Thursday, July 12, 2012

Birth Mother Photo Book

When we return to Ethiopia to bring Eli Lingo home, one of the things Brad and I are most looking forward to is meeting his birth mother when she travels to Addis Ababa for her Embassy interview.  I won't share her, or Eli's, history here because it's a very personal story.  But I will say that we love this woman we've yet to meet, and our hearts break for what has happened to her and her family that led her to such an agonizing decision.

We are not permitted to give his birth mother anything of "value," but we're told we may give her a photo book.  And while we will be sending periodic reports and pictures to the Ethiopian Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs after he comes home, this may be the only time we get to meet her and give photos directly to her.  Travel to Ethiopia's capital of Addis Ababa is considered safe, but the US State Department warns against travel to Gambella due to serious safety and security concerns.  In fact, US government personnel and their families are currently restricted from travel to Gambella.  Hopefully one day the conditions in Gambella will improve and we will be able to take Eli back to visit his home region.

Making this photo book was harder than I thought it would be.  How best to convey a sense of who we are, these people who will raise her boy, and give her some comfort about where he'll be when he leaves Ethiopia?  What do we want her to know?

He will go to church, and learn to love the God that brought him to us.

He will go to school.

He will play.

He will have his own bedroom, his own bathroom.

And of course we want her to have many photos of him.  This beautiful boy to whom she first gave life, and then gave the opportunity for a different future.

I don't know exactly what Eli's mom prayed for when she brought him to the orphanage, but I know that God heard her prayer.

I remember well the day the orphanage records show he arrived.  We had traveled to Minneapolis to spend the holidays with Brad's family, and my thoughts were consumed with adoption.  Adoption from Africa.  Although it had been on our minds, Brad and I had at that point only casually discussed it.  And yet, here I was, with a pang in my heart and a sense of urgency that I didn't then understand.

But I understand it now.  That pang, that urgency, were Lingo's mom's prayers being answered in my heart.

As soon as we returned to Denver, Brad and I began exploring adoption in earnest.  And on Brad's birthday we accepted Lingo's referral.  Our prayers were answered.

I hope that when Lingo's birth mother meets us she feels that her prayers were answered.  I want her to have peace in her heart and know that her son will be raised with so much love.

If it's even possible to capture that in a photo book, I hope this does it.

Shutterfly photo books are the new way to preserve your memories. Create your own today.


  1. It sounds like a very heartfelt and touching gift. I could not imagine having to give up my child, but if I had to, I believe I'd find comfort in knowing she's being loved and cared for by wonderful people. I think that would give me some peace.

    1. I know, it's hard to imagine having to make that kind of choice. :(