The first time I heard his sweet voice………..he was also wearing this same outfit in the first picture we ever received of him.
As God would have it…the little boy to his left, lived in the same village as Jude. I imagine their families could have been friends and the boys could have been friends when they lived in region. They left, together, on a bus to Addis Ababa, to the orphanage. There, they spoke each other’s tribal language. They played together, ate together, remained friends.
Then God stepped in.
He had other plans
Once they were just friends….now they are cousins, as my sister adopted that little cutie, and because they both know Jesus as their personal Savior, they are brothers in Christ.
You just can’t get much better than that!
We started our process in Feb 2010, with minor paperwork snags (to be expected), we got our referral on our anniversary in June, we traveled in October and met him….there are no other experiences, that I have had, that could’ve prepared me for the awe, love and deep fulfillment as when I stepped off the plane onto the soil of a country I loved so very much. It was like I was home. Very strange feeling beings I had never been there before. It was instant.
The noise, the smells, the sights, the people….it was overwhelming. It was a smoggy piece of heaven. Then, to drive up, see the orphanage and these giant iron gates open and to see the faces of all these children………..words can not describe. We were instantly surrounded by children (there were 83, in all)….all who wanted a hug, a hand, to play ball, candy, bubbles, they all wanted to be loved.
I scanned the crowd and my eyes landed on this sweet little boy, sitting by himself with his soccer ball, not paying attention to anyone. I touched my husbands arm and said “there he is.” My heart leapt, I couldn’t move, I couldn’t find my words…my body moved without my knowledge. It was almost like I was floating to him. I squatted down, beside him and made eye contact. It was then, I saw my husband looking back at me. He looked so much like my husband it took my breath away. My heart stopped, all the worries of the world went away and I thought to myself “I have found you…in this far away place, you have been waiting for me and I have been waiting for you.”
It was a joyous time. Playing with him, learning his language, his culture and the sweet women (and some men) who took care of him. We met with the judge, heard the blessed words “he is yours” and and from that day forward, he was mine. A mere glimpse in my eye when I was a child was reality. We were blessed to do a “mini” tour of his country. We visited museums, churches, the local market and ate glorious food. We swatted mosquitoes the size of my head, we slept to the music being played next door. Blessed. Humbling. Wishing my kids were all there to see it with me.
In the blink of an eye, we had to head back to the US to wait for our Embassy appointment. We were told it was to be 6 weeks before returning to get our son forever….that 6 weeks turned into over a year.
We got home and the day after we returned home, still on a high, we received a letter from OUR government stating that we would not be able to bring him to the US. We had 6 weeks to get more income in or we would be denied, not by Africa, but by America. It stated that we didn’t make enough money and that no matter what we said or did, he would not be in our arms. I remember feeling my legs go out from under me and a wave of sadness and despair flooded me. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t function. That depression I went through years ago, emerged.
I called the government and asked what I could do. They said I could go back to work, up our income, reapply and then we would see. I called our homestudy agency, both of our adoption agencies….they said that we would win, there would be a few phone calls made, letters typed, money borrowed and it would be okay. 6 weeks later, between my birthday and Thanksgiving, we were officially denied. In ET, he was ours. In America, he wasn’t.
My heart broke, in half. I was told to just let it go, what are they gonna do, take me to court for not going to get him? I was told that I should think of my other children and let it go. I was told that we could fight, but the chance of winning against immigration was slim. Every person we spoke too had an opinion. I tried to explain to them that I had held him, rocked him, wiped his nose, fed him and loved him….when he is just a picture, that people see, it is different than touching him. He was my son and I would move Heaven and earth to get him in my arms.
We had decided to sell everything and the children and I were simply going to move to ET for 2 yrs, while Big Daddy stayed here to work. We had a place to live, we knew people there and I could have all my children under one roof…without the glue that holds our family together…Big Daddy. Then, we were all going to move. We were going to do what it took to reunite our family.
We tried one last ditch effort to change things. We hired the best adoption immigration attorney around, we got a new homestudy agency, we lit fires under our adoption agencies, we put all the kids in public school (after home schooling for close to 12 years) and I went back to work, full time. Our lives turned upside down. I got a job at a department store and I worked my butt off. Those working moms, out there, hats off to you all! We worked for a year…we sacrificed. We almost gave up because the longer we waited the more our knowledge grew that he would become “unadoptable” because of his age and gender.
The Lord worked miracles. He provided the funds, through family, friends, yardsales, wreath sales, etc to pay for our adoption, not once but twice. In three days, we raised $3000 with a YARD SALE! Tell me that isn’t MY God showing up!!!!!!!!!!!! It was enough to pay for our attorney, visas, fingerprinting…..so many things in 3 days (remember who rose in 3 days, just sayin’).
I remember meeting our new social worker with the new homestudy agency. We sat in a restaurant, eating (me being skeptical and not so nice because we had been down this road before and I wasn’t up for more disappointment). Then she said these magical words “you did it. You made enough money for your family and you are going to bring your son home.” The world stopped spinning. I couldn’t eat, I just sat there with my head on Big Daddy’s shoulders weeping because I never thought I’d hear those words. We still had a long way to go, but this was a HUGE step.
More fighting, more paperwork, more money, more more more. Again, the Lord showed up big because Jude had been transferred to the “Transition House”. There, he was loved by thirty nannies and his next door neighbors were our good friends. My friend Betty, came almost daily, to love on my son and have her children play with him. She was me. She was the mommy he needed in a time of uncertainty and pain for us and for him. We are SO incredibly grateful to Woudneh Mulugeta and Betty Mamo and their children.
I got a call, one day, and it was our immigration worker. I was told not to talk to them because the last worker was nasty and she denied our case. This officer was different, she heard my plea for my son and she worked with us and for us. She kept saying, “I need this paper or I need that paper.” I would fax it and then call to confirm she received it. During one of those faxing/calling moments, I was sitting in the closet talking to her and I heard these words “you are approved.” I sat there. Silence. She said it again. I sat there. I asked her to repeat herself at least 5 times and then I burst tears thanking her, blessing her, praising God and shaking like there was no tomorrow. I couldn’t keep it together. I was on my knees, on my face, praising our God. She kept saying “please don’t cry, get your stuff together and go get your son….you deserve him and he deserves you.”
I stood at my bedroom door and screamed for my girls and I told them, through tears and praises. We all stood and cried. I through on my shoes and we went to where Big Daddy works (in a factory, at the time). I flew in and I couldn’t even get the words out. I finally muttered “I need to see my husband, it is an emergency.” The lady didn’t ask, didn’t flinch, she just escorted me to a room because, I’m assuming, she thought I was nuts. Moments later and he walks into the room. It was, again, like slow motion…I ran into his arms crying saying “we did it, we are bringing home our baby, we did it.” We both sat, with tears in our eyes. A blessed moment.
We flew out a year to the date that he “should have” been home. God’s timing is perfect ya know and He has a sense of humor. I remember stepping off that plane and seeing sweet Woudneh in the crowd and his smile…that radiant smile of his. He escorted us to his car. I sat, frightened and thought “will he remember me, will he be “institutionalized”, will he have RAD, will he hate us, what will I say, what will I do?” We pulled up to the transition house and the giant gate opened. My first thought was “where are all the kids?” There was NO ONE in the court yard. He told us to stay in the car because he wanted to capture all of this on camera and video. I remember thinking “he is nuts…I’m not staying in this car LOL.”
We parked under the tree and I looked around and I saw a group of nannies walking towards us and in the center of these beautiful women, there he was….my son….decked out in his best whites and holding a bouquet of flowers. I was speechless. I no more squatted down to see if he would remember me or want to hug me and he started running towards me and hugged me like I’ve never been hugged before. We laughed, I cried, Big Daddy cried….he just patted my face. I kept saying to him “I told you I would be back to get you. I told you I would never leave you here or forget you.” He couldn’t understand my words but he knew.
Our story didn’t end there, it began. He has been pure joy. He is full of life and love. He is smart, athletic, loving and he is joy. He exudes joy. He laughs, all the time, he is humble and forgiving and he eats….he eats so much LOL
Is our story finished? Your guess is as good as mine.
All I know is….
The Lord remembered.