The Gift of Family

January 19, 2021


Eyob with his adoptive parents Hareg and Muse and siblings. Eyob was placed with his adoptive family in September 2020 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

On a chilly December morning in 2019, little “Eyob”* was found on a busy street corner in downtown Addis Ababa.  The infant was only one day old when a Good Samaritan found him and brought him to Ethiopian authorities, who quickly transferred him to a government-run orphanage in the capital.

Eyob was provided basic care at the orphanage, but the lack of basic facilities and inconsistent caregiving by multiple staff members prevented him from thriving or developing a secure attachment with anyone. As a result, the staff found that he was delayed in his development and indiscriminately attached to anyone and was not showing any healthy fear of strangers.

Fortunately, when Eyob was six months old, the Government of Ethiopia referred him into Bethany’s Foster-to-Adopt program. In September 2020, after a rigorous vetting process, he was placed with “Muse”* and “Hareg,”* a couple who lived with their family in Addis Ababa and was thrilled to welcome the baby boy into their home.

“We have two daughters, ages 15 and 11. We tried to have a baby boy and waited for years before exploring adoption. But after a lot of discussion and prayer, we decided we were ready,” shared Muse and Hareg.

Only two months after Eyob was placed, his foster parents reported that he was a happy 10-month-old, nothing like the child who lived in the orphanage. Parenting him transformed their lives as well.

“It is not only Eyob who is benefiting from this adoption program,” said Muse. “We are blessed to have been chosen to take care of him and become his parents and siblings. We are amazed with the progress he shows every day. He was about 6.7 kilograms when he was placed in our home. Now he is nine kilograms. He used to get startled at the tiniest noise and he could not sleep if there was a noise. But now he is beginning to feel comfortable and is a happy, healthy, and playful child,” according to his foster sisters and foster parents.

Eyob and his adoptive mother Hareg Photo Credit: Tamerat, Marsil

Eyob and his adoptive mother Hareg
Photo Credit: Tamerat, Marsil

Eyob, Muse, and Hareg are only one of the many families who have had the good fortune to be nurtured through the adoption process by Bethany’s caring team. The Agency’s mission is to “stand up for vulnerable children, refugees, and families around the world, because family holds an incredible power to connect us, lift us up, and transform lives.”

Not only do they meet those objectives, their response to the COVID-19 pandemic has proven they can exceed them. Ethiopian Country Director Dawit Fekadu describes the Foster-to-Adopt staff as “field-focused leaders who encourage each other to think and act in new innovative ways. The team’s dedication and discipline are deeper than I have ever seen. They are ‘fighting the good fight’ on behalf of vulnerable children, dealing with daunting challenges of such complexity.”

The impact of that commitment is clear. Last year, the Agency recruited and approved 223 families in the Foster-to-Adopt program and placed 104 children into loving homes across the country. As witnessed in the case of Eyob and his new parents, the Agency is on track to give the gift of family to many more Ethiopians, transforming their lives in the process.

*The names of the people in the story have been changed to protect their privacy.