At this point, time feels like it's flying, and it also feels like it's stopped. We can't believe we leave for our long-awaited Trip #1 - the one when we finally get to meet Evelyn and become her parents - in just a few days! It's amazing to think about our overall journey to her, one that has taken many years, and that this journey will be over very, very soon as our new journey as a family of four begins.
I wanted to post a travel update so you know what we'll be up to on this special trip!
Morrie and I leave the evening of Wednesday, January 19th and fly to London, where we'll be staying through Sunday. We're looking forward to our first vacation with just the two of us in about eight years (maybe longer). We will of course see the sites, which my mother insists must be written out on a schedule. We also will spend a little time with Morrie's long-time BFF Jay, and hopefully his family, who are in London for the time being.
We leave late on Sunday evening for Addis Ababa, about an 8 1/2 hour flight, and land around 7 a.m. Addis time. We'll be picked up by a CHI driver, who will take us to House of Hope, the agency's transition home.
We will be staying at HOH this trip, in a guest suite that is very nearby. HOH will be a type of bed-and-breakfast for us - we'll eat our meals there, sleep there, and basically spend all of our non-court time there. We'll get to meet Evelyn hopefully shortly after we arrive on Monday, and will spend most of the day playing with her and the other children (including cousin Neal and Jenni's son "Baby Y"). We're very excited to also meet the other nine families traveling at the same time as us!
We'll hopefully sleep well on Monday night (though probably not, between nerves, excitement, and the howling dogs - we were told to bring earplugs!)
On Tuesday, January 25th, we'll go to court and meet with the judge who handles all Ethiopian adoptions. We hope that all of our paperwork is in order and that we pass court without delay. Oftentimes, paperwork mishaps cause families to "not pass." Though we don't anticipate this happening - I don't think it's ever happened in our agency's history working in Ethiopia - there is always a glimmer of a chance, and while not passing court would not require an extra trip, it would cause a delay in our Embassy visit, which would delay Evelyn's homecoming. So please think of us and say a little extra prayer on the 25th that we pass!
After our meeting with the Judge (which will hopefully conclude with her words, "She is yours!"), we will be honored to meet and speak with Evelyn's birth mother. In Ethiopian adoptions, the person who relinquished the child must also appear in court that day, and then we have the opportunity to all sit down with an interpreter and talk. We hope to learn a lot about Evelyn's birth family and their hopes and dreams for her future, and we hope that we will bring reassurance and some semblance of peace to a woman who made an extraordinary personal sacrifice for her daughter, and for our family. We do plan on capturing this emotional and life-altering meeting on film, but it's likely that we will not share many - if any - of the details with anyone. Evelyn's history will be hers to tell someday if she so chooses. For now, we will be cherishing this meeting as sacred and extremely personal.
We'll then return to HOH, hopefully have time to love on Ev a little while longer, and then we'll say our goodbyes for the five to six week wait that we'll have until we meet again for our Embassy visit, when we'll be bringing her home! We hope that trip will be in early March.
And then, we'll board a plane to London around midnight Wednesday morning, and will have one looooong, extended Wednesday - flying 8+ hours to arrive in London around 6 a.m., hanging out at Heathrow until 12:30, flying another 8+ hours to Newark and arriving around 4:15. Should make for some interesting jet lag!
We have an international phone and will hopefully be able to update you all between phone calls, text messaging, Facebook status updates, and e-mails. We'll be able to update the blog upon our return, once our bodies adjust to New York time, and can't wait to finally be able to post the long-awaited photos that we've had all these months - as well as photos of us with our beautiful daughter in our arms!