when the ET lawyer for our agency casually recommended we be at the office today at 1 or 1:30 for our court appointment i was a little flustered simply because no other details were allotted. i was still not totally sure what was supposed to shake down while we are here. we woke up this morning planning on heading over to see elliot before court, but since the van broke down monday the ride situation got a little dicey. we ended up just getting a ride to the office, signing some paperwork and essentially preparing for court. when we met with the social worker we realized a few things about elliot's history. it was all stuff we have copies of, but to hear it explained to us by the social worker was really enlightening. learning more about where he was from was really cool for us. turns out another couple that was there for court was going to the region he was from and agreed to take a bunch of pictures and email us. that was super cool and we are looking forward to seeing those soon.
after the paperwork we had about an hour to kill which was not enough time to go see elliot so we got dropped off at this coffee shop that is a starbucks knock off. pretty funny to almost feel like we were at home. when 1:30 rolled around and no one was there to pick us up i began to get a little uneasy. since i had recently learned more about the ethiopians ideas about timing, i was a little prepared but surely court couldn't be this casual? just as i began to really ask b to do something (i nor he had any idea what to do since we didn't have a phone or a number to call) our driver and the social worker rolled up. we made our way to court, which was simply a room on the second floor of an inconspicuous building near the airport. we took an elevator up to the second floor and walked down the hall to the waiting room where our social worker signed us in-- or at least we think that's what she did. there was a piece of paper floating around that everyone was signing and fussing over. there were tons of ferenge in the room as well as many ethiopians. the room was buzzing with nervous energy at least from us ferenge as we looked each other up and down all stuffy in our 'nice' clothes. a girl poked her head out of a side door and said a number, and an american couple stood with their social worker and walked in. they came out 5 minutes later smiling and tearing up. this went on for the next hour and a half. still our number was not called. about halfway through our wait and older american couple-- probably in their late 50's, early 60's walked in with 3 ethiopian children-- a girl about 12, a boy about 9, and another girl about 7. i didn't think much of it til i saw where they were walking to. in the corner of the room was an ethiopian couple. it quickly became evident they were the children's biological parents. suddenly there was a lot of crying from both sets of parents.... and of course me. as in i. couldn't. stop. crying. this was stressful on many levels. one, i wasn't expecting this much emotion, and two, the judge could call us in any minute-- i had to get it together. our social worker explained that the white parents had sponsored the 3 kids and had them living in america for the past year or so. now they were back because the kids ET parents wanted the american couple to adopt them. this did not help matters for me. by now the ET women around me were beginning to become concerned about me. they kept asking why i was crying and b said, 'cuz she's happy,' which was not the truth at all. our social worker told us that this was a very good thing and the other ET women in the court who were also emotional were very happy about this. that made me feel a little better, but not entirely.
you see, adoption is a funny thing. it is by no means a perfect solution. anyone who disillusions themselves otherwise will be sorely disappointed. yesterday while talking with the manager at our hotel she said to me, 'your son is very lucky.' it wasn't the first time i had heard some variation of that, and i know people mean well when they say things like that, but i often find myself with nothing to say in response. it's no secret that the every adult ethiopian we met would love to come to america. america represents hope and change, a way to move up in the world. yet, they don't love the idea of us adopting their children. i understand both. adopting a child from a third world country has nothing to do with bringing them to america, it has everything to do with providing a child with a mom and dad who will love them forever. every child deserves that. so to see this ethiopian father weeping in the court as he mourns the physical loss of his children from here on out, i couldn't help but be torn apart. yet on the other hand i see such a selfless love pouring out of them as they realize that the life their children will now have will include not only unconditional love, but every physical amenity possible-- as well as the opportunity for an exceptional education and college. as soon as i saw those 3 kids, i saw lily, ozzy, and tali. and i asked myself if i possessed that kind of selflessness. our social worker mentioned this was a case of 'extreme poverty.' would i love my kids enough to recognize that my love wasn't enough for them? is that even the case?
so there i was sneaking glances, trying to hold it together as these ET kids showed their mom and dad pictures of their new house, their new school, their own room! all in shiny, beautiful, america! soon enough their name was called and just like that a new family was forged. i was thankful that these kids now had 2 moms and 2 dads to call them daughter and son as bittersweet as it was.
by now we were were the last ferenge in the room. i was really starting to wonder if in fact the court thing was cancelled after all. our social worker had some words with the girl calling numbers and next thing we knew we were escorted into a small room. we sat in 2 folding chairs and faced a middle aged woman behind a desk. our social worker had prepped us somewhat, but more importantly she had told us to keep our answers short-- which was invaluable advice for me, cuz lord knows what kind of rant i would get on. we answered a quick yes to about 8 questions on topics from international adoption education, our thoughts about ethiopia as a country, what our kids thought of the adoption, and lastly if we had met tegegne. before i knew it, she looked up and said these sweet, unforgettable words, 'the court approves this adoption. it will not be cancelled for any reason from this point forward. congratulations, tegegne is all yours.' more tears from me and and off we went.
since we didn't get to visit with elliot that morning, abraham took us over there after court. this was probably our sweetest visit with him. he was up from his nap and had a snack and was in a great mood. he still didn't want to come downstairs so we hung out in his room. 2 other toddlers were cruising around and they all were fighting over the stuff we had brought for elliot. it was cute to see him say some words to the other kids and get a little feisty with them. we also got some video of him cracking up which we can't get enough of. today was the only day that we left and i felt like he was actually sad and a little confused. made my heart hurt to think about.
to celebrate our victory we took abraham out to a nice dinner at an indian restaraunt. not the best curry we've had, but it was fun nonetheless. abraham had never had indian food so it was fun watching him try everything even though he didn't really care for it. another great day in ET, can't believe we leave tmrw. that means goodbye, which are never easy.