I think I have hesitated writing about this day because of all the emotions it brings fresh to the surface. I needed some time to process my feelings before writing about the day.
Day four in Ethiopia was by far my hardest day there. It was the day we met with Eli's birth family.
Eli was up right at 6am...so we were too. We ate breakfast together, eggs and ferfer and toast. Oh my, Eli loves him some bread! I think we finally stopped him after five pieces. Afterward we just played around at the guesthouse with some of the other adoptive families. Jeremiah and Eli got into a game of soccer with the other dads and kids. Eli loved being carried by Jeremiah and included. He was definitely becoming more comfortable with us. We noticed a strange way he has of showing affection...by hitting. Hmm. We are going to have to work on that one.
About mid-morning we walked to Layla House (the orphanage) to have Eli checked by the resident doctor. He checked his ears and chest and said that they were clear. We also asked him about the shape of his head and he said there was nothing that could be done. Hmm. Jeremiah and I felt that while the doctor was thorough enough...he seemed to have an air of resigned negativity about him. I can't blame him though, with all that he probably sees and treats. We were anxious at this point to get Eli checked out by our doctors though.
We left Eli with his friends while I went and took pictures for all the other families from our agency who were waiting for their children. I took this task very seriously as I remembered how incredible it was to get photos of Eli while we were the ones waiting. When we picked Eli back up he had streaks running down his cheeks from where he had cried after we left his sight. So sad. But a good sign of the beginning of the attachment process.
We walked to the local restaurant (by now...our favorite place in Ethiopia!) for lunch and a perfect latte. (Which cost about a nickle) We walked back to the guesthouse to put Eli down for a short nap. We woke him up at 1:45 and walked back to Layla house for our meeting at 2 with his family.
I felt like throwing up the whole day...but especially on that walk to Layla. I could barely hold Eli my hands were shaking so hard. Upon entering the gates of Layla we met up with the agency social worker who introduced us to Eli's mom and brother. Out of respect for Eli's privacy (it really is his story to decide to tell one day) I won't give the details of all our questions...but we did ask a lot of questions. And were so saddened by all the answers. I couldn't keep the tears back at times. Especially when she would drop her head and cry too. We took a lot of pictures and some video. We gave her a photo album full of pictures we had of Eli as well as a tracing of his hand. I traced her hand for Eli too.
I'll never forget the end of our meeting as she gave him one last kiss and stood up and handed him off to me. What do you say or feel or how do you react to such a significant interaction? I still don't know. Jeremiah and I walked back to the guesthouse almost in silence as we both struggled to process our feelings. I know I left with a tremendous sense of responsibility for Eli - to raise him in a way that will make her proud.
I carry that sense of responsibility with me even today. For a lifetime I suppose.
That night Jeremiah and I were really homesick. I missed the kids. I missed my bed. I even missed the dog. I just wanted to be home. To feel something familiar and comfortable.
Sleep eluded me that night (even after four benadryl!)...but I think it was because I knew that the next day would bring us on our way home.