Family Missions Story: “We Don’t Have Many Summers Together Left.”
Adoptive Family Journeys Back to Ethiopia
Realizing our oldest son could be heading off to college in two short summers, my husband and I discussed the idea of returning to our sons’ country of birth as a family of six. We decided to start exploring options, unsure how it could possibly all come together.
After talking to a few different organizations, we were most comfortable with America World’s One Orphan program. With three of our four children coming to our family through America World’s international adoption programs (i.e. Ethiopia and Ukraine), we were seeking a trip experience that would facilitate exploration of their identity while expanding their understanding of the world and affording opportunities to serve in meaningful ways.
In the months leading up to our scheduled trip, God financially provided in amazing ways for our family. On the team recruitment side of things, however, nothing was happening. When the time came to order our flight tickets, no one outside our family had committed to join us. Somewhat disappointed, we reasoned God had a very special trip just for our family…but God wasn’t finished providing for us! The next day, we were told another family, with three children—one who had been adopted from Ethiopia as an infant—was interested in joining our team. Then, a young adult Ethiopian adoptee, seeking to return to her birth country for the first time, also signed on. Suddenly, we had a team of twelve with four young Ethiopian adoptees (ages 9-20), four siblings (ages 11-16), and four adoptive parents. “We’ve never seen a team like this before!” exclaimed one America World representative.
Incredibly, although our team’s three families had no prior knowledge of each other, we quickly bonded. As the days progressed, we thoroughly enjoyed sharing together in the journey of rediscovering aspects of Ethiopian culture, learning about and experiencing aspects of current socio-economic challenges relating to poverty, orphans, and families, and partnering with organizations seeking to advance justice and God’s kingdom. Kids shared their favorite moments each day, parents provided support to each other, team members spoke blessings into each other’s lives, and each one was motivated to communicate to the underprivileged and vulnerable that they are loved and not forgotten.
It would be impossible to list all the ways God used this trip. As an adoptive parent, I would encourage other adoptive families to consider a One Orphan trip. The following quote from the trip journal of our oldest son, a high school junior adopted from Ethiopia ten years ago, gives evidence to the trip’s impact:
“The most meaningful part of the trip for me was when we visited my orphanage and when we visited the all-girls orphanage. It was crazy to imagine I was once living in an orphanage just like the girls…God, you were working on me this trip. Whatever you have in store for me, I’m ready to do your work.”
We may not have many summers left, but we are so glad God gave us this time together to work and play and see God’s activity in such a special way.