We are one day away from flying to Ethiopia. I’ve been packing and running travel errands all day, and it is finally seeming real. We are leaving. Tomorrow! To go to our teeny tiny baby, and back to the country that stole our hearts. We spent thirty days there with Zinashi in our arms, and we still regard it as our first home as a family. What that month gave to us I can’t even explain. It was a month us to become familiar to each other as a family, while still in a place with language and culture and food that Zinashi was used to. It was an opportunity to step out of our normal lives and slow down, to sit on the porch of the guest house every morning for breakfast and take a walk every afternoon, with Zinashi on my back and children following us down the sidewalk. Not that it wasn’t without inconvenience, but it was still so perfect a place to begin our life as a family.
We won’t have the luxury of staying so long with Elvie, but we are thrilled to get some time together there, to begin the next chapter of family life in the same place, with Zinashi’s favorite food available at every meal and the familiar sights and smells of Addis Ababa all around us. I didn’t realize until we were so close to leaving how homesick my heart has been for the country of my daughters’ birth.
This trip, if all goes well, we will stay just two weeks. We will arrive in Addis Ababa by way of Dubai on Saturday afternoon, and we hope to hold Elvie in our arms shortly thereafter. We are not looking forward to the part where we have to hand her back, but until she is legally ours, we must leave her in the capable hands of the care center staff. As much as I’d like to have her straightaway, I recognize that having even one day with just Zinashi is a gift to us.
On Monday, we will attend court and tell the judge that we have met Elvie and want to be her parents. Zinashi will go with us, and I will probably cry. Before, during, and after. We’re trying to teach Zinashi about happy tears, but the truth is that these are sad tears, too. In the room with us while we wait will be families who are giving up their children to be raised far away, and that is a sobering thing. Having been with Zinashi for twenty-one months now, I love her fiercely, and I cannot manage being in a position that I must go to a judge and let her go, even if it is to save her life. That room is full of both heartbreak and happiness, depending on which side of the adoption triad you’re sitting on.
It is then that we will wait to find out when we can have Elvie with us forever. We must have the adoption decree in our hands before we can legally have her with us. We hope it is very soon after. She has not been held by the arms of a mother for more than four months. I don’t want her to have to wait any longer. She will have a medical appointment and get a passport, and then the embassy will do their work, and we hope to have a visa appointment at the US Embassy in short order.
So much is left to fall into place, and it makes me nervous. But tomorrow, we take the first step. We get on the plane. We fly. And on the other side of the ocean, our other home is waiting, and so is a tiny girl. Elvie, we are coming. We are coming soon.