In the beginning, JD adamantly only wanted two children. I thought that four would be perfect. Once we caught God's vision of putting orphans into families, our plan was multiplied by God. We are currently blessed with 12 children; five biological, six adopted and one more waiting in Ethiopia. Our first adoption was from the U.S., the next three were from Liberia, West Africa, and our last two were from Ethiopia. We are supporting our 12th child in Ethiopia after her adoption could not pass court.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Selah's Story

The rhythm (or lack thereof) the last few weeks has made me shake my head a few times and wonder how I'm going to mesh this life with two new children. When JD and I had 13 quiet hours in the car driving to PA and back, one of our conversations ranged on our ages and the volume of small children we are going to have. In fact, at the moment, our youngest are 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7! We have sons that are five months apart and daughters that are 10; adoption has a way of making the impossible possible. While I know there are lots of older people adopting like us, the reality of our ages when our final batch are finishing high-school is hitting me, (it hit JD a long time ago and he has worked through it.) 

When we began our Ethiopian adoption, we asked for siblings and actually did our home study for up to three. We were told siblings were rare and were also told that Ethiopia discourages the adoption of two unrelated children, but makes special cases in the event of special needs. Before we were offered Bella, we had pretty much been scared away from the idea of adopting two unrelated children for the fear of having them on different court schedules that could require four, instead of two, trips to Ethiopia. When we saw God work so obviously in the referral of Bella, we both immediately thought that we needed to re-open the door to a second child. We told the adoption agency that we were open to a second of the same perimeter as the first. We were told that our second child would also have to be paper work ready (most aren't), MOWA (the governing body that handles adoptions in Ethiopia) would have to approve a second unrelated child and they would have to approve us for an 11th child since 10 is Ethiopia's recommended maximum number. There was also only a few weeks to locate a child to keep Isabella's court schedule. We agreed to let the agency look at the different orphanages that they are allowed to place from and all agreed that it would be God's hand if a second child actually was presented. About a month went by when I received a call from our agency that told me that another child had been located. She was in a different region and there were some additional costs to processing in different courts. There are also additional costs to adopting two unrelated children, since Embassy paperwork has to be doubled when they are not biological siblings. We agreed to look at the referral.

I don't know what happened to me at that point, but I realized that I had just landed in a whole new camp in this adoption. While I had a hope of maintaining our current life and just bringing Bella on board, it hit me that bringing two little girls home from different regions, different families, different challenges and possibly even different languages, there was not going to be a smooth and easy adjustment. I realized that we were going to have to make major changes to accommodate both of them, especially Selah who will be five and has been in the orphanage far longer. Although we adopted Ben and Julia in almost the same scenario, fear really set in. I had serious concerns about claiming any second child and at the same time, I couldn't fathom actually walking away from her little picture knowing that she may have never be adopted. I really struggled for two weeks. I talked to a friend and my sister who were both incredibly helpful in the reality of understanding that fear is never from God; and while that doesn't mean we were supposed to proceed, it did mean that I could start to evaluate the decision without taking the fear into account. I finally found peace when I realized that we were being called to lay aside our "normal" lives for the fall and only focus on what these two little girls will need. Once again, that means that my already-at-home children are also being called to give up their normal fall activities to sacrifice for their new sisters. Once I laid aside what I had planned for our family for the fall (including the new Classical Conversations that I was so excited to put them in,) bringing two little girls home looked much more exciting than fearful. 

I want people to know that while we are excited beyond measure, there is still an element of fear. I struggle with the reality of adding two more members to our often already chaotic life. I remember dealing with African parasites and all the other "just came to America" medical care that my Liberians required and I shake my head. But, God flung the door wide open for Selah. She was found in an orphanage towards the Somalian border where she has been waiting for a family for almost three years. Amazingly, she had the beginning stages of prepared paperwork and the adoption agency is planning on submitting their cases in court on the same day. MOWA pre-approved us adopting two unrelated children and also gave pre-approval that Gabriel doesn't count as a child these days since he is 20 and didn't live at home last year. I honestly prayed for God to slam any of these doors shut, if we weren't supposed to come home with two, but they all opened wide. Now, I'm very attached and can't picture heading to Ethiopia and not seeing Selah's little face standing next to Bella's. I haven't gotten word yet, but am hoping that she has been moved to the transition home with Bella and they at least getting to know each other a bit and be some comfort to each other while they wait.

I received a call from Homeland Security the other day verifying Moriah's birth date; the lady told me that my paper would be on the way shortly. This is the last piece of American paperwork that has to make it across the ocean. After that approval, we can be submitted to court and it's only about an eight week wait!

Here's the only part of Selah's picture I can show. Elijah looked at it and said, "we didn't know that she was going to have blue Crocs!" 


  1. A girlfriend of mine from church is also blogging about her adoption (also from Ethiopia). Their son (now 2 yr old) is also from Ethiopia. Thought you might enjoy reading her blog. It is: waitingforonemoreknight.blogspot.com

  2. Wow, Jenny. What a similar journey we are on. We also looked into Classical Conversations for my kids and thought it would be a great fit for the fall. Then we decided to think about China again and that brought everything back into focus about what we as a family can manage. It is just a season and life lessons are hard but good, right?