It wasn’t even two months after Bek came home when we learned of his friend in Ethiopia who was also in need of a family. Bek and this other little boy had been on the same “waiting children’s list”. They even grew up in the same rural village together and were childhood friends. Bek immediately started telling us in his very broken English that we should adopt him too. He kept saying how he could share his room and toys with him and that this other boy was a really “good boy”. The twist to the story is I had actually seen this friend’s picture the same day I saw Bek’s for the first time. I overlooked it, just typing that fills me with shame but it’s true. I saw that he had health concerns and a major hearing disability. Surely God wouldn’t call us to that, especially with all that was on our plate already. Again, we were brought to our knees praying for this precious child who needed a family. More importantly at the time, he needed to get to the United States to receive medical care for his failing health. I reached out to friends and family members asking them to consider adopting this child. I would text them pictures and began advocating for this little boy across the world. One of my friends said to me “do you think your family is supposed to adopt him?” I immediately shot down that comment, we were just beginning to experience some behaviors and heavy grieving with our newest son. We couldn’t possibly handle adding another child to our family.
One thing I have learned through our adoptions is that God calls you to many things in life that you are definitely not prepared to handle, but equips you in His time. Through praying for this child we once again realized we were supposed to be his family and just 6 months later our son, Shambel, was home. We were officially on the crazy train and people didn’t quite know what to do with us! We were in our 20’s and raising an 11, 10 and 2 year old. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought our family would look like it does. Sha, however has been the most incredible addition to our clan. His sweet, patient, calm demeanor has brought balance into our home. He is one of the kindest, most considerate children I’ve ever met and being his mom is an honor and joy.
The last couple of years have been challenging in many ways; enrolling them in school for the first time ever, teaching them English, walking along side them in those dark shadows of grief and loss, the list goes on. However, we wouldn’t change a thing. We have grown through those challenges and have gotten to witness God’s ability to restore and redeem our precious son’s hearts. The struggles have brought us closer together and I can truthfully say I am thankful for them. The challenges John and I have faced during our transition are small in comparison to what both Bek & Sha have experienced in their lifetime. Adoption is a beautiful thing but it comes at a cost. It’s because of loss, brokenness, poverty & death that we have been able to adopt our children. We celebrate our children’s adoptions but we take time and make more of an effort to celebrate and remember their lives before they were in our family. We talk about their first family often and pray for them every night. When the boys start talking about life before moving to America everything stops in our home and we listen. Allowing and encouraging them to share has been very healing for all of us. I love the fact that my boys can remember so much about their past. That’s definitely one of the amazing bonuses about adopting older children. Along with them knowing how to bathe themselves and set an alarm clock, of course!
When I think back to bringing Sha home 20 months ago I am blown away by how much he’s grown and changed. While flying home with him from Ethiopia he wouldn’t talk to me or eat anything. Poor kid was totally freaked out and overwhelmed! It’s amazing to look across our dinner table and see him relishing in every meal (especially if it includes warm dinner rolls & steak) and laughing with the most contagious laugh I’ve ever heard. He has been a delight to raise thus far and I know his future is as bright as his smile!
Below is the first picture we saw of our Sha. The next one was taken recently while in Seattle. This young man is going to do great things!