by Joy Casey

One of my favorite things to do when I am in Ethiopia is visit families who have adopted children from our orphanage.  We have been plugging away at educating and inspiring the Ethiopian Christian community about God’s heart for adoption and the plight of orphans in their country.  We have had a good response, and I think this education has effectively changed the biased perception of adoption among Christ-followers in Ethiopia.  The pastor from a large church in Addis adopted a child from our orphanage, and  Zenebe has championed adoption from the pulpit resulting in many taking to heart his challenge, “If the Church is doing as God commands, this orphanage (Joyful Place) should be empty!”

I visited with Zenebe and Genet and their two children – 8th grade and 11th grade who spoke very good English – but the star in the room was Anisimos who toddled around smiling and laughing and making a mess with watermelon which no one cared a bit about.

Over the last year or so, I despaired over a little 3-year-old boy in our orphanage ever getting adopted.  But when finally a family came for him my heart settled; however, I was curious how little Firomi was adjusting to life in a nuclear family.  Opening the door to my knock, Firomi’s mother, Tsehaynesh (Suh-HI-nesh), wrapped me in a warm embrace that immediately made me feel welcomed and comfortable.  She told me of a dream she had – twice — of a little boy running to her.  When she went to the orphanage, Firomi, now named Eyobed (YO-bed), was the little boy in her dreams!

Observing Eyobed, he was peaceful, happy and outwardly affectionate with both his middle brother, Essay, and his mother.  I was told that he sleeps with Essay and barely leaves his side.  Daddy Zerihun and oldest brother Dawit were not at home, but his mother said that her husband and son felt that when they adopted Eyobed a special blessing came to their home.  Zerihun and Tsehaynesh named their three sons after David’s lineage:  Dawit (David), Essay (Jesse) and Eyobed (Obed).  Eyobed is in a wonderful family with an amazing legacy, and I left reassured and very, very thankful to God for sovereignly placing this little boy in the perfect family for him.Yonas came into our care when he was just two weeks old.  He grew strong and healthy and his sponsors and prayer partners prayed for him to be blessed with a family of his own.  God keenly listens to prayers having to do with orphans; He knew exactly whose family Yonas would flourish in.  Asamnew and Wude (Woody) and their 7-year-old daughter welcomed Yonas into their hearts when he was a year-old.  He had only been with his new family a couple of weeks when I visited, and he was adjusting beautifully.  His sister, mother and auntie were smitten (Dad was at work).  Wude and Asamnew named their son Saul, which means ‘he is a great man.’

Kubsa (now named Samuel) was just a little over a year-old when this wonderful family scooped him up, adding a son to their three daughters.  This family attends the Halwot Church (Pastor Zenebe) and after our orphanage director spoke at Anisimos’ dedication, the girls pestered their parents to adopt a little brother.  Mom Hana was hesitant knowing how a baby or toddler would change her life and the dynamics of their home, but she said the girls kept insisting.  She and Dinke prayed and were convinced this was the step God wanted them to take.  They are ever so glad they were obedient and sisters Ruth (13), Amen (10) and Abigel (8) are over the moon with their little brother.

I was at the airport one afternoon meeting a flight and I heard my name called from across the parking lot.  Wondering who in the world would know me in this setting, I looked around and saw a couple and little boy coming toward me, arms outstretched.  Yes!  I remembered this wonderful couple who adopted a toddler from our orphanage several years ago.  I had been a guest in their home shortly after the adoption and it was a delightful surprise to reconnect with them.

113 abandoned children from our Joyful Place orphanage have been adopted by Christian Ethiopian families.  The reasons children are in our care center are tragic, but God is in the restoration business and delights in giving a family to a child.