We woke up early (actually I barely slept at all the night before) and the six of us got ready and headed down for breakfast in the dining room of the guest home. We were all fairly quiet and I think that all six of us had the same nervous feelings. We knew that in a few short hours Tia and Garrett would either be a part of our family or God would have more mountains to move to help get them into our family.
After breakfast we all grabbed our bottles of water and waited for Heiskel our van driver to arrive. We all piled in the van and made sure that Heiskel knew where we needed to be. He assured us that he had spoken with Nicco and he knew where we were going. I don't remember much about the drive other than feeling very nervous and praying the entire way. We really didn't know what to expect in the court room because we were the very first family under the new law which required adoptive parents to attend court.
We arrived at the court building to be told we were at the wrong place. David and I stood with all four kids in an unknown place, unable to speak the language but we understood that the armed guard was telling us that we were at the wrong place. I remember a tear starting to run down my face as we stood not knowing what to do. David quickly called Nicco and he explained that we indeed were at the right place and that he and Werke would be there in less than five minutes. Sure enough we were at the correct place and once the guard spoke with Nicco he understood why we were there.
I will never forget the brief conversation that took place outside the building. One that still makes my heart ache yet I was so thankful to be a part of. Werke was sitting in the front passenger seat of Nicco's car with the door open and Nicco and I were standing on the street right beside her. Nicco was explaining to her what he expected court to be like and of course I didn't understand a word that he was saying as he spoke to her. I then inquired on what he was saying and he ask her one other question. He was making sure that she understood that Tia and Garrett would not be returning to her but would be with us forever. Overwhelmed by emotion I turned as Werke got out of the car and we all proceeded into the courthouse.
We climbed several sets of very old stairs and finally reached the room where we were to wait for court. We were some of the very first people there. The room had dirty cream colored walls and about forty chairs lined the perimeter of the room. It looked nothing like what I had envisioned yet I really wasn't sure what to expect. It was a very cold atmosphere and this didn't help my nervousness.
We waited for what seemed to be hours for our agency and paperwork to arrive. David almost got us into trouble by making photos and thankfully Nicco was there to stop us from getting kicked out of the court house. Finally our name was called. David, myself, our biological kids, Werke, Nicoo and two people from our agency entered into the judges office. We all sat down and I remember us all being very crowded. We were in a very long skinny office where we all ten were on one side of the room and the judge and her office staff were on the other.
The judge started off by asking questions to Werke. Questions I am sure that had to be heart breaking to her but again I couldn't understand the language. Werke answered the questions and then it was our turn. She spoke to us in English and had and several questions for David, myself and even Megan. I realized as David was answering a question that I was more nervous than I had ever been in my life- So much so that I had broken out in hives. After the questioning she looked over all of our paperwork and said, "Tizita and Geremew are now yours!" Tears started to flow and David grabbed my hand. We stood to walk out of the judges office and I felt as if a weight had been lifted from me. They were finally ours!
As we climbed back down the stairs with tears flowing down my face I praised God that He hadn't allowed us to give up. On those days that we were told that they would never be adoptable, when their birth family couldn't be located, when Werke went missing, when paperwork couldn't be collected, when lower courts were closed, when mountain after mountain was ahead of us God was asking us to trust Him and I am so thankful that we did. Those days full of tears, nights with very little sleep, days where David and I disagreed on what to do, those nights at bedtime where our kids would ask why, and every prayer that was prayed had been worth it. They were now Henderson's and nothing could change that.
When we reached the van we invited Werke to go to the orphanage with us to pick up Garrett and Tia. We also invited her to join us for lunch and I am so very thankful that she said yes to both. Our drive to the orphanage seemed long because I couldn't wait to tell the twins that they were ours and that they were going to the guest house with us and would never be alone again. I prayed for Werke as we traveled there for her heart to be opened to Christ and His love for her even in this hard situation.
We pulled up and it was as if I heard God say, "Mendy, let her go first." I held our kids back and allowed Werke to walk in the gate of the orphanage first. Tia and Garrett both ran to her and hugged her and I leaned close to David and said, "I don't know if I can do this." I wasn't sure I could watch them interact yet something in me knew I needed to see their interaction. Again tears were flowing as she kissed them and spoke to them. I didn't understand her language yet I knew what she was saying. The scene was heartbreaking yet so very special at the same time.
As soon as they had a few minutes we walked closer for them to see us and they were told that we had passed court. Tia and Garret both we so excited and hugged each of us. They both could not wait to leave they started saying chow to everyone and they wanted to leave quickly. We gathered the blankets that we had brought to them in November off of their beds and I ask if they had anything else. The workers at the orphanage said no the clothing that they had on was all that they had. Again, overwhelmed with the realization that our kids had nothing yet now they had everything.
We all climbed in the van and Garrett found his place beside Jacob and Tia on my lap. Werke again was in the front and at this time she feel into the shadows. As Heiskel started to pull of in the van Tia screamed and started to cry. She had only traveled once in a car and she was scared to death. I was again reminded of how many new experiences would be ahead for us with both of them. Once we got her to calm down she was fine but that first ride in the van she squeezed my arms the entire way to lunch.
When we arrived at the restaurant we walked over to the table and I remembered that our kids had never sat at a table to eat. We helped them sit in their chairs and we scooted them up close to the table. We helped them unfold their napkins and they couldn't believe the silverware. They both ordered soda and that was another first for them. The giggled as they took their first fizzy sip and made funny faces as they drank. Garrett collected the bottle tops from the entire table and put them in his pocket. We had an amazing lunch and I am so thankful that they had David, myself. our kids, Nicco and Werke there with them for this very special lunch.
After lunch Nicco and Werke said goodbye very quickly and headed off. We then took Tia and Garrett to get their first ice cream cones. That was a sight as Garrett bit the bottom of his cone first and he wore ice cream on his shirt until we arrived at the guest house. Tia loved her chocolate ice cream and smiled from ear to ear as she ate it. We were together alone for the first time as our party of eight and I was simply amazed at God's goodness to us.
We arrived back at the guest house after our ice cream and it was shower time for Tia and Garrett. I will never forget Tia saying Thank you over and over as I gave her a warm shower. I was so thankful for Megan's help because there were time that I was crying so hard that I couldn't help Tia and Megan would take over. Tears of sheer joy as my daughter showered in warm water for the first time in her life. The same scene unfolded when David showered Garrett. A warm shower- something we never are thankful for yet it was bringing such joy to our kids.
The day continued with showing them their new cloths and shoes and Garrett unable to believe that he had more than one pair of shoes. He tried to give his other shoes to Jacob and Lindsay. We played games, colored, introduced them to electronic games, to a million pictures and simply enjoyed being together as a family. Memories that we will each cherish forever were made that day.
My favorite time was bedtime- I had longed to tuck them both in, read a Bible story and pray as I do with all of our kids. I had dreamed of this precious time and it was more amazing that I could have ever dreamed. To hug all six kids, give them all kisses, and tuck them in all in the same room was a miracle and I knew it! I shut the door to their room, rejoiced in the Lord, and slept better than I had in two long years knowing that they were safe.