Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Day Three: Meeting Rae and A Little Tradition

If there ever was a day that I was up and at 'em, it was last Monday!! Kevin and I met Duni for the first time ever at the Hilton that day, and she is such a beautiful woman!! We had lunch by the pool and discussed what would be happening that week. During our lunch conversation, we were able to learn a little more details about where Rae was from, and I look forward to being able to share what I learned with Rae someday. I think we were all anxious to get on with the day and before we knew it, we were making that historic ride to the transition home. With every turn, I was wondering if we had arrived? Could this be it? We finally pull into a very bumpy alley way and I begin to see lots of gates like the one I knew surrounded the transition home. We stopped at the gates that I immediately recognized and without a doubt knew that we had arrived at our destination. The three families had agreed on the order that we would go in, but all of that was put to the wayside as the gates were open and the Whitaker's little guy was in the arms of the transition home's security guard. There was no prepping the Whitakers. This union was a beautiful and unscripted experience. It seemed within moments they had their little guy in their arms. Next, the Joners were united with their beautiful little girl. This was exciting to witness as well as it was remarkable to see how amazingly this little girl resembled both of her parents. After a few pictures I could see that Duni was starting to get ready to bring out Rae. I literally had to drop the camera in Michelle Whitakers's lap so that I could stand up and get in a stance that would prepare myself for my first glance at Rae. Fortuna, the TH nurse, had her in her arms when they immersed from the doorway. Rae had a look on her face that completely said that she did not want to go outside and that she was way happier doing whatever she was doing a few moments ago. All I could see was a beauty and radiance that I have not seen too often. Every emotion that I may have stored away were coming to the surface as massive tears came pouring down my face. As Fortuna came closer, Rae became more and more panicked that she may have to actually be held by these two strangers; one of which is crying uncontrollably. I knew I had to gain composure if this child was ever going to want to come to me. I was actually perfectly happy to just gaze at her, but before I knew it, Fortuna put Rae into my arms. Rae was not at all happy about this! My heart went out to her as I could only imagine how scary this experience was for her. Fortuna suggested that we give her a toy, so we reacted quickly and pulled out a book and a sucker. Within seconds, she was occupied with the items and I was able to take in this little wonderful creature. Her warm little body was finally in my arms. I could feel her breathe move in and out of her lungs and all I wanted to do was absorb every motion, detail, and smell about her. Emotion and gratitude towards God began to overwhelm me again as Kevin drew Rae and I into his arms. Kevin began to pray the sweetest prayer of thanksgiving to God for this wonderful blessing that He had aloud to occur. Rae's head was against my chest and she seems completely content with the sucker she had been given. Kevin and I looked her over and before we knew it, Rae seemed to come out of that shell she had been hiding in moments ago. She was very playful and eager for whatever attention we were willing to give her. We made our way to the TH garden and explored flowers, which Rae loved to pull apart, and then we sat on the grass to look at the book she seemed now interested in. After spending a little time with her outside we eventually went in to the home. There were so many children and babies!!! Such beautiful happy faces!!! This home had an overwhelming feeling of joy as nannies and children were hugging and interacting with one another freely. I began to notice children I had only seen before in pictures and that feeling of surrealism began to overtake me again. After visiting a few hours with the children and nannies, we were notified that our visit was coming to a close. At about this same time, I realized how heavy Rae was against my chest. She had been exhausted by the day's events as well and had retreated to a peaceful slumber. I laid down this sweet jewel in her bed and vowed to return tomorrow when she would be forever ours. Parting on that day was not hard, and I was very thankful for the transition period we were given as it allowed Rae and her new parents to get used to one another. The three couples and the driver piled into the van and there was a collective sigh of contentment coming from us all as we pulled away from the home.

That evening we went to a traditional restaurant in which we all ate from a single basket. Ethiopians are not as concerned about personal space and borders. As far as they are concerned, people are connected collective beings and flow from one person to the next freely. To hug, hold hands, and be close to one another is expected. So why not when eating, eat from the same basket (plate) and share the experience as a group and not just as an individual?!!! I could totally get used to this lifestyle. Being a person who loves to be affectionate and be touched, I felt right in my element. The families at dinnertime reflected on our experiences of the day and we all had a sense of fulfillment and elation as we could not have asked for a better experience (even us as we had tears and hesitation to begin with). That night was another hard night for sleeping. I was dealing with emotions of excitement of getting our new child we had waited so long for and also the agony of loss of the children I had left at home. Hally and Brady were deep in my mind this night. I longed to hold and kiss them and to feel their warm touch. Being so far away from them was so extremely hard for this mother's heart, but I looked towards the future knowing we would be reunited soon!


Jaime said...

thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us...tears are just welling up in me...thankful for your little girl and dreaming of ours!

Kari:) said...

Oh Kelly, your words are beautiful describing the day you first held Rahel. What an incredible Meetcha Day!!! *sniff* There are truly no words to describe the moment you meet your long awaited baby. I'm so thankful Duni & Fortuna were there for you to make this such an wonderful rich experience.
They are ET angels!!!
What a miracle day 3!!!!!
We are so thankful you are home now:)

Jamie Jo said...

I'm bawling my eyes out! You are wonderful with words! Thanks for sharing you memories!!!

Gabby said...

You don't know me, but I stumbled upon your blog through a couple of other friends blogs. I've had the blessing of being to Ethiopia twice to volunteer at a hospital (I'm a medical student at KU) and have so loved reading your stories. Everything brings back wonderful memories of my favorite place in the world. I'm so glad you made it back safely and have the opportunity to change this little one's life.

If you haven't read it, you should read "There is No Me Without You" by Melissa Faye Greene. Incredible book about a woman who runs an orphanage in Addis.