from Joy Casey, Adoption Ministry Director, in Ethiopia

YWAM had ten families who came for their first court date this week. We also facilitated six birthparents who were required to give their testimony before the adoption judge. Our orphanage director and CHI’s representative have been in court every day this week with the last case being heard this morning. It has been such fun to walk with the exceptional adoptive families that work with us, and I have been immeasurably encouraged with the caliber of people who are taking the beautiful children from the Widows and Orphans Homes into their hearts and homes. I tend to be a little picky about where “our” children go! I need not worry. God has directed the crème de la crème our direction and I have confidently placed children in the arms of some of the best parents in the world.

Adoption Ministry staff having lunch at a really nice-looking hotel
with several adopting parents.
This is not typical Ethiopia – trust me!
(Thank you for this pic, Jennifer!)

Along with the joy of watching adoptive families meet their children for the first time comes some strong emotions, to be sure. It is supremely hard for them to leave knowing they have approximately six to eight weeks of waiting until they can bring their little one home. The hearts of many of the adoptive families for the birth parent of their child has brought its own set of tensions, also. They see the sacrifice these parents have made and how little they have, and they find it difficult to articulate their gratitude adequately. Other families with abandoned children mourn that they don’t have more of a “story” or background to share with their child.

Several families have taken the long trip to Gimbie to see where their child is from and, in some cases, to bring their baby back to Addis. What an adventure! Every one of them has said it was an unforgettable experience and do not regret going one bit. We have some wrinkles to work out regarding transportation of birth parents, babies and adoptive families and have come up with some creative alternatives. Over time, we will learn what works best for everyone, keeping in mind that each set of circumstances and each family’s dynamic is unique.

The next phase of my trip is my own journey to the Widows and Orphans Homes in Nekemte, Gimbie and Dembidollo. Mark Wolbert, our Missions Director, Jeff Burns, Becky’s husband and our trip photographer and videographer, Tezera, Orphanage Director, Abebe, YWAM’s country representative, and I will leave at the crack of dawn tomorrow morning and will be gone for one week. We may get email out while we are in Nekemte, but there is little internet service in Gimbie and none in Dembidollo. We will be getting to know the new children that have come into our care, gathering as much information about them as possible and taking pictures and video of them to share with families who are adopting through the CHI/YWAM program. These children will not be put on the Waiting Children site until 100% of their paperwork has been complete, but we will be ready with their biography, pictures and video when they are ready.

Today (Friday) I am meeting the contractor who is overseeing the construction of our new Widows and Orphans Home in Adama and we are going shopping. We will pick out light fixtures, glass for doors and windows and paint colors for the rooms. I have to admit I am a little overwhelmed with the responsibility! I am thinking that maybe there won’t be as many options as I might have in America so making selections won’t be quite so daunting. I am also going to talk to the contractor about making screens for the windows of the baby and toddler nurseries. Do you know that they don’t have screened windows here in Ethiopia? This will be a novel idea and I know will require extra expense as well. But I want the windows open with good fresh air without the bugs! I’ll keep you posted how that goes ….

As I enjoy the fun times and persevere through tough circumstances, God’s Word is always a comfort. Psalm 121 reminds me that my help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let my foot slip (whew!) and He will protect me day and night. His Word gives me assurance that He is a shelter constantly at my side.

Becky, our administrator, and Liane, our social worker, not only are the very best at what they do, they are prayer warriors, too! They surround each of us working in Ethiopia with constant prayer, and they pray for each family that has traveled to meet their child and appear in court. How blessed we all are because of their faithfulness and integrity before God.