Friday, May 9, 2014

The Day We Met Our Son

Wednesday, May 7th, was the day that we have dreamed about for four years. We go to meet our son for the first time. We are excited. We are anxious. We are fearful. Many thoughts and questions were going through our mind. What will he think of us? Will he be afraid of us? Will he be scared?

We ate breakfast at the guest house. We had eggs … toast … pancakes. It was absolutely delicious. The staff at Bethel Guest House take great care of their guests.

At 9:30, we left for Hilawe Foundation orphanage. Hilawe is a government-run orphanage. Several adoption agencies have children in this orphanage. As we are traveling there, no one is speaking much.  We get to the orphanage, and it was so surreal. We walk into the orphanage, and wait in the small lobby area. The administrator of the orphanage came out, and told us that we can go upstairs to see Jaden. We walk 3 flights of stairs. Our hearts are pounding. We were still not talking.
 Waiting in the lobby at the Hilawe Foundation Orphanage (about to see Jaden for the first time)

Now, one thing that our agency told us was that Jaden will not know that we are his parents. We were prepared for this. We were sad about it, but knew that it was for his good. They do not want him to become attached to us. The main reason is that we will leave him here for a few weeks until we get our Embassy appointment. However, Jaden overheard his caregivers talking, and he knew that his parents were coming on this day. The caregivers said that he was happy all morning because his parents were coming. We did not know this until after we were in the room with him.

When we walked into the room, we heard one child crying. The child that was crying was Jaden. We didn’t know what to do or say, we couldn’t imagine all that was going on in his little mind. The social worker, Fasika, from the in-country Gladney staff, told us to play and talk to the other kids, and he will warm up to us. Ashley had stickers in her bag, and she told Fasika. Fasika took the stickers, and started giving them to Jaden to pass around. He very much enjoyed this task and put them on every child and caregiver. He is the oldest in his room and very much in charge. Fasika then told him to put them on “momma.” 
He put one on Ashley’s head and then gave her a kiss. It was such a beautiful moment.

After that he began to warm up to all three of us and even put a sticker on “poppa.” He played ball with Clint and has quite an arm. He has a contagious laugh and is a very happy child. He also seems pretty resourceful. Another child found Fasika’s phone and so he walked to her and offered her his sticker book. We thought that was really sweet until he took the phone in exchange. We all busted out laughing.
 The sticker Jaden put on his Daddy's hand. He put one on his Daddy's forehead, too.

We are allowed to stay with him for one hour each day. Towards the end of our time there he started to pull away and didn’t want anything to do with us. We felt like he had probably had his emotional limit.  So we told him goodbye and left for lunch.

One thing that we did find out when we were going to see Jaden is that we have been mispronouncing his name. His Ethiopian name is Biyagegn. We have been pronouncing it "BEE-ya-geg-nay." We found out that it is pronounced "BEE-ya-GEEN." Clint has had a hard time pronouncing it the right way.

For lunch our driver, Abey, took us to a great pizza place. We sat there trying to eat but felt completely drained emotionally. After lunch we went back to the Guest House and slept 4 hours! At 7:00 pm Abey picked us up to go to Habisha 2000, which is a cultural dinner restaurant. Our adoption agency set up a cultural dinner for us with another family. At the dinner, they sang and did dances from each region of Ethiopia. A great surprise was Scott Brown, Executive Vice President of Gladney, was here in Addis Ababa. The food and entertainment was amazing, and we had a great time getting to know Scott, Dereje (the in-country representative for Gladney) and the Ballew family from Texas. The ladies made Clint and Anna Grace dance and that was so entertaining as well.

Habesha Ethiopia Cultural Restaurant

We ate with Scott Brown, Executive VP of Gladney, & Dereje, in country Gladney representative
 The Smiths, Ballews, Scott Brown & Dereje
 The Smiths, Ballews, Scott Brown, Dereje & Abey (our driver who didn't make the first picture, ha)

We went to bed excited about what tomorrow holds. We will be picked up at 7:30 am to go to court.


  1. Oh, so many memories!! The day you wait for forever and then it's all just so awkward!!!