The number one question that I have been asked since starting the adoption process is, "Why Ethiopia?" I even had two people, including one of my family members, tisk tisk me for not "considering our own children here in the US to adopt." They have a point, but I'm not about winning a battle over where God revealed to me where my child was. That's how it all started, with a fireworks show in the pit of my belly when I even heard that adoption was possible in Ethiopia; I knew right then and there that that was where my family was headed to bring home our son. Those of you who have had moments like that know there's no questioning it, you simply step out in faith and do what He has called you to do. The interesting part of our family's story is that when I was ready to go go go in 2007, Steve was not. It took every ounce of my being to not want to "make" him do what I wanted; because we all know that women can be very powerful creatures. He didn't give me an emphatic "no," it was just "I'm not ready for all of this; maybe one day, but not today." I had to respect that as much as I didn't want to. Steve was born to be a daddy. He's amazing with Alex, and I knew that pushing him into something his heart wasn't ready for was something I was not ready to do to our marriage, which I am so incredibly grateful for.
So, what did I do? I prayed and waited to see what would happen. In the meantime, we went through a job loss and a move from Florida to Indiana. We both started new jobs and built a house. That took two years. That's my testimony on why my husband's voice is important to me. God planted something in his heart that our family had some other things to go through until we could grow our family. But I remember the February day in 2009 when I came home and told him that this was on my heart stronger than ever as we sat in the office of our newly built home. And that was when he said "I'm ready to bring our next baby home," and I almost peed my pants.
All I knew at that point about Africa, aside from the commercials for Save the Children with Sally Field and the images on news casts, was what I had learned when Invisible Children came to the high school where I was teaching. That was very moving for me.
As Steve and I started our international journey and began to trek up the mountain of paperwork, I began to feel like I was taking something very valuable from Ethiopia, a piece of their future, one of their precious children. It was then laid on my heart that it's imperative for me to give back and to help in some way. Part of this for me is keeping Jesse's heritage alive in his life. I want him to feel a pride for his birth country and encourage him in anyway he would like to explore to do something to make it a better place.
Another piece of the puzzle was looking at my students as an educator and figuring out a way that I could help my US students bridge relationships with children in Africa. I feel a strong sense that through conversation, either through letters, etc..., that we can help our privileged kids create solutions and relationships alongside the people who's voice is often unheard: the people whom we're often "trying"to help. What I've seen as a US citizen is that we impart our own solutions without listening to the people we're trying to help. Just because we have more money doesn't mean we have all of the answers. This is something I still feel a desire to do. Unfortunately, with the awkward, precarious state of public schools today, I'm not sure when this will happen. In my own district, dollars raised and money spent is only to be spent on local organizations and causes. I respect it, but I think our world is much more than our community in the 21st Century, and if those who have a global desire to use their gifts want to, they shouldn't be deterred from doing so. Just sayin'.
Through this adoption journey, I have met amazing, every day people just living and doing a lot like Steve and I have been: bringing our baby home, getting adjusted, and basking in the glow of our growing family. It's a comfort to have this community. I feel so blessed. One of these people whom I've become friends with is Sarah Castor, her husband Dave, and their three beautiful boys from different parts of Africa. She, in an effort to give back to Africa (much like the call laid on my heart), created a non profit called JabuAfrica. When I asked her what I could do to help, she asked me to write for the JabuAfrica blog, which I've completed one post for. I'm happy to do anything because it's a place to plug in whatever I can with others to do even more than just little old me could do alone.
JabuAfrica's first project is a long term orphanage in Congo, where Sarah's youngest son is from. I immediately thought of the care that Jesse had at Hannah's Hope and was shocked in despair when she described what she saw when she was there last year to bring home her son.
I've always known that I have a lot to learn, but to spend time learning about the Congo has been on whole other level for me. I am not a political person. I always tend to play devil's advocate when people criticize a politician, whether they be a democrat or republican. When election day rolls around, I admit to being cynical; I look at the "promises" and issues of each candidate and choose the path of less evil. I find that every politician, although with good intentions I'm sure, end up succumbing to the game. I sincerely feel bad. It seems that this is how we have set up or political system, and now we have to lie in the bed we made.
Currently, a part of my education on Congo has been the chance meeting of a few families who have adopted recently from Congo here in Indianapolis. Most people do not get the opportunity to go to Congo to bring home their kiddos; they are brought to them here in the US. I'm happy that their children are brought safely to them, but it was made apparent to me that the trip to see, hear, and experience, even if it's for a few short weeks, what their children have gone through is imperative to their journey in connecting to their kiddos. It made me so thankful to have been able to go to Ethiopia twice to see where our little man came from. I pray that these families will have a safe opportunity to go and see...
Here's an example of something that clarified a lot for me on what's going on in Congo, and why it's imperative to give it attention. I was deeply moved...
Warning: This video is not meant for little eyes, but I feel that if you are interested in what's happening specifically in the Congo, you need to watch this.
A part of bringing Jesse home has been the guilt I feel almost each night as I tuck him in bed that I get to raise this beautiful boy with his infectious smile. His birth mom will not see this smile that lights up my day because of her dire circumstances. She won't know first hand the joy this little miracle is. I pray that the Holy Spirit will speak to her and let her know how grateful I am and how loved he is. I pray that she feels some comfort in her brave decision to have him adopted. I don't know...
After viewing this video on Congo, I was literally shaking at the thought of what people are doing to other people and how we there has been no uprising from the US about this. It is a holocaust beyond proportion; we stepped in during World War II, why aren't we doing it now???? Obama created the PL 109-456, but it's not being acted upon. It's just sitting there as a powerless tool. As one of the gentlemen on the video said, "The Congolese people can't eat cobalt. Why don't you just talk to them?"
It seems we all have a lot to learn about what's going on. We have a lot of listening to do and frankly, I'm tired of listening to politicians. I want to hear what the people in Africa have to say. I want to hear their voice, create those relationships, and empower them. Somehow I'm gonna do it; one day at a time.
I apologize for my scattered thoughts on all of this. I have pieces here and there that my heart often jumps to. Thanks for your time in giving this crazy post a reading and some thought.