Well I guess summer officially just started but I think this one takes the cake for the next few months. When we told our good friend the news of our referral back in April she replied and said "My parents are going to Ethiopia in June!" (they attend our church also) I immediately asked if there would be any possibility of them visiting our sweet girl. (I mean how many people do you meet travelling to ET not for an adoption??) We both checked - us with our agency, her with her parents and it was a "go" from both ends. Now, just because they were in the same city didn't mean it would be easy for them to get to her or to arrange. I'd like to leave this part out but I must be honest--I dropped the ball. I never found out their travel dates and in the first few days of June I checked in with said friend and said "So, when do your parents leave?" They already had-June 1st. I was so mad at myself for not making work of it earlier and getting a care package together. I decided I was not beyond begging and asked for their email anyway. It was a long shot but I was going to take it! She also warned me that they had a very full itinerary and weren't really in control of their schedule. Funny thing with Ethiopia is the government can shut down their internet any time they choose. While they were there the internet did go down for a spell. So, email communication is spotty at best and I wasn't sure they would ever receive my communications. It turns out they did and replied! They weren't in the city for most of their time there from what I understood but would be flying out their last day there and would maybe have a chance to visit her then. No promises, no guarantees. That was all I was asking and it gave me a sliver of hope!
On our end, our agency wanted to set up a visit accompanied by their employee in Ethiopia and arrange it with the orphanage. We didn't know what would happen so earlier in the week before Father's Day nothing was set up. The day before they would arrive in the capitol city we received an email forwarded from their son in law where, in the email to family they mentioned trying to visit the Avery's baby! Also, they mentioned their laptop battery dying. I jumped on trying to arrange with our agency but just had no information to go on. I'd send emails to them in Ethiopia not confident at all that they'd get any. In the end, our case worker did get in touch with their Ethiopian contact and had him clear it with the orphanage and gave us the thumbs up. As you can imagine, Americans can't just show up at an orphanage asking to see a child.
Last Saturday morning my friend sent me a text saying "They saw her!!!!! 47 pics!!!!!" Happiest text I ever received!! It may top the list of best Father's day gifts for Troy too! When her parents arrived home we found out their side of the story and they will tell you it was miraculous how this all happened. They had been trying to reach the orphanage all week they were there and would never get an answer. 2 hours before they got there Saturday Carol thought there was no way this visit was going to happen. Then she said things just started falling into place. People picked up their phone, got her to the correct contact, they got a taxi, and made the 40 minute drive! Over the phone the orphanage contact said now wasn't a good time because our little girl was sleeping and they wouldn't be able to hold her or take pictures. Thank goodness they said they'd come anyway and take a picture of her sleeping. When they arrived they walked in her room and there she was (we have it on video) sitting up in her bumbo seat just as alert as ever. We may have another social butterfly here! She was not looking sleepy and was ready for visitors! So, we were able to see dozens of pictures of her, her orphanage and room, etc. These grandparents got to hold her and love on her for us. They must have emailed us from the airport and let us know a few details but most meaningful to us was that they could touch her and prayed a blessing over her. Just hearing the news they did see her really solidified it my mind that she was real! Half a world away but she was real! Up until now we've really only had 1 picture of her so it is so fun to see the pictures side by side of her at 3 months and 7 months. This is huge for me to actually have content for a baby book too. You know how monthly pictures of your bio kids are so popular (and I did it too), well what do you put in a book for a baby you didn't see their first year? Anyhow, I said before we knew if this was all possible that if we got new pictures, it would make my summer. It sure did! We are over the moon about it and cannot thank the Whites enough for their efforts on our behalf. This will help propel us through the next months of waiting. We are still pinching ourselves at the timing of their trip, the location...etc. Praise the Lord, He has been so good to us! We are eating up every detail they've shared with us about her, her environment there and the country as a whole. Sunday morning I received an Ethiopian scarf from Mrs. White which is a sweet, tangible reminder of our girl. If you can't tell we are feeling so blessed by this whole situation and are over the moon about it.
I mentioned at the end of the last post a bit about steps that need to happen before she can come home--there is still much to happen that is out of our control. Really, since we mailed the PAIR documents April 13th it has all been out of our control. We get asked all the time "When are you taking her home?" If we knew that answer, we would share it but we don't! The process with Ethiopia is not predictable and we can never know when it might be. One thing that makes us think it will for sure be into this fall is the annual rainy season court closure. That happens approximately Aug-Oct and all court proceedings are delayed until after that. We are hoping that when the courts open back up we can get our court date and by then our Federal approval will be granted. We can really only guess though and place it in God's hands.
For now we are enjoying pictures of our little growing girl who is just so precious!