“Thanks for calling Nau, this is Josie” was how I started the conversation with a customer late one Friday afternoon, as usual. But after less than a minute of conversation, the Nau-related topic that prompted her call ended, and the real conversation with Heather began.
She has three children, two of which were adopted from Ethiopia. She described the strong Ethiopian community that exists in the city where she lives, the steps she’s taken to teach her kids the National Ethiopian language, and about the process of adopting her children. Correcting my naive perception of adopting children from Africa, she said the government is extremely supportive of the adoption process, because Ethiopia currently has thousands of children living in orphanages. Through her experience using Children’s Home Society and Family Services (childrenshomeadopt.org) the paperwork was moved quickly through the adoption process and it took only about five months to bring home each of her children.
Heather and her husband recently went to Ethiopia to meet her sons’ birth family. This affectionate, tearful group consisting of over 40 extended family members welcomed them with hugs and kisses. Being in a place where the average household lives on the equivalent of $100 per year, she said, changed her life. Dedicated to understanding what this is like, she tried to live on the same budget and didn’t even make it one week. We discussed what would happen if every person in America, or the world for that matter, had the opportunity to visit villages in Africa to see first hand how families survive with so little.
When I hung up the phone, I was left with an appreciation for the connection I made with a stranger that I could not have predicted when I woke up that morning. When I wake up tomorrow, I hope I’m listening if I cross paths with another stranger who has something to tell me.