Thursday, November 23, 2006

Ethiopia...Older Children...Don't Be Afraid

A few days ago, I received this message on one of the adoption Yahoo groups that I am on....

Okay, I can't wait any longer! We are very pleased to announce that we have chosen to adopt a sibling group of three from Ethiopia. We are excited, anxious, and yes, even crazy! We hope to have Bisrat (12, m), Yeabsira (10, f) and Mihiret (6,f) home sometime this spring or early summer.
We'll sign the placement papers as soon as we get them. The staff at AAI are preparing our dossier to be sent to Ethiopia, and we are waiting for our "official" homestudy copy to arrive so that we can send in our I-600A. While we wait for the "powers that be" to review and approve our paperwork, we'll be getting rooms organized and prepared for becoming a family of seven!


I was so excited to read this news. This sibling group included one of the kids that Will and I had TOTALLY fallen in love with when we went to Ethiopia to bring Grace home. I quickly responded...

Is this Bisrat that used to be at Sele Enat, then moved to Layla in April or May this year? If so, we met him, and possibly his siblings when we went to pick up our daughter at the beginning of April. I have many photos, pictures drawn by the children, and a fun story to share. Please let me know. We have been praying for him since our trip. He is a WONDERFUL boy!!

I was so excited to receive this response...

Yes! My understanding is that they were at Sele Enat for two years before coming to Layla in April. Bisrat must be a great kid... I've heard so many wonderful things about him. I would love to hear your story.

I could no longer contain myself. This is what came pouring out...

Oh Bisrat! What a gem!! He was the star of Sele Enat. When my husband and I traveled to Addis this past April, one of the destinations we hoped to visit was Sele Enat. It was the 1st orphanage that our baby girl lived in, so we wanted to take pictures and meet the people that had cared for her. We connected with an AAI volunteer named CJ. She was from Denver, Colorado. She was a woman that had a plan. She knew what she was going to do, and when she was going to do it. She had trouble with the concept of "Ethiopian Time". The day we met her, we were running late. She was feeling impatient, as the delay would cause us to have less time to spend with the children. She was prepared to teach the children a lesson, and had all the supplies with her to accomplish the task. She only went there once a week, so time was of the essence.

When we arrived at Sele Enat, I could hardly believe we were at an orphanage. We passed many homes (if you could call them that), and hadn't seen a shop or business in quite some time. Even though Layla doesn't seem to be in the BEST neighborhood, this was so much different. There was nothing but squalor all around. Could people really live like this? Could there really be an orphanage here? Was my daughter (and all these other children) so bad off, that this was a better solution? Wow! When we entered the orphanage property, things improved a bit. There was some play equipment. There were happy kids. Who would have guessed?

Sele Enat is run by Hanna Berhanu. She is an amazing lady! She was dressed nicely, and always had her headset on, connected to her cell phone. This was a woman that is dedicated to the children she cares for, 24 hours a day. Even though our daughter had not been in her orphanage for over 4 months, she recognized her right away. She actually called her by name. My heart started to break that very moment. I guess I didn't expect to find people that actually cared. How ignorant of me! Hanna showed us Grace's first crib. She even posed for photographs. What a wonderful lady!

When we all got back to the main building, and the rest of the children. We got our assignments from CJ. Will (my husband) was to read a book to the children. Even though he is a teacher, he was feeling a bit intimidated at the thought of reading an English book to children that spoke Amharic. He need not have worried. The children were like sponges. They enjoyed the story, and loved drawing pictures about it too. Some were very young, and drew simple pictures. Some were a bit more mature, and had very well thought out ideas. All of the pictures were beautiful to us!

Next, we headed outside to have snack. Since the story was about growing watermelon, the snack was watermelon. Bisrat, being the oldest, immediately took charge. He cut the watermelon, handed out the appropriate portions, and guided the children when they needed to take care of the rinds and paper towels they had used to clean themselves up. What a blessing he was. When everyone was cleaned up from there sticky snack, it was time to hand out the drawings to the appropriate children. We carefully looked over each drawing to see if there was a name or some other identifying mark. We managed to match all the drawings to the right children. We followed by taking their photo with their drawing. So sweet!

After everyone had their photo taken, a beautiful thing took place. Bisrat brought his drawing to my husband, said "Thank you", and gave him the paper. He encouraged each child to do the same. We weren't sure what to do at the time, but quickly realized this was exactly what these children needed to do. Their very life was being provided for by the charity of others, and they felt the need to give back. We have every one of those drawings to this day. What a treasure!!

When we arrived home, we had the opportunity to discuss our trip. We went to Ethiopia to bring home our daughter, but there were a couple other children that we would have happily brought home. Bisrat was one of them. We did not know at the time that he had siblings. Honestly, it never occurred to us to ask. I am SOOOO grateful that God had a plan for Bisrat and his siblings. We fell in love with him, but that was as intercessors. I have prayed for him daily since April. Oh the joy when I found out that he, and his siblings, had a family this past week. I am absolutely thrilled. Praise God!!!


Please keep this family in your prayers. Even though I have never met most of them, they are precious to me.

9 comments:

5kiddad said...

I must agree. Bisrat was one of the children that I became quickly attached to. I remember thinking that he was so much more mature than children his age back in the states. I guess you have to grow up quickly in a third-world orphanage. As my wife stated, Bisrat was the one who weilded the knife to cut the watermellon. He was competent and confident in doing so. I remember thinking that I don't think I would let my kids do that and they are older then he is! Bisrat was the leader of the kids and they all looked up to him with respect.

As my wife stated, I would have proudly taken Bisrat home with us and I know his new family will instantly fall in love with him too.

Anonymous said...

I think we know Hanna Berhanu's older brother, Solomon. He is a pastor here at a church in Chicago. He is the friend of a co-worker of my husband and has been an invaluable source of information about the people, culture and language of Ethiopia (where he came from 20 years ago). He told us he had a younger sister Hanna who was still in Ethiopia and ran an orphanage. If this is the same family, I can onlly imagine that Hanna would be just as amazing a person as her brother!

Anonymous said...

What an awesome exchange. We, too, left part of our hearts behind with the older children. If we ever can adopt again, we plan to seriously consider an older child. I think your post advocates well for them! MP

Anonymous said...

What a great story! I remember finding out that Tekle's best friend had a family and we were all soooooo excited!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful story-- thanks so much for sharing! We will certainly keep Bisrat, his siblings and his future family (although I'd bet they already consider him their current family!) in our prayers!
Karen in San Diego
bsinchina.blogspot.com

HolyMama! said...

what a beautiful story!!

Blanca said...

¡oh my God!

You know that my son Pablo come from Sele Enat too, don´t you?. I remember these three brother. The older was very, very intelligent and very mature. He asked me about my country and said to the other children what to do when I took the pictures from them, je, je. I have a couple of photos too from the group of older children. Do you think the mother would like to have them?

A lot of kisses for Grace from Spain

blanca

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this story! Older children are wonderful! We adopted Baye (8-yrs-old) and brother Mikias (2yrs) from Ethiopia this summer. They are such sweet boys who were obviously loved so much prior to coming into our family. Thanks for giving a shout-out for adopting older kids! I so enjoy your blogs! Julie

DeAnna said...

What a precious story! It must be amazing to see God's plan work out like that after you have been praying for him!!