Okay, booked the tickets and the Bejoe Guest House today!!! So exciting!
We leave on Friday March 12 and "have" to overnight in Washington D.C. How great is that??? Our flight arrives in DC at 4pm and we don't leave until 8:30pm the next day! So... BONUS!!! We get a whole day to sight-see around DC!!! I know that's not very long... certainly not long enough for me who could spend that entire amount of time in the Smithsonian JUST staring at Abraham Lincoln's hat (HIS HAT!!! HIS ACTUAL HAT! HIS ACTUAL HAT THAT HIS ACTUAL HANDS TOUCHED AND THAT HE PUT ON HIS ACTUAL HEAD!!!) but long enough to do some monuments and have a great time. Kinda like a last vacation w/ just the boys... I'm so excited! What an unexpected blessing!!!!
So then we leave DC on the evening of Saturday 13th and fly for 15 hours only to arrive in Addis Ababa on the evening of Saturday 13th! (crazy, right?) Yes, it's a long, brutal flight. There's no getting around that. BUT we are comforting ourselves by saying, "At least it's not as far as Australia!"
And then... we will be there! Amazing. We will be there with our girl. I try to imagine those first few moments. All our updates say that she is very quiet and shy, but not aloof. She likes to engage, but she is shy. I imagine her first moments with us will make her feel a little weary. She will probably be wondering, "Who are these people? Do I have to go with them?" I mean- just imagine. Poor girl. I am not expecting our first moments (days?) together to be filled with joy and abandon. Rather I am preparing to just be whatever she needs us to be. If she needs to just cry, then I will just hold her. If she just wants to hang back and observe us all, I will give her the space she needs. We have a whole lifetime to learn to play and laugh and love together. These initial moments and days will just be whatever they turn out to be. I am not going into it with any expectations. She is not a baby- she is a little girl. She's old enough to know that something strange is going on and probably smart enough to know that it's frightening to have to go with people you don't know, but she's not old enough to actually process it all. So we will just let her be whatever and however she wants to be. Of course I want to hold her and cuddle her and carry her around and tickle her and make her laugh (OH! I LONG for her laugh!). But I'm going to let her set the pace and the tone. We will change to fit what she needs from us.
I think having the boys along will really help. My friend Melissa (adoptive mom of 2 from China) very wisely pointed out that having children with us will help her to trust us. Kids can get in tune with each other easier than adults, and if she sees that Jack and Ben think Mick and I are okay... well... then maybe we are. And I think the boys will help her to relax- they will engage her on silly levels and get her to play and have fun whether she feels comfortable with us right away or not.
And who knows? She may surprise us and just feel comfy right from the start. Only one thing is sure: this is going to be a great adventure. The adventure of Lilah Abeba.