by Kara Moseby
When I talk about adoption, I must imagine you and I grabbing a cup of really good Ethiopian coffee together at a small café. We would drink the three traditional cups, per Ethiopian culture. So, grab a cup, have a seat, and let’s talk!
My little Tariku has been home 4 months. He loves to go outside, read books, and eat tuna! He is a bundle of joy and laughter. Tariku and I are the crazy people at Reasor’s dancing and singing down the aisles! We have a lot of fun in our home. We’ve been through too much sorrow the last few years to do anything now but enjoy healing from the Lord.
The first few months of our adoption journey were full of excitement. We announced our journey to friends and family, counted ourselves as officially a part of the adoption community, and joyously began our “paper chase”! We knew the journey would be long, but we weren’t ready to have kids yet. So, it wasn’t going to seem that long! Or so we thought…
We waited 2 ½ years, after all our paperwork was complete, to finally see the face of our son. Then we worked for 8 months in 2015 to bring him home. I am not exactly sure how I woke up every morning without him. Some days I would wake up, look at my phone to see if I had missed a call from Ethiopia, and, when I hadn’t, I debated just staying in bed the rest of the day. Gosh, it was so hard!
Since we only have three cups of coffee to get through this journey, I’ll share a lesson I learned for each cup. Here we go…
One of the first things I learned was, no matter the course, the journey to motherhood is hard, but women are strong!
During our wait, I attended an excruciating number of baby showers. Each reminded me of what I didn’t have, my baby. At each shower, I listened to pregnant women tell me how grateful I should be; I don’t have to experience the swollen ankles, morning sickness, or 30 hours of labor. It always stung a little. It stung, because, no matter the course, the road to motherhood is hard. Whether through natural means, fertility treatments, or adoption, the road has pain and sorrow. I was not experiencing the morning sickness, but I often worried if today was the devastating day my little one lost his first family. I often worried, if my little one was sick, would someone hold him and rock him to sleep. Adoptive mommas stand at the emotional cliff all the time. We usually just set up camp on the cliffside. We rely on friends, other adoptive mommas, and family to keep us from jumping off. It often seems the smallest thing could push us over. Is my kid being fed today? Is he crying in his bed? Will someone look him in the eyes today? So, it may not look the same as pregnancy, but the road is hard!
I believe, it is along this journey to motherhood where women learn how strong we are. Four years ago, I didn’t know that I could handle waiting so long. I didn’t know I could handle as many friends’ baby showers that came with questions I didn’t have answers to. I didn’t know I could get up everyday and function semi-normally walking through so much sorrow. I would have told you I was strong enough, but, when I was face to face with the hardship, I didn’t think I was strong enough. I assume it is similar for all women facing motherhood!
Next I learned, strong faith and deep sorrow can coexist!
It was two years into the adoption journey that something hit me, I love Jesus with all my heart, I trust him, and I have faith he will provide, but I am living with deep sorrow. The two can coexist. I heard over and over, “have faith!” Each time, I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs, “I HAVE FAITH!”
I struggled so hard with the shiny encouragements I have said several times to friends in the past. “All in God’s timing.” “Have faith.” What I began to realize is how uncomfortable we all are with sorrow. We know in our head and can preach how sorrow sometimes is a part of the journey. However, when we are looking face to face with a friend in the midst of it, we have no idea what to say or how to respond. We revert to the padded answer, when so many times our friends in sorrow just need our presence. If Jesus were with me physically through my sorrow, I’m not sure he would have said much. I kind of think he would have just sat with me or gone for a walk with me, held my hand. Jesus has been through the deep sorrow and, as you remember, he just wanted his close friends to be alert and pray with him!
Lastly, I learned adoption binds our family to more than just our children.
Through all the paperwork, home visits, medical exams, and background checks, we were hoping for a deep connection with Tariku. It wasn’t until a little later that I realized this journey was binding our hearts to more people than we could have ever imagined.
Adopted children come to families with a history (Side note: Tariku means history). They have friends and family. My son, Tariku, didn’t just step into our family, but we stepped into his! His family consists of a little boy named Elias that loves soccer, an eight-year-old little girl who helped his nannies care for him, and his crib-mate who taught him so much about how to explore the world. Then, there is his beloved birth family, his nannies, his adoption advocate, and the orphanage director that all fought to make sure he had all the opportunities in the world open to him. These people are his family too and, now, they are mine!
Our family is passionate about adoption and orphan care. We believe everyone has a role to play. Your role may not look like mine, but you have an important role to play in the lives of children locally and internationally. It may be through foster care, adoption, sponsorship, or support.
For potential adoptive parents, adoption is so hard to navigate! At the beginning of every journey, parents make the biggest decisions of their adoption (foster care, country, agency, special needs). It is usually this time when parents know the least about adoption. So, it is important to seek wisdom from others. Josh and I used a great ministry to help us assess what first steps to take. We highly recommend Loving Shepherd Ministries. They have a free assessment form for potential adoptive parents. After reviewing your assessment, LSM will give you a list of countries you qualify for and potential agencies. This wisdom was priceless for us!!
Josh and I know the most about Ethiopian adoption, but we always encourage friends considering adoption to pray about foster care, special needs, and older adoptions. Most of the time, this is where the need is! We also know adoption is not right for every family, but orphan care is. Here are three ways to be involved in orphan care, without adopting:
- Support friends and family adopting. (pray, support their crazy fundraisers, be a listening ear, etc.)
- Support agencies helping with family preservation! For example, support a reputable sponsorship program. We never want poverty to be the reason for adoption. Sponsorship can help prevent relinquishment of a child due to poverty.
- Become respite care approved for foster families. Foster families need a strong community around them to offer support and relief, when they need a break.
Adoption is a beautiful example of God’s resurrection power to heal our brokenness. There are so many lessons learned along our journey and many other ways to be involved. To share them all, we would need more coffee!
Changing the world requires volunteers. Kara is the Lead Volunteer Coordinator at John 3:16 Mission. Loves travel, adoption, & being on mission where God has planted her. In 2015, she brought her son home from Ethiopia. Follow her on Instagram and her family blog.