by Anna Jones in Ethiopia
This final leg of our adoption journey has been more rewarding and challenging than we imagined. We started our journey to Shashemene with the local in-country New Life Ethiopia staff. They are beyond incredible and have been with us every step of the way. They’re like family. We arrived at the orphanage with a huge greeting from all of the staff. We knew we wanted to start slow with our daughter so we first observed her from afar. We slowly got closer but she was gripped with fear and cried for the nannies. She would cry if we talked to her or tried to touch her and her little body would tremble.
We did manage to get a few “pass the ball” games in with her and blow some bubbles. This went on for a few days. Before long, it was time to end our journey in Shashemene and head back to Addis.
Leaving the orphanage was bittersweet as you could feel the emotion from the staff that had to say goodbye to these children they’ve raised from birth. The babies and their nanny shared our van and stayed at the same guest house we were in. That allowed for extra bonding time ahead of court and a somewhat smooth transition into our full time care.
We had tons of knowledge of how children from difficult places could act but no amount of training can prepare you to see the pain, grief and fear in your own child upon arrival. Some children were just fine with us and were happy to be playing with us and to be doted on. Others, like our daughter, were gripped with fear and the trauma was palpable. It has been an intense transition but things are improving day by day. Her true personality is starting to come through and it’s so lovely. The key is to have patience and empathy to the deep loss your child is feeling. Do all you can to show them that they are safe and can trust you. Consistency is key! Most of all, grieve with them and follow their lead. In the end, you will find that God will grow your faith and strengthen your love beyond measure. We are so grateful for the amazing gift we’ve been given and are in awe of this precious darling we’ve been entrusted with.