I barely slept. I woke up before my alarm went off. I saw a half-dozen messages on my phone–friends staying up until the wee hours of the night back home to pray for us as we prepared to meet our daughter. I took a shower and got ready and pulled out my sticky notes from 5.5 years of praying. Verse after verse, I was reminded of what God was doing. I found strength in His Word.
Matt and Lydia woke up and got ready, and we headed down to breakfast. I had a thousand butterflies and no appetite. I managed a couple bites of toast and two cups of hot Ethiopian tea. Abreham arrived to pick us up, and Lydia and I held hands during the drive. My oldest miracle was about to meet my youngest miracle. It was a special gift having Lydia with us.
We arrived at the blue walls that have filled so many of my dreams. Sele Enat’s social worker met us at the front entrance and showed us around. Bright colors are everywhere, and the kids are so loved. He told us the nannies were getting Hewan (the Ethiopian version of Eve) ready for us, so we waited in the courtyard for a little while. Robyn went into the playroom where they told us we would meet her. But we were just talking in the courtyard when we all turned to see a familiar face looking up at us. And by the nudge of the Holy Spirit Robyn had her camera focused on our faces at just the moment we laid eyes on her.
We started walking to her, removing our shoes before we entered the playroom per the rules to keep the room clean. We knelt to the ground while she looked at us with wide eyes. “Who are these people?” she seemed to say. After a few minutes of letting her warm up to us, we waved and she waved back. The bonding was beginning.
We brought bubbles, so we brought those out. She immediately lit up with excitement. It wasn’t long before the bubbles were dumped down the back of my sweater, but she didn’t care. She was more interested in fitting the lid onto and off of the bubble container over and over and over again. And as she worked at it, she stuck her little tongue between her lips in a most determined fashion.
By now the room was full of kids playing and toddling around. One of the nannies brought out orange slices for a snack, something she still enjoys daily now that we are home. At some point in the late morning, Eve was sitting in my lap and I noticed her breathing was slower, calmer. She had fallen asleep in my arms. Every tear, every day of waiting those 5.5 years was worth it. Our daughter knew she had a family.
*All images by Robyn Smith of abideinhimphotography.com. To see more images from our trip to Ethiopia, go to @abideinhimrobyn on IG and scroll back until May.