Thursday, February 10, 2011

meeting micah

**from my journal entry on february 3**

my brain is going a hundred different directions right now. i can’t believe that josh and i met our son this morning. as soon as our new friends, al and lyndsey, announced that the driver was here to take us to acacia village (our agency’s transition-type home for children who are being adopted but are waiting for their parents to pass court), i started getting nervous and my tummy filled with butterflies. after more than two years of praying for our son, we were about to meet him for the very first time.

we all hopped in the van together, and our driver began the – oh, how should i word this – the treacherous drive to acacia village. it’s not dangerous in terms of the terrain (with the exception of the occasional portions of completely missing road); it’s more like a weirdly kind-of-organized-mass-of-vehicular-chaos. no stop lights, very few lines on the roads (and when they’re there, they’re ignored), and a never-ending game of cat and mouse with two-ton toys. more than once we slammed on our brakes to avoid hitting cars, men running through the streets, children playing in the middle of the road – not to mention the goats. lots of goats.

al and lyndsey shared the wealth of knowledge that they’ve gleaned during their three weeks living here, and before i knew it, the twenty-minute drive was over, and i heard, “look, there’s acacia village.” oh. my. word. i can’t believe this is really happening. the guard let us in, and we drove up to a simple but beautiful building that’s situated 7,500 feet above sea level on a stunning piece of property surrounded by lush-looking mountaintops, a funny-looking italian pasta factory, and a dormant volcano that guards the landscape from 13,000 feet above. within seconds of our arrival, precious brown faces began to peer and call to us through the ground level windows. i don’t know what i was expecting, but i do know that i was wonderfully taken aback at the joy that exudes bountifully from that sheltering home. smiles, laughter, and singing permeated the walls and easily found their way through to the life outside. the children are well-loved there.

once inside, we were so sweetly and warmly greeted by the older kids at acacia village who were gathering to prepare for a day out. one-by-one, they locked eyes with us, took our hands in both of theirs and each said with toothy grins, “hello” or “welcome” as if they were sharing with us their exotic retreat. al and lyndsey’s five-year-old daughter, signey, opened a bag of candy and offered it to the friends she had begun to make there, and each boy and girl patiently filed past, warmly thanking their little blonde benefactor for the single piece of candy they had each chosen. and before i knew it, they were all gone. the foyer area grew quiet, and helen – sweet helen – who so giftedly helps operate acacia village, asked "would you like to meet your baby?" i threw my hands over my heart and excitedly whispered, yes please!

she took us up to a second-story balcony area that overlooked the amazing mountains behind us and told us she would be right back with him. we readied the video camera and strolled along the sunny patio as we waited. within minutes, helen walked out of the door with micah in her arms. with our son. not wanting to scare him, i walked slowly in that direction as i heard josh behind me frantically whisper something about "not working" and "what’s going on here?"

it’s true - we have no video of our first moments with micah. but as josh and i have talked about it through the day, it’s almost more special that way. no sooner had helen handed him to me than she quietly snuck away, leaving the three of us alone to become a family. and so as it turns out, that moment truly is and will forever be ours alone. i laughed at the wonder i was holding in my arms and i let the tears roll freely off my cheeks. it was almost like an athlete who collapses into an exhausted heap of thankfulness when he finally crosses the finish line of a tremendous race. so much time, so much work, and so much prayer. and for what? for the precious baby who stared quietly at me with huge brown eyes at that very moment.

i don’t even know how long we stayed out there. maybe two hours? we held our baby, played with his feet, rubbed his soft head, and whispered we love you so much over and over in his ear. we rejoiced over being able to pick up on some of his unique quirks and traits: he sucks almost continually on the knuckle of his right index finger, he giggles without fail when josh tickles his head or neck with his scruffy beard, and he makes sweet, quiet murmurs while he sleeps.

which brings me to the most amazing part of our time with him today.

after a long time of playing, taking pictures, and shooting a couple of short videos (we figured out the camera problem), micah began to get sleepy. i cradled him in my arms as he sucked his finger and succumbed to the excitement of the day. i laid down on the patio with him on my chest and josh soon came and sat behind me so i could lay my head on his leg. and there we stayed. 30 minutes? an hour? maybe longer. daddy, mommy, and new baby boy basking in the heat of the african sun, the cool of the mountain breeze, and the love and thankfulness of a tremendous blessing from the lord. huge, exotic-sounding birds joined with the nearby braying donkeys to compose an appropriate lullaby for our ethiopian-born son.

no pictures, no video. just perfect.

part of me feels like i should just stop writing here. this was, after all, a picturesque ending to an enormously blessed day, but there’s one more piece of this story that begs to be told. after micah woke up, we took him with us to the infant room so we could see where his little crib was. the room was incredibly small – maybe 6 feet by 8 feet – and it had a row of small bassinet-type cribs lined on one wall. 7 or 8 of them i think. micah had just been moved to acacia village the weekend before our arrival so his area was a little more sparse than some of the other babies’ beds, but my heart leapt for joy a bit when i saw the name on the next bed over. biniyum. we have some friends from church back in birmingham who are also adopting from ethiopia (and who thankfully and prayerfully passed court here last week), and their precious baby is micah’s next-door neighbor. the boys were born within days of one another in completely different parts of the country, but they’re already sharing their lives together 7,500 miles away from where they will soon live and grow up.

but the story doesn’t stop there. in the cramp of the room, i hadn’t noticed a particular little guy laying in a carrier kicking his legs excitedly near my feet. i took one look at his face and gasped. most of you don’t know that five days after judah died, we actually received a referral for another baby. it’s impossible to explain the agony that went into saying no to a baby who desperately needed a home, but our hearts needed time to heal. and he needed a family that was ready and waiting for him with fully-prepared and excited hearts. on august 18, 2010 we weren’t that family. but there i was, staring at that same face i had seen so long ago in referral documents. i gingerly lifted up his leg to read the name tag around his ankle. his name, his story, and a twinge of guilt came over me. until, that is, i looked at the sole object laying in his crib.

a photo album.

the album was full of pictures of a mom, dad, and brother who are in love with the baby they’ll be traveling back to take home soon. al and lyndsey met them not long ago and told us what a wonderful family that sweet little guy is going to have. god has so richly provided for all of us along the way.

our amazing friends and family - our hearts are full beyond measure tonight as the sun fades from the african sky. we’re in a continual state of thankfulness for the perfection of this day and for the story of adoption that we’ve been so blessed to take part in. thank you, thank you for the roles that you have played in this journey. the lord has truly used each of you in countless ways to encourage, support, and love over these last couple of years.

we can’t wait for you to love micah as well.


Robin said...

i have thought about this so many times since i read it the other day. it is one of the most beautiful things i have ever read. to see God loving in such personal ways is amazing.

April said...

tears in my eyes...i am so very thankful for such a sweet meeting. i look forward to meeting him myself! we love you all!

Lora Lynn @ Vitafamiliae said...

Crying. Can't wait until you bring him home.So glad you got those sweet moments together.

Anonymous said...

I am sitting here with tears in my eyes. We are still waiting for CWA to give us our first court date so we can see our daughter. She is not at Acacia village yet, but hearing your description helped me in this long wait. Thank you!


Lacey Barnwell said...

LOVE!!! I can't wait to see all the pictures you took!!! =)