We awoke early, as many people do, to the calls to prayer. The time seemed to crawl by as we waited a few hours for Gail, the director of the orphange in Ethiopia, to come and pick us up. My mind had already logged a thousand miles about this day and it was strange for it to finally be a reality.
I'll never forget the sensation I had when Elias was placed in my arms for the first time. I could feel his little body through his thin, worn clothes. He was so small.
Shortly after we arrived home after our trip I wrote about this day on our temporary website. Here are those words again...
We walked into the room where Elias had lived the last four months and my eyes quickly scanned the room trying to distinguish the son I only knew through pictures from the other twenty babies in the room. A caretaker was playing with him on the floor. She handed him over to me and it felt so good to finally hold that little body in my arms. I was savoring the moment, but then I quickly realized that Elias had started to cry and was reaching his arms out to the caretaker who had been playing with him before. And that's when it hit me. While adoption is this wonderful miracle and exciting thing, it comes about from tragic loss. And that's not really the very warm and fuzzy feeling I was looking for. I looked around at all the beautiful children surrounding me and my heart broke for the stories that brought them there. I looked at the caretaker but she was making a quick exit from the room. Through the windows I saw her wiping away tears. My heart swelled with love and appreciation for her and the way she had cared for and loved my baby. She was the one we had seen in pictures, tenderly holding Elias. I had prayed for her everyday that God would give her and the others a special love for Elias. And her tears showed me just how much God had answered that prayer. So there I was a blubbering mess with such a contrast of emotions exploding in my heart. So happy to be holding Elias yet deeply sorrowful for the loss he was experiencing yet again.
We took Elias back to our hotel and started doing all the things that parents are supposed to do. Changed diapers and clothes, fed him food, played with him and held him a lot. But his sadness didn't go away. In fact it seemed to worsen. At first he was just kind of distant and tired, but when a few hours passed, he actually started to cry. He could hear the Ethiopian women outside our door speaking Amharic, and that only made it worse. “What have we done?” was my only thought. Dad put on the baby carrier and Elias got all snuggled up next to his chest and we went for a walk outside. That seemed to calm him and the rest of the day he seemed better. Actually he just wasn't crying, but his soul still seemed a long way off. My prayer was that we would see him smile by the end of the week.
Despite the rough start, the tingles I had been waiting for finally came. We put him to bed and I sat next to his crib and just watched him through the bars. My heart suddenly swelled with this huge feeling of love like I had never felt before. Thank you Jesus for this sweet son you've given me! I wanted to hold him so desperately and touch his face and run my fingers through his curls. Chase wasn't in the room so I quickly picked him up and held him close to my chest, which woke Elias up of course and he started to cry. Chase rushed into the room wondering why he was crying. I just nonchalantly said that he needed his mommy, that's all. I held him like that on my chest for a long time as he slept. What a feeling a total bliss.