The drive through the streets of Addis was enlightening but not surprising. The streets were crowded with the movement of brown faces, cell phones, old women in layered clothes with shawl covered heads and teenage boys wearing hooded sweatshirts and urban culture. The poverty was glaring with tin-roofed shanty towns housing people who possessed the will to survive. Except for the rusted tin roofs and goat herders in the middle of the street, it could have been any urban city.
The adoption agency and its guest house were smack in the middle of the Hood. The van turned down a very narrow dirt alley with shanty towns on each side and stopped at a gray tin gate that was encased with barbwire. The driver got out of the car, rang a buzzer and a security guard appeared along with the tiniest female toddler with the brightest wide eyes, long eyelashes and the color of caramel candy. Alert and beautiful, she was immediately swooped up into my arms as I said hello. The other toddlers ran forward and the gate was immediately closed. I could clearly understand the need for a security guard. The driver introduced us to the staff and showed us our room. Lunch was to be served at 1:00 p.m. so we had time to see our kids who were housed in a compound less than 300 feet away.
It was the moment of truth and we didn’t know what to expect. Armed with a digital camera, a camcorder, two toy cars purchased at a budget store along with two hearts filled with love, we approached another steel, barbed wired door, not knowing what to expect. The door swung open to a yard filled with screaming children in active play. Two young boys dressed in black tee shirts stopped for a moment and I immediately recognized Mamush. Both my husband and I called out his name simultaneously and he rushed to us, then gave each of us the tightest hug and sweetest kiss. Kayamo followed but was a bit shy. I pulled out the toy cars still encased n plastic and frantically attempted to open them quickly. Kayamo received his first and proceeded to handle it like a trophy with other children in hot pursuit. To my chagrin, Mamush’s car was screwed (of all things) into a case and it was a struggle to remove it. The nanny finally succeeded and Mamush was also displaying his gift from his new parents. Wanzo lifted both boys in his arms and the magic begun. We spoke to their nurse who gave me an update about their medical conditions. We saw their very humble beds and dorm room that was no bigger than a narrow hallway. There were four beds lined one behind the other in a room lit with a naked 40 watt light bulb. I couldn’t wait to get them home. My husband showed them a short video and their nurse translated. There were ooohs and aahs as they smiled with delight. Mamush mentioned Daddy’s car and the boys beamed with pride.
We walked back towards the courtyard, and then Mamush grabbed my husband’s hand pointing toward a building beckoning him to come. Kayamo followed closely behind as I remained, observing the new bonding. Kayamo then stopped, turned and looked at me as I waved to him. He walked towards me, held out his hand and beckoned me to follow as well. As it turned out, it was lunch time and the children were settling down to eat. Kayamo motioned for me to take a picture of him and his 2 buddies. Then Mamush stood before the children and said a passionate Amharic prayer that the children recited enthusiastically. We asked the nurse to tell Mamush and Kayamo that we were leaving to allow them to enjoy their lunch but we would return tomorrow. Both boys gave us the sweetest hugs and kisses. Kayamo held me so tight that I hated to let go. Any previous doubt or fear about the decision to adopt was eradicated completely. We were the proud parents of two precious gifts sent from Heaven above. These were our precious children with whom we are well pleased.