Thursday, September 30, 2010

Merrily's recent Escort Trip--Part 1

AAI continues to offer parents the opportunity to have their child(ren) escorted home from Ethiopia and, for some families, especially now that they are required to travel at least once, it makes the adoption process just a little bit easier!  For the escort, it is a wonderful opportunity to witness a new family forming.  Below is Merrily's reflection on her most recent escort trip.

Check in again next week to see photos of these two children with their new family and their parent's perceptions of receiving their children via escort. 

Two little ones traveled with me to meet their new family in America when I returned from Ethiopia at the end of September.    Meseret-6 and her little brother Endris-4, in the photo above, have been at Layla House in the kindergarten class.    I first escorted children in 1973, a group of 10 babies from Korea.  There were four other escorts, three were Korean men who didn’t know how to care for babies and Ted.  I knew this would be a piece of cake in comparison.  Since then I have made over 100 escort trips from Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, India, Bulgaria, Mexico, Guatemala, and Colombia;  it is always an adventure.

We arrived Layla around 7:30pm to pick up the kids. When I arrived the children all pointed at the two travelers, as if they wanted to be sure I took the correct children.   Check-in went smoothly, but the line for passport control took longer.  When we got to the window and the documents were being examined when Endris emphatically said “shintabet,” meaning he needed to use the toilet, right away.  There was no way I could leave the documents at that point and no toilet in sight so I told he would have to wait.  However, there was soon a puddle on the floor, poor little guy. 

Fortunately, I am a frequent flyer and can use the Cloud Nine airport lounge.  We got Endris changed and settled down with juice and snacks to wait for departure time.  The children were getting sleepy so we soon went on out to the gate. Their eyes got big and round when I pointed out the aircraft waiting for us on the runway.   We were allowed to board early and the kids were soon settled with seat belts fastened and tucked in with blankets and pillows.  They slept most of the way to Frankfurt.  

Everything on the trip  was a new adventure but they began to get the hang of screening checks and using elevators.  I don’t like to take kids this age on escalators for obvious reasons.   We did try a moving walkway or two and they loved that!   Again we were able to hang out in the airport lounge and we cleaned up and had breakfast snacks before going to the departure gate and the next leg of their journey. Our documents were carefully checked at this point, even my permission from the family to escort the kids.   Once en route, the kids fell asleep again and when they awoke they played quietly with the toys their parents had sent as well as those that I had brought.   We reviewed their photos albums and named the members of their family.  Shortly before we began the descent they both began quietly crying.  I could only imagine the sad and frightened thoughts they might be having.  I distracted them with a snack and soon we were on the ground.  

The arrival procedure in Chicago usually takes about 45 minutes and when we finished, the luggage was waiting for us and we took it and proceeded through the double doors where new Mom and Dad were waiting.  The kids went right to them.  It was a sweet moment for all.  After a brief chat I left to wait for my flight to Seattle while the parents took the kids to their final destination.    I am always amazed at the faith of these little ones, going with someone they have met only a few times to travel halfway around the world for a new and unknown life.     They have known so much loss and pain but are now welcome members of a new and loving family; it is always miraculous to witness.   Happy lives to Meseret and Endris!!