Saturday, September 26, 2009

Since We Have Been Home

Signing Off…
But before we do allow us to catch you up to speed from when we last wrote…while we were in Africa…

“This is America?!”
Our travels home went amazingly smooth. God heard our prayers…thank you for interceding on our behalf. It took us 36+ hours to travel home, and for those of you who wanted to know, we did decide to spend the night in Dubai. Well, we spent 3 hours in a hotel. I must say, most of our traveling hours we were awake and we all did AMAZINGLY well. Emirates is an incredible airline to fly (if you ever get a chance – do it!). Every seat has a TV monitor in front of it with hundreds of movies, TV shows, music, informational channels and more. You would have thought Tekle would have been immersed into Disney movies for hours, yet he would spend 10 minutes, at most, with any movie. What caught his undivided attention was pushing the buttons on the screen and phone in front of his seat – 16+ hours of non-stop entertainment! The other thing he did was sing, sing and sing some more, all in his native language, and it was BEAUTIFUL. I promise…we are not exaggerating…this little guy was content in this world of touch screens and music. Until we arrived in Austin!

We were soooooooooo excited to see our children, and other precious family and friends who were waiting at the airport to greet us. But, Tekle fell asleep in the plane ride from Houston to Austin (think 31 minutes) and we had to awake him after getting hardly any sleep. It was AWFUL and sad. Let’s just say he cried for 1-½ hours. The entire gang who came to greet us barely got a glimpse of our son because he was a mess. I took him to the side in hopes of comforting him…but there was no solace to be found. Praise God for the soccer ball my brother had waiting for Tekle at home…and the perseverance of Bo, Amy and Luke…for he entered into our home and began to play. All was well…for his first hours in our home!

Oh, one more tidbit of information…when we arrived in Houston and made it through immigration, Tekle looked us at us and said, “This is America?” We howled in laughter and said, “Yes son, this is America!”

What’s in a name????
Many have asked about why we decided to keep Tekle’s Ethiopian name…Of course there is a story behind it...

There is always the big debate whether an adoptive family is to rename their child once in America. We had discussed many times as a family what to do. Early on we all decided we would keep his African name as his middle name and call him Corban. (Thus, the title of this blog bringingcorbanhome.) For months we have called our son Corban and it fit. However, the week before we left, a dear friend challenged us to reconsider. This gave us great dialogue with our kiddos once again and we all determined to see how God would lead once we met Tekle. Brent and I even talked about it on the way over to let him choose…but as we spoke with the staff at the TH (Transition House) we realized, even saw for ourselves, the limited language they shared. Thus, communicating the question would be near to impossible for him to understand what we were asking. In the end it didn’t even matter. From the first moments spent together and throughout the week it was clear his name was to be Tekle.

One thing we learned, and was cemented in our time in Ethiopia, is that a name has great meaning. We polled and polled the African audience and 100% agreed their names meant something very special. However, upon asking them their opinion on what we should do, unanimously every person would say “do what you think is best! Such a pleasing people!

The meaning of the name is parents gave him (Tekle…pronounced Tek-lay) literally means “my plant.” We were told the connotation is more like one who plants a special plant in their garden just for their family to care for and cherish. While we loved the meaning…bottom line we felt deep within God simply wanted us to keep his name.

As for his middle name, his birth certificate says Tekle Brent Phillips. This is status quo for all adoptions to take the father’s first name as his middle and when you get to the states you change it on all future paperwork. At this point, we have landed on calling him Tekle Corban Phillips.

P.S. He calls himself Tek-a-lay…so we have also decided to call him this too. We think it is like calling Luke…Lukey. So, if you hear us pronounce his name different this is why.

Since We’ve Been Home
Tekle seems to be adjusting well. He loves to eat…play…eat…play… and then play some more. Some of his favorite things are: anything that makes noise, Nerf guns, marbles, an Elmo Helium balloon, watching Sesame Street, reading and light switches. (Only 7% of his area had electricity, so he is intrigued by most electronics). Some of his favorite outings have been swimming at the pool, enjoying Sno Beach and the fountains, going to the park and experiencing the slide and swings. He enjoys going places in the car and loves to push the key fob to open and close the doors. This week we have decided to celebrate his 4th birthday (making it officially September 26, 2005) and my parents bought him a little bike with training wheels. Let’s just say “cycle” is what he likes doing most!

Every day we have tried to experience something new… which is silly because EVERYTHING is new to our son. It is crazy to think just 6 months ago, Tekle was living in a village in southern Ethiopia. The pictures we have seen are filled with grass huts, naked people and rustic living. Water is scarce and so is food. Then, he goes to Addis Ababa, and makes his way to AWAA’s Transition House where he experiences clothes, shoes, electricity, a bit more food and school. Now, he is in America…and water is coming out of our refrigerator, he has two pairs of shoes, a weeks worth of clothes, lots of toys, his own bed, new food, a variety of choices, and the list goes on. Often we wonder what is going on in his head. Life is sooooooooooooooooo radically different. While there have been obvious changes in environment (smells, taste, experiences, etc) Tekle has also endured great loss. Both of his parents have died, his uncle dropped him off at the orphanage, he is now separated from his 2 older brothers and older sister, and is far away from everything he has ever known. This loss is coming out in many bouts of crying. Often bedtime brings about anger and /or sorrow. This boy has a set of lungs…and cries in a tribal, song-like, tonal moan. It comes from deep within, and it breaks our heart. At first it was disturbing and now we are more comfortable with it. We’ve been told this is normal as he grieves all he has lost. Most of us will never go through what he has endured during his almost 4 short years of existence. Please pray for this process when you think of him…

Is He Speaking English?
Many of you have asked about his learning the English language. We do believe he understands us more and more each day, however we do have a LONG way to go. Tekle says “Thank you”, followed by the phrase in his language (Benchi), and it is super cute. He says all of our names – sometimes…and once he told Bo to “come here baby” because I often will say this to him. Today, he said “ouch and in” over and over as I was trying to teach him how to pump his legs while swinging. He couldn’t get the word “out”. Luke and I thought it was quite funny.

Thank You…
We want to thank you for following our journey these last few weeks. It has meant so much to our entire family to have you along. Frankly, I could write novels of our days in Ethiopia as well as our time back home – mainly because I do not want to forget all God is doing. There is no doubt in our mind that this little boy is a gift directly from the hands of God. Tekle is beautiful both inside and out. We know the journey has only just begun…and we are excited, scared, in awe and in constant prayer that we will love this child as Jesus would. Adoption was His idea in the first place and this entire experience has given us a glimpse into how we are adopted into God’s family. I believe this gift is one of the greatest any one could ever experience and we praise God for how He has provided. Thank you from the depths of our hearts for your love, support and prayers…

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