A Baby With No Mommy
Monica heard a knock at the door about two weeks ago - which wasn’t unusual as her bungalow on the compound of the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital in Gimbie is Grand Central Station. She had no idea that a little baby was going to be on the other side of this particular knock, but there little Miss Suzie was (not her real name).
Her father explained that her mother had died three days after she gave birth at home. He didn’t know why she died, but she had complained of a headache and then expired. He told the sad story of how he was now left with seven children BESIDES Suzie. He had found a wet nurse (a neighbor) for a few days, but little Suzie had not eaten now for a complete day. Monica knew right away what to say… “Yes, I will watch her!” What else can you say to a baby that is motherless and hasn’t eaten? In Ethiopia her chances for survival on this earth are next to none.
Monica is now caring for six little babies and YWAM has a couple of other babies in the community to be adopted but they will stay with their mothers until our facility is up and running. When the orphanage that YWAM is working on is completely remodeled, Monica will be relieved of caring for so many at once. The community babies that need help can also be transferred there.
Meanwhile, we have hired nannies to help Monica. They are wonderful helpers and are so loving and gentle and play with the babies. God has truly blessed us with both of them. And Monica? She is in a whole other category of people and has been placed in this out-of-the-way spot for such a time as this.
Let me see if I can explain how the process works in Ethiopia. Once a family has completed their dossier, it is translated, authenticated and submitted to the adoption agency staff in Ethiopia. This seemingly huge amount of paperwork, which the family has spent a great deal of time and effort to compile, is reviewed and a referral is assigned - formally matching a child or children with their new family. Now the family can accept the referral and receives medical reports and developmental information about the child.
Next, the referral and dossier must be approved by the Ethiopian courts and then a court date is assigned. The courts in Ethiopia close for 1-2 months during August/September and no cases are assigned or heard during this closure. When the Ministry of Women's Affairs (MOWA) and the Ethiopian court legally approve the adoption, we like to say a child 'passes court.'
Now the staff in Ethiopia can obtain the child's birth certificate and passport and set an appointment for a final medical check-up and a U.S. Embassy date. At this point, families are notified to make travel plans to come to Ethiopia to meet their child or children.
We have a family traveling to get their two boys in September. We have four children who passed court this week. And we have referrals for several more!
After a long season of contending in prayer, we're seeing a breakthrough! When King Jehoshaphat faced a seemingly impossible situation, he boldly proclaimed the sovereignty of his God over all men and every circumstance. I love how he prayed:
“O Lord, God of our ancestors, You alone are the God who is in heaven. You are ruler of all the kingdoms of the earth. You are powerful and mighty; no one can stand against You! ...Whenever we are faced with any calamity, we can come to stand in Your presence... We can cry out to You to save us, and You will hear us and rescue us."
Like that ancient king did after God brought victory, we are giving thanks for God's amazing work on behalf of the children.
“Give thanks to the Lord; His faithful love endures forever!” 2 Chron. 20:21
There are many things to consider when adopting internationally, not the least of which is how to best instill a sense of cultural identity into our children.
Adoption Ministry offers some excellent resources, including a transracial adoption workshop where many of the issues of raising a black child from Ethiopia in an American family are addressed and discussed. Things like how to incorporate ethnic foods and customs, maintaining the child's sense of heritage, caring for their hair and skin and dealing with various reactions to being white parents of a black child from family, friends and strangers.
I'd also like to direct you to a couple of good articles from "Adoptive Families" magazine. The first is called Raising A Child of Another Race and is written by the mother of an adopted biracial son. The second is a collection of articles, book reviews and resources called Resources For Parenting A Child of African-American Heritage. Here you'll find a wealth of information to encourage and inform you in this adventure! I'd love to hear your feedback!
- I am afraid of flying in airplanes and I clutch the people next to me (even if I don't know them) when there is turbulence.
- I am afraid that I will have a fatal illness in a foreign land and I will have to go to an African hospital that will not be up to my standards and they don't have ambulances and who knows where the doctor has been trained... if at all.
- I might have a stomach ache and not have a flushing toilet.
The list goes on and on of the catastrophic events that I conjure up in my mind that ultimately revolve around control issues that I have and sin relating to my lack of faith in God's ability to keep me and trust in His sovereignty. "Lord forgive me."
How is it that He still draws me to Himself and saves me from myself and the possibility of missing all of the most incredible adventures and blessings that He has waiting?
Thank you Lord - that Your grace and mercy allows me to step away from my control and into Your loving arms for the ride of a lifetime!
So... we get off of the plane in Addis Ababa after 23 hours of travel and follow the masses to the staging area for customs and immigration. Hey, it's like a foreign movie in there and I was transported from costuming - me wearing drab clothing (very wrinkled) and others are the real stars with fantastic colored dresses and shawls and turbans and hats (and these hats are not like hats that I have seen before). The men are wearing bright colored dresses with pants and many of the women are completely covered with black fabric that is folded and wrapped in the most amazing ways without any safety pins. The smells are different all around and most of the people near me are not speaking English. I am very tired but I am intrigued by all of the sights surrounding me.
Donkeys in the streets carry grain to the mill for the making of traditional Ethiopian bread. Herds of goats and cattle run through a major intersection and all of the traffic is halted... Goofy boys ride on a donkey facing backwards, swiping the donkeys behind so that he will go faster. All are laughing.
We all sit in the living room of an Ethiopian friend and share a meal that was prepared for us on the open fire in their cooking hut---I mean a real hut! We laugh and joke and share a cup of delicious Ethiopian coffee before we leave.
I sit in the home of a mother who is making an adoption plan for her daughter who is two years old. Her husband died of AIDS and now she is infected with AIDS. She is taking the anti-retrovirals and it makes her sick. She knows that she will be sick again and die soon. She communicates to our interpreter that she hopes that the adoption plan for her daughter will move quickly. She does not want her daughter to see her die. I ask if I can pray for her before we leave. We bow to pray and I thank God for her and her daughter and acknowledge her great love for her little girl. The prayer is complete and I look to her eyes to see them filled with water and tears rolling down her cheeks. She tells our interpreter in Amharic that today God has answered her prayers. God has made a way for her and her daughter and she is happy that she will not have to worry about her precious baby girl. All will be well.
We stop the van and buy long poles of sugarcane through the window as we travel to the Sudanese border. Our Ethiopian friend hacks the sugarcane into pieces like an old pro. She has hacked up sugar cane her whole life. We sit in the moving van surveying the beautiful sights out our car window and chomp on sugarcane and spit the sucked-out pulp out the window as we tootle down the deserted road.
Gift bags of bright colored fabric are filled with candy and treats for children. We have extras and they are shared with widows in a small village that we are visiting. The gift bags have Pop Rocks candy in them. We sit in the village church (hand-built by the pastor out of mud and dung and hay) on the bench with the widows and the children and teach them all how to eat Pop Rocks. The laughing is so loud that soon the windows of the church are filled with faces of people looking in to see what we are doing! They want some too! We fill their palms with the candy and they stick out their tongues too--can you just fathom this sight??
How much time do you have? I could go on and on---the big stuff has not been told yet.
To think that I might have missed all of this if I let my fear and control keep me from JUMPING into the arms of the living God - trusting, depending, abiding. clinging... to HIM and receiving a blessing and adventure of magnificent proportions!
Joan recently returned from a trip to Ethiopia with the 'Women to Women' team sent by Adoption Ministry. Joan and her husband Tommy are adopting two children from Ethiopia.
What can anyone say of Ethiopia? You must picture its emerald green rolling hills, amber thatched-roof huts, shepherds watching, cattle grazing. Long-legged spindly boys wave spindly stalks of sugarcane at passers-by. Acacia tree umbrellas dot the horizon. Long, low clouds kiss rain-soaked crops of corn and coffee.
The ride to Gimbie was more than a ride; we were treated to a panoramic view of a part of the earth worthy of dreams and poetry. But for all the beauty of the countryside, what we were to behold in Gimbie was far more precious than the contents of dreams and poetry. The Lord allowed us a glimpse of His agony: the small, the poor, the orphaned. There were many but I will tell you of two:
Two boys - eight years old. One had curly hair, one had coarse and straight. Both had that Ethiopian caramel skin. One coughing, one not. Both infected with that hideous disease we call AIDS. They came into the hospital together because, you see, in this hospital in Gimbie, the nurses don’t nurse the sick the way they do in the United States. They are skilled at delivering medications and treatments, but they do not deliver bedside care. It is the hospital’s policy that any patient admitted must be accompanied by a family member. The family member administers bedside assistance around the clock.
A stroll through the hospital reveals the unusual scene: the patient recovering in the bed, often many members of the family surrounding the patient, sometimes a goat, sometimes a chicken. But orphans do not have family members. Or else they would not be orphans.
These two little boys appeared at the hospital. Curly was coughing and very weak, in need of specialized care. His fellow eight-year-old street mate announced he would be Curly’s caretaker. And so there they would spend the next few days together still - Curly receiving treatment for his active tuberculosis by a lovely missionary physician from Argentina, and the dear little friend, tidying his bed, fetching him water, covering him while he chilled from his fever.
These are the children of the street. They have no human guardian. The physician brought this case to the attention of another missionary who is actively assisting mothers who wish to have their babies adopted immediately after delivery. But with active tuberculosis, this child could not be taken in with the infants to be adopted.
The need is clear. It is real. So real, on that day, we could reach out and touch it. It was packaged in tiny little eight-year-old bodies, bodies that have known and seen more than enough sorrow and hardship. But the Lord knows and sees as well. And He will not turn away. He has sent one of His warriors to Gimbie, having instructed her to build an Orphans and Widows' Home there. Her name is Tezera and the Lord has filled her with His Spirit. She is gathering together the staples she needs: permission from local officials, a house, staff and beds - and the children are coming. Like a flood, they are coming. The Lord will lead them out of the stagnant, standing water of the streets, where they have been tattered and torn, left hungry and cold, left with AIDS and for death. He will guide them to a home where they can rest, eat and play and heal, drawing from springs of living water whose source is eternal. He will provide for them an earthly guardian under His cover. And we are called as witnesses and to lend support.
Before we departed from Gimbie, we gave money for clothing for these children. Each one chose his own outfit. Each one chose sturdy denim: jackets and jeans. And for their feet, they chose soft rubber boots, not just any boots, mind you, these boots were of fantastic colors – lime green and blazing purple, colors I’m sure that were woven into Joseph’s very special coat. Colors made in heaven. Colors worn by princes.
Adoption Ministry of YWAM Ethiopia is establishing three new Orphans and Widows' Homes in this region. We will be renting, furnishing and staffing three separate facilities to house and minister to both widows and orphans. Your participation will make all the difference! If you or your church would like to be a part of sponsoring this work, please contact us for more information.