2012 Ethiopia Adoption Trip Update #1

We landed in Ethiopia today and met Solomon. More on that in a few moments. First, here’s what’s happened in the last couple days.

We left Peoria on Tuesday, July 17. Our flight was supposed to depart at 7:00 AM so we were there eaaarrrrlly. Passengers and crew boarded and were ready to leave on time; however, the pilot discovered that previous day’s maintenance crew left some paperwork unfinished and we couldn’t leave until that was completed. And the maintenance people wouldn’t arrive until 8:00 AM. So we deplaned, waited, maintenance resolved the problem and we left at 8:30.

Obligatory wing shot - Michael Gowin
Obligatory wing shot – Michael Gowin


We arrived at Dallas (DFW) with plenty of time (but less) before our next flight, grabbed a quick lunch, then boarded. We chose to fly Emirates Airlines for this trip, which would overnight us in Dubai then bring us to Addis Ababa the next day. Because the flight to Dubai is some 16 hours and you cross 8 or 9 time zones, our 12:30 PM departure from DFW got us to Dubai the next day (July 18) at 1:00 PM. Suz and I pulled an all-nighter before we left to get stuff packed and things squared away; we were traveling toast.

Suz took a snooze while we cruised - Michael Gowin
Suz took a snooze while we cruised – Michael Gowin


The airport in Dubai–like most everything else there–is new, huge, and designed to impress. In the middle of the desert, Dubai is full of five-star hotels and resorts, luxury brand shopping, pricey real estate, and devoid of any pedestrian traffic during the day because it’s so stinkin’ hot. But it’s very clean and safe. We’re not really shoppers or 5-star hotel people but it was interesting to see those things. And Emirates does a fantastic job of taking care of its passengers: they put us up in a hotel, covered our meals during our stay and painlessly got us to and from the airport. The crews were also great.

We had time in the afternoon to take a two-hour taxi tour of the city as well. We stopped at a few sites including the Burj Khalifa, (currently) the world’s tallest building.

Suz and Maura outside the Burj Khalifa - Michael Gowin
Suz and Maura outside the Burj Khalifa – Michael Gowin


Before we left Dubai this morning, we met a couple from Montana, Brian and Danna Hopkins, at the airport who were also on an adoption trip. They’re using the same agency as we are, AWAA, and came to Ethiopia last week for their court appointment. They were in Dubai for a short getaway before returning to the States. Turns out that they’re also staying at the same guest house in Addis Ababa so we were able to visit some more and enjoyed dinner together tonight at the Zebra Grill here.

You meet the nicest people while adopting.

Maura checks out our plane in Dubai - Michael Gowin
Maura checks out our plane in Dubai – Michael Gowin


So we arrived at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa early this afternoon, cleared the circus customs and baggage claim, then were met by our friend Job, one of the AWAA staff here. Job also fits into that “meeting the nicest people while adopting” category. We took a quick trip to the guest house to drop off our bags then headed over to the transition home to meet Solomon.

FedEx will get it there overnight, even in Ethiopia. - Michael Gowin
FedEx will get it there overnight, even in Ethiopia (but the trucks are a little different). – Michael Gowin


And that brings us to the part that you’ve probably been waiting for.

We’ve heard a lot about Solomon from AWAA friends who’ve met him. “Oh, he’s such a sweet boy!” is the most common response, followed by “I was so glad to hear he had a family!” and “We LOVED spending time with him at the transition home.”

That’s quite a reputation.

Though we’ve spent only an hour-ish with him so far, we look forward to seeing all those qualities that others have shared about him in the days and months ahead. But here are some impressions and reflections.

Solomon is very small, maybe the same height as Erin, but seems to have strong shoulders (probably from using his crutches–despite which he’s quite agile). He has strong, well-defined facial features and reminds me of a half-sized Laurence Fishburne.

He is quiet, gentle, soft-spoken but attentive and thoughtful. He appears eager to learn–we brought an English-Amharic phrase book and he was quick to sound out and read the English words. This will be a huge help to him when he transitions to his new home, culture, and schools. Though his quietness makes him appear shy he is not withdrawn. He converses easily through a translator.

Games, fixing things, and the color blue are among his favorite things. Since Aidan, Erin, and Maura all enjoy playing games and Liam enjoys building and fixing things, Solomon should fit in perfectly. 🙂

When he came out of the transition home and I hugged him, I could feel him trembling. I’m sure he was nervous and scared–who wouldn’t be? He probably has as many or more questions about us and what his life will look like as we do about him. But he warmed up as we sat and chatted, each taking turns asking questions. We joked and laughed a bit and took some pictures together. We won’t be able to show any pictures until after we pass court; please pray for that.

NOTE: what follows steps outside the narrative and approaches a sermonette. You’ve been warned.

The arrival of adoptive moms and dads always draws a crowd at the transition home, so we were surrounded by a gaggle of curious onlookers while we visited with Solomon. These kids, who are dearly loved by the same Father and who trade smiles so easily, need homes with parents who will love them. It takes a lot to do that and it’s hard.

But someone has to do it.

If not me and Suzanne then who? If not the Church then who? Who else is better equipped to love with self-sacrifice? Who else will say “yes” if not us?

Someone has to do it.

Adoption gives us a window into God’s heart. And I look forward to seeing that window open further as Solomon becomes part of our family. I believe I’m a better man, a better husband, a better father because of the insights I’ve gained through adoption. I would have missed so much if we’d not said “yes.”

Sermonette over.

We’ll be traveling outside Addis Ababa the next two days and likely won’t have Internet access. We’ll be back online as we’re able.

Thanks for following our story. I expect Suzanne will make a post with her insights and it will have much more emotional appeal than the observational/analytical angle of mine. But that’s who we are and how we work. So look forward to that.

Since we can’t post photos of Solomon yet and we can’t post photos of the other kids at the orphanage (privacy reasons), here are a couple boys we met playing outside today. Their enthusiasm is typical of what you’ll find among the children in Ethiopia.

Ethiopian boys playing in the neighborhood - Michael Gowin
Ethiopian boys playing in the neighborhood – Michael Gowin


It’s now 12:30 AM here. That’s all for us.

Peace and blessings.

Addition from Suzanne: BTW, don’t get too attached to “Solomon” as his name—that will be his middle name—we will have to let you know his first name later!  🙂

2 Replies to “2012 Ethiopia Adoption Trip Update #1”

  1. Hi Gowins! I loved your updates and photos and loved hearing about Solomon. What an amazing experience you are having! The 5K went really well today. It was a beautiful, cool morning here and many people from different churches in Lincoln walked and ran. We prayed for you all and for Solomon and will look forward to hearing more to come! God bless you! Love, Kim

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