"Sometimes I'd like to ask God why He allows poverty, famine, and injustice in the world when He could do something about it...but I'm afraid God might ask me the same question."

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Ethiopia Day 3 - Meeting Grace Hiwot

So where to begin day 3...the most important day of our trip - the day we met Grace Hiwot. We were beyond excited when we woke up on Monday morning. We had bags packed with supplies to bring to KVI (our daughter's orphanage). We brought along a few soccer balls too - that proved to be a really good idea...I would recommend that to those of you traveling in the future.
We enjoyed breakfast with the two other families that would also be meeting their kids. We had a hard time eating - so many butterflies in our stomachs. We talked about how hard it was to believe that we would be meeting our kids in an hour or two.

Here is a picture of our hotel. The Panorama has a very nice restaurant and we were able to enjoy a breakfast buffet each morning.

This is the kind lady who made us all our omelets every morning. Eggs have proven to be a very big hit with our little girl...So, enough about our food. We were picked up by our drivers - we needed two cars because we had three families driving to KVI. We had a "plan" all figured out so that the children would be brought out to us one at a time. We wanted to make sure that we would be able to take pictures and videos for each other, so we didnt' want all three kids to come flying out of the orphanage doors at once. So, off we went, driving a short distance to the most important building in all of Addis - the orphanage that held our daughter.

This is the first glimpse of the KVI sign. I had seen the sign in a photo, but there was so much excitement and joy when I saw it in person for the first time! Notice the woman sitting outside of the orphanage...we do not know where she came from or what she was doing. It was so common to see people all over the streets in Addis. It is heartbreaking when I see her in this picture. I can only imagine her story.

This is the alley that we drove down to get to KVI. You would never guess what was behind the large metal gate securing KVI when you drive down this dirt road. We were in the first car to arrive at the orphanage. We drove up to the gate. Our driver beeped the car horn and someone opened the gate to let us in. It is the start of the rainy season in Ethiopia, so it had been raining off and on each of the days we had been there. When we drove into KVI, it seemed as though the clouds had disappeared and the sun was shining and bright. The first thing I saw was a couple of kids...it was two of the three kids we were coming to meet. Wait! This was not how we had "planned" it. Then, I glanced into a window and inside I could see our little Hiwot! Wait!!!! I was not ready to see her yet. Of course, I started to get emotional and then "Natty", one of the directors of KVI came out to talk to us. I think he thought we were crazy when we told him not to bring the kids out yet. We weren't quite ready. I was able to regain my composure and then he brought Hiwot out to us.

Hiwot was so shy and quiet when he brought her to us. I wanted so badly to scoop her up and give her a huge hug, but I didn't want to scare her even more than she was. She was so tiny and seemed to be in such deep thought about what was going on. We let Natty hold her and explain to her who we were. It was so sweet the way he was telling her that I was her "mommy." We wanted to show her that we knew her and loved her, so we did what any new parent would do...we whipped out the iphone and showed her that we had pictures of her on our phone. She was interested in the iphone, so we were able to get close to her and then Natty told me that I should pick her up.

It was so amazing to be holding this little doll that we had been looking at in pictures for so many months. She was so precious. She let me hug her and hold her and she was so brave!

We have only known Grace Hiwot for a couple of weeks, and it is already strange to see her serious expressions in these pictures. She is so outgoing (with us) now and is so smiley and joyful. She was a trooper the day we met her. She allowed us to get close to her and she ended up being so comfortable with us right away. It was so obvious that she was chosen to be part of our family - we have been blessed with a very smooth transition so far.

Grace was wearing these adorable shoes when we met her. They are the same shoes that she had on in the referral picture that we received. I really wanted to bring the shoes home with us, but it was obvious that they would be put to good use at the orphanage, so we left them in Ethiopia.

Natty, Hiwot and Mom

We were able to spend most of the day at KVI. It was so nice to be able to see her interact with her friends and caregivers. We were able to learn about her meal times, naps, routine, etc. KVI was such a nice orphanage. We truly feel blessed that she was at KVI for the time that she was. The facility was so clean and organized. The yard was very nice and I can't say enough good things about the staff that we met.

A few of the workers in the kitchen at KVI. Imagine cooking for 5o kids in this kitchen.

We were able to tour a few different orphanages while we were in Ethiopia. I am so grateful that Hiwot was at KVI. It was, by far, the nicest of the orphanages that we visited.

We enjoyed a coffee ceremony at KVI. It was so wonderful. The coffee was delicious and the experience was beautiful. We felt so much love at KVI. The staff was so kind to us. After we had coffee, they told us that it was time for the kids to nap. We decided to let the kids stay and nap. We thought they might adjust to us better if they were well rested and comfortable. We spent a little time shopping while the kids slept. We also went to buy some fruit for the kids at KVI. They must not have fruit too often, because when we returned with tons of bananas and oranges, it was like we had given them an amazing treat. The cook was so excited to see the fruit. She cut it up immediately and all of the kids at KVI were able to have a celebration of sorts with fresh fruit. This was one of the many times that I was reminded just how much we take for granted in the U.S. It was so much fun to just interact with the kids at KVI. They were so precious. It is so hard knowing that so many of them are still waiting for families of their own.

We loved Natty so much. He was so kind and loving with the children. Doug wanted to give him a pair of his favorite sunglasses. Natty said that they would be a "memorial to Hiwot." So cute.

The kids shoes lined up neatly before they went into their rooms for their naps

Hiwot taking her nap. I couldn't believe how the nannies were able to get all of the kids in her room to sleep in a matter of minutes. Thank you nannies...Hiwot is still a great napper.

This is us with Eyob the director of KVI. We were able to spend some time talking with Eyob about the region of Ethiopia that our children came from. He is from the same region and was able to offer us a little bit of info about the area.

It was so hard to watch the nannies say goodbye to Hiwot. They all gave her kisses and wished her well. It was very so sad to know that they would not see her again.

Our wonderful drivers with Natty and Yonas.

Hiwot getting comfortable with Daddy.

The gate at KVI. It was bittersweet to drive throught the gate and leave at the end of the day. We felt so much joy and were so excited to take Hiwot with us, but we also felt sad to know that we would not be back at KVI (at least not any time soon).
We returned to the Panorama and enjoyed dinner at the hotel bar. The kids enjoyed each others company. We were all so full of adrenaline and excitement. It had been an amazing day.
Our little Grace Hiwot loved her first bath with us!
Hiwot was so content and seemed to be so comfortable with what had happened that day. It was as if she knew we were coming and was ready to be a part of our family. I can not put into words all of the emotion and love that we experienced the day we met Hiwot. All of our lives have changed and will never be the same...and for every person that tells us that Hiwot is so "blessed" to be a part of our family...I tell them that "no...the blessing is all ours."


  1. I agree...about the blessing part. :0) I am so appreciative of your story and it makes me long for "her". I keep telling myself that it really wasn't that long for you guys and you were there. She looks so happy and so do you all-- a match made in Heaven for sure.

    Did you do a video? I wonder how we get all of the pictures when it's just the two of us. :0)

  2. I loved reading your story! She is incredibly beautiful!!!!

  3. Deena, I'm so happy to see your adventures and miracle journey! Thanks for sharing. What a perfectly beautiful trip. You guys look awesome and Grace is just perfect. Hope all is well!