As soon as I wake up, I know this is going to be one of the most emotional days ever. Saying goodbye to the staff will be hard, but at least we know we can visit here again in the future if we want, and we can mail things through Wide Horizons if we want.
I grab one of the guards and race to a photo shop to buy frames. All the staff want photos of our girls. Luckily I brought about 100 copies, so I have plenty of photos, plastic envelopes in which to place them, and frames for the guest house and big kids house.
Today I want to video the kids saying their pre-meal prayer, so Pete and I race to the big kids house for lunch. It is so sad seeing these kids for almost the last time, and knowing that I will be leaving them soon. Pete and I have to leave because our eyes are starting to tear up.
The farewell ceremony begins at 4PM in the big kids house. All the staff are dressed in traditional Ethiopian garments. There is festive food like cakes, cookies, and popcorn. Balloons for the kids. The nannies preside over a traditional coffee ceremony.
Then Dr. Tsegaye says a few words revolving around the theme that "children are a gift from God, regardless of whether they come to you through birth or through adoption". Then he thanks the families for their generosity. Then he officially transfers stewardship of the adopted children, one family at time, by kissing the children goodbye and handing the parents their official adoption and travel documents. THis is when it starts to hit home hard.
Next the children sing and dance a variety of songs in English and Amharic. The last song is the hardest. The children staying behind call out their adopted colleagues one at a time to dance in the center of the circle. They sing a verse in Amharic, then "Sister Meron, see you again. Sister Emneti, see you again." There is not a dry eye in the room, while these verses are sung.
And then its an official goodbye. Colleen and I wrote our phone and email on the back of several copies of our girls photos, and handed them to children who were the closest to our girls. Through a translator, we asked them to hold tightly to these photos, and give the photos to their new parents in America, who will then know how to contact us. We truly hope this happens.
Then its back to the Guest House for a quick dinner, and then to the airport for our flight home.