WALTER SMITH – ETHIOPIA : A FAMILY AFFAIR

About 15 years ago, my wife and I were living in a small Brooklyn house with our 3 year old son Otis. We talked about wanting more children and were thinking about adoption instead of Kate going through another pregnancy. She had no issues but wanted to adopt to help a child that needed a family.

After 3 months of discussions and searching, we decided on an adoption in Ethiopia. Kate worked in the HIV field, and we were well aware of what was happening in Ethiopia. We found an agency and went through all the homes studies…etc. After 8 months we were assigned a baby named Salam. For 3 weeks we were ecstatic. We had pictures and videos of the baby. She was ours.

One afternoon I got a call that the baby passed away due to a hole in her heart.
We were absolutely devastated. We talked about it for a few hours and reached out to the adoption agency. There were 2 young children whose paperwork was complete, and they needed a home. They were sisters... Tigist and Mihret... ages 4 and 2.5.

My responses was that of a fool….if I get a minivan, I can do it. 2 weeks later we had a minivan, albeit a crappy one. 2 weeks after that, Kate and I flew to Ethiopia to meet the our daughters. 4 months later Kate flew to Ethiopia, alone, to bring our daughters home.

As we were walking in to pick up my wife and daughters from the airport, I turned to him and asked Otis how he felt. Otis said it best. He said, “I feel great. From lonely to not lonely.” We were going into the airport as a small family and coming out a big one! I’ll forever remember his response. We went from thinking we’d be a nice family of four to a bigger family of 5.

Our new life offered a bit of a change, now having 3 rambunctious kids under 6. There was lots of energy in the house… too much for a small Brooklyn house. Within 6 months of the girls arrival, we were living in Nyack, NY in a small house
with a huge yard. It had plenty of room to run off that energy.

One day at breakfast Otis said to us that he’d like to adopt a brother to “even out the score.” That's all Kate needed to hear. Within 3 weeks she was traveling to Ethiopia to pick up our son Tariku, who was 6. It happened that fast! Boom…family of 6. 4 kids all under the age of 6!

Kate has traveled back to Ethiopia with Tariku and Tigist in the past few years, but
we’ve never gone as a group until last March. What a trip. We were able to see the 2 women who ran the orphanage and took care of our children while they were there. Everyone got along great and had a wonderful time. It's tough to freely shoot street work when you’re traveling with family. It's like I had to watch shots sail right by! I did manage to do some street drinking with a very nice group who wouldn’t let my
glass of Tej run dry. A few snaps from the trip with my 16/16/16/14 year old children. I could use a vacation from this vacation!