Forgiveness…it’s easy enough to say, but it can be difficult to do.
As many of you know, our lives were somewhat turned upside down when our adoption agency declared bankruptcy while two of our children were over in their Transition Home in Ethiopia. Three years ago today, I was in Ethiopia, finally with my children, relieved that they were okay, still somewhat shocked that I was holding them five months sooner than expected. Three hours ago, I was on a teleconference with the prosecutor in the criminal case.
Adoption agencies going bankrupt has certainly happened before and is bound to happen again, but unfortunately, in this case, it was not simply a question of running out of funds. While my two precious, already-been-through-a-lot-in-their-lives children were literally starving in the care of the people we had trusted, those people were fine dining. It is alleged that some of the money that was to go towards the care, feeding and medical needs of my kids went instead to such things as home renovations, a horse, spa visits, and luxury trips.
When it comes to the people who allegedly defrauded the more than 400 families signed up with the agency and the 43 children including mine who were stranded without food, it has been difficult for me to forgive. I worked through forgiveness in the first few months and came to a place where I could honestly say that I had forgiven them. When I wrote my adoption memoir, the feelings resurfaced again and I had to work through them and forgive anew. Then, when criminal charges were finally laid, the REAL feelings came up, feelings I didn’t even know I had. By then, I had seen some of the long-term effects on my kids that those 6 weeks of one tiny “meal” a day had had on my kids and their English language skills were good enough for them to express to me some of what happened to them there and when I worked through to get to a place of forgiveness that time, it took WORK!
There isn’t actually much I can say about the teleconference tonight as there were things said that are not yet a matter of public record, but I will say that though there could still be a trial, these people will never be charged with what happened to my children. Due to jurisdiction and burden of proof, none of their charges relate in any way to what happened to the 43 children in their Transition Home in Ethiopia. It’s hard. I wanted to give my children a voice tonight, but I don’t know that I was able to convey what they went through because of the greed, selfishness, lust for money of a few people (allegedly).
There will be a time for victim impact statements to be given and I will present one on behalf of my son and my daughter, but I wish they had never been victims. The thing is, most often, it is those least able to defend themselves who are victimized, those who are vulnerable and should be protected. My babies were just 7 and 4 and had already lost their family and their home when they were put in a place where they were at the mercy of people who did not perhaps (allegedly?) have their best interests at heart.
But I will make sure that my kids are not victims. They are victors. They are going to beat the odds. And one of the ways I can be sure of that is to model forgiveness. So tomorrow, I will begin the hard work again of forgiving these people who stole much from me and more from my babies and from some of my very close friends. I will focus on the amazing miracles that came from what could have been a tragedy: the 43 children who came home to their new families and the more than one hundred who have come home since because of the determination and strength of truly awesome people! I will help my children to heal.
When asked how many times we are to forgive, “Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven.” – Matthew 18:22