Saturday, February 26, 2011

Adopting a Waiting Child: Aliya's Story

My husband and I have been blessed with 5 beautiful children: 2 who came to us biologically and 3 who came to us by way of adoption.

We chose to adopt older children from Ethiopia. Five years ago, when we first began the process to adopt we requested 2 siblings under the age of 4. We waited only 6 weeks for their referral, since at that time most people wanted a single baby girl or boy. In my mind, I expected a 3 and 4 year old and were surprised to have a 3.5 year old (who actually turned out to be a year older) and a 9 month old baby referred to us! Our older kids were then 14 and 16 years old. We were THRILLED!

The transition with the boys was relatively smooth. They had no temper tantrums, although I had a couple:) They have adjusted to our family seamlessly and are now a 8 year old aspiring pro athlete and an adorable, quick witted pre-schooler. Our lives without these boys would be unimaginable for us now.

A few years ago, God began breaking my heart for the older kids in Ethiopia. I mean, I was losing sleep. They were what I thought about all day, every day. My heart was for the older boys there. When I say older boys, I don’t mean 7 year olds. My heart was for the teenage boys. There are many, many elementary age boys on waiting lists for every adoption agency in Ethiopia. If they were waiting without a family wanting them, what about the really older boys, 12 and up? Who would want to adopt them? Why were they any less deserving of a loving family than a sweet little baby or toddler? Well, they weren’t but they were less desirable by families.

Yes, we all know that the older the child, the more background they have. With background, what will be their issues? Will they have suffered abuse? How will we handle that? They will have to learn English. That will be difficult at their age. How will we handle their education? Will they ever catch up? We know that if we adopt a 12 year old, we will only have 6 years before they turn 18 and are an adult. After all, if we are going to invest the blood, sweat, tears, let alone the money it takes to adopt, let’s make it worth it and adopt a baby. Better chance of success and more time with them.

Sounds terrible to say these things but let’s face it, isn’t this what people think? There is a lot of fear surrounding adopting older childen.

Almighty God loves children of all ages. How His heart must grieve when the older kids get overlooked time after time. How it must break His heart to see so few Christians willing to take a chance on an older child.

God had revealed his desire for us adopt in a dream in our first adoption. And now He was burdening me about another. I begged Him to stop. Seriously, it was like torture for me. Whenever this burden hit me, I decided to ask God to tell my husband this time. Last time, He showed me, this time I begged him to show Blaine.

I finally shared this burden with my husband and he instantly said, “This time I think we should adopt a 12 year old girl.”


It seems that God had answered my begging and pleading. Unbeknownst to me, for the past 3 weeks my husband had been praying and asking God to show him that we would be able to afford to have another child. That week, God brought new business to him and he was convinced we could do it.

From that minute forward, we put everything we had into getting this new daughter God had for us home. Along the way, we had some huge mountains that we had to climb (we had a house fire and were displaced for over 6 months and Blaine suffered a rare illness which caused temporary but complete paralysis from his chest down). Through all of this, God was faithful and kept prodding us to keep going.

My oldest daughter, Katie and I were blessed to travel to Ethiopia to pick up our new family member, Aliya Tarikwa in Feb. 2010. She was 14 when we met her and had persistently been praying and asking God to send her a family for over a year.

She is a girl with a great deal of faith. In letters she wrote to us, she told us, “Jesus is my hope.” To say she was thrilled that she had a family was an understatement.

Aliya has been home for just one year now. She is 8th grader in middle school. She has dropped one of her ELL classes so she could be in Geography. She wants to be with the other kids and not be singled out for extra help. For the last 2 quarters, this girl has made the A honor roll. Her teachers LOVE her. She’s a very determined (I might say stubborn!) girl. She will succeed and has a bright future in whatever she chooses to do in life. We are honored to be her parents.

Has it been easy? No.

Has it been worth it? YES!

She is a great girl but adopting a teenager comes with it’s own special challenges. With God’s help, we have and continue to overcome them. Aliya learns to trust us more every day.

She is teaching us many things, as well. Mainly, for me…it is this.

“It is NOT about me.”

It never was and it never will be. It is ALL for the glory of God.

We always encourage people to follow God’s Word and listen to Him when He speaks. He has made it abundantly clear to us as Christians…take care of orphans.

All of them.

The ones in diapers, the ones learning to walk and the ones losing their front teeth. Certainly they need us.

But please, please don’t forget the ones who have passed all these cute stages. The ones who have no one waiting for them.

The ones who will be out on their own if no one comes for them. They need us, too!



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