After having joined their biological families 12 years ago, Tracey and Chris thoroughly enjoyed time spent with their family of six. A few years ago, however, the couple wondered whether they should expand their family and have another child to love, which is when their hearts were led to adoption. With an indifference to domestic or international adoption, the two took their social worker’s recommendation and decided to adopt from Ethiopia. A short nine months after beginning the process, Tracey and Chris have a new family member, an appreciation of African culture, and a fresh perspective on life.
A Growing Family
Since joining their biological families over a decade ago, Tracey and Chris had always treasured family life. Whether camping, boating or just relaxing, the group seemed complete with four children: Two girls and two boys. It had seemed complete, that is, until a few years ago. “We were praying whether it was the right idea or not to add to our family,” says Tracey, noting that her reversal tubal ligation had been unsuccessful. “We thought ‘Maybe not,’ but I just couldn’t let go of the idea. And then one evening, while I was cooking dinner I asked my husband, ‘What do you think about adoption?’”
Finalizing a Decision
Since Chris had been raised with two adoptive brothers and Tracey had always been open to adoption, their decision was not difficult.
“We started talking about it and the idea just flowed along and started happening,” she says. “[Adoption] just happened to be the way in which our hearts were lead to adoption.” Chris’ childhood experiences also brought the couple closer to their decision. “My husband knew there was no difference between a biological line and adopted children; they were all part of the family,” says Tracey. Although the couple wondered whether a baby would inhibit their family’s up-and-go lifestyle, they decided adding to the family was more important.
A New Program
Tracey and Chris were open to either international or domestic adoption, and a friend of Tracey’s—who had adopted from Guatemala—introduced the couple to an Adoption Associates, Inc. (AAI) social worker. After their first meeting, Chris and Tracey knew international adoption was for them. “[Our social worker] told us that since we already had children, the wait for a domestic adoption would most likely be long, and we wanted a quicker process,” says Tracey.
“We asked [our social worker] if she had any ideas, and she mentioned Ethiopia.” The couple hadn’t known Ethiopia was an available choice prior to their meeting, although AAI had been working with Ethiopia since February of 2006. But after researching the country, Tracey and Chris’ decision was final. “We fell in love with the country and the culture, and the children there are just beautiful,” says Tracey. “And there’s such a need for children there to have families.”
Traveling to Africa
Just nine months after they had begun the adoption process, a child was ready and waiting to be a member of Tracey and Chris’ family. On February 9, Tracey and her thirteen year old daughter flew to Ethiopia to spend two weeks absorbing the culture and finalizing the adoption. “The country was so beautiful, and the scenery and landscape was just breathtaking,” says Tracey. “If you work to see beyond the poverty, the love and kindness of these people is just amazing.”
Tracey and her daughter stayed in the city during the two-week trip, and before long Tracey was holding eight month old Abrahm in her arms.
While awaiting the finalization for Abrahm’s adoption, Tracey and her daughter often questioned how the Ethiopians would view their situation. “I wondered whether they would like us coming into their country and adopting their children,” says Tracey. But the reactions she received were pleasantly grateful. “We were at a restaurant one evening, and the couple next to us had a daughter about Abrahm’s age,” says Tracey. “Their daughter was enamored with our son, and the couple was so friendly the whole night. As they left, they asked if he could come back one day to marry their daughter, so she could move to America!” While in the immigration office, Tracey received even more warmth. “I was reading on one of the benches, and a lady across from us started playing with Abrahm,” she says. “She got teary-eyed and kissed him on the head, and thanked us for having him.”
A New Kind of Life
With a baby in the house once again, Tracey says the transition is challenging but refreshing, too. After visiting such a poverty-stricken country, she has also gained a simplified perception of life. “I’m grateful for life in general and for what we have, because [the Ethiopians] have almost nothing and they’re such happy people,” she says. “When I came home I worked on simplifying my life and minimizing personal possessions. You realize you have too much and it’s overwhelming.”
Finding Ethiopia in America
While Ethiopia was left behind after the plane trip home, Tracey says her family finds friends and support through an AAI group—a group of families who adopted from Ethiopia. Abrahm is able to see his cribmate a few times per year, along with other children who were in the same orphanage as he. “It’s quite a network we’re building for these kids, and we’re working on ideas to implement their culture,” says Tracey. “The group of friends is amazing.”
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