I wrote this right after we met Andy in 2012. He was 6 months old. Today he turns 5.
“We met up with our driver in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia at 9 a.m. on August 5, 2012 after 20 hours of travel. We were tired and ready to rest. We had been told before the trip that we would meet our child on the 6th, leaving us all day on the 5th to recover from the trip. Our amazing host and driver turned back to us and handed us our itinerary for the week and it read, “Sunday, August 9: 9 a.m. – pick up at the airport, 10 a.m. – meet your child.” It took us a minute, due to the brain fog from travel, to realize what was about to happen. We were going straight to meet our son.
We arrived at Hannah’s Hope just before 10 a.m., took our stuff to our room, and then walked next door. Above the door that leads in to the building where the children are is the simple word, “Hope”. It is such a good symbol of what those children find there. As we walked in we headed into a living room and there was one of the “special mothers” (ladies who work there taking care of the children) holding the most beautiful and handsome 6-month-old little boy. We immediately recognized him from the pictures. He was ours. We were meeting Andy for the first time.
It is impossible to accurately describe what happened in our hearts as the “special mother” handed him to Shelley for the first time. It was no longer about being a number on a wait list, or planning travel, or court appointments, or raising funds, or process. It was about a life and our little family of four in that moment becoming a family of five. Well I guess it is a family of six if you count our dog Pete…he counts. It was a supernatural moment on our lives.
The next couple of days were all about being with him. We stared at him, touched him, played with him, fed him, bathed him, changed him, and loved on him as much as we could. It was obvious that his little 6-month-old mind was confused. When we would get time with him each day, the first things he would do was slowly and deliberately move the middle two fingers on his right hand into his mouth. We could tell that he was getting more comfortable when he would be a little slower on the draw with is two fingers. I would be confused too. He has been through a lot in his short little life. After all who were these two strange looking people anyway?
Court was scheduled for Wednesday morning. The night before we were taken out to eat at an authentic Ethiopian restaurant complete with amazing entertainment. The food was good and I was not about to let the statement, “That is really spicy. You may not want to eat that “ scare me. The next morning I was wishing I had a little more “fear”. Feeling pretty queasy, Shelley and I were picked up to drive to court. The air there is thin, full of diesel fumes and the roads, well they are interesting. I just prayed that I would not be getting reacquainted with my spicy dinner.
We made it to court with our lawyer who was provided by our adoption agency (AGCI). Climbed 10 flights of stairs and then waited in what looked like a classroom filled with people. After about an hour a lady stepped out of the judge’s office and said something and our lawyer stood up and started walking. We followed. We went into a small room where we sat before the judge. She asked us a few simple questions, “Have you met the child? Have you taken course to learn about adoption? Have you learned about the Ethiopian culture?” Then she said something to the effect of, “after the courts approval this adoption cannot be reversed. Are you sure you want to adopt this child?” Hmm….With massive smiles on our faces we said, “Oh yes!”. Then these powerful words came out of her mouth. “He is now your child and that can never be reversed.” We wept.
We had one more full day with our son and savored every minute of it. Because of Ethiopian adoption law and adoption process we are were not able to bring our son home until he has a visa from the USA. The visa is usually issued 6-8 weeks after the court’s approval. That means we were getting ready to leave our son in Ethiopia for now. So on Thursday afternoon around 4pm we had been staring, loving, playing, cleaning, and feeding Andy when the moment came that we were dreading. It was terrible. Heart wrenching. After he had fallen asleep, we handed him back to the “special mother”, kissed him on the head and said goodbye. We walked out of the room and onto the balcony overlooking the street and just cried. We were filled with the mixture of joy because we have a new son and the obvious sadness of leaving him.
Now we are back home praying for time to fly. We are praying for process to move at light speed. We need a court decree to be sent out, his passport and birth certificate to be made and a date at the US Embassy to be scheduled. Then we will go back and bring him home. We are just ready for the Hunt family to be six of us in one place (don’t forget Pete). We are ready for Andy to come home.
This whole thing is just amazing. It is teaching me so much. We are not rescuers of little boy. We are receivers of a gift of grace. We are not doing something to brag about. We are being allowed to be a part of something supernatural. There is so much more to this than “what we are doing”. God is just being so kind to us. We are humbled and thankful.”
HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANDY!