After Scott, my father-in-law who works at The Gladney Center, had tried and failed several times to make a connection with the Ethiopian government to discuss establishing an adoption program, he got a name of an acquaintance of the husband of a co-worker: Segi Desta. All that Scott knew when he emailed Segi was that she was from Ethiopia. It seemed like a shot in the dark, (if someone asked you if you could help get your government to start an adoption program, could you?) but Segi was the perfect link between the Ethiopian government and The Gladney Center for Adoption. Yes, God was working. Her contacts and her passion for the idea got things rolling almost immediately! The Gladney Center was approved to handle Ethiopian adoptions just 6 short months after Segi got involved. She also connected Gladney with its current in-country administrator for Ethiopia, a very special man you will hear about later.
Segi, who has lived in the U.S. for about 35 years, carries a deep love for her home country and tirelessly does anything she can to help the Ethiopian people both in Ethiopia and here in the States.
Segi was probably Hennock’s most frequent visitor in the hospital – she loves him dearly and came every lunch break she could and sometimes in the evening, too. She also cared for us – went above and beyond caring for us – by providing or arranging for dinner every night and many lunches, too, while we were staying in the hospital.
Segi is such a vital link in Hennock’s story and in the stories of all the Ethiopian orphans who will be adopted through her work. We are thankful for her willingness to be used by God, and we consider her a part of Hennock’s family.
Belayneh Tafesse (aka Belay, pronounced Buh-‘lye)
This is Gladney’s in-country coordinator for Ethiopia, the man I spoke of last week in the section on Segi. I am so excited to tell you about him! To me, he was Hennock’s first advocate, and he is a monumental part of why he is with us today. The duties of Belay’s job include visiting the orphanages and seeing to the care of the orphans. Belay cares for each child as if it were his own and works diligently taking them to doctor’s appointments and to the hospital when necessary. It was he who introduced Scott and Monica, who knew of him because of the adoption that did not go through, to Hennock when they visited, explaining his condition and the grim future he faced if he underwent the surgery in Ethiopia. He didn’t give up on Hennock. Instead he presented his needs to the people who could help. When Hennock stopped eating, he called Scott to start that miraculous process of getting him to the States, managing to get past the Ethiopian government’s substantial red tape. When he applied for Hennock’s passport, he gave him his first name as a last name - Hennock Belayneh – as is the custom with fathers and sons in Ethiopia.
Coincidentally, (if there is such a thing) Belay and his wife traveled to the States about a week after Hennock, so they have been able to visit him and be a part of the excitement of Hennock finding his family with us! I am so grateful for his heart for orphans, his love for Hennock, and his willingness to do whatever it takes to give children the best chance at life. Like Segi, we consider Belay and his whole family a very special part of our family.
Gladney International Program Coordinator
Kathleen has been right there with Scott and Belay helping Hennock every step of the way. She loves him and has been completely committed to doing whatever it takes to save his life and find him a loving family. Her workday extends far beyond the hours of 8-5, Monday through Friday.
When Hennock arrived and was in the hospital, Kathleen desperately wanted to visit him but had a cold and felt like she shouldn’t. After a few days, though, she was better and came to visit the baby she had worked so many hours to help save. She was so happy when Ryan and I decided to adopt him because she trusted that we would be a loving family for him. When she came to the hospital to visit, she went through all of the paperwork with us and has been walking us through every step of this confusingly detailed process (and Ethiopia is a relatively easy one). We are so thankful for her, yet another huge advocate for Hennock!