Malakai was such a trooper helping us get packed and praying for his little BRODER! Finley took it all in stride and didn't care as long as she was on mom's hip!
Because of our short time frame and previous commitments, our time in Ethiopia was very limited. As we flew back to Illinois, we were excited to see our family and SCARED out of our minds to leave Malakai and Finley. You see, we've left them overnight ONCE and were only gone for 24 hours (if that)... and since we've been in Guatemala, there aren't any grandmas here so a couple friends have watched our kiddos a few times for just an hour or two at most.
As we prayed for our kids and their time with grandparents and friends, the stories of rejection and attachment issues we have experienced with Malakai were at the forefront of our minds. So, as we pulled out of the driveway, Finley reached her arm out for us screaming and grandpa was holding Malakai back from running into the road.... and the look of sheer terror came across his face... that look we had seen so many times in the early days of bringing him home from Ethiopia... we didn't hit the end of the driveway before we burst into tears and I (Christi) told Dan that he was going to Ethiopia alone! :)
BUT, low and behold, we made it to Chicago to catch our flights. Our sweet friends took us to dinner and to the airport and it was an amazing time to reconnect and catch up with them after months of not seeing them face to face. Skype is only so good people!
An uneventful plane ride to Istanbul, Turkey and another to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia... 24 hours later, landed us in a vehicle with a sweet Ethiopian man headed to our guest house at 1:00 in the morning. As we drove down a windy, dirt road to the guest house I was reminded of the road we live on in Guatemala which is very similar. We got to the guest house, drug our luggage up to the 4th floor (THANK YOU Pontiac Bible Church for stuffing us with donations for Titus' care center), took showers (you feel pretty nasty after traveling for 24+ hours), and drifted off to sleep.
A short 3 hours later we were up, getting ready for the day since we didn't know what time our court hearing was at. I was blabbing away in the bathroom to Dan in the other room about how excited I was for the day when THIS happened -
Yep... that's my hair burnt off and crusted to my flatiron.... well, I guess we're going to court with a ponytail friends... and off we went!
We found out that court wouldn't be until the afternoon, so we asked if we could go meet our Titus Charles Ibsa Ucherek and were taken to see him right away! What a beautiful ride through a city our hearts love to meet our new son! So many memories flooded back to us from our previous 2 trips to adopt Malakai.
Yep, that's our chunker... in his little sweater vest... sweating like crazy! Oh this momma's heart was over the moon... we both stopped, squeezed each other's hands, closed our eyes, and thanked the Lord for the blessings HE continues to pour out on us.... even in our humanness, even in our weakness, even when we mess up OVER and over again!
There he was.... this little boy we had been praying for and staring at photos of since December. This little boy that we call son... that we call brother... that we LONG to have in our family!
The Lord immediately brought to mind ALL of the things HE has done to get this sweet boy into our family. Many of those things were recounted in THIS blog posting.
The Lord reminded us of how HE fought for us... how HE died for us... and that no matter what we were about to face... all the unknowns... that this child is worth it... just like you and I were worth it for Jesus to pay the ULTIMATE price, dying on the cross, so that we could have life eternally with Him!
It was as if this peace came over us... where all the worries about attachment... all the worries of adding a new child... all the worries of having no insurance for him... all the worries of what it meant to add therapy and surgeries to our lives... went away. It's the peace that passes all understanding that ONLY the Lord Himself can give you! It was as if the Lord was whispering in our ears... yep, he's yours... and I'm going to confirm that to you over and over sweet child.
So we spent the next 3 hours smothering him in kisses, TRYING to get him to look at our eyes and smile... and just loving on him.
Later that day we drove to court in the city where the judge said, 'HE'S ALL YOURS UCHEREK FAMILY'!!! Praise God... and Him alone!
Our sweet driver took us to the market, then it was back to the guest house for a good nights sleep.
The next day was so amazing... when we walked into the care center, our little man totally recognized us and started smiling! This is more than amazing from a child that didn't play, laugh, or smile the day before!
We were able to spend most of the day with Titus/Ibsa the 2nd day, thankfully, as we prepared our hearts to say 'see you later little buddy'... something no one should EVER have to do.
What a roller coaster of emotions... from not wanting to leave our kiddos in IL, to making it to Ethiopia where the nerves are flowing, to the excitement of meeting your son for the first time, to the DREAD of leaving him in Ethiopia while you wait for the government once again.
As we left the care center the tears started a flowin'... the pain... the disconnect... something that should NEVER happen... children belong in families... not in care centers... children deserve to be held, cared for, nourished, DISCIPLED... not laying in a crib all day long every day... a child that just turned 1 years old should NOT have the stone cold stare, low town body, and environmental delays that our sweet boy has.
Can't wait for you to be home our little chunkers!
As we returned back to Guatemala, excited to be back, but half of our hearts being in Ethiopia, we received a note from a sweet, YOUNG girl in Texas... she shared with us that she has been raising money to help someone with their adoption and the Lord led her to help US bring Titus home. THEN, she met with her pastor and they decided together to have buckets set up in their church for the next month for people to make donations to bring Titus home.... not just that, but she is hosting a lunch and ping pong tournament to raise funds as well. To say that we are humbled and blessed is a complete understatement. Thank you Rachel.... you are incredible and I can't wait to see how the Lord continues to use you!
So you've all been asking, what next? We are being told 2-4 months for Titus to come HOME, where he belongs. We wait on a court decree, medical exam, government paperwork, and lastly an Embassy appointment. We will travel to Ethiopia again, Lord willing, we are praying that we are both able to go, for the Embassy appointment, spend a few days in country, then back to Illinois. We are working out all the details, paperwork, timelines, etc but are thinking that we will be in IL for about 4 weeks in order to complete everything that is required before returning to Guatemala (passports, social security cards, citizenship requirements, doctors appointments, the list goes on).
-For Titus Charles Ibsa Ucherek - he has a LONG road ahead of him and a LOT of work to get on track developmentally.
-For accurate diagnosis and doctors we trust... we are thinking, with no medical background, that he may have been mis-diagnosed, but there are definitely issues that need to be addressed immediately.
-For answers - we were informed that our insurance would not cover Ibsa due to our overseas status, so we are in communication with Shriner's in Chicago hoping that they have the capacity and willingness to care for our son.
-For Malakai and Finley as they adjust to a new brother.
-For financial provision.... we still need just under $8,000 to complete everything necessary for this adoption... in a VERY short period of time!
-For healthy bonding and attachment