Even though there’s little chance I can adequately describe to you what yesterday was like for Joseph and me, I’m going to try it anyway. I’ll pick things up from where I left off in my last post…
At 9:30 a.m. Joseph and I, along with three other families, traveled to the facility where our little ones are currently living in Addis Ababa. The ride took us somewhere around 45 min. and we saw a number of interesting sights as we made our way through the busy streets.
The temperature was probably in the high 60s with clear, sunny skies, but I was surprised to see different women walking next to the road with their babies wrapped in clothing that looked far too warm for such temperatures. Someone on staff with CWA later told us that Ethiopia is currently in its cool season, and temperatures like we experienced today are considered cold by people living here!
We saw donkeys carrying enormous mounds of haystacks with their little bodies almost completely hidden in the middle of their loads. Another funny sight Joseph and I noticed were goats standing high atop the roofs of vans as they went careening down the road. I’m still hoping to snap a picture of that scene if I have another opportunity to do so.
But on to the good stuff…
Once we arrived at the children’s home, we were warmly greeted by the staff who then went to bring our children down to meet us. The first to appear was a 9 year-old boy who peeked his head around the corner to catch a glimpse of his adoptive parents before quickly retreating again. They had already sent a photo album to him, so he recognized his new family right away. He then reappeared and made his way down the stairs with a shy smile, where his parents welcomed him with tears and hugs. I joined them with the tears. Such a sweet moment.
A few minutes later, the nurse came down the stairs with a little girl whose face we knew well. Evangelle was dressed in one of the outfits she had worn in her most recent photos—a plaid blue and red-striped jumper dress. The nurse placed her in my arms and escorted us into a large playroom where we could spend some time together somewhat on our own.
In such monumental moments, I’ve found I never seem to have the emotional reactions I imagine myself experiencing beforehand. I didn’t cry immediately. I felt surprisingly calm, but happy to see Evangelle in person.
She is still so tiny. Like many of the other children in the home, she has a cold due to the changing temperatures and her lungs are quite congested. When I heard the purring sound in her breathing, I started to cry. The hardest part about all of this right now is being unable to provide Evangelle with the care that Joseph and I want to give her.
In spite of her congestion, Evangelle seemed to be content and alert. Her large dark eyes closely followed any movement around her; she seemed intent on observing everything that took place. The nurse told us that she is the most active baby there, and I can believe it! In spite of her petite size, she seems quite strong. She wiggles almost non-stop and often arches her back so she can view the world upside down just like my niece Addison loved to do when she was Evangelle’s age.
Her favorite thing to do is to clasp her tiny little hands together tightly. Sometimes she interlaces her fingers like she is in prayer, other times she just folds one hand over the other and then tucks her itty-bitty thumb (or thumbs!) into her mouth. The staff told us she is frequently seen in this pose. It is too precious for words.
Joseph and I had the chance to practice some parenting skills during our 3 hours together with Evangelle. She broke me in well with an especially messy diaper only a few minutes into our visit. Joseph had his turn feeding her rice cereal, and then later, I fed Evangelle her lunch of pureed rice and beans. She seemed to love this concoction, and I told her to enjoy it while she can ’cause mommy doesn’t do beans.
About two hours into our visit, Evangelle was fighting off sleep, still trying to absorb all of the excitement around her. I walked her slowly around the room, rocking her and singing her songs about Jesus. Her beautiful eyes stayed locked on mine until she finally gave in and fell asleep in my arms. It was a near-heavenly moment for Joseph and me.
At the end of our visit, we reluctantly said goodbye to our sweet girl. The Ethiopian government limits our time together during this first trip to allow as little bonding to take place as possible. I’ve got bad news for them—the bonding has already occurred. I won’t tell if you won’t.
I would greatly appreciate it if you woud keep Evangelle’s health in your prayers and ask the Lord to clear her congestion, strengthen her body, and help her gain weight. I know He has big plans for the life of this little girl!