Ethiopia #4–Blessings and Heartaches

I have two children, really.  I can show them to you now.  I’ve been saying that I’m a mom of two (sort of) for over a year now, and now, I really, really do have two children, and I am delighted, and exhausted, and humbled that God would see fit to bless me in this way.  We have been overwhelmed by his goodness and his grace.  God brought my little boy home for Christmas when it just didn’t seem possible.  He brought me out of my long wait.  My Teme is home.

In Ethiopia, we sunned ourselves in the joy of loving our son, this new little creature who clung to us, his espresso eyes following us as we shook bottles and spooned cereal into bowls for him, gathered diapers and offered toys.  We spent one day with him touring Emperor Melnik II’s palace (built in the late 1800s) and Maryam Church (an Ethiopian Orthodox Church built in 1876), and we did a little shopping in our favorite places.  We visited the Ethiopian Museum while awaiting our Embassy appointment (I liked seeing Hallie Selassie’s throne and loved the artwork).  We ate at Island Breeze (still my favorite restaurant in Ethiopia), Green Top (pizza), Lucy’s (themed after the skeleton), and a Chinese restaurant, and we sipped on drinks at the Sheraton.  We watched our son brighten and plump, daring to pull up and cruise and chase us around chairs and luggage.  He invented games while I packed, leaning over our bed until he nearly fell and then laughing when I swooped him back on the bed.  He is such a blessing, such a gift.

On our third day in Ethiopia, we visited the orphanage where each of our children has resided prior to their court dates.  We have visited the orphanage on each of our visits in Ethiopia (and played with our little M each time).  We generally bring crates full of medicine, clothing, toys, books, school supplies along with fresh fruit that we’ve picked up on the way for the kids.  Always, the needs of the children there crush me.  Most are undernourished.  The babies lie three to a crib.  Very few cry.  The toddlers swarm at my waist calling “mama,” and the older children smile shyly and hold out their hands for stickers, a sweet, crayons, or a toy.  We met the orphanage director, Yacob, when we arrived and asked if we could see the children.  We had been told that our little M had gone home with his birth family.  We asked about this many, many times.  Each time we were reassured that he had gone home.  Matt and I have both been skeptical about this, so I planned to search the orphanage to be sure that little M indeed had left.  We found him in the first room that we entered, and I knew immediately that he recognized us.  He stared and stared at us, and as soon as Matt tried to hold him he cried, a painful sort of cry, one like abandonment or betrayal.  I looked at Yacob and told him “I want this boy.  I want to adopt this boy.”  Yacob assured me that he would check his paperwork, and if it was possible, he would certainly allow me to adopt him.  I had so many questions.  Yacob is new to the orphanage, and he says that the orphanage is splitting from our agency because the agency has not provided any financial support to the orphanage since July.  There isn’t enough money for food or school fees for the children, and they have a large bill accumulating at the local hospital.  He is trying to help children be adopted out privately or transferred to other places for care because the orphanage is struggling so much.  He told us the story about M’s family coming for him is “all lies.”  His paperwork is still not ready.  There is still much to be done before M is even adoptable.  We did not pass court because the agency falsified his papers, not because he has a family.  Sadly, I am not surprised.  I am disappointed and frustrated and heartbroken, but not surprised.  I couldn’t contain myself for the rest of the afternoon, and I spent the night in the bathroom in our guest room on my knees asking God what he will do with little M.  Who should we trust?  How can we possibly bring him home?  I held him and kissed him while he stared at me and whimpered.  He held tight to my shoulder, and I told him that I will come for him just as soon as they will let me.  I told him that I am his mama and that he has a daddy and a sister and a brother, and we are his family.  I told him how much we love him.  I don’t know what will happen, but I have to try.  I can’t leave this little boy, my little boy, in a struggling orphanage in Ethiopia.  I have to try.  I know God sees him.  He loves my little M.  I don’t know the plan, but whether God desires that I love this boy and pray for him always or that I raise him also, I am tied to M.  We are family, whether in the same home or not.

So, I have two children or maybe three.  I think I have three children.  Time will tell whether all are ever in my home.  I have this great blessing, a daughter and a son, and yet Ethiopia is heavy on me, another child that I have loved since he was 3-months-old still waiting for me.  Oh be still my heart.

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