For part one of our family's story, read here.
In just three months, we were on our way to Ethiopia to meet our babies. It was surreal. A night, sleepless with preparations and anticipation, a plane flight, a crazy ride through a city like none we had ever seen, and then we were at the foster home. A representative from our agency led us into a dark hallway where we could hear crying. I had never been so overjoyed by the sound of crying in my life – to know that I was close enough to my children to hear them. And in a minute, we were close enough to touch them.
Our little boy, Gus, was sleeping deeply. He was perfect, more beautiful than the few photos we had seen.
One of the workers handed our little girl, Lula, to us. She was bundled in layers and layers of clothes and blankets, but she felt so light. I have never felt such a rush of love as when I touched their sweet faces for the first time.
After letting the realization that these were our children wash over us, after settling our hearts, we began to notice how really tiny Lula was. It was hard to tell through all of the layers, but she felt so light and so limp. In the hour we had spent with her, she hadn’t opened her eyes all the way, or cooed or smiled – all she seemed capable of doing was whining quietly. The experience suddenly started to feel very real. All of the feelings of love and joy were there, but there was an underlying fear and dread.
The best photo we could get of her little face to send home to family. We were so wrapped up in everything that was happening that we didn't realize how sick she looked. My mom later told me that she and my sister cried all day when they saw the photo.
The doctor came to examine her that night, and told us a little of her history. She had been fighting off pneumonia, and had lost a significant amount of weight. Now, at almost 5 months, she weighed just seven pounds. The representative from our agency explained that they had drawn blood for testing to make sure that she was HIV negative. Our agency’s program coordinator mentioned getting her back to America quickly in hopes of “saving her life”. The doctor looked grim, and our hearts sank.
That night was a blur of sorrow & worry over our little girl, joy in meeting our children, and a wonderful, supernatural peace. In a way that I can’t comprehend, God quieted our hearts and gave us the strength to trust in Him – regardless of the circumstances. I can confidently say that I could not have gotten through that night without God showering his mercy and peace on us.
Very tired-looking new parents with little Lu at one of the many hospital visits. She had opened her eyes at this point, which was a big victory for us.
The days that followed were filled with adoption paperwork and doctor visits. We saw our little girl undergo x-rays, shots, blood tests, and we saw her for the first time without the layers and layers of clothes. We didn’t know how thin she really was, how loose her skin was on her frame, or how weak she was until then. She was unable to lift her little head on her own. Our hearts broke for her, and we cried to God for strength. He supplied it.
Over the next weeks, we got lab results back, all promising. The pneumonia was gone, blood platelets were normal again, HIV negative. We began to see improvement in Lula. She opened her eyes and smiled, then cooed. She began to feel a little stronger. We were warned that she wasn’t out of danger yet, though, and that she needed to go to America for better care. Withe the help of so many wonderful people, we did all we could to speed the process along, and again saw God’s hand at work.
One of the first sweet smiles we got. At five months, she was tiny enough to be a newborn.
Three weeks after arriving in Addis Ababa, miraculously quicker than expected, we received notice that we had passed court and that Gus and Lula were officially ours. We were finally able to take custody of them and begin caring for them ourselves. They began to flourish.
They both started putting on weight, especially Lula. Her eyes brightened and she started blossoming into a sweet, happy girl who loved to laugh and smile. She regained muscle, and though still tiny, started showing us how energetic and active she really was. We had just a little work left to do to finalize the adoption, but most of the next two weeks was spent enjoying our new little family and getting to know one another. Two weeks later, we were on our way home.
Though we couldn’t know how richly he would provide for us at the time, we are able to look back now and to see his hand in so many little details. The people he put in our way, the miraculous way that our paperwork fell into place. And of course, we’re able now to look at the two sweet, healthy faces of our children and remember His great mercy and love for our family, and to live with the hope that He will sustain us and continue to show us His mercy.
Some of our first pro family photos -- taken after we had been home for 3 months.
We’re also able to see more clearly the wonderful love God had in adopting us, weak and helpless sinners, into His family; how dire and hopeless our situation really was; and how truly loved and blessed we are now as sons and daughters of the King.