Monday, June 27, 2011
For months I had wondered............
For months I had wondered, dreamed about and lost sleep over what this moment would be like. Would she be warm and welcoming or cold and distant? Would she approve of me? Would she want to share details of her children's lives with me or would she be silent when I would ask a question? Was she angry and bitter at what life had dealt her or was she at a place of peace?
We pulled up to our guest house in the late afternoon as the rain started to fall. I stepped out of our van and took a long, deep breath and prayed that God would give me the strength to face the next few moments. My head was spinning and I literally felt that I might be sick. As I walked beside the van I could see Nicco's car parked on the road behind us and started in that direction when I saw her. Again my breath was taken away and I was not sure that I could keep walking. As this feeling came over me again I noticed that Werke (Tia and Garrett's birth Mom) was quickly opening the car door and hurrying out of the car. I continued to walk towards her and I wasn't sure how to greet her. I quickly put my arms around her she quickly responded by wrapping her arms around me and as the rain fell all around us we held each other tightly. Our bodies were both shaking and tears were flowing down our faces. She started to kiss my cheeks first the right, then the left, over and over and it was at this point that I was able to take a deep breath and kiss her back. In Ethiopia you greet someone that you love by kissing their cheeks and after months of wondering and being overcome by fear God was whispering, "Mendy, I have gone before you."
We stood in the rain for quite some time as a peace came over us. I noticed that by the time we ended this embrace we were both no longer shaking and we both had smiles on our faces. I knew that she must have had the same emotions that I did as she pulled up to the guest home that Sunday afternoon. The same fears that I had experienced for months had to have been the same that she experienced. All of the unknowns and questions finally were beginning to have answers for both of us.
I gently took her hand and led her into the guest home. As we entered the foyer of this home it quickly hit me that this was probably the nicest home that she had ever been to. It is a large home with running water, electricity, sofas, tables, chairs and even a television. I wondered what she had to feel as she entered into such a different environment with me, the lady who would mother her children. I held her hand more tightly and continued into the living room with her.
We sat down on the sofa and Nicco helped translate for us and I held onto every word. I wanted to remember every piece of information about Tia and Garrett's first four years of life, about their extended family, and about the life that she had lived. As I sat holding her hand I could feel her strength yet I could sense how very fragile she was. My mind raced as she told us about her family. She told of how Tia and Garrett's father had died while she was pregnant with them and how she remarried her brother-in-law (which is customary in their village). She shared that when the youngest twins were three months old their father died leaving her widowed for the second time and having to care for eight children on her own.
She shared how hard it was to have eight children, one of which has a medical condition. She told of times where they had very little if anything to eat and how hard that was as a mother. I cried as I listened to her share story after story. David and I had numerous questions for her and she answered each one. I know that this had to be a painful process for her to share how she got to the point of having to make a decision that no mother should ever have to make- to give her son and daughter away in order for them to have their basic needs met.
Tears flowed from both of our eyes as I held her and promised that I would take care of her precious children.I promised that I would love them forever and I would provide for their needs. She listened to every word that I spoke to her and she responded by thanking me over and over. I held her tight and prayed to remember these moments and promises that will always be so dear to my heart. Promises that I made to Werke and before the Lord to love and care for the children that He had placed in my care. I thanked God for picking me to walk this difficult journey with Werke.
Many adoptive mothers never get these priceless moments that I was able to experience. I realize how blessed I am to not only have had these moments with Werke but even more special moments with her when we traveled to the island several weeks later. Our relationship will continue and I look forward to another visit with her soon where I can share with her how amazing our kids are. How they are growing, reading, have made new friends, and how they talk about and pray for her every day.
God has put it on my heart to get to know Werke even more deeply for my children's sake. I pray that I get to spend some extended time with her in the near future where she and I can trace our stories back and write them down for Tia and Garrett to read. Where we together can write where we have come from, decisions we have had to make and what life has been like for both of us as we have gotten to this place on our journey both together and apart as their moms. Praying that God will make a way for this to happen and I am sure that I will share this journey with others to help others understand what adoption is like for both the birth and adoptive mom.
A year ago this afternoon is a day that I will never forget- A day where once again God reminded me of His goodness by using a precious lady that my kids still call Mom. To Him I am thankful for all that He has done!
I can't believe that a year ago we met for the first time. At times it seems like only yesterday and other times it seems likes a lifetime ago. I hope that this letter finds you and your family doing well. You would be so amazed at your precious kids. They have grown up so much this past year (literally by 4 inches). They have experienced so many new things and they are both so very happy. I wish that you could be here to hear them read a book or to watch them play soccer. I wish you could be here when they return from school each day with their stories about their day or watch them ride down our street on their bikes.
Tia has become quite the dancer and she loves to play dress-up. She doesn't like to be dirty or to hot and so island life would be hard for her right now. She loves to sing and I wish you could see her as she gets a microphone and sings to the top of her lungs. She has lost her taste for Ethiopian food but loves anything that we feed her. Tia loves to paint and draw and is a very good artist (I have enclosed some of her work for you). She is all smiles most of the time and she has hundreds of friends wherever she goes. She is an amazing little lady and I am so thankful for her.
Garrett has excelled in every sport that he has tried and several of the boys in his class say that they want to "Run like Garrett" when they grow up. He is such a smart guy and he is reading on grade level after just speaking English for less than a year. He is an amazing student and I can't wait for you to see some of his school work (which I have enclosed). Garrett continues to love Ethiopian food and I am sure that he would love another plate of enjera and dourawat like you gave him as we were leaving the island. Garrett is such an amazing helper and he is growing into a handsome young man.
They both have fallen in love with our family and us with them but not a day goes by without them talking about and praying for you and their siblings on the island. They love and miss you and we look forward to a day when we are all together again. Until that day know that I am keeping my promise to you to love, care for and provide for our precious kids-
PS I hear that the wells are almost finished- I am thankful that in a few short weeks you will have clean drinking water for you and the kids- Can't wait to come for a visit.
(This note that will be taken to Werke next week when a group from our church travels to the island)