Friday, November 13, 2009

First Meeting

This time last year we were preparing for our trip to Ethiopia to pick up our daughter. I am finding myself remembering how I felt during those anxious and uncertain months. They were filled with expectant joy but also with so many questions and fears. We first thought we might take our sons with us. We were served with a healthy dose of reality when we found out all the shots we needed to get to protect us from communicable diseases. It was a vivid reminder that much of the world has many more challenges and many fewer opportunties than we have here. We decided that taking the boys at this stage with all the other stresses was probably not the right decision for our family. A family friend, who we found out was also adopted, volunteered to take our boys for the time we were away which was an amazing gift to us. They told us it gave them a way to be a part of what we were doing.

The long flight to Ethiopia by way of Amsterdam gave my husband and I lots of time to think and talk about this journey we had embarked on both literally and the longer path ahead. It is hard to wrap your mind around that your child was born and lives half a world away with a reality so different from our own. Meeting Leyla for the first time was a life altering experience in some ways very similar to the experience with the births of our two sons and in some ways very different. The memory that is most vivid for me was watching my husband’s eyes fill with happy tears when he saw our little girl for the first time. These are some of the photos from our first meeting.

As part of that first meeting, we were treated to a traditional coffee ceremony. It was a wonderful way to meet our daughter and be introduced to a part of her culture. The women wore beautifully embroidered dresses and the floors was decorated with reeds. The smell of fresh coffee roasting filled the air and there was a true sense of celebration.

Legend has it that more than 1,000 years ago, a goatherd in Ethiopia’s south-western highlands plucked a few red berries from some young green trees growing there in the forest and tasted them. He liked the flavour – and the feel-good effect that followed and the rest, as they say, is history. The Ethiopian province where they first blossomed – Kaffa – gave its name to coffee. Ethiopia is the original home of the coffee plant which still grows wild in the forest of the highlands. While nobody is sure exactly how coffee was originally discovered as a beverage, it is believed that its cultivation and use began as early as the 9th century.

The Blue Nile Children’s organization arranges traditional coffee ceremonies as part of their fund raising efforts on behalf of Ethiopian children. It is something I would like to do to share this amazing experience with my friends and family while helping this great organization. Their link is on the side of my blog. If you don't have an opportunity to sponsor a coffee ceremony, consider buying Ethiopian coffee - I have highlighted a few of my favorites. Their economy is very dependent on their coffee exports and it is a small way you can contribute.


  1. Those memories of meeting your child for the first time are amazing, aren't they! I love the pictures of your first meeting with her!

  2. Connie,

    Yes, they are - words are inadequate to describe. Pictures help :)