Portland: Emotional reunion with Ethiopian Dr. and adoptive parents

From Holt International Newsletter 10/08.

Ethiopian Adoption–‘a good thing’.  Parents reunite with a key person in their recent adoptions.  Parents carrying young children enter the small dining hall, scanning the faces for Dr. Fikru. When they spot him, they move quickly across the room to greet him with hugs and laughter. Some have traveled for hours and some from as far away as Maryland to see this charismatic man they first met on the other side of the world–in Ethiopia.  The expressions of joy and familiarity spread across their faces as he greets them with a warm Ethiopian-style handshake or embrace. Several parents address him as “Dr. F,” and some hold his hand as he listens to excited stories about the newest tricks and developments of their new sons or daughters. For these parents, he is a friend who played a key role in a unique journey of love.

The setting this time is Portland, Oregon, at an evening reception for Holt International’s Ethiopia country representative, Fikru Geleso, M.D., and for families who recently adopted children from Ethiopia.

When they first see Dr. Fikru, the children are shy, and they resist his desire to hold them. Though these children have been away from Ethiopia only a short time, Dr. Fikru represents their past life, and already the children are firming up attachments to their new parents.

Dr. Fikru watches them play and interact with their parents, delighted at the way they have become sons and daughters. When the children become more comfortable with Dr. Fikru, he cannot resist a game of catch with them as a stray inflatable globe bounces his way. It’s not long before all the children become familiar again with Dr. Fikru, and one by one he holds each of them, letting them touch and play with his familiar features as he kisses the little hands that stray across his mouth.

“This is a good thing,” he says, indicating that the children are happy and healthy and the families are adjusting so well.

Throughout the evening, each family takes a moment to tell Dr. Fikru about the progress of their child and share a funny story. He listens intently and smiles approvingly as they share their new lives with him.

“Once you see the picture of the child you have been matched with,” says one mother, “the hardest part is going to bed at night wondering who was holding her, who was touching and caring for her. When you get there [to the Holt childcare center in Ethiopia], you find that they are caring for the children better than you can! It was amazing to see just how much the nannies and all the staff really care for and love on each child.”

Time and again the parents glow and gush about the quality of care they saw in the Holt Addis Ababa Care Center. One mother joked that the attention lavished on her little boy by the nannies was so great, it spoiled him. Laughing, she said she thought that it might have made her job a bit harder. The knowing response from other parents indicates that this is not far off the mark for them as well.

“The caregivers in the childcare center just seemed to be made for caring for children,” said Trisha Coy. “They were so connected to the children, and they truly love them.”

Another new mother, Andrea Hankins, talked about her son’s joy each time he sees them again. “Whenever my husband, Joe, comes home from work, Malcolm is so excited to see him. Even if I go into another room to work on a project for awhile and come back into the room, Malcolm gets excited and runs up to me.”

Michelle Dalpra seemed to sum up all of the parents’ gratitude. “We wouldn’t have this beautiful family without you guys,” she said. “There isn’t a day goes by that we don’t believe we are truly blessed to have him in our life. We would like to thank Holt and all the staff in Ethiopia.”

by Brian Campbell
Creative Productions Manager

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