Thursday, November 5, 2009

What are you going to do about it?

Nearly three years ago, shortly after making the decision to adopt a baby girl from Africa, Andrea and I had an after dinner conversation that ended up laying the foundation for a mission and a passion that we never could have imagined.

As we sat around our dinner table that night, we were just beginning the process of getting informed on the basics of the country that would present us with our third child - Ethiopia. We had just begun learning about this poor landlocked country situated in the Horn of Africa - bordered by Eritrea to the north, Sudan to the west, Kenya to the south, and Somalia to the east. We learned of a third-world country roughly the size of state of Texas that had been ravaged by HIV/AIDS, famine, poverty, drought and flood, and home to an estimated five million orphans. That’s right, five million orphans.

And one of them was my baby girl Gabrielle.

As we sat around the dinner table that night, we discussed what Gabrielle might want to know someday about her native country, her culture, her heritage, the circumstances, and the reasons. We vividly imagined the day that Gabrielle would approach us, look into our eyes, and ask us THE question:

“What happened to my mother and father?”

As we speculated on how this conversation may unfold, we realized that although we might not have a specific answer to this critical question (unfortunately it’s very common for Ethiopian orphans to be left without a trace of his or her family history) we recognized that we could at least explain the likely circumstances leading her to becoming one of the five million orphans: poverty, disease, hunger. Strangely, this gave us some level of comfort - comfort that we could provide Gabrielle with a rationale (as awful and evil as it is) that might satisfy her need for answers at some level.

BUT our comfort evaporated when we thought further about her next logical question:

“What did you do about it?”

WHOA…. the thought of that question stopped us right in our tracks! It was at that very point that Andrea and I started to realize that this adoption was just the beginning of something much more than simply adding another child to our family.

“What did you do about it?”

Can you imagine getting that question from your little girl and not having an answer? We had to have an answer, a good answer! We could no longer ignore the massive injustice and problems occurring on the continent that was to provide us with our daughter. We now had skin in the game….

“What did you do about it?”

Can you imagine having an awareness of the fact that there are five million orphans in Ethiopia alone and doing NOTHING about it?

“What did you do about it?”

Can you imagine knowing that 5500 Africans die every day of AIDS (a preventable and treatable disease) and doing NOTHING about it?

“What did you do about it?”

Can you imagine knowing that nearly a million Africans die each year of Malaria and doing NOTHING about it?

“What did you do about it?”

I plan on having a really good answer to this question when it comes out my little girl’s mouth. And if it goes well with Gabrielle, I may just repeat my answer the day when I meet God face to face and have to give Him an account....

What's your answer? (


krg November 6, 2009 at 7:06 AM  

Great thoughts - some I need to ponder on. I wonder what I will say when our two Ethiopian babes ask me these questions!

Amy November 6, 2009 at 8:03 AM  

Thought provoking post, Peter. Thank you for challenging us. Knowing as well that God is going to be asking me those same questions one day drives the point home even further. I want to be able to say that I did love the least of these authentically and actively with my life.

Anonymous,  November 6, 2009 at 9:08 AM  

Beautifully written, and a great challenge. Thank you for sharing your heart!

Brandi November 6, 2009 at 1:32 PM  

I have had lots of comments just from posting this on my Twitter/FB from my account and HopeChest's!

Thanks for a well written post that encourages us to actually answer the question...not just ask it.


Susan November 7, 2009 at 7:06 AM  

Thank you for this. We are "waiting" right now, for our little girl and boy in Ethiopia, and I've had the exact same thoughts. I appreciate all you said.

Kari November 12, 2009 at 12:22 PM  

Pete, I love your heart and passion. We are still grieving that Roger can't join you on the vision trip in Nov... prayerfully one day soon! I love your blog and would be honored if you want to add my new site on your roll. We are working hard to make it a one-stop shop for adoption and advocating for orphans!
Thank you for your friendship. I could never have made it thru our journey to Zoie without your support, cheers & Andrea!

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A simple man on a mission to promote the beauty of adoption and care for the needs of our orphans

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