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    A Precious Gift from Ethiopia

    By Edith Keiderling

    March 16, 2009

    “Congratulations! This is your referral call.” These six simple words, coming from the family coordinator at the adoption agency I’ve been working with, are the most life changing words I have ever heard.

    These six simple words, coming from the family coordinator at the adoption agency I’ve been working with, are the most life changing words I have ever heard.

    For years I wanted to adopt a child. Yet words simply cannot explain the overwhelming joy I felt, when, after years of waiting, hoping, and praying, I actually had the opportunity to look at photos of my infant daughter for the first time. She is waiting for me in far-away Ethiopia.

    I am a single, 36 year old kindergarten teacher here at our school in Woodcrest. I am one of those lucky people who get to spend all day, every day, doing what I love most: caring for children.

    Why do I want to adopt a child? It is not that I am lonely or lack fulfillment. God has blessed me bountifully. I live in a community where, even as a single woman, I have brothers, sisters, parents and children. Each day I have the opportunity to love and to be loved. What more can life have to offer? But that is why I want to share what God has given me with a little daughter, not just as a teacher or friend, but as a mother for life.

    You may ask, “Why Ethiopia?” Initially, I asked the same thing, but over the last 18 months I learned more about the tremendous need of children in this beautiful, ancient country.

    • One in six children die before their fifth birthday
    • 60% of children in Ethiopia are stunted because of malnutrition
    • 1.5 million people are infected with AIDS (6th highest in the world)
    • AIDS alone has orphaned 720,000 children, and there are 4.6 million orphans in Ethiopia.
    • Half the children in Ethiopia will never attend school. 88% will never attend secondary school.
    • Ethiopia’s doctor to child ratio is 1 to 24,000

    Those are the statistics. Behind those statistics are real children, children who suffer. I know that the great heart of God loves each of the millions of children and that He suffers with each one. My heart is too small. I can’t take in so much suffering. I can do nothing to alleviate all that pain.

    But I praise and thank God that I have the opportunity to help one child, to give one child my whole heart and my whole life. The giving is mutual because receiving the gift of my baby will be the most precious gift imaginable.

    I know that being a single mother will not always be easy. I know I will shed many tears. But I love life and feel confident that we, as a mother and child both loved by Jesus, can build a wonderful, secure, and happy home together. The biggest gift I will give my daughter will be to teach her to love Jesus and to love and care for people around her.

    The road to finding my daughter has not been a smooth one. International adoption never is. However, I prayed that God would lead me to the child that He has chosen for me. I have complete peace and assurance that He has chosen THIS child for ME. I am grateful to my community for the support that makes this adoption possible and I look forward eagerly to the time when I can fly to Addis Ababa and meet my baby Ayana Lakea face to face and bring her home.

    Edith brought her baby home July 11, 2009.