Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Coffee Ceremonies

In Ethiopia, a coffee ceremony is used to say farewell, to celebrate something, or just to enjoy one another's company.  The day before we left Addis, Abi had two coffee ceremonies so she could say good bye to her home, her country, and the people who loved her.

The first was at the KVI orphanage. This is her biological father and his mother, who had cared for Abi as an infant.  She was overwhelmed with joy that Abi had not starved to death, like she had thought, and that she was going to get to go to America and get a family, good food and an education.  She wept and said that God has a plan for this child's life (I agree!).

Abi (in purple) surrounded by her friends and roommates.  These kids become like siblings and she still talks about many of them.  The nannies try to prepare the kids for leaving by playing a game on their hands where they say the names of all of the children, and then one "leaves" by walking away up the child's arm and tickling them.

All of these children are without parents.  Most have parents still living, but they cannot feed them or care for them, or the parents have died of AIDS.

Abi's birth family and all the nannies attended her coffee ceremony, which was more of a tea/juice ceremony than coffee.  Her birth father spoke a blessing over her that made me cry.  I can tell he loves her so much and he is sad that he may never see her again, yet he is happy for her to get this chance at a good life.

The nannies told stories of her and said prayers for her and for us to raise her well.  They also had some of the kids sing songs of praise to God and say blessings over Abi.

Kids from the older class attended as well.  Many had sweet things to say about Abi, who was a favorite with everyone.  One little boy said she was so pretty, he wanted her for his wife someday!  Everyone laughed at that.

Also attending was Charlotte, a volunteer at the orphanage from Yorkshire, UK. She was spending her gap year before University working with the poor children in Africa.

The little ones had just had a snack, which was the reason for the matching shirts.  The little girl in the center let me braid her hair, and I think the staff was really impressed that a "ferengi" (white foreigner) could braid hair.

This woman, the head nurse, gave Abi a kiss and a little gift.  All of the nannies and orphanage staff were teary at saying goodbye to her, which showed how much she was loved.  It shows now, that she had gotten good care and affection.  Their investment in her will help her bond with us, and will stay with her for the rest of her life.  I am so grateful for loving foster parents and orphanage nannies around the world who love kids until they can find their forever families!  It makes a huge difference for these kids who need that love.

I posed for a picture with her birth family.  They had not seen her for two years, and may never see her again.  Meeting them felt bittersweet to me, and I am so grateful that I got to do it.

At the guesthouse, they gave us a more traditional coffee ceremony, where they roasted the coffee fresh and brewed it while we waited.  I took careful notes so I can recreate the ancient tradition for my family and friends back in the States.

Abi adored Genet, the day receptionist at the guesthouse, and she cried when it was time to say goodbye.

Our driver, Yosef, who works for our adoption agency, sees the kids in KVI Orphanage a lot.  He called himself Abi's big brother and loved to talk with her.  Once someone translated their conversation for me.  Abi told him that he could not get in his car and drive it that afternoon because a "jib" (hyena) had borrowed it.

Traditional coffee ceremonies always include popcorn.  Abi ate so much she later told me "hoed ayna mommeen" (my tummy hurts).

Later we packed our things and readied ourselves for the 5am trip through the dark city streets to the Bole International Airport, where I would begin the long, long journey to bring my new daughter home to her waiting family.  (next post)


  1. I am so glad you had that time and those pictures are great! So happy for your family!

  2. We are adopting three girls from KVI. The two oldest sisters and a younger girl!
    Kris Schmid