Meseret and Kamise were quiet as we approached the airport for our 10:15 pm flight home. So many firsts ahead of them. They took in every detail around them with a seriousness on their faces. After the check-in process, we headed toward our gate, via the never-before-seen â€œmoving stairway.â€ The moment they laid eyes on it they began gigglingâ€¦and giggling. A Muslim woman dressed in beautiful scarves and robe evidently had never been on one before either, for her first step was an out of control stumble with arms flailing, body falling backward, slipping feetâ€¦finally hand to rail and back off she stepped. Dennis gently helped her back onto the moving stairway, which took some time. Meseret and Kamise approached the threshold, still giggling, one foot tapping the escalator, then swiftly back to ground. Eventually they both jumped, giggling all the way to the end, which they anticipated as best they could, leapt and landed on both feet. Iâ€™m thinking there are incredible athletic futures ahead!
After 15 months, we were seated on an Ethiopian airlines flight with our girls. It was surreal that they were finally coming home. They swallowed the Dramamine pills we offered them like theyâ€™d done it 100 times (crazy for it took months of swallow-pill practice for some of our children to master this art), and in middle of Ice Age 3, they dropped in an instant. And were out for the next 5 hours till we touched down in Rome. Dennis served as Meseretâ€™s body pillow for the 15 hours back to Dulles International airport, which was bonding for themâ€¦.and the most cramped international flight Den has endured.
We deboarded in Washington DC,Â occasionally a tear filling my eyes. Finally, we stood before the customs officer, then crossed the threshold. We were on American soil, with our Ethiopian-American girls! I cartwheeled big. The girls giggled. Meseret ran and performed a cartwheel too. It was perfect. Cartwheeling our way into America. Oh, and I must say again todayâ€¦.I LOVE AMERICA. I was tempted to break out in the national anthem several times that day.
The girls boarded the following two flights like experts, however take off and flight was another story b/c they were during the daytime so they could see out the window, and they each enjoyed a window seat. Hysterical. They giggled, their knucklesâ€¦well, they donâ€™t really turn whiteâ€¦hah, but they were tense with fear at times, They squawked and squealed and giggled and gasped as we took off and the earth grew more distant and twisted and turned.Â All around us were filled with joy seeing life through their lens.
After 30 long hours, we deboarded the plane in Orlando, greeted first by our other three, then a community of 40. The girls walked right into the arms of their new family and friends, unhesitant. I was expecting them to be apprehensive, instead stunning and beautiful freedom compelled them. Perhaps the community-driven culture of their homeland groomed them for our community. Only God knows. We were lavished by love. We were celebrated. We were wept over. And what a celebration it was! 15 months of waiting for these two from Kamashi, Ethiopia and theyâ€™re in our embraceâ€¦to stay.