This blog was written by JT.
***Full Disclosure: I “borrowed” some of the points in this blog from Ben Hardman, our pastor at the Avenue Church. Ben and his wife, Sarah, adopted a little girl from Ethiopia about the same time as us. If you would like to hear his version of this story, go here.
If you have missed out on our Easter Challenge, catch up by reading here and here. I find it incredibly appropriate and poetic to blog and speak about adoption during the Easter season because there are so many similarities.
God is the biggest advocate for orphans (read Isaiah 1:17 and James 1:27 if you need any reminding), so it’s fitting that we are going to celebrate adoption and the manifestation of the Gospel on the same day, Easter Sunday. I am going to use Tedi and myself as examples below to tie the two together.
A little over a year ago, Tedi had little identity. He was given up as a three year-old. He was a victim of the harsh realities of being born in a developing country. Tedi’s identity is no longer that as an orphan; he is an heir, handpicked, redeemed. Tedi is now an integral part of our family’s story. My identity is that I am no longer lost. No longer am I an orphan. The God of the universe loved me enough that He sent His only son to death. He sent His son to the cross so I could call him Daddy. This fact did not weigh heavily on me until I became a Dad. I cannot imagine allowing Tedi to die to save people who ridicule, mock or upset me. The exciting thing is that God feels this way about everyone who has ever lived!
Today, there is absolutely nothing that Tedi can do to separate from my love. It doesn’t matter how badly he acts or how many times he asks me “Why?” (by the way, we are at about 250 today- UGH!!!). The same can be said of my relationship with Jesus. No matter how many times I screw up (and people that know me know that is a lot), Jesus only loves me more. What an amazing example of unconditional love He shows each of us. The first moment I met Tedi, I got down on one knee and let him walk slowly to me. I embraced him and whispered in his ear, “Mommy and Daddy came a long way (I meant that both literally and figuratively) just for you, Tedi. We love you so much.” I felt him trembling in my arms; he was scared. I quietly started singing the chorus to one of my favorite songs:
“And I’ll be by your side whenever you fall, in the dead of night whenever you call. Please don’t fight these hands that are holding you. My hands are holding you.”
I find myself singing this song to him often. My hope is that one day, Tedi will realize that this song is not only being sung by a father to his son, but by our God to him.
Tedi knew no English when I first met him in Ethiopia. Our first few days together were like the world’s longest game of charades! I think it is a good thing that he could not communicate to me because, if he could, I am sure he would have said things like this in the first few days:
-“Who is this crazy white dude and why does he think he is funny?
-“Does he really think I am getting on this plane?"
-“Why are all these people cheering for me at the airport in Louisville? I can get used to this.”
One of the coolest things in adopting a child is watching him/her gradually (some slower than others) trusting their new family. Unlike if he had been born to us, Tedi had experienced life without us and was living as independently as a three year-old could. He did not and does not have to trust us. After nine months home, I still get chills when Tedi chooses to call me “Daddy.” When he first got home, he would wake up in the middle of the night and we would find him standing in the dark living room moaning pitifully. Gradually, he would come closer to our room if he woke up. After a month or so, he would stand at the foot of our bed and moan. I vividly remember the first time, instead of moaning, he yelled for his Daddy!!! Much like the process Tedi went through; I have gone through stages of trust with my Heavenly Father. I think God gets the same joy when I call him Daddy.
One thing that scared us before we met Tedi was the reports we received from other families who had visited with Tedi in his orphanage. Every one of them told us the same thing: Tedi was very shy, didn’t open up and was kind of a loner. Several described him as sad. Natalie and I were scared that perhaps he was severely traumatized by his experience and would suffer extreme attachment issues. Here are some pictures of Tedi before we met him.
Those of you that have met Tedi know that he could never be described as shy, closed off emotionally, or sad! When Tedi became a part of a family and had a Mommy and Daddy that loved him, everything changed for him. He went from being all alone to being accepted and loved. The same can be said of our relationship with Christ.
I hope you all have a great Easter and will proudly tell the world that you have been ADOPTED by your Heavenly Father.
I am going to leave you with a video that I found on YouTube that I think is excellent. It is one of my favorite songs. Also, don’t the bridges in the video look like the Kennedy and Big Four bridges in Louisville? Someone tell me I am not crazy.