I am so excited to introduce you to my friend Deanne Mott. We met Deanne in Ethiopia while she was there adopting her two children. Her daughters were friends of our son Justice and I’m pretty sure I have some video of the three of them having a tea party together. . . 😉 Deanne is my first Friday Friend Feature and she is sharing her “Adoption Testimony” with us. Please enjoy!
Our adoption journey actually began in a classroom. I teach public speaking to college freshman. During my tenure, I have listened to and graded approximately 5,000 speeches. But, on this day, something was different. Two of the six persuasive speeches presented during that hour were about the importance of adoption; how their lives had been affected because they themselves had been adopted, one domestically and one internationally. I remember thinking, “I hope the students are listening to this. If one-third of the speeches are about the same topic, someone in here is going to adopt.”
Only a few months later, I was in the audience of a Hearts at Home conference, a weekend set aside to encourage and equip moms. I sat listening to stories of adoption from Jill Savage and Lysa TerKeurst. Their journeys had me laughing, crying and an ache was forming. In the past, I had left the conference with multiple books and that ‘I’m a mommy who can do this’ renewed spirit. But, this time there was something more. Upon my arrival home that evening, I shared with my husband Ryan the need to talk with him. I assume he was thinking, “What did she learn about this time, and what’s the ‘newest parenting concept’ we need to implement?”
After we put Kaden (then age 4) and Karson (then age 1) to bed, we sat down on the couch. I shared with Ryan my desire to look into adoption. I couldn’t put my finger on it; I couldn’t put the need into words, but it was there. I felt the way I had when I broached the subjects of wanting to have children prior to Kaden and Karson’s births.
“God sets the lonely in families…” ~ Psalm 68:6
I was nervous regarding how Ryan might respond. With two children, we were doing well working our man-to-man defense. Adding more children would mean moving to a zone. Ryan’s response was, “Well, I think you should research it, and let me know what you find out.” That was the open door I had been praying for all the way home.
I found myself instantly drawn to researching African countries. The summer after my senior year of high school I traveled to Spain with my Spanish Club. We rode a hovercraft from the tip of southern Spain to Tangiers, Morocco for a day trip. We were in a high tourist area, full of restaurants and souvenirs, but I vividly remember the tiny makeshift homes, some metal, some mud and sticks. And I remember the brown eyes looking up at me with hands outstretched, hoping for any coins that we were willing to share. I never forgot those eyes.
After about three months of researching and praying, we settled upon Ethiopia, a country two-times the size of Texas with 4.6 million orphans and were requesting a child younger than Karson. Then, after seeing a promo video for Invisible Children, a movement seeking to end the conflict in Uganda and stop the abduction of children for use as child soldiers, Ryan suggested we pursue two children. He promptly realized two more children under the age of two years old might be a little crazy, but it was too late; I ran with it.
We began processing with a local agency. The process was painfully slow. Our social worker seemed unorganized and ill-equipped; but being new to the process, we didn’t ask questions of the agency regarding her competency. The social worker was eventually let go from the agency; what we thought was a completed homestudy, wasn’t. The only thing that had been completed was our payment of the homestudy. The agency failed to complete our homestudy and later closed. We lost everything…all of our processing, paperwork, money, and a year’s worth of time. Some of the money had been donated. This fact compounded the situation. Ryan began to question if we were truly supposed to be on the path of adoption. I was reeling. How was this possible? I had done my best to research. I had done my best to pray. Had I been mistaken that God was calling us to this? Was I following my heart or God’s?
We stepped back and prayed some more…for over a year.
My heart for the country of Ethiopia and her orphans didn’t change; I still ached as I prayed. Then, an opportunity arose. I could lead a trip to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with Visiting Orphans to work in orphanages on a mission’s trip. I began to pray that this might lift the weight I was feeling. Perhaps this was the cry of my heart – to work, to care for the orphan in this way.
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” ~ James 1:27
While working in the orphanages, God began to open doors that we had never even tried. Ryan and I soon found ourselves corresponding via email regarding sisters I met at Kids Care Orphanage. They weren’t babies like we had planned. There were no boys involved, like we had planned. Fikirte, whose name means love in Amharic was a 10 year old girl and Konjit, whose name means beautiful in her native tongue, was her 7 year old sister. Ryan and I were half a world apart, but God had placed us on the same page.
Ryan had the ball rolling with America World before I left Ethiopia. Upon my return to the states, we began the process from the very beginning and let God write the journey. Friends and family once again partnered with us. We are still humbled by their support, kindness, and generosity. Fikirte and Konjit became a part of our family and joined us in the states in August of 2010.
“I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations. I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you established your faithfulness in heaven itself.” ~ Psalm 89:1-2
Now the next leg of our journey is underway. Feel free to see and hear more at deannemott.com.