Listen: An Adoptee Tells Her Story

Changed Life

There she was, with her beautiful long hair, lying all alone in the uncomfortable, hospital bed.  She was dying of HIV/AIDS and unable to speak to me, I felt so much sorrow as I watched her lose weight because she could not eat.  In 2003, in Mekelle, Ethiopia, I was a six year old, second grader when this all happened.  Himonnet is my mother’s name and she was the best mom. Not because I say so, but because others also said so.  My mom used to laugh all the time and was good at comforting others.  This was the most difficult year that I ever had, that no one also could imagine.

Hospitals are not usually very clean, but the hospital where my mom was at was actually very neat.  Right when she got to the hospital they gave her an IV so she could have more energy and food. Next, the nurses gave her oxygen because they thought it would help her breathe.  She also had to take a lot of medicine.  It was awful to see her take so many! One time the IV needle popped out and blood was going back up into the IV bag.  Even though the hospital was the best one of all, it was still hard to see my mother there.

I kept going to the hospital to spend time with her and to take care of her.  My mother could not move because she was so tired, so I fed her like a baby.  She did not eat much, but she drank the juice I bought for her.  I would tell her, funny stories about an old man that everyone tells stories about in Mekelle.  With short, funny stories she would give a little smile. But if it was too long of a story, that would make her fall asleep. If I wanted to spend time with my mom I could, but I didn’t because she needed rest.

After spending a couple of days at home, suddenly my mom got worse and an ambulance came to take her back to the hospital.  The ambulance driver told me I couldn’t go, but I yelled at her, “No! No!” So I jumped into the back and saw my mom staring at me, but I didn’t even know why.  When she arrived at the hospital the doctors got together and decided to give her oxygen, but she did not want it.  A doctor told me to get out of the room and go downstairs to watch television.   I was crying and something inside me was telling me that she was going to die.

Finally, the doctors came down and went to see other patients without telling me anything.  I snuck up the stairs and broke the door.  She was covered with a white shawl. Next, I lifted the shawl, checked to see if she was breathing and called for her name.  I didn’t hear a response. When I started yelling, “Himonnet!” the doctor’s heard me, but only one came.  They slapped me because I wasn’t supposed to be there.  My brother Hayet did not even know that this all was happening because he was at home.  The hardest thing for me was that I did not get to say that I loved her and will miss her.

That minute my life changed forever.  What happened was hard, but I learned that sometimes life can break you down and you can choose to get up or choose to break down.  The thing to be thinking about isn’t what you have or what you don’t have, none of that matters.  It’s important to remember that at least there is someone that will love, support, and care about you.  I used to cry every night about what happened, but I’ve moved on.  My mother’s laugh and her smile are what I miss every day.

Hailyn

Friends, this essay was written by Hailyn who came home to her family last year at the age of twelve.  Her mother sent it to me after Hailyn wrote it for a school assignment and expressed a desire to share it more broadly.  As her mother wrote, “What began as a school assignment, turned into a healing opportunity.”

I am honored that Hailyn trusted me with her story and wanted to share the privilege with you of hearing it told in her own voice.  If you have a moment, please leave a comment to encourage Hailyn.

#541 – 550 giving thanks

words written from the heart

healing through reflection and writing

courage

the winding path of grief and God making Himself known

families knit together

gathering with my bookgroup last night

a living room full of college kids when I got home

girls sipping (very sweet) chai tea at the kitchen counter before school

a bright pink headband on black hair

quiet singing as Honeybee makes her lunch

Have a good day, friends.

Lisa

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

32 Comments

  1. Marissa
    December 15, 2011

    Such a beautiful young woman with such beautiful words. What she says is so humbling and honest. She's certainly a gift to the world!

    Reply
  2. Heidi
    December 15, 2011

    Dear Hailyn,

    First, I would like to say that you have a beautiful name…it matches your beautiful spirit and photo. I would like to say that you are very brave for sharing your story. I am 27 years old and I lost a parent too – my dad was an amazing dad…ever so special to me. He had cancer and fought very hard but when I was 24 years old, Jesus decided it was time to call him to Heaven. I used to cry a lot too! Sometimes I still do when I remember some of our special times or a joke he used to tell (he was VERY funny)…but, you are right…there are always people to love and care for us. I have learned that sharing my story helps me heal a little more every day AND it helps others too! It looks like you have an awesome forever family…I hope you keep the courage you have and grow up to change the world! Thank you for sharing your story. Have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy 2011! -Heidi

    Reply
  3. Kim
    December 15, 2011

    Hailyn,
    You are brave, and you are beautiful.
    We are all blessed to hear your story in your own words.
    Thank you for sharing of your strength so that we all can grow.

    Reply
  4. Sarah
    December 15, 2011

    You are so brave Hailyn. Your life story can serve to inspire other children who lose a parent, other adults who may want to adopt older children, and other kids who may not yet understand that adoption looks different to each person living it. You are a gifted writer, and I hope you continue to share your story.

    Reply
  5. shannon
    December 15, 2011

    Dear Hailyn,
    You are wise. You will grow to be a wise kind woman. Please know that this essay will be helping children, with hurts, to heal as well. Thank you, so much for sharing.

    Reply
  6. Mimi
    December 15, 2011

    Dear Hailyn,
    Please know that your story, as told through your words and your life as testimony, will touch many many lives and change them all for the better. I wish you a life full of love, joy, and peace, and that you always carry your mom's spirit in your heart with you.

    Reply
  7. Staci
    December 15, 2011

    Hailyn, you are so brave and kind and thank you for teaching us about strength, grief and love. I know your first mother Himonnet is very proud of you and watches over you.

    Reply
  8. Rachael
    December 15, 2011

    Thanks for sharing your heart, Hailyn. What an amazing testimony of courage and strength. Merry Christmas!

    Reply
  9. Paula
    December 15, 2011

    Himmonet might have been the best mother, but I think it sounds like you were the best daughter. Hailyn, you are a beautiful person.

    Reply
  10. bahava
    December 15, 2011

    Hailyn, you are absolutely beautiful and I love your heart to share your story. So brave.

    Reply
  11. Teresa
    December 15, 2011

    Thank you so much for sharing your story Hailyn. I'm so sorry for your loss, but you are a very brave and sweet daughter!

    Reply
  12. sleepyknitter
    December 15, 2011

    Hailyn, thank you for sharing your story! I cried when I thought about you as a little girl taking care of your mother and watching her dying. You are very brave to tell your story and to move on as your mother Himmonet would want you to do. You are a wonderful daughter!

    Reply
  13. Beth
    December 15, 2011

    Hailyn, my daughter also lost her mother and mourns for her often, however, she is not old enough to express herself like you did in your essay. Thank you for helping me better understand how she might feel. I will read your essay to her and maybe your words will bring her comfort. Thank you for sharing your heart with us.

    Reply
  14. Courtney
    December 15, 2011

    Hailyn,
    Thank you for sharing your story! You are beautiful and brave and I can see that God's strength is shining through you!

    Reply
  15. MommaFoster
    December 15, 2011

    Thanks for sharing your story. Praying that God will use it and you in a powerful way to bring healing to many other people, too.

    Reply
  16. Jennifer
    December 15, 2011

    Hailyn, thank you for sharing your story. You sound like such a bright girl with a great and positive attitude! Best of luck to you.

    Reply
  17. Oldqueen44
    December 15, 2011

    Hailyn,
    God has blessed you with amazing insight and strength.
    Your words blessed me.

    Reply
  18. Deanna
    December 15, 2011

    Hailyn,
    Thank you for sharing your and your moms story. You are a brave young woman and I am so proud of you for writing your story. I will share it with Abby, Anna, and Sarah. We love you sweetie!
    Blessings,
    Deanna Conrad

    Reply
  19. pastormacsann
    December 15, 2011

    Thank you for sharing your story, Hailyn. You are an amazing young woman.

    Reply
  20. Laura
    December 16, 2011

    Hailyn,
    That was so beautiful! You are so brave! That is so amazing for you to write and share with others. You have come so far and I am so happy for you. Through this writing you will touch and help so many others. I am so proud of you! Elias sends hugs and kisses.

    Reply
  21. Jillian
    December 16, 2011

    Hailyn,

    Thank you for being so brave to share with us, maybe you always have love and peace and wonderful memories of her.

    Reply
  22. Jennifer Dougan
    December 16, 2011

    Hailyn,

    I am privileged to know you a little bit in real life too. What a powerful, moving story. Thank you for honoring your mom Himonnet with this story, and for letting us see into your heart. You are a kind, strong young woman. May God continue to whisper his huge love for you deep into your heart.

    Jennifer Dougan http://www.jenniferdougan.com

    Reply
  23. Leslie Memula
    December 16, 2011

    Thank you so much for sharing your story Hailyn! I am certain that your mother is smiling down upon you and that she is proud of the young woman that you have become 🙂

    Leslie

    Reply
  24. Karen R
    December 17, 2011

    Thank you for sharing. Your love for your mother is just beautiful! Our daughter was adopted (from S. Korea) as a baby, and I wish that she'd been able to get to know her first mother.

    Reply
  25. alicia
    December 17, 2011

    Hailyn, thank you for sharing. You are inspirational! Thank you!

    Reply
  26. Leslie
    December 18, 2011

    Dear Hailyn, thank you so much for sharing your heart. I know your parents are so proud of you! What an amazing young woman you are.

    Reply
  27. Donna
    December 18, 2011

    Thank you so much for sharing your story! You are quite a young lady. Your story will help so many of us understand our children better and help us to help them heal. Thanks so much, I pray God will use you greatly in the years to come in many special ways!

    Reply
  28. Kelli
    December 18, 2011

    Hailyn,
    Thank you so much for sharing from your heart about your mom. Your love for her is beautiful and I am grateful you were willing to share that with others. I love it that you and your mom shared so much laughter. I think that is such a gift for you to be able to remember her that way. (I, too, have spent some time in Mekelle & I think I know the funny man to whom you are referring… Yes, that would make a mom laugh 🙂 Thanks for being brave & real. I know God will bring healing to you and others as you share your story.

    Reply
  29. Ellen
    December 18, 2011

    Hailyn,
    Thank you so much for sharing about your mom. I read Lisa's blog sometimes, and I live in the state of Nevada. We are foster parents, and I like to read things written by children. You wrote well and honored your first mom's memory. I will pray for you and your brother.
    Gratefully,
    Ellen Z.

    Reply
  30. Bleuberry
    December 23, 2011

    Hailyn,

    Thank you for sharing your story – I am so sorry that you had to walk through such a difficult experience, and I pray all the very best God has to offer to you, with healing, joy, encouragement, laughter, and family – now and in the future.

    Reply
  31. Maria
    January 26, 2012

    Your story is so inspiring and encouraging as we start the adoption process! Thank you!

    Reply
  32. Kea
    December 16, 2017

    Dear Hailyn,
    I just came across your essay for the first time tonight. I wish I could have read it years ago, when you first shared it, but maybe this is the best time. Now I can read it with my daughter and we can appreciate it together. She came here from Ethiopia about the same time you did, at about age 10, with many vivid and painful memories.
    I am sure your honest and beautiful expression of genuine feelings will encourage and inspire my daughter. Thank you for your courage in sharing your personal story!

    Reply

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