Friday, February 17, 2012

Ethiopia - Meeting HER


The taxi came for us at 9am.  Looking back, I can't remember if I was nervous or not.  I think I was just excited and ready to hold our daughter in our arms.

As we bumped through alleys and sailed down smooth paved roads we passed children in school uniforms, walking with books in hand.  I thought about our daughter Feven, and how she could be any of the faces we were passing.

I stared out the windows hungrily, trying to take in every sight of this new place; after all, this was really our first time out and about since we arrived!  All the homes had large gates and walls around them, and it reminded me so much of my time in Peru and Bolivia.

Many people were walking along the streets.  Some were the children going to school, some were vendors carrying their wares, others were people just running errands to the corner market or walking to catch a taxi van to work.  I drank it all in.

We soon left the more residential area and moved toward the city.  Now wide sidewalks ran along each side of the street, and instead of homes lining the road, there were small shops with narrow doors, or long walls behind which were schools or perhaps businesses.

Before I knew it, we were turning off into an alley again.  As we bumped along slowly, we passed a few repair shops where men in blue overalls sat on overturned buckets or curbs, chatting with one another and waiting to begin work.  We passed a few children who were playing jump rope and tag in the alley.  They stopped and stared at us when we passed by.

Our driver slowed and honked at one point, and the gate beside us opened up.  As more and more of the courtyard and building behind the gate became visible, I recognized it from the pictures I had seen of the House of Hope - we were there!

Clotheslines with little onesies and socks crossed over the courtyard like garland.  A slightly-rusted, colorful merry-go-round hid itself under all the clothes.  A few older children were playing hopscotch under the hanging clothes, and a couple nannies moved about on the second floor balcony. 

The Family Room where we would meet Feven was not ready for us, so we were brought into the infant playroom to wait until the Family Room was ready.  The infant playroom is a bedroom where most of the floor is covered by thin, green gymnasium mats.  Here the infants can roll, crawl, or walk around without the danger of falling and hurting themselves on a hard floor.  Brilliant.  I think I need to find a way to have one of these in our house.

Zac and I spent a few minutes watching the other little ones and interacting with the nannies.  Soon our translator was back to retrieve us, but instead of telling us the Family Room was ready, she was lowering a baby into our arms.  She was saying as she did so, "Here she is..." 

WHOA!  This is Feven!  This is it!  This is the moment!  Here is our daughter!!!

No camera was rolling to capture the moment; I didn't have time to think about exactly how I wanted it to go, we didn't even have time to think about what to say!  Our daughter was placed into my arms as I sat on a green gymnasium mat!

In that split second, what happened within me was amazing.  I didn't take time to process that I was meeting my daughter, instead, all thoughts went to her.  I wanted to do everything I could to make her feel comfortable and safe with us.  I chose to keep her sitting a small distance away from me so she wouldn't feel overwhelmed or scared.  We checked each other out for awhile, and I found myself rubbing her back and arms, trying to soothe her and let her know she was loved.

Please ignore how exhausted I look here!  Yikes!  
That's what 5 hours of sleep in 43 hours does to me!

I think the biggest miracle was that none of us cried.  She was placed in the arms of someone with much lighter skin than she was used to, and she was also starting the "stranger danger" developmental stage, but she didn't cry.  I - one of the most emotional people I have ever met in both sad and happy times - did not shed a tear.  I cried before we left thinking about the enormity of the journey we were on, but that first time seeing her?  Not a tear.  I think I was just in awe of this wonderful little girl.

As silly as it sounds, I was kind of afraid to speak to her.  I knew the words I would use were unfamiliar ones to her.  I had only a handful of Amharic phrases to speak to her and after I used those up (5 seconds into our visit), I didn't know what else to do.  I think Zac saved me by saying, "Do you think you've held her long enough?" 

Ah, yes.  I should probably share Feven.

We had so much fun just staring in awe at this wonderful little girl and thinking about all the amazing moments that lie ahead of us.  After a few long years and an arduous process, we were holding her in our arms.  The many months we had waited and times we doubted melted away like spring snow.  She was in our arms.  We were finally with our daughter.


  1. I read about moments of parents meeting their children on a blog from my favorite orphanage in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Until now, I usually think about it from the child's perspective, as I have been seeing pictures of these kids as they grow. What a beautiful perspective you share from the parents' side, and I will never read those other stories in the same way. I am in awe of the way that God is working in your lives!

  2. I think Feven and Silas are pretty much the exact same age, which makes me understand the emotions of this so closely! I'm so happy for you and Zach!

  3. Well... this made me cry!