Four months ago today we met our sons.
We met them in Awassa where they were staying temporarily. We knew them the second we saw them - they looked just like their pictures. We hugged them and asked each one, Dehna neh? and they each responded Dehna. Those were the first words we spoke with our sons.
A was quieter. The orphanage manager kept telling him Yinnante innat, ishi? Yinnante innat, ishi? (That's your mom, OK? That's your mom, OK?) and he stared at the ground every time she said it. Of course he did. How do you process that? He perked up when I showed him how the video camera worked, and when he discovered the magnets on the toy trains we gave him. He went around seeing what else would stick to the magnets. My oldest has a sensitive soul and a scientific mind.
D was happier. He LOVED the toy car we gave him. He kept saying yinei, yinei (mine, mine). He was fascinated by T. He examined T's fingers and arms and called him Daddy ferenj. He pushed all the buttons on the camera. When a visiting official tried to see his toy car, he held it tight and pointed at the gate - you have your motorcycle, this is MY car. My youngest is playful and curious and daring.
We spent one hour with them. We left them with a talking photo album, with our voices in Amharic telling them who we were, about their grandparents and aunts and uncles and their cousins who wanted to play with them, and about our house where they would live with us. We haven't seen them since. I wonder if they still have the album. I wonder what they think of these ferenj who showed up once and haven't appeared again. I think about them every day. Sometimes I hold on to them as I walk, D on my hip, A holding my hand. I miss them.