Adoption is beautiful. Y'all know that, right? It's theological. It's redemptive. It's beauty from ashes. It's God's glory revealed.
It's also painful. And messy. And terrifying. And a sure sign of the Fall that there are orphans to begin with, and that in order to play a part in their personal story we have to also play a part in inflicting some measure of pain upon them.
There is a crucifiction before there is a resurrection.
When we went to court in November, there were kids at Bethie's foster care center who came up to us instantly, jumped into our laps, brought us books to read, giggled at our tickles. Our girl wasn't one of those kids. We discovered instantly when we met Bethie that she was a sensitive, introverted, shy little girl. We knew that taking her away from all she has known was going to be hard. So hard. So hard that I've spent the last two and a half months praying, crying and worrying.
Monday we spent a little bit of time with our girl at the care center to remind her who we were. To "familiarize" her with us before we took her away from all she knew.
Tuesday her ringlets were gone (boo! but I'm sure they don't last at night.) We hung out a little in the front yard at what used to be her home, but wasn't where she slept any more. So many changes since we left, including a monumental one: I learned that her special mother, Arafame, had been layed off a month before. So sweet girl had already had the one 'mother' she knew taken away from her. For a month now. And I didn't even know it, didn't know how it had affected her heart and her little soul. But I prayed that somehow it would make her transition to our care a little easier.
We had bought a present for Arafame. The Gladney social worker promised she would deliver it to her.
As if it could possibly convey thanks for loving our daughter. Thanks for cuddling her and kissing her and wiping her nose and teaching her songs. When she bonds with us, we will know it is because of you, and we will always be thankful.
There was a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony planned, which is how they send off the kids.
And then our Embassy appointment (to pick up her visa) was at 2pm. She had to go with us, so that was when we would take her.
They call it Gotcha Day. And I do love that, I do. As an adopted kid myself, I actually think that's super cool, to celebrate the day we finally, finally, GOTCHA in our arms. Cute, huh?
Ohmyskull. If only adoption weren't so freaking complicated. If only GOTCHA didn't mean TOOKYA from all you knew while you were SCREAMING and TERRIFIED and there was no way to convey to you that THIS WAS A GOOD THING, WE PROMISE, REALLY, IT IS, even though GOTCHA seems like a word applying to the Boogy Man, not two parents who have loved you and prayed for you and worked really hard to bring you out of an orphanage and into their family.
Bethie, at 27 months, is a perceptive little thing. She knew something crazy was amiss. She stayed far away from us. I tried to pick her up once and she screamed and kicked until I put her down.
There were two other families there with us. Zach and Christie, whose sweet baby Myla slept the almost the whole time. And Jean, whom I've emailed for years and finally got to meet in person, and who quickly became a good friend. Bethie's roommate Tess cried herself to sleep on Jean's lap.
Maggie shared crayons with her new baby sister and gave her a necklace that Ike had made at his kindergarten Christmas party that had somehow managed to find itself in Addis Ababa.
In melodic Amharic the social worker and nurse tried to prepare Bethie for what was to come, as if they could.
I sat on the couch while all the nannies milled about and chatted, feeling awkward, just wanting to get this over with.
(Wait, you were wanting unicorns and rainbows?)
I did change her clothes. Or one of they did, anyway. They also managed to get a tiny dose of Dramamine in her, because we had been warned by everyone that she got carsick.
We drank yummy Ethiopian coffee and ate yummy Ethiopian popcorn and they called Arafame. When Bethie heard her voice, we got to see her smile for the first (and last) time that day.
And then it was time.
The moment that I have prayed for/dreaded with every fiber of my being had fibally come.
Then before we got half a block away, literally, half a block away, this:
Because the Lord in His infinite mercy, before the foundations of the world were made, had determined that my baby girl would get carsick and therefore, during the most tragic, confusing moment of her little life, would be completely stoned on Dramamine.
Praise be to His holy name.
She woke up when we arrived at the Embassy building and immediately scrambled out of my arms and into Walker's. Once we were inside, Deerje, Gladney's coordinator, held her for the entire twenty minutes or so it took for us to drop off our paperwork.
Afterwards we went to Lucy Restaurant, one of our favorites (restaurants in Addis are shockingly good) and she wanted nothing to do with me while she nibbled on a roll and sucked her little fingers, but she was calm.
Then we drove to the top of Entoto Mountain for a quick partial-family photograph.
We went back to our guest house. Bethie fell asleep again in the car, I think she was using sleep as a coping mechanism. "Just like you do," Walker said. She seemed like she had shut down. I don't know how much of that was the Dramamine, or the shock, or a combination.
At some point, she let me hold her. We ate dinner there, and then I put her in her snuggly jammies, and she laid on my chest, and sucked her fingers, and we slept, all night, like this.
I fell asleep knowing that she was still confused and grieving, but believing that she was realizing that even though she didn't know who we were, we were kind and gentle. And I prayed that her little heart would heal.