WOW!! Those were the craziest 4 days of my life.....LITERALLY!!!
I'll rewind just a little and start with....WE CLEARED!!!!! WHOOP WHOOP!!! YAY!!! The US Embassy FINALLY approved Crew for a visa. After receiving the RFE (Request for Further Evidence) while I was in Ethiopia (on the second trip over, hoping to be bringing him home then), and after sending in our RFE response to the USCIS in Rome 3 weeks later, we got the long awaited email telling us we could get our son and bring him home!! YES!!! And to top it all off, the lady at the US Embassy that I had talked to in person while I was there in Addis (and many, many emails throughout the past few months between the two of us) said she would clear us in ONE DAY (not the normal 2 day wait). AMAZING!!!! Had to be a God thing! Soooo, just like ANYONE would do (right?), I made flight plans to leave ASAP.....and again leave ASAP!!! Let me clarify....
So, I left on Christmas Day, flew from Tulsa to DC, from DC to Addis, arrived in Addis at 8am, went straight to pick up Crew and headed right to the US Embassy for our appointment, and of course we left Ethiopia THAT VERY NIGHT at 10pm to head back home!! YEP!! We did!! We got right on that plane that very day and flew from Addis, to Rome, to DC, to Tulsa!! 4 days of travel! I was one tired momma! It was sooo cool, though, how God helped me out......I was bumped up to first class on the long flight over to Addis. YAY! That was such a God thing, because I was able to sleep for about 4 hours straight. I needed that rest!!!
Having that extra room to actually lay flat was really nice for such a long trip! Thank you, Lord, for that little extra blessing!! Not something I would spend money on, but glad HE decided to gift it to me!! :)
When I arrived in Addis, I wasn't too terribly tired!! I was just sooo excited! It was December 27th now. For some of you, this next little bit may just be too much, but I have to tell it. A few months ago, while we were praying for Crew to be cleared, a friend of mine, Candice, sent me a text and it said, "27". That was all. So I sent her a text back and asked if she sent that by mistake. My phone rang. It was her. All she said was, "Don't ask why, just hear me! While I was praying for Crew, I heard God tell me to tell you "27". That's all I know!" Okay, so you can imagine, my mind was all over the place trying to figure out what that could mean. I finally had to "let it go", as I couldn't figure it out. Then we got the email....and the Embassy date! December 27. WOW! Cool!! So, back to that day....when I saw Crew, he was in a traditional Ethiopian outfit that his nanny bought for him (for me) as a gift....a goodbye gift. Oh goodness, I just love her and appreciate her so much!! So Crew looked pretty fancy as we went to the US Embassy to get his Visa!! Precious!!
We had a few hours after our Embassy appointment before we needed to be at the airport, so Crew and I went back to the transition house to visit some of my friends' boys (that they are in the process of adopting) and take them gifts from their new families!! It was sooo great to get to hug on each of them and remind them that they, too, will be going HOME soon!!! Then Crew and I went to the guest house (that we stayed at in July for our court date). It was great, as we were able to relax and spend some time with Yonatan, our dear friend, that we just love so much!! Crew had fun playing in the small courtyard with 2 other kids that were getting to go home in a few days with their new families!! What an awesome thing to share such a neat bond with others!! Instant connection.....very special!!! We enjoyed the afternoon and getting to visit with friends!!
Then it was time to take off!!! We headed to the airport!! Crew and I, with passports and visas in hand, boarded flight ET 500 for Rome, then to DC, then to Tulsa. It was a long.....long.....long.....long....flight!!!!! Crew was soo good!! He slept a lot!!
Then we landed in TULSA!!! December 28th. Exactly ONE YEAR from when it all started...to the day!!! Ohhh my goodness, I cannot even tell you how awesome that felt. Okay, so actually, at that point, I couldn't really feel my body....but my brain was definitely happy!!! I was just kind of floating at this point!! Exhausted!!! BUT THRILLED when I saw my precious family right outside the gate when we walked into the airport. I was so thankful they were able to be right there to greet us!! It was so sweet!! Happy tears were flowing.....precious, precious moment as a family!!! We all just kind of knelt down at Crew and Kyler's level and just sort of sobbed...and laughed!!! It was just a really sweet time!!! And then we walked out towards baggage claim.......
Cassi and Makenzi were holding hands with Crew, while me, Kason, Kyler and Steve followed. I could not believe my eyes when I saw how many family and friends were there to greet us and meet Crew!! It was soo amazing!! I was overwhelmed!!! I hope I said hello and thank you to each person that was there (so, if I didn't, I apologize!). I felt so thankful and grateful at that moment!! It was priceless!!! So many memories made!! Then we loaded up in the car and drove home! When I looked back behind me in the car from the front seat, I was so happy at what I saw looking back at me!!!
My children!! All FIVE of them!! My precious, God-given children!! I couldn't have been happier!!! We were altogether!!! THANK YOU, LORD!!!
And since then, we have adjusted to a family of seven so easily, I've almost felt like I must be dreaming!! It's been wonderful!! From that first night home, I was tired, but didn't have jet lag. (That was a positive to doing such a crazy-fast trip!) Crew started sleeping through the night almost immediately (only woke up the first 2 nights for a short time), and by the third night he has been sleeping from 8 to 8, even with Ethiopia being 9 hours ahead. He has simply adjusted!! YAY!! He is saying so many new words and just loves his family!! He is always smiling and laughing...big laughs!!!! He loves bubblegum!! He loves the trampoline!! He loves food....he is such a great eater!! And he says "thank you" anytime we give him anything! So sweet!
Crew had his first US doctor appointment a few days ago. The doctor said he is in great shape and such an awesome little boy. We are having his little "knock-knees" looked at by a specialist, but it doesn't seem serious, and we are just thankful that he is here IF it does turn out to be something that needs to be corrected!!! Next week we go to the dentist!! Crew's teeth are so pretty and white and straight! I think he will get another great report! We hope to be able to find out if his age seems accurate from his teeth xrays. It will be interesting! He loves to brush his teeth, so I don't think he will mind the dentist looking in his mouth....we'll be sure to use bubblegum toothpaste!
Life is good!! We are so thankful God put this little boy in our hearts and now in our home!! What a gift he is to us!! What a precious thing it is to take a child from an orphanage...bring them into our home.....see him thrive on love.....and see us thrive from loving him!!! He has blessed us so much!! He has added something I had no idea was missing!!!! I am so forever thankful God arranged this! What a trip!!!!
So until next time......thanks for going on this journey with us!!!