Nov 18, 2008

From jeans to genes — Adoption finalized: Liberty generosity weaves a new family fabric for the Wolfes

by Jennifer Schmidt

The move from Ethiopia to Pinckney, Mich. took only a week to complete for Aschalew, Genet and Yesalemush – three orphans from Ethiopia who landed on U.S. soil last Saturday. The three siblings were adopted by the Wolfe family using money donated in Liberty’s Jeans Offering from fall 2007’s Spiritual Emphasis Week.

“It was really exciting, and we were all anxious to go,” Kristin Wolfe said of the trip. “But it was a bit scary because there were some unknowns.”

Leaving from D.C., the group had a 17-hour plane ride to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Wolfe, a Resident Director for Liberty, traveled with her parents and two siblings along with Johnnie Moore and Justin Kintzel, who filmed and photographed the entire trip.

Upon landing at Addis Ababa, the Wolfes were greeted immediately by their new family members.

“We came around the corner, and they were waiting for us,” Wolfe said. “It was crazy – we were expecting them to be there, but we had to get our luggage and go through customs. It was a good feeling – kind of weird.”

The scene was full of hugs and smiling as Wolfe recalls.

“Basically that was our trip in a nutshell – smiling and hugging for a week.”

During the week spent in Ethiopia, the group visited Aschalew’s orphanage, which was a boys-only facility, and the orphanage where his sisters had been living.

At 17 years old, Aschalew is a studious and driven young man. He was excited to hear about Liberty’s offer to send him to college for free and told the Wolfes he is interested in becoming a doctor. Because his two sisters – Genet, 16, and Yesalemush, 15 – are still learning English, he acts as a translator for the family.

“He studies a lot so he can understand what’s going on though his English is pretty broken,” Wolfe said. “But even after a week, all three of them felt more comfortable.”

Addis Ababa is a “developing” city as Wolfe put it, offering many things to do, but still noticeably different from America.“Roads are crazy and terrifying because everyone does what they want to do,” Wolfe said. “There are also a lot of animals and donkeys carrying things on their backs.”

The family enjoyed watching traditional Ethiopian dancers, attending several coffee roasting ceremonies and visiting some museums. As Wolfe put it, the family now has a “point of reference” to understand the homeland of their new siblings. Overall, the Wolfes and the new siblings adjusted well to the transition.

“It was good that we had a bunch of kids, we all hit it off right away, the brothers were teasing the girls,” Wolfe said.

She explained that the adoption of the three siblings was extremely unlikely because they were already grown teenagers and most adoptive parents prefer newborns or toddlers. But the agency had a Christian contact who was working with the Wolfes, and everyone involved believed that God had orchestrated the entire process.

Moore described the trip as incredible, noting both funny and heartrending incidents. At one point he requested two Cokes and was handed a bag of onions from a smiling vendor. Not wanting to insult the man, Moore simply took the onions and had a good story to share.

One of the more poignant memories Moore treasures is a prayer given by the siblings’ uncle. He thanked God for sending a family to care for his nephew and nieces – a request they had been praying for years.

Wolfe summarized the entire experience saying, “The idea that a year ago we hadn’t even heard of these kids, and next week all eight of us will sit down to dinner together at my house blows me away.”


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