Thursday, June 12, 2014

Goodbyes Are Always Hard

Today was the hard day we knew was coming. We said goodbye to our little IC, not knowing when we would get to see him again.

Since today was our last day with IC, we didn't plan any cultural activities. We headed straight to the transition home, where he was waiting inside the gate for us. He grabbed his backpack and we headed off to play.

First things first: he went through the whole pack. Then he found his new shirt and we helped him switch into it. We made more pipe cleaner jewelry today and E and I each got a hat with a bill. It was too cute. We made him some jewelry as well. He taught us hopscotch and we taught him our version.

I did a little nail painting again today, too. I have one hand painted because a little girl worked really hard to paint them but we didn't get time for the other side.

Math was also a big hit again today. E spent a ton of time last night looking up math problems and IC flew right through them just the way a mathlete would, grinning and giggling all the way. He had a great time and E was pretty happy seeing him get all the questions right.

Guys, I have the cutest son ever.

Today we also pulled out the phone for music. At first it was just me dancing and then I had a genius idea: the Cupid shuffle. If it can get grandmas to dance at weddings, surely it can get kids to dance in Ethiopia, right? Well, sort of. E popped up to dance with me and a couple of sweet girls played a long. We had a pretty good time and I think the girls did too. There was lots of giggling and smiling. IC wasn't sure what to do so he took pictures of his looney parents doing some robotic dance on the porch.

We could tell from the beginning of the day he knew this was our last day of this trip. He wasn't as interested in playing ball (though we did play) or playing games. He really wanted just to sit together and snuggle. I couldn't blame him. We were pretty happy with just snuggling. He had a hard time saying goodbye just for lunch but we promised we would be back.

Lunch was at a restaurant we hadn't been to before. We sat down in a quaint cafe and noticed the boys next to us were speaking and studying in English so I asked where they were from. One was from Oklahoma and I told him where we were from. At which point the girl on the other side of us, in her early twenties, spoke up and said she, too, was from our home state! And that she just graduated from Mizzou. Um, what?? Yep. She has family in Ethiopia and is working here for a few months before starting her job in Washington, DC. At work, my friends joke that I am an extreme extrovert. But here's the thing: if you don't talk to random people in Ethiopian restaurants, you don't find out you're from the same stinking university town. I'll reach out every time. God always has fun treasures tucked in the least expected places.

After lunch, the first thing we wanted to do was head to the Ethiopian equivalent of Starbucks. Ironically, this is called Kaldi's. Kaldi's is also the name of the coffee shop where E and I met for the first time. We wanted to have coffee and take pictures. Our driver and guide obliged so we made a little pit stop before heading to the transition home.

The afternoon was just really, really hard. We knew we were leaving and he knew we were leaving. There was a little ball-playing, a little coloring, a little more Cupid shuffle. We got to take photos for a couple of families who had sent us approval to do so. Mostly, though, we spent the afternoon just hugging each other. Lots of tears. And finally we had to go. We all just sobbed and sobbed and hugged and sobbed more. He blew kisses and so did we and finally the gate shut and we couldn't see our sweet son any more and both of us let the floodgates of tears open up. I'm trying not to let tears well up as I write it. As much as you tell your son who doesn't speak English that you promise to come back and you count to forty and tell him it will be about forty days (which we don't know but figured might be a long estimate so he wouldn't get disappointed), it's hard to know whether he understands. And even if he does it's hard to do.

All of our gifted bracelets. We kept pointing and saying "Family."

Because this week little IC became our son in a way he wasn't before. Legally, yes, but in our hearts, definitely. We love him more than words could express. It's clear to me more than ever that God is the one who makes families, no matter how he makes them.

We get on an airplane in a matter of hours so I am going to take the last shower I'll have for the two days of traveling and finish packing. Thank you for your love and support through this journey. By Friday night we will be back in our beds, counting the days until we can return. We'd love your prayers as we wait. Prayers for IC and his heart, that he believes we will return. Prayers that the connection we established this week will not be diminished by the wait. Prayers our trust and love of God will grow stronger and we'll stabilize on him as we wait. And prayers the wait is short, short, short. Like, miraculously short. What does that look like? Well 2-3 weeks would be a miracle. Want to join us in praying for that? You all have made our journey beautiful. You have covered us in traveling mercies and beautiful moments with our son. We'd love for you to join us in asking the father for him to be home with us as soon as possible.

Goodbye for now, Ethiopia. We've fallen in love with you and your people forever.


  1. I'm so happy for you guys! It's incredible! (And I think I know that recent MU graduate... she's quite amazing).

    1. Kelsey, I am sure you know her. She seems pretty great. Very involved and super passionate. We felt so lucky to chat with her. She even had some good ideas to involve IC in his culture in our local area. Seriously. How lucky were we to sit down by her.

  2. I have no words, just tears my sweet friend. Praying for you all.

  3. Tears...and prayers...for all three of you.

  4. Three weeks...praying. Safe travels.

  5. Reading your stories have touched me. God has amazing plans for you and your family! Praying so hard that you will be reunited fast and that your son feels the connection and love even while you are physically apart.

  6. Prayers for 2-3 weeks! I'm going with 17 days, just to be specific. :)

  7. My heart is so full after reading this. Full of thankfulness and awe at God's provision and orchestration. Full of pain for your separation. But, the great part is that it's not the end of the story...just the beginning! More prayers coming your way.

  8. God has made you all incredibly strong parents. He has given you the strength for every step of the way and he will not stop. Praying for you guys!

  9. Beautiful!!! I am praying for a short,short, short return and especially for your adorable son to know in his heart his Mom and Dad will be back soon! Prayers for you both as happy for you!!!