Independence Day always reminds me of my mother whose birthday fell two days prior to the holiday. My mom made her transition almost ten years ago but in her honor, I’d like to share a page or two from my journal that describes my own experience of becoming a mother.

I’m presently flying on Ethiopian Air across the Atlantic Ocean. The plane dropped 10 to 20 feet because of turbulence and my husband became embarrassed because I started calling on Jesus; loud and in living color. He tried to force me to listen to some Ethiopian music via red, antiquated looking head phones but I emphatically say no, I prefer to have a conversation with God instead. I’ve never been one who suffered in silence and when it appears like we’re headed straight for the ocean, of course I’m going to pray. I’m not a religious zealot but calling out God’s name in the time of trouble is like using a password to enter a safe haven in the midst of a chaotic world.

The pilot lowers the altitude and the plane is peaceful again. Back to the boys. I often wonder how did I arrive at this junction called international adoption? Twenty years from now when my sons are in their late twenties, I’ll be a three-quarter of a century. How will they respond to me when we finally meet? We appear to be getting closer to Ireland and Paris.

August 24, 2008. Seven whole days after my birthday and my life has changed dramatically. We stopped in Rome for fuel and a change of airline crew. The new crew was tougher, a little more no-nonsense but still professional and polite. I looked out the window and saw the demarcation between night and day; the dark, black sky giving way to a pale blue sky with orange hues. It was beautiful. I look at the flight monitor and watched our plane fly over exotic places such as Khartoum and Sudan. My former life seemed millions of miles away as the plane ventured towards my unknown future.

We finally approach Addis Ababa and as the plane was descending into the city, I observed the beautiful mountains and virgin landscape. It was breathtaking and of course, I cried. We had to obtain an entry visa that proved to be painless. They didn’t ask us to declare money nor the prerequisite pictures we were so careful to remember to bring. They only seemed concerned about the $40 visa fee and quickly snatched the two crisp $20 bills out of my hands and stuffed it into their pockets. Most of the immigration workers were 20-something year olds whose families probably bought their positions through backdoor deals and old political ties.

(To be continued. Please see Part 2 on Wednesday.)