I decided I would start my story telling at the beginning of our adventure to Africa. First I thought I would address the fact that we decided to take two daughters with us. Way back in 2006, we took our oldest son, Gabriel, to Liberia with us. When the next year brought two additional adoptions, we took Alei to Liberia. The next logical step would be child number three, but that is Moriah and she had no interest in going (and goes to school part-time.) We then knew that we would take Alyssa. Somewhere along the way, we thought that it would be in all of our best interest if Alei joined us as well; while she loves Africa, lets just say that she wasn't our biggest adoption cheer-leader when we started down the path to Ethiopia. Since we want all our family on board, we offered her the option of going with us. In the aftermath, we really feel that it was a plane ticket well worth the price, since it afforded her the ability to bond with Selah and Bella and to meet Brooke the year before she is able to come home.
We took 12 very full suitcases with us - over eight were items to be donated at specific places. We packed and repacked many of them up until hours before we left for the airport. JD was the final "weigher" and either our scale was off, or his technique was flawed, because eight to nine of the suitcases were over 50 pounds. One of them was 56 pounds! Since we were also carrying on backpacks of spiral notebooks that we couldn't fit into luggage, we had no buffer to shift the weight around. The man that we checked in with let them slide one by one until they were all floating down the belt bound for the aircraft. We stood and watched the person in line next to us get charged overage for the ONE suitcase that he had that weighed over. We definitely breathed a prayer of thanksgiving!
Here we are after gathering our luggage in Ethiopia; all 12 arrived and none of them were damaged! (Another blessing since most of them were borrowed from friends!)
We arrived at the guest house about 2 a.m. and went to bed. Early the next morning we got ready to head out to claim our little girls. Selah found us before we even left the entry-way. She was pretty impressed with her new big sisters.
She was also very happy to see her Mommy and Daddy.
When we went to find Bella, she was just playing around the corner. I got the camera ready and called her name. She looked up and started running as fast as she could to us!
FIVE months after our first visit and two-year old Bella remembered her Mom and Dad as well.
It was a blessing to have exactly half my daughters in Africa for the week. We had no idea at this point that we would also be able to spend a few days with Brooke.