After about 27 hours of travel, we finally made it home yesterday afternoon at about 3:30 with Sara Joy! It was an absolutely amazing adventure to say the least. I see the work of God ALL OVER this adoption. It gives me chills to think of all the ways I have seen God work in my heart during this process, and to just watch His perfect plan unfold. Everything that happened, He knew. Everything that happened was in his control. Everything that happened was for His purpose. Everything that happened was perfect.
I wish I would have had the opportunity to update while we were in country... but the internet connection was intermittent at best. Some times it was completely non-existent. I was also focused on bonding with this incredible little girl. I was so focused on her, that I didn't even get a single picture. I know... I'm a bad mom. I was focused on remembering the moment in my head - which in my mind is more important than getting it on my camera memory card.
We arrived there late Sunday night. We were able to take our two totes. There is an interesting story behind that... they almost charged us $150 for one extra tote. I saw God work in that. (He was working on my patience at that point). Finally, we were able to convince the person behind the counter that there was not $150 worth of stuff in the tote and it was insane for me to pay that much - especially when the cost of the extra tote would have only been $25 or $50 if we paid it in Columbia. BUT, the person in Columbia told us there was no charge for the tote because tags were printed without a charge. When we got to Washington they wanted to charge us. When I asked how much they said $150. I nearly had a heart attack. Anyway, after waiting three hours to talk to someone (someone who said I was not being patient - really, THREE HOURS is not patient???) they finally said that we did not have to pay for the tote. Thankfully Kelly and Matt saved us some overhead compartment space because we were the last people on the plane and it was full. We got settled in for the long ride, and were on our way.
We arrived Sunday night and got settled into the hotel. All of our baggage and totes arrived so we were set. All we had to do was go to sleep and in the morning we would get Sara.
Monday morning we went to the transition home and picked up Sara. Once again, she was not thrilled to see us, but adjusted quickly. I was surprised when we left with her, that she was fine with it. We rode over to the hotel and got to know each other. It was interesting. She didn't really like me, but she liked me a little bit more than Tim. I chalk that up to the fact that there were women who took care of her, not men. She eventually would let Tim interact with her, but it took some time. When she needed to be put to sleep, she wanted me, and I was fine with that. We basically spent the day in the hotel. She eats and sleeps well. We will have to change some of her eating habits, but that will happen over time. It has already started to happen.
Tuesday we went to the orphanage. We took a tote of donations over there. The nannies were THRILLED. Thank you to all who donated each and every item. They were happy with them all! We received several monetary donations, and the night before we left, we took the kids to tar.get and split up the money and let them each pick things for the kids from the baby aisles (diaper cream, lotion, tylenol, stickers, coloring books, baby food, thermometers... things like that). We had a BUNCH to take and as I said, they were thrilled.
Anyway, before going over to the orphanage, I did Sara's hair. I attempted to do it the way it was when I picked her up on Monday - simply because I knew of no other way. Apparently, even though I thought I did a decent job, with a child who was screaming and moving around while I was trying to do her hair, they didn't think so. After ooohhhing and aaahhhing over her (they really did seem happy to see her again) we were upstairs playing with the other children and I looked over and they were taking Sara's hair ponytails out and were redoing it :) Oh well.... I've gotten better at it now and have actually gotten compliments on it :)
My favorite little orphan girl (besides Sara, who is NO LONGER AN ORPHAN :) ) was there - Kalkatu. I noticed her right away by her big huge smile and her little tongue just sticking out!!! She smiled so big at me and then fell into my arms. She did the same with Tim. I'm telling you, if I didn't know any better, it would have seemed like God was telling me to take this little one too. She was just attracted to Tim and I like a little magnet. I think though, that this is it for Tim and I. I know I said before that I wanted another, but I think that we have hit the balance square on the head with the addition of Sara to our family. It is important to me to have enough time for each child in our home, and as much as I would love another, I think God has given me peace that this is enough. We'll see if that changes over time, but Tim and I actually talked about it before we left, and while we were there. We'll leave it in God's hands, but right now, He seems to be telling both of us that this is the number for our family.
We were very surprised to learn that Sara loves to take a bath. When I put her in the tub, I thought she would scream... but she did just the opposite. It was like she has lived in the water and it was her second home. She absolutely LOVED it. We brought some bath toys with us, so she enjoyed playing with those.
Wednesday we met up with Craig and Amanda Dyson. They are missionaries living just outside of Addis Ababa. The church we used to attend supports them and I learned of them thru there. They are two very wonderful people. I am not one to venture out and meet people, but I am SO glad that I did. Amanda was very sweet. They have a little boy Jackson, who was adopted domestically and we got to meet him as well. They were so willing to help us in any way that they could. They took us to some shops that they knew were reputable and we were able to get some last minute things that we wanted to bring home. Amanda even gave me a gift - and Ethiopian scarf, some coffee, tea and a bracelet. It was so very thoughtful. After shopping we went to the Island Breeze restraunt. It is safe American food. They had the best pizza I have had in a long time. It was very nice to spend time with them.
Thursday we had our Embassy appointment. When we got there, we waited for our turn, but as we were waiting, a man came out and said that the computers were down and they didn't know when they would be back up. They said everyone should leave - except those who were adopting. Thank goodness, because we had to have our embassy appt that day in order to get our Visa on Friday and leave on time. They could not guarantee that the computers would be up and running, but they would do their best to make sure we were able to leave on Friday. I put it all in God's hands and felt secure in the fact that He would get us home!
We passed our embassy appointment with no problem. After embassy we went to the Family Restaurant for dinner / ice cream. I had wanted ice cream since Monday night and no one had any. When we saw an ad for this place and they had ice cream, the whole group went over for dinner and to celebrate!
Friday morning we were to go back to the transition home at 11:00 to pick up our Visas if they were indeed ready. Thankfully, they were. We got our visas and then went back to the hotel and had lunch. After lunch we packed up and just hung out with Sara until 7:00 when we headed to the airport for the journey home.
If you are friends with me on Facebook, I was able to update a couple of times and in one of my updates I told of an interesting turn of events....here is the story.
When we were given Sara's referral, we were told that she was 14 months old. Which would now make her 18 months. We were given a birth date of April 16th. When we got her paper work, it said she was born October 24th - which puts her at just over 12 months. It is clearly not the case. We were told though, that we had to answer things at the embassy just like what we had in the paperwork. I have pictures of her from before October 24th - I have some from as early as early September and she was clearly about 4 - 5 months old then, if not even a bit older. I wanted to joke that it was nice for them to send me the 3D ultrasounds because they were so realistic - I just wonder how the nanny holding her got into the womb as well. But, I kept it to myself. I talked to Tim about the fact that we were possibly going to have to address this at the embassy and I didn't want to lie. Again, I left it in God's hands. I could say that "we were given information that she was born Oct. 24th" and that would not be lying, but that would not be telling the entire truth either. I actually got an upset stomach over it.
When our time came for our embassy interview, I was very nervous. God was in control... that was all I could tell myself. I really did not want to have to lie to get my daughter out of the country though. I was nearly shaking. The gentleman started asking us questions - did we meet Sara before court, was this the child we met, what did we know about her family... and then he said, well, Sara was checked out by a US doctor working in Addis and he feels as though Sara is more like 18 months than 12 months. Do you have a problem with this? I nearly started crying. God took care of it! I didn't have to worry! We had a very open discussion with the gentleman and he said it was no problem at all, that birth records in Ethiopia are not like they are in the US. Also, there are often translation errors made. Just so long as she fell into our home study range (and she did) we were fine as long as we were ok with an 18 month old. We were MORE THAN OK - that was what we expected! Thank you God for working that out for us!
Sara did excellent on the trip home. She is very attached to me and insisted that I attend to her the entire time. Tim was great about it and offered to help, but I just needed to keep her from screaming on the plane, so I dealt with her. She rode in her car seat well (for the very first time!) on the way home from the airport and then came home to meet Cameron, Anna, Grandma and Denis. She warmed up to all of them right away. She has a special love for Cameron and Anna it seems.
Well, Sara is about to wake from a nap and Cameron would like to get on this computer, so I need to stop writing. Needless to say, we are THRILLED with Sara and how she has adjusted to our family. We are all totally in love with her.
Thank you for all of your prayers through this journey. I have so much more to share and will do it over the next few days.