It was one year ago today that Geoff and I learned that we were legally the parents of Seth and Lizzie. It was the culmination of almost a decade in the adoption process and we were, quite simply, terribly and utterly relieved.
We were, of course, overjoyed that we had finally reached that point in our journey. But I really do think that the predominant feeling this day a year ago was relief. We had travelled to Ethiopia the month before for our February 11 court date, and had failed because of a rule that had changed that very morning; as a result of that change, MOWA (the ministry of women's affairs) did not submit to the court the letter required to complete our adoption. We were crushed that we had travelled all that way, met our children, heard of other families passing court just the day before, and then didn't get to hear the judge say those magical words that so many other parents before us had heard: "they are yours."
In the weeks following February 11, we continued to hear of changes that were happening in the Ethiopian adoption system and it seemed that every day, the news from Ethiopia was worse and worse - so grim, in fact, that the entire program was thought to be in jeopardy. We were told that MOWA was behind in their letter-writing by as many as 800 families, that they had suddenly reduced by 90% the number of support letters that they were writing on a daily basis, and that it might therefore take as long as a year before MOWA would get to to our file and submit the needed letter to the court. As a result, we failed our second court date on March 21 and, worse, were told that there would be no more court dates - an occurrence without precedence in Ethiopia's adoption system. Apparently the judge was in support of our adoption, but we simply had to wait for however long for the MOWA letter to be submitted. I began to despair, thinking that we might never become our children's parents and that they would languish in the orphanage where we'd met them.
Frankly, by that point in our adoption journey we'd really already gone through a whole lot: we'd been trying to adopt for over nine years; Imagine Adoption (our agency) had gone bankrupt in '09 amongst allegations of fraud by the CEO, and our adoption dreams had come within a breath of never happening; we had received an earlier referral of children that had failed; and now, after going through all of that and completing our first trip to Ethiopia and meeting our children, we were told that we might be waiting for up to a year...at which point who was to know if the program was even still up and running. Yet again, our dreams felt so threatened. I couldn't sleep, couldn't eat, couldn't focus, couldn't do school with Matthew...I was just full of anxiety and a foreboding sense of doom...I couldn't get my act together.
And then, and then, on that glorious morning of Thursday, March 24, our agency called to tell us that sometime during the night, the Ministry of Women's Affairs had written the needed letter of support; further, that Imagine staff in Addis had immediately taken the letter to court, and the judge had issued our adoption decree on the spot. It was the miracle we needed to end our long journey and legally become the parents of three. In one fell swoop, the balloon of anxiety burst, we were overwhelmed with relief and gratitude and thanksgiving, and we began the honeymoon period of knowing that everything was finally finally ok. We were a completed family and it was only a matter of weeks before Canada Immigration would clear us for travel.
So...a year ago today was a very good day. It was a big day. A great day. At long last, Seth and Lizzie were ours!! And the rest, as they say, is history!!