It’s Tuesday night in Ethiopia. We leave in two days and this adventure comes to a close, though a whole new one begins. So much has happened here that it’s hard to put it all into words. Right now my son is sound asleep upstairs in a little tiny crib that’s probably supposed to be a doll bed. But that’s OK, it works (I had contemplated having him sleep in a suitcase).
The people of Ethiopia and the process of adopting have been amazing. Today we had a goodbye celebration at the care center and the tears flowed. They are tears of grieving for what has been lost, but also tears of joy for what has been found.
All the children of the care center came down to watch and participate in the ceremony. Most of those adopted on this trip are under a year old, so they don’t really understand what’s going on and they definitely can’t express it. But a few of the kids are older, they know what’s going on and it’s incredible to watch them. At one point two of the older kids who were being adopted, perhaps ages 4 and 6, went around and said goodbye to their friends in the care center. They also got to cut the cake we had as a part of the celebration. Every time they did something I started crying all over again.
It’s just so much to fathom, the whole miracle of adoption: that these kids, for whatever reason—be it poverty or death or loss or whatever–have lost their birth family but are gaining a new family. For a baby it’s just as incredible, but in the moment they don’t understand. Some day they will and it will mean just as much, but right now to watch these kids go through all of those emotions and understand what’s going on, and the fear and the joy and the loss and gain and just incredible. Some of the kids were crying and sobbing, while others had big smiles full of joy. Everyone reacts differently. It’s just so much to take in.
My favorite moment today was when they had each of the children being adopted come forward, dip their hand in red paint, and leave a mark on a sheet of cardstock with their name. It wasn’t clearly said, but I think those handprints go in a binder at the care center where I imagine you can find the handprint of every child who has been adopted from the center.
Milo has left his mark in Ethiopia.
And I guess I lied. Milo is no longer sleeping soundly upstairs. He woke up crying and right now his mom is giving him a bottle and hopefully he’ll go back to sleep. Every day here in Ethiopia, amidst the life-changing moments of incredible poignancy, there are moments of down and dirty practical reality, like washing out bottles with purified water and diaper blow outs and puking in the car (not my child for once).
And as I finish typing this, he did go back to sleep.