Friday, January 31, 2014

Fun Friday - Update 18, 19, 20 and 21

Roar. Look at those sweet baby feet.

 Love that the toys we brought the girls made it into the picture. 
Makes us feel like a part of us is there with them. 

The girls are growing fast! I can't believe its been 21 weeks since we said yes to these sweet little ones. It makes us a bit sad to be missing each milestone. To be honest, sometimes it feels unfair that they are in a foster home with 50 kids when we are here waiting in such great anticipation to welcome them into our family. We really believe that God has BIG plans for these girls and we will continue to advocate for their best interest from this side of the world. We miss them deeply. 

This last week the girls were sick. One of the girls was very sick and put on antibiotics to help her get over her infection. We are so thankful that there is a doctor that checks on them three times a week. Since we have been matched, every time the girls are sick in Africa, our kids at home are also sick. I want to be with them both and God reminds me that I don't need to be. That He has it covered. 

Shortly after coming home on the best high from our amazing trip we got a stomach virus here. Mike first, then me. And a couple of days later, each kid took turns with the crud. And when you have four young kids someone is sick for 3-4 days and passes it to someone else. The cycle continues until everyone is overlapping in sickness. And then a new something shows up. We have barely left the house in three weeks straight. And sleep. It's has been pretty much non existent. 

Sam's glowing light on his toe

And then this last week. Another round of croup for our family. Our little Sam woke up and, similar to this last fall, was gasping for each breath. The hot & cold treatment. Yeah, it didn't work. My fingers fumble as I turn on a cool mist in the nebulizer to offer him relief. Nothing changed. Seconds seem like minutes. At 1am, I throw on my glasses, a jacket and scoop up our son. Mike and I look at each other and we know that it's time to take him in. No words needed to be exchanged in our calm panic. I was familiar with the drill as we arrived at the Emergency Department two blocks from our home. I'm incredibly thankful for years of experience walking kids through hospital routines. I lean in and whisper to Sam each step of what he can expect. I remind him how important it is to remain calm. I ask him not to cry as he struggles for oxygen. I tell him that I won't leave him. I sing him his favorite songs. I place my words next to his ear and softly remind him how much I love him. He is cradled in my arms with his cute animal pj's and his brown blanket wrapped over him. His favorite little baby Ede embraced in his arms. 

The nurse quickly takes us back to our room for the night. As we sit on the bed together, she hooks him up to the standard monitoring machines. Sam's loud barking, course cough and labored breathing can be heard echoing the halls. The doctor comes in soon after and respiratory therapy is close behind. An epinephrin breathing treatment is given right away followed by an oral steroid to decrease edema and open his airway. He slowly starts to melt into my arms as his breathing relaxes. While I hold him close I silently pray over him praising God for his goodness.

As our crew leaves the room, we cuddle up on the bed together wide awake in our exhausted state. I find my phone to text Mike. I let him know we are now doing much better. Sam and I watch a short video together - Backyardigans. The nurse brings us a warm blanket and our heads hit the pillow in relief. I take a big, deep breathe and give thanks for our care. For the safety of US hospitals. For the convenience to not have to pay before we can be seen. I'm thankful that there were plenty of rooms to be taken to and that each one was clean. I'm thankful for the medicine to be given. For the prompt attention to our family. This mama heart is thankful. 

Under the blanket, Sam's toe is glowing bright through the blanket from his pulse ox. He notices and wants to go under the blanket together. "Look, a bright light is shining in the dark. Let's pray under here mama". He places his hand in mine and we pray together. I really can't express the beauty of a child initiating pray in his time. I'm struck in this moment that God is looking for us to come to him. It doesn't matter our age or gender. He isn't concerned about our religion or our race. He is unmoved by our imperfections or wrongs. He is drawn to the masterpiece that He created. The wonderful journey that He placed us on. He is captivated by our hearts. Our perfect purpose. He wants to offer us profound peace in this moment.  

He wants to be THE LIGHT in our dark places. 

Oh, how it speaks to my worn soul. God is present in every place that we find ourselves in each day. He reminds me that He meets us in our needs. In our wants. In our our heartaches and the greatest joys. He encourages us to retreat in desperation. To find safety in His wing. To rejoice in our thanksgiving. To praise Him in worship. He never fails. We just have to seek His light. Draw close. His love can not be contained. It bursts through any protective covering that we place. It shines as a beacon of hope through the dark of the world. Thank you Lord for your word. For your kind, gentle spirit. 

Heavenly Father, thank you for this journey of life. For its ups and downs. For helping us to stretch and grow. For not allowing us to stay the same. Thank you that you didn't call us to ever walk alone. No matter what we experience you are thrilled to partner with us in this life. Thank you for our girls. Thank you for loving them and keeping them safe while we are here. Please give us all supernatural protection over our health. Please bring them home in your perfect timing. In my world of time, they would have been home by now. But I trust that you know far greater than I. Thank you for showing me your faithfulness and for allowing us to rest in your presence. In our stillness, you protect our hearts. You go before us in battle while we rest. Thank you. Amen. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Travel Day 5: Melkam Gena

A traditional coffee ceremony 

Melkam Gena! Merry Christmas! We are so excited to get to celebrate this afternoon with the girls. We feel very blessed to have this day, the day of Jesus' birth, to spend in Ethiopia. Our hope would be that they never have to spend Christmas without family. We pray from this day forward the girls would celebrate Jesus with us. In our family. Together. 

Yesterdays goat butchered and seasoned for our main course during the celebration

Traditional injera (similar to a thin, sour pancake made with Teff flour), goat meat, lentils and sides (sorry - we enjoyed half of it before thinking of taking a picture). We delighted in trying new foods. The nannies worked diligently to prepare each item from scratch. Alemu explained to us that in his country everything was organic. No need to pay extra! :) 

Coffee is prepared. Delicious.

Sister and our in country lawyer

After an amazing speech from our in-country representatives regarding the blessing of adoption, we celebrated together with dessert. The cake represented two cultures, American and Ethiopia coming together to bless children. We celebrated the beautiful journey God has brought each of us. The love of our Heavenly Father. We rejoiced for He sent His only son to be born on this day through a woman. We praised Him for answering prayers. It was an incredible day honoring Him.  

American -like cake

Ethiopian cake 

Mike and Alemu are cutting the cake as a symbolic gesture to bridge the gap between our cultures. Notice the kids in the background wearing their "princess" crowns. They each got to drink a soda, have dinner, enjoy cake, sing songs, blow bubbles and celebrate this gift of life together. Our bellies hurt from laughing so much with these beautiful children. We were blown away by their sweet dispositions and kind spirits. 

Daddy and baby E enjoying the nice, warm day

Mommy and baby with full tummy's and heavy eyes

Love how Daddy's hands make a heart around her toes. E resting in his embrace.  

We brought the girls special dresses for their first Christmas. Love these little toes. 

Dear Father, Thank you for this beautiful day to be together in Ethiopia. Thank you for this time to celebrate your birth. Your love. Your heart for adoption. Thank you for letting us be a part of the foster home dinner. We were so pleased to get to tour the rooms where our girls sleep and learn more about the nannies who take care of them. Thank you for the children who are in care here too. Their lives have started with loss and brokenness but we are confident You will bring restoration into their hearts. Thank you for giving every child in the foster home a family. So many longing to meet their children. While mama's wait, in a world far away, little girls love to laugh and sing cute songs to our baby girls. The boys kiss their little hands and feet. They cover them in love. Because love runs deep here. In this moment. In this place called Ethiopia. Amen. 

Travel Day 5 - A Day In Lofto

In the mid morning, we decided to walk around in the Lofto area, before seeing the girls today. We found the sites fascinating. The buildings take years to finish and it is very hard work. We'll let the pictures speak for themselves. 

A building in the area - check out the scaffolding

High rise close by

Men were being pulled up the side of the building through a pulley system ran by 3-4 other men

Families digging in the trash

Many in route to family and friends' home for Ethiopia Christmas

Wood used for scaffolding 

Several small homes behind he fence and a market to the left

Shoe shining

Goat market

Many families buy and slaughters their own goat

The skins are then brought back to be sold to companies who make leather goods

A two story Safeway within a 20 minute walk

Three wheeled taxis 

We only saw these type of taxis in this local area

A view from the top of the hill

Travel Day 5 - Celebrating Life Together

I wanted to share with you a scene that we witnessed almost daily. A funeral is taking place just out our window. Many will gather with family and friends to carry the casket to the burial site. The caskets are decorated in ornate, silk-like fabric. The beautiful culture of Ethiopia celebrates life, though many challenges are present. 

One of my most very favorite lessons that I learned in Ethiopia is the importance of community. I asked a friend about his family while watching groups gather to pray. His response was, "Here in Ethiopia, we rely on each other. We often live close together, in a small space, sharing everything that we have. We depend on each other. We welcome friends into our home. We support family. We, as people, need one another to make it through this life. We enjoy the opportunity to journey through life together. " I smile as he shares his heart for his people. "Addis Beza - To Live Life Together"!

An American may claim that the physical death rates in Ethiopia are amongst the highest in the world. They would be right. They may say that disease, famine, neonatal and maternal death rate are amongst some of the most common causes of death. They may even have the stats to prove it. But the question that plagues me today, with 50,000 leaving the church each week, is if the spiritual death rates in the United States far exceed the rates of many here. Are we spiritually ill? Disconnected? Out of touch for the need of others? I stand in this place today wondering how I can better serve. I want to celebrate life in community. After hours of reflection, I wonder if maybe Ethiopians hold a secret to many of our own lives. 

As an American, it is easy to live behind social media, exceeding long job hours and extra events. We cram unnecessary activities into our already crazy busy weeks. We live on overdrive feeding our hungry egos for attention. We are praised as we seek more groups to join and more time to fill. We gain approval from our colleagues as we serve in another meeting for another group for another time this week. We are like frogs resting in the now boiling hot water pot. We don't realize the heat has slowly increased until it's too late. Until we have regrets. Until our relationships break. Our calendars are covered in color coded ink and silver pencil marks. We are so overwhelmed that we apologize, again, for not being able to meet for lunch until a space opens up in 8 weeks. We stay up late, get up early, and run in between. We wish there was more than 24 hours in one day. We are stretched thin. Worn out. Exhausted. We are in survival mode. We can barely breathe let alone focus our attention on anyone else.  

We are often in such a hurry that we create plastic relationships. The ones where we smile and nod. We talk about the weather and our kids' Holiday concert. We don't challenge perspectives and we believe the truth as it has been taught. We do the same thing that we have always done because it is  uncomfortable to grow. Stretching can be painful. It's tough to hold a conversation of substance. We thrive on surface friendships but have a difficult time having discussions about anything truly authentic. We live in our Christian cul-de-sacs and hold our Bible studies with our same friends but have yet to meet our neighbors. We have exceeded our small group space. We toil over bringing someone new. We inadvertently escape an opportunity to serve. We don't welcome people in because our homes are too small. Our dishes are not done. The kids made a disaster.  We haven't showered in a week. We are a hot mess. Maybe we are drawn into the illusion that life is simpler this way. But friends, we miss out. We can not connect. Our friendships fail. Our marriages crumble. We disconnect. There will never be a "right" time. So, lets pledge to live in real time. We need to live each day from the pulpit of love and intimacy. Each moment setting examples. Actions often speak louder than words.

Contrary to Africa, it is convenient to have money and shut others out because relying on others is not an essential part of our culture. We push for independence and self sufficiency. We gossip about those who do not measure up to our idea of life's perfection. We sell the image of sex. We plaster airbrushed models with artificial, plump breasts on the front of  every magazines in each store aisle. We wonder why our girls want to look hot. Why our young boys have a pornography addiction. We don't talk about the beauty of our bodies as God made them to be. We hold our lips tight. Instead we further our kids' confusion by allowing them access to violent, misogyny films and games. We now classify this as normal, funny behavior. We hold oscar parties and pick apart celebrities because we do not like the color of their dress on the red carpet. Their skin tone is too light. Their nose too big. A hair is out of place. We tear people apart instead of lifting them up. We buy trashy magazines and watch reality television that fuel our addiction to conflict. We feed our souls with empty promises and superiority then wonder why we are ill. Why sickness plaques our heart. We choose to be consumed in this life. We are highly distracted. In this mess, we miss out on opportunities to love our neighbors. We are so self focused that we miss Jesus in it all. We feel defeated in it all but what we need is a dose of reality. We need a spiritual detox.

We constantly want more. A bigger house. A nicer yard. Another vehicle. More reward for our own decisions to work more. We want to get rich fast, even if it means missing out on family time, because we strive for success and entitlement. It fills the empty space of wanting to be needed. We desire to have gelled nails, a Starbucks every morning, the nicest purse, the newest electronics and the best boat on the lake. Maybe not bad in moderation, but we are never satisfied. We continue to consume. But when a family member asks for help, because they are financially struggling, we can't find the funds. We reason and rationalize that they got themselves in the mess anyway. I'm not suggesting we enable, rather we work to empower. Sure, we give. But do we live it sacrificially? 

We have reverted to drugs and alcohol to numb our pain. We self medicate with idolatry and shopping. We get caught in a vicious cycle that is hard to escape. We know that we need to put God first, next our spouse and then our kids but in our distracted lives we lose focus. Our priorities slowly shift and soon we have landed on the deserted island of lonely. Our friends are desperate and we say that we will "pray for them". Friends, if we say we are going to pray, we really need to pray for them. And then physically help them in their time of need if able. But I'm afraid it's become a catch all, hands-off phrase in the Christian circles. We drive our fancy vehicles with fish bumper stickers, attend church on Sundays, wear our cross jewelry and call it good. But we still have a giant gaping hole the size of Texas in our hearts. We need to fill that hole with Jesus. With love. With reaching out to others. 

I'm ultimately preaching to me. Please understand that I'm not coming from a place of judgement. I'm not down on Americans. I love this country that we live in. It's a privilege to be born here. God has opened my eyes to things I haven't seen before traveling in the last two years for adoption. I'm wrestling with this internal thought today. Do I really live for Jesus or if I really live for myself? It's a hard reality to grasp isn't it? I'm not full of guilt, but of conviction. I don't want to live every day in easy mode any more. I'm tired of comfortable. Sick of convenience. And I don't have the answer to where we draw the line in this American Dream life. I don't know what the balance is any more. Don't get me wrong, our Heavenly Father wants to bless us. I believe that He wants to bless us BIG. 

But perhaps, He is more interested in our holiness than in our happiness.

Maybe God lets needs go unmet because He is waiting for us to do something. What if our entire life's training, our education, our passions are shaped in a way to make a difference. Could we consider the thought that by seeing Jesus in others, we can put our differences aside and be all that He calls us to be. God has been stirring in my soul the need for change in my own life. To live a closer life with Him and others. To truly depend on him. To trust that He will bless the path that He calls us to walk. I have a feeling that God is up to something good in my heart. I love looking forward to all that He has in store! 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for blessing our time here in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We are thoroughly enjoying the people and culture here. Thank you for letting us learn from our new friends here a different perspective on this life that you have given. I acknowledge that I can relate to many of the above mentioned, but I want to learn how to live a life for you and others. My path has often been one that veered far from you but you have been consistent to bring me back each and every time. We need to focus on the work that you have set before us and intimately live in community with others to bring you glory. To walk with family through trials. To partner with friends who face challenges. Your blessings are found in overcoming each obstacle that brings us closer to a relationship with you. I want to learn more about living in grace. Learn about being your hands and feet. Learn about what breaks your heart. I want to learn how to be in the community that I believe You want so passionately to give us all. Addis Beza. Thank you Jesus, Amen. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Travel Day 4 - Part Two - Meeting Our Girls

The gated doors that keep our girls and several other kids safe

The guard entered the passenger side of the car and gave us directions to the lawyers office. It was a blessing so that we did not once again get lost. We were hopefully determined to see the girls today. We met with the office staff and briefly discussed our desire to see the girls with the agency lawyer. He granted approval upon receiving copies of our passports and supporting documents confirming that we are in fact the adopting parents. Within 20 minutes, we were back on our way to the foster home. The doors open and my heart is pounding. We've been waiting almost 18 months to meet the children that God has given us. The moment is finally here. 

The front of the foster home

We stood quietly in the common area for the girls to be brought to us. With excitement in our heart, we would glance at each other and then our eyes would dart away in search for their arrival. After a few minutes we step inside the visiting room. As soon as we turn the corner, I hear her little voice squealing behind me. The first little one is handed to me and she smiles a big smile. I'm so humbled to be here in this moment. Oh my goodness. Our baby girl.  She is here. In my arms.  I'm honored to have this moment. To get to be her mama. I'm caught in a dream. She is unbelievably sweet. 

And then our first little one girl (we still can't show you their beautiful faces yet) arrived...

And shortly after the second twin was placed in Daddy's arms :)

Within a minute our second daughter was brought into the room. Mike stretched out his big hands and cups her safely in his arms. She leans into his chest. We come together in the room. Mike leans over and kisses me. His warm spirit and kind heart are captivating. I love that he loves me with deep affection. I can tell that he is beaming on the inside, but he just smiles, as he takes everything in stride. I think about how blessed that I am to go through life with him. Then the reality hits as both babies start to fuss. We switch girls and they both go quiet. Okay, we've got this. At first, their nonverbal cues were of avoidance. They would rub their eyes and look away with interaction. But slowly they warmed up after playing, singing and teething on toys. With the switch in arms, the little one that I was holding settled in tight.  I kissed her sweet face and patted your bottom, she closed her eyes and fell asleep. Her breathing calmed and I enjoy feeling her warmth against my chest. I'm in a cloud of bliss to be here in this moment. 

After playing she snuggled up and closed her big brown eyes

The visiting room

Sister loving on the girls

 Visiting room opposite side

Common area for play - take note of the goat under the tree

After about an hour of play and sleep off and on, we decided to go out to eat and let the girls get a good nap. We were outside of their visiting ours and the girls' routine. Birhane took us to a good restaurant at a local hotel close by. We opted for the buffet and shared a coke. We chatted about our awesome experience meeting the twins for the first time. We are learning many cultural norms quickly. We can adapt. We are just so excited to be here despite the busy, unplanned morning. If we had to go through this morning again and again, we would do it if it meant spending the same time with our girls. This mornings chaos is a shadow compared to this afternoons abundant joy. 

Upon returning to the foster home the girls were happy and smiley. They flapped their arms with big grins as we opened our arms to hold them. We stayed this afternoon for two hours which seemed to be a lot for the girls to take in. We loved playing with them and enjoyed seeing their face light up. Exhausted, after a busy day, our little girl laid back in my arms wrapped around her, stared into my eyes and slowly closed hers. Yeah, she has my heart. 

Baby girl so tired

In between cuddles, Mike played with baby E. He lifted her up in the air and her eyes would grow large. Then she would laugh on the way down. She sure loves being with her Daddy. In fact, both girls already have a preference of who they want to hold them. Their personalities seem to match ours well. It was a great blessing being able to assess them developmentally - just to know - not that we would change anything. They are only slightly delayed by a couple of months, but we think that they were born prematurely. Given the fact that are in a foster home with 40-50 kids, this is incredible! With time at home we believe that will catch up soon. One little baby may need a helmet for her head but that is easy. We believe that God will bring healing, with time, in all areas of their life. 

Daddy and baby

A little someone already is working on her daddy

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for this day amazing day to meet two beautiful little girls. Thank you for the trials that we faced this morning. If we wouldn't have gotten lost, we wouldn't have seen authentic neighborhood markets. We wouldn't have watched kids play soccer and mama's chase after their young. We wouldn't have seen men hold hands and the comfortable way they welcome a kind embrace. Girls arms linked in sync as they sing in joy after a busy school morning. If we wouldn't have faced the miscommunication with our agency, we wouldn't have experienced the the deep love and protection that the foster home gives over the children to keep them safe. They go to great lengths to guard them from harm. It will make leaving them a little easier knowing the care they are receiving. Thank you for bringing perspective and clearing our minds to see the positive ways that you are present in each day. For each experience that we get to endure while we are here. I find that some of the most beautiful interactions are on the other side of difficult situations. Please continue to bless over our journey. Bless over our kids at home. Our girls here in Ethiopia. Please hide them in the shelter of your wing and bring them peace while we are living between two worlds - one here and one there. We long for the day that we get to bring the girls home with us. Please let each day be filled with grace. With wide open eyes for your family. Thank you for loving us so deeply so we can love others, our children, in return. In your name, Amen.

Travel Day 4 - Part One

Good Morning Ethiopia!

After meeting and enjoying time with other families it was finally dark and we were able to catch some rest. Our heads heavy and our hearts full, we drifted off to sleep. We don't remember moving once in the five hour stretch. It felt good to sleep so sound. But now the time is 2am and we are wide awake. We are nine hours ahead of US time. The sound of chanting from local churches over a loud speaker can be heard from miles away. A babies cry down the hall. Dogs barking in nearby neighborhoods fill the gaps. Many sleep with worship music or white noise to drown out the sounds, but for our first nights, we wanted to take in each moment. Each sound. We opened the window. The scent of Ethiopia is caught in the light breeze and fills our room. We are fully present and appreciate it. One thing is certain. God is present in this place.

Our eyes are wide and excited. Today is the day that we meet our girls for the first time!! This mama heart if filled with anticipation and joy. Who can sleep on a day like today? I thumb through photos of our girls on my phone. I smile and take a deep breathe. I exhale with an abundant exchange of thankfulness for this day. Today is the day. I silently give praise.

Mike's sitting quietly on the bed staring out in the direction of the dark window. I can't let the opportunity escape. I race across the room to tackle him. "Do you know what day it is?!?" He falls back bouncing on the mattress grinning from ear to ear. "Today is the day that we meet the girls!" He wraps his strong arms around me, "I know", he acknowledges between laughs. I jump to my feet to dance in delight. He pulls me back and gently kisses my forehead. "Today is the perfect day to meet our girls," he says with a heartfelt whisper.

After getting ready for the day, we make our way down to the living area. Turns out we are not the only ones thrilled to be awake. Coffee is soon made and fills the large area with a deep, rich aroma. Eggs are steaming in a bowl and fresh juice is pressed. The amazing cook smiles a big smile as she sets the table and serves our breakfast. We appreciate her hard work and all that she prepared. I'm reminded how good it is to serve others. How God delights in serving.

Our driver arrives early so that we have plenty of time to get there before the scheduled two hour meeting. We have the opportunity to see the girls two times each day for two hour scheduled meetings. Birhane, a tall, thin man with grey hair introduces himself. He's driving an old blue car, much different than we anticipated. We thank him for coming and he opens the door to help us in. We made it to our surrounding location in 45 minutes. Let me just say, that angels work on overtime on the roads in Ethiopia. We counted three stop lights in that time. Some intersections were directed by police but many were just left up for "negotiation". Drivers weave in and out of traffic in an unspoken language. Animals and pedestrians line the unmarked sides. This is the orderly, chaotic rhythm of the streets. I pray. And we drive. And drive. We get lost driving in the same one mile radius looking for the address. Two hours pass. Three.

Donkeys carrying wood and supplies in the street

A women buying chicken for tomorrows Gena feast

The streets filled with families buying goods in the markets

Men selling poultry 

Another market area - tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, onions, fruit, etc

Markets on another street


Our driver (in pink) stops every 20 feet to ask for directions. His buddy meets him in the street. They grab hands and lean in to embrace. 

A pick-up game of soccer

Another alley stop for directions. Searching for the right gate. 

Goats being sold in nearby location

Hair was rolled inside the small salon and set outside in the beautiful outdoors

Goats being directed in front of the alley that finally leads us to our gate

On the fourth hour, we feel frustration fill our being. We ask our driver if it would be wise to go back to the OH guest house. We have now missed our time frame to meet the girls. I'm not sure that even if we find it at this point that we will be allowed to visit. As we drive, Birhane explains that there are no definite addresses in Ethiopia. More like an "about area". We tried using our cell phone to call someone, anyone, to help. But over and over - 89 times in 4 hours to be exact - we heard a monotone voice saying, "The network is busy. Please try again another time".  Our driver asks if he can find one more person to help us. We agreed. We prayed. We fight feeling defeated in our anticipation. Battle feeling sad that we missed our opportunity for the morning to meet our babies. But God showed up through a man and his son who jumped into the vehicle and drove us 800 yards down the alley to the foster home where our girls are located. The time is now 1pm. We are hoping that we will be able to see them anyway. 

Once we arrived Birhane parks in front of the pink, metal gate and honks his horn. No response. He then gets out and knocks on the locked enclosure. The guard opens it. "We are here to see our twin girls. We are ver sorry for being late. Is there anyway that we can still see them, " we ask. We were told that there was a miscommunication - or no communication - between the state side agency and the woman who runs the the foster home (adoptive families call Sister). "You will have to go to the lawyers office if you want permission to visit", Sister tells us in a stern, firm voice. "We've already been granted permission from our agency," we try to explain. "I understand, "she says, "but no one told me. I need to hear it from the lawyer. How long are you here? Can you come back tomorrow?" "Come back tomorrow?", I repeat in question. "We just flew half way around the world to see them today." I plea for her to understand, but she nods her head no. At this point the jet lag, sleepless days traveling, loss in direction and emotion all caught up. Tears stream down my face. I can tell that she feels bad for the situation, but it is her job to protect the children in her care. She turns to go back inside the gates. "This is not the way that I had planned to spend the morning," I softly say looking up to make eye contact with the man who holds it together. He grabs my hand, opens my door and says, "I know".