Of all the mornings my body would let me sleep in I have to get up and get ready for court. Craig had a rough night, he was tossing and turning in his sleep and burping up the most nauseous smell ever, I woke up gagging!!! I opened the window and poured him a double dose of Pepto, he and his pepper from last night are not getting along and I too seem to be taking some of the punishment! I’m calm but nervous, this is such a big day…. Jill takes B and B back today and flies home, we have court, I get to sit eye to eye with Roza and Sada’s birth dad and ask him a few questions and that poor man has to look into mine hoping I’m everything he wants for his children. He then has to look into the eyes of his children for the last time and say good bye forever and then turn and walk away. I’m not sure how he will be able to do it, how the kids will take it or how I can help them both. I’m full of fear, possible joy, heart ache, pain, tears, happiness, nerves, and a lot of questions in my mind. Lord I need you now.
I’m stressed, overwhelmed, exhausted and crying!!! I just said goodbye to my best friend who just said goodbye to her children, tears and snot have long since erased the makeup of my morning. We did not pass court today which every time I think of literally makes me cry more and now Jill is gone with her own broken heart. Adoption is so hard!!! You have no idea, heck I had no idea. Taking a child into your arms who is lost in this world and fatherless should be easy!!! It was for my heart, why does this world make it so hard and as I sit here thinking about my pain and sacrifice I’m also thinking about the pain and sacrifice of Christ and how much harder we make it on him and that he died on that cross willingly. Suffered willingly and takes us in his arms willingly and would do it all again without thinking twice because we are worth it. Now, as an adoptive mother who feels the same way about my children I better understand his love for me and appreciate it more than I did before.
Nine, nine families looking for the seal approval this morning from the Ethiopian government, one signature is all each family needed to bring 12 children permanently and legally forever in their lives. And of the 12 children looking to become part of us only 5 were signed off on this morning.
We (all the families) met in the lobby of the guest house this morning at 8:30 am for some prayer time as a group. Thank you Scott for leading us this morning. I was beyond nervous and after that time with our Father I felt calm…ish. At 9:00 am we loaded into three vans and drove literary 3 blocks to in front of the court house. We followed the leader up the 3 or 4 flights of stairs (I lost count) and as we walked down the hall to our court waiting room we saw some men using a crow bar trying to open a big heavy metal door with no handle. This building is NOTHING like a U.S. court building! We entered a room with chairs lining three of the walls all filled with the bodies of Ethiopian men and women you could tell that many of them had traveled far. The group of us huddled together in the only vacant area in the room near some open windows. The word SILENT was posted on the walls in multiple spots but that didn’t stop the soft whispers of everyone in the room. It took no time at all for two of the families to recognize their child’s birthparent. My heart began to race as I studied the room searching the face of the man who HAD to show up today to relinquish his rights as a father so we could adopt Roza and Sada. I saw him nowhere….. 50 or more people in this room and I can’t find our birthfather. I could feel the fear and panic in me as I looked at Craig and whispered “I don’t see him.” “I think I saw him down stairs but I’m not positive” I searched again and again until a man who’s face I recognized walked in the room and found one of the few empty seats. Some of my fear began to ease but this man who’s face I knew, was more thin than it was in the photo that was taken a few months ago. He was more frail but the same deep sadness in his eyes was unchanged and unmistakable and I recognized that. I kept an eye on this man as the minuets began to tick by and finally a door in the corner of the room opened and a women shhhed us all and then began to call out a few names at a time. When names where called men and women from all different regions of Ethiopia, all dressed in different fashion would rise and enter the judges chamber and in 2 or 3 minuets walk back out and find their place in the room again. This is when I realized that every person in this room was here for the same reason, they were giving up their child as we were gaining one. Face to face in one room them watching each of us wondering which of those Americans will be MY babies new mom or dad? Which one is replacing me? And us looking them over taking in every detail and trying to learn more of the story of our child’s past so that we can one day share every possible detail with them. As I was scanning the room our birth dad had disappeared, Craig and I both had taken our eyes off just for a moment and now he was gone. What if he changed his mind, walked out, took the kids back was racing in my mind. He was with in his legal right to do just that. I could feel 100% panic take over me. Craig held my upper arm and I could taste breakfast in my throat when I saw the sleeve of our birth father’s pale shirt sitting in the chair of the judges chamber. My stomach dropped, the burning left my throat but the speed of my heart didn’t let up as I watched this man walk out of the chamber I felt both relief and grief. It wasn’t long until the names being called changed from Ethiopian to American and three families walked in to face the judge. No quicker where they in there then they were out. Some had expressions of sadness and others joy. I didn’t have time to ask what happened because we were called in with three other families. We filed in the small room, the judge sat behind a big brown laminate desk covered with files upon files of adoption cases. Some stacks were taller than her as she sat there. Our passports were taken by the clerk and handed to the judge but she never opened a single one. They sat on her desk, next to the files as she began to question us as a group. First she would call out the name of our child/Children. “Sada and Roza?” Craig and I both lifted our hand to show we were present. Then she asked if we knew this adoption was permanent? A nod of our heads with a unanimous yes. She wanted to know if we had each taken time to study and embrace Ethiopia culture and did we promise to educate our adopted children in the ways of Ethiopia because she felt that was very important. Another unanimous Yes exited the mouths of all four families. To be honest I can’t remember the rest right now my brain and body are so exhausted but non of the questions were complicated or required more than a yes or no answer. The judge opened a file and looked at the first family in the room put a signature on the paper and said “It’s finalized, she is yours.” HOPE. Right then hope hit me. Someone passed, we could too, but then the next case file was opened and closed again with a no pass and I felt the energy of the room leave but not my hope. We were next. She called the names of Roza and Sada again. Briefly looked into our folder and said. “The father of Sada and Roza has an 11 year old son from a previous wife, his name and address needs to be included in the file, when this is done you will be finalized, this is the job of your agency and is in their hands.” and with that she shut our folder. That was it, we did not pass. I kept my composure better than I expected but I couldn’t stop the tears. As we were ushered out and the remaining families were taken in I asked one of AW repps. “This is an easy fix, right? I mean their father is here, can’t he just be re-interviewed while here today?” For gracious sakes I know the boys name and address!!!! Nothing in Ethiopia is that simple when it comes to paperwork. Before I had time to finish my question and answer session the last families where leaving the judges chambers and we were all led back to the vans we came in. Three blocks and 65 stairs later Craig and I where back in our guest room. That was it. It was that fast not quite 11 am and my heart was crushed.
I decided to re-watch the DVD of the birthfather’s interview so I could narrow down my questions for our upcoming meeting. I wrote them out in my journal as I ate a few red vines and then completely exhausted I fell asleep waiting for the phone to ring.
This is how it works…. After court you are driven back to the GH where you are told to go to your room and not come back out till called. AW then transports all the birth families to the lobby of the guest house and they call us down two or three at a time depending on how many interpreters there are that day. We get about 15 minuets of face time to get a lifetime of questions answered. We were able to ask about ten questions and tell the birth dad a little about us. We gave him about 20 photo’s of the kids as well as our family photo and he was very kind and let us video the entire process. What a treasure for Sada and Roza. During the interview the father and I both cried, and as I look at the pictures of Craig and I with him I can see how emotionally spent I am and can’t even imagine how he must be feeling, to think this is just the start of his emotional day. At this point we were asked to return to our rooms until all interviews were over. When that was finished we were driven to lunch and the birth families were taken to the TH to say goodbye a final time. I had been nervous for Roza and Sada. I wanted to protect them from the pain of good bye but not keep that from them at the same time. I was worried about what it would do to our bonding process with them and how to help them. As we pulled in to the TH after lunch I expected the worse but we were greeted by the happy smiling face and waving hand of Sada, Roza was her shy timid self but climbed into my lap. It was obvious she had been crying a streak of tear still wet on her cheek. Craig and I tried to make this a happier time for them and thought R and S put on a good show I could see the hurt and pain in their eyes and all over their face, I felt helpless to ease the hurt, a mother’s fear and heartache.
By the time we made it home from the TH Kelli, Jill and Maddie where back from taking B and B back to the orphanage. We shared news of hurt, pain and sorrow, ate some chocolate, packed Jill’s things and in what felt like the blink of an eye she was hugging me goodbye in the courtyard of the GH her luggage already loaded on top of the van. Tears, tears and more tears mixed with snot and I love you. The sound of the door closing her in was the last I could take. I’m done, I have nothing left in me toady I just need today to end and a new sunrise tomorrow.