Sunday, August 19, 2012

Our Beautiful Gambellan Friend

Thursday, August 16, 2012

This was our last day in Addis, and we were invited for lunch and a coffee ceremony at the care center.  While we were there, we had the most amazing experience.

We met this woman who was born in Gambella (Eli's home region), moved to Addis when she was a small child, and then moved to St. Paul, Minnesota as a teenager.  So she spoke Anuak (Eli's language), Amharic and English.  She was living in Addis for a few years because her husband was teaching at the university, and was at the care center to help interpret for some birth mothers who had Embassy appointments.

When she first walked in with one of the birth mothers, my heart leaped because I thought maybe it was Eli's birth mother.  That maybe somehow our prayers had been answered and she'd made it to Addis to meet us.  Both had the beautiful, striking features of Gambella women.

It wasn't Eli's birth mother, it was the mother of two other boys at the care center.  I spoke with them, and the birth mother asked me (through the interpreter) what I knew of the family adopting her children.  Would we live near them?  I told her we wouldn't live near them, but that they live where Brad was born.  And that we hoped to see them occasionally.  I told her this family was a good family, and that they love her boys very much.  That they would give her boys a very good life.

It touched me deeply, how happy this mother was to meet someone who had even the most tangential relationship to her children's adoptive family.  And it made my heart break again for Eli's birth mother, who never got to meet us.  Never got to have that sense of closure and hopefully peace with knowing the people who would raise her child.

We took some photos of her with her boys and printed them for her.  She was so happy to have the photos, and I am so happy to also be able to share them with the adoptive family.

She looked through our photo book and tried to help me figure out a way to get it to Eli's birth mother.  She doesn't know her, and neither does the other birth mother.  Our agency's in-country staff had told us to bring the photo book home and give it to the US staff, who would then mail it back to Ethiopia to have it forwarded to his birth mother.  (Sound ridiculous?  Yes, we thought so, too.)

After lunch, she had to leave suddenly for the Embassy appointments.  She told Brad it was a very good thing, what we were doing, adopting Eli.  That the people of Gambella truly appreciate it.

I took another few quick photos for her, and promised to print and leave them for her at the care center.  (The little portable printer is very handy, but the photos take a long time to print.)   She asked if she could hug me, and with tears in my eyes I said of course.  Even writing about her now brings fresh tears, it was such a beautiful experience meeting her.

I wrote our contact information on the back of one of the photos, hoping that somehow we'd be able to stay in touch with her.  When I told her we have family in Minneapolis, she asked if perhaps we could see each other again when she returns to the states.

I pray those photos made it to her.  I asked the person with whom I left them several times if he understood who they were for, and he assured me he did.

Because I know how that birth mother felt.  This beautiful Gambellan woman, our new friend, is the closest link we have to our child's birth mother.  And I so desperately don't want to lose it.

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