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‘Stories of Hope’ Series – Week Six: Hope for Hailemichael

As we approach the end of 2014, we would like to share a few stories of how God has worked through America World Adoption to impact the lives of children around the world. 

To learn more about how you can join America World in providing for the basic needs of children worldwide, visit us here.

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Hope for Hailemichael

From An AWAA China Adoptive Family, The Geiger's

Sometimes God asks us to take a step of faith, at a time when you least expect it, even when you feel like you are already teetering on a thin, and creaking, branch for Him.

We had returned from China in July with our first daughter, second adopted, and fourth child.  Kievah was nearly seven when we adopted her and had been in orphanage or foster care her whole life.  The transition to family was proving quite a challenge for both her and us.  Sleep, meals, and pretty much every other time of the day were difficult and exhausting.  We were also still mourning the loss of the son we had been planning to adopt, a beautiful and eagerly anticipated son whom we had named Carrick.  He was 10 years old when he passed away, one day after we received travel approval (TA) to go and pick him up in China.  Following his death the Chinese government, who were so sorry for having sent TA for a child who died, encouraged us to not give up, but to allow them to match us with another child; our daughter Kievah.

As we did every year, in September we attended the AWAA Pennsylvania picnic. During the picnic someone asked me, “Do you think you will ever adopt again?” Despite wanting to respond with “Are you crazy, can’t you see how much we are struggling, and how tired we are?” Instead I hid my real feelings and answered “Yes, but probably not internationally, and definitely an older child, perhaps domestically someday.”  Overhearing our conversation, the AWAA Director of Social Services asked me if she could call me later.  I didn’t really connect what I had just said, with her request, but later that evening she called us, and explained that there was a 10 year old boy, adopted from Ethiopia a year prior, who needed to be placed with a new family.   She wondered if we would prayerfully consider being that family.  For a couple of days we were in shock, the whole idea sounded crazy, yet we felt God nudging us to ask for more details…

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Hailemichael was 10, and his adoptive family and he were receiving counseling from a government social worker in their home town.  We were able to talk with her and of course wondered why he needed a new home.  She explained that his match to the current adoptive family was just not working well, she could not identify any serious behavioral issues, but both she and the family felt it would be in his best interests to start over in a new home.  This social worker had over 30 years of experience and she had facilitated adoption disruptions in the past.  She knew it would require a careful dance to transition this boy once more, a year after he had been transitioned from Ethiopia to the US.  She was a wonderful woman, a godsend to us, Hailemichael, and his current family, and she was committed to doing everything she could to walk us all through the process as painlessly as possible.

 The day after Thanksgiving 2010, we drove across our State for 5 hours, with our second biological son Conor (who is the same age as Hailemichael), to meet Hailemichael.  We stayed in a hotel on the Friday night and prepared for spending the day with him on Saturday.  Shortly after having breakfast, with the social worker, we met Hailemichael and his adoptive Mom for the first time.  His large broad smile, glowing chocolate skin, and twinkling eyes, connected us immediately.  We spent a wonderful and fun filled day at museums and play areas, and then talked nonstop over dinner with him and the social worker.  We planned the next trip to see him, and a weekend for him to visit our home and meet the rest of our family. 

We were all very keen for the transition to happen on Hailemichael’s terms, and at a pace he felt comfortable with.  So it was quite unexpected when we received a call from her the next morning at our hotel.  She asked, on behalf of his current family, if Hailemichael could come home with us that weekend for a visit.  We agreed and waited for them to arrive at the hotel with his bags.  Even more surprisingly 30 minutes later the social worker called again and asked if we would agree to take Hailemichael home that day, and have him stay permanently, due to a further deterioration of his current situation.  We spoke for a few minutes together, and all three of us, Conor included, felt a deep peace and excitement about Hailemichael being part of our family.  We said yes, and within an hour we were on the road headed home with our new addition.  Even though I knew a deep peace about what we were doing, I still expected that sooner or later we would see some serious negative behavior in Hailemichael that would explain why the bonding with his first adoptive family had been so difficult and their relationship derailed. 

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Hailemichael will have been in our family for four years this Thanksgiving, and I am still waiting to understand, or see any negative behavior that explains why.  The first few months with us Hailemichael retreated into himself and interacted very little with our family.  He was never any trouble, but he also did not make much of a connection to any of us.  He was a keen and gifted soccer player, and he was quickly recruited for a travel team.  He played with the team and attended school, but never talked about his history in Ethiopia or when he first came to the USA.  One night when he was coming home from soccer, I asked him something about his day and it was a trigger for the flood gates to open.  He sobbed and talked for hours, sitting in the car.  This was the turning point.  His confidence had been eroded, and he felt like he had been a failure in both his birth country and since he came to the US.  He worked so hard at school and received good grades but confidence was still lacking.  It was impossible to convince him of his worth and value to God, and our family.

At the end of middle school he decided he would like to run Cross Country instead of trying out for soccer in High School.  He wasn’t just good, he was exceptional.  He made the 7 man varsity team as a freshman, and was their third fastest runner.  Most of his team mates were members of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and they took him into their circle.  For his freshman year of High School he was surrounded by other young men who were telling him constantly how exceptional, valuable and talented he was.  This year as a sophomore he was the fastest on the team and chosen as captain.  He had the opportunity to not only demonstrate his running skills but also the confidence that had grown over the last year.  The XC season ended on November 1st with the State race for which his team qualified.  He also medaled at Leagues, Districts, and several large Invitational Meets this season.  Through his running, an encouraging coach, and the godly young men placed around him, God has transformed Hailemichael into a confident, determined leader and champion.

We may never understand the circumstances that led Hailemichael to become our son, but we will forever be thankful that we said yes.  Thankful that we had the confidence to trust the promises of Isaiah 52:12 “The Lord will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rearguard”.  He not only leads before us, but he comes behind us and he redeems our mistakes and painful situations, transforming lives for His glory.


Be A Part of The Story

We invite you to consider becoming a part of the story. Whether it is through sponsoring a child in Honduras, adopting a little one from China, welcoming an orphaned youth from Ukraine into your home for the holiday's, or joining us on a missions trip overseas to visit these precious kiddos, we believe that you can make a difference. For more on how you can be a part of the story, stop by our little corner of the web world.

Or maybe just be a part of the story and end 2014 with a whole lot of hope, by giving to our Isaiah 1:17 Fund

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