We finally pulled off the main dirt road onto a little tiny dirt "path" and we began to hear cheers of little children as they ran beside our van. They were yelling, "YALFAL! KINETIBEB!" and both of the kids perked up with curiosity while pressing their little faces against the windows to see who was calling them. They instantly began squealing with joy and calling out to the other children! It was just a wonderful moment to witness Yalfal and Kinetibeb recognize a small part of their past with such glee! Solomon pulled our van up in front of the orphanage that their grandmother had originally brought them to for care. As we got out of the van, sweet little hands were grabbing for Yalfal and Kinetibeb, but you could tell through both of their sweet smiles, they were beginning to feel insecure. (The little red gate of the orphanage in Yirgalem.)
Brad carried Kinetibeb tightly, while I carried Yalfal close to me and Brittany followed with the video camera. We were lead across some meager tree limbs that were placed across a dirt ditch leading to the gate of the orphanage. It was truly like walking across a tightrope and I was sure I was going to lose my balance and fall flat on my face in the dirt with Yalfal, but thankfully, I was helped across. There was a small little yard in front of the orphanage where I stopped briefly to make sure Yalfal's face was clean (and really to catch my breath as I was incredibly anxious about this meeting)! I am assuming Brad was just as nervous, since he had continued on to the entry of the orphanage unaware I had taken a "breather"!
I quickly caught up with him and together, we entered into the orphanage where our babies had been relinquished. It was a very sobering moment that I hadn't prepared for at all. I didn't expect the actual orphanage to hold such emotion for me. I didn't immediately see their grandmother since the room was so dimly lit and there were so many people standing around staring at us as we walked in (to which I still have no idea who all the people were)!
(Our driver, Solomon, with Yalfal. They both LOVED Solomon! He was wonderful with them!)(The orphanage director in Yirgalem, Yalfal, and Solomon.)
Then, I saw this tiny little elderly lady covered in a dingy white wrap who was reaching out for Kinetibeb, so I immediately put Yalfal down to go to her grandmother. They were both a little reluctant to go to her as we had be prepared for, so I bent down and gently led Yalfal to their grandmother and Kinetibeb shyly followed. Their grandmother reached for them both and smothered them with love, hugs and kisses. She finally took a seat and situated the kids beside her with her arms tightly wrapped around them. You could see the bittersweet emotions she was experiencing as were we all. I really did not have any expectations of what she would physically look like, but was taken by her beauty and her gentle countenance. You could truly feel the deep love she has for Yalfal and Kinetibeb.(This is the only picture I have decided to share since you cannot see their grandmother's face.)
Of course, the aroma of coffee was filling up the room as they were preparing a coffee ceremony for us at the back of the room. There was a translator available who was able to moderate our questions and comments between one another and we have the entire visit on video for Yalfal and Kinetibeb to watch at a later time. We were thankful we were able to give their grandmother a Bible in her native language, Amharic, as well as a photo album with all of the pictures we had received of Yalfal and Kinetibeb and pictures of our home, family members, the kids' rooms in our home, etc. We were able to see the beds where they both slept before they were taken to Gladney's Foster Care Center in Addis Ababa.(Yalfal's bed at the orphanage)(Kinetibeb's bed at the orphanage)
Of course, there are so many more amazing details of our meeting but we have decided to keep those private for Yalfal and Kinetibeb. We think it is important for them to be the first people to hear these sweet personal stories of us meeting their birth family and their history when they begin asking questions in the near future.
It was truly a blessed time filled with precious details of their life before reliquishment, lots of love and affection and exchanging sweet blessings and prayers for one another. Even though we experienced many bittersweet moments, we know this opportunity was such a gift to us and our precious children!