Meeting our Son who we Didn’t Know Much About…

After 24+ hours of travel we were breathless with anticipation as we got off the plane in Ethiopia… trying to navigate buying a visa, getting through passport control, finding our luggage (almost), filing a claim for our lost bag, talking with a retired gentleman who moved from Ethiopia to the US (he was a God-send), and getting through customs with our 3 boxes of donations. We were finally there, after 3 and a half years of paperwork, phyicals and more paperwork, God was fulling his call on our life.

We stopped at the guest house (gh) to drop off our things and brush our teeth, then we were off to the transition home (th). We had 30 minutes to meet our son before we would be whisked away to an authentic Ethiopian meal with entertainment! Talk about pressure, 30 minutes to meet our son and convince him that we were cool enough to parent him for the rest of his life! Thankfully we packed balloons and bubbles, the love language of small children from 3rd world countries.

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Introducing Mamush, soon to be Judah! You may notice that he is not looking at us, he is looking a Champ, the man behind the camera. He was unsure of us and was looking to the only other person in the area that was vaguely familiar to him.

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After reading about other people’s adoption journeys; we decided that it would be a good idea to bring a backpack with goodies that we could use each day. That way Judah could associate it as his, and we can bring it back on our second trip, with more “goodies” for him as we travel the LONG way home. It was a great tool in connecting…

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I am not above bribing with balloons! Notice that his body is starting to relax and he is not as stiff. Mamush’s first language is a tribal language, his second language is Amharic, and he is working on his third language English. Needless to say, he is a little quiet, and has no clue what we are saying!

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Notice how he is copying my face while blowing up the balloon! Priceless!

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Playing bop-balloon with dad helped to warm him up.

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Finally, we got smiles! This is something that we had long waited to see. All of the pictures that we had received of him are very serious and unsure. We knew that his little heart was at least comfortable, if not warming, toward us. Oh, the joy of a mother’s heart.

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And finally, eye contact. It is very hard to express in words the feelings of our first few hours in Addis Ababa, meeting our son. He was loved by us the moment we started the adoption process, it has been a long journey here, but he will forever be well worth the wait.

We will return to Ethiopia in 5-10 weeks to bring him home with us. We still need to raise $5,000 for this trip. If you would like to be a part of bringing him home to our family, you can give (tax deductible) here.

Adoption Trip Update #6

On Friday, Katie and I left Ethiopia. It was definitely hard to say goodbye to our son knowing that we won’t see him for 5-10 weeks. He was a mess when we left, also knowing that we wouldn’t be back tomorrow. Knowing the issues of abandonment he has already dealt with, that he is 4 years old and has a hard time understanding what is happening, I told Katie later that moment of saying goodbye was the closest I’ve ever come to crying.

She was glad to know I had feelings.

Landing in Rome on Sunday was just what we needed. Even though we’re in Rome, Katie and I aren’t the type who plan out a whole day of activities and run til we drop. We’ve walked around and have seen a ton of really cool things and have eaten some amazing food, but we also took a 3 hour nap yesterday.

Here are some pictures of our morning walk through the streets of Rome:

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After taking a much needed nap, we embarked on a night walk through Rome and a search to find dinner. Eating gluten free has not been as difficult in Rome as one might expect. In fact, in Italy, if you have celiac disease, you get a stipend from the government to buy gluten free food because it is more expensive. Just another way the States are behind other countries.

Here’s a shot as the sun was going down:

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Dinner was incredible. They had gluten free pasta that tasted like regular pasta. We had a wine that had one the best wine in Italy for 3 years in a row. The whole thing did not disappoint.

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Here are some night shots of our way back to our room:

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Time to get going for another day. Today were heading to the forum and colosseum and probably a nap. It felt weird last night that as we were walking to dinner Revolution was happening and I was preaching via video. I can’t wait to get back and preach live this coming Sunday for,the first time in 8 weeks! So pumped for that.

Adoption Trip Update #2

It’s Tuesday morning here in Ethiopia. Our luggage has not arrived yet and as we found out, it’s 50 degrees and raining here as it is the rainy season. I only had shorts in my carryon, so we went to a market yesterday and I bought my first pair of skinny jeans. I’ll post pictures on instagram here www.http://instagram.com/jmreich later.

We got to meet our son yesterday and as we stood outside of the transition home, we weren’t sure what to feel. We had waited 3 and a half years for this moment. It felt nerve wracking, exciting and anti climatic all at the same time as we stood on the porch n the rain and waited for him to walk out.

When he came out, he just stood there and didn’t look at us. We’re learning that he’s very shy and sadly no one at the transition home speaks his language, so he lives in a world of no talking and listening to languages he doesn’t understand.

Slowly he warmed up to us.

Katie as always was well prepared and pulled out a Spider-Man backpack and grabbed a balloon that we blew up and he immediately wanted to hit it with us. This lasted almost 30 minutes which was fun. We blew bubbles with him and every time one popped in his face he would get this big smile and laugh.

It was priceless and what we traveled 30 hours hoping and praying we would see.

He actually was looked sad when it was time for us to leave.

Thanks to everyone who was praying for our first visit with him. We had no idea how it would go but we prayed and prayed that we would click with him and he would feel comfortable with us, which seemed to happen.

Today, we get to wear the clothes we wore yesterday and head to court. This involves waiting all day for 5 minutes of excitement. Much like the life of spy is how I’m thinking about it.

Say a prayer that there are no holdups and it goes smoothly.