Monday, day 2 in Ethiopia, Gotcha Day for Abeba.
We woke up in Ayat House early in the morning. I had been awake since 3:00 am and couldn't sleep. Melissa slept a little and woke up early as well. We were anxious to meet Abeba and had so many thoughts going through our minds, what would she really look like? How would she react to us? What is her personality? We knew that Ryan from Gladney would be coming over at 9:30 to take us to the Care Center to meet Abeba. It was around 6:00 am and we had some time to wait. We met the family that was already in the Ayat House, they would be leaving that day. They were great folks and we enjoyed getting to meet them and their son. They gave us some tips that they had learned during the week and how to manage things around the house, we really appreciated their insights.
We were then served what I believe to be the best coffee in the world. Zemmet bought us in some coffee, my first experience with Ethiopian coffee, and I was definitely hooked. I am a coffee lover anyway and when I had that first sip I knew that I had found bliss!! I will not even begin to try to describe it, just suffice to say that it is wonderful.
Well, Ryan arrived at the Ayat house and we immediately found that we were kindred spirits. I know when I travel around the world and the person from our agency is wearing black Chuck Taylor tennis shoes (like I was wearing) he must be a cool guy.
We walked to the Gladney Care Center where Abeba was. This was located about a block from the Ayat House. We knew that it was close to Ayat House, but I am glad that we didn't know that it was within walking distance the night that we arrived in Ethiopia, that would have made the wait to see Abeba even more difficult. We arrived in the room where Abeba was and we immediately saw her. Most of the children, including Abeba, went running to the corners. Ryan, Melissa and I sat down on the flooring hoping that some of the children would come over and play with us and that maybe Abeba would as well. We sat on the floor for about 10 minutes with no results. Ryan is one of the few pale people that the children ever see and I am sure that they are really scared when they see a bald, really pale guy like me.
We had brought some toys with us in hopes that we could entice (bribe) Abeba to us. Melissa pulled out a doll and Abeba came right to her....and then took the doll out of her hands and ran back into the corner. The caregivers saw that we weren't have any progress so they decided to take all the kiddos outside. We cannot say enough good things about the caregivers in the Gladney centers. It is obvious that they love the children and given the the best care that they can with what they have available to them.
Well we went outside and sat in the grass hoping that some children would decided to come play. Same result as before, no one would come to us, including Abeba. Finally one of the caregivers brought Abeba near Melissa and tried to convince her to go to Melissa. Melissa touched Abeba and she would pull away and look the other way. The caregiver kept talking to Abeba, pointing to Melissa and me and saying "momma" and "poppa". Finally the caregiver put Abeba in Melissa's arms, crying ensured (by Abeba). We have thought and talked about what it was going to be like when we had Abeba finally in our arms. How sweet it would be, how she would embrace us and call us mommy and daddy, and how thankful she would be that we were finally united with her.
Well, Abeba apparently had different ideals. She began to throw quite a tantrum. She let out a wail like a banshee, arched her back and began thrashing like the lead singer of an 80's hair band. Not what we had pictured in our idyllic thought of gotcha day. Melissa is such a strong lady and is by far the best wife and mommy in the world. She is an emotional rock who our family is firmly anchored to and it showed so much in this situation. She just continued to hold Abeba and walk around with her. Abeba continued to wail and arch her back, not wanting to touch Melissa. This was definitely one of the hardest moments of our life by far. We had prepared ourselves for the fact that our gotcha day would possibly be this way and by preparing for it I think we were able to handle it, but it was only by the strengthening from God that we were able to handle it and remain sane.
Ryan told us that we could leave the Care center with her and go back to Ayat House whenever we decided to. By now all of the caregivers and children had gone back inside (not wanting the other children to see the trauma I'm sure). We slowly walked back to Ayat House with Abeba screaming. Dear, sweet Zemmet came into the house, came upstairs and tried to comfort Abeba (and us). Zemmet offered Abeba her arms and Abeba went right to her. She began rocking Abeba and speaking softly to her in Amharic. She told Melissa to get Abeba a bottle, Zemmet was then able to lay Abeba down and she slept for 5 hours. We so appreciated what Zemmet did to help us, she knew we were struggling and she stepped away from her routine of cleaning to help us-Zemmet was a reflection of Christ there in Ayat House and for that we are forever grateful.
We knew that it would just be a matter of time that we would see the smile on Abeba's face that we had seen in some of the pictures. After her long 5 hour nap (from exhaustion) Abeba woke up. She would look at us and then close her eyes, look at us and close her eyes. She repeated this routine several times, it was like she was hoping each time that she closed her eyes that we would disappear. Well, she finally let Melissa get her out of the crib and decided that if we weren't going to disappear that she would tolerate our presence. We went into the living room and began playing with a picture book and her bucket. We had seen her carrying a small plastic bucket in all of the pictures that we had of her and we brought a small plastic bucket with us for her to play with, it was a hit. As we approached night time Abeba again had a difficult time and began to throw a tantrum. I held her and was able to rock her to sleep. It was a precious end to a very difficult day. It was God's gift to us after 18 months of waiting, a beautiful healthy daughter (with great lung capacity) who was now in our arms. We knew that God had put her in just the right family where she would be shown love, care and discipline. We realized that night as we put her down in the crib that God been preparing us for her through all of our other children. Each one of them had special personalities that would prepare us for all that we would be facing with Abeba. We thank God for his grace and strength through gotcha day.