Saturday, June 14, 2008

Day 2: Arrival and Gotcha

16 hours and one pretty uneventful plane ride later and we found ourselves on the tarmac at Bole International Airport. Both a little groggy from some sinus medicine and weird on-again off-again sleep - the reality of the situation was finally starting to hit us.

We were but a few short hours way from meeting our daughter!

Laura had the opportunity to share Meron's story several times on the plane with other Ethiopians. To say they were excited for us and for Meron would be an understatement! After fueling up in Rome we were both able to get a little bit of sleep before landing in Addis Ababa.

We quickly made it through the line to get our visas and then after clearing customs and getting all of our luggage we were met by Emebet and her assistant. Man - what a wonderful feeling to meet up with someone familiar when you feel like you are a world away from anybody who knows you. And Emebet isn't just "someone familiar" either - this incredible woman took care of Brighton when he was sick, treated him like her own and has been an incredible source of inspiration and relief for us (knowing she was here to look in on Meron). So finally being able to meet her was a little bit emotional for us all.

We met our driver Abraham and it we were off to the lodge. The plan was go to the lodge, rest up a bit, get our donations ready and head to the orphanage. But hey - this is international adoption, right? Where flexibility rules. The cottage wouldn't be ready for about another 6 hours - but we were cool with it - what options do you have? So we piled back in the car and headed to the church where Brighton was buried. We knew we wanted to do this - just weren't aware we'd do it first thing here. Kind of fitting though - his life was so important, so big, so magnificent - why shouldn't it be the first thing we do on Ethiopian soil? His grave marker was more amazing in person than in pictures. We were able to visit his site and the sites of two other babies from Meron's orphanage. We also were able to give a small offering to the church and were blessed by an Ethiopian Orthodox priest. It was an incredible way to start the day.

So again - with flexibilty being the rule - we headed to the orphanage to hand out the donations and meet some of the babies and to finally get our eyes and hands on Meron. After getting all of the suitcases unloaded and in to the orphanage - we were ushered in to a small room and BOOM! Who was there? That's right. It was Meron.

From this point forward I have no memories and my mind is blank because we have been walking on cloud 9!! Just kidding - but it has been an amazingly incredible day - stressful? Yes. Most amazing day of our lives? You bet.

The kids at the orphanage were amazing. The nannies are out of this world. And if you doubt for a second that these caregivers don't love these children - let me put your mind at ease. They are IN love wih these kids. It is so obvious. It was actually very hard to take Meron from them because you could see the hurt they were experiencing in losing her. We love them for loving her.

The night ended with the entire Hoffman family back at our lodge. We got to hang out with Meron - play with her - feed her. She has bonded with both of us - it's crazy - she has not cried at all - she is sleeping peacefully right now as we type this. She let out a little whimper to tell us she was ready to eat but that has been it. She has been happy - smiling, playing with stacking cups and rings and just getting to know us (and us getting to know her).

We want to say thank you again to everybody who has prayed for us - the prayers for a smooth transition have surely been felt. There was such a peace here tonight - it was as if God Himself had kind of surrounded us and just let us be in perfect harmony for the evening.

Oh yeah - except for the two blowouts we experienced! We have already thrown away an outfit and mastered the "double-team diaper change." Our little girl broke us in just right!


Emy said...

CONGRATULATIONS!! She is just beautiful! Can't wait to hear more about your new family.

April S. Mathis said...

I am so happy for you. YOU have a beautiful daughter. If you ever need a babysitter, I am not to far away.

Angela said...

Beautiful post, beautiful pictures, and a beautiful family! So happy to see her in your arms at last!

Carole Turner said...

She is so beautiful!!

Thank you for sharing your story. I leave soon to get a 7 yr old from there, so my experience will be different yet very similar too I suppose.

God bless your family.

Lauren said...

COngratulations! She is so beautiful. God Bless!

Anonymous said...

What a GORGEOUS family!
The Alleys

Anonymous said...

The picture with Meron holding onto both of you and smiling just sums it all up. You guys were all made for each other!!

love Brig & Tony

Anonymous said...

she's beautiful! I love her already! Your happy faces made me cry!
love, carmen (aka: airport friend)

FHL said...

Oh, she is beautiful! Reading this post made me teary eyed!

Amy said...

Gorgeous Girl! I am catching up reading all your posts from your trip! Amazing..... I am so glad to see sweet Meron with you guys!

Paula said...

Congratulations! She is so pretty and you all look so happy. I'm happy for you. you are a FAMILY !!

Unknown said...

Oh, these first photos are beyond precious. Those little smiles and toes are so cute! Congratulations!

Janie said...

Thank God for heartfelt prayers answered! She is a beauty!