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Archived from our former blog, The Beacon.

A Mother’s Day Story: One Family’s Adoption Journey

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Helping facilitate the intercountry adoption process is one of the most important missions we at USCIS carry out. Our agency is charged with determining the eligibility and suitability of prospective adoptive parents as well as the eligibility of children to immigrate to the United States.

Behind that process are remarkable individual stories of children in need of new families and homes. As Mother’s Day approaches, we wanted to highlight one family’s journey half-way around the world to adopt a brother and sister.

Ken and Heidi’s story stretches from California to Ethiopia and back again. They already had two children, but decided they wanted to help other children in need find a permanent family and a place they could call home. They began the adoption process in 2008, and have drawn on support from their community, church and other adoptive parents to help them fulfill their dream.

After months of waiting and searching and finally learning about the two children they would adopt, they embarked on a voyage across the globe, from Los Angeles to Chicago to Washington to Rome to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. They had only seen pictures and videos of the brother and sister they were soon to meet, and they didn’t know what to expect. When they finally saw their new daughter Tensaye, 5 and son Millennium, 2, words could not describe their feelings.

Ken & Heidi welcome newly adopted daughter and son, Tensaye (age 5) and Millennium (age 2).

Close up picture of adopted daughter Tensaye (age 5)--adopted son Millennium (age 2) and Heidi in background

Mother Heidi writes in her blog of that moment:

On this day (Monday, April 5th) we had the life-changing experience of meeting Tensaye and Millennium face-to-face! We originally thought we would be traveling to meet our kids birth mother this day, but for some reason communication got confused and it did not work out...we would have to meet her later in the week. The joy of seeing our Ethiopian beauties was truly is impossible to really capture the experience in words. Through pictures, videos, and updates we had grown to love Tensaye and Millennium so was almost overwhelming to see them in person.

Millennium, born on the first day of the new century on the Ethiopian calendar, had never worn a seat-belt or flown in a plane. The long, arduous journey home culminated at Los Angeles International Airport. Heidi describes the feeling of arriving home:

Walking through the front door of our house was SUCH a relief! We showed the kids their bedroom and the play room. Although they were tired, their smiles were amazing! Before we left for Ethiopia, we were trying to finish a remodel on our house. When we came into the house, we saw how hard my parents and aunt worked to finish the job and make the house nice for our return home! It was such a joy to show Tensaye and Millennium their home!!! All of the kids were in bed and asleep by 9:00pm! A great end to a long journey!  

It has been a month since that day, and Heidi tells us that Tensaye and Millennium are adjusting remarkably well and delighted to have a new brother and sister.

Family picture--Parents and children

We want to wish Heidi a Happy Mother’s Day and thank both her and all of the other Moms like her that have opened their hearts and their homes to children in need around the world.