Today was the day we were going to meet the girl’s birth family. Anyone who knows me well knows in situations like this where I have to talk to strangers one on one terrifies me. Really it does, I get all queasy and sweaty, and start breathing funny. So when I got the info on the birth family meeting that’s what I started doing. Heck I wasnt even in Ethiopia yet and already I was freaking out, so that drive to Hossana, yeah it was terrifying.
On top of being terrified I was sad, so sad. I was going to meet this family and say what ? ” Hey thanks for your kids?” That just doesn’t seem appropriate. Nothing I could think of to say to them seemed to be right or enough. I could tell them I would love them, and take care of them, and they would have every opportunity in the world, but again it didn’t seem enough.
It was a long ride to Hossana. Four hours I think, and we all got started around 530 or 6 am. The scenery was stunning, the conversation on the bus was great, but I just couldn’t shake my nerves.
When we got down there we were unloaded from the bus and taken to a room with seats where we all got to sit and wait. Um can anyone say agonizing ? We were all pacing around , jittery with nerves. They started calling families one or two at a time to meet with the birth families. I figured our situation would be the same as when we met the girls and we would go last. People started coming back from their meetings with tears in their eyes, and comments on what a powerful experience it was, which made me even more nervous. I knew this was HUGE, this was of the utmost importance, and that I HAD to do this not just for myself but for my children. When they get older and ask things I can tell them about this moment, about what their birth family was like, what their mom sounded like, I could give them answers to question I thought they might have.
As the social worker came in and headed towards us I knew this was it, except instead of saying it was our turn, we were told that the family did not show and they would try to arrange a meeting in Addis later in the week before we left. The anti social, scared of strangers part of me relaxed but the other part of me was beyond disappointed. I was panicked, I tried keeping my emotions together in front of all these families but I couldn’t stop the tears from leaking out my eyes. We had a coffee ceremony and a prayer with the birth families who handed off candles to the new people charged with taking care of these children, except we didn’t get a candle, we didn’t have our birth family.
It was a sad, somber day and ride home. We stopped at a school to see the work that our agency was doing for the children down south but none of it really stayed with me. I was too sad for the birth family, to sad for myself, and especially too sad for my children. I don’t know what to tell them of that day. That meeting in Addis never did happen, and all those questions I had on behalf of my girls will forever go unanswered.