Apr 19, 2010

The Last Days & Our Homecoming

Our last few days in Ethiopia were memorable ones. We played. We laughed. We cried. And we began to know that this time together, however how hard and dark, was coming to an end. There was another path to walk and we were going together. The kids even began screaming "AMERICA" every time we started to pack. We spent Sunday together. In our pajamas. I don't think we ever fully got around and did much of anything. It felt great. Monday was traumatic, gorgeous and impossible to tell you about yet. I will get there. I promise. It's Kaleab's day. And even now, almost a month later, the tears well and I can't speak. But I will get to that. Soon. I promise.

Our day on the couch:

Tuesday was our last day. Le and I had come up with a brilliant plan to keep the kids awake all day with no nap since our flight didn't leave until 10p.m. and then perhaps they would sleep on the flight from Addis Ababa to Dulles (which was 16 1/2 hours). We spent the day playing in the yard at our guest house, packing and just enjoying the sun. The kids did great with no nap, except that when we packed up the car to head to the airport, they both fell asleep on the way.

Our last pic together in Ethiopia. Man, we look OLD and TIRED.

Right before they fell asleep in the car on the way to the airport, as I stared out the window, I started to cry. And I couldn't stop. For almost 30 minutes I let it out. I sobbed because we were leaving. I cried for my children's situation that brought us together and I cried for how I was going to explain to them later in life what adoption is and how God designed our family. And most of all, I cried for my Kaleab. When the car pulled into the airport, I turned and I said goodbye to this city that I had wrestled a million emotions for two weeks and I apologized. For my ignorance, for my lack of understanding and for knowing that this would not be our last encounter. I would be back. I had to be back. My daughter and youngest son were from here. And my oldest son still lived here. And you can't be at war with a place that you love.

The airplane ride from Addis had always been my concern. I was terrified that our kids were going to suddenly inherit my fear of flying. But all was for not. Ruta thought it was the coolest adventure of her life and as the plane lifted off the ground, she let out a "WHEEEEEE". 45 minutes later, my children were both asleep. And they slept non-stop until we landed in Rome. Alazar SCREAMED when I took him to the bathroom and shut the door. Folks, I mean, every person in the airplane was staring at us. I tried several times to take him and he was throwing his lungs into it every time the door shut behind us. I had Le, a random Ethiopian woman and a man we had never met try to take my son to the bathroom. I changed him into a diaper and told him in my broken Amharic to just go and mommy would get him a clean diaper. But no avail. 15 hours of not peeing! Finally, a stewardess spoke to him in Amharic and she discerned from his screaming that he was afraid the toilet was going to suck him in because of the sound it made.
I was devastated. I had taken my son and now his terror of toilets was going to cause a urinary infection. So I did what any mother would do. I grabbed my son, wet wipes, hand sanitizer and off we went. I closed the door without him knowing and showed him how the water made no noise in the sink. He laughed at our reflections in the mirror and I again, assured him that I was right there, I was going to take care of him. I wouldn't let any toliet suck him in and if he didn't want to pee there that was just fine. So I taught my son to pee in the sink instead. Judge me if you must but I promise that my son's bladder thanked me and that sink had never been so clean after I was done with it.

When we landed in Dulles, I teared up as we landed on American soil. We spent our five hour layover in customs and immigration and had enough time to grab a quick bite before our next flight to Denver. The kids slept the entire 4 hour flight to Denver. When we de-planed, Ben and Amy Savage had just flown in from Cincy for a visit and they met us at the terminal. I cried when I threw my arms around their necks! They are fellow adoptive parents from Ethiopia and are some of our dearest friends. Two more of our posse who live in Colorado Springs met us at the airport too. My dear Brandi and Vince were waiting with open arms.

That boy fell in LOVE with him some Ben Savage!

We literally had only about 20 minutes together before we had to jump back through security and run to our terminal. And the Andrews clan was RUNNING! The flight to OKC was only an hour and I was determined NOT to miss it. Landing in my home city was so powerful for me. I kept swearing to Le that our plane passed over our house. I teared up in Dulles. I cried in Denver, but when I saw my family and friends and I knew we were home and I got to the feet of my mother, I fell to my knees in tears. It was just so beautiful! So many of our family and friends turned out to see us, but when I turned and saw my sister (who lives in Phoenix) standing by my dad, I threw my arms around them both and just began to sob.
Our airport homecoming deserves its own post, but for now, I will leave you with my mom's first pic with her grandson. Our journey came full circle that day...infertility told me a lie that we couldn't have a family. And God's love told us that only HE defines a family!


JG said...

"infertility told me a lie that we couldn't have a family. And God's love told us that only HE defines a family!"

That's beautiful, Lindsey. We are so happy for you!

Laura Ferry-Jimenez said...

wow - I read those last lines and got goose bumps. by reading your first comment, I see I wasn't the only one. :)

Ellen Enright said...

Lindsey, I loved the post, and I came over here to comment on your last two sentences, and see two other felt the same way. What a wonderful way to spell that out.

Gayla said...

OH. MY. GOSH. I *know* most of this story and you STILL have me in tears!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That closing line... oh, so gorgeous.

You forgot the part about when the stewardess told us we all had to sit down while the plane was in Rome and you muttered "Try telling that to my 2 year old." (hilarious!)

Tracy said...

You are a gifted writer! Please tell me that you're going to write a book about your adoption, because God has given you an amazing story! I'm in tears.

Thank you for sharing your heart so beautifully!

Micah said...

Super happy for you!!!!

Julie said...

So my favorite part is about peeing in the sink (ahem--I mean toilet). What else can we do if we don't laugh? You've been thrust into mamma-hood! Welcome home! :)

Erin Moore said...

love love love this - I'm hanging on your every word - I'm so glad this story is just beginning!

Meredith said...

your story is beautiful. thank you for being honest and real with the world. it is not my time yet but I hope to take my own adoption journey someday.

Theresa said...

What a wonderful post and I can so relate. I sobbed and sobbed when we left for the airport. It is hard leaving your children's birth place. Adoption is hard but well worth it. Infertility told me the same thing and I proved it wrong. Congratulations on your family.

Kristi J said...

oh, i loved the last line...beautiful..congrats..your children are beyond beautiful, kristi

Angel said...

OH MY WORD!!!!! I laughed AND cried this post. I think I am reading your whole BLOG! Precious.. God's truth sets us free to be way more than we every dreamed possible. It is BEAUTIFUL to see in your family. Angel