GOSHEN — In May of last year, The Goshen News reported on two Goshen couples who began the process to adopt four siblings from Ethiopia. By the end of August 2012 the Miller and the Mounsithiraj FAMILIES welcomed Kaleb, Meron, Kayin and Luke into their homes.
Older children help welcome twin brother, sister into Miller family
It’s been six months since the Miller family adopted 5-year-old Ethiopian twins Meron and Kayin into their family of eight.
Their biological children Johnathon, David, Nolan, Sethan, Moriah and Baleigh, ranging in ages from 11 to 19, had been urging their parents, Kathleen and Shawn to adopt for more than a year.
There were really no worries in Kathleen’s mind that once the novelty of having two new siblings around wore off the older children would leave all the responsibilities to the parents.
“Having older kids has been a big blessing,” Kathleen said. “They’ve welcomed them, pitched in, nurtured and even shared their beds in the middle of the night when things got a bit overwhelming for one of the twins.”
Kathleen finds the nurturing and patience she sees expressed daily a source for great gratitude.
“I still get goosebumps when I see it,” she said. “Their hearts were prepared. They had a passion.”
This is not to say the journey has been easy.
In their native country, both the twins were woken up from a nap to meet their new parents for the first time. The boy, Kayin, was immediately very affectionate and accepting. His sister Meron was not.
“She was scared out of her mind. She was screaming,” Kathleen said. “I couldn’t even hold her. It was very, very difficult.”
But the couple knew it was temporary. Meron came around slowly. During their last week in Ethiopia, both couples had to live for a week with their new family in a hotel while the adoption was finalized.
“It was part of the process, but it was hard to be normal in that environment,” Kathleen said. “We really couldn’t communicate.”
The Millers said they learned a few words like food, bathroom and sleep in the native language Amharik and used hand signals to get messages across.
“That was not what you needed to parent well,” Kathleen said. “I mean this was an enormous transition for them. I know they had intense feelings and questions. I wish we could have communicated better at that time — and during the awful 32-hour trip home.”
Back home, Kathleen said, among their new brothers and sisters, the twins switched over to English pretty quickly. And they seem to be thriving in their new environment.
They love their new surroundings, especially the snow and they love and are affectionate with their new siblings and parents. But the transition has not been entirely smooth. At just 5-years-old Meron, the more vocal of the two, has deep memories of Ethiopia.
“She pretends to talk on the phone to her birth mother,” Kathleen said. “She tells her she has food now and that she is clean. She asks me questions. I can’t answer everything, but I really encourage those conversations.”
And then there was the evening that Meron realized she was not going back to Ethiopia.
“She got very quiet and than began to cry,” Kathleen said. “It was a very tough evening. It’s not all hunky-dory. We all have had to sacrifice — to give up things.”
The rewards, however, make the whole experience worthwhile.
“It changes your priorities and perspective. This is really a redemptive process. You don’t walk out the same,” Kathleen said. “For a believer, the joys, the lessons, the blessings are amazing. I would do it all over again.”
The bond that the Miller family has formed is very evident to Kathleen.
“They are flesh and blood to me at this point,” she said. “We can be out at the store and I notice everyone is looking at us and I wonder why. But I really feel they are mine. They just don’t look different to me anymore.”