Zinashi likes to carry around the first photos we received of her; she found them in my carryon while we were in Ethiopia, and then found them again when we got home.* I look at those photos and marvel. That girl whose photo we were drawn to on a website one Friday evening is in our house, in our lives, in our family. And she has changed, so much so that sometimes when I look at those photos I have trouble seeing the Zinashi today behind the face of the Zinash late last spring. Even by the end of the month we were in Ethiopia, she was so changed that the transition home staff would remark on her progress every single time they saw us. Her very countenance had changed. You can see it for yourself.
Zinashi’s referral photos, taken in early May:
Looking better in late August, one month before we came for her. At this point she knew her family was coming:
And then she was with us, in Ethiopia:
There’s just something different about her eyes, a softness that seems to come from behind.
When we landed in Washington, D.C., there was a confidence to her we hadn’t seen before. No need to hold our hands, oh, no. She had a bottle of milk and a ruffle on the butt of her pants, and she could lead the way. Every time before this when we were in public, she would want to be held or would reach out to hold our hands. But not here, here she checks in with my hand only once, and very briefly. She is a girl with places to go and things to do:
And then we were home, in our very own house, and she knew it. The new Zinashi is here to stay:
I look at how far she’s come, and I am encouraged. I know that despite what she lost, she is finding what she needs now. I give her all the credit–for being willing, for being vulnerable, for embracing her new life so wholeheartedly. We are incredibly proud of our girl. She is extraordinary.
*There is one bag that refuses to be unpacked, and it is my carryon, still with my journal and notebook and various travel-related small bits of trash inside. Zinashi likes to carry it out to the living room on occasion and take a few things out. You’d think I’d put the things away after she’s pulled them out, but I tend to just stow them back in there when I’m in a hurry to clean up, and so it is that the same items are still in there three and a half weeks after we returned home. Someone asked us the day after we returned if we were all unpacked, and I have to laugh about that, because oh, wow, no way.