On February 14, 2011, we received this picture of a two month baby boy named Getiso; that smile brought me to tears. Three months prior to receiving this picture, we lost our first little boy, TJ, very suddenly to pneumonia right before we were getting ready to fly to Ethiopia to hold him in our arms forever. Like this special mom, I wanted to hold this little boy with my heart and my arms and was scared to death that maybe I wouldn’t be able to. Many questions floated through my heart: Would I be able to hear this little boy call Steve, Alex, and I mommy, daddy, and sissy? Would he be ok until I got there? Had we grieved enough as a family after losing TJ?
Could? Should? Would? We leapt in and said yes. We would risk our hearts again. It was worth it. God had called us into it, and we would not leave the call of our family. It was terrifying. I honestly didn’t know if I could trust God to pull us through, but we said yes anyway. In all honesty, as parents, you fight for your children. You fight through loss, pain, fear, the unknown… and so, we fought for Getiso just as we had fought for TJ.
In early June of 2011, we boarded the 24 hour flight to Ethiopia to come to this:
The gate to Hannah’s Hope in Addis Ababa. We had seen pictures of this gate for over three years. We dreamed of walking through it. On the other side would be the answered prayers for our family; it was surreal to stand there. And I knew standing there, that if they didn’t open the door, I would have done anything to climb over that gate for my boy. The fear, the sorrow, the pain was gone. I felt a magnet in my soul ready to connect with my son.
They brought us into the baby room at Hannah’s Hope, and all I could see were smiling faces of kind, brave women. The only word I could utter was, “Getiso? Getiso?” Two steps further, and I could see the back of his beautiful brown head with wisps of hair in a bouncy seat. It was him. It was my son. Tears came out of my eyes before I could catch a breath as I kneeled down to pick up my son for the first time. Steve, right behind me, had tears streaming down his face, and someone took our first family photo:
That week was what people would say was “Cloud 9.” I couldn’t imagine our lives without this boy whom we planned to name Jesse Getiso Craig. We were able to share tears over our boy TJ, visiting his grave, sharing sorrow with the special mothers and staff at Hannah’s Hope, knowing that he was loved, coming to the realization that we were not becoming a family of four, but in truth, a family of five; we would just have to wait to see our son in heaven. That ache for my first son will always live inside me. I long for the day when I see him with Jesus.
We had to go home for three and a half weeks without Jesse, waiting for the US Embassy to approve that he could come into the country as a US Citizen. Those three weeks were excruciating. I remember lying in bed in the morning, wanting more than anything to run into Jesse’s room to hold him. We were almost there. And then on June 13, 2011, we arrived in Addis Ababa exhausted and thrilled to reunite and be a forever family. In the adoption world, we call it Gotcha Day. I snapped this picture that day:
In all honesty, I had no time for pictures. I just wanted to hold my son. This daddy/son moment was one I couldn’t resist; looking into one another’s eyes saying, “Hey daddy. Hey son,” was more than I could capture in the retelling of a story.
When I tell you that our family’s story is one of the greatest stories I could every tell, is an understatement. I would experience the risk of loss and longing all over again, one hundred times over to have this family. And then I can’t think that this was not a bravery that we could have ever mustered up ourselves by pulling up our bootstraps. It was clearly Christ’s courage planted in our hearts that gave us the joy to go beyond what we thought we could handle emotionally, physically, financially, and spiritually. This is our testimony; that Christ is in our own hearts, which gave us the seeds of hope that grew into this:
And our first son, who lives forever in our hearts: Teagen James Sidrak Craig. We love you deeply and madly.