We are the Snyder family and ... we are different

This is the story of our journey to our daughter in Ethiopia. God is preparing our family for her and preparing her heart to come home to her family. We chose the difficult road of trusting and obeying God. It is worth every step!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

days 4 and 5

Tuesday morning the majority of our traveling group had court.  We were all supposed to meet with Duni from our agency but she was in the country somewhere advocating for a family so we did not get prepped before court.  At 8:30am we all met down in the lobby of the guest house to pray for the families headed off for the courthouse.  It was a wonderful prayer filled with God's holy spirit.  That morning a couple more families from our traveling group showed up and we all went to the transition home while the other families were at court.  It's such an amazing experience to get to take pictures for other families that are meeting their children for the first time.  It's a gift for both you and them.

We had lots of fun with our little girl and I apparently didn't take any pictures where you can't see her face or some other child's so I don't have too many pictures to share in this post.  Hopefully we will pass court soon and then I will post any picture I want of her on here :)

The next day three of us families went to court, one of which was supposed to have court on Friday but got moved up to Wednesday.  Thank goodness they got in on Tuesday morning.  We headed to the court house about 9:00 and waited for quite some time in a little square room up several flights of stairs.  There was a mix of people waiting in that room.  Some had on business suits and skirts, some had on jeans and one woman didn't even have shoes on.  I looked at this woman longing to give her a pair of shoes but by the looks of her feet she looked like she had probably never worn shoes in her life so they would do her no good now.  As we waited in that room the more I looked at her the more I wondered if that was the woman who took our daughter in and cared for her for the last four years.  I knew our daughter was from a remote southern region so I thought that it could be a possibility, I was right.  The other families that were with us knew who their birth families were and that woman was sitting in line with them.  They had to go into the room before the judge first and give their consent again.  Then it was our turn.  It was a small room with two desks sitting on adjacent walls piled with files and folders.  We answered in unison "yes" to several questions she asked us and then she gave her judgement on each families' case.  Only one family out of the three that were there passed.  We were missing a police document from our daughter's region and the other family was missing a death certificate.  We headed back to the guest house where we would actually get to meet the woman who rescued our daughter and took her in.  Before I tell that story I want to share a couple pics.  The first is of the families who went to court that day and the second is of the guys standing in the waiting room in their "unofficial" American uniforms of a bright colored polo shirt and khakis, lol.  Dustin was the odd ball though because he did not have his shirt tucked in with his belt.

So we had not expected to meet our daughter's caretaker since she isn't technically family, eventhough she's the only mother our little girl has ever known.  It was such an amazing surprise for us.  We were able to ask her questions (through two translators) and video the entire conversation for our daughter to watch someday.  Since we had not planned on meeting anyone we did not bring any pictures for her to take so we ended up printing out a picture at the front desk.  Dustin also showed her pictures and videos on his phone.  She was so tickled to see the pictures of our little girl on there and kept kissing the phone and touching her face and her chest.  It was an extremely moving moment for all of us.  We also took a couple of pictures with her, gave her hugs and let her know that we are so thankful for her caring for our daughter and that we would take good care of her.  It was such an emotional experience and I'm not sure that I have still taken it in fully.  With my own adoption it brought up some different emotions that I was not necessarily ready for.  I tend not to be an overly emotional person so I don't deal with them very well.  It's amazing the difference between my adoption and hers.  She will have some sense of where she came from and some things to help remind her of it whereas I didn't really have any of that.  I am very thankful that we have gotten to experience her country a little (eventhough we didn't go to her region) and that we got to meet her caretaker.  That was probably the biggest highlight of the trip next to spending time with our daughter.

After lunch we went to visit a couple of the orphanages so we did not get to go to the transition home at all that day.  The workers at the home must not have known we had court because they brought our little girl there like they normally would for us.  We were told by some of the other families there that she watched as the vans pulled in one by one looking for us and when we didn't emerge she sat on the step and cried.  It was so touching to hear that she cried for us but at the same time it was so heartbreaking.  The previous day she clung onto our necks as we left and cried "mommy", "daddy".  Two days in a row I cried for our little girl.  One of the guys from our group that is close to her scooped her up and comforted her while another family played with her until it was time for the kids to go back into school.  I was so glad to hear that the other families did that for us and for her :)

We had two big bags to take to the orphanages for donations and we hope to bring back more next time.  The first orphanage we visited gave me mixed emotions.  The nannies had the kids sing several songs for us, play some games for us and then they served us a traditional coffee ceremony.  It seemed so "performed" like "oh here come the white people, we better have the kids do something for them".  I was not the only one who felt that way but Dustin said, "what else are they going to do?"  I suppose that's true, it just felt so fake.  Anyway, we did have a great time handing out cars (makeenas) to the kids and the workers for their children at home.  Dustin played ball with a couple boys and I held some babies.  We also bought a few t-shirts to help the orphanage and bought a couple of handmade puzzles from one of the ladies that works there.

We then went to another orphanage that is just around the corner from our guest house.  There was a room full of toddlers there that Dustin and I gravitated towards.  They were so funny and so excited to get suckers and cars.  One little boy reached his hands up to Dustin to be picked up so Dustin picked him up and the boy set his head on Dustin's shoulder and gave a sigh of peace.  He was desperate for someone to show him love.  It was an enlightenment for Dustin as he thought of how we are that little child that should be so desperate for our Father to hold us.  We did not have very many cars left to pass out but we did have fruit snacks for the older kids.  It was such a pleasure to see them all running around and just being kids.  One of the ladies passed out funny little smiley face stress balls.  They lasted about five minutes till a couple of the kids figured out that you could break them and play with the powder inside of them.  Pretty soon there were little piles of clay all around the yard and all over their hands.  When all the kids were out for recess and people were trying to pass out things it became chaos.  Our driver was trying to get us out so we could get going and stay on schedule so he finally just said, "all the white people in the vans!"  It was hilarious! 

It was such a good experience to go see the orphanages and I would just like to tell you a couple things about them.  The two that we went to in the capital are really very nice.  The workers there are kind loving people that really care about the children.  I know that the orphanages in the countryside are much different and have fewer resources.  I just want to say that they need your support and they do the best they can with what they are given.  Lack of love is not an issue though.