It was late at night. I was staring at the ceiling. My mind racing. My husband asleep. “We should take a trip with all the kids to Ethiopia. To see Fray’s family,” I said. Husband replied: “ .” Now I could pretend that I am married to a disagreeable sort of man who can only be approached with expensive, arduous travel plans while he is sleeping because of his domineering and nasty nature, but this would be wildly untrue. Rather, HE is in fact married to an impulsive, semi-inconsiderate, slightly self-centered woman who thinks nothing of starting potentially controversial conversations at 1:00 a.m. I took, “ .” to mean, “Absolutely! Sounds great! Let’s get right on that!” and other shiny and bright exclamations of loving, spousal encouragement to travel with 4 children and spend money. I closed my eyes. It had been decided.
“Ethiopia? With the whole family?” He later asked. I was disappointed. Men never pay attention. “You agreed!,” I said. He replied, “I did? When?” “Last night…,” I responded. “Well, OK. We can look into it.” (See? No reason really to disturb his R.E.M. sleep – except for that I can’t help myself.) So, that very day, I began searching for reasonable airplane tickets for a family of six to fly to Ethiopia to visit Fray’s birth family. The fare results would have been comical if they hadn’t been so tragic. I was undeterred. I contacted a friend’s uncle who was a travel agent. Not much better – certainly not good enough to make it happen. I googled rates regularly. I did fare alerts. I looked into using miles. I became consumed. It was the first step of many to be climbed before this trip could become a reality, and I was stuck in the basement. Without windows. I was getting anxious. I was getting nervous. I was beginning to feel defeated before I had even really started. But luckiest of all, I felt pissed. I do good work when I’m pissed. I sit up late at night (when I’m not blabbering to my sleeping husband) and I brood. I come up with sleep deprived solutions to world problems. (By Googling, of course.) “Cheap ass tickets to Ethiopia!!!” I typed pressing ‘enter’ angrily. And BINGO! A consolidator popped up! And the first step to take-off had been achieved.
“Ethiopia? Cool! Can we pleeeeese go during my chorus concert? I really don’t want to go to that.” My oldest said. Priorities in all the right places. “Ethiopia? Do we need shots for that? Lots of shots?! I don’t want to go! I don’t want shots!!!” My middle said. Ever-cautious. Always dramatic. “Ethiopia? OK.” My youngest said. Used to going with the flow. Generally the most agreeable. And then, Fray. “Ethiopia? Are we going today?” Our daughter said. Our whole reason for going. Our inspiration. “No. Not today. But soon – when it gets cold. Then we’ll go to Ethiopia. Then we’ll go to see your family,” I told her. I still remember the happy flutter in my heart when I said those words.
This would not be the first time Fray visited her birth family since being adopted from Ethiopia in October of 2009. I had returned in 2011 with Fray. It had also been an impulse trip. We had always intended – as an entire family – on going back to Ethiopia, it just wasn’t going to be so soon. But two years ago I had a dream that I woke up from feeling very strongly that I needed to go back to Ethiopia with Fray as soon as possible. Life is uncertain everywhere, but in a developing country, where the average life expectancy is only 52-years-old; I feared if we didn’t go back soon, there would be a blood link forever missing in my daughter’s life. It was a thought I couldn’t bear to be realized. My husband was still too raw from knowing the details of the impossible choice Fray’s family had to make putting her up for adoption. He supported my going back, but opted out of coming with me on our first return trip. He stayed back with the three boys and promised to join us the next time. And he knew when he made that promise; I’d hold him to it….