Our trip to Minnesota was truly, truly wonderful. Driving was actually a breeze. The kids were fantastic and every day they were up for a new adventure. We stayed with David's mom, who lives in a building with a vintage elevator--the kind with the metal grate door. Carver especially enjoyed playing elevator operator. The kids got to experience summer in a small farming community and were so spoiled by the miles of flat roads, corn fields, and freedom. They rode their bikes everywhere.
We drove to the Twin Cities and tried not to cry at familiar landmarks. We miss living there--especially now with so many families that have adopted from Ethiopia. We spent the afternoon at the Mall of America and burned off some pre-picnic excitement. That evening we checked into the college dorm room where families were staying. There was a pool party that night, and Stacy and Mel proved themselves as "greatest moms in the universe" because they were in the pool with their kids and I swear the water was maybe 50 degrees. We met some families and admired all the children. David was overjoyed to see some of the children he played with at the care center in Addis Ababa. To see them again a year later with their families here in the United States is quite moving. Diana (David's sister) and he got to catch up with some of their travel group, too, and oooh and aaaah over how much the kids had grown in a year.
I learned a valuable lesson.
I should not have expected to have time to really talk with the families I so wanted to meet. Our kids all had their own agendas! Trying to talk to Lucy was a little bit like trying to catch a fairy. Every time I got close to her, I started a conversation but she just smiled at me and dashed off. Stacy had to chase her, I had to chase my kids... and that was that. Next year I will make sure we meet friends for dinner or breakfast over the weekend so I have more one-on-one time with them. That being said, I still think Lucy is one of the darned cutest kids in the world.
Some very touching moments included meeting Sigame and Dengalo. They were at the care center with Zinabu for several months and were adopted right after Z. They have many memories of Z and have followed our blog for the last year. Sigame was so excited to see Z again, and after Z finished his Ethiopian food, he was pretty excited to see her too. We are bonded with this dear family because our children spent time together before they came to us. They share a history. They share a past. They lived in an orphanage together and survived trauma I just can't imagine. I love knowing about these kids because they are a part of Zinabu's story. We will keep in touch with them.
Another time I got teary was meeting Lindsay, our rep. at CHSFS. She is the woman who took on our family after we left our first agency and helped us day after day as we refiled all our adoption paperwork. She is the one who called with our referral of Zinabu. I will never forget hearing her voice on our answering machine... "Hi there. This is Lindsay at CHSFS. I have some important news for you, so please call me back." She sought us out at the picnic and I was so happy. Another piece of the adoption puzzle that brought Zinabu to us.
At the end of the picnic there was a performance by traditional Ethiopian dancers, and when they came out on stage I pretty much burst into tears. The men did a kind of "hop-skip" and it was so exactly what Zinabu does around our house day in and day out. Not having been around for my son's first three and a half years of life is hard for me. So when I see something that is so genuinely from his life in Ethiopia, I am honored to share part in that.
Who am I to be so blessed?
Here are some photos... Enjoy.
Meeting Tyrone! Even I was pumped up over this. Does anyone love the Backyardigans as much as me?
Zinabu and Lucy and Lily. Carver is a blur in the background and Lucy was about ready to dash. Turns out Lucy will only smile for the camera if you tell her not to.
Here I am with Lindsay. So special. And, uh, this is right after my kids got the free CHSFS hats. Can you tell?