Addis Ababa here we come, April, 2014!
|Gratuitous Baby Lily in Ethiopia photo.|
This time, however, we will not have any extra return tickets. ;)
Almost as soon as we adopted Daniel and Lily two years ago we decided that we would be visiting their home country of Ethiopia as often as we could. I know that is a decision that not all adoptive families are willing or able to make, and that for non- adoptive families it may seem baffling. Why?! would we want to visit Africa every couple of years? They are, after all, very expensive plane tickets. It is 24 exhausting hours of travel. But, our family lives there.
Not their family. Our family.
Adopting children is kind of like getting married. It is joining families together that were formerly strangers. Our children's biological family members in Ethiopia are like our in-laws. How could we not visit them as often as we can?
Some friends have expressed worry that the children will be confused or upset by the trip. That they will want to return to their birth family.
The truth is that our children always want to return to their birth family. That is perfectly normal and right. They love their American family and their American life. They miss their Ethiopian family and (parts of) their Ethiopian life. The reasons that they cannot be with their first family(legal reasons, reasons of poverty) won't be changed by visiting Ethiopia. In fact, those reasons may become even more apparent and real. Daniel remembers that his family has no shoes and wears the same clothes every day. But this time he will notice how thin and small his family is. He will notice how the roads are unpaved and the schools have no toys or books in them.
Why would we want to subject him to that?!
Because living truthfully is the foundation of our family. Because he will never fully accept that it was not HIS fault that he was relinquished by his family and adopted until he understands the seriousness of their poverty and challenges. I can tell him a million times that his family has fewer choices that most American families. He will never believe me. I can tell him a million times that his Ethiopian family believed that relinquishment was the best choice. He won't take that into his heart. But he will see for himself the limits that poverty places on Ethiopians each time we visit. He can talk with his first family about their choices. He can take that truth into his heart. And so can Lily, who is only just beginning to ask the questions that Daniel has been thinking of for two years.
We are visiting Ethiopia because our family lives there. God willing, we can begin and sustain regular contact with them for years to come. We are legally and morally restricted from giving them money. But, we can give them photos and small gifts and TIME. Every moment we get to spend with our Ethiopian family is a huge gift. I cannot wait. I know it will be so hard. It will be hard to communicate (we are hiring a translator/driver). It will be hard to say hello after all the sad things that have happened. It will be hard to say goodbye, knowing that we may not see them again for a long while, or ever. But, but... imagine saying goodbye to a loved one, thinking you would never see them again, not knowing if they would be okay.
And then seeing them again, healthy and whole.
Thousands of dollars in tickets and hotel bills and 24 hours of travel. Worth it.
|Addis Ababa, here we come!|