Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ethiopia Day 4--the BIG day

It was another early morning today, but this time it wasn’t because of the ambient noise coming through our open window.  It was nerves today that had my mind alert and reeling before 6 AM.  We were set to leave for the courthouse at 9 AM, which meant I had three hours to fill.  After getting dressed and packing, I was disappointed to find out that I had only successfully whittled away 45 minutes of what was turning out to be the longest wait ever.  My jittery stomach forced Kevin to dine solo this morning, which is incredibly demonstrative of just how out of sorts I was.  How often do I skip breakfast?  Pretty much never!

Alone in the hotel room, I forced myself to sit down and be still before the Lord for a while.  The chapter of John that I read was truly balm to my antsy soul.  I took my eyes off our own situation at hand and prayed for the other adoptive families here with us, our friends in the states who are preparing to join us in China in a matter of days, and for my Chinese friends who seem a world away at the moment (possibly because they are!). 

Finally, it was time to leave.  Our driver met us at the guest house and within minutes we had arrived at the court.  It was a modest building with a group of foreigners gathered outside.  All the foreign adoptive parents were ushered into a large yet very stuffy room on an upper floor.  Our agency representative, Haile, accompanied us as we began the long wait until it was our turn to appear before the judge.  First, several Ethiopian families were called into judge’s office.  The crowd thinned as the judge made her way through the docket.  Every ten minutes or so, my heart jumped as a small girl who I assumed was the judge’s assistant peeked her head out from the office to announce something in Amharic.  Since I obviously couldn’t discern what she was saying, my eyes immediately shot to Haile to follow his reaction to what she said.  Finally, Haile rose to his feet when she appeared and we followed them both into the judge’s office.

There was no pomp or circumstance surrounding this hearing.  It was no American TV court with an intimidating judge shrouded in a black robe, perched behind a towering pedestal of authority.  Instead, a petite woman wearing a black head scarf sat behind a simple desk, embodying the smoldering elegance characteristic of Ethiopian woman.  She wasted no time with formalities but asked us several straight-forward questions: Have we made efforts to become familiar with the culture and history of Ethiopia? Do we have children of our own?  Have we seen the two boys we are wishing to adopt?  Do we accept them as our own children? Do we understand that once this decree has been made, it can under no circumstance be reversed?  Then with a nonchalance that failed to capture the weight of the moment, she uttered the words that have now changed the trajectory of our lives & identities: they are yours.

Within twenty seconds, it was over and we left her office as legal guardians of these two precious boys. It all happened so fast that we had to double-check with Haile to make sure we properly understood what had just transpired.  Indeed, he confirmed, it was all true.  Yes, we passed court.  Yes, our MoWA letter had arrived in time.  Yes, we are their parents.  Which means I am at liberty to introduce to you our new family:



 (here is the hot pink onesie I know everyone was dying to see!)





We left the courthouse in somewhat of a daze and headed to the American embassy.  We had to have an important US State Department form called the I-600 notarized, and since notaries are near impossible to come by in China, the Addis embassy was the only place we could have it done.  Unfortunately, after a half-hour drive winding through dusty roads and crowded pedestrian & donkey traffic, we arrived at the embassy only to find out that they can only provide notary service between 1 and 3 o’clock.  Despite the minor annoyance, there wasn’t much that could ruin the joyful mood of the day.  We headed back to the hotel and agreed to meet the driver again at 1 PM to return to the embassy one more time.


To make a wonderful day even better, we flipped on the TV in our room and found that “Tommy Boy” was playing on the English movie channel.  We laughed over Chris Farley’s antics and quoted all the lines we remembered as we showered, packed up, and prepared to check out of our hotel.  Thankfully, the manager had extended our check-out time to 4 PM so we would be able to freshen up before our long flight that night.

Just as we finished lunch in the hotel’s small restaurant, the driver arrived and we headed to the airport to attempt to get our donation of Crocs out of customs purgatory.  It was unfortunately an hour wasted as the computer systems were down, and none of the necessary information could be retrieved.   But this second set back still couldn’t put a dampener on the day.

After we left the airport, our driver escorted us and another American couple living in Hong Kong to the embassy once more.  It turned out to be a rather involved & somewhat frustrating process.  When our number was finally called, summoning us to the window, we were told that the notary service was $50 per document.  We knew that the embassy charged for notarization but we were unaware the price was that high.  However, with as smitten as we are with these boys, even an unexpected $200 fee is worthwhile just as long as it will get them home to us.  The situation took a much appreciated turn, though, when we were informed by another embassy agent that we did not have to pay the fee at all.  Two of the documents did not require a notarization and the second two were notarized without cost.  We were sent back to the cashier to receive a full refund, and the two smiling Benjamins were happily replaced in our wallet. 

Not knowing how the course of the day would flow, I wasn’t sure if we would be able to see the boys again before we left.  I was so thankful that our driver was more than willing to take us by the care center for another hour with our sons.  Even though I knew their reactions would be rather anticlimactic, I still wanted to share the news with them that the judge had made us their parents.  Sure enough, Lao Da’s response was to point at that ever-elusive toy on top of the wardrobe and Lao Er seemed more interested in the Baby’s First Christmas onesie he was wearing than my thrilling news. As we were preparing to leave, I whispered to both of them the scripture that had encouraged me the day before: And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also (John 14:3). We had a sweet last visit with them, which sadly ended with Lao Da crying when I finally returned him to the baby room.  We could still hear his wails as we shut the gate behind us and climbed into the van. 

Our flight didn’t leave until after midnight, so we took the opportunity for a date night and went to see an English movie at the theater down the street from our hotel.  Thought I wouldn’t necessarily call “The Adjustment Bureau” a cinematic masterpiece, it served its purpose of killing time before we were set to leave for the airport.  Once we got there, we finally managed to rescue the kiddo’s shoes from customs.  Then we boarded the plane once more to head back home.  We were most definitely the only white people on the entire flight.

It feels a little empty not to have our boys with us, though I will say I’m not really looking forward to a fifteen-hour flight with them. I’m thankful that we had the opportunity to meet them and know them in ways that mere photographs couldn’t previously communicate.  I’m thankful that we found fat & happy little boys instead of languishing orphans.  I’m thankful for the care I’m confident our sons will receive until I get to take the helm as their mother & caretaker. I’m thankful for the dozens of pictures I have to scrutinize over during the next two months until I get to hold them again.   I’m thankful that the ultimate goal of this trip was successful and that we are now one step closer to having these boys in our home. 

Thankful.  Just thankful.

27 comments:

Schuknechts said...

WAAAHOOO! I've been checking for your update multiple times over the past day. I am so thankful...what precious boys! When can we know their names? I am so glad the letter was there, and just rejoicing over your precious family. Greta squealed with happiness as I read your post aloud to her. Maybe they will play together someday if you're in Austin =) Praise the Lord for your sons!

Kristie said...

Becky! They're BEAUTIFUL! Praising Jesus with an overflowing heart for these two precious boys He's given you and Kevin!

journeyingrick said...

"They are yours."
oh my LORD that made me cry!!! they are such beautiful little boys and i am so so so so so happy for y'all!!!!! can't wait to see you all 4 together when you come to austin. and we're sending y'all prayers and love and support.
so so fine.

Emily said...

Oh my gosh, Beck, I am SO excited for you guys. Those little boys are so lucky to have you guys. And, what adorable little faces!! Congratulations!

Susan/Mama said...

Ah, Becky and Kevin, words just can't do justice to how I feel for you both and the boys. Thank you, thank you for the post. Looking forward to talking with you Saturday. Much love to you all.

Chris & Sarah Peek said...

Oh Beck, we're so, so happy for you. They look so much more alike now that they're both fat ones. What wonderful pictures for this happy aunty to see. Love you so much.

Gretchen said...

Weeping and rejoicing!! They are so adorable, Becky. Looks like you have some wonderful pictures!!

admccomb said...

Congratulations you guys! Both of you are absolutely glowing!

jscorbin said...

Good, good, good! Happy, happy, happy!

Like the red shirt and overalls on that boy! Now we're talking ... enough pink already.

Best ... Dad

Lynsey said...

So glad to hear this wonderful news!

Amber said...

I'm sobbing! Congratulations you two!!!

Anonymous said...

I have no words for the happiness I feel for you. Literally, feel in my stomach for you both. You are truly blessed. Congratulations! Love, love, love the new family photos! I cannot wait to meet my great-nephews!

AuntB

rachel said...

AAAAAAK!!!

Precious pics! lovely boys! (Can boys be lovely?!) Lovely you and lovely kev!

So very happy and going to start my school day with a bursting full heart. =)

Nancy H. said...

YEAH!!! Congratulations!!! Praise the Lord for such a sweet family!!! Many Blessings - we will be praying for you all!
The Harris'

Meg King said...

YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

May God richly bless your Beautiful family.

Love from the Kings!

Rachel said...

WOW! We are so, so happy for you, rejoicing and thanking Father for His love and amazing gift to you in these precious sons. Best first family picture EVER! Love to you all.

erinbeth said...

Oh my goodness!!! I am so thrilled. So overcome. I love love love this!!!!

Aalderinks said...

Praise the LORD for all His provision and for blessing you with two adorable boys!! We are rejoicing with you and eagerly awaiting reading your homecoming story in the next couple months!!

Brandon and April said...

YAAAAAAAAYYYYYY!!!!!!
Praise the Lord! Oh He's so good!
What a gorgeous family of four you all are!
Completely overjoyed and in tears for you guys. Can't wait to meet those boys! And can't wait to see you guys day after tomorrow! yikes!! :)

Kim said...

Praising Him from Hong Kong,
Kim

Will and Vanessa said...

So-can you give us a post on what is next? If they are legally yours, what are you waiting on!

They are beautiful! Just beautiful! Congrats Mama!

Christy said...

I'm so happy for you and Kevin. It was so sweet to see that picture of your new family! Thankful that God worked everything out so well!

Lena said...

Just saw your beautiful family. How happy I am for you. I can see the joy on your faces. God is GOOD!! Congrats. Love you, love you
Rosemarie

Bonnie Myers said...

Praising the Lord with you!!!!!

Ashley said...

That is so wonderful! Thank you for sharing your story! I hope you can take them home soon!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations to your beautiful and complete (at least at the moment)family! We're blessed with an afri-girl. She is now 10. We love every moment of God's beautiful blessing in our lives. It was the day before our 30th wedding anniversary when we received the call for our baby girl.
Enjoy every day...they grow up very quickly!
Sharon
messec@aculink.net

Anonymous said...

Wonderful news! We rejoice with you, friends. --James