The first time I heard his sweet voice. He was also wearing this same outfit in the first picture we ever received of him. Now, we are Bringing Home Jude.
It’s a God Thing
As God would have it…the little boy to his left, lived in the same village as Jude. I imagine their families could have been friends and the boys could have been friends when they lived in the region. They left, together, on a bus to Addis Ababa, to the orphanage. There, they spoke each other’s tribal language. They played together, ate together, remained friends.
Then God stepped in.
He had other plans
Once they were just friends….now they are cousins, as my sister adopted that little cutie, and because they both know Jesus as their personal Savior, they are brothers in Christ.
You just can’t get much better than that!
Beginning our International Adoption Journey
We started our process in Feb 2010, with minor paperwork snags (to be expected), we got our referral on our anniversary in June, we traveled in October and met him….there are no other experiences, that I have had, that could’ve prepared me for the awe, love and deep fulfillment as when I stepped off the plane onto the soil of a country I loved so very much. It was like I was home. Very strange feeling beings I had never been there before. It was instant.
You Cannot Unsee the Things I Saw
The noise, the smells, the sights, the people….it was overwhelming. It was a smoggy piece of heaven. Then, to drive up, see the orphanage and these giant iron gates open and to see the faces of all these children………..words can not describe. We were instantly surrounded by children (there were 83, in all)….all who wanted a hug, a hand, to play ball, candy, bubbles, they all wanted to be loved.
Seeing My Son
I scanned the crowd, and my eyes landed on this sweet little boy, sitting by himself with his soccer ball, not paying attention to anyone. I touched my husband’s arm and said: “there he is.” My heart leaped, I couldn’t move, I couldn’t find my words…my body moved without my knowledge. It was almost like I was floating to him.
I squatted down, beside him and made eye contact. It was then, I saw my husband looking back at me. He looked so much like my husband it took my breath away. My heart stopped, all the worries of the world went away, and I thought to myself “I have found you…in this far away place, you have been waiting for me, and I have been waiting for you.”
Ethiopian Adoption Getting To Know Our Son
It was a joyous time. Playing with him, learning his language, his culture, and the sweet women (and some men) who took care of him. We met with the judge, heard the blessed words “he is yours,” and from that day forward, he was mine. A mere glimpse in my eye when I was a child was a reality. We were blessed to do a “mini” tour of his country. There were museums, churches, the local market and ate glorious food. Sadly, we swatted mosquitoes the size of my head and slept to the music being played next door. Blessed. Humbling. Wishing my kids were all there to see it with me.
Back to the US, Only to Wait
In the blink of an eye, we had to head back to the US to wait for our Embassy appointment. We were told it was to be 6 weeks before returning to get our son forever….that 6 weeks turned into over a year. When we got home, the day after we returned home, still on a high, we received a letter from OUR government. It was stating that we would not be able to bring him to the US. We had 6 weeks to get more income in, or we would be denied.
Realize we were not denied by Africa, but by America. It stated that we didn’t make enough money and that no matter what we said or did, he would not be in our arms. I remember feeling my legs go out from under me. There was a wave of sadness and despair that flooded me. I couldn’t speak or function. That depression I went through years ago, emerged.
Trying to Understand
I called the government and asked what I could do. They said I could go back to work, up to our income, reapply, and then we would see. I called our home study agency, both of our adoption agencies….they said that we would win, there would be a few phone calls made, letters typed, money borrowed and it would be okay. 6 weeks later, between my birthday and Thanksgiving, we were officially denied. In ET, he was ours. In America, he wasn’t.
Letting Go is NOT An Option
My heart broke, in half. I was told just to let it go. What are they gonna do, take me to court for not going to get him? I was told that I should think of my other children and let him go. Also, I was told that we could fight, but the chance of winning against immigration was slim. Every person we spoke to had an opinion.
I tried to explain to them that I had held him, rocked him, wiped his nose, fed him, and loved him….when he is just a picture, that people see, it is different than touching him. He was my son, and I would move Heaven and earth to get him in my arms.
A Valid Solution
We had decided to sell everything and the children, and I was simply going to move to ET for 2 yrs, while Big Daddy stayed here to work. We had a place to live, we knew people there, and I could have all my children under one roof…without the glue that holds our family together…Big Daddy. Then, we were all going to move. We were going to do what it took to reunite our family.
One Last Ditch Effort
There was one last-ditch effort to change things. We hired the best adoption immigration attorney around. Next, we got a new home study agency. Then, we lit fires under our adoption agencies. We put all the kids in public school (after homeschooling for close to 12 years). Lastly, I went back to work, full time. Our lives turned upside down.
I got a job at a department store, and I worked my butt off. Those working moms, out there, hats off to you all! We worked for a year…we sacrificed. Sadly, we almost gave up because the longer we waited, the more our knowledge grew that he would become “unadoptable” because of his age and gender.
The Lord worked miracles.
He provided the funds, through family, friends, yard sales, wreath sales, etc. to pay for our adoption, not once but twice. In three days, we raised $3000 with a YARD SALE! Tell me that isn’t MY God showing up!!!!!!!!!!!! It was enough to pay for our attorney, visas, fingerprinting…..so many things in 3 days (remember who rose in 3 days, just sayin’).
Paper Pregnancy Meeting
I remember meeting our new social worker with the new home study agency. We sat in a restaurant, eating (me being skeptical and not so nice because we had been down this road before and I wasn’t up for more disappointment). Then she said these magical words “you did it. You made enough money for your family, and you are going to bring your son home.” The world stopped spinning. I couldn’t eat, I just sat there with my head on Big Daddy’s shoulders weeping because I never thought I’d hear those words. We still had a long way to go, but this was a HUGE step.
Basically Adopting Him Twice
More fighting, more paperwork, more money, more more more. Again, the Lord showed up big because Jude had been transferred to the “Transition House.” There, he was loved by thirty nannies, and his next-door neighbors were our good friends. My friend, Betty, came almost daily, to love on my son and have her children play with him. She was me. She was the mommy he needed in a time of uncertainty and pain for him and for us. We are SO incredibly grateful to Woudneh Mulugeta and Betty Mamo and their children.
The Call That Dreams are Made of
I got a call, one day, and it was our immigration worker. I was told not to talk to them because the last worker was nasty and she denied our case. This officer was different, she heard my plea for my son, and she worked with us and for us. She kept saying, “I need this paper, or I need that paper.” I would fax it and then call to confirm she received it. During one of those faxing/calling moments, I was sitting in the closet talking to her, and I heard these words “you are approved.”
I sat there. Silence. She said it again. Again, I sat there. Once I had a thought, I asked her to repeat herself at least 5 times. Then I burst tears thanking her, blessing her, praising God, and shaking like there was no tomorrow. By then, I couldn’t keep it together. I was on my knees, on my face, praising our God. She kept saying “please don’t cry, get your stuff together and go get your son….you deserve him and he deserves you.”
Telling Big Daddy
I stood at my bedroom door and screamed for my girls, and I told them, through tears and praises. We all stood and cried. I threw on my shoes. We went to where Big Daddy works (in a factory, at the time). I flew in, and I couldn’t even get the words out. I finally muttered, “I need to see my husband, it is an emergency.”
The lady didn’t ask, didn’t flinch, she just escorted me to a room because, I’m assuming, she thought I was nuts. Moments later and he walks into the room. It was, again, like slow motion…I ran into his arms crying saying “we did it, we are bringing home our baby, we did it.” We both sat, with tears in our eyes. A blessed moment.
We flew out a year to the date that he “should have” been home. God’s timing is perfect ya know, and He has a sense of humor. I remember stepping off that plane and seeing sweet Woudneh in the crowd and his smile…that radiant smile of his. He escorted us to his car. I sat, frightened, and thought “will he remember me, will he be “institutionalized,” will he have RAD, will he hate us, what will I say, what will I do?”
We pulled up to the transition house, and the giant gate opened. My first thought was “where are all the kids?” There was NO ONE in the courtyard. He told us to stay in the car because he wanted to capture all of this on camera and video. I remember thinking “he is nuts…I’m not staying in this car LOL.”
Seeing His Face
We parked under the tree, and I looked around, and I saw a group of nannies walking towards us and in the center of these beautiful women, there he was….my son….decked out in his best whites and holding a bouquet of flowers. I was speechless. I no more squatted down to see if he would remember me or want to hug me and he started running towards me and hugged me as I’ve never been hugged before. We laughed, I cried, Big Daddy cried….he just patted my face. I kept saying to him “I told you I would be back to get you. I told you I would never leave you here or forget you.” He couldn’t understand my words, but he knew.
Our story didn’t end there, it began. He has been pure joy and full of life and love. Also, he is smart, athletic, loving and he is just joy. He exudes joy and laughs, all the time. That sweet soul is humble and forgiving, and he eats and eats.
Is our story finished? Your guess is as good as mine.
This is my journey of faith, adoption, cooking, and living life to the fullest. It also documents our journey with our son who was diagnosed with Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome. Welcome to my corner of the world.
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