It was amazing to fly into Ethiopia again. I loved seeing the muted desert colors and feeling the warm sunshine on my face. I love being surrounded by Amharic. Getting a visa took foreverrrrrrrr as they have more than doubled the old cost, and have changed the system yet again. It was mass chaos. I was ready for it though (this is my sixth time here, after all :)) and as soon as I got my visa, I went to the bank and exchanged my money. Then I grabbed my bags (easily spotted by their embarrassing zebra duct-tape handles) and made my way out into the beautiful sunshine. I saw my driver almost immediately and after a big hug, we headed for the guesthouse.
Because it was so early, I had about an hour to unpack and get organized before we headed out to see Micah. I was super nervous, because I was supposed to have an interpreter and advocate to go with me, but they hadn't shown up at the airport or the guesthouse. When I had called, I realized there had been some serious miscommunications and I decided to just go alone.
When we pulled up outside the orphanage, I knew Micah wouldn't be there (I had them enroll him in school in the fall). But I still couldn't breathe, and my heart was racing. The place seemed empty, and I went straight up to the main office. The person at the desk, who has been there on all my trips, was definitely shocked to see me. They were concerned that I had not announced my trip to anyone. However, they were very kind, and greeted me warmly. I can't go into much detail about what happened, but I started fighting for Micah's papers immediately. I managed to pinpoint where the paperwork is, and what the next few steps are. They are partially in progress as I write this.
We went back to the guesthouse when we had done all we could at that point and I reconnected with my advisory contact. Then, I did something Abe will be very proud of me for. I rested. I climbed the roof and laid down in the sun. And it was awesome. I am always SO busy and I never have time for anything extra, and I never rest. It's a huge complaint of Abe's. He worries about me, especially with me being so sick all the time. Anyway, babe, you will love this. I spent two hours on the roof yesterday (I changed about four shades of color). I just sat and soaked it all in. I love listening to the sounds of the city and being in the gentle breeze, with the blazing sun on my face. It's therapy, people.
At 4:30pm we went back to see Micah. He wasn't back quite yet, so I sat on the edge of my chair, unable to concentrate on anything except the door. I heard some movement; an unsure shuffle, and then a pause. I knew what he must be thinking. "Why am I being brought to the office? What did I do wrong?" A nanny gave him a little push and he stepped into view. I stopped breathing. There he was. My reason for living, for fighting, for breaking rules. My baby.
He looked at me, and our eyes locked. I smiled but I was fighting back tears. I saw a million questions flash across his delicate face: "Where have you BEEN? Why haven't you come for me? Why should I trust you? Why should I be happy you're here?" My heart broke for him. And then he took a step towards me and held out his hand. He's NEVER made the first move before. I almost sobbed. It was his way of saying, "I don't know what's been happening, but I'm trusting you once more." I pulled him into my arms and to my surprise, he HUGGED me back. And he didn't let go for several seconds.
We sat together and I pulled out a picture album I had made for him and he went through every picture, smiling and staring, trying to memorize the images. When he got to the picture of him and I, he just grinned at it.
I pulled out my phone then, and we spent our the rest of our time watching videos. I wanted him to have something to think about, to dream of, to picture himself in. Another reality, one where he can communicate. One where he is loved and wanted. He kept leaning in closer and closer to the phone, as if being nearer would bring him into our life. His little face was only inches from the screen and his eyes were lit up as he watched each video with his full attention.
He laughed a couple times, which was amazing. I've only ever heard him laugh once before. Today, he giggled when he saw Levi with Natalie's Ana (Frozen) wig, and once in another video. He didn't know what to make of the sledding videos but he was smiling.
They told me I had to leave after about 40 minutes with him. I signed to him what I always tell him when I leave. I told him I would come back the next day. He looked at me and I saw fear in his eyes. But I also saw comprehension. I followed him to his room and gave him a HUGE hug. I told him I loved him. He signed it back. And I saw his sweatshirt that Levi gave him last time. He smiled at it, and then at me.
He knows. He KNOWS.
On the way back to the guesthouse I got a call that an important person on the case wanted to see me. I can't say much more, but they came and met with me and we spent about an hour discussing Micah's situation and how things will progress from here. Someday, I will be able to write about everything in detail, but for now, that's all I can say.