Monday, July 23, 2012

Meeting them for the first time...

Tarmac at Bole International Airport, Addis Ababa.

A little over a week ago, after a very long flight, we descended down the metal stairs onto the tarmac at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The first thing that hit me was the damp, drizzly air. I can’t tell you how good it felt after being cooped up in a plane for 13 hours. I took in a big breath – and drank it in. The smell was almost exotic... like the smoke of clove cigarettes hanging in the air. It was intoxicating.

We met our driver "M" outside the airport after rounding up our bags, and we were off. It takes 20 minutes from the airport to get to Horizon House – the place where our kids are staying. Just 20 minutes were standing between us and meeting and holding our kids for the first time. My heart was pounding and my mind was racing. 

“I hope they are all healthy.”
“I hope they are all happy.”
“I hope they have all gained weight.”
“I hope... I hope... I hope...”

The 20 minutes flew by. It was a blur of honking horns, merging cars and fancy traffic maneuvers by our very talented driver. I told him he would fit in perfectly in New York City.

Nearing the end of the drive, we took a hard right onto a very narrow dirt alleyway. If you blinked, you would miss it. A few second later, we stopped at a huge gate surrounded by barbed wire. We had arrived.

This is the moment we had been waiting for. The driver said they were up and we could just walk right in and meet them. No fanfare. No ceremony of handing you the baby like they did with J-Lo in the movie “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” It was just me and Ken... and all that stood between us and our kids was a door to a small room.

We threw our bags in our room and grabbed two cameras. After taking our shoes off we quietly opened the door and walked into the room. I looked to my left and saw this beautiful little girl wearing pink lying in a small crib. She had big almond eyes and A LOT of hair. I almost didn’t recognize her. She had grown so much since we first saw her in the referral photo. But it was her. I asked if I could pick her up and the Nannies said of course. Let me tell you, there’s nothing like that moment. Holding and kissing your child for the first time. Two seconds later they handed me one of the boys. The big guy. The smile on my face was so big. And then they handed Ken the other boy. All everyone could say was “Konjo” which means beautiful in Amharic.

That’s exactly what it was... beautiful.

Over the next few days, we spent as much time as possible with the three of them and quickly learned that they all have their own distinct personalities. “N” the girl, is very independent. She loves to roll around and steal toys from her brothers. “E” the big guy can be stoic, but once he gets to know and trust you, he’s all smiles. He also loves to be picked up. And then there’s “A”. He was the third one to be born. In true youngest-child fashion, he loves to make his presence know. He has an inner squeal he belts out when he wants you to notice him. It’s hilarious. 

Needless to say, both Ken and I are head over heels. It’s amazing how much love you can feel for another little human being. In our case – three little ones. 

We truly couldn't feel any luckier.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Still coming off jet lag - and need to gather all my thoughts and emotions about this life-changing trip - so until then... here are few pictures.