A tad more about our trip to Ethiopia… I wanted to share about the day we had court. I think the experiences we had this day really impacted the whole feel of the trip and may be the reason why I don’t feel that our experience was as amazing as I had hoped. It was a day filled with unexpected things… some bad, and one very nice.
We had learned the night before that our driver would pick us up at 8:15am because our court appointment was scheduled for 9am. We woke up early on July 30th… the morning of our 7th wedding anniversary. I was excited and happy and fully expected everything to go well at court. We had breakfast and then started the ride to the court house. It’s about a 30 minute drive and the traffic is pretty bad that time of the morning so there was plenty of time for sitting in traffic and watching life go on outside the window. We got there on time and headed up the elevator (I was not excited about that since the power does have a tendency to go off fairly often in Ethiopia.) But we made it up to the waiting room and took our seats. There was one other white couple there at the time and I so wanted to be nosey and ask if they were adopting but I didn’t (later I figured out they were by my masterful eaves dropping skills.) Shortly after we sat down 4 families came in and I knew one of them! Two of the other wives knew me from this here blog and I had fun getting to know them all. It helped the wait go by faster. One by one they were all called back to see the judge and one by one they all left after giving us a big smile and thumbs up (to let us know they had passed court). Every single family that went in got their official approval while we waited which delighted me. I thought for sure ours was coming.
Finally, after having waited over an hour, we were called back. One little problem… our file wasn’t on the desk. The judge had her assistant go look for it and then turned to us and said we could have a chat. She was so nice. We talked all about Mareto, America, her visit to New York, and (after the assistant brought 2 wrong files) ours was finally handed to her. She looked it over, asked us the standard questions, and then dropped some shocking news on us.
Sometime while we were flying over the Atlantic there had been a new development in our girl’s case. It was nothing anyone could have known or foreseen until that time. But because it happened while we were already on our way there we hadn’t been warned. So there we were sitting in front of the judge learning some very hard and heartbreaking things about our daughter’s story. It did reinforce the knowledge that adoption is truly the only viable option for our girl. Truly. I will not be sharing those details of her story with anyone – I only share that this happened because it was a big deal to us and changed the feeling of the trip for us. Because of this new development we could not pass court that day. There was one interview that needed to take place. We were very disappointed, but we walked out of the room with the judge wishing us a happy anniversary.
We then went to the main office of our agency to sign some papers and hand in some paperwork for the embassy side of things. When we were there I tried to ask someone for more information about this news we had just received. We were desperate for some clarity. But there wasn’t anyone there who spoke much English so no one could help. We had planned to go straight from the office to the transition home to spend the rest of the day with our girl, but we asked the driver to take us back to the hotel. It was a quiet ride. Here we were in a foreign country with information that was very hard to swallow and no one to explain any of it to us – no one to tell us that it would be okay or what to expect or why or how. But that wouldn’t have done any good anyway because no one can answer those questions… only God. Once we got back to the hotel room we just sat and tried to process everything for about an hour. We talked, I let out some anger, I cried, and then we prayed about it and called our driver. We had him take us to Arsema and we spent the next few hours with her. I held her extra tight, wanting to somehow make it up to her…. make everything that she had been through alright… make it so that it never happened in the first place. I think that’s one of the hardest things about adoption – we can’t change our children’s history. We can’t prevent the pain they’ve already been through and we can’t change the awful things that have happened to them or to their families. All we can do is pray, and love them to pieces, and change their future. But I do so wish I had an eraser and could go back and make some of the bad things go away.
(Arsema in all her pink, tiny, amazing adorableness. That onesie is newborn size and she’s got a BIG cloth diaper on)
Late that afternoon we came back to the hotel to nap for a bit because we planned to go out to dinner for our anniversary. But then the horribleness came upon me. I was laying in bed reading when my stomach decided to let me know that it was very mad at me for eating all the Ethiopian food over the last couple days. So I just went back and forth from the bed to the bathroom for the next 4-5 hours. Finally John went downstairs to the restaurant because he was hungry. I told him I was staying in bed. About 5 minutes later he came back up to tell me that the bartender begged him to please come get me. He knew it was our anniversary and he just wanted to give us a little something. So I went downstairs… grudgingly.
When we got downstairs the bartender had us sit down and then started buzzing around. The next thing I knew he was leading us back to the back of the restaurant. It had been closed off but we walked in and found the lights dimmed and a table in the corner decorated with real rose petals, candles, and fancy tableware. Then the staff came out from the kitchen with a big cake singing “happy anniversary” and clapping. I almost cried on the spot. They had made the cake just for us and decorated it with our names and everything. We were blown away. We ate dinner (John ate while I had plain rice and white bread) and then asked for our check. The hotel manager came to tell us that it was on the house… their gift to us. He and the bartender wanted pictures with us and kept telling us what an honor it was to celebrate with us. I really just can’t express how special it was and much I love these people who show grace, hospitality, and love so very well.
(I hate doing kissy pictures because I always feel so awkward, but the bartender kept telling us to… so we did but that explains why I am laughing here.)
(The cake was so yummy and we couldn’t believe that they remembered our names and the correct number of years for our anniversary! It was really touching. It says “Lauren & John Happy Aniversary 7 years”)
(This is us with the 2 men who put it all together for us – the bartender in the vest and the hotel manager in the orange shirt.)
(our beautifully decorated table complete with a heart shaped candle.)
So after a very hard day we had a surprisingly beautiful ending, and for that I am thankful.