Minister spotlights Ethiopian awareness, need for adoptions
Nov 25, 2010, Written by Dwight Adams, Indianapolis Star
It’s a long way from East Africa, but a growing number of Ethiopian immigrants and adopted orphans now call Indianapolis home.
Many have found a warm welcome from the leader of a young congregation on the city’s Westside: Yosef Desta, pastor of Indianapolis Grace Ethiopian Church.
Desta invited members of the community to sample Ethiopian food, music and culture on Nov. 13 at Westlake Community Church, where his church meets weekly for Sunday worship and Wednesday Bible study.
Desta also spoke of the urgent need for more Americans to consider adopting one of the estimated 5 million to 6 million Ethiopian boys and girls orphaned by disease and poverty. Desta estimates that at least 100 Hoosier families have taken that step.
Indianapolis residents Cindy and Paul Neal adopted two Ethiopian boys, Kenyon Belachew Neal, 5, and Hudson Musse Neal, 2.
“For both boys, we had a great experience,” Neal said. “My husband and I had both traveled in Africa. Through that, because we had a love for Africa, we thought of adopting (from there).” Neal said both adoptions were completed in less than a year.
When they first met Kenyon in an orphanage in Ethiopia, Cindy said she was struck by how the sick children were kept in a room by themselves. So when they sought to adopt a second time, they asked for a child who had special medical needs.
Hudson, born with a relatively minor heart defect, couldn’t get adequate medical care in his own country. But now he is thriving and under excellent care in Indianapolis, his mother says, and may not need surgery after all.
Neal explained her decision to take a risk that many potential parents would shy away from.
“We have insurance, we live in a city with some great medical facilities,” she said. “We just thought we could find a place in our hearts for a child with medical needs.”
Desta said events like the one several weekends ago on the Westside are important to introduce Hoosier parents of adopted Ethiopians about the culture of their new children, including the language, cooking, religious holy days and even the way in which they braid hair.
But he said such events have another purpose: They help remind adopted Ethiopian children from where they came.
Desta pointed out that Ethiopian orphans, unlike those in some other nations, are usually well cared for and loved, because the orphanages are privately run and staffed by dedicated workers from Christian or nongovernmental groups.
And he said Ethiopian orphans are now the second-most-popular choices for adoption in the United States – behind only China – because of the large numbers of children available, the efficiently run Ethiopian adoption process, and the lower cost compared to other countries.
For Cindy Neal, who once worked with orphaned children in Kenya, the adoption of their two Ethiopian boys has been a blessing. And she said there is always a possibility that they might adopt again some day.
“My husband and I were both familiar with adoption because we both had adopted cousins,” she said. “We chose to start our own family through adoption, because adoption is what was in our hearts.”