Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

March 15, 2013

All for love: Two families adopt siblings from Ethiopia



The Mounsithiraj family

Newest Mounsithiraj siblings learn more about American life each day

The solemn looking 2-year-old Luke’s first picture with his adopted family showed exactly what he was feeling.

“The first time we met he was so shy and cautious,” said his mom Jean Mounsithiraj. “But during the last hours there in Ethiopia, he put a toy on his head, looked up at me and giggled. He really opened up.”

For his 7-year-old brother Kaleb, the transition was a bit easier — at first.

“They come from a very affectionate culture,” Jean said. “I think he was used to being the caregiver for his younger brothers and sister. He’s the devoted one. He shares all that he has and makes sure everyone has what they need.”

And now Kaleb is learning how to be a kid again.

“It’s eye-opening to see our world through new eyes. They are fascinated with everything,” Jean said. “I remember the water fountain in the airport. They could have spent hours playing with that!”

Moving from a lifestyle where food was not plentiful and surroundings were unsanitary to a home where every need is met was a welcome adjustment for the brothers. The Mounsithirajes have four biological children: Tyler, 16; Annie, 13; Katie, 11 and Molly, 8.

“Well there’s a lot more noise and activity,” said Jean, who home schools all the children. “The older kids have been very welcoming. They just put down whatever they are doing to help out. And they’ve had to give up some privacy — but they are acting like genuine big brothers and sisters.”

The language barrier was the biggest obstacle in the early months.

“Kaleb knew no English that first week. By the third week he knew a handful of words,” Jean said. “By the third month, he was very understandable. Now he is always asking what phrases mean. Some things are just so hard to explain.”

One day he found an ankle bracelet that belonged to one of the girls and wanted to keep it for himself.

“I said, ‘I think that actually belongs to Molly,’” Jean told him. “He wanted to know what ‘actually’ meant. How do you define that to someone with a vocabulary of about 10 words? For awhile he wore it and called it ‘actually.’”

And while Luke is still learning to talk, Jean and Thavisith say he understands everything.

“Now we hear the laughter and see the smiles where he used to walk around in a daze,” Thavisith said. “Even an occasional disagreement was welcoming! He comes alive watching Kaleb discover things.”

Learning that food would always be available when they were hungry was also an adjustment.

“At first they would stuff themselves and eat as quickly as they could,” Jean said. “It’s so much better now. Kaleb loves spicy food. He even put hot sauce on his oatmeal one morning.”

Both the boys love the snow and Kaleb wants to be outside all the time. One afternoon, after several hours, he taught himself how to ride a bike. And once inside, he often fills the room with his singing and dancing.

Each evening they gather and tell stories about their day. Thavisith is amazed at all the boys have been through.

“These are strong and brave kids,” he said. “They are still trying to wrap their brains around everything that is going on. Kaleb still has a strong connection to his past and his family.”

From the time they decided to adopt until the brothers were in their new home in Goshen, Thavisith feels has been an amazing experience.

“They came from half way around the world — and here they are in this small community,” Thavisith said. “At times we didn’t know how it would happen. It feels like a miracle — like a good pain in my heart.”

After saying a prayer each night, Thavisith will often hold one of the boys.

“I just can’t imagine that a child who is so different from you, can create so much love in your heart that they feel like your own kids,” Thavisith said. “Even on the hardest day, I can’t imagine not being with them. They are a perfect fit with our family.”

The four siblings see each other on Sundays at church and both families have made time to get together to keep the family bond strong.

Text Only
Local News
  • GN140821 Pike Street Project 2 INDOT meeting held to discuss Pike Street project GOSHEN — Major changes may be on the way for a small section of Pike Street in downtown Goshen.

    August 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • 0821 goshen college challenge Locals embrace ice bucket challenge It’s a challenge that has united participants with the shared sensation of an icy burst of water, sopping wet clothing and video evidence — all in the name of philanthropy.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140821 nisly complaint Complaint filed against state rep candidate Accusations of wrongdoing, in the form of a complaint to the Indiana Election Commission, have been levied against District 22 representative Republican nominee Curt Nisly.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140820 dometic groundbreaking Dometic breaks ground on significant expansion in Goshen GOSHEN — As Dometic officials gathered for a groundbreaking ceremony for the $7 million expansion of their Goshen distribution center Wednesday, the work was already underway in the background. “It’s happening right now,” said Dave Schutz, vice presi

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140821 Ignition art Plenty of good music on horizon at Ignition Several upcoming shows at Ignition Garage in Goshen were announced this week.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • City plan nearing a final draft GOSHEN — The city’s new comprehensive plan is nearing completion, and a near-final draft has now been released for public review. Goshen Plan Commission members released the draft of the city’s newly penned comprehensive plan, titled “Uncommonly Grea

    August 19, 2014

  • GN140820 Hakws building Hotel, brew pub plans progressing GOSHEN — Plans for a new boutique hotel and brew pub at the historic Hawks building in downtown Goshen continue to move ahead steadily.

    August 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140820 nappanee awards 031.jpg Nappanee mayor honors 'Spirited' youth NAPPANEE — Two Elkhart County 4-H’ers were honored by their hometown mayor during Monday’s city council meeting. Receiving the Community Spirit Award and a key to the city were Lane Flowers and Sarah Stump. Mayor Larry Thompson recognized Flowers, a

    August 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • arlo.jpg SLIDESHOW: Pets of the Week Cats and dogs are looking for loving permanent homes at the Humane Society of Elkhart County.

    August 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Nappanee Town Hall 02 Pay increases, gas part of Nappanee's 4% proposed budget increase NAPPANEE — Two percent pay increases and an increase in gasoline spending contributed toward a 4 percent increase in the proposed 2015 city budget. Council members approved the proposed budget on first reading Monday night. As it stands, the total of

    August 19, 2014 1 Photo


Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.

Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

I think it’s a good idea to feed all the students free of charge
I think those who can afford it should pay for their school meals
I think all students should be required to pay for their school meals
     View Results
AP Video
US Mission to Rescue Hostages in Syria Failed Manfred, Torre and MLB Take Ice Bucket Challenge Bank of America Reaches Record $17B Settlement Holder Reassures Ferguson Community With Visit GlobalPost CEO Remembers Foley As a Brave Man Seth Meyers Rolls Out Emmy Red Carpet Obama: World Is Appalled by Murder of Journalist Israel, Militants Trade Fire After Talks Fail Pres. George W. Bush Takes Ice Bucket Challenge Pierce Brosnan's Call to Join the Expendables Changes Coming to No-Fly List Raw: IDF Footage Said to Show Airstrikes Police: Ferguson More Peaceful Raw: Aftermath of Airstrike in Gaza Raw: Thousands March on Pakistani Parliament Raw: World's Oldest Man Lives in Japan Fire Crews Tame Yosemite Fire Raw: Police Weapon Drawn Near Protesters, Media Raw: Explosions in Gaza As Airstrikes Resume Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape