The Child Advocacy Network (CAN) : Making Children Visible:
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Don't Rush to Wash Off All She Has Known
Little Mekdi smiled at everyone in her Ethiopian orphanage. Bed-ridden due to severe cerebral palsy, Mekdi suffered from extreme malnutrition, yet she was full of warmth and joy. Eden, an older girl in the orphanage, often stopped by to care for her and spend time with her. Together, the girls dreamed they would have forever families someday.
In 2012, Eden’s dream came true when Marco and Michelle adopted her and her two siblings through Bethany Christian Services. Their story was even featured in a 2013 Bethany LifeLines article. When the magazine arrived, there was Mekdi’s photo in the same issue, along with other waiting children. They had briefly met Mekdi months earlier when Eden gave them a tour of the orphanage. Seeing her photo next to their family’s story struck a chord deep in their hearts.
Marco and Michelle (and their now seven children) started praying for Mekdi and advocating for a family that would love her and care for her special medical needs. Because of their close bond, Eden had been praying for Mekdi since coming to America. Michelle thought, “Eden is a pretty special girl; she has a tight bond with God. Surely Mekdi’s going to get a family.”
Soon Marco and Michelle’s hearts began to open to the possibility thatthey could be Mekdi’s family. On Christmas day, 2013, Marco and Michelle submitted their online application—Mekdi’s dream of a forever family was about to come true.
Through the year-long adoption process, Marco and Michelle collaborated with Bethany staff, the staff at Mekdi’s orphanage, and doctors in the U.S. and in Ethiopia to get Mekdi the immediate and intensive medical care she needed. “Bethany staff would call and pray with us,” Michelle said. “They would call even when they didn’t have anything new to share, just to say that they were there… that was huge.”
Marco and Michelle travelled to Ethiopia to meet Mekdi on her fifth birthday. “[In the orphanage] she didn’t really verbalize, she just smiled all the time and would follow you with her eyes,” Michelle said. On their second trip last May, Eden travelled with Michelle. She was overjoyed to see Mekdi again and to welcome her to her new home.
Mekdi’s health needs were critical when she arrived in the U.S., and Marco and Michelle took her to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. With this care and the physical and emotional love from her big new family, Mekdi’s health began to stabilize, and she is now thriving in her forever family.
“All the kids love her. She is treated like a princess in our house,” Michelle said with a smile. Eden does her hair every morning, and another sister loves caring for Mekdi’s medical needs. She is growing in leaps and bounds and attending a class for children with multiple disabilities. She’s very vocal now and loves interacting with her family and friends. “When she sees us, she totally lights up,” said Michelle.
This Christmas marks two years since Marco and Michelle applied to adopt Mekdi. So much has changed for her, and her family is overjoyed to celebrate their first Christmas with her this year. “Everywhere she goes, there is a light around her,” Michelle said. “She radiates joy.”
Eden and Mekdi’s love for each other has deepened from friendship to family. Through Eden’s prayers, and a family’s deep love, the two girls with the unique bond can now call each other sisters.
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