I’m not going to lie. The trip back from Ethiopia was the most physically and emotionally grueling experience I have ever had in my life. I knew a 16 1/2 hour plane ride from Addis Ababa to Washington, D.C. with a 2-year-old (who was learning to trust his father) in my lap would be difficult. What I didn’t expect were the absence of changing tables in Ethiopian men’s bathrooms, security checks with bags and baby in hand, not being able to keep him in the pouch on the plane to sleep which meant I had to choose his sleep over my sleep and food, fixing food with no room and no one to hand Eli off to, and other stuff like that.
While it was difficult, he did amazing. Eli slept in my arms for 8 hours straight until we touched down in Rome. He fell asleep in the hanger and never looked back. We played a while, ate, then he took a 3 hour “afternoon” nap on me later. You know it is bad though when you are watching the plane map and telling yourself, “I can make it if the countdown clock says 9:59. If we can get under 10 hours I can make it…If I see an 8…If I see a 7…”
You think you are going batty. We finally arrived in USA and then had a 4 hour layover. During that time, it was time to eat a meal.
Since most of what Eli ate at the orphanage was starches, and he wasn’t too fond of the stuff I brought on the plane (except what I got for myself…), we found a nice Italian joint in the airport for his first meal in America. I didn’t get to eat that much. We looked hilarious after that trip. He is sitting in a regular sized chair in his pajamas sucking down noodles, and I am an unshaven mess with all the stuff he had gotten on me during the trip.
Cleaned him up, got ready for the flight, had a 2 hour delay due to some mechanical issues, and then he fell asleep on the flight from D.C. to GSP. I had to work to wake him up since his body clock was telling him it was nighttime. He woke up right before seeing his mommy for the first time. Both in tears, but each had their own reasons. Eli was befuddled and scared, Mommy was finally holding her boy she had worked and prayed relentlessly for.
After a trip back to Dad’s arms, Mom got out the Goldfish, and the bond was formed.
The meeting of Obie and Eli was pretty hilarious. We have it on video and I hope to share it one day. Obie stated jabbering to Eli, Eli responded with a loud squeal which startled Obie, Obie began to tell Eli, “Shh, Eli. It’s otay, Eli. Shh.”
Unbelievably, EVERYONE slept through the ENTIRE night Saturday night. And both boys (and maybe two parents) had a long nap Sunday afternoon. Last night, Eli woke up and he’s having a little difficulty napping now. He is having jet lag, 2 ear infections, and some digestive regulating going on right now. Thankfully, he is easy to soothe either by me or Amanda.
Everyone has asked how the boys are doing together. What does the above picture tell you? I’ll be honest. I had very low expectations. 2 2 year olds in the same house. 1 with some serious damaging history with some unhealthy learned habits in an orphanage. I wasn’t too hopeful.
I was planning on saying, “Considering the circumstances, they are doing well.” All I can truly say today is, “They are simply doing well.” Not considering the circumstances, they are behaving really well. Obie has bent over backwards to share with Eli, we have been intentional with both boys, and while there have been a couple of moments of sharing issues, they have behaved remarkably well. Obie has proven to be a great big brother considering Eli in many ways.
We went to the doctor with Eli this morning. I can’t tell you the change he has made in a week. 1 week ago today, he freaked out if someone walked him down the hallway of the orphanage. Today, we took him to a small doctor’s office room and he handled himself very well-being poked and prodded. We have some steps to take to get his health up to par, but we are making remarkable improvements.
I plan on sharing a few of the extra moments in the coming days. So much has happened that it is hard to summarize. Once again, I am eternally grateful for your encouragement and prayers. I can honestly say, those prayers kept me going when I thought I was about to lose my mind! So happy to be a part of the Body of Christ and so honored to be a husband and father today.