Tuesday, September 16, 2014

It's A Privilege

I've been thinking about motherhood quite a lot these days.  I guess being a mother to seven will do that to you :-). 

Every child is a blessing.  Really a total miracle if you think of all that has to happen to make the baby, grow the baby and birth the baby........As a child, I dreamed and dreamed of being a mother.  I played dolls longer than what most would consider age appropriate, gravitated to any baby in the room and looked forward to every babysitting job I could get just to be able to take care of a little one in preparation for the day when I would have a child of my own.

We were lucky to get pregnant easily with our first child Caleb.  Our second baby we lost to miscarriage at 12 weeks and that was one of the biggest heartbreaks of my life.  It also made me painfully aware that there are no guarantees in life about if, when and how you will become a mother.  In those long months (relatively short looking back) after that loss, I often wondered if I would ever have any more children.  I also remember being very thankful that we had Caleb, knowing that if we never had any other children, we were blessed. If only I would have known what God had in store for me! 

I have many friends who have suffered and struggled and had many more losses on the road to motherhood than I have.

Becoming a mother is a privilege.

Having children both through birth and adoption has given me an even greater understanding of what a privilege motherhood is.

Becoming a mother through adoption is a special privilege.

Without giving too much of my children's histories away, and only with their permission, I'll share a few details.  This shouldn't shock anyone, but I am not their only mother. For Eli who was so young, I am the only mother he has ever really known.  However, my girls were all old enough when they came home to know this fact and that's just a hard thing.  It's hard for them as one can only imagine and it's hard for me.  None of our kids remember their birth fathers.  Nick is all they have known and so his transition into fatherhood through adoption was seamless (I've always been a little jealous of that to be honest).  The usual bonding period progressed and he is just dad.

Knowing that my girls all have mothers that they love and miss is a difficult thing to navigate.  I often wonder if they are comparing the two of us.  When they are upset with me, I wonder if they are wishing they had their first mom instead of me.  I sometimes think I'm letting their birth moms down or maybe not doing things just as they had hoped (especially on some of my not-so-shinning-mom-moments).  Maybe juvenile feelings, but this is all pretty unnatural territory.  I haven't come across a whole lot of manuals out there on how to do this exactly right, and so I've prayed a lot, sought counsel within our adoption community and done the best I can to always acknowledge, pray for and talk about their first mothers, while trying to be the best mother to them that I can.

Which brings me to the real point of this post. The mission trip to Ethiopia that Nick and Hermela took was amazing on many levels.  It's always good to get back to Ethiopia.  Taking one of our kids over is extra good and being able to serve orphans and widows with our church is a triple win.

But, this trip was uniquely special in the fact that Hermela was able to reunite with her birth mother and brother.  She has been a bit concerned about them over the years.  Since she's been home, we have been able to make contact with her family on our various trips to Ethiopia and so we've been able to check up on them, but Hermela has always wanted to be able to go back and in her words, "let them know that I'm ok." 

When this trip came up, we knew that this was the opportunity we had been waiting for to make this a reality.

And so, just hours after stepping of the plane in Ethiopia, this moment happened.

I mean that's pure joy!

I have often wondered how this moment would play out for Hermela.  Would it be awkward, would she want to stay, would she feel guilty.........(again, no manuals out there to walk through moments like these).  I prayed and prayed and all I can say is it was just perfect.

All of my fears melted away as Nick filled me in on how the meeting went.  Everyone was so happy and thankful to see Hermela, pictures of Meron and our family and to hear updates.  One thing that we found out is that Hermela and Meron's mother had been outcast from her community and most of her family because of the girls being placed in an orphanage.  Adoption is not always understood and they did not understand what she had done with her children.  Hermela coming home changed all of that.  Once they saw Hermela well and returning back for a visit, everyone realized that what she had been telling them was true.  She also said that of all the families in her community (she knows of 8 families), not one of them has ever had their child return.  It was a great moment to be able to reassure her that we were indeed taking care of her girls and hopefully raising them up as she had hoped.  True redemption!

Seeing her big brother for the fist time.

Nick said family and friends were coming out of the woodwork!

I love this picture!

I truly feel like God has joined our families together.  I don't have to be worried about my place as the "second" mother.  I am the mother of my children, just as their birth moms will always be.  It doesn't make sense, but it works because God has allowed it.

I do not know why God chose me.  I do not know why I am the lucky one who gets to raise up these seven children, but I do know that it is my greatest privilege and honor.

"For my thoughts are not your thought, neither are your ways my ways declares the Lord.
As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than
your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."

Isaiah 55:8-9

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Melkam Addis Amet

It's officially the New Year in Ethiopia so we want to wish a very happy 2007 to all of our Ethiopian friends and family!
We love our Ethiopian community and are so thankful for those God has placed in our lives both here and in Ethiopia (especially these 4 cuties).

Here's Eli showing a little of his Ethiopian spunk!

 Our beautiful girls.

The whole crew decked out in their new Ethiopian clothes that dad and Hermela
 brought back from their trip.

Tomorrow we will cook, cook, cook (with lots and lots of onions) a feast of Ethiopian dishes and yummy injera (fresh from Ethiopia) and celebrate the New Year.
More to come from the big trip to Ethiopia.......stay tuned!