This month on My Crazy Adoption we are celebrating Adoption Awareness Month. I love posting adoption stories from guest bloggers. If you are interested in sharing your adoption story at any phase of the process, please email me.
Today, I wanted to share our adoption story.
When we adopted Zoie Senait, and held her for the very first time, my heart fell deeply in love at first sight. I know that this phenomenon doesn’t happen for everyone, but it did for me. I looked into her deep brown eyes and every love song in existence hit my heart instantaneously!! I was madly in love!! I write often in my blog about adoption, but I have never fully shared Zoie’s adoption story. There are some parts of Zoie’s life story that are for our family exclusively… precious things that should be saved only for our daughter. They are her treasures to share. However, there are some things that are meant to be shared of God’s miracles, faithfulness, grace, hope, and love.
I have prayed since returning from Ethiopia in July about sharing on my blog the miracle God gave our family. He planned it step by step and somehow in the craziness of leading a missions trip with 30 extraordinary people, God allowed me to walk into a miraculous adventure. Honestly, it has taken me a very long time to process the things I saw and touched and smelled and heard and tasted, but now, the time is right to share with you the story of Zoie’s adoption miracle.
On my very first day back in Ethiopia, July 26, 2010, I hired a driver and guide from my agency to help me find the three keys we had in our adoption paperwork. I had in my hands, Zoie’s birthmother’s name, the police station where she was relinquished, and the area of employment (no address). It really felt like a mission!! I was prepared that day to visit the two most important places in my daughter’s life. I thought a few photos would be amazing and special to keep tucked away in her baby book. I wanted to give Zoie something tangible to touch someday if she wanted information about her life in Ethiopia.
I had no idea that my day would embark on the supernatural, cracking open secrets that were inside Zoie’s paperwork that we did not know existed. My guide, was like an Ethiopian James Bond with the spirit and energy to match the secret spy. The ultimate goal was to dig up enough information in the few hours I had- perhaps even finding Zoie’s birthmother. I dreamed and longed to meet the precious woman who gave birth to our beautiful daughter. I had no idea what I would actually do if we found her, but I had prayed to God the past two years for an adoption miracle.
The information we have on Zoie’s birthmother is limited, but enough to know that she was strong, courageous, smart, savvy, survivor, gifted, and loving at 17 years old when she relinquished her rights. We received a letter from birthmother that was bittersweet. She explained in great detail how much she loved her daughter, but also why she was not able to care for her. I have NEVER doubted her reasons, but often played the scene over and over in my head about the day she had to say goodbye to her daughter, Senait. I have actually prayed that God would show her in dreams that Zoie Senait is safe, loved, cared for, beautiful and happy. I want her heart to be at peace.
Our James Bond guide took me and a few of my team to the first location- a clinic to check out details he had found in the paperwork. I had noooo idea that there was a clinic on our route, but he pointed at a few words in Amharic that were very good “clues.” At that moment, I realized it was a real possibility that we might actually find Zoie’s birthmother.
He rushed inside and we sat in the van waiting and praying. He came back very excited about what he found out. He again, pointed to parts of the adoption paperwork and said enthusiastically, “I think I know where your daughter was born!” Whatttt??? You think you know where Zoie was born, I repeated loudly. Where is that in the paperwork? We raced off in the van to a small clinic that our guide thought was the spot. We were all giddy with anticipation and the entire time I kept thinking, Ohhhh noooo Hubby should be here seeing all this with me! The secret spy took off and we were left alone at the clinic gates. My instincts kicked in and we decided to explore inside with our cameras! This is what I saw:
I was speechless. I didn’t understand why I was at this clinic… could this really have been where Zoie was born? My heart was thumping so fast I could hardly breath. I noticed two women sitting outside the building so I stopped and held out my hand to say hello. They told me in broken English that this was a very special place. The new mom shared that this was a clinic that took in very poor people in the community and helped them. I was so moved by her words that I started to cry. I thanked her and asked her if this was the building where she had her baby. She smiled and nodded yes. I decided to go inside the door marked “Delivery.” I could barely stumble through the door- but immediately felt this calmness come over me. I felt peace … everything just made sense in my heart. The hallway was dimly lit, but I could hear voices. I walked down a few doors and peeked inside a tiny room. There was a screen up and obviously someone was having a baby. I immediately turned to leave, but a woman asked me what I was doing. Ahhhh the sense of being caught, flooded my face I’m sure. She motioned for me to come inside and I was embarrassed due to the people inside helping with the delivery. I bowed slightly and apologized for being there, but they all looked at me with puzzled faces. I gulped and said as quickly as I could, the truth- “I adopted a beautiful baby girl two years ago from Addis Ababa and I believe she may have been born here at your clinic.” Well, at that moment, the staff burst with excitement and started asking me many questions. I was weeping and trying to answer all their questions when the mid-wife hugged me and thanked me for adopting a child from here and she started crying. I was a mess!! The hospital staff rushed me into another tiny room and opened a big, thick book of names and dates. Was I dreaming? Was this really happening? They asked me the name of the mother and the date of birth. My heart was pounding as they poured over the book. Meanwhile, the rest of the group was trying to find our spy guide- who had completely disappeared for over an hour.
We found Zoie’s birthmother’s name and Zoie’s three dates of immunization- real, living tangible proof that she had been there. We will never know 100% if she gave birth at this clinic, but the midwives explained to me that typically the place mothers bring their children for immunizations, is the place they delivered the child. When I touched her name in the book, God gave me overwhelming peace that He had a reason for me being there that day. I will never be able to thank the incredible clinic staff that day that helped me piece together a mystery of love. They allowed me to take a photograph of a young mother holding her baby for the immunization… I was weeping (the ugly cry) knowing this was the very chair our birthmother sat in holding Zoie Senait. This was a real place, with real people, helping others in their time of need.
My team literally had to pick me up and help me back to the van. I was a wreck. I could not wrap my brain around the things I had witnessed at the clinic. Ourguide pointed at one more word in the adoption paperwork- spelled KORE. I had looked at that word before but had no clue what it meant. He told me that our birthmother lived in Kore and he would take us to the church to see if anyone recognized her name. It was almost too much for my heart, but we plunged ahead to see if we could find someone who knew our birthmother. The van bounced down the narrow streets- worst I have ever seen and finally stopped in front of a beautiful church. He shared that if a mother was in trouble, this is where she would come for help. He showed several locals the photo of Zoie and mother’s name, then took off running with several women and men. There was a real excitement in the air.. they recognized something!! We were instantly surrounded by locals… I was so nervous, but didn’t really realize that we were left alone.
The guide came back, but had disappointing news… they met two mothers who had given up their children at the same time, but they were not my birthmother. I was so happy to have found this place and had such an overwhelming sense of peace in my heart knowing the things I found out today. It was time for us to go, but had no clue that more miracles were coming in the morning!!
You might have read blogs from people that have traveled to Addis Ababa and ministered with Project 61 at the Korah Dump. I read those same blogs too and watched the videos, weeping over the poverty and filth that I saw in the faces of the people living on the dump. I had no idea that God was going to give me a different view of the dump and a miracle for our daughter, Zoie. This is a living testimony of God’s mercy and goodness and glory all wrapped up in a place called Korah.
The next morning, my missions team headed to Project 61… as we bounced down the streets in our big bus to the dump, I glanced out the window and thought- this place looks really familiar. As we jostled farther down the narrow dirt streets, I kept starring outside and my mouth literally dropped open. I was back in Kore!! Was my daughter’s Kore- Korah??? I had no clue where we were, but everything looked familiar. We pulled up to this little building and the sign said Project 61. I was completely shocked that I was back where my daughter was born and the morning was a blur of activity. I really have no idea how to express to you what was going on in my heart. When I walked out on the dump- you can’t see where it ends. It’s just endless hills of trash. But, I saw Korah with different eyes- I looked at every face and tried to find Zoie’s face. I looked at their smiles, hair, teeth, eyes… trying to find my daughter. I saw her every place I looked. This was her home, this was her people, this was my daughter’s community. I fell deeply in love at first sight. I know that this phenomenon doesn’t happen for everyone, but it did for me. I looked into the heart of Kore and every love song in existence hit my heart instantaneously!! I was madly in love!!
Isn’t it amazing that God CAN change our lives with one word. For me, it was Kore.
I pray that you will look at the faces of Korah with beauty, and dignity, and respect, and love. God has used our beautiful daughter, Zoie to grow a powerful love in our hearts for this community. My family will give our time and effort and life to simply love the people of Kore. I want to personally thank Sumer Yates and her family, Samuel Liben and the Great Hope staff, Alicia Jordan, and P61 for loving Kore with all your hearts. We are thrilled to hold your hands and serve the beautiful people of Ethiopia! (special note- I can’t wait to share what our family will be doing in 2012 with the men of Korah- stay tuned!)
My Crazy Adoption is GIVING AWAY a mission trip and I want to challenge you to come with me and serve the fatherless. Please continue to spread the giveaway news on your blogs, FB, and Twitter. Together we can make a difference in the life of a child who desperately needs to hear God’s love for them.
Here are a few of my favorite Korah posts from blog friends that I love:
Melanie Strobel – My Child of Korah
Big Nanny- Love Stinks.
Sumer Yates- Project 61