“This stage is so incredibly hard. Abenezer can’t speak English well yet and communication is very hard. I want to remember the hard, early aspects of adoption as we will probably wade into the process again and it just makes the outcome so much sweeter. He came from a very hard place and has done exceedingly well in a totally different culture and country. He left everyone and everything he knew to have a ‘mommy’ and ‘daddy’. I don’t think those words mean that much to him yet, but they will. They will mean a home to come to for the holidays when he’s grown, a shoulder to cry on during those rough preteen years, kisses on boo boos. He and Lydia attached to each other right away and his favorite part of the day is picking her up from school. One day, every day life won’t be this hard so I want to remember this stage to know how far our family (and Abenezer) has come.”~Rebecca
The Shrader Family is officially a family of four after bringing their Abenezer home this Winter. In November of 2013, I met Rebecca and Josh at the American Tobacco Campus in Durham, as they were announcing that they were adopting from Ethiopia and also announcing their pregnancy. There was no way to know, even then, what an incredible story God was (and still is) weaving. Lydia was born in 2014, and they finally got Abenezer’s referral in September of 2015 due to divine circumstances (Click here to read the beautiful story). God had already given them their “rainbow baby”…their full of life, smart, sassy, independent, blue-eyed, 2.5 year old Lydia. Finally in January of this year, Rebecca and Josh traveled to Ethiopia to get their precious, bright, affectionate, 4.5 year old, resilient, gift of a son, Abenezer.
Two months after Aben finally came home, I met the Shrader Family yet again at the American Tobacco Campus in Durham. They very strongly want Aben to always be proud to be from both Ethiopia and from Durham. Rebecca and Josh love their city, and they’ve set roots here and it’s become their home. Durham will be getting its first Ethiopian restaurant in downtown soon, and they hope to go there a lot and get to know the owners, as Aben’s Ethiopian heritage is important and special.
I have to admit that as incredibly excited as I was, I had low expectations for this session. Aben had just come into a brand new family in a brand new country with a brand new language. This is a lot for anyone to handle, but especially a 4 year old boy that has left everything he had ever known. I cannot explain how special my time meeting him and being with all four of them was that afternoon. As soon as I met him, he gave me the biggest smile I’ve ever seen and he didn’t stop smiling the rest of my time with him. He listened, he laughed, he danced. He was joyfully silly and he loved on his parents and his little sister is the sweetest of ways. The only thing that matched his love for his family was their love and adoration for him. Aben surprised me that day, but no matter how Aben would have behaved or reacted to this photo session, it would have been incredibly special to me. Because like Rebecca said, whether things are unbelievably hard or easy as pie or anywhere in-between, it’s their story and it should all be remembered.
During their session and ever since I keep thinking about God’s plan, His timing, and His wisdom for the Shrader Family. Their story is good, it’s hard, it’s sacrificial, it’s beautiful, and every bit of it is worth it. It is a Gospel story, and I could not be more honored to be a tiny part of it…