One Less

There are several milestones in most foreign adoptions — sending your dossier, being matched with a child, passing court and taking placement of your child.  Our court date was Wednesday at 10:30 a.m.

We met three other Gladney families in Addis at the Gladney office, and we all met with our collective attorney.  We went about six blocks to the federal courthouse which is a nondescript building with no real identifying information and photos were strictly forbidden inside and out.  The judge over our cases held court on the third floor so we climbed five flights of stairs (I don’t know) and shuffled past fifty locals and several police armed with automatic weapons.  The judge’s courtroom was at the end of a long hallway, and the door opened to reveal a large tile floored room packed with about twenty families pursuing adoptions and four girls who appeared to be relinquishing children.  None of the children up for adoption were required to attend, and none were in the room.  I wanted to know everyone’s story but I was mainly focused on the next chapter of our story.

Chairs lined three walls and there was a small stage (I don’t know) on the window with window views of the street below.  Another door separated the judge’s chambers from the waiting room, and the judge was working out of her chambers.  The court administrator would peek out the door every five to ten minutes and call something out in Amharic.  A few families would stand after their lawyer heard the call and follow their lawyer into chambers just as the door closed again.  After about thirty minutes, our attorney explained that the cases were grouped according to the orphanage the children were from, so we were waiting to hear “Bridge to Hope.”  Shamefully, I didn’t know until then that all three of the families appearing in court with us were adopting children from the same orphanage.

Marissa sat on the floor with Owen and some new friends from Utah.  I could not sit, preferring to pace around the room taking all the faces in.  Occasionally, the door would open and another name would float past me without disturbing my conscience.  The room slowly emptied out, so we got some chairs along the wall.  One father, mother and teenage son adopting through another large American agency sat near us reading books.  The mom cast a couple stern looks our direction every time we talked, before finally shushing Marissa for disturbing her book or her nervousness or both.  It was all I could do to show some grace, but the shush distracted me for three or four minutes waiting to catch her next glance and communicate my feelings through my eyes.  I didn’t get the chance.  Her group of five families was called back, and I prayed for her to be successful — we are all on the same journey with the same calling.  Shushers group emerged after about ten minutes with one family crying and shaken.  Marissa leaned over and asked if those were happy tears just as I heard the group consoling the family.  The vanquished mother responded “it’s okay; it will come” as they returned to the packed hall.

My heart broke for her, and our whole group was reminded again that you take nothing for granted in international adoption.  Another group went back and emerged, then the door opened to the call of “Bridge.”  We all walked back with Owen going in just ahead of the attorney (I don’t know).  There weren’t enough chairs for all of us but the judge told us “sit, please.”  Owen and the other families’ traveling kids found a parent’s lap as the judge reviewed our passports.

The judge is a beautiful woman around 45.  She sat behind an overworked desk dressed in a dark robe with her hair back.  She began in perfect, crisp English by informing all of us that our paperwork was in order and then she began a roll call of the orphans names:

“Who is hear for Mamush?”

“I am” said Nancy from San Antonio.

I was lost in how great that question and answer were until she asked “Who is here for Aseres?”

“We are” Marissa and I said in chorus.  And we were; we risked everything and flew to across the world to a place we did not know to be here for a baby girl who has never had anyone “are” for her before.

The judge moved through the other two kids names in similar fashion, and then asked the group a series of yes or no questions.  I was determined to go with yes for the series and hoped she didn’t ask a question which called for any other type of answer, like a number or an explanation.

“Have you met your children?”


“Do you understand that adoption orders in Ethiopia are forever and cannot be reversed?”

“Yes” (thank you Jesus, forever and ever)

“Have you been told your other kids about, well I see that they are here, but have you told them and your families about the adoption?”

“Yes” said Owen in unison with us.

“Have you traveled and learned about Ethiopia?”


“Have you taken training on international adoptions?


“I think keeping the children informed about where they came from is very important as you go forward.  Everything is in order and each of your adoption decrees is approved.  Congratulations.”

She looked back to her overworked dest before I could tell her thank you with my words or my eyes, just as Marissa’s sobbing body fell past Owen onto my shoulder.  I held her as she processed final confirmation that she was a mommy again.  It is forever and those were the happy tears she had asked me about.  The judge did not give us a written order because she never does, but I imagine it would have said:

Ordered this day by the federal court of Ethiopia, a child born on August 31, 2010 two months premature in a hospital in Gonder and orphaned and housed at Bridge to Hope Orphanage where she was known as Aseres with no last name or known family will forever more be known as Aseres Grace McGlothlin.  Aseres now has a sister, two brothers, a mom and a dad who will be hers forever.

God predestined her from before her birth to find just this home in just this way and moved mountains to make this day happen according to his perfect will.  Sin continues to hold orphans in the dark across the world, but today, Aseres began moving to the light and there is one less orphan forever.  All praise be to God.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kathie
    Dec 01, 2011 @ 19:06:03

    Congratulations! Praying for a safe journey home. God Bless! Kathie


  2. stephaneep
    Dec 02, 2011 @ 17:52:21

    Overflowing with joy for all you guys. Can’t wait to meet her in person. Love the pics!!


  3. Nancy Nelson
    Dec 02, 2011 @ 20:21:01

    Praising the Lord with you all…beautiful testimony…


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