I Once Was Lost, Now I’m Found…Keeping the Connection with Birth Family in Ethiopia

In my previous post I shared my son Asfaw’s story. His was a rare case of him being abducted from his village and lost for many years to the only birth relatives he had, his grandmother and her children. Though his was a rare case, I have seen the exact same emotions in other birth families who have sacraficed to give their child a better life through adoption. There are desperate circumstances involved leaving them to make a life-long decision for their child to have an opportunity to overcome the extreme circumstances of poverty and death in their third world country through adoption, only to never hear from or see their child again. Their child is lost to them, much the same way Asfaw was lost to his grandmother.

You can watch the video of Asfaw’s story I posted in my previous post and see the heavy burden and emotion upon Asfaw’s grandmother. This was a result of years spent carrying that burden of not knowing, wondering if he is dead or alive, wondering if she will ever see him again. Her tears were emotions that were unlocking years spent on her knees praying and asking the Lord to give her a miracle of seeing him again before she dies. And the sweet moment of that miracle coming true when he walked into the market that day and found her…and that same emotion and miracle for him as well. They both finally had the answers they had longed for all those years he was missing. The answer was each other. They finally had each other again. 

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She told me that in all the years he was gone, they were forced to move from one small mud home to another due to poverty. But she said in all those years she never moved her mat from the location in the market where she sold onions when he was a child. She said if he ever came back on Market Day that he could find her there in her same spot. In all those years she prayed and never moved from that spot every week on Market Day. 

So when we entered the village that random Saturday, not having a clue where to look, guess what day it happened to be? When I saw the extra 100’s of people scattered everywhere, I said, “Lord, WHY? Out of all the days for us to come to this village, why would I choose the busiest day of the week…the one day that had more people than any other day…and we have to find this one little Grandmother?” I was kicking myself over it.

But look what God did! And guess where Asfaw found her? You can watch him wander through the masses of people being led by his intuition in a direction that is only coming from memories of his past. And then you see him do a double take. He walks past a little woman sitting on a mat and then turns around and looks again. There, in that same location, on her mat selling onions, just as he had remembered since he was a child, there she was again. And it was there at that mat that he fell to his knees right in front of her. She didn’t even recognize him at first.


Her prayers after all those years were answered. There was her miracle. He had finally come home.


I think it is important to see the raw emotion involved in that moment. It is important because I want to contrast it to the unmerited JOY that has come from his sweet Grandmother since that day. We simply brought so much joy back into her life.


And then match that to how much joy she has brought into my son’s life. He doesn’t have to wonder anymore about what is out there in the world untouched and undiscovered in relation to his past and who he is and where he came from.


That is especially true with him moving to another country, culture, and being thrown into a society that could leave any adopted child searching for identity. With international adoption, there are many questions for the child surrounding their new living situation, especially in a racially diverse family. He was about to be living with a white family. A family that didn’t look like him or even speak his native language. What an incredible gift that God gave to all of us to be able to allow him to connect with his past before I brought him to the States. I never want my children to lose sight of their culture in which they were born into with  God’s perfect plan and purpose in mind. It was never intended to be lost. It can beautifully be discovered as the root of who they are and what God wants to birth from that. We are all called to help others. What an advantage my children have, so much more than me, to help the people of Ethiopia one day. 

So now how do we keep that connection going with Grandma? I will let you see for yourself in this video which documents Asfaw taking me out to his village last summer to visit Grandmother.


We serve on mission trips each summer in Ethiopia with my organization, Ordinary Hero, and I always make a point for Asfaw to visit his Grandmother. As you can see, it is the highlight and joy of her whole year to see her boy again. And they are so gracious, loving, and thankful toward me. His grandmother and her children pray for me and my family continuously. I know we are walking and living in the effects of those prayers. What greater gift is there than that?

This particular trip was extra special because we sat around their home one evening and had a list of questions we had written down for them. This would give some answers to Asfaw (and me) about his past. We learned many things about his birth mother and the questions surrounding her disappearance. Asfaw heard funny stories about things he did when he was small. I watched his face light up in amazement as he listened to these special moments relived from his past.

We also learned of their specific prayers for Asfaw. It’s amazing how God brought those about in His own way. Asfaw’s uncle (brother to his birth mother) told us he had a constant prayer and a vision that Asfaw would return to their village one day WITH his mother. God in fact did that, only it wasn’t quite what they had in mind…but it was God’s perfect plan none the less for all of us. I am blessed to be Asfaw’s mother and I am blessed to have this connection to his wonderful birth family.

I am touched by their faith, their love, and the way way they reflect God and the way that He feels about us, especially when we are lost and then found. What a beautiful picture this portrays!

This video documents Asfaw bringing his white mom (me) on a trip to the far countrside of Ethiopia to visit his Grandmother and some of our conversations from that evening. I kept the conversation about his birth mother private just for him, but there are special moments revealed in this video none the less. These moments where it is simply us, in the middle of the far countryside of Ethiopia, sitting in a small home, surrounded by people that share so much love for my son and information my son will carry with him the rest of his life… What a treasure! 


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