After the meeting, we had a short prayer service with all the birth families and adoptive families. Each birth parent lit a candle and gave it to their child's adoptive family. There were many tears on both sides of the room. After a prayer by the birth parents and a prayer by the adoptive parents, we said our good-byes and they were escorted back to their village, about a 25 minute ride from Hosanna. I was very glad to hear that the birth parents were well fed while they waited for us to arrive. It was a day that Mike and I will never forget.
The adoptive families then celebrated a traditional coffee ceremony. While this was a nice cultural experience, it was also a good time for us to release all the emotion of the morning and take some time to ourselves to figure out how to deal with what we just experienced. There is a tremendous amount of guilt that I have come to know in this adoption process. The world can be so unfair. In Ethiopia, people work from sun up to sun down and then some. They come home to small, one room huts that they share with their cattle to have a very modest meal and then sleep on mats that lay on a dirt floor. There certainly is an upper class here in the city, but the rural areas are all about the same. One village looks just like the next.
We did get to stop by the Orphanage where Geta and Tamene stayed from May through September. We weren't allowed inside, but there is something about walking the path of your children that helps you understand their fear a little better. We also got to see a small bakery and school that our Agency has funded in the Hosanna area. It allows single women to work and local children to get an education. Finally, we stopped on the roadside to see the inside of one of the huts that our children would have lived in. It is amazing how well they manage space. The hut that we saw housed 5 or 6 children along with the parents and some cattle. It was probably 15 feet in diameter. The dirt floor was freshly swept and there was nothing out of place. There was a small garden behind the house where they grew food for them to eat.
We arrived back at the guesthouse last night around 4:30pm and had dinner. It was an early night for everyone. (Except dad and one other adoptive father who got up at 4 in the morning to watch the second half of the Superbowl!