One year ago today we sat before a beautiful, Ethiopian judge in a small, modest courtroom in Addis Ababa. She peered at the picture of our sons before her. We watched her face light up with a sweet smile and she said to us, “They look so happy”. I remember watching my surroundings become foggy as my eyes welled with tears. I knew it was a mixture of emotions ranging from simple physical exhaustion to mental weariness to complete elation. We had already been asked on penalty of perjury if we had spent time with our boys; if we liked them; if we knew that this process would make them our sons forever… irrevocably; and if we still wanted to adopt these two little boys and make them Gregersens forever. It was as simple as responding, “Yes. Yes. Yes…” Just like that, our family grew by two more children!
Today I recall the knowledge that our day in court was simply a mere glimpse and “notch” on the stick in what had already been set in place – and time – by God Almighty. Simon Getinet and Elijah Bizuneh had been planned and destined for our family since before they were formed in their dear birth mama’s womb. The same Father God that adopted me when I was yet a wretch gave me the privilege of living the gospel through earthly adoption. Oh, how I pray that He is glorified through our family!
There is yet much healing to take place and thankfully I’ve met with peace knowing that the healing is not mine to accomplish. It’s all about God and his saving work. What is the gospel? It’s the truth! Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life and then gave that life as ransom for us, the true sinners. He died the death of a criminal; suffering beyond belief and spilling righteous blood on my behalf. And that wasn’t the end of the story! He stepped out of the tomb, alive and exalted, in a glorified heavenly body! He did this for us so we can be with Him forever, with His Father in heaven. Amazing grace and mercy! How sweet indeed.
Healing is a process; longer for some than others, but it comes. In God’s timing, it comes. It may not always look like what we want it to look like, but when He reveals it… Wow. It is way more beautiful and timely than we could ever imagine. Healing here has been a journey. It is happening in spurts. In seasons. In mysterious moments and words. In joy and humor. And always in love. The love I feel for my youngest sons runs so deep… The only way to explain it is to assure all you mamas out there that the love is truly the same as if my two youngest grew in my womb. There are times I forget that we “look different”. I don’t know that I even notice looks or comments anymore. I’m just not there right now. What I notice are the times when Rhyan, our 15 yr old daughter sits with 5 yr old Eli to work on a puzzle, and when Ty, our 12 yr old takes Simon, our 7 yr old, out to the backyard to work on his catching or play whiffle ball. I see the sparkle in everyone’s eyes when we crack jokes at the dinner table and even our two littles get it! I find rest and hope in the hugs, kisses, “I love you”s, thumbs up, brother handshakes, piggy back rides up the stairs…
The truth is that one year ago today, my boys met face-to-face with the gospel. They were adopted by a daddy and mommy who loved them simply because we love. Not because they did anything to earn our love. There was no “work” or “task” for them to accomplish. They didn’t ask us to adopt them. It was all our choice. They had absolutely nothing to do with it! They didn’t even know us. We reached out to them and drew them near. We brought them into the fold, just as our Good Shepherd brought us in. We chose to bring them into our family, just like God chose to make us His own, by no striving or asking of our own.
So, now we reflect on what that means for our family. When God saved me, He set me apart. I’m no better than anyone else. I’m still a sinner, BUT I’m now clothed in His righteousness and others should know that by my fruit. I’ve been filled with the power and comfort of the Holy Spirit and in Him I leave behind the darkness, death and misery of a life without Jesus. And our sons? They’ve been set apart too! They’ve been drawn into the Gregersen Family. They’ve been called out to leave behind the loneliness, grief, despair, and emptiness of life as orphans. The past is gone! A new life has begun! Just as God calls us to the light and beauty of a new life in Him, I believe we can expect the same transformation from our children – all in God’s timing. The old must pass away and the new life as Americans and Gregersens brings beauty, joy, and glory to their Savior, Jesus Christ.
In no way do we wish to forget or dishonor the birth country of our boys. We love Ethiopia and the people who call it home. It’s funny that as the one year anniversary of us meeting our boys has come upon us, our little Eli has finally begun to talk about Ethiopia and ask questions about his birth father. He literally NEVER vocalized anything before 5 days ago. Ever. Every day since June 6th (the day in 2013 we learned we were cleared to travel to meet the boys!) he has asked about going on an airplane together again, and why his birth father is sad, and how come there isn’t fun stuff in Ethiopia. There it is. More healing! He is releasing the ties he has to his birth country in what I believe is a healthy and honest way. We love talking to him and Simon about our adoption. We love telling them how blessed we are to be chosen as their mom and dad and family. We love knowing that their birth father gave us his blessing and gratitude and that we can tell our boys how much we love him too. And to reassure them that they don’t have to cut off the love they have for their birth parents is healing for all of us. They can enjoy the gift that God gave them of having two earthly moms and dads!
We continue to pray that through adoption our children get to relive the gospel each day. In their hearts and minds, they need to be aware of the fact that they are new creations. They don’t have to live as if they are in the pit anymore. And truthfully, we won’t accept that as an excuse for behaviors that reflect lost souls. They are lost no more. God’s children – all of us – can rest assured that He strengthens and equips us to live the life He calls us to.
Thank you for praying for us. Thank you for partnering with us in so many ways throughout the past year. Thank you that even when you may not have agreed or understood why or when or how, you were still there. Thank you for still being there. We are humbled at the knowledge of the friends and family God has brought into our lives and the ways He has made you all a part of our story. He writes every story, and we are honored to have all of you written in our book, and to be in each of your story books in that immense, amazing library in His heavenly mansion. J Yes, I believe there is one of those in heaven! And that gets a resounding, “AMEN!”
Grace and Peace to You Always,