To be completely honest, the trip somewhat snuck up on me. It’s not that Sweet Sweet and I didn’t have plenty of time to be ready for the trip. We had waited a year and six months for this moment, but to know that it was finally here was a bit surreal. We were finally on our way to see our son. I don’t know that I’ll track each and every day, but the first day of our trip was a long day and it was incredibly memorable because it was the day that we met Fitsum.
The first leg of our trip was a very long layover. An afternoon flight from DFW to Washington, D.C. and we arrive in D.C. with all of our luggage (thankfully) in the evening and stay the night at a hotel just outside of the airport.
The next morning, we arrive at Dulles plenty early to sit and wait for our plane. Again, everything was going according to plan, other than having a long wait for security, but at this point, waiting an extra half hour seemed small. Even the plane ride to Ethiopia was relatively easy, other than the fact that it was 13 hours of being on a plane.
It was the arrival in Ethiopia where we it all started to come together. To put it plainly, things are different in Ethiopia. Not necessarily bad, just different. When we landed, the first thing that I noticed while looking out the window was the haze in the air. That haze lasted the entire trip and it’s a part of life in Addis Ababa. We did find all of our luggage, however, the toughest part was being able to put all of the luggage on a cart, and then having to go through security. It’s normal to take donations on the trip, for the orphanages and the transition home and in addition to our donations, we took close to 280 toothbrushes and toothpaste for another couple. Little did we know that toothbrushes could be such a big problem. The woman scanning our bags told us that we would need to pay a tax as there was a possibility that we would be selling our toothbrushes. The woman completes the paperwork and I then go to stand in line. I’m not used to be pushy, but I was in this case, as I had one person stick their paper under the glass in front of me. I figured that if I was going to have the tax figured I would have to not allow anyone else in front of me. Other than taking close to an hour, I went from that line to the line next door where I then paid over $60.00 for the toothbrush tax. It’s not that the process itself was unnerving, but it was the fact that we were waiting in line and we were in a place that was completely unfamiliar to us. Sweet Sweet was waiting with our bags and I could feel that she was becoming impatient. I was impatient too.
We were then worried that whoever was to pick us up from the adoption agency wasn’t going to be there. We were saved by Job. Yes, Job, one of the two gentlemen who works for the adoption agency and he was standing there. I don’t think Job understands how happy I was to be able to meet him. We get our bags and we head off to the Yebsabi Guest House, which is where most people in our adoption agency stay while handling the adoption process. We drop our bags off and we meet downstairs to go with a couple who is leaving that evening as we are off to find some lunch. You may be surprised to know that you can find some excellent Italian food in Ethiopia. Ethipia was under Italian control for a period of five years, but during that time, somehow, Italian food remained. We are off to an Italian restaurant and other than knowing that we’re so close to meeting Fitsum, it was just fine.
When we get to the transition home, the family we’re traveling with asks if they can take pictures and video for us as this is our “meet ya” moment. This is a big moment for adopting parents and this would be the first time that we were meeting Fitsum. The family’s new son took hold of Miranda’s camera, the mother took my camera and the father took the video camera. I think we were covered.
To say that it was a special moment would be an understatement. Although I don’t know this for a fact, it is probably akin to seeing your child born. That was so amazing. I could go on about how that moment felt. Whatever I write would pale in comparison to those emotions, so I won’t try. The pictures will tell the entire story.
What I can say is that this was the day that Sweet Sweet and I had been waiting on for a year and 6 months. It’s been way too long.
I wish I could explain how the light in these photos made them absolutely beautiful, but I think it’s actually because Fitsum is so beautiful.
We get to spend half a day with Fitsum before heading back to the guest house, but before we did, the other family that we were traveling with (this was a different family) wanted to grab some take-out pizza as they were leaving in the evening. At this time I think I’ve been up for a really long time, although I really don’t know the actual number of hours I had been awake. Some 13 hours on the plane, which doesn’t include being awake for the first 7 hours of that day and then you tack on another 9 hours as we were awake the day that we arrived and that’s about 29 hours or so that we’ve been awake. As we were talking with this family I’m positive I was nodding off while actively engaged in a conversation. We were so happy to finally get some sleep.