Loren Rhoades, Assistant Features Editor
Today, children across the world long for a home to call their own, a home with a family they can only dream of. Adoption is continuing to make these dreams a reality by giving adopted children the families they desire.
There is a continuing rise in adoption in part by the endorsements of the practice. November is National Adoption Awareness month and has been created to not only endorse adoption on the home front, but also international adoption.
One example of a family who has gone through the process of international adoption is OBU’s associate professor of mathematics Krista Hands and her husband Jeff. Hands and her husband have four children, three of which were adopted from Ethiopia.
“We came to adoption through a genetic disease in our family. During the testing for the disease, we had two years of not knowing if we would be able to have children of our own,” Hands said. “God really used those two years to bring adoption into our hearts.”
After testing negative for the disease, they were able to have their daughter Abi. They then filed for adoption two years later and decided to adopt from Ethiopia. Soon after, they adopted their son Eli at the age of ten months old.
Two and a half years after adopting Eli, Hands was able to go back to Ethiopia on different Global Outreach trips with some of her students at OBU. On her second GO trip, Hands took her students to an orphanage and there met her daughter Lelise.
“Lelise had only been at the orphanage for two days when I met her, and came on her own accord,” she said. “I messaged my husband, ‘I met this girl and think she is supposed to be ours.’”
Hands later met her son Temesgen at the same orphanage on a GO trip as well. Both Lelise and Temesgen were brought to America on student visa’s while the adoption process was being finalized. But even the process to get each of them here took longer than planned.
“There were so many times through these processes that I just wanted God to tell me they were going to get here, and it would all be okay,” Hands said.
Once they arrived, they were able to be adopted within two years’ time. Lelise and Temesgen were officially adopted Aug. 1, 2016, five days before Temesgen’s 18th birthday.
Since first arriving on American soil, the kids have continued to learn what it is like to be a part of a family while also adapting to the new way of life in this country.
“Learning to be a family was the hardest part of adoption, and the second was learning the culture,” Temesgen said.
Hands said that she doesn’t want to minimize the difficulties of international adoption. The difficulties including things such as the paperwork process, teenage adoption and adapting her children into a family lifestyle.
“My kids felt a sense of claustrophobia in being a family,” she said.
Orphanage life is extremely different from life in a home, which is what Hands said lead to that idea of claustrophobia. In the orphanage, expectations were different for the children, and for the most part they were able to do what they pleased if they kept up their good behavior. So, the idea of being in a family with rules and structure was almost foreign to them.
Although foreign, this family has still been a blessing to the children’s lives. Temesgen said that since being here he has learned about the necessity of parents and the love and responsibility they for you.
“Every day, I am thankful that I have someone to call mom and dad,” Temesgen said. “You know that no matter what, you have someone who is going to love you.”