Time has been flying by and I haven't had time to sit and blog so for those of you who have contacted me here we go. I will start back at the very beginning of this journey:
As most of you know when we brought Garrett home a little over two years ago he talked about, prayed for and continued to ask us about his best friend Lemi. Lemi, Garrett, Tia and another young girl were brought off of Zadachu island on the same day and were in the same orphanage both is Zway and in Addis. While we were in Addis for six weeks for the adoption process for Tia and Garrett our entire family met Lemi and none of us could forget him. After almost two yers of praying for him to have a family we finally realized that God was chosing us to be his forever family.
In May, we started to get serious about the process of adding him to our family. We started our home study, all 8 of us had physicals (within a weeks time), we were fingerprinted a million times, police clearances granted, gathered paperwork and everything else that goes into getting paper ready to bring a child into our family by the way of adopting. This part of the process was somewhat easier this time because we had done it before but paperwork gathering for our family is never easy!
During this time we also contacted the agency we had used before to find out more information about Lemi but we were met with the fact that our agency was closed and was being sold to another agency. This could have been a major roadblock but instead God opened a door for us to move forward. We had been told by our new agency that since our home study and paperwork was not complete until late June that we should not expect to be filed for court until after the rainy season (August- October) and to not really expect him to travel home until around the first of next year. Our families hope and dream at the end of June was that he would be home by Christmas. (My personal prayer was that he would have a year as a Henderson before Megan goes to college- see previous blog)
David and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary in May and to celebrate we planned a trip away for the first week of July. We were out of the country and unable to use our phones for the week and so much to our surprise when we turned on our phones we had several messages from our adoption agency explaining that they were ready to file for a court date for Lemi and needed a few more things from us. We were told that it would be a miracle to pass court prior to the rainy season but that they were going to try to get it scheduled. We were shocked and excited that God was moving this adoption along at a pace much quicker than we could have dreamed.
We were filed for court shortly after we returned from our trip and we received word that we were to be in Court in Addis on August 13th. That e-mail came at the end of July and for whatever reason (now I know why) we waited a few days to look into travel plans. We were so thankful that we waited because on August 1st, our agency called and said that our court date had been moved up and that we needed to be in Ethiopia on August 9th for our court date on August 10th. That meant that in less than a week we would need to make arrangements to travel, find a place to stay, get all six kids here taken care of, get Ethiopian visas and pray that one last piece of needed paperwork would come.We were thrilled but YIKES that is not much time. Little did we know then that we had much less than a week!
As soon as we got that call I sent our passports to the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington, DC in order to get Ethiopian visas. In the past you were able to purchase them at the airport in Addis but we have been told that any day they could discontinue that and the best thing to do is send them to DC in order to make sure that you can enter the country. On the website it says that there is a 24 hour turn around and so I mailed our passports overnight mail and included an overnight return envelope and knew that they should be back to us by Friday and Saturday prior to our early Tuesday morning departure. I checked that off of my long list and thought nothing more of it.
We started making plans and crossing things off of our to do list until late Friday evening when things all changed. David was looking at a few e-mails and came across an e-mail sent late on Friday afternoon that stated that the Ethiopian Embassy was running behind on returning Passports and Visas. He then questioned if ours had been returned. I quickly got on the UPS site to track them and found out that they had not left from the Ethiopian Embassy. This meant that even if someone sent them to us on Monday they would not arrive by our 7:30am flight on Tuesday. This was a BIG issue!The Ethiopian Embassy was already closed for the weekend and Monday morning would be to late to try and contact them. David and I were so unsure of what to do but we prayed and felt that God was saying to travel to DC and pick up the passports/visas. This would mean that we had to leave no later than Sunday and since it was very late Friday night before we realized this we were scrambling.
Early Saturday morning I made a phone call to Ethiopian Airlines to see if it was possible to change the first leg of our flight. We were thankful that our second flight was from DC and so that part would not need to be changed. At first they said no that they had no flights available on Sunday. I explained our situation and the lady very kindly worked for what seemed like hours to find a flight for us- that flight would leave at 5:30am on Sunday morning. It was almost lunch time when we had finally confirmation that in about 18 hours we would be leaving.......what about the kids, the dog, the needed paperwork, how would we get to the airport at 3:30am and the list went on and on. We have amazing friends and so quickly all of our list was covered and somehow we managed to pack and have everything together.
We arrived in DC at 7:30am on Sunday morning and crashed due to having no sleep the night before. We then enjoyed the city as much a we could knowing that on Monday morning they could or could not give us our passports. We woke up very early Monday and took the Metro to the Ethiopian Embassy. We arrived and sat on the front steps for almost an hour waiting for them to open. We were first in line and praise God after a few minutes our passports were located. They already had visas in them but they were waiting for a signature. By 9:30am we had passports in hand and we were able to enjoy the day knowing that the next day we could travel to Ethiopia to see our son.
Early on Tuesday morning we were greeted by our taxi driver who just happened to be from Addis. We had an enjoyable ride with him to the airport and as we got out of the cab David payed him. The driver quickly handed David back some money and said, "Please help someone who is poor in my country." I had to walk away as huge tears poured down my face. I thanked God for a man who wasn't willing to forget where he had come from and it made me think of my son Garrett. God reminded me yet again that we were leaving to go to Ethiopia because my son will never forget where he came from. He had urged our family for months to go and help his friend who was there with out a family. We were on our way to do just this- bring another son into our family!
David and I boarded the plane and I think we were both still in a little state of shock. All of this had happened so quickly and truth be told our heads had been spinning but now we had hours (plenty of hours) to sit on a plane and realize that this was it- Our family was expanding and the joy of that was amazing. After 13 hours of flying and what seemed like 14 hours of finding our luggage we were greeted by Nicco and we were off. We took our bags to the guesthouse and then we headed off to see Lemi.
To be continued........