Friday, February 24, 2012

Ethiopia - Meeting my Daughter's Mother

This post was difficult for me to begin because I want to convey to you in words what happened on a grand emotional and spiritual level.  It doesn't work!  Please read the following with grace, and I hope that my words give you a glimpse of what happened when we got to meet Feven's mother.  I pray that this post is honoring to both my daughter and her mother.  Additionally, I am withholding some information because this story isn't all mine to tell.  This story is an intimate piece of my daughter's life, and when she has words and the desire to share, she can tell you more.

From events on 1/24/12, the first day we met our daughter.

Shortly after our first time feeding Feven, and just after we rocked her to sleep, the director of the Ethiopia program from the states (who happened to be visiting Ethiopia at the time) came into the room, followed by our translator, and maybe the Ethiopian director too.  Our American director said, "We have a unique opportunity for you.  Feven's mom is in town for her court date, and she wants to stop by and see Feven.  Would you like to meet her?"

Zac and I didn't even look at each other, we just both spoke from the heart immediately and said, "Yes, of course!  As long as she's comfortable with it, we would love to meet her."

When we asked when she would arrive, they said, "10 minutes."  WHAT?  10 minutes?  In 10 minutes the stars would align and Zac and I would be sitting in the same room with our daughter and her biological mother?  I still have food sprayed all over me from feeding Feven her lunch!  Feven's dress has food on it - will her mom think that I am not capable for caring for her?  We're supposed to be back at the guest house for lunch - we're going to be late and it's our first day there!  I haven't made my list of 100 questions for her mom yet - will I remember to ask her everything that I wanted to?

Zac got me the cell phone so I could call our guest house and explain that we would be arriving late for lunch.  I was on the phone with them, trying to explain the situation, when I saw a woman walk by the windows of our room.  Within moments, she walked in the door and there she was, Feven's mom.

As for me?  I was still on the cell phone.  Great first impression!

I quickly handed off the phone to Zac.  I don't remember what I said to the person on the line or to Zac, but I handed off the phone.  I stood up with sleeping Feven and placed her in her mother's arms.  It was instinct.  I didn't make a conscious decision to do it, and looking back, I'm so glad I gave her to her mom right away.  We have years to hold Feven; this was her mom's time to hold her.

When I envisioned meeting Feven's mom, my imagination painted a picture so different than what actually was!  Instead of a more traditional dress, her mom wore jeans and a denim jacket.  Instead of wearing a scarf on her head, her hair was pulled into a high ponytail.  She was thin and tall - as tall as me or a little taller.  Her smile was shy and she had a quiet peace about her.  She was young, not yet 20 years old.

I was mesmerized by her - I wanted to stare at her and see if I could see similarities in Feven's features and hers.  I wanted to ask her a million question and have her tell me all about her life.  I wanted to hold her hand and acknowledge the hurt and pain that she has seen in her life.  I wanted to express to her the deep gratitude I have for the opportunity to raise this child.

Feven, on the other hand, was not mesmerized by her mother.  She was not a happy camper because she had not been feeling well, and then I stirred her from her nap in the hand-off to her mom.  She began to cry, and her mom stood with her and bounced her as she paced.  I watched her mom pat Feven's back to comfort her.  The motion was familiar and comfortable.

Our translator was with us, and so we began asking questions.  One of my favorite questions we asked was what her mom was like when she was little.  A smile spread across her face and she said she liked to play with dolls and play soccer.  She looks to me like an athlete, so I bet she was really good at soccer!

We asked her what her dreams were for Feven, and she said she wanted her to go as far as she could in her education.  We looked at her and promised we would help to carry out that dream.  Feven's education is important to her mom, and important to us too.

Her mom also said she wants Feven to know that she was born in Ethiopia, and she asked us if we planned to bring her back to Ethiopia.  Now, Zac and I had talked about returning with her someday to show her where she was born, but let me tell you - when your daughter's biological mom is sitting in front of you, asking if you will bring her daughter back to her birth country, you say yes and you MEAN it!  Now we will start saving for our first trip back to Ethiopia!  :)

One thing that was nagging at me was that I wondered if her mom knew that Feven would be taken so far away when she was adopted.  What if she thought that she would remain in Ethiopia, or go to a neighboring country?  I asked the translator to ask her, and we learned that her mom knew that if she brought Feven to this particular orphanage that she would go to the states, and that's specifically why she chose that place.  She wanted Feven to have many opportunities in life and felt the US could provide that.  Also, Feven's mom saw a photograph of a boy who had been adopted by somebody in the states and he looked so happy.  She wanted that for her daughter.

I am humbled by the love that Feven's mom has for her.  Life hasn't dealt her an easy hand - at a young age she became a single mom.  She has to work, but has no mother of her own to watch Feven while she works.  There are not a lot of options for her, but she has such a great love for her daughter that she has chosen to say a hard goodbye in order to give her daughter a better chance at life.  Wow.  That is a selfless love.  That is a sacrificial love.

I can't wait to tell Feven of the love that has surrounded her since birth.  Her mom loves her very much and raised her for her first few months of life.  Feven was then placed into the care of wonderful nannies who cared deeply for her.  They played with her, cooed to her, sang to her, and rocked her.  Feven has been surrounded by love in both the orphanage and transition home.

And now Feven is coming to us.  We love her so much already, and have loved her ever since the first day we saw her picture and heard her name.  Feven has a large extended family awaiting her, ready to cherish her and teach her.  Also, she has numerous future friends and playmates who anxiously await her arrival from "eefiopia," as one of the little boys says.  This is a very lucky, very blessed little girl.

I am so grateful for the love Feven's mom has modeled to me.  I hope that I too have that sacrificial, selfless love for Feven.  It was an incredible privilege to meet her mother, and we will likely see her again on our return trip.

And yes, in case you're wondering, I HAVE started my list of questions so that I'm prepared the next time!


  1. That is wonderful to have that information for Feven one day. Beautiful post!

  2. Beautiful, Amber. What a divine appointment and gift to be in Addis at the same time. This post struck me deeply, thank you. xo

  3. Amber I am so happy for you. I thank God that this opportunity came for you and your husband so soon. I believe this is God's way of showing you that He is perfecting those things that concern you. Feven is blessed to have such loving parents. Congratulations.