“Congratulations, you are now the parents of Bete and Mahlet.” To hear the judge say these words were every bit as exciting and filled with emotion as hearing a doctor say congratulations you have a healthy baby girl or boy.
We arrived at the court house with all the families from our agency. (We also stayed with these families at the Guest House and had a great time getting to knowthem.) We were lead into a large room filled with people from all over the world. I leaned over to Derek and said, “I would love to know how many nationalities were represented in the room.” There were signs in several languages telling us to be quiet however everyone was talking. Trying to be the good rule keepers, we all stood there staring at each other in silence for about 20 minutes waiting for our agency to be called. I am so glad that several people had warned us that court was very UNDERwhelming because in fact we walked to a small room with a judge sitting at a small desk and she all asked us the same questions, “Do you understand that this adoption is irreversible? Do you have other children? Are you learning about Ethiopian culture?” I felt as though I were in the principals office and ready to defend myself when she looked at Derek and I and said, “Congratulations, you are now the parents of Bete and Mahlet.” My eyes filled with tears and as we exited the judges office with the other families from our agency who had just been told the same exciting news we stood there hugging and congratulating each other. We had to again wait in the “silent” room but this time none of us were silent. We were all new parents and it was evident by our tears and smiles! After celebrating for a few minutes I noticed a woman sitting in the corner holding a sleeping baby girl. The woman was wearing the traditional headdress that alot of the woman wear in Africa and I noticed her wiping away tears with it. I continued to watch her for a several minutes and brought her to the attention of the other women in our group. All of us new moms watched as this mother was escorted into another room with her sleeping baby and a tiny sack of clothes. This mother was having to give her baby up and it was obvious that this decision was difficult for her to come to terms with. At that moment we caught a glimpse of what it is like to be on the other side and I stood there silent and crying waiting for our attorney to finish up. I will never forget watching that mother and although we probably looked like arrogant, loud Americans I do hope that she saw the joy and love in our hearts as we passed court and knowing that one day a family will feel the same way about her sweet baby girl.
For those of you wondering what will happen next, well, we wait. AGAIN! We are now waiting on the USA to get their paperwork done and we all know how long that can take. We hope to travel back over to Addis to pick our girls up in the next 8-16 weeks.