Sunday, July 1, 2012

The afternoon we left Addis Ababa it was pouring rain. Hardly surprising, given that it was the rainy season. But it made getting the hat back that much more difficult.

Daniel's hat. The same one as Daddy's, exactly. In a newly created trans-racial family, this small similarity was one of our only tangible links.  Something that said: We belong together.  We'd brought the matching hats with us on our very first visit to our new 5 year old son and new 1 year old daughter.  Blue baseball caps from our favorite local team.  Daniel wore it all day that first visit, and on their first visit to the guest house.  After days of eating and playing and meetings and farewell ceremonies, we were heading home at last.

But where is the hat!?

Hours before in my exhausted, feeble attempts at organized packing, trying to make sure we had enough bottles/wipes/changes of clothes/snacks for our epic trip home, I realized we'd completely forgotten the hat. It was at the care center. When we picked up the children for the final time, they wore traditional white clothes. I noticed another boy wearing the Hawaiian t-shirt Daniel had worn on our first visit.  So probably some other child our son's age was wearing the hat, kicking a soccer ball around the courtyard.

We drove in the rain through the city, surrounded by piles of suitcases and other families tense with exhaustion and nervous anticipation of a 24 hour trip with new adopted children. I watched the faces of my children. The baby, up later than usual, was wired and curious, peeking out from the carrier at the rainy city. Daniel was quiet and attentive, feebly responding to the driver's jokes and attempts to get him to smile.

After I'd realized that the hat was at the care center we begged our local driver and guest house manager to help us get it back. With several airport pick-ups and drop offs to arrange, and the constant rain storms, we got little reassurance that the hat would get to us in time.  I tried to explain the significance of the hat. Of course we could buy a new one, of course it was just a hat. But, it was The Hat. The one we gave to our son the first time we see him as our son. The hat in the video we will watch over and over of our meeting day. The hat we are building this fragile new thing on: our family.

After several phone calls and conversations with drivers, a plan is made. We are not told of the plan, in case it will not work. But it does.

We stop on the side of a roundabout, and a young social worker from the care center runs up to our van, holding a newspaper over his head, and our precious blue hat.  My husband retrieves it, and puts it on Daniel's head. His tiny, serious brown face breaks open in a wide, wide smile.
America, here we come!

2 comments:

  1. I was wiping tears away during Daniel and Lily's dedication. I am wiping tears away as I read this. What a journey you all had just to get here. Now about those Mets hats..

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  2. What an amazing post. And what a momma's heart - understanding that it's not just "a hat," it's "the hat."

    ReplyDelete

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