First thing Thursday morning we drove out to visit Gezehegn again. Oh my how we love that boy already. He was a little more leery of Mike today but just melted into my arms like we had known each other always. I can not describe how wonderful it felt to cuddle him. Down Syndrome people especially DS children were invented by God to be the world’s best huggers. Since Jonathan died I have regularly burst into tears at the sight of any DS boys. It is just a vivid reminder that Jonnie isn’t here and won’t ever be that age doing those things I see other DS kids doing. I didn’t feel that way with Gezehegn. Holding him felt like I’d come home. I know holding Gezehegn wasn’t a substitute for holding Jonathan, but it sure did ease up the aching empty feeling in my arms since April when Jonathan died. Mike and I were still numb about losing Edelawit though it helped to see how God was giving us Gezehegn. We spent two hours playing with Gezehegn before we had to leave. We got to meet Belay, Gladney’s Ethiopian director. What a nice man he was. You can tell he really loves all the kids and works hard for the very best for them. He gave us his full support to adopt Gezehegn. We assured him we would be pursuing Gezehegn’s adoption as soon as possible after our current adoption.
We had our taxi driver take us back to the Ritmo guest house so we could meet with Gail and Merrily. They were wonderful and supportive about what happened with Edelawit. They planned to visit KM to speak with the Sisters there about Edelawit and her brother. Gail assured us they would close the current file on Edelawit and reopen a new file as a sib set after they processed the brother Yared. Gail felt Edeawit and Yared would be matched to another family before we would be able to adopt again after this adoption. The good news was that Gail and Merrily seemed to feel all was not lost for Edelawit and her brother being adopted at some future date…even if it wasn’t to us. I had envisioned yesterday Edelawit never being able to be adopted by anyone and wasting away from AIDS in some lonely place; never the hope of a family and long term medical care. I still cried some about the whole sad thing but managed to hold it together for the most part in front of Gail and Merrily. Gail wanted us to choose another child to add to Assefa and said it wouldn’t stall his adoption. We said we just wanted to get him home and not take any chances of complicating his adoption. We didn’t say anything about Gezehegn because we didn’t want to do anything to disrupt the timeline to bring our baby home.
Mike and I later visited our baby boy at AHOPE. Assefa is so sweet. I just kept praying hard there while at AHOPE and trying not to cry with worry. I could tell Assefa had a very poor suck-swallow-breath rhythm. He spit up a lot and I could see he had reflux. His lungs were really wheezy though I didn’t have a stethoscope. I had been trying to talk to caregivers all week about changing from his fast flow nipple and also having him upright for 20 minutes after feeding. I knew I wasn’t getting through to them. Then the AHOPE director came to us in the baby room and said the doctor was there. I took Assefa into medical office while the AHOPE pediatrician talked to staff person about adjusting his ARV meds (for HIV+) for his current weight. I pulled up Assefa’s shirt where you could see him retracting (working too hard) his chest as he breathed. The doctor listened to his chest and said “yes, his lungs are full”. The doctor pronounced he had reactive airway disease and put him on antibiotics. He also agreed he needed a slow flow nipple for bottle and should be kept upright after feeding. I was so relieved! Here I was so concerned about our baby and I felt helpless to convey it all to the staff. God had worked it all out for the doctor to come for the routine exam while Mike and I were there! First I thought maybe Gail had asked the doctor to come after I had shared with her Assefa was really wheezy. But no, it was the Lord God who timed the doctor’s monthly visit for that day and that time when we were there. I may feel helpless and truly be helpless on my own but my Father works everything out! I don’t want to ever forget I can do no good things on my own, but only with my Father’s help will anything be accomplished.
My trip to Ethiopia in 2005 to adopt Tigist and Meseret from Layla and Berhanu from KM , we stayed at the Yilma Hotel. Hope and Michael came with me that trip and lodging for the six of us was cheaper at the Yilma than staying at the Ritmo guest house. The Yilma was nice that trip though we didn’t meet up with other adoptive families which can be fun. I had a built in translator with Hope around so we traveled all over the city in cabs and buses. The nicest thing about the Yilma was the restaurant downstairs. Great food and great prices. We all loved breakfast there and that is where I fell in love with steel cut oats for breakfast (they make it with sweetened condensed milk and it is scrumptious) Anyway, I wanted to take Mike there to eat as he’d never been before. We had the restaurant to ourselves and he had a nice juicy steak and I had the Yilma “fir fir” I remembered so fondly from 2005. The best part of dinner was they had Diet Coke there! We both miss that when we travel outside America. Of course only the U.S. puts the word “die” in our drinks (“Die”t Coke). In Ethiopia like many places in the world it’s called Coca Cola Light. Same thing and boy was it good after not tasting it for 10 days.
We were sitting in the Yilma restaurant eating a nice meal and drinking lukewarm diet coke and chasing it with Ethiopian beer. We felt sad about Edelawit, happy about seeing Assefa’s doctor. We felt happy about God leading us to Gezehegn, sad that it would take so long to get him home. We figured it could take three months to get Assefa home and then another 6-9 mos at least to adopt Gezehegn. Then maybe …maybe, maybe we’d be able to adopt Edelawit and her brother Yared. As we were sitting there trying to do justice to our meal, Gail called. Mike was talking to her and then he handed the cell phone to me. Guess what!? Gail had been at a U.S. embassy meeting that afternoon. One of the few other agencies’ staff she knows happens to be Gladney’s. Ryan saw her and approached her and told her about Gezehegn. I had email Ryan when Edelawit’s case blew all to pieces, so he knew about that. Gail and Ryan and Belay talked and decided that Gladney would release Gezehegn to AAI and he could be added to Assefa’s case to be adopted at the same time! NEVER did we dream God would work that one out! I remember thinking the last few days…”God this one is hard, I KNOW You are ALWAYS good. Nothing is impossible for YOU. You can work this out.” And He did! Mike and I both were crying with surprise and joy after Gail’s phone call. We just sat there at the Yilma, floating up to the ceiling with awe and wonder and GRATEFULNESS that our loving Father was working all these things out better than we could have ever imagined.
Friday morning we visited Gezehegn one last time and I wept when we left. Sad to be leaving him for the several more months before he could come home, but thrilled and still amazed his case would be added to Assefa’s. We arranged with Gail and Ryan for Gezehegn to be moved in the next few days into AAI's care, either Wanna or Opportunity House. We stopped at Opportunity House (AAI's special needs home)to tell director Tigist that our new guy Gezehegn may be coming there. We visited Layla to pick up mail to bring home to the states and met up with volunteer Ivy escorting a medical group we'd met on the flight from DC to Addis. They said "so, you are the legendary Fesers?". Too funny. I was sort of secretly pleased they looked more exhausted than we did after two weeks in Ethiopia. We packed up our bags and then spent our last few hours in Addis holding and loving on Assefa at AHOPE before heading for airport and home.
Leaving that night Mike and I knew God had taken us to the top of the mountain. It's a wonderful and exhilarating place up high like that. Basking in His Grace and Glory and Good Gifts. It was made all that much higher and breathtaking because of our wanderings in the deep valley of the shadow of death this past year. Rosh Hashana we'd celebrated the creation of the world on this planet's birthday as we met our new tiny baby boy Assefa and our precious little girl Edelawit. We remembered it was six months since Jonathan breathed his last breath as we first laid eyes on our new son Gezehegn. We lost Edelawit (for now) and found out Gezehegn could come home sooner with Assefa. That long hard mule ride and hike up the mountain in Lalibela was a lesson for us. There were times I thought I would surely die from lack of oxegen scaling that mountain. There have surely been times I have thought (and wished!) I would die in my grief for Jonathan. But oh how the Lord's light and glory can consume and burn off all that fear and suffering. I wouldn't change a thing. Not a single thing. After all, who am I to think I could have chosen a way any better? His reality far exceeds my wildest dreams. I trust HIM and how He chooses because He is so brilliant and worthy of anything my unworthy self could offer up to Him.