Last week I introduced the Berger Family. Their story is full of examples of active compassion. The goal for their Family Compassion Focus this year is GO Hope (Giving Orphans Hope). They hope to make 100 backpacks for kids entering the foster care system. In between writing letters to companies asking for contributions for the backpacks, organizing clothes drives for Safe Families, and assembling all these Grab n Go Bags, they found a way to do a fundraiser to help Nepal after the massive earthquake this spring. Their kids lived outdoors for a week and got pledges of more than $2300 buy 34 tents for those recovering from the quake. All of these things are amazing, but not their headline news for 2015.
In the midst of all that the Bergers had another baby. They surrendered their hearts, plans, and family and adopted their 5th child.
I am intensely drawn toward adoption. The idea of being chosen, fought for, and given a new name echoes in the deepest part of my heart. As a child I had a lot of uninformed fantasies about being adopted (probably a little too much Little Orphan Annie in the record player). Now as a parent and adult I understand more clearly the risk and heartache involved.
Kevin and Shannon have adopted 3 times. Three sons from three places. Three very different stories. I hope you feel the fervent love the Bergers have for their children as you read them in their own words.
Adopting Levi from Nepal
Our adoption journey began in early 2006 when our youngest daughter Naomi was 18 months old. We began with submitting paperwork and our dossier for a China adoption, but what began as a 9-10 month process from dossier to adoption, turned into an over four year adoption process. But, the positive thing was that our agency knew that we had wanted to adopt more than one child, so they contacted us when they had received referrals from a new adoption program in the country of Nepal. We then received a referral for a little boy who was 9 months old at the time, our son “Levi”.
We made our first trip of two to Nepal to meet our future son. It was incredible to meet him when he was so young, but he was very sick and we actually had him admitted to the hospital when we were there. We cried many times over how malnourished he was. I had seen children like this before, and it is always heartbreaking, but this was my kid and I feared for his life.
We tried getting an exception so that we could bring him home early to get him medical care in the US, but the Nepali government did not allow this. We were sad to leave him, but once we left, we received word that he was moved from the hospital in Kathmandu to a malnutrition center where his health steadily improved.
We were home for several months before finding out that they had shut down the adoption process in Nepal. At this point we weren’t sure that we were going to be able to even adopt him anymore. This was a very difficult time. [Shannon is the Queen of Understatement.]
Eventually they did open adoptions again for those already in process and we were able to make travel plans. When we made travel arrangements, we knew that not all of the necessary paperwork had been signed by the Nepalese officials, but we expected that this would be done shortly. So we said goodbye to our two daughters and got on a plane to Nepal.
It turned out that the paperwork was not done shortly and we ended up being there, sipping way too many cups of tea with Nepali officials in an attempt to get the paperwork moving along, for 39 days. THIRTY NINE DAYS! The hardest part was that we didn’t have our other children with us. This was such a difficult time. It wasn’t the best start to our family of 5, but we have grown much through the process.
Adopting Aris from China:
Almost two years after bringing Levi home from Nepal, we finally received a referral for a little boy from China, who’s name was Ao Tao (which means Olympic Wave as he was born around the time of the Beijing Olympics). He has pretty much been a tidal wave too! There is a reason that his nickname is “A-Bomb.”
Although this process took over four years, once we left for China it was like clock-work and within two weeks, we were home and now a family of 6. Due to missing our kids so much when we were in Nepal, we decided to bring them with us to China and we all were able to share this incredible experience together.
Adopting Daxton through Foster Care: [**His adoption was finalized last week, 9/4/15!**]
There are a million different way to do compassion as a family. Maybe reading about adoption and fostering feels amazing and grand and beautiful, but also way too big and intimidating? I feel that way. Compassion is something we learn and grow. I give you permission to start small. Send a text to a haggard mom. Look up Safe Families in your area and see if they need any donations. Look a child in the face and smile with your whole heart. We can do this.
To read Part 1 about the Bergers, read here.
To learn more about how the Family Compassion Focus got started, read here.
To get started on your own Family Compassion Focus, read here. It’s never too late!
To learn about my family’s focus for 2015, read here.
©Aimee Fritz & Family Compassion Focus, 2015.