Fortunately, I had been in contact with Erin, one of the workers at AAI. She sent me a few pictures of some of the waiting children, and I became intrigued by Mareshet.
Unfortunately, I was still waiting to have my Homestudy approved by AAI so that I could see Mareshet's file.
Fortunately, it was approved a couple of days later!
Unfortunately, it did not approve me for a child over the age of four.
Fortunately, my birth date was wrong (I instantly aged six years). My homestudy worker was a gem and corrected not only the age (whew) but the age of approval to six.
Unfortunately, Erin pointed out that Mareshet will be seven (per record) in the year that my case will go to court.
Fortunately, they caught it at AAI and changed it to seven!
I then received Mareshet's file, and it didn't take me long to figure out that she belongs with a family like us. The rest will be history! I have since heard that my Dossier was sent to Washington DC, then to Ethiopia to be translated. I also received a notice from Immigration with my scheduled fingerprinting (or biometrics) appointment. It's very Meet the Robinsons.
Mareshet is on record as having been born in 2002, but few in Ethiopia remember when she was born, exactly. Her mother and father died. When I opened her file and saw their names, baldly printed there in black and white, I started to cry. Their cause of death is not listed, which suggests HIV infection. Mareshet lived with her mother's sister for a time. But since they lived in utter poverty, the auntie ultimately relinquished Mareshet to the orphanage. It is heartbreaking that this sweetie lost her parents at such an early age. What does she remember of them? She has been in care for a year. Is she starting to forget her auntie?
My daughter is the same age as Mareshet must have been when she lost her mother. I can't even think about the terror she would feel, to lose us. My stomach literally turns in panic--how could I leave her so vulnerable, so needy? In my case, I am reassured to know many who would step in and care for her. But for Mareshet, it was a different world. Then to be relinquished by the one person who had stepped in for her parents... loss upon loss. I wish I could tell her parents, "Don't worry, I am here! I was here all along! I will take your baby home and get her to school and love on her like you did. Your precious only daughter is going to be part of a family and have shoes and birthday parties and books and live to be eighty if I have anything to do with it!"
I hope to be able to meet the auntie when I'm in Ethiopia, to introduce myself and get her blessing. Maybe she has photos of Mareshet's parents, stories or memories. I will try to keep any links to her past and mementos of the family she grieves for.
Mareshet is said to be active, friendly, eager to help with the younger children at the orphanage, playful, and pretty healthy as far as things go. She has a big toothy smile and soft brown eyes. She has no hair to speak of since it is kept so short in the name of bug control. I just wish I could go get her right now. Najma is very, very excited to have a big sister. She has brought her picture in to school for Circle Time. She has decorated pictures to hang in her room. Since Mareshet is such a peanut, and Najma is pretty tall for her age, they may be physically close in size. We have the opportunity to send Mareshet a Welcome Bag with a t-shirt, photos, and small toys. In this way, she will learn that she has a family waiting for her. I love this idea, but I also wish that she knew now. It may take a month for our Welcome Bag to reach her. I wish she knew we were here planning for her right this minute! I'd post her picture but it's against the regulations until she is officially adopted. Thank you to everyone who has been so congratulatory and aware that this is just as momentous as having a baby born into our lives.