There have been many emotional moments during the last 10 months. The excitement of the referral, the nervousness of our court date, the overwhelming reality that our entire family would journey to Ethiopia, the insecurity of how to help each child (and Mike and I) through the transition, the bewilderment of those first few days when Tamene and Geta wanted to be anywhere but with us, the guilt, sadness, joy and honor of our meeting with their birth father, the exhaustion of the journey home, the sleepless nights in those first several weeks home, the cabin fever as we nested in our house, the joy of watching Tamene and Geta explore their new life in America, the amazement of how quickly they adapted to their new life and learned English, the pride of our older kids as they adapted to their new siblings without missing a beat... I could go on and on. Today was another one of those days.
Geta and Tamene were baptized into the Catholic faith this morning. While this is a rite I have watched many times, it took on a whole new meaning today. Usually, we baptize babies. But my kids are older and have far more life experiences. I didn't get their trust just because. I had to earn that trust. My goal was to prepare Geta and Tamene so that they weren't afraid of the sacrament. But little did I know that God had far grander plans. Geta and Tamene were not afraid. They walked into the waters of Baptism with eyes wide open and smiles bigger than life. Geta accepted her own baptismal candle with confidence. Thank goodness that Tamene's god parents were on the ball and quickly took his before he figured out what was happening. Courtney proudly accepted Geta as her God Daughter and our other kids showed such great excitement and pride for their siblings. Because we made a commitment to Geta and Tamene's birth father that we would raise them as Christians, I wanted to somehow make him a part of the baptism. During a prayer service with him in Ethiopia, he presented a candle to use when he entrusted his children into our care. So we used the same candle that he gave to us during the "entrustment" ceremony to light the baptismal candles for Geta and Tamene. While I thought I was quietly including him, it turned out to be such a concrete, tangible and communal statement in the progress toward our commitment to him. I was caught off guard by my emotions. It made us vulnerable to the entire community that celebrated with us. In that vulnerability came God's grace. That same vulnerability that our children accepted as they walked through the waters of Baptism, we accepted in testimate to our commitment to their birth father. God has blest us with wonderful family and friends and we could not be more proud. Thank you to everyone who shared this momentous occasion today.