by Joy Casey in Ethiopia


I greeted old friends today.  We traveled a road together that was bittersweet for both of us.  Each woman made a decision for their child that none of us would ever want to make.  I watched these mothers agonize over their inability to provide for their son or daughter, grandchild or niece and place them for adoption and my heart broke for them.  On the flip side, I tasted the sweetness of seeing a child wrapped in love in the U.S. by their adoptive family.  Today I got to share pictures with birth families showing their child growing and flourishing in the families they wished for them.  It brought a few nostalgic tears, but most tears were of gratitude for two things:  the life their child is experiencing and the fact that the adoptive family loves them, too, and remembers them with letters and pictures.


One letter from an adopted child to his Ethiopian mother asked a very poignant question. His birthmother answered it without hesitation as she wrestled through her decision long ago and today is still confident she made the right choice.


The young man asked, “Did I make the decision to go to the orphanage, or did you?”   His birthmother answered – “I wished you to have the best.  I could not provide what you need so I took you to the orphanage for a better life.  It was not your wish.  It was my decision.  I could not feed you.  If you stayed with me, you would have a miserable life and I wanted better for you.”


I could probably wrap that statement around most of the adoption stories I have been involved with over the years with variations here and there.  Sacrifice for your child.  It is what mothers do.


But today was a day of bringing a snippet of peace and reassurance to these dear ladies.  Pictures were passed around and kissed over and over.  Delightful exclamations emanated over how much he or she has grown, how beautiful she is and how proud they are of good report cards or success on the soccer field.  One 10-year-old girl wrote the funniest letter to her Ethiopian grandmother and we all laughed and laughed.  Truly, this is the joyful side of a tragic situation.  I am honored to be in the company of these dear ones and to be the emissary of the stellar adoptive families we have come to know and love.