The Grand Mother

My son Abel is from Ethiopia, he has been with us since 2009. Before we adopted him he lived with his grandmother in a small village in the Mekelle region of northern Ethiopia. She worked in a motel as a maid. His grandmother would wear him to work, strapped on her back with a Khanga, until he got too big for her 50 year old body to bare the weight of any longer. That was when she sought out the local orphanage. She was a 50 year old woman, living with a violent drunk, supporting a house full of teen and preteen , nephews, nieces and more and she knew she had a hard choice to make for her young grandson. She wanted a better life for him. She knew she could no longer care for him and protect him by bringing him to work with her. So she walked him to the orphanage, kissed his gaunt, tiny, soft brown 4 year old cheek, and told him "you stay here." and she left.

Our son recalls very little from his early childhood in Ethiopia but he does remember that day very well. It is seared into his heart like a hot iron brand.

I wish he had never had his parents die when he was a baby, I wish his grandmother hadn't taken up with a drunk who beat Abel, I wish she had had the resources to keep him safe, away from abusers, in school happy and healthy growing up to be a nice happy Ethiopian. I don't wish all that because I am not glad to now be his mother, I wish all that because I AM now his mother, and I love him, I could never wish such pain and grief that brought him to us, on any child especially not my child. But it is his reality. It is our reality, that one of our children suffered unimaginable loss and abuse that should never be.

The thing is, I honestly don't believe it has to be this way.  Those of us who sincerely want to help Orphans may think adoption is the best thing for them because we love and we want children who have suffered great loss to have all that our biological kids have here in our very rich, United States of America, we feel our hearts are big enough to take them all in and be their mommas. We want to rescue all of the hurting kids in the world, and I don't think there is anything wrong with feeling that or that motivating us to do SOMETHING. But is our heart big enough to consider that adoption is not what's always best for them?

There are many ways to help orphans. Child sponsorship through organizations such as World Vision, Compassion International and Hope Chest but also sponsoring mothers through organizations like Project Hopeful or connecting with in country organizations with financial support through organizations like The One Child Campaign, Charity Water or Mocha Club.

Let's say a grandmother receives chickens, because someone bought her some through a World Vision sponsorship, then she can get eggs to sell which is added income for her family, maybe she can afford to keep her grandson and raise him and not feel the need to take her nieces ad nephews and small grandson to live with a drunk.

Maybe if a young preschooler were to get support from a Compassion International sponsor, he could go to school and then his grandmother could go to work without worrying about her young grandson staying safe while she is gone.

So many possibilities. So many ways to work toward there being fewer and fewer kids like Abel, given up for adoption by a desperate grandmother.

I imagine Abel's grandmother, doing the hardest thing ever in her life, desperate, feeling so sad to lose him and so glad to give him a better life then she could give him.

I pray I can do right by her decision, give him a good life and love him as she did.

She is indeed a GRAND mother.

4 year old Abel with his grandmother.


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