I will never forget the first time she referred to me as “foreigner.” I laughed it off. Afterall, this is all I was to her at that point.
Once home, she and her sister made ferenge references here and there. They never called us that directly. But, hearing that word stung.
I recently realized something, however. In our girls’ eyes, us initially being foreigners is not the negative thing that it seems. In fact, I honestly think that it has special meaning for them.
I should have seen it when they started playing ferenge with their babies, happily pretending that they were coming to take them away in a makeena [car].
I started to get clued in when I put on a pair of tennis shoes, and our youngest excitedly exclaimed, “Mommy, this ferenge shoes!” They were, indeed, the ones that I wore daily on both of our trips to Ethiopia.
And, I finally fully figured it out when they started affectionately referring to their family photobooks (the ones that we brought to them at the orphanage on our first trip) as their ferenge books.
Because to our daughters, this is simply a part of their story. Two ferenges came for them. Loved them. Brought them home. We weren’t just any ferenges. We were their ferenges. And now, we are parents and daughters. It’s just one of the beautiful ways that God brings families together.
By request today, we read one of the girls’ ferenge books at naptime. And, with a smile, I asked our oldest [as I sometimes do], “Who is ferenge?”
“You ferenge,” she said. “Now you Mommy.”
I sure am, honey. It’s amazing, isn’t it?
Elya and her husband, Rob, have been married for 6 years and reside in Cleveland, Ohio. They have recently been blessed with two incredible daughters, ages 3 and 5, who they brought home from Ethiopia this past April. They also have two crazy but lovable dogs. Stop by Elya’s blog to read more about their daughters, their adventures as new parents, and their passion for orphans and the poor.