Saturday, May 9, 2015

Blessed By Birthmothers Across the Globe

Last week we hired an investigator halfway around the world in Ethiopia and this week we have pictures and information about all of our daughters' birth mothers.  MIND BLOWN.

It has literally been a million times easier to find these women in rural Ethiopia, living in mud huts, than it has to get my license plates switched over from Ohio to Pennsylvania, which still has not happened and we've lived here nearly a year.

Mike and I have been saying for the past 4 years that as soon as we got our 2011 tax refund, which includes our adoption tax credit, that we would hire an investigator to look into the twins' birth family.  Because this tax refund took a whopping FOUR YEARS to get straightened out, this has seemed like an elusive goal, something out of our reach.  Thanks to my superhero tax attorney Uncle Mike we were able to finally get the refund and not 2 weeks later I saw a question on an Ethiopian Adoption Support Group page I follow on Facebook.  There was a woman asking for a recommendation for an investigator and it just so happened that my friend Scott commented.  I sent Scott a message to ask more about this man he was recommending and his response was that this man was like a part of his family, a Christian and one of Scott's best friends.  SOLD.

I reached out to this man on Facebook, who lives in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  I gave him all of the information I have from the paperwork from their adoptions.  I've had a few friends go through this process and find out that most, if not all, of the information that was in their adoption paperwork was a lie, so there was no guaranteeing this information I was giving him was factual.  I figured we'd wait a couple of months to find anything out.

Imagine my surprise when only a couple of days later he was in the village that the twins were born in.  He had information.  Mike and I held our breaths when opening the email and reading his report.  

We hardly knew anything about the twins' story, beside what they could remember and verbalize to us in their broken English when they were four.  They talked about a mom figure, but called her by her first name.  This mom was on the paperwork once as their mother and yet on another set of paperwork she was listed as a guardian.  We weren't certain if she was the mom or an eldest sister.  They also spoke of an older sister and a baby sister.  Charlotte named all of her baby dolls after this baby sister and missed her dearly in that first year with us.  Even after being with us for nearly 3 years I remember a night where she broke down and wept because she was worried about her baby sister in Ethiopia.  My heart broke not being able to give her those answers she was craving.

Now we had the information in our lap and we prayed that it was good news that would be healing.  We opened the report and read it together before sharing it with the girls.  It turns out it was their mother and she is well, living with the other two daughters.  While the paperwork said that their father died, it turns out he just up and left once the baby sister was born, leaving their mother with no way to support her family.  She was in an impossible situation.  She relinquished custody of the twins when they were 3 (6 years ago) and had not heard a word about their whereabouts since.  She was so happy to see the pictures of the girls that we sent with our investigator.  She wept over them for a long time, he told us, and she had a hard time speaking.  I cannot even imagine not knowing where your children were and if they were ok for SIX YEARS.  The girls' sisters are also well, looking to be about 13 and 6 years old.  The younger one looks like a crazy awesome combination of the twins. 

When we showed the twins the pictures and shared the information they were beaming from ear to ear!  They loved seeing someone who actually looked like them!  They no longer have any conscious memories of their life back then, but I could see how healing it was going to be for them to have this treasure of information.  Seeing their first mother crying tears of joy when looking at their pictures.  She LOVES them, she MISSES them, they were wanted.  She made a selfless and impossible decision to give the girls a chance at a better life.  

A couple of days later we got word that our investigator was in Celia's family's village as he sent us pictures and a report.  Her birth mother is very young and very poor living in a home made of branches and sticks.  Once again the story of Celia's birth father being deceased proved to be untrue.  He also disappeared once Celia was born.  Her birth mother was so poor she was unable to feed herself enough to be able to produce milk to feed her baby.  Celia was very malnourished when she came to the orphanage.  She is now remarried and just recently had another baby, a boy.

Celia is only 5 right now so this information is a bit much for her to be able to process.  We told her about her baby brother in Ethiopia and her response was "I know, I remember him."  Umm yeah chica you left the country before you were one year old and he was just born, so no, you don't remember him, but whatever!  I feel good that as she gets older and does have questions that I will have some of the answers she is seeking.

As I look at the pictures of these beautiful women on the other side of the world I realize how incredible it is to be able to love someone this much without ever even meeting them.  I love these women.  I feel like our family has grown.  I never thought that we would have the opportunity to have any form of an open adoption when we adopted children from another country, but God has now opened that door.  Through our investigator I can now send letters, more pictures and other items he thinks might be helpful for them.  Mike and I are also looking into what it would take to pay for the twins' sisters to attend a good school.  We are praying about what we do next now that we have all of this information.  We feel a responsibility to help our new family members in any way we can.  While I set out to do this for the girls, I have realized it was just as much for me.  I needed to know that these mothers knew that their babies were well, loved and had a family that would never let them forget where they came from.  I feel lighter somehow.

We do plan on making a trip over there once the girls are older and when we go we will most definitely spend time with their first mothers.  I can't wait to hold them, cry with them, laugh with them, pray with them, cook with them and thank them for the gift they gave us and our girls.  These girls are going to do BIG things, and that began with their mothers making a very brave and scary choice of giving their children life.

God's timing is pretty amazing.  All of this happened just in time for mother's day.  Best gift ever.


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