Previously on Adoption: Mission Little Dude….we had 36 hours’ notice to fly halfway around the world. They arrived, separately, and embarked on a quest to find their son. After a harrowing drive on the crazy roads of Ethiopia, including many near-misses with donkeys, cows, horses and humans, they arrived at the gate of a faraway orphanage….[cue sappy music] I felt like I needed to provide a dramatic recap of part one, kind of like they do on TV after a cliffhanger.
So we pulled up to the gate of the orphanage. I was happy that it was painted in bright colors, had a playground, and had grass. My happiness was short-lived, though. We were greeted enthusiastically by the social worker and nannies. We heard someone say his name (Abel: said like ah-bull), so we ran right in. The other parents all saw their children almost immediately, but we were left looking for him. We saw about 15 babies on the mattresses arranged on the floor, but none looked like what we pictured him to look like. One of the nannies stepped up and told us that there were three Abels, all about 6 months old. She picked up one dear baby and handed him to me. I knew immediately that it wasn’t him, so I handed him back. Another nanny pointed out another boy. Again I said that he was not the right boy. Another nanny came over and said he was. I whipped out two photos I had brought in anticipation of such an event. S also got out his iPhone on which we had every photo we had ever received of him. We started showing the pictures to the nannies, but they kept saying it was him. The drivers got involved too, but they also agreed that it was him. They [all] said stuff like, “You have never seen him in person” and “These pictures are so old” and “He has been sick”. After going round and round for quite some time, we decided that we had to trust everyone else because there was no other option.
Nothing felt right to me. We undressed him, changed his diaper, put on a new Phillies onesie on him and wrapped him in a blanket. I still felt ill at ease. One of the drivers suggested that I go outside for some quiet time with “our son”. I started talking to him, trying to quell the feelings of doubt. After a few minutes, S came out to see us. The look on his face was awful; he was looking down and looked like he had terrible news. “I found him,” he said. “I found Little Dude.”
I went back into the room with the Phillies-clad baby still in my arms. S had out his iPhone and was holding it up to another baby in a nanny’s arms. Other nannies and the drivers were standing around them. I handed the baby back to a nanny, sat down on the floor and started to cry. I told them I would not touch another baby until they were sure it was the right one. Finally S turned around and said the two words I had been waiting to hear: “It’s him”.
I stood up, wiped my eyes on my sleeve and walked over to the crowd. “Are you sure it’s him?” I asked. S said he was. (Thank God for the iPhone. S was able to enlarge Little Dude’s lips and chin and then hold it up to the baby for a good comparison since it’s pretty distinctive. We would have been lost without it.) They handed me OUR SON, and it felt right.
We laid him down to change him. I unbuttoned his onesie and yelled for S to come over right away and to bring the iPhone. I asked him to pull up the pictures from when Little Dude was 4 weeks old. In one of those pictures you can see a mark on his chest. I saw the same mark when I unbuttoned his onesie. GOLD! We had proof that we had our little Little Dude! If you remember, I said that we put the other baby in the Phillies onesie. I could not bear to take him out of it, so Little Dude ended up in a hand-me-down outfit from Gino. I wrapped him up in a blanket I bought about 11 years ago – for just such an occasion – and took him outside.
The next 90 minutes were a wonderful, beautiful blur. S was click-click-clicking away with his camera and I was in heaven. Every now and again I would remember that his daddy was there too, and I would ‘let’ him hold him. Little Dude was so tired and he only stirred when we passed him back and forth; otherwise, he just slept. He was so, so beautiful. I could not believe that it was really happening. At times I became aware that I was holding him so tight and I became afraid I’d squeeze him too hard. I love that little angel!!!
Our 90 minutes of heaven came to an end way too quickly. It was time to leave and that just plain sucked. After delaying it as long as we could, we reluctantly handed Little Dude back to the nannies. Once again, I was a blubbering fool. I can’t express to you how it felt to have to do that. An enormous part of my heart was ripped out of my chest and left in that room. We knew that, at best, we would not see him for another two months. Those 90 minutes were nowhere near long enough.
The rest of the trip was such a let down. We were supposed to return to our guest house with our babies. Instead, we returned empty-handed to rooms with cribs. Our room was so small and the crib was wedged between my side of the bed and the wall. S and I removed it immediately; it was just too hard to have it in there. We hadn’t considered what we would do upon our returned since we had assumed we’d have our kids. We filled the time but I can’t say that it was all that enjoyable. Thankfully we were all together and able to commiserate with each other.
So what’s next, you ask? Well, as of the writing of this blog we are still waiting for the necessary paperwork to be issued. Hopefully that comes within the next few days. Once it’s received our kids will get full medical exams and be moved to the transition house. They will stay there until we go back for our embassy appointment. Hopefully we will be able to go back in about 8 weeks or so. At that point, we will be able to bring him home – forever.
One last thing: as of Thursday Little Dude was in the hospital. We don’t know why and don’t know if he is still there. Please keep him in your prayers.