by Joy Casey
I am back in the capital city of Addis Ababa. My work in the countryside is done and now I switch gears to a cosmopolitan atmosphere with all the trappings that go with a city of 5.5 million residents. Bad roads defined the first week of travel, traffic jams plague the second. But the Ethiopian people make up for all that. They are warm, friendly and the sights, sounds and smells are familiar and comforting in an exotic sort of way.
Ethiopian Easter is a week later than ours. Today was a busy-busy market day with people shopping for Easter dinner. Shopping is significantly different than we are used to. Want goat tibs or doro wat* for dinner?
Then take home a live goat or a couple of chickens the day before dinner and the freshest meat will be yours when you need it.
Along the way pick up some tomatoes, fresh spinach, berbere, carrots, cabbage and other vegetables to cook … scoop it all up with some injera (cultural bread) and feast with a grateful heart.
The years when international adoption was viable, we placed 138 children with Christian families in the U.S. Sixty-four of those children were relinquished. At that time we had four orphanages throughout the Oromo state: Dembidolo, Gimbie, Nekempte and Adama. Once the adoption was complete, we vowed not to forget the courageous and selfless family member who made an adoption plan for their child.
Over the years we have brought news to birth mothers and fathers, aunts and grandmas. I cannot over-emphasize the importance of this connection for both the birth family and for the adopted child.
The last several years we have not been able to go to most of these towns due to ethnic unrest and violence. On this trip I brought over news for families in these areas that will be taken by courier and given to our former orphanage director. He will have the letters interpreted and then share them with family members. I am so happy this connection will happen, even though I am disappointed I cannot be there to hug these dear ones whom I have grown fond of. And, doing it this way, the adopted family will not get any reciprocal news or pictures of the birth family. For now, this is the best we can do.
Others I get to meet in person. We invited several to come and have coffee with us and even though there are always a few tears when they see their child growing up, hearing about their lives brings them much satisfaction and peace.
One mother said she always worries that her daughter might get sick and then seeing pictures of her happy and well sets her at ease.
Some of the adopted children are now in college or high school and write letters to their birth family themselves. A few of the younger children drew pictures and some schoolwork might be included – it really doesn’t matter; it is the simple touchpoint that brings peace.
*doro wat is Ethiopian chicken stew made as spicy as you want; goat tibs are small chunks of flavorful goat meat with onion and peppers in a savory sauce