Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Gotcha Day!


So as I said earlier, I couldn't sleep. I got to sleep probably 2:30am or so. We were up at 6:45 as we were told to be at breakfast by 7:30 to ensure we were all done by 9am for our family group meeting with Almaz to go over the final paperwork prior to meeting our children.

We go down to breakfast and all the families make it down to eat breakfast together. It was actually buffet style and the breakfasts were real good. Some days better than others ... it just depended on what they decided to make for the day. This day I had crepes/pancakes, a half piece of french toast, and a piece of toast with some type of great jam/marmalade stuff on it. As the families were sitting around talking, Julie, our case manager, wanders in. It was GREAT to see her again. When we put in our initial application to AGCI last summer, there was an AGCI picnic that following weekend (LOVE God's timing on that). Well, the AGCI representative that came to the picnic was Julie. We were just happy that it was someone in the Ethiopia program. She ended up calling us 3 months later letting us know she was our case manager! Then to have her in Ethiopia when we got to meet our son, it was just full circle. I love the way God works these things out. If we would have traveled earlier like I had complained I wanted to, we would not have gotten to see her or hang out with her.

< Our travel group hanging out waiting for Almaz to show up

Around 9am, Almaz and Johannes come in. Almaz is as great as everyone has told us. So down to earth but you can tell she takes her job very seriously and loves the children and what she does. Going over paperwork felt like it took F.O.R.E.V.E.R. We were all so antsy to get to Hannah's Hope to meet our children. It didn't help that Holt International families were in the hotel and were walking in with their children as we were meeting! Talk about a serious distraction! Sidenote: Holt doesn't allow the children to stay with the families overnight until the last night there. I couldn't imagine that. They feel it is the best for the transition of the child. I'm sure they are doing what they think is best but let me tell you, I love the AGCI process!

The amazing Almaz showing Kristi some unique paperwork stuff since her hubby stayed home with her 4 kiddos and she had some special documentation that he had signed/notarized.

So we finish up the paperwork and Johannes takes our coffee orders. We took an extra duffel bag specifically for coffee to give out to family/friends here. We ordered 10 kilos (22 lbs) for $60! Their coffee is amazing too and I'm not a coffee drinker but drank it every day there. Our coffee order was twice as much as any other family :).

Almaz finally said it was time to go. Here it is ... "The Walk" we've heard so much about. I know I looked hilarious. I had a video camera in one hand. I had our camera around my neck. I had the big ol' camera/camcorder bag across my chest. One fine looking tourist I'm sure! But I wanted to get video and still shots of everything. Julie Beeler had told me to make sure I get both because it's so easy to get caught up and not realize you have no pictures of the moments, just video. So I video the walk along with a few still shots. We turn a corner and BAM! there's THE gate. It totally snuck up on all of us.

"The Walk"

We turned the corner and there it was ... the gate of ALL gates (at least here on earth)

So Almaz and Julie go in and we knew the family adopting the older siblings would go first. As we were waiting, a car pulled up to go into the gate of Hannah's Hope. A Hannah's Hope worker opened the gate and the family saw the older siblings. It was priceless to see their reaction. A once in a lifetime moment for them. The gate shuts and Julie calls the family in. As the gate door was shutting, I propped it open with my foot so I could take video for the family. Little did I know how much video I would take. :) We all waited at the gate and Julie would come back to call a family one by one in to meet their child. The other 4 families with us were all adopting infants, with one being twin brother and sister. So Julie calls a family in. Then another. Then another! It was us and one other family left outside the gate. Julie comes back and calls the other family. We're the last ones! I tell Amber they must have saved the best for last but I know the wait was terrible for her. I was at least videotaping the gotcha moments so I was distracted by that. It was probably all of 5 minutes but felt like an eternity.

Finally, Julie waves us back. We find him and realize why we were probably last ... he was asleep! Cashed out in a bouncy seat. It was still one of those surreal moments. He was everything we thought he would be and nothing we could have imagined. It still doesn't seem real that we were in Ethiopia ... inside the walls of Hannah's Hope ... meeting our son that God had planned before we were even born. The child we had prayed for 3 years ... not knowing for over 1/2 that time, God would reveal to us our first son would be from Ethiopia. Julie takes some pictures and video of us and him asleep ... so sweet of her. Almaz tells us to not wake him. UGH. We understand but c'mon! We know a previous traveling family that waited like 30 minutes for their son to wake up. I was SO hoping that would not be us. To pass the time, I go videotape a few other families because I didn't know what else to do. It was so difficult sitting there not being able to interact with your boy.

The first picture I took of our boy ... his mommy was pretty happy!

Our sleeping boy

Julie was sweet and took our picture ... our first family picture with my ghetto-big camera bag.

About 5 minutes later, one of his special mothers tells us it'd be ok to wake him. So Amber slowly wakes him up ... let's him get his bearings and picks him up ... HE'S PERFECT! His Ethiopian features are so distinct. He definitely had his curious/inquisitive face on ... wondering who in the world we were. The boy didn't cry with Amber holding him which was a good sign!

Amber gently waking Silas up.

First picture of mommy holding Silas. He was watching his special mother make funny faces at him. She was trying to keep him calm/make him smile. He just stayed mr. observant.

I gave him one of those little pull-back cars to distract him for a bit. Proud mamma.

First picture of Silas with his girlfriend Lucy Lane. Kristi is a local family and we met her during the adoption process. It was totally a God thing that we traveled together. How great will it be that Silas will grow up knowing Lucy Lane. They have a commonality that existed before we had even met our children. I think that will be powerful for them as they grow up.

A few minutes later, Julie takes us on a tour of Hannah's Hope. We get to see his room, his crib .... the place is amazing. It is unbelievable the structure, care, love that is in that place. We've heard it from traveling families but to experience it is something else. During the tour, Amber hands him over to me. Inside a couple buildings, he starts wimpering ... I go back outside and he does ok. This should been a sign for me ... more about that later.

This was above the stairs going up to Silas' room. A definition of hope is to believe, desire, or trust. Hope in Jesus Christ ... to believe, desire, and trust in Him. I love it! His presence definitely lives inside the walls of Hannah's Hope.

This is the amazing room our boy was in. The murals were phenomenal. The love that went into doing this room is amazing.

Adjacent wall in his room

First picture of me and my boy

After the tour, we're told we need to leave our children there and go back to the hotel to grab some lunch and then be back at 1pm to leave for our U.S. Embassy appointment. Before leaving, I had a couple pull-back cars in my pocket. The first boy I give one to is so grateful. I ask his name and he tells me 'T'. I know this boy! Well, kinda. We were hoping to travel with his family and unfortunately the judge decided to switch their case to abandonment and they have been delayed. They sent us an mp3 of their voices and their sons in the hopes we could meet T and let him listen. I would have to find him again so he could listen!

We hand Silas unwillingly back to his special mother and leave to go back to the hotel. We eat a granola bar and return back to Hannah's Hope around 1pm. All the families pile into a bus and we head to the U.S. Embassy. Silas wasn't a big fan of the bus ride. He cried a few times ... poor guy. Didn't know what was going on or who we were. Plus, there was usually at least one other baby crying and that didn't help. I think misery loves company so others would join in.

We get to the Embassy and it's exactly as others describe. You'd never know it was a US Embassy by the shanty building. We go through security (no cameras allowed) and end up in a waiting room. At first it was just our families ... then some Ethiopians come in to wait and other adoptive families also start arriving. We waited over an hour for our name to be called. Silas slept a little ... we walked around, stood outside, tried to keep him entertain. He cried a few times but all in all, he did good. Our name is finally called and the lady behind the window asks us a few questions and in a matter of 3 minutes, we're walking out with his court decree and birth certificate. Other families finish within 30 minutes and we head back to the hotel with a few more cries on the busride back to the hotel.

We get back to our hotel room and we had all these perfect plans of getting to know him/play with him, give him his first bath, put him in his new clothes. The trumpets from heaven blaring. Well, something was blaring but we couldn't hear the trumpets. Silas was NOT happy. He hated our room. We couldn't figure out what to do. We gave him a bath thinking that may calm him down. Nope. We hold him, sing to him, put him on the bed ... nothing. Just crying and crying. Amber and I look at each other trying to figure out what to do. We decide to pray over him as we had not verbally said a prayer together since being together. We asked God to protect our son with whatever was going on, to break any curses over him, to give us the wisdom to meet his needs and to give him Your peace and open his heart up to us. Why is it that we expect an immediate answer from God when we pray? Like God is just waiting at our beck and call and so thrilled when we ask him to do something FOR us. Silas was still unhappy.

Amber trying to read to Silas ... he wasn't going for it.

His first bath ... not necesarily a memorable one for him.

Amber giving him his first bottle. Can you tell by her smile that she's excited that he's not crying? At least he was quiet for 10 minutes :)

I tell Amber a few minutes later that I would take him down to the lobby and/or outside to see if he would calm down. I take him outside ... TOTALLY DIFFERENT BOY! He LOVED being outside. He would track the cars, trucks, buses going by. He loved it. That's our observant boy. So God did answer our prayer! It took us a little bit to recognize that ... not surprising ... we're usually a little bit slow.
So we sit on the steps of The Union Hotel all afternoon just watching the world go by and he is so content. The older sibling girls come down to play with a couple beach balls and we get to know them and their mom a little more. It's so great getting to know other families traveling with you and their stories. So great to hear how God is working through other people.

Our boy outside ... He even actually enjoyed tummy time!

Mommy getting some lovin'

Our boy watching the older girls play ball

Mommy found a tickle spot!

We go into the lobby to order our food around 5:30pm ... Amber orders the chicken stir fry and I order the beef stir fry. It takes about an hour or so to get our food which we were warned about how long it takes to get your food. The time passed by fairly quickly since we were able to chat with other families. The stir fry was really just spaghetti noodles. Amber did not care for the chicken as did a couple other people so that made me steer clear of the chicken all week, even though that is the main meat we eat at the house. The beef stir fry actually wasn't too bad.

The rest of the night, we just hung out in the Lobby chatting with the families ... we did have to make a couple trips outside to ensure Silas stayed cool and collected. He fell asleep while we were down there so we called it a night and took him up to our room. Poor fella was really too long for his moses basket. He's also a mover and a shaker while asleep which didn't fair well for him in the basket but we decided to still use it as we didn't trust ourselves putting him into the bed.

Silas asleep in his Moses basket. The boy would creep his way to the top to be in neck-breaking positions.

He woke up sometime in the middle of the night for a bottle and change. Then it was play time apparently. We didn't care! We were happy to play at any time of the night. (and for the record, yes, Amber has shorts on)
Silas finally went back to sleep and slept until 6:30 Tuesday morning ... the day of shopping!


Mandy said...

That's precious! And thank you for clarifying about Amber's shorts...kidding. :)

Matt said...

Great documentation! Makes me think I should have taken better notes. The shorts comment on the last picture gave me a good laugh.

Tisha said...

Thank you for this! It is great to read this knowing it is going to be us in just a few short days. :)

Benton Family said...

The way that you tell his story and your journey to become his parents...well, it's just an amazing testimony to His grace and "awe factor". The pictures of you each with him for the first time...too much.

The shorts clarification was kinda funny too.

Tara said...

love the story and your son,you guys are doing great!!

"Indescribable" said...

Tears flowing at your gotcha! Thank you for sharing. He is so beautiful and you two look so happy!

do you have blogs of the other families that traveled with you? I do know Kristi and the other Amber's....

Eastiopians said...

You crack me up Troy...about the ghetto camera bag and Amber's shorts. I loved reading your gotcha day story. So special! Thank you for sharing. What a little boy blessing you have! Did you ever get find T again for the voice recording? That is so great that you guys took that with you. And I am super jealous that you guys went when Julie was there...although I won't care who is there when I finally arrive, as long as our little girl is there. :)


Renee said...

Man so much of this post brings me right back to that moment of excitement of seeing your boy for the first time and the pain of wanting to hold him so bad but having to sit and watch him sleep. I see silas was in the same room as Noah which crib was his?

asimplereverie said...

i love reading about your time in Ethiopia, and your pics are awesome!

The Hull's at #4 said...

Love reading about your trip! Brings back precious memories!

Clark and Sarah said...

6 months ago we brought our 18 month old home from Hannah's Hope. She was so sad those first few days and just like your little guy we would just sit outside and let her watch the cars. She loved sitting on those steps. She still loves being outside.

in a nutshell said...

troy what a great post! thanks for taking the time to write all that you did...almost felt like i was there ;) what awesome memories for you and amber... and silas will appreciate the details some day. you guys are blessed, he's beautiful and happy.

julie_joshb said...

More more more it ends way to quick! Oh I remember that feeling when u r alone for the first time in the room!!!!!! Keep the posts coming cannot wait to meet him!!!!!

Kristi J said...

great pics...Loved seeing us in your memories..so fun....have you watched the video yet and seen Silas in it...too cute, kristi