We woke up the next day knowing we needed our daughter’s birth certificate before we boarded our flight that night. A process that usually isn’t too difficult was proving a bit more difficult because of the suspension. After waiting all afternoon the day before, we prepared ourselves for another long wait. This time we left Lydia with Robyn at our hotel, so they could sleep in and have a lazy morning. Matt and I spent several more hours in the van waiting outside the kebele. As lunchtime was nearing, Abreham told us our representative wanted us inside. We walked inside the small building and took two seats next to the government official issuing our daughter’s birth certificate. He asked us a few questions like what state each of us was born in and what religion we were. After sitting there for a while, our representative brought us a birth certificate to check over for accuracy. Everything was correct except my middle/maiden name was written “WentWorth” and that second “w” needed to be lowercase. We waited a while longer, and our representative brought us the new version where everything was accurate. It was surreal seeing our names listed under “Mother” and “Father”. We needed to sign several papers, and then we were done. Her birth certificate was in our representative’s hands. That was the last step open to us at that time. We had given God our yes, and He had brought us 8,000 miles, through our court date with a court decree and birth certificate in hand. We wouldn’t be going home with our daughter, but we had seen His presence over and over again. We knew His hand was guiding us, and we had to trust Him.
We went back to the hotel to pick up Lydia and Robyn and made plans to attend a meeting for families in country at the US Embassy in Addis. We sat in a room with other families who were caught in the same hard place we were, and we listened to the Embassy staff update us on what was happening. I have to share publicly how grateful Matt and I are to the entire Embassy team in Addis. They worked tirelessly for our family and other families, and they continue their work today to unify families. We left the meeting encouraged. They seemed to feel the tide was turning and used the word “weeks” when asked how long they thought it might be before children could come home.
We left the Embassy and headed to Eve’s orphanage to see her one more time before our flight out that night. It was late afternoon and the sunlight was streaming in the big window in the yellow playroom. I was sitting on the floor, and Eve was in my lap. A young man walked up and introduced himself as one of the volunteers. He asked us where we were from and we responded, “The States–Tennessee.” He said, “No way! My mom lives in Tennessee.” He asked us where in Tennessee, and we told him Memphis to which he said, “My mom owns a restaurant in Memphis.” I look at Matt with chill bumps because I’m in disbelief and ask him what part of Memphis. He leans his head back like you do when you’re trying to remember a specific detail and says, “Cor-cordova!” Matt and I both start shrieking/freaking out, and in a very high squeaky voice I say, “We know your mom! We eat at her restaurant! We love her food!” Then there are hugs and selfies and phone calls to his mom back in Memphis and a family in utter amazement at God. Because here we are 8,000 miles away from home in a city of more than 3 million people, and hours before we board a flight taking us away from our daughter we meet a man whose mom runs the Ethiopian restaurant a mile from our home. But God. In case I needed one more miracle to remind me that He has always been and always will be the One piecing everything together, He gave us Enderi and his mom Hareg. But God.
We hung out for a while longer and when the sun was low in the sky we hugged everyone goodbye. We kissed Hewan with a thousand kisses and placed her in the arms of Ayub. We stopped by Sishu for one more hamburger, and Abreham drove us to the airport. I had managed not to cry when we told Eve goodbye, but I couldn’t hold back the tears when we hugged Abreham bye. This man had become like a brother to us, and we told him we would see him soon. We boarded the plane exhausted and grateful, praying for the day we would return. Having no idea it would be a mere two weeks later. But God.
to be continued…