Ethiopia – Stage 1 is done!

    It hit her when they loaded two cars for the drive to the airport.

    “When I saw those four car seats I finally started getting nervous,” said Keri deGuzman, who in a few days will be the mother of four children under the age of 4.

    After 14 months of waiting, hoping, praying, paperwork and delays, Keri and her husband Brian entered the final stretch in building their family yesterday when they showed up at Phoenix Sky Harbor airport with eight large bags to check, two small children, a nanny — and me.

    Jesmina in her Acacia Village T-shirt.

    All of us were wearing Acacia Village T-shirts. The project, which the deGuzmans have worked tirelessly to support since soon after they adopted 3½-year-old Jesmina, will provide transitional housing, a medical clinic, classrooms and more for Ethiopian orphans awaiting adoptive families. (On the back of the shirts is the number 6,000,000 and three short phrases: “The situation is dire but not hopeless. There is light. Acacia Village Ethiopia.”)

    We weren’t traveling light. The deGuzmans took full advantage of Southwest Airlines’ “two free checked bags per passenger” rules so that they could bring gifts and supplies for the orphanage in Soddo that was the first home their babies knew.

    One huge duffle bag was filled with diapers for the new babies.

    “We ran out [of diapers] with Jesmina and Musse,” Keri said. “I had to buy Pampers [in Ethiopia], which didn’t absorb anything, and wipes that were like sandpaper. They both got rashes.”

    Our first destination: Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. The deGuzmans will spend a few days with Brian’s parents, who live in the Washington, D.C. area, before leaving Jesmina, 2½-year-old Musse and Charis Silva (their nanny for more than a year) with the grandparents while we undertake the 16-hour flight to Ethiopia on Friday to meet the two new deGuzman children for the very first time. (I will spend that interlude enjoying time with my two grown sons, who live and work in Washington, D.C.)

    Our flight from Phoenix was uneventful and seemed to pass in a flash. Keri and I sat across the aisle from each other and spent much of the trip talking about what is yet to come.

    We had a bumpy entry into the Baltimore airport and I could see that Keri was starting to feel a bit queasy. “I guess this is your version of morning sickness,” I said sympathetically.

    “I guess so!” she agreed.

    Baltimore: Brian deGuzman, M.D., a cardiac surgeon at St. Joseph's Hospital & Medical Center, and his wife Keri await the eight large bags they checked at Phoenix Sky Harbor.
    Jesmina and Musse sit atop some of the family's luggage, which included several large duffel bags filled with gifts and supplies for the orphanage in Soddo.
    Musse started out in an Acacia Village T-shirt but required a change of clothes during the flight, hence the switch to a Batman theme.
    Jesmina approached the trip with nonchalance and ease. You'd think she did this every day.
    Brian, Jesmina and Mussee reunite with Brian's dad.