Wednesday before we went out to the Gladney homes we’d made a quick visit to KM. We had been told Edelawit’s birth father would show up that morning but he wasn’t there so we just hung out with our darling little girl for awhile in her classroom. The other kids are all twice her size. She sits in the front near the teacher and seems to love the whole thing. She watches intently as the class is drilled on their letters (English). As all the children sing the Kindergarten songs Edelawit lays her head down on the desk.. She just watches but never speaks. We gave her a photo of us and a photo of her and she clutches those as she shyly glances at us sitting on the bench at the side of the room. At times she seems happy to see us and at times she is petrified of us. She is so precious.
As we drove out of the city to the east edge of Addis I commented to Mike how very much Ethiopia is a land of extreme contrasts. There’s the lushness of beautiful gardens next to open sewers. Beautiful homes with landscaped acres are enclosed with high walls topped with barbed wire. Absolutely gorgeous people (the most beautiful examples of physical perfection in human beings) walking past maimed and crippled beggars on the street.
After meeting Gezehegn on Wednesday morning we visited AHOPE to spend time with Assefa before heading back to KM. We’d arranged to be back to KM at 4:00 that afternoon to meet Edelawit’s birth father...hopefully. We’d found out the day before that he was alive, and to us this was good news. Often times the child report you get on children you’re adopting is inaccurate. The orphanage and agency goes on information given by those friends or relatives who bring the child to orphanage. Edelawit’s records said both parents were dead and she had no siblings. We knew how priceless it would be for her that we could meet her birth father and get photos and exchange information. Having a living birth parent is a good thing always!! We assumed that her file could be easily changed to reflect a living father who was relinquishing her due to his health issues.
At KM we saw no one… so we visited the baby rooms where I managed to have a run in with a group of Europeans who were “baby shopping”. Mind you I have made promises to Mike not to engage anymore in arguments with guys in uniforms carrying machine guns…but I’ve made no promises about being nice too prejudiced ignorant baby shoppers looking for “bright” (fair skinned) babies.
We were loving on Edelawit and the other kidlets in the 3-6 year old group when we sensed a stirring of trouble in the air. I think God mut have placed a cloud of His mercy around us. For the most part we were sailing though the battles raging around us without understanding what was happening. All of a sudden we found ourselves amidst of quite the drama. . Edelawit’s birth father never showed up that day. At one point a Sister (nun) said “her brother is here”. I said “you mean her father’s brother?” No, it was Edelawit;s brother. This was the very first real hint we had that things may not work out with Edelawit and us. There is a law (a good and righteous one) in Ethiopian courts now that a child must be adopted with bio siblings. We met Edelawit’s brother, a very nice boy age 11 yr named Yared. Then we were introduced to aunts, uncles and cousins. There were those in charge pressuring us to let it be….not ask questions…The aunts and uncles were being questioned. How could this be? A bio brother? They said they must be lying to get him adopted too? (but of course it was her brother, she looks exactly like him!) The aunts and uncles were threatened and cross-examined because they had lied in affidavits to court saying Edelawit’s parents were dead and no living siblings. Oh how we wished we spoke Amharic then! Edelawit was crying and brother Yared looked so scared. It was heartbreaking. There is a lot I could say but we have chosen to keep this blog public and I must be wise with my words. We did find out that Yared her brother visits her at KM every week. Her birth father used to visit once a month. There is total of nine siblings, but supposedly only Yared is “full blood sibling” and needing to be adopted with Edelawit. Finally, it all was sinking in…all of Edelawit’s paperwork had been falsified. There now was crowd of people who knew…there was no way AAI our agency could submit her file to court let alone the U.S. embassy for her visa to U.S. It was sinking in that there were serious road blocks to us adopting Edelawit! Our parting words as we left KM were “We can not be a party to this kind of deceit. God would not honor this” and “You know us! We will do the right thing. We will be back for Edelawit and her brother as soon as we are allowed”. The reply to that was that her file could not be resubmitted to court with a different story as that would say to court that the first file was all lies. I wept in the taxi all the way back to the Ritmo quest house. Mike and I were reeling. Later that evening we finally reached Gail our AAI in country agency staff and told her the situation. We arranged to meet with her and Merrily (agency director who happened to be there in Addis) the next morning. Mike and I knew we would not be soon if ever bringing home the little girl we had come to love as our daughter.
Just like we’d talked about that morning in the taxi…Ethiopia a land of extreme contrasts…our day had been one of extreme contrasts….the soaring joy and thankfulness of meeting Gezehegn and knowing he was to be ours….and the crushing grief of losing Edelawit and the panicked worry of what would happen to her?! One thing we knew as He had taught us time and time again. He (Yahweh) is always good. He knew all this long before we ever imagined it happening. Though we were heart broken about what looked to be us losing Edelawit , we rejoiced in His goodness at bringing this whole situation to light. We knew we could trust Edelawit to Yahweh’s care. We still were absorbing His great goodness and grace in leading us to Gezehegn. I never went to sleep this night. It was a night of tears and pleading, praising and worship. He gave Mike and I perfect peace and joy in HIM. Nothing else mattered too much.