I have edited this several times since posting… I just can’t get the words right… but I have received feedback that Kleenex may be required during the reading of this post.
Our trip to Hosanna. Many of you have asked about this. The purpose of the trip was to meet ComedyBoy’s birth mother. The information and content of the meeting is very private, and mostly there are not words to describe what we encountered. I want to offer some thoughts that are appropriate to share with our friends and family as well as an overview here in the blog for our children to have a basic understanding of the content of this meeting.
The details of this child’s life before he came to be with us are private and belong only to him. We are the keepers of this information until he is ready to accept it. And we will honor the privacy that is due him and his life before we knew him.
Our trip to Hosanna started very early in the morning. The nannies came to the guest house to care for the children for the day while we were traveling (this is not normal procedure, but due to the holidays there were many changes and exceptions in our schedule). It was hard to leave him knowing where I was going and that I would see his birth mother.
The trip to Hosanna took about three and a half hours by bus. The first thirty to forty-five minutes we were still leaving the city, Addis. After that it was all country side. Beautiful mountains and amazing plant life. Considering the severe drought affecting this area, it is so green and beautiful. I have traveled in the states before, seen the leaves changing color on the east cost, and not been so impressed. We live in a beautiful place in the Midwest. We get to see the leave change color, and watch the sun rise over our own mini-oceans. We swim in clean and beautiful rivers. We know the hot summers and enjoy the opportunity to experience snow at Christmas. We complain at times, but deep down we live here because we love it, there is something that draws us here. We don’t have mountains, but we do have rolling hills, we don’t have deserts, but we play in the sand dunes. I wasn’t prepared for the sights I was about to experience.
In Ethiopia, the sky is beautiful and the light reflects off the land differently than here at home. With the altitude, you see the foliage in a shade of green that we do not experience here. It is deep and intense and provides more beauty than even our green spring. Or, that is what the eyes of my eyes saw.
The conflicting story. The bigger surprise that was in store for me was the state of the people, which was initially masked by the beauty of the land. So many people, walking, walking. So many children working and seemingly young and alone, with no sign of a caretaker for protection. I can only comment from my Western eyes what this must be like for the people, how difficult life must be, but only compared to the ease and abundance we know in the United States. For them it may be different, many of them appear quite happy. I wonder if they wake to see the sun rise and note its beauty the same as I, half a world a way. I have to assume these people do not long for Nintendo, microwaves and baseball. They seek out the true and basic needs in life: food, shelter, clothing, and I must add spirituality. The children smile and many of the people wave to us and shout out any American words they may have learned. Only they know their state of happiness and content, it is not for me to guess or assume.
I thought that the US media had to drive hundreds of miles, through difficult terrain and search far and wide for these people who live in mud huts and have little or no food. People without shoes and who gather together in large communities to survive. No, it is the way of life. There it is, ever present and as far as the eye can see. I can’t say “just like on TV” because it is not. The experience of the presence of these people and this state cannot be covered accurately by any journalist and most certainly not by me. Again, I can only assume through my Western eyes that these people, provided food, shelter, clothing and freedom of religion, are not only happy, but very proud of the lives they live. It is only my eyes that can judge and “feel sorry”.
Our visit seemed intrusive in many ways. I longed to take a picture of the man whose feet clearly told a story of his life. But he seemed so proud and it seemed wrong for me to take his pride to turn it into my souvenir. There were many moments like this. Many times I wanted to capture a picture, but that there was no way the picture would do justice to the moment that was frozen. It is not about a moment… it is about a culture, a life time, a story.
Prior to leaving for Ethiopia many adoptive parents shared concerns of what to eat, where to go to the bathroom and how to avoid getting ill. After seeing this country, those thoughts are embarrassing. I am embarrassed that I don’t know better about our world and the planet that we humans share. Even more embarrassing is the fact that some of us prefer that we don’t share. With an attitude of, “I know what’s mine… those people and their government should figure it out for themselves.” I know longer can claim the ignorance that once might have allowed those thoughts to be acceptable.
We made one stop to view the home of an Ethiopian family. A small hut, which many of us have one room in our home that would surpass this entire dwelling in size. Children came from no where. Appearing and looking for food and candy, stickers, anything we might offer. I quickly realized that survival of the fittest was at work, and I looked for the young or the more needy to try to get something directly to them. Any one of these children could have been me or my own children, had we not been born into such blessing and abundance. Human life is an amazing thing!
In Hosanna we did meet our son’s birth mother. I will tell you that there are no words to accurately describe this encounter. And only those who were there and who witnessed this can ever understand. The fragility and resiliency of human life meet and you are there as a witness and only the experience itself can resonate to make its own sound and create its own meaning.
We were the last of nine families called to meet with our birth mother. In the room, three chairs, one for each DaddyT and her and me. Two interpreters one for her language one for ours and the two interpreters to share a common language to pass the words that would be spoken.
It was quickly evident that my attempt to prepare for culture and this meeting was not accounted for in the questions we would ask. The many hours spent preparing would be set aside to settle into the moment and collect what we could. My brain, my thinking brain, taking snapshot after snapshot of this beautiful woman. Each expression, each move, a new imprint to store forever, for so I could share this with my son someday.
I would say it is clear that Worqenesh (his birth mother) had a plan for this child, a plan that was inspired by God. Worqenesh means “precious gold” not as in gold the metal, but gold the quality of being a precious gift. We told her she was indeed precious gold to us. She gave him his name, for she knew there was a way for him, a plan. The name, to her, meant “believed” as she believed there was a way for him.
In addition to other information, we exchanged information about our religion and asked her about the holidays she would like him to celebrate. She is Christian and would like him to celebrate the Ethiopian Easter, Ethiopian Christmas and Meskal (the celebration of the finding of the cross Jesus was crucified on).
She continued saying that it was important for this child to know God and to know Jesus. But that it is not enough for him just to know, he must teach others. Regardless of any one’s beliefs or even the future beliefs of my children, one can understand the importance of this statement to this woman. She wanted good things for him, and education and a family that loved him as their own… but she wanted him to do good for the world and to teach others about good. Again, there are no words that can explain the surge that exploded in my body as I heard these words translated to us. I could not possibly be worthy to carry out this request.
There is so much more to say about this meting. So much more that I experienced and felt, and remember, and have as vivid images in my mind. I can tell you he has his mothers eyes, in the most amazing way. I will never forget her. Her eyes, her skin, her hair, and the way we held each other and did not want to let go, not for our own needs but for the wishes of this little soul that we both have the honor and privilege of sharing in.
She asked that in our home we call her Adda. This means mommy in our son’s first language which he shared with his mother.
I love you Adda, thank you for allowing us the honor of being part of this special life!