It was such a painful, heart wrenching time...I remember feeling so raw, undone, confused and hurt by the unexpected knowledge. I had truly fallen in love with this child I had never held, only seeing her referral photo, seeing the sadness in her eyes, the confusion on her face in the photo and wanting so badly to comfort her. She was my daughter in my soul and mind for months and when we were told her referral wasn't valid it was heart-breaking.
Knowing what I now know, I see that things in Ethiopia are often confused in translation, that is part of what we think happened, but really we don't know for sure. I believe her "supposed birth father" was protecting someone with his misinformation in the referral. Whatever his reasons, I believe his misinformation came from a place of love and protection for someone, but that someone is unclear.
And so, Tirunesh had to wait for all of that confusion to be worked out to be placed in a forever home.
I see know that Tirunesh was a part of the journey to bring Tessa home. If we hadn't had Tirunesh's referral and we would not have been available to recieve Tessa's referral 2 months later. I believe the same for Tirunesh's placement in her forever family as well. She will never know we were apart of her journey, but I know it and pray it worked out beautifully.
As we traveled to Ethiopia 6 months after the heart break I was thinking about Tirunesh and I wondered. I wondered... if she was at the same care center as Tessa? Had her relinquishment been finalized so she was able to be adopted? Had she been referred to her forever family? Will I recognize her if she is there? Would I see her?
When we were at the care center is Addis Ababa I kept my heart open and prayed that I would see Tirunesh and recognize her.
That prayer was answered.
On day 2 at the care center I was alone walking up the stairs as I looked into a room full of toddlers happily playing. I quickly scanned knowing that by then she would have changed dramatically but that Tirunesh would be about that age. I watched for a moment and had hope.... and then I spotted her.
There she was!
She looked right at me and smiled and I knew. I looked at a nanny and said in a questioning manner, "Tirunesh?" and she nodded yes. I squatted down, smiled and she came to me. She came to me and my heart filled with the same love and joy and hope that I felt when we received her referral. As I held and hugged her for a moment I wanted her to feel that love. As I looked in those eyes I saw what felt like some kind of "knowing", or at least that is how it felt. Perhaps God gave me that feeling to ease the pain of having to put her down and let go forever.
I had studied her referral photo so many times that I would have recognized those beautiful almond shaped eyes anywhere and believe I would still today. Everything else about Tirunesh had changed. She was not a frail little one any longer....she was robust, healthy and thriving. She didn't have the look or face of a sad, confused and deprived infant any longer. In those eyes I saw that she simply looked healthy, happy. and hopeful.
As I type this I wonder who is looking in those eyes now? Has she has been home with her forever family for months? With all the uphevel in Ethiopian adoptions recently I wonder....and am concerned and I want to know if she is o.k. and home with her forever family. I want to trust that she is and that she has been home for months, perhaps longer. On this day, 2 years away from the heart-break, my heart is aching with the unknown as I look in those eyes in the referral photo again. I am trying to accept the unknown and trust this whole journey. But I know today I will be looking for a sign, for comfort, for the hope...perhaps in those eyes of my sweet girl.