.redemption. This past Sunday (and Monday night) Aaron and I had the opportunity to share our story of adoption at our church. Update: Here is a link to the sermon - click on the 'I'm Adopted?' link. I have not listened to it as we don't have speakers yet so I don't know which service they used (lets hope it was not Monday nights, as our kids were running around us during our talk). Most of you have followed our story over the past year and a half and know it. You know it went faster then we could have ever thought. You know our hearts were opened to an older child. one from a waiting list. You know we have had struggles through the transition and it has been hard.
with Tariku at the hospital - where he lived for months.
One thing we have not shared much here, yet, is Tariku's history. When we first came from court after learning more in depth about his story we didn't share it because it was all too new to us. We were taking it in. Processing the information ourselves and asking God to heal our damaged hearts.
But now.... I want to share a little. Not so that you feel bad for us, or Tariku. But so that you can see how God has worked in his life. And so that you could possibly help someone else currently in a similar situation.
Tariku is one of the one million orphans in Ethiopia orphaned due to AIDS. His mother had the virus (possibly his father too - although we know very little about him). His mother had some help in getting medicine but was not provided with any adequate support and love. No one told her that she mattered. No one told her the disease was not her fault. No one was there to tell her to not be ashamed of the disease. That others were LIVING like her. In Ethiopia the stigma of AIDS & HIV is huge. Having the virus is a very heavy burden to carry and many times those who have it think they are better off dead. I have heard it be called, "social suicide" because the pressure of caring the virus is too much and even with medical help offered many would rather die.
The first photo EVER taken of him - after he was in care for a couple days.
Tariku was also a statistic for extreme undernourishment and poverty that plaques some of those in Ethiopia. At 18 months old Tariku weighed 11 pounds and was not expected to live. This is the one fact that haunted me for months when we came home. At court we were given the picture above and it burned in my brain for months. It is one thing to see a picture of children you don't know across the world and feel bad but often we glimpse at them and quickly move on. It is a completely devastating thing, and a whole new story, when you know your staring at your own child and wondering how is this possible?
When we were first shown the photo of Tariku as a sick baby I was devastated. My heart literally broke open and I cried the rest of the day. And many times after. I asked God why a lot. Why did this happen to him? Why did nobody help both him and his mother? Why did we not know about this before? When he was this sick why was my own heart not breaking? What was I gorging myself on when my boy was starving across the World?
one of the doctors who cared for him.
God has answered some of those questions. Some He answered right away & some have taken a while to digest. He gave me peace of mind in the fact that we didn't NEED to know. This happened instantly and was one of the times I HEARD GOD speak to me in my ear and peace swept over me. If we had known would we have accepted his referral? possibly but probably not. We would have feared some sort of long-term malnutrition effects. We would have worried about his brain development. We would have thought - there is no way he will be healthy. It is just not possible. Fear might have taken over and we would have missed out on our son.
the volunteer who saved his life.
As for why this happened - we don't know fully. And will probably not ever see the full picture. We do however have glimpses of this why. Knowing where he has been helps us Thank God for where he is now. We can thank the Lord for saving Tariku. We thank Him for the sweet redemption in Tariku's life. We also see through his sickness the work of Gods people and how it took a village to save him. There was a sweet volunteer from the Czech Republic that stayed with him day and night nursing him back to health - she was not meant to be his mamma, but God did ask her to care for this one orphan at that time. There were also many doctors and nurses that helped, many from all over the world. We can't look for a minute at his story without seeing how God placed each person in his life at exactly the right time, each doing exactly what the Lord asked them to do for that season in their life.
she loved him so much & we are grateful
Why nobody helped them both, so they could stay a family, is a question that is unanswered. However this is a question better asked when coming from God, "What are you doing to help someone in the same situation?"
*meeting my sister
And that is where I want to ask you the same thing. Are you doing anything to help those in the same situation? Through this process we have become good friends with Project Hopeful. They do so much and I could talk about the good they are doing all day. One of their projects is their Sisterhood Program HOPE+ where you can support a woman with HIV and give her the chance to have emotional support, medical support, and provide them with job skill training (and even a micro-loan).
*cutting bread as an honored guest!
When we were in Ethiopia we got to meet all the sisters and it was an amazing opportunity. On our second trip we got to take our sister out to lunch and she got to meet Tariku. This program means so much because we are supporting women and their families who might otherwise feel like life was hopeless. They might give up. Helping them means their families STAY together, their children have mothers, and they get to continue to be a FAMILY!!! This program is not just impacting the woman, but her children and the community in which they live. This is orphan prevention!!! I LOVE these women and the program.
*with our sister after lunch.
If you would like to sponsor a woman in Ethiopia you can learn more here. This program is truly changing lives! They are currently looking for sisters so every woman gets sponsored - there are 14 sisters left! Please consider joining us!
PS: Project Hopeful is starting a brand new sponsorship program in Uganda!!! Dawn is going this week to help launch it - follow her journey here. - And praise the Lord with me as all the 35 Uganda women have been matched with sisters!!!
*meeting our sisters husband - this is truly a family program!
There is more to Tariku's past that I will slowly be sharing, when the time is right, but right now we wanted to share how God has worked in our son's life. We see beautiful redemption when we look at him. It reminds me to be thankful. Because even through the tears and the pain of his past and the ever so hard days of family life now, his story does help me to be THANKFUL for where he is at today. Healthy, LIVING, and thriving. .redemption.
*I am not allowed to show the faces of the women in the Sisterhood + program due to the medical information & confidentiality. However I can tell you they are gorgeous inside and out and I pray each one in the program is blessed by a sister that gets to see that beauty shine!