Pieces of the Puzzle

My friend, Marissa, has five children, three of whom are from Ethiopia.  When her oldest two arrived home just a little over a year ago, they spotted our family picture on the refrigerator.  Her daughter looked at it, then leaned closer and looked at it again.  She pointed at the photo and asked incredulously, “Dimples?”  “Yes,” Marissa answered, “That is Dimples.  Do you know her?”  Through an interpreter, she explained that she had grown up very near Dimples’ family and that they were neighbors.

Addis Ababa is a big city of nearly three million people.  What are the chances that my child, and my friend’s two children, could have lived within 20 yards of each other, ended up in the same orphanage for children with special medical needs (although the girls were there at different times), been adopted by families in the same state, and that those two families would be friends despite living 300 miles from one another?

I’m pretty sure it is a God thing.

The beauty of it is that Marissa’s daughter is quite a few years older than Dimples, so she has been able to shed some light on stories we couldn’t understand.  For instance, Dimples has a fear of the sound of marching.  She told us that mean soldiers had marched in the streets near her house.  We had been to Dimples’ house and it was not much of a street at all; it just didn’t seem plausible to us.  But she told details of hiding under a bed in fear while “soldiers” broke down their door.  We tried to piece the story together, but it wasn’t until Marissa’s daughter came home that we understood that riot police had come through the streets following an election, breaking into houses and even shooting people.  It was terrifying for everyone.

Marissa’s daughter also knew Dimples’ family – their mothers were good friends before they both died.  I cannot tell you what a gift it is to have a link to Dimples’ life before we knew her.  I don’t want to ply T. for information, but even on this visit she said a few things that added pieces to our puzzle.

The girls had a great time together, staying up late, listening to music, braiding hair, and generally being young teens.

Here are the youngest eleven before leaving for church Sunday morning.

It is early on Tuesday morning and I’m just about to watch the Insights and Gifts series from Empowered to Connect as a refresher for a short talk I am giving Sunday morning.  The kids will be waking soon and then another school day will begin.  There are lots of stars in the sky; I’m hoping for a sunny day.

#351 – 360 giving thanks

friends who are relaxed and easy to host

meals shared

Russ taking the boys out to work in the aspen grove

cups and cups of coffee

walking our hills

cooking together

celebrating Dimples’ birthday (photos soon)

Signe’s family hosting us last night

rosy cheeks and lots of chocolate

laughter that is good medicine

Have a great Tuesday, friends.


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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.


  1. Lisa
    November 1, 2011

    oh, what a treasure!! I'm SO glad for you that you guys have that little window! That's ABSOLUTELY a God thing that He connected you guys! wow.

    Question: Assuming you don't have as much background on some of your other kiddos, how do you speak into the black hole of information when you're kids ask you about their origins, etc? We have no info and don't expect that we ever will. My five year old asked yesterday, 'did you bring me here because I didn't have a family?' It was a good start to a good (short) conversation. But I realize more and more that anything I say is only speculation. There's nothing solid to hold on to about his original family – with the obvious exception of God's giant, if mysterious, plan. Anyway – looking for wisdom about how to talk with our children regarding a VOID of info?

  2. Linda
    November 1, 2011

    Wow! What an incredible blessing!
    Sometimes the connection with people in adopted children's past helps in unexpected ways. It can explain odd fears and behaviors, but it also fills in pieces of their lives. I found that my daughter, especially, had a fantasy view of her birth family before she reconnected with them. Now that she can see them in person, she is seeing that, yes, they love her, but they still have so many problems, even though their birth mom is doing better. Her older sister even told her that there were good reasons why they were taken from her family, though she didn't say why yet. My daughter is surprisingly more connected emotionally to us these past months as she is sorting through everything.

  3. Mavis
    November 1, 2011

    May God bless you and keep you! May He make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you and your family. Thanks for your blog! I look forward to it in my inbox!

  4. Susan PD
    November 1, 2011

    Wow Lisa…great story and yes, it is an amazingly small world even in the giant city of Addis Ababa. I recently made a connection in Troy to an Ethiopian who introduced me to a family in Addis who turned out to live right near my Hana's aunt and siblings. Now I have a better way to keep in touch with them…he's become kind of their fairy godfather to these Hana's two sisters and makes sure they are wellfed and staying in school. And all because of someone here in my hometown in the U.S. Love your blog as usual….nice to see Dimples with her big beautiful smile.

  5. Michelle
    November 1, 2011

    That is so awesome. God is sooo good!

  6. Heather
    November 1, 2011

    What a blessing, that could truly only come from our Creator!

  7. Marissa
    November 1, 2011

    There are times when even this cynic has to stop and say, "Wow! God really is at work in our lives." Thank you for your hospitality, your faith, and your friendship.

  8. lauradodson
    November 2, 2011

    What a gift. The Lord is amazing!

  9. Julie
    November 3, 2011

    What an incredible story of God's goodness and love! What a blessing for you!

  10. Melissa
    November 3, 2011

    That is definitely a God thing! So happy that you are getting some of the missing pieces!

  11. Carrie
    November 4, 2011

    What a beautiful story! Thank you for sharing. Thank you also for the pictures. Zinash loved seeing the pictures of your girls and T looking so happy and healthy!

  12. Mama D's Dozen
    November 9, 2011

    Amazing! Only Our Lord could orchestrate such a beautiful story.

    Looks like you all had a good visit.



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