Bathed in prayer. Prayer warriors. Prayers of a child. Powerful weapons indeed.
As we prepared to travel across the ocean with 3 bio kids in tow... we had many people tell us 'we'll be praying for you.' We asked MANY people - would you please pray for us? How often we tell someone we will pray for them and then go about our day with hardly another thought? However, my friends, I have some praying friends who take their jobs seriously!! And we felt it.
Specifically, we had asked for good health for our family. No matter who, or when, someone travels to Africa, usually someone in their group is throwing up, or ahem, something else. Always. And with 6 of us going, the chances of a sickie were pretty high. But no - we were blessed with good health all week. There were a few instances of a little nauseau, but overall, no major stomach bugs which was a huge praise!
We had also prayed that Olivia would attach well with her new family. The kids prayed every night that she would 'dream about us' so that she would know us and accept us. Lots of prayers went up on our behalf for this concern as well.
So the day we landed in Ethiopia, we had about 2 hours to shower (or nap). Then lunch (which is never quick in Africa), and then we were on our way to meet our sweet one. When we arrived at the transition home, they have kind of a mini-ceremony of the parents-to-be standing on the big porch and the nanny then marches the little bride out the door and 'gives her away'. We have seen many videos but had NO idea what to expect from little miss. But she did great! One, they don't go outside very much so I'm sure she felt out of her element, and two - here's a big group of white people hugging all over me and throwing toys in my face! But let me tell you, this baby had a miraculous week in my opinion. God had prepared her heart in advance for us and in the following sequence of photos - you can see her little personality coming out and her just coming alive!
Day 1 : This is immediately after they handed me Olivia. She whimpered for about 5 minutes and then was just shell-shocked the rest of the day. Everyone asked me if I cried, which I didn't. I think I just went into mommy-mode and knew my job was to calm this sweet babe of mine; so I didn't have time to get emotional.
The look on her face was pretty much static that day. Not much emotion but at least no screaming or terror on her face. And great attention to both us and the kids. She was studying us most of the day but then was comfortable enough to fall asleep in our arms.
Day 2 : I thought we may have a problem when Addi asked first thing to hold the baby. I told her she could while I put my sling on but moments after handing her Olivia, she let our a wail, which got Addison crying and wailing "she haaaaates me!" Sisters. We let her instead feed her cereal later and that made everything ok.
Sneaking in a little bit of a smile. Less of the blank stare. We met with the Dr. this day and I was anxious to see how she would do with our Ethiopians versus a white mommy. Would she reach for them and want out of my arms? No! Even the Dr. said it looked like she was doing so well with us.
Day 3: Our turning point - amazingly soon. I had first gone to get Olivia and then a little later they started bringing out the other babies for me to take photos of. So I tried to hand Livvie to Tony. No go. I tried setting her down beside me with the other babies we were photographing. Wasn't having it. But she was like this in my arms. Prayers answered as my baby wants to be MY baby.
We also tried to get her to crawl some this day. But if she was taken away from me, she would cry. If she tried to get off my lap to retrieve a toy, she would attempt to crawl but then quickly reach back to touch me and make sure I was still there. Limited her range of motion a bit. That afternoon I cried when I handed her back to the nanny and she reached for me and cried. Just a taste of the seperation to come.
Day 4: This was our court date. We went to court that morning, found out we had passed and heard the words 'she is yours'. After lunch we came to the transition home to find a sick baby who just didn't feel good. I think they had just given her some kind of cold medicine which doped her up a bit. But she still did great with us and would even let the kids hold her and play with her more. Can you see a difference in this child from day 1?? Four days! Only by the grace of God. Her behavior was flying in the face of all the adoption books I had been reading that cautioned me of rare eye contact, avoidance behaviors, or of being ok with all adults with no preferences for family....
Day 5: Olivia had been babbling /dadada/ since about day 3. She loves to talk (hmm, where would she get THAT from as a Wages?) But this day, I finally was able to get her to start imitating /mama/ and was able to capture on film the FIRST time she said it for me. Heaven.She also felt a little more secure and would let Seth take her a foot or so away to crawl to me. She wouldn't crawl back once in my arms, but at least she didn't have a fit when he took her out of my arms. By this day, she was doing so much better with the kids and would look for them to play with her - peek-a-boo, patty-cake, and let-me-see-how-many-abnoxious-noises-I-can-entertain-my-sister-with.Day 6 & 7 : We left to journey to Nazareth to visit the orphanage she was in for the first 6 months of her life. And then on down to Meki, where she was born, and then Awassa to see wildlife and the hippos. I was really worried how she would react to our brief seperation when we came back.
Day 8 : She did great! When I opened the door to her nursery she was on her belly and looked up at me and smiled! She then crawled over to me quickly. LOVED it.This was also the day that we found out she was a Daddy's girl as well. Tony had taken her in for a diaper change and while she was in the 'closet' being changed, he got down to play with the other babies. When Olivia came out and saw him, she started to whine and cry until he took her. "That's MY Daddy!!" Obviously, no hatred anymore. I foresee many little girl giggles in the future.
So, this post was really more for me than you. As I'm sure hard times will come. And we will face other attachment issues once she comes home. And I wanted a record of God's hand in her and our lives so early on. Proof that we will heal, and she is/was meant to be our daughter. But for that one week and a half, only the prayers of God's children could have orchestrated such a beautiful connection. I even told Tony, I had expected to fill a little bit of oddness at mothering an older child, not of birth. Yes, I loved her - but I expected to fill a little strange. I expected a little awareness as well of mothering a child of another color. But I didn't. It was never weird, or odd, or uneasy at all. She was ours. She was prayed for, and cried for, and is truly a gift of God that fits us perfectly.