Adoption is the chance and ability to give children life, but it is also so much more than that: it is a community act and an act of mercy, according to the Bible, but it is hard work on the part of all people involved.
It is not easy to open heart and home to an unknown person and to graft that child’s branch on to the family tree, yet this is what has been done for each of us. We are all adoptive sons and daughters of God, none of us deserving of His love and care, but made for it anyway. “Be like a father to orphans” (Sirach 4:10), “Do not wrong the orphan” (Jeremiah 22:3, “Hear the orphan’s plea” (Isaiah 1:17), time and again we are told to care for the orphans among us. We are all called, in some way, to open our hearts to the orphan as God has opened Himself for us.
Katie and David Norton have been trying to answer this call.
Married for eight years, adoption has always been a part of their conversation, as the families they come from had been blessed by adoption. After having two biological children, Katie and David knew that it was time for them to pursue the call God had placed on their hearts and began researching.
After calling over 50 adoption agencies and praying many prayers, they knew that their future children would come from Ethiopia. The Nortons had no illusions about this process- they knew it would be long, hard, and expensive, but they knew that they were to pour themselves out for these children, just as God pours Himself out for us. They started the adoption process four and a half years ago and received referrals for their two children, Bongatin and Sebona, a year and a half ago (and have added a third biological child in that time!).
Both Bongatin and Sebona are four years old and live at the same orphanage, know that Katie and David are their mom and dad, and live as brothers. Bo is tiny, just the size of the Nortons’ two year old son, but is mighty; he climbs trees like his family of Ethiopian honey collectors, and is stubborn and strong. Sebbie just turned four, snorts when he gets excited, and loves to color and draw, just like his big brother, the Nortons’ second child. Katie and David have visited the boys several times to bond with them and also to get paperwork collected, signed, and sent to the proper agencies and people.
But the adoption process has come to a screeching halt. On April 21st, the Ethiopian government, through the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs, has halted the processessing of intercountry adoptions, no matter where in the adoption process families are (read more about that here). Katie and David, on their most recent trip to visit their boys, became the legal parents of Bongatin, but are unable to bring him home. They are awaiting one last approval on Sebona’s case, but the judge has said he would sign his case as soon as the Nortons obtain the last signature. All of this can no longer happen, so long as the Ethiopian government continues to block intercountry adoptions. In addition to the Nortons, this affects approximately 225 US families currently somewhere in the process of adopting children from Ethiopia, about 20 of which are legally the parents of children there, but are unable to bring them home. The Ethiopian government has not stated a reason for the suspension.
When asked what she wanted people to know about adoption, Katie said,
“Adoption is born out of brokenness. It is messy and imperfect and hard, but so are the best things in life. Children deserve families that will love and care for them. We are told in the Bible to care for orphans. So please, consider adoption or foster care. If you are not in a position to do that, support families in need so that families can stay together.”
Here are a few ways you can help Katie and David unite their family:
2. Call your US Congressional and Senate members’ Washington, D.C. offices
3. Pray, pray, pray!
In John 14:18, Jesus tells the disciples that He will not leave them orphaned- help Bongatin and Sebona unite with their family so that they will no longer be left orphans.