fbpx Skip to main content

"Gotcha" Day

By November 19, 2012December 9th, 2018Adoption


I can’t believe it has officially been 1 year since bringing the boys home. I can truly say that these boys were meant for us! Our story has so many bumps along the way that there was a time when Craig and I thought we were never meant to be parents. Craig lost his job which threw a huge wrench in our plan; and I’ll never forget the day after our baby shower, when we received a phone call that the baby we were placed with died of malaria. We were quickly referred another boy, Kai. He was found in front of a church at 2 weeks old and when we got the photos, he immediately stole our hearts. So this was the path that was meant to be for us, just like Craig’s job loss that gave me the courage to start this business.  It all happens for a reason.


It was quite a journey! We traveled to Ethiopia in May 2011 to sign court papers and to meet the boys for the first time. It was an amazing but bittersweet trip. The feelings of meeting the boys for the first time were indescribable, but having to leave them was very hard. Craig mentioned it was like being in the delivery room and seeing your son for the first time, holding him and getting to know him and then the nurse saying, “OK, we will take him now and you can come back in 4-6 weeks to take him home”. Sadly, we had to leave them behind not knowing when the U.S. would let us travel again to bring them home.

We hit some more ‘bumps in our journey’ as our paper work was marked as “Not Clearly Adoptable” and was sent to Nairobi for review. This caused another long delay. We expected to bring them home in 4-6 weeks, but it ended up over 6 months!  Craig has told me that it is a good thing we didn’t know it would take 6 months when we first met them as it was hard enough leaving them thinking it would be 4-6 weeks!  We didn’t get the approval until November 2011 and our official embassy date was set for November 21st.

This started the craziest few days of my life. We had 5 days to get all the arrangements made, hotel, airlines, drivers, etc. There was also the additional wrinkle that only Kai’s case was approved and we were waiting on an interview with Micah’s birth mother that was set to happen on Friday while we were flying out to Ethiopia. So when we got to the hotel we didn’t know if we would be bringing both home or just Kai. We were to receive an email from the US Embassy telling us if the interview went well and if we could bring Micah home too. The minute we got to the hotel, Craig ran to the office center where you could buy access to the internet.  It had just closed.  Craig pleaded with the women and she let him in to check his email. The email was there. The interview had gone well and Micah was cleared to come home!

We were only in Ethiopia for 4 days. The boys were so good despite all the new and unfamiliar things that happened to them on the way home. First off, as you can see in the above photo, it was only the second time they had ever been in a car! Our car had no seat belts, let alone car seats (and the driving is SUPER scary! Cars and buses everywhere, chaos!). So as we pulled out of the gated foster home, Micah cried the whole way to the U.S. Embassy. I can’ imagine how much his view of the world grew in just minutes.  He had spent almost a year in the foster home in this little walled courtyard (about 20 feet by 20 feet).  I will never forget the look on his face as we pulled out.  His eyes were as big as saucers.

As we sat in the waiting area at the Embassy, Micah continued to cry and Kai decided it was time to fill his diaper. They both had giardia, which makes for “blow out” diapers. Fun when traveling half way around the world!  So Craig left with Kai and I sat with Micah while I felt that there were hundreds of eyes on me judging me for not being able to comfort my new toddler.

The flight home was a different story, the boys were so over-stimulated, they slept almost the whole way home (as you can see in the photo, Micah made good use of his seat!). As for Craig and I, we didn’t sleep for the 48 hours of travelling from picking them up at the foster home to getting home! At least we weren’t sick with giardia this time like we were on the first trip back to the U.S.  Yikes!

Once we arrived in Minneapolis, we had lots of new and scary adventures for the boys. As we strapped them into the car seats the screaming started. Another new thing for them. I’m sure they wondered why we were no longer holding them like we had been for the last 4 days straight. I tried to hold their little hands to comfort them (as you can see in the photo above) and their tears finally stopped after 40 minutes. BUT, then we picked up our puppy, O’Hana, from the kennel. Dogs were not considered friendly in Ethiopia, they were mostly used for protection and the boys were extremely scared of her.

We arrived home and kept O’Hana downstairs. It would take almost 2 months for Micah to be OK with O’Hana walking around the house.  It was 2pm the day before Thanksgiving and I was ready for bed! I was exhausted, but we tried to feed them and of course our food was totally different than what they were accustomed to, so the crying started again… So we tried a bath. The bath tub is a scary place for the first time, and the crying started again. At this point, I haven’t slept in 2 days and I fell into Craig’s arms and said “They hate me!” Craig is my hero; he held me tight.

I don’t mean to make this story sound negative, because it isn’t. I just wanted to tell the truth of how it all unfolded. Adoption is a true blessing, but taking a child away from everything they have ever known and fly them half way across the world with people they barely know would be very traumatizing for an adult much less a child. This was now Micah’s fourth home in his short 27 months of life.  But the most important thing of all, it is his last.  Our “Gotcha Day” was a yanking of fours lives together in a 2 day chaotic sprint.  The rest of our lives together is our marathon and for that it was all worth it.

The boys and I crashed at 5pm! At 3am, Kai and I were up and the new day started. With sleep and food in my belly, I felt amazing. I held my new baby boy in my arms, rocking him while I fed him a bottle. Life never felt so complete. It is amazing how well the boys have adjusted in just one year. They now love our puppy, the bath tub, our food, and they are even getting used to playing outside in the cold! They are amazing good riding in the car seat or stroller. We could not have asked for two more perfect children. It was a journey that took over 5 years to make us a family. But the path along the way has proven to be the path that was meant to be for our family and for that we feel truly blessed.



Maria Emmerich

Maria is a wellness expert who has helped clients follow a Ketogenic lifestyle to heal and lose weight for over 20 years. She has helped thousands of clients get healthy, get off medications and heal their bodies; losing weight is just a bonus. She is the international best selling author of several books including "Keto: The Complete Guide to Success on the Ketogenic Diet.".


  • Sami says:

    Beautiful story of a wonderful caring family. Best of luck to your little boys, may they give you lots of happiness. I have been following your blog for a short while only, but love your insight into a lot of health problems.

  • Vanessa says:

    What a beautiful story to start my Monday….blessings all around! I would love to read more.

  • Anonymous says:

    What a beautiful story. Nothing happens by chance…..God has His fingerprints all over this story. He will never leave you nor forsake you…..Deut. 31:6. Thanks for sharing!

  • What a beautiful story! What a blessed family you have. Love your blog!

  • Jan J. says:

    Aw, those two boys just tug at my heart! Happy family day! Your story brought to mind someone telling me, when I was a literal bundle of emotion and stress and half crazed towards the end of my first adoption from China – “It must be nice to have a baby the easy way!” I am a meek person but I wanted to strangle her LOL! I’m so glad your “easy way” turned out well in the end and you got these adorable little guys and they got loving parents. And they even get to be raised on a really healthy diet, the icing on the cake!

  • What a beautiful story … You have lots to be thankful for 🙂

  • Ginette says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story and photos! I am so glad everything has turned well and that your boys have adjusted so well. You have a beautiful family!!

  • Ginny says:

    What a wonderful story full of blessing and grace, Maria! I’m so happy for you all. Brought tears to my eyes.

  • Amanda says:

    I loved reading your story. I hope your family has a blessed Thanksgiving! I can’t believe it’s been a year :).

  • DonnaRae says:

    Your story made me cry Maria. We are expecting our new granddaughter home from Russia on the 18th of Dec. It’s been the same kind of journey for my daughter and hubby. 19 months from start to finish. (That is two pregnancies). 🙂 They leave on Dec. 3rd to go to Russia to pick her up. She is officially theirs on the 5th. Oh happy day! Then we know the real story begins. She is 7, doesn’t speak a lick of English and has minor special needs. We can’t wait to see her and love on her. She will be child #6 for them and grandchild #11 for us. So happy for your family. Love to see the pictures. I’ve been following your blog since just before you went to get the boys. Thank you for all you do with your site. Donna

  • the momma says:

    awww! Thanks for sharing that precious story. Happy HAPPY Gotcha Day!!!

  • Anne A says:

    Maria – As an adoptive mom myself, I can completely relate! We adopted our son at birth 14 years ago and just last night at dinner I was saying how I am 100% sure that he was meant to be our child. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I’ve even said to friends that I’m actually glad I couldn’t have a biological child because then I wouldn’t have Matthew. 🙂

    It’s a wonderful thing, being an adoptive parent!

  • What a lovely story! Thank you for sharing with us.
    We all need a little reminder about how we can change things with a small gesture …… and here, you and your hubby changed two little children’s lives forever (and your own), by showing unconditional love.
    God bless you.

  • Kay says:

    May God continue to bless you and your beautiful boys! Parenting is challenging and not for the weak of heart, the love you feel for them is staggering at times. I am so very happy for you to have those incredible emotions!
    Blessings to your family:)

  • Sharon B. says:

    Wow, what a story. But it was all worth it! The boys are adorable, and it’s easy to see how much you and Craig love them.

    Congratulations, and Happy “Gotcha” Day.

  • Mr.D says:

    Amazing story. Every photo you post of them shows 2 very happy boys

  • Anonymous says:

    Your love for your boys flow from your face Maria. Such fortunate boys (I don’t believe in luck and believe there is a reason for everything). There are so many young children who could use such a loving, caring mother like you. Your stories touch me deeply. The first time i watched your video i was in tears, and our stories still break my heart to overflowing emotion.

  • Darren says:

    What adorable boys!

  • Anonymous says:

    Your family is beautiful and your story inspiring. I had read an adoption poem in the home of a family I know during a high school graduation reception for their (adopted) son. I did a quick internet search to find it again as it was beautiful:
    Not flesh of my flesh, Nor bone of my bone,
    But still miraculously my own.
    Never forget for a single minute,
    You didn’t grow under my heart – but in it
    — Fleur Conkling Heylinger

    Please know, you make a difference in the lives of all the readers who follow you, and you have made a HUGE difference in the lives of two small boys.
    -Sue S.

  • Nancy says:

    What a beautiful story. You are so blessed. AND what a wonderful thing to do is remember that day as a special day (because it is!).

  • Norma says:

    Blessing to you and your beautiful family


  • Debbie M. says:

    What a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  • Anonymous says:

    Beautiful story – it brought tears to my eyes. Maria – you really should write a book about your experience. It’s so encouraging and I’m sure others who are going through or been through the adoption process would identify with it. I’ve never been through it and I really find this such an inspirational story. Your family is blessed.

  • Bobbi Kenow says:

    Thank you for sharing what a journey this has been for your family! I appreciate your honesty…beautiful!

  • Certainly brought tears to my eyes as well…but one thing I know for sure and the saying goes, Anything worth having doesn’t come easy! God Bless you and your family. Beautiful family.

  • Certainly brought tears to my eyes as well…but one thing I know for sure and the saying goes, Anything worth having doesn’t come easy! God Bless you and your family. Beautiful family.

  • Elaine says:

    Good wishes for your special family.
    I also have a question concerning mine…I have started making all the things you have graciously provided sub recipes for but it seems a bit overwhelming. Do you have any ideas for a schedule of how to make a complete life style makeover–especially for the pantry and kitchen? What do I need to focus on first…I still need to feed my family daily. Do you have something available along the the lines of a “once a month or week” style of purchasing & preparing of meals?
    I have purchased your book, Secrets to a Healthy Life. Will this help me more than your blog? Love your blog, though. Thanks Elaine

  • jzrart says:

    You are such beautiful people with a wonderful story!

  • Blondee says:

    You are such a beautiful testimonty to following His path and remaining faithful. This journey not only gave your beautiful babies the mommy and daddy they were destined to have, it has blessed the thousands of readers you have on here and on Facebook with your amazing story of love and determination. I always look forward to your recipes and insight, but am so blessed to be privy to your awesome photos of your family. You rock. May your Thanksgiving be lovely.

  • Happy Thanksgiving to you and your beautiful family…

  • What an amazing story and journey you have all been on! Such a beautiful family…

  • Randi says:

    Maria – I love that you are wearing your child in a Freehand Mei Tai! Can’t wait to try more of your recipes!!

  • Anonymous says:

    God bless you for adopting! The world needs more people like you and your husband who are so open to welcoming children into their lives! My sister-in-law was adopted years ago by my husband’s parents from a biological mom who wasn’t even sure if she actually wanted to carry her baby to term. I can’t imagine life without her.

    Thank-you for your story. Your boys are wonderful!


  • Just a quick thank you for this. I am adopted and plan to adopt as well. As I’m getting more serious about it, I can’t tell you how much knowing the little details can help. Wishing you a lifetime of happy holidays together!

  • So glad I searched for Paleo bread/rolls today and found your AMAZING recipe and this incredible story as I added you to my Pintrest! We JUST started fundraising for our international special needs adoption this week and reading your story was refreshing! I appreciate you being candid, raw, and real. Most importantly, I loved how you loved the experience despite the trials and tears. I too feel as though this happen for a reason. Having faith in a process that seems almost like you are walking in the dark is hard!! LOL Thanks for putting some light into the unknown! <3 Dorshan

  • Amanda says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story – I’m new to your site so am just reading this for the first time, and have tears in my eyes… what a beautiful testimony to what being a parent really truly is, and should be… you are SO definitely meant to all be together as a family, and I’m blessed for having shared this brief glimpse into your home and hearts. Much love to you all 🙂 XO

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Free Email Updates

Don't miss any of our free content or sales!

We respect your privacy. We never share your information with anyone.