Lauren Casper »

one year.

That’s how long we’ve all three lived together under the same roof. That’s how long it’s been since our nursery actually had a baby to go with it. One year ago today we stepped off a plane onto US soil… endured an awful 5 hour drive from the airport… and walked through the front door of our home with Mareto. For the first time. It marked the end of a long, hard, and painful journey for us. And it marked the beginning of the rest of our lives. Lives filled with the joy and fullness that comes with having a child. It has been an amazing year and life with Mareto is absolutely worth everything it took to get him here.

Just a little recap of the last leg of our journey home….

We boarded our plane in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia around 11pm on Wednesday the 16th. It was an 8 hour flight that Mareto slept practically the whole way through. We were in coach and he slept in our arms. We took turns holding him while the other slept. About 30 minutes before our plane landed in Frankfurt, Germany he got fussy. The seat belt sign came on so we were stuck. Then about 15 minutes before landing he had an explosion. Pesky little parasites were making his diapers quite the adventure. However, I couldn’t move or change him because we were in final descent and he was already strapped to me. He start to wail. I rocked him back and forth and sang softly in his ear (so as not to drive other passengers insane) for 10 minutes until he all of a sudden stopped crying and fell sound asleep. 5 minutes later the plane landed. He slept through it all.

Once the seat belt sign came off and everyone was getting off the plane I asked the flight attendant to please let me go to the bathroom on the plane to change Mareto. I won’t go into the details but lets just say his diaper hadn’t held all its contents. She said no – there was a bus outside the plane waiting to drive us to the actual airport doors and we couldn’t keep everyone waiting. I wrapped him in my fleece blanket and got on the bus while John trailed behind witha ll our carry bags. Once we got in the airport I found a restroom. No changing table. I had a mat though and had to change him on the floor. By this time there was poo everywhere – all over his clothes and all over my shirt. I actually¬† just threw away his outfit, changed him, and then changed my shirt (thank you Jesus for other adoptive moms telling me to pack extra clothes for myself too in my carry on.) We came out and threw the poo-covered fleece blanket in the trash too. Then we made our way to our next gate and settled in for our 8 hour layover.

Mareto did a lot of sleeping during that time. We took turns getting food, changing diapers (we found a bathroom close by with a changing table), and actually had an incredible opportunity to witness to a young man from Benin (a country in West Africa… nestled between Togo and Nigeria.) He somehow guessed we were Christians and we talked with him for over an hour until he plane left for New York. Finally it was time to board our final flight home to Washington D.C.

We were very excited to get on the plane and see that they changed our seats to the bulk head row! This means lots of extra leg room and a little bassinet for Mareto!

Once again, he slept nearly all of the 8 hour flight home and we got to stretch out, sleep, watch movies, and eat. It would have been just about perfect if not for the nasty eye infection John developed somewhere over the Atlantic. His eye swelled nearly shut and started to hurt and itch and ooze. Delightful. Other than that it was a great flight home and Mareto slept through landing… slept through me putting him the ergo carrier… slept through us going through immigration, customs, and baggage claim… and only woke up when John pulled the car up to the curb. It would have been absolutely perfect if not for John’s eye infection and about 3 more blow-out diapers resulting in wardrobe changes.

We got all packed into the car and put Mareto in the car seat (his first time ever in a car seat) and pulled out of the airport.

We got on the beltway in D.C at 5pm on a Thursday afternoon… going the wrong way. Within 5 minutes Mareto’s little parasite pals decided to wreak havoc on his tummy again and there was yet another explosion. All over him. All over the brand spanking new car seat. Lovely. There wasn’t an exit to get off on for 30 minutes…. so we went the wrong direction in rush hour in a very stinky car for 30 minutes. We finally got off and pulled into a pretty swanky neighborhood to remove the car seat and Mareto and do some major clean up. After changing him into the very last outfit we had for him (and I thought I packed enough for 10 babies) we took a pile of wipes to the car seat to try and do the best we could. It was still a stinky ride home. We got back on the beltway heading the CORRECT direction this time and Mareto fell asleep. I tried hard to stay awake to make sure John was also kept awake, but I dosed off a few times. The first 3 hours of the drive weren’t too bad. Then we hit Richmond and Mareto woke up…

For a little boy whose entire world had just been completely rocked he had been an absolute angel. I couldn’t believe how well he did. But being strapped in a car seat proved to be a bit much for him and he got hysterical. It was a good 15 minutes before we could get to a rest stop – but it felt like 15 hours. I did everything I could think of to soothe him but he just wanted out. By the time we pulled into the rest stop I was sobbing right along with him. John put the car in park and got in the back seat with us as I pulled Mareto out of his seat to calm him down. It was only then I realized that John was crying too. So we all 3 huddled in the back of the car together and bawled. Looking back it’s hilarious, but at the time we were so so tired and just wanted to be home. It took about 10 minutes for us to pull ourselves together and finish the rest of the drive home. Mareto cried off and on the rest of the trip but at last we pulled into our driveway.

I burst into tears again when I saw balloons and signs adorning our front door. We finally walked into our own home with our very own baby. I am in tears just remembering the moment and the feelings that soared through my heart. Finally. God was faithful. He saw us through each step and our hopes and dreams at last bore fruit. We walked into the living room to find more balloons, a banner, a basket of snacks, and cards. We opened the refrigerator to put his bottle away and found it filled with cheese, crackers, strawberries, sparkling cider, and the most delicious cinnamon buns ever. We have wonderful family. Wonderful. Their joy and love and excitement for us was and is such a blessing.

John brought in a couple bags while I started a warm bath for Mareto (who desperately needed one after so many blow-outs). Within minutes he was splashing in the tub.

Shortly after his bath Mareto was sound asleep in his pack n’ play right next to our bed. We scarfed down a few crackers and strawberries, took showers, and climbed into bed ourselves. Exhausted. Worn thin. But the happiest and most at home we’ve ever felt.


Happy one year home Mareto. Life with you has been my greatest joy and I know your Daddy agrees. You are our special gift from God… a blessing we weren’t sure we’d ever have. You are worth everything it took to get you home and MORE. We would do it all over again a trillion times just to have you home to share life with. You bring so much delight and fullness into our home. I have a vague memory of what it was like before our home held you and I never want to go back there again. You are our treasure and we love you deeply.

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