exposing the dark side of adoption
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When we arrived at Sele Enat, I could hardly believe we were at an orphanage. We passed many homes (if you could call them that), and hadn't seen a shop or business in quite some time. Even though Layla doesn't seem to be in the BEST neighborhood, this was so much different. There was nothing but squalor all around. Could people really live like this? Could there really be an orphanage here? Was my daughter (and all these other children) so bad off, that this was a better solution? Wow! When we entered the orphanage property, things improved a bit. There was some play equipment. There were happy kids. Who would have guessed?

Sele Enat is run by Hanna Berhanu. She is an amazing lady! She was dressed nicely, and always had her headset on, connected to her cell phone. This was a woman that is dedicated to the children she cares for, 24 hours a day. Even though our daughter had not been in her orphanage for over 4 months, she recognized her right away. She actually called her by name. My heart started to break that very moment. I guess I didn't expect to find people that actually cared. How ignorant of me! Hanna showed us Grace's first crib. She even posed for photographs. What a wonderful lady!

When we all got back to the main building, and the rest of the children. We got our assignments from CJ. Will (my husband) was to read a book to the children. Even though he is a teacher, he was feeling a bit intimidated at the thought of reading an English book to children that spoke Amharic. He need not have worried. The children were like sponges. They enjoyed the story, and loved drawing pictures about it too. Some were very young, and drew simple pictures. Some were a bit more mature, and had very well thought out ideas. All of the pictures were beautiful to us!

Next, we headed outside to have snack. Since the story was about growing watermelon, the snack was watermelon. Bisrat, being the oldest, immediately took charge. He cut the watermelon, handed out the appropriate portions, and guided the children when they needed to take care of the rinds and paper towels they had used to clean themselves up. What a blessing he was. When everyone was cleaned up from there sticky snack, it was time to hand out the drawings to the appropriate children. We carefully looked over each drawing to see if there was a name or some other identifying mark. We managed to match all the drawings to the right children. We followed by taking their photo with their drawing. So sweet!

After everyone had their photo taken, a beautiful thing took place. Bisrat brought his drawing to my husband, said "Thank you", and gave him the paper. He encouraged each child to do the same. We weren't sure what to do at the time, but quickly realized this was exactly what these children needed to do. Their very life was being provided for by the charity of others, and they felt the need to give back. We have every one of those drawings to this day. What a treasure!!

When we arrived home, we had the opportunity to discuss our trip. We went to Ethiopia to bring home our daughter, but there were a couple other children that we would have happily brought home. Bisrat was one of them. We did not know at the time that he had siblings. Honestly, it never occurred to us to ask. I am SOOOO grateful that God had a plan for Bisrat and his siblings. We fell in love with him, but that was as intercessors. I have prayed for him daily since April. Oh the joy when I found out that he, and his siblings, had a family this past week. I am absolutely thrilled. Praise God!!!

Please keep this family in your prayers. Even though I have never met most of them, they are precious to me.

9 Insights:

5kiddad said...

I must agree. Bisrat was one of the children that I became quickly attached to. I remember thinking that he was so much more mature than children his age back in the states. I guess you have to grow up quickly in a third-world orphanage. As my wife stated, Bisrat was the one who weilded the knife to cut the watermellon. He was competent and confident in doing so. I remember thinking that I don't think I would let my kids do that and they are older then he is! Bisrat was the leader of the kids and they all looked up to him with respect.

As my wife stated, I would have proudly taken Bisrat home with us and I know his new family will instantly fall in love with him too.

Anonymous said...

I think we know Hanna Berhanu's older brother, Solomon. He is a pastor here at a church in Chicago. He is the friend of a co-worker of my husband and has been an invaluable source of information about the people, culture and language of Ethiopia (where he came from 20 years ago). He told us he had a younger sister Hanna who was still in Ethiopia and ran an orphanage. If this is the same family, I can onlly imagine that Hanna would be just as amazing a person as her brother!

Anonymous said...

What an awesome exchange. We, too, left part of our hearts behind with the older children. If we ever can adopt again, we plan to seriously consider an older child. I think your post advocates well for them! MP

Anonymous said...

What a great story! I remember finding out that Tekle's best friend had a family and we were all soooooo excited!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful story-- thanks so much for sharing! We will certainly keep Bisrat, his siblings and his future family (although I'd bet they already consider him their current family!) in our prayers!
Karen in San Diego

HolyMama! said...

what a beautiful story!!

2006 Nov 23