Day 4 (Thursday)
Emotionally, Thursday was the biggest roller coaster of the trip. I got to spend a lot of time by myself with our daughter. We went to court to meet with the judge. And, we met with the grandmother for a lengthy and emotional discussion.
First, an update. We did not get the final approval from the Ethiopian court. The license for the orphanage from which T came is up for renewal. Because that process is not finished, the government agency charged with making a recommendation to the judge had not been submitted to the court. The judge was very pleasant, albeit soft-spoken, and directed a question to Sara and Michael. She asked about if they were okay with the adoption. Both said they were. As soon as the court receives the recommendation letter, the adoption will be final. Lori will travel either in late December or early January to bring T home.
Earlier in the week, we had received a DVD of an interview with our daughter's grandmother. She was being asked questions about our daughter and her family. It's an important part of our daughter's past and it will be something we can show her later. (by the way, we are not supposed to put our daughter's name on the Internet until we pass court, so I am going to refer to her as "T"). One of the more striking comments made by T's grandmother was that she wants T to grow up to be a good person, to be well educated, and to remember her family. Very touching.
T's grandmother says she is around 40 (birthday's aren't given the same level of importance that we give them). By looking at her, you would guess she was much older. It's obvious that she's had a tough life. Her face is drawn, with deep lines on her forehead and jowls and deep set eyes. She was dressed in traditional garb with a shawl covering her head. We had been told that the grandmother would have to make an appearance at court and that we would have a chance to talk to her later.
We immediately recognized the grandmother as we entered the court's waiting room. She appeared anxious and tired (she had been driven at least eight hours to make her court appearance). Lori thinks she may have been shown a picture of us at some point, because she kept looking at us. Part of us wanted to go immediately to talk to her but we didn't know if it was appropriate and regardless, we didn't have interpreters.
After court, we headed to our hotel where we would meet with the grandmother. Lori and I decided to focus our interview questions on things we thought T might want to know about her family when she was older. When we were called to come talk to her, we each approached her to give her a hug. She was very frail and small, but held us tight and said what sounded like a prayer for each of us. She then kissed us on both cheeks and kissed our hand. Sara and Michael also hugged her, received a blessing, the kiss on the cheeks, and the kiss on the hand. Each, in turn, kissed her hand.
We then sat and talked. Lori showed her pictures of our family, our house, and where T would sleep. She gave her a photo book and a coloring page from T. We then asked questions about T's parents and family history. Ethiopia's national language is Amharic, but in reality there are at least a dozen languages. T's grandmother did not speak Amharic, so the interview was conducted with two translators; one to convert her language to Amharic, and another to translate the Amharic to English. Sara recorded the interview so we can show it to T when she is older. One of the more touching moments came when we asked when we asked about T's best qualities. She responded that T is smart and reminded her of her mother.
We could have sat all day asking questions, but the driver was anxious to get back on the road, so we had to end the interview. We told her that we would raise T to be a good person, well educated, and that we should make sure she remembered her family. She blessed us, and we finished with a group picture and another round of hugs and kisses.
We visited T in the afternoon, and I got a chance to spend some one-on-one time with T. I am amazed at her intelligence, her focus, and how much English she already knows. We spent an hour drawing pictures, coloring shapes, and tracing letters and numbers. My favorite moment was when she wrote an "A", drew a circle with a short line coming out of the top and said, "A is for apple." A heart melting moment.
Tomorrow we have to say good bye to T. It will be hard to leave her behind, but we know she is in good hands. She is being well cared for, and knows we will be returning for her.