It was pretty trippy to go to sleep as a mother of 3 on sunday night and know when I woke up that I would physically have 4 children. Elliot has legally been ours since court, but since he wasn't in our possession I really didn't feel like I had 4 kids. As I wrote on day 1, I was pretty nervous about seeing him again. The way it worked was that even though we flew in Sunday, we couldn't go see him til Monday morning. And the Monday morning visit would be only 10 minutes to reconnect before I had to whisk him away to our embassy appointment. I woke up early, had some tea, got to pray and read a bit. I had a lot of peace and was thankful that God has really allowed me to be in the moment this whole trip. Every time I started to try and predict what it would be like with him these next couple days, God would just shut it down. So when Abrehem poked his head through the gate, I knew it was time.
When we pulled up to the gates of the orphanage, we saw a lot of the little guys were outside. It was neat to see them playing outside, because during our court trip I didn't see the nannies take them outside at all. I thought maybe Elliot would be out there, but he wasn't. They told me he was upstairs getting dressed and to wait outside. I sat on the ground and played with all the little ones. They were so cute and friendly, it was hard not to want to scoop them all up. One of the nannies popped her head out and said he was ready. I walked up the 3 flights and saw his little face over the gate of one of the rooms. I immediately crouched low and crawled over to him. I started talking low and whispering to him that his mom was back and we were going to go home now. Of course he didn't understand a word, but I wanted to give him some space but also try and comfort him. Then I got out my phone and started showing him pictures of the last time I saw him. I showed him a video of him and I and several pictures. He started showing some interest, and then once I let him hold my phone, I was inJ
I carried him downstairs. He was bit hesitant, but wasn't reaching for the nannies. We walked out and got in the car and he let out a couple little cries. I held him close and tried to reassure him. By the time we were down the road he had wrapped his body around mine and was gripping my shirt. I held him tight and scratched his back. As usual there was massive traffic getting to the US embassy, and before I knew it he had fallen right asleep on me. It was the best feeling ever.
Embassy was incredibly anti-climatic. We showed them our passports, waited in a room for about 5 mins, then they called our name. I walked up to a window and a man asked me a couple questions, then said, 'congratulations, your adoption is complete.' We left and headed back to the guesthouse.
I had asked the social worker prior to our arrival to have the going away party right after embassy. They assured me this would be no problem. I wanted to make a clean break from the orphanage, I didn't want to have to take him back after he had been away. So when we got back and they told me the party now wouldn't be until Tuesday, I was pretty bummed. Knowing there was nothing I could do, I just accepted that was the way it would be. The head social worker of the orphanage called me into the office so they could tell me a bit about Elliot’s schedule. We went over some basics about what he eats, when he sleeps, personality etc. It was neat to hear more about his personality. They told me he is the leader of the toddlers, very outgoing, and a happy boy. Since all I had witnessed up until that point was a quiet little guy, it was fun to hear about his real self. After everyone had left the office, it was just me and Elliot and the social worker. I started to get up to leave, but she stopped me. She said, ‘can I ask you a small question?’ I said, ‘yes, of course- anything.’ She looked up and said, ‘are you a Christian?’ I said, ‘I am.’ With much relief she said, ‘oh good, that is of the most importance.’ I went on to tell her about our faith, community and that we are praying that a life following Jesus was in Elliot’s future. She said, ‘that’s good, because he is going to be a pastor. Watch this.’ Then the boy, who I've heard utter only one or two words, places his hand on her head and says something in Amharic and then a big amen! It was so crazy. She went on to tell me how he prays for everyone. It was pretty special to say the least.
|Elliot with nannies and staff at Hilawe|
We left Hilawe and headed back to the guesthouse. He seemed pretty tired, so I just laid him down in the bed next to me and we fell asleep within minutes. Four hours later, there was a knock at the door telling us it was time for dinner. Elliot sat down and ate a whole plate of spaghetti and then about half of mine. The boy can put it back. It was awesome! After dinner we got our best glimpse of his true self. He started smiling and laughing and playing with toys and just being generally adorable. We finally made our way up to our room to get ready for bed, but he was still wide awake from that crazy nap. So for the next hour he opened and closed these Tupperware tubs my mom brought. He filled them with stuff from around the room then jammed it all in the cupboard in our room. He organized and rearranged the shoes and toys. He was totally entertained for a good hour. I started to get tired, so I turned out one of the lights and tried to lay him down next to me. He got right up and kept playing. After 10 mins more of playing, I finally put him in the bed and turned out the light. He was asleep within minutes! He slept the entire night without waking. It was crazy to wake up every so often and here his little breath. Occasionally he would let out a little whimper or sigh and I would take my hand and place it on his chest. He finally woke up around 7… I was a little nervous to see how he would be in the morning. But lo and behold he rolled right over and gave me a big ol smile. Perfect end to a perfect beginning.