I found out recently that representatives from my adoption agency were going back to Ethiopia for a visit with the staff there. I asked if I could include a letter and some pictures of Leyla and our family. As I sat down to write the letter, I thought about what words could I use that could adequately describe how this amazing man half way around the world changed our lives. The pictures below show Ato (which means "Mr" in amharic) Teklu and one of the caregivers with us and Leyla in Ethiopia as well as the WACAP house where Leyla stayed before we brought her home.
Ato Teklu is an angel to us. He is an Ethiopian child advocate lawyer (I have mentioned in previous posts) who works with our agency in Ethiopia. Although he is small of stature, he is an imposing figure in how he carries himself and responds to the needs of his country's children. He is clearly proud of the long and storied Ethiopian history and wants to make sure the children who don’t grow up in Ethiopia get the chances to learn and appreciate it in their new homes. This is his life's calling and it is an inspiration to us and I know many others.
I was not able to put all the emotion, gratitude and admiration we feel for Ato Teklu in the letter because words are inadequate. But here is my effort (including some of the pictures we shared). I hope it inspires you in some small way or reminds you to be thankful for the angels who have come into your life at one time or another.
January 27, 2010
Dear Ato Teklu,
Greetings to you. Leyla continues to grow and bless our lives. We are grateful every day for the wonderful work you and the staff at WACAP house do on behalf of Ethiopian children. We are also trying to honor the gift we have been given by supporting the work you do there as well as raising awareness about the amazing beauty of the Ethiopian country, people and culture as well as the tremendous need of your country.
Leyla is talking a lot, loves music and dancing. She is an adventurous eater who eats all sorts of different types of foods although she has shown a special affinity for Ethiopian food. She is a very funny little girl now. She works to make people laugh and has a wonderful, infectious belly laugh. She enjoys wearing other family member’s shoes and stumbling around. She also follows her brothers wherever they go. She wants to be included and tries to do what they do like playing soccer and basketball. They adore her and will basically do anything for her.
Leyla is beloved in our family and our community. Our families have embraced Leyla into their hearts. She is the only granddaughter on both sides and has a special place within our extended family. She has four adoring grandparents, four loving aunts and one uncle. She also has a wonderful family friend as her godmother. She was baptized in Greece outside of Michael’s hometown this summer. She joined us on a cruise of the Baltics visiting Berlin and Saint Petersburg among other places along the Baltic Sea. Leyla is becoming a world traveler at an early age having already visited 3 continents and about 12 countries. Everywhere we go people comment on how beautiful and happy she is. She spreads much joy just by being herself.
Our house has gained some wonderful Ethiopian artwork including carvings, paintings and needlework since Leyla's arrival. Our lives have also become richer in so many ways when she joined our family. Our family is now a Greek, Dutch, Ethiopian and American one. And we are proud to have such a rich set of traditions to combine into our own.
We hope to come as a family next year to Ethiopia. We would like to visit you and the WACAP house. We would also like to visit Leyla’s birthplace in Bahir Dar. We would like our boys, Dimitri, 12, and Damian, 8, to get the opportunity to get to see their sister’s birth country and learn more about its history and culture first hand.
We look forward to continuing to support your efforts. All the best to you, your family and the staff at WACAP. You remain in our thoughts and our prayers.