Thursday, February 23, 2012

Why Ethiopia?

My first response is "I don't know."  If someone had told me a year ago (heck, even 4 months ago) that we'd be adopting from Ethiopia I would have told that person that he or she was cray-cray and that we would be doing nothing of the sort.  But, for some reason, God has planted a deep, burning love for this country and her people in my heart, and has miraculously made my husband jump onboard this crazy, runaway adoption train with both feet.  

Facts like these are why:

60% of children in Ethiopia are stunted because of malnutrition.
Ethiopia’s doctor to children ratio is 1 to 24,000.
Only 42.7% of adults can read and write.
Half the children in Ethiopia will never attend school. 88% will never attend secondary school.
There are approximately 5 million orphans in Ethiopia, 800,000 of whom are AIDS orphans.
An Ethiopian child is 30 times more likely to die by his or her fifth birthday than a child in Western Europe.

Faces like these are why:

Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’  Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth. (Isaiah 43:5-6)

The Beginning

November 6, 2011, Orphan Sunday, wrecked my world.  

I've always felt like I would adopt one day.  Over the past several years when my friends have spoken in hushed tones about their fears of infertility I've always responded (quite happily, to be honest) "infertility wouldn't bother me; we'd just adopt."  I don't know if I'm infertile or not--although I have had some "female issues" which have required surgery--I've never actually tried to get pregnant.  

On July 12, 2011, my husband, Jon, lost his job.  So, by November 6, we were deep into the unemployment haze and wondering what the future held.  Having children--either biologically or via adoption--was not on our radar as we were simply in survival mode.  On Orphan Sunday my good friend Rachel and her husband Matt spoke about their experience adopting their son, Isaiah, from the foster care system, and about the plight of orphans worldwide.  I was proud of my friend for taking such a strong stand for what she believes in, and I smiled and nodded through their talk and got a little teary-eyed during the really touching bits.  I was unaware that, before the service, Rachel, Matt, and our pastor and friend, Jordan, had literally gotten on their faces before the Lord in our church's prayer room and asked that the cry of the orphan would be magnified and that the Lord would speak to people in the church who are called to adopt.  

The next day I googled international adoption and started researching which countries allow inter-country adoption... I wasn't sure why.  Each evening that week I did a little more research, and by Friday my heart was on fire for the orphans of Ethiopia--we HAD to adopt.  We had to.  My poor husband was completely unaware of the firestorm that was going on inside his wife.  On Friday night I made him sit down and watch several "gotcha day" videos on YouTube showing families getting their children out of Ethiopian orphanages and bringing them home.  He looked at me in alarm when he realized I was sobbing and asked "what's wrong with you? Why are you crying?" "Because we HAVE to do this" is all I managed to choke out.  

November 6, 2011, Orphan Sunday, wrecked my world.