Amazing Firsts

Adopting an older child from Ethiopia

by Susan Johnson

We are the lucky parents of eight children. Our first adoption journey began in 2006 when we brought home our infant son, Matthew. It is hard to describe my feelings when I traveled that first time to Ethiopia. The parents in my travel group who had adopted toddlers and preschoolers were very inspiring to me. The children were amazing and beautiful.

We were so in love with Matthew that we began the adoption process very soon after he came home. This time we knew that we wanted to adopt an older child. Our agency, however, wouldn’t allow us to adopt a child that didn’t follow the birth order of our family. Lucky for us, we brought home our little 18-month-old son, Samuel! Samuel definitely made us work a little harder for his love, but watching him process everything that had changed in his life was amazing.

Our desire to adopt an older child always remained in our hearts. After some discussion with our children, we started researching older child adoption and contacted Holt International. We definitely wanted to adopt from Ethiopia again and there was one little girl that we were particularly drawn to. She was a little older than we were originally planning on, but after some discussion, prayer, and a little bit of faith, we knew she would be our daughter! We began the process with Holt to bring her home!

Our daughter, Asmerach, is nine years old and has been home with us for almost three months. She has been such a happy girl. She is beautiful, sweet and so much fun! She is learning English rapidly and loves school. We may have missed her first smile, her first steps, and her first word, but we have witnessed so many of her firsts here in America.

Allow me to share, with you, some of our joys: The expression on her face the first time she tasted cold ice cream…priceless! The smile that never left her face the first time she rode on the carousel, her excitement about being in the swimming pool for the first time, her obvious confusion when we gave her presents for her birthday, the excitement she felt to have her own bedroom  and her terrified expression when she thought we may be eating our pet dog after  I gave her a corn dog for lunch!

Coming into a new family, a new culture, and with everyone speaking a new language, Asmerach has showed us how brave and strong she really is. She is always ready to jump right in and try new things. We are getting so much joy from watching her experience everything we take for granted and have so many more things to look forward to, like her reaction the first time we take her to an amusement park  and we can only imagine what her reaction will be on her first Christmas morning. We realize there will probably be some bumps along the way, but we are so thankful that we followed our hearts. We can’t imagine Asmerach anywhere else but with us.

If you are interested in adopting an older child, click here for more information.

Learn more about Holt’s Ethiopia program.

Give life-changing support to a child in Ethiopia….sponsor a child!

3 Replies to “Amazing Firsts”

  1. I was so very happy to hear about this adoption. Your little girl was in care when we picked up our son in June 2009. We often wondered about this little girl and hoped she would find a forever family. I am truly happy for you all. She was very kind to my little boy!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your amazing story. We picked up my brother last Christmas, and while we were there I got to know Asmarach right away. She was so expressive and charming, and I knew she would go to her long-awaited home soon. It was so neat because even though I did not speak Amharic, we still laughed and giggled.
    I remember once when I was playing upstairs with Asmerach and the girls. We played duck-duck-goose, patty-cake games, and they even sang me songs. As we were giggling, they had forgotten that they were supposed to be taking naps. So I said,”Lie down, girls, you have to go to sleep.” But, naturally, they would not even shut an eye, and we continued to giggle and laugh.

    I will always remember our experiences in Ethiopia with the other children. I screamed with joy when I saw Asmerach’s story in the Holt magazine! She is such a strong leader, and she will no doubt be successful in whatever she does. And that beautiful hair!!! One day when we were at the Holt-center, Asmerach had changed her hair from braids to letting it down, and we said,”Asmerach, konjo, konjo (beautiful).” She stood there, eyes sparkling, and blushed with happiness.
    Another day, when my sisters and mom were shopping in the market, I stayed at the center and played. When it was time for lunch, I sat at the table with the girls. Asmerach offered me food, but I reassured her that I was full. But, Asmerach kept wanting me to have some, and even put the spoon to my mouth, begging me to have her food. Those were fun times!!

    Please tell her I said hello and that I am so happy for her. I will always keep her in my prayers, and she is such an inspiration to me! God bless!!

  3. This is such a wonderful piece! I was so happy to see pictures of Asmerach. I showed them to Terefech (our daughter) who was very close with her while they were in Holt’s care. She has often asked about Asmerach. She loved the pictures of her. I pray that Asmerach is doing as well as our girl. Terefech does want to know where Asmerach is living and if she can see her again. I pray that God will continue to bless your family.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *