Let me preface that Charlotte is our daughter. Her story is our story and our story is hers… We are a family. The history that brings us to where we currently are is something that we cherish because not only does is provide a stepping stone to where we are, but it also helps define who we are. Our lives are an open book, we share because we have nothing to hide.
Today our baby girl, our Ethiopian princess, turns five and I can think of no better way to honor our love for her than to discuss our history. To go back to the beginning. Charlotte is beyond a gift… She is a miracle…
Birtukan Anjulo was born on a dirt floor in a small hut at a stranger’s home in the village of Shashamane, Ethiopia. Almaz struggled for nine hours feeling alone and helpless solely dependent on her faith to persevere. A beautiful baby girl emerged, was placed in her birth mother’s arms and together, the two of them made up a family. Eight months passed. The adoration that Almaz had for Birtukan was never ending, however, her ability to feed her had come to a close. Screams of hunger bellowed as Almaz tried with vengeance to provide for her daughter. Work was scarce, money was less than enough and food was almost nonexistent. In a selfless act of love, on February 20, 2009 Almaz decided to relinquish her child in the hopes that she could survive. Here is where we entered Birtukan’s life and when she became Charlotte Evangeline Birtukan.
Halfway across the world, in a suburban mid-western city, we waited for the call that would change our lives forever. It was a blistery winter afternoon, the phone rang and characteristically my ringer was turned down. I missed the call but fortunately AJ received it and fervently called me until I answered. The room began to spin as my mind attempted to process what was taking place. Our two biological children, Sophia and Etienne, stared at me in confusion as I steadied myself to be seated on the floor. Ready, after a year of waiting, to discover who my daughter was. Numerous details were presented to us and we received a series of three photos each more precious than the last.
Charlotte was passed to our arms a frail, sick, malnourished infant and has since become a strong, vibrant, and healthy, gorgeous girl. It is amazing to see the transformation from helpless to independent. She is more than capable of keeping pace with her older siblings and is a role model for her younger brothers. Charlotte is a strong willed little lady who knows what she wants and when she wants it. She is my snuggle buddy, has a contagious laugh, is extremely loving and adores learning… We call her our intellect. I cannot imagine our lives without Charlotte. Life before she was home seems as though it never existed. Through the miracle of adoption we were brought together now and forever.