Saturday, January 23, 2010

Inspired and Encouraged by Strangers - the power of sharing

I was uploading some picture to a wonderful site called AdoptiveFamiliesCircle. Their link is on the side of my blog. This is a favorite photo of mine from our first Christmas as a family of five which brings back wonderful memories for me. It was so great to have Leyla finally home with us. For those who have been through the adoption process, you know the unknown and the waiting are the hardest. I recall how much I enjoyed looking at pictures on this site and on blogs of people who were strangers to me at the time and likely to remain that way when we were waiting for our referral. It made me think of the other strangers who had inspired and encouraged me on this journey.

I recall one day when our adoption agency, WACAP, had a get together of parents waiting for their children from Ethiopia as well as parents who had already brought their children home. When we went through our adoption, the Ethiopia program was still in the “pioneer” stage for our agency so there were many more unknowns. At that meeting, three families who had brought their children home particularly encouraged, moved and inspired me. You see the pictures of these families from WACAP’s site below. The first two had brought home little girls about the same age as we expected to get. Looking at these beautiful children and the clear bond they already had with their families after a relatively short time home was such an amazing sight. Sharing that with those waiting and those wondering if this was calling them was an amazing gift. I felt much less anxious and concerned about the process ahead of us after that meeting.

The third family was a single mom and two older children. She had already adopted 2 children from India who were grown and had won an auction trip to Ethiopia. Through that trip, she came to the conclusion that she was supposed to adopt additional older children from Ethiopia – these children are much less likely to be adopted. Her full story is in one of the publications on the WACAP website. At this get together, she talked of her children’s birthmother whom she had the privilege of meeting while she was there. She had tears in her eyes as she spoke. Her voice was low and soft so her children did not hear details that might pain them. Choices like their birthmother had to make are unimaginable to most of us. The choice this adoptive mother made is also one that most with grown children could not imagine. I was very uplifted and humbled by the gift of sharing her journey this mother freely gave with the people in the room.

When I think about what I can do to make a difference, I often overlook the chance to encourage or inspire someone you don’t even know. As I upload pictures to the AdoptiveFamiliesCircle or to WACAP's website, I hope that our story and pictures might uplift some mother waiting to meet her child, might provide guidance to a father that isn’t sure if adoption is the right path for his family, might reassure some brother who is wondering what it is like to have a little sister who doesn’t look like him, and finally might comfort a birthmother who is wondering if her child is living the life she hoped for her child when she gave them up. And I close by sharing one more favorite photo of our little Seahawks fan at 9 months old - hope it at least makes you smile.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Looking for Sunshine in Seattle

Seattle is quite grey this time of year. Many folks go to sunny warm places to escape it. Looking through family pictures, I found these shots taken of Leyla at one of her brother’s soccer games during a much brighter season. She reminds me of liquid sunshine. She is so naturally joyful. And she brings such joy to those around her. Leyla has changed much since she came home last year. She is talking up a storm and is more little girl than baby. The photos are a wonderful way to capture her essence at each fleeting stage of her life.

It is never far from my mind that so many Ethiopian children don’t make it past their first birthday. It is a truly sobering thought. But one that also makes me want to know how to help change that statistic for the better. Looking around our area, I found a great organization called Blue Nile Children’s organization that is working to do just that. Coincidently, Leyla’s birthplace is close to the Blue Nile which is an incredibily beautiful part of the world.

This organization has found a number of ways of bring sunshine into dark situations. They recently went on a medical mission. Providing basic medical care is filling a huge need and light to dire circumstances. You will find more details in their blog which I am following.

This mission started with a rather unlikely friendship between an Ethiopian woman, Selamawit Kifle, and Richard Oslund, a Mason. He helped raise funds for her efforts while he lived. When he died, he honored their friendship by leaving $46,000 in his will to seed the medical mission. Their dream was realized with the recent opening of the clinic. Although when you read their blog, you will see opening a clinic in Ethiopia is not without many challenges.

It is amazing how much sunshine was shared with one woman’s vision and her friend’s support. They inspired others so the sunshine was then multiplied. These people bring light into my life through their efforts and inspire me to find my own ways to help. I look at my lovely daughter’s sunny face and am humbled every day. She is also an amazing source of sunshine I intend to find ways to spread.