For the last week of July this year, we rented a beach house on Chincoteague Island with my brother, T’s sister, and their families. Nice beaches, good bike riding, it was going to be a relaxing and uneventful vacation.
My phone wasn’t receiving email and on Wednesday I wanted to check the Wide Horizons weekly update. There was an ice cream store in town with Wi-Fi so Wednesday afternoon, after a day at the beach, T and I drove over with his iPad.
We checked the weekly update. I commented to T that recent families had waited at least seven months for a child 37 months old and up, so we probably shouldn’t start expecting a referral until October.
The next email was from our case manager. It was very casual: If you have a chance, can you give me a call today? I will be here until 6pm.
Reception was terrible on the island, so we drove out to the middle of the bridge that connects it to the mainland. We pulled into a wide shoulder by a construction sign and called. It was about 5:45pm.
This is the marsh we were looking at when we heard the words, “Possible sibling referral.”
We started giggling. I told our case manager, “We’re on a bridge!” T said, “Is this going to be our story?” The seagulls screeched.
Two boys, ages 5 and 3. Our case manager told us to call her the next day at 9:30am for our official referral.
Back at the house we told all the adults the news (we’re not telling the kids until later). We agreed that the next morning at 9:30 everyone would go downstairs to watch TV in my brother’s room, while T and I took the upstairs porch, where the cell phone reception was decent.
The next morning was Thursday, July 28. We woke up pretty early. There was no way we were going to sit around waiting until 9:30, so after breakfast we went on a bike ride all around the island. We got back to the house at 9:27, and went out on the porch to call. This is where we were sitting when we first heard their names.
Our case manager said she would send the referral paperwork by that afternoon. We weren’t really capable of doing much while we waited. I called my sister and my mom. My mom’s voice started breaking on the phone, which made me get a little teary. We watched some TV. I fixed my phone so I could receive emails again. I studied my Amharic verb list. T took a nap.
Finally, finally at 3:15, I checked my phone and there was an email. We raced out of the house back to the ice cream store.
This is the table we were sitting at when we first saw their faces.
The pictures took my breath away. The boys are unbelievably beautiful. I’m not just saying this because this is our referral. They are gorgeous children. They should have a modeling contract for Gap Kids waiting for them at the airport when they arrive.
We sat in the ice cream store for about thirty minutes, looking at the pictures, reading the files and exclaiming over and over how beautiful the boys are. Then we went back to the house to get my brother’s laptop so we could organize the files that we needed to send to the pediatrician. Then back to the ice cream shop.
On the way back, I recorded my thoughts for posterity:
Blub. Blub. Glug. Durb. Gurgle.
We sent the files to the pediatrician, then went back to the house. Then we sat around and continued to let our brains implode until it was time to go out to dinner.
After dinner, and after the kids had gone to bed, we shared the photos with the rest of the family. Lots of smiles.
The next day my brother and his family left, and T’s brother and his wife arrived. We’re so glad that the timing allowed us to share this moment with so many family members.
There wasn’t a specific point when we decided to accept the referral. By the time our brains picked themselves up off the floor long enough for us to ask ourselves if we were going to, we already had. It was like when I asked T if we should talk about getting married, and he said he thought we’d already decided to. Decisions that are so right don’t need to get made.
A few days later, back in North Carolina, we got our acceptance paperwork notarized and sent everything to Wide Horizons.
So how does it feel? A whole big mix of emotions. Excitement. Happiness. Sadness. I am surprised by the intensity of the sadness. I have always known that our adopting meant that something very bad had happened to a family on the other side of the world, but I didn’t know I would feel it so personally. On Monday I found a video of the district in Ethiopia where the boys are from. Looking at the people in the video felt like looking at the boys’ family. The sense of loss was pretty overwhelming.
The court in Ethiopia began its annual recess yesterday and won’t reopen again until mid-October. We expect that our case will be called some time in December or January. Our trip to bring the boys to the United States will be some time after that.
Everyone we’ve told has been super excited for us. We really appreciate all the support and good thoughts you are sending our way.