Day 8- Unforgetable Dire Dawa!

August 27, 2009
Out of our entire time in Ethiopia, this is the day that the right words and emotions simply do not exist. This was the day we took an in-country flight to Dire Dawa, our son's hometown. We went with another traveling family that we have been in contact with over the entire adoption process and got the incredible blessing of being in Ethiopia together. Their daughter was also from Dire Dawa. AAI set up the entire day for us. They sent a social worker named Henok to Dire Dawa the day before to set up the necessary arrangements for learning about our children's stories. The social worker then met us at the airport and brought us on the journey of a lifetime.

What lifelong friends we have gained from this trip. It was one of the deepest experiences we have ever shared with another family: watching, witnessing, supporting, crying tears of joy and grief, photographing and videoing the stories of our children's lives will be a memory that we will have forever.

I never knew that in one day we could experience such sorrow and such joy. Again, words cannot even begin to describe the crazy emotions that were part of us today. This was by far, one of the most incredible, life-changing days Jon and I have had together. If any of you are even considering a trip to your child's hometown, do whatever you can to get there, no matter what the cost, no matter what the story. You will never regret it. Part of me thought I wouldn't be strong enough for this day, but boy was I wrong. We were given an incredible gift for us and our son on this trip.

Here is the view of Dire Dawa from the plane. Dried up river beds brought on complete silence as we looked out across the reminder of the devastation of drought and famine on Ethiopia.
The whole gang at the airport in Dire Dawa.

Jon and Mekonen outside the Dire Dawa International Airport We saw some great sights! Dire Dawa is much like what I picture Bible times to have been like. When we were driving out of the airport onto the dusty streets of Dire Dawa, we had to stop for a huge herd of camels that were crossing the road! It was hilairous! Check out this short video clip of some of what we saw.

Here's our taxi following behind Donovan and Julie's taxi.

This little boy followed our taxi's around all day!

We received a wonderful gift while in Ethiopia. The absolute very first picture ever of Mekonen at 1 month old. Simply priceless.

Here is my bad photography skills at the market. It's kind of hard to see but there are lots of little shops tucked back in there.

The shops sold lots of bright colored fabric which I loved. Too bad Mekonen doesn't wear dresses! (Well, actually, that's a good thing.haha). Sosina got two dresses that little girls wear in Dire Dawa. They didn't really have anything specific to boys though.

The Acacia tree in Ethiopia. They were everywhere! I loved seeing these trees. They are part of what I pictured of Ethiopia the whole time we were waiting for Mekonen.
After a very busy day full of over abundant joy, and deep heartache and sorrow, we piled back into the taxis, and said a tearful goodbye to the place that brought us the wonderful gift of our son. We pray God gives us the opportunity to return to this amazing place so Mekonen can see for himself why Ethiopia is so easy to fall in love with.

On a side note (from Dad): We are not sharing details of our son's story and ask that you not inquire about the specifics of our trip to Dire Dawa, but just enjoy some of the photos and tidbits we shared. We have videos, pictures, and stories, that are for his keeping only unless he decides to share them. The repeated overly inquisitive people make a really awkward situation for us when we keep having to explain that it is not our story to tell, but or son's. We are proud of his heritage, his birth family, and his hometown, and can't wait to share with him the intimate details of how he joined our family. Those details and stories are his and his alone and he can share them with whoever he wants, whenever he wants, if he so chooses. And please, even worse, do not ask our son about it when he is older. If he wants to share it, he will. We have done a lot of reading and research about adoption and how adopted children all deal with their stories differently. We want to make that the best situation possible, and giving him privacy and control over his story is the first step. We are not trying to offend anyone, so please don't take it personally. Thank you so much in advance for your understanding.

***Photos taken by Donovan Witmer


Amanda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amanda said...

that is so neat. Seems like such a wonderful experience. The picture taken by Donovan is simply amazing...such a cool picture. (the one of you three where your head is on Jon's shoulder) And so great to have this documented for Mekonen.

jodes said...

I'm so excited you were able to visit your son's hometown - that's awesome!! i love even more that you won't be sharing details/stories about the trip. That makes it extra special for your little man when he's older. Way to go!

Donovan and Julie said...



Michelle said...

What an amazing experience you must have had. We are just in the waiting phase of a referal for AAI. Your post has encouraged us to make sure we visit our child's hometown if possible.

Michelle said...

My husband and are are at the point we are waiting for a referral with AAI. Our best guess is tht it won't be until spring or summer, but it's all in God's timing. Thank you for blogging your experience in your child's hometown. It has helped us to make that a priority on our trip to Ethiopia.

Scott said...

Rachel and Jon - welcome home!

Your son is absolutely precious.

We are adopting an older child from AAI and would love to get in touch when you have a moment.

Your stories really touched my heart and I praise God for the peace He gave you as you walked the streets of Ethiopia seeing His children the way He does - full of love!

Looking forward to hearing more!

Blessings - Jill

Iris said...

Your journal is pretty awesome, it is very touching, so touching I was crying or joy.

You give me hope for my adoption for my 2 girls (in the process of gathering my dossier...yea!!)

Shelly said...

We are adopting a little guy from Ethiopia with AAI (currently still paper chasing)! I started reading your blog a few weeks ago and have loved reading about your journey to Ethiopia and the time now how with your sweet baby! I think it is AMAZING that you got to go to your son's place of birth! WOW! What a gift! I never imagined something like that would even be possible. Reading this entry makes me like AAI even more! God is so faithful!