Adoption: Our older girls, part 4

Not long ago a friend reminded me I hadn’t yet finished telling the adoption story of our two girls who came home in 2007 at the ages of 11 and 9.  I’ll see if I can get it wrapped up in the next week or so.   (Here’s the beginning of the story if you need to get caught up: Part One | Part Two | Part Three.)


It’s the oddest feeling to know that in three days you’re going to the other side of the world to bring home two school-aged girls, total strangers, and yet your children.  My mind was boggled by the thought of it, while at the same time being completely distracted by all the things I had to take care of. There were things to do at home for our other children and their caregivers. Things to buy. Things to gather. Things to bag.

I packed and repacked suitcases and crossed things off lists and added things to other lists.  I filled Rubbermaids with orphanage donations from friends and dreamed up activities for the staying-home kids to do while we were gone.  I stuck casseroles into freezers.  I stocked up on goodies for our 2 and 5 year old daughters who would be traveling with us to get their new big sisters.

Somewhere in the packing I came to the reluctant discovery that no matter how carefully you do it, packing for a week for 6 people takes a ton of space.  We ended up with 6 carry-ons and 8 checked pieces.  The carry-ons consisted of a wheeled suitcase, a computer bag, the best purse I’ve ever owned, 2 small fanny packs for hubby and the 2-year-old, a tiny backpack for the 5 yr old, and an umbrella stroller.

The eight checked pieces included  four 45-lb Rubbermaids of orphanage donations (we’d be leaving those in Addis), two mega-suitcases weighing 48 pounds each, and two smaller soft-sided bags in the 35-pound range.   I knew it would be a huge job to balance all that on a luggage cart at Bole airport.  But the ckecked bags could be dropped off in Boise and not touched again by us til Addis.  I told myself it was going to work just fine.

In those last few days at home my lists so dominated my mind that hours would go by without me even really thinking of the purpose for the hubbub. And then I’d walk by the picture on the fridge, and their waiting eyes would call to me and draw me in. And I’d remember why we were taking off on this crazy adventure, why we were hurling ourselves off this cliff into the unknown.

I knew that they were worth all the work, worth all the risk. But deep in me, so deep that I didn’t even want to voice it to John, there was a terrible quaking, a fear of the coming leap. These girls had experiences and knowledge and fears and abilities and feelings all their own.  I knew not the first thing about any of it.

I’d never even heard their voices.  What would it really be like to be their mother?

In three days we would see them.

Ready or not.


  1. I remember that deep down fear that I couldnt share with anyone, including my husband. It lasted until after we returned home. I was still a wreck stateside BUT its amazing what sleeping in your own bed, eating comfort food, and lots of tears will do for ya. Once I was able to see who she really was on my turf…… this passionate love that I had forgotten could exist……. sweet.

  2. Thank you for sharing this story with us. It helps me and my husband to better understand what we would be looking at in the event that we adopt. Thank you!

  3. We just brought home our lovely Ethiopian twin girls age 9, four months ago! I love hearing about all the emotions you felt in preparation for your girls, as I also felt those same feelings. Keep the story coming! I have been so encouraged by your books and blog over the past year. Be encouraged that God is using your writing and your sories to encourage the body of Christ!


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