of you how adorable he looked in them. a couple of the medical missions people came in and started chatting with us. they offered to take a look at him which was super cool. the lady who visited with us told us he seemed pretty healthy, he def had a pretty good cough going but then again all the kids had runny noses and coughs. she said she works at a lot of orphanages and that we were very fortunate because hilawe is a really nice one. that made me feel really good. the doctor estimated that he was between 18 months and 2. i could tell how much elliot loved his nannies as well. i felt really happy that he was so attached to them. by the end of our 2 hour visit, the nannies were asking him to point to mommy and poppy in the pictures and he was. i don't think he really grasped the situation but i was happy to know that he seemed reasonably comfortable with us. it was hard to say goodbye, but i felt like our time was really rich.
all in all it was a pretty amazing day. elliot was everything i hoped for and more. i know it will be an adjustment for all of us, but i'm so happy and thankful to be able to actually do something about all of these orphans. it literally breaks my heart into pieces being around them. if it's hard to imagine, peek into your babies room while they sleep... and try and imagine for just one moment, that you don't exist in their world. you won't be there in the morning to cuddle him in your bed, or make him his favorite breakfast, or tell them you love them. in fact no one person is there to do that. it's incredibly painful to know that elliot has never had this... that he's probably never been to a park, never ridden in a car, let alone a stroller. he's never had the same warm body to hold and tell him that he is perfect and loved...
i can't wait for this to change....