Cows, donkeys and sheep in the road are so commonplace in Ethiopia that we almost didn't bother getting a picture of it. It finally dawned on me that we might have no pictures of this so one of us took these.
This drive is on the way down to Hossana, which is about 4 hours south of the capital city of Addis Ababa.
Just drink in this view! Absolutely breathtaking. The drive to Sheshemene is similar but we noticed some differences...fewer people walking along the roads and more of these round huts.
We also noticed that the crops in the region were big and healthy. We've heard so much about drought and famine in southern Ethiopia but we didn't see that here. They had good rains and that's produced these beautiful crops. The bad famine is farther south, it seems.
This is the hotel where we stayed in Hossana. There is a restaurant attached where we took our sponsored kids to lunch and also Mihiretu and Misganaw's family. Good food.
An early morning view from our balcony at the Lemma Hotel.
We had the room with the view here. Kevin and Denise overlooked a parking lot or a bus station.
The gas station in Hossana. No, I'm not kidding.
This is the Hope for Hossana school. It is supported by Children's Home Society, the adoption agency used to adopt the boys. It is a beautiful facility full of children of all ages. The man in the white coat is the teacher...all teachers in Ethiopia wear white coats like this one.
Ok, seriously...do you see what they are learning?? Impressive to say the least!
We were pleased to visit this school as since we adopted the boys, our family has sent support for this school. It is a complicated issue and hard for many to understand but after you adopt a child, you may not financially support their biological family in any way. The agreement is that when the biological family chooses to make and adoption plan for their children, the only contact they may have with the adoptive family is the yearly post placement reports (they may view them) or we may send them an occasional letter with photos or drawings by the children. That's it! So by supporting this school in their community, we feel we are supporting their family in an indirect way. Otherwise, what will we say if one day they ask us, "What did you do to help our family in Ethiopia?" Supporting this school has been our answer.
The reason is simple. If we sent monetary support or gifts to the family, other desperate families might see that and decide to "give their child/children away" in order to receive such support. This is shocking and difficult for the Western mind to conceive of. But trust me when I say that you have to see this kind of poverty to comprehend it. Who knows what lengths I might go to as a mother? I can understand thinking, "I will give away one of my children to save the other 4...the new family will send me money and the rest will survive." This is avoided by adoptive families NOT being allowed to do such things, as hard for us as that was and is.
We completely understand and agree with this policy. It's about ethics.
So this school was the sight chosen for us to meet with Mihiretu and MJ's family and we were doubly blessed that day.
Only Blaine and I were allowed in the initial meeting with their family so Katie and De, Kevin and Denise remained outside. You can see what happened to Katie and De. Surrounded! One little boy asked De if he was his real brother. He asked if De was from Ethiopia and if his name was Eyob. He said that De looked just like his brother who'd gone to America. So cute.
I don't know any other way to do this but to make this the worlds longest post ever. But I have to give you some background to this meeting. It's important to us to retain our boys' privacy and I've always done that. I've never posted any picture of their family.
Their story is very typical with really nothing to hide but not every child has that kind of story. It's important never to ask an adoptive parent, "What happened to their parents?" or "Did they die of AIDS?" Oh, man that's a bad one. You may be curious but don't ask.
There is pain with each and every adoption story, international and here in the U.S. When you ask, you put us in a bad spot..protecting our child/children or risk making you mad. We'll choose our kids every time. Please don't be mad at us.
I have chosen today to share some of their story because I want you to see that they are human beings...real people. I know that when we adopted them almost 5 years ago, I mentioned on my blog that we'd met their mother and that she was incredibly lovely. I had not mentioned that their father had died and left her with 7 children to care for and she could not do it. M and M were the youngest and she chose to place them for adoption. She told them in a recording that she loved them so very much that she wanted them to live and have a future. Selfless...more than I can comprehend.
When we decided to take this trip, we immediately knew that we must visit her to reassure her that we were holding up to our promises that we'd made her in regards to the boys. We promised her they'd attend church, own their own Bibles, learn them, etc. The least we could do was to show her these things after she'd entrusted her most precious gifts to us.
We made arrangements through Children's Home Society to meet her. Soon after we made these arrangements, we got some wonderful news. It was shocking but wonderful. Their father was alive. He'd gone looking for more farmland and after he'd been gone a long time, she got word that he'd died. But in fact, he had been very sick but he recovered and came home! What a thrill for her and the rest of the family. We'd never have known this if we hadn't arranged for this visit.
So not only did we get to see their mother, we got to meet their father and their siblings!
This is the boys maternal grandparents. I can't say enough about them. They are strong Christian people who simply could not stop praising the Lord when they say each photo of the boys! She kept raising her hands in praise, saying "Yesus Christos." She couldn't stop thanking Jesus.
I chose to include a few, carefully selected photos for the first time. My desire is that you see the love and connection they have to us and we have to them. The photos I've chosen to share, with the exception of the grandparents' are not full face. That's by design. We do have some portrait type family pictures with all of them and all of us but those will hang in our home, not be put on the internet. Hope you understand.
This man hugging Katie is the boys' father. He looks very old but considering the hard, hard life he's led, we believe him to be about 50. The sweetie walking away is the oldest boy, who if he turned around, you would see Mihiretu's face looking back at you. Really, it is eery in a good way.
The girl hugging Katie is the oldest sister, who also looks so much like Mihiretu. The boy on the left is the oldest brother, the girl behind Katie is the younger sister and the little guy in the grey shirt is Mihiretu's older brother.
Meeting them was a priceless time for all of us. Since we got home, I can't look at Mihiretu without seeing his mother, sister and brother. I look at him and wonder.
I have so much more to share about our feelings but I know this is an epic post so I better quit now and come back to it later.
Thanks for sticking with this one. You're amazing if you did!