The First Days

We’ve been home with Hanissa for three weeks. Hard to believe. She is finally home. We didn’t leave Ethiopia until 1am and by the time we reached Yanji, we were all exhausted. The best part of the trip was walking out the doors and seeing our 4 older girls waiting. They were tired too. It had been a long week without Mom and Dad. A friend snapped this first family picture at the airport.

When we first arrived at the orphanage, Hanissa was a little distant. There had been a mix-up somewhere in communication and the orphanage thought we were coming another day. So H had not been prepared. Some older girls we met on our previous trip saw us coming and ran ahead of us to get H ready.

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We had brought 3 different shoes in 3 different sizes. Hanissa loved the pair that was about three sizes too big. She loved her new clothes. The green and pink she is wearing in the pictures is what we dressed her in to leave the orphanage. It is still her favorite outfit. While in Ethiopia, she begged to wear it every day. The bolsa (purse) was a big hit as well.

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While in Ethiopia, H immediately connected with David. He was and remains her security in unfamiliar territory (which is most places these days). We had three major breakdowns while in Africa. Every one of them was because Mommy did something for H instead of Daddy. Thankfully, she now also enjoys time with Mommy.

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She loves bath time. She wanted to look like Daddy and so she gave herself a soapy beard. She really enjoys snuggling after she gets all dried off.

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Saying goodbye wasn’t easy. Especially when it came to her best friend. The day we left, I held M (H’s best friend) as she sobbed in my arms. Hanissa asks when we will go back and visit M.

Life has definitely changed for Hanissa. In the beginning (and yes this is still the beginning – but just to give you an idea of how far she has come in a short time), she didn’t want to read books or play with toys (that’s another story for another time) but now she constantly pulls books off the shelf to read “to herself” and she is asking others to read to her, too. She never drew pictures only wrote numbers and letters (the few she knew) for hours, but now she is helping her sisters draw “real life” pictures.

Life has changed for us, too. Nap time is back and early bed time. That means the older girls have to learn to be quiet during those times. It is a little more crowded at meal time and a little messier as well. I’ve had to learn how to explain adoption in Chinese (trust me, it is the simplified version). We’ve developed new phrases like, “I do it!” and “Daddy I love!”

The first week back home, was harder than I ever imagined. Not because of meltdowns or anything HUGE but just reality of life, exhaustion, and learning to connect as a family with a new member. A new member with opinions and tastes already formed. I can’t tell you how thankful I was for friends who picked us up at the airport, had meals lined up, encouraged us, and prayed for us. Wow, I’m blessed by the friends our Father has given me.

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She’s cute. She’s spunky. She repeats every thing she hears and every action she sees. She likes to talk, sing, and dance. She likes to do things for herself but is learning there are some things Moms and Dads were meant to do for little ones. She would love to hang out with her sisters all day long and doesn’t like it when they aren’t around. She’s a jokester, likes cuddling next to mom, likes to tell the dog what to do. She is quite a girl and I can’t believe I’ve been given the privilege to be her mom.

~ Regina

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6 Responses to The First Days

  1. Karen Peck says:

    It will be “the beginning” for a while, Regina. It has gotten easier, at least for me, but bringing home a “new kid” and bringing home a “new baby” are NOT the same thing. In many ways, they are still like babies and there are things/situations were they must be treated like babies, but yet they aren’t. I’m not an expert by any means, but I’m happy to help you or give you any insight you might need in bringing Hanissa home. My youngest, Harper, has been home for almost 2 years now, coming home when she was almost 6 years old.


    • Choosingjoynow says:

      It great having friends that are already walking the path of adoption. You are so right. Hanissa has many “baby” moments but she also has many established thoughts and opinions that are way beyond babyhood. I have so much to learn. I value your insight and prayers.


  2. Great stories and photos!
    And she makes the other girls look so much bigger and older. Must be fun having a “little girl” again.

    /waves from the U.S.


  3. Ramona Libby says:

    Thank you for sharing this with us. It is a blessing to see your little girl and to know she will be with such a fine and Godly family. Sending this with prayers for a smooth transition and that she will soon experience the love you have for her.

    Ramona Libby
    Mission Committee Member
    Northside Baptist Church Charlotte, NC


    • Choosingjoynow says:

      Thank you for the prayers. Please keep them coming. We are just beginning this journey with her and we definitely need wisdom to teach her and answer questions that are likely to come.



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