Two years ago today we became a family.
Ohmygoodness, I tremble with exhaustion just thinking about that day... So wonderful, so terribly frightening and so, so perfect.
But, I need to backtrack a little bit. Because the way that our adoption, and most Ethiopian adoptions at this point progress is a like an old fashioned dance. Two steps forward, one step back.
We arrived in Addis Ababa at night, late in the evening of July 9th. (We'd left America on July 8th. So, yes, it's a long trip.) The next day we had the whole morning to unpack, do some last minute shopping, and have slow, hours-long panic attacks about what was about to happen. For those of you who have had children by birth, think of this time as the pre-hospital light-labor phase. You are feeling pangs, but can still move around and, mostly, think clearly.
That afternoon we went to visit the children at their care center. We were accompanied by their social worker, a videographer and a photographer. It was just the kind of moment that I'd watched, crying, on youtube. It was surreal. We gave Daniel his Mets hat. (The Hat) We tried to coax a crying, terrified baby Lily into smiles. We shared a box of raisins. We gave Lily a piping hot cup of formula. She stopped crying, but refused to smile.
After an hour or so of video-taped, photographed intensity, Andrew and I left the care center and went back to the guest house. We lay down on the bed and stared into space for a while. We wished desperately we'd brought some wine with us. I probably unpacked and reorganized all our things for the 4th or 5th time. I don't really remember, it just seems like something I would do. We may have eaten dinner. We might have slept, a little.
The next morning our kids came to visit the guest house. They wore their best mismatched orphanage clothes. (All clothes in a care center are communal. So the red Hawaiian shirt Daniel wore on the first day we met we saw another boy wearing the next day. Lily's outfit was hilariously mismatched. Each piece was not only a different color, but also a different size!)
|Lily is extremely suspicious of everything. What, exactly is going on here!?|
|Daniel is super excited to ride in the van. He is ready to head to the airport!|
|My first vain attempt at getting both kids to sit still and do one activity together. Still impossible.|
That poor turquoise rug took quite a beating that week, especially during diaper changes.
|This is what we did, for hours. Up and down, stop and go.|
|Lily's first favorite toy/teether. Sadly, that cute hat never made it to America.|
When Andrew and I got back into the big red van, leaving Daniel in the driveway of the care center, he started crying. He didn't understand that we'd be coming back in just a couple of hours. He really was ready, at that moment, to get on the airplane for America. I suspect he thought America was paved in candy and it rained toys. Certainly family life in the U.S. was not the endlessly exciting sleepover party that he imagined. For one thing: homework! What a letdown.
But on that day, that day it was just about perfect.
Happy Forever Day, little family.