Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Unexpected Blessings of International Adoption

When we were preparing to adopt across cultural lines, part of our training included watching some videos. One of these videos talked about the importance of not just trying to keep your kids tied to their culture of origin, but for the entire family to become a little bit (in our case) Ethiopian.

It's a tall order, and one which I hope I'm successful in filling. One thing that I really love about our church is their annual "Nations Sunday" in which there is a focus on world missions. On this particular Sunday each year, many of the world's flags are paraded in during a special procession and the entire congregation is invited to dress in clothing from other nations. For our family, it is a natural opportunity to celebrate our sons' Ethiopian heritage and for them to wear their special outfits we bought them when we were there adopting them.

Our family

One unexpected blessing of becoming "a little bit Ethiopian" is that I've become much bolder in introducing myself to people if I suspect they may be Ethiopian (or from any other African country, for that matter). Consequently, I've made friends with some wonderful women, one of whom has become particularly dear to me. Her name is Sophia, and I met her last year on Nations Sunday. She is a beautiful woman--both inside and out--and last year, she was wearing a gorgeous dress from her native Kenya. I introduced myself to her and we've been friends ever since. She is also the mother of two little boys.

About six months ago, she traveled to her homeland for a visit and returned with a surprise gift for me...a beautiful pink dress!!! It is a Ghanian style dress, and this year's Nations Sunday was my first opportunity to wear it. I love it, and most of all, I loved that my boys could see how proud I was to wear a beautiful African was a celebration of them as much as it was a chance for me to feel pretty!

Sophia (left), her two sons, and her aunt.

I'm so grateful for the ways our adoption of Jeremy and Zachary has opened my eyes and my heart to people and experiences I might not have otherwise known.

Our family was asked to be part of the flag procession this past Sunday, and when I saw the Ethiopian flag, I found myself dashing over and saying, "May I carry that flag? It's my sons' country!" I couldn't have felt more proud and somehow unworthy at the same time. I'm so blessed and humbled, too, to be a little bit Ethiopian.


Ashley said...

This made me tear up. I am very proud as well to be "a bit Ethiopian"!

J at said...

What a lovely post, and a lovely tradition that your church has. I love that you've met new people because of your sons' home country, and become such good friends. :)

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful post, Tracy!
I was at a World Relief luncheon/silent auction/fundraiser a few weeks ago and wanted to bid on several beautiful African articles of clothing. As it turned out, a few of them were for men and the women's dresses were not made to fit me. :(
I continue to admire beautiful ethnic apparel. I had a dear friend in our last church who was from Cameroon. I miss her in our new hometown!

Dana Cheryl said...

Oh my word! I have big ol' tears in my eyes. The way in which Heavenly Father has woven your family together is no less than a miracle. He's taken beautiful, richly ornamented patches of culture, heritage, Godliness, love, generosity, humility, and grace from around the world and put those individual pieces together to make a great and glorious whole. It is a marvel to behold and brings such glory to our Father in heaven. My heart is so full of praises for Him as I see Him at work in your lives.

The Busters said...

Okay, I am glad I am not the only one with tears in my eyes. This post made me really emotional. I also feel so blessed to be a little bit Ethiopian! I think as the years continue on we will discover so many of these unexpected blessings of our adoption. I know you are one of mine. :)
Love you,