Monday, October 12, 2009
Welcome to Our World, Little Girls!
All of a sudden and very casually, after a two year process, we met our new daughters today. I say all of a sudden because we drove to the orphanage, sat casually in the office with our lawyer, and suddenly there they were, walking in the door with one of the orphanage managers. As of this month, because of swine flu, you can no longer tour the orphanage or see the other children. So, Tinsae and Birhane walked casually up to us with their nanny. They were lovely, shy, but very smiley, and small. Tinsae is a bit taller than Ruby, but she feels very slight to hug--very petite. Birhane is a small little bundle. They are clean, healthy, and--we were told--very excited and impatient for our arrival. They have the photo album we sent and have loved it. There wasn't too much to say, though we did make small talk through the attorney. We took pictures, and just enjoyed each other for a few minutes.
When it was time to go, Ruby was tearing up and rooted herself to the ground. She refused to leave them. So, we took them back to our guest home with us for lunch. Then we played magnetic paper dolls (thanks, Virginia!) in our room for a while. It was clear they were very tired, because 12-3 is their nap time and we took them right in the middle. When we took them back, we hugged them a lot and made sure it was clearly explained to them that we would return again tomorrow.
Jasper and Ruby felt very comfortable, and seemed completely pleased and non-plussed by the whole affair. Ruby told me the happiest thing in her life was getting sisters. She also said she was a bit sad she couldn't lay on my lap anymore. I assured her that there would always be room there for her. She and Tinsae sat by each other and smiled and motioned to each other the whole time. Tinsae liked to touch Ruby's hair, and mine. Jasper loved entertaining them with his DS. They loved to draw and take photos on it.
Steve and I keep commenting to each other how difficult it is to describe this moment. As I said, it feels much calmer and more casual than you might expect. It's easy to take it slow, and we plan to for the next several days and weeks. There is a great calm, though. I don't feel the way some do that these girls feel they have been my children forever, but then they don't feel like unnatural strangers, either. I think it's quite like having a new baby--you don't know them, but you're ready to, and ready to learn to love them, and it all feels good. And you feel you need one good, long nap. Steve feels as tired today as he has in a long while.
After staying up late to settle finally on names, we decided it would be silly to mention anything about that today to the girls. There's already so much for them to take in, so much confusion, and it's all so hard to understand. We didn't want to uproot their identity any more. We'll call them Tinsae and Birhane until it feels natural to introduce their new names--Saffron and Willa. We gave them necklaces with a T and a B on them and since Tinsae has pierced ears, she wore the matching earrings too. We also had a necklace for Ruby with an R on it. Jasper was relieved we had a camo watch for him rather than another necklace.
Here's what happens next: the embassy was closed today for Columbus Day (of all things!), so we were turned away and have to return tomorrow. Yes, Abebe clearly did not make an appointment for us. So tomorrow at 9:00 AM we'll go get fingerprinted. Wednesday at 3:00 PM we'll meet with the orphanage nurse and go over the girls' medical files. We may travel to the north to sightsee for a day Thursday-Friday, then be back for the weekend. We want to take the girls to church on Sunday, and then our official adoption interview at the US Embassy is next Monday, October 19 (our anniversary). Wednesday the 21st the girls' US entry visas should be ready. We then will check with the British consulate to see if the girls need British visas for our overnight stay in London. We're not sure. If so, those should be done by Friday. We leave Saturday evening, October 24th.
In the meantime, we could take the girls permanently now if we wanted to. They are ours. We just feel it would be better to take things slow, keep visiting, and take them overnight on the weekend or beginning of next week. But once you take them overnight, you keep them permanently--it's just too hard on them otherwise. They worry about abandonment. It is possible, especially if we don't need British visas, that we could leave earlier than Saturday. However, we think the flight change fees would be cost prohibitive. We'll most likely stick around here no matter what. There is plenty to see around Addis.
Thanks, everyone for your support. We love you. It feels like the end of a long journey, and the beginning of a new one. It feels good.