We see so many amazing stories from our community every day, which makes deciding on who to feature extremely difficult! This is one of those stories we knew right away that we wanted to share. We followed Ebie and Zac's story for months as they adopted two adorable little kids from Africa. We were lucky enough to interview Ebie and get all the details about their amazing journey.
To start off, tell us the story behind this photo.
The story behind the photo was sharing the news that Zac and I could FINALLY go to Liberia, West Africa to meet and finalize the adoption of our two babies! We started in January of 2016 and traveled to Liberia June of 2017 so it was a long time coming :)
There seem to be a million different directions you can go with adoption. How did you end up going the direction you did?
You’re right, with adoption it can be daunting where to even begin. Do you want to go the domestic route or the international route? If you go international, where do you even begin with choosing a country? How do you stay encouraged despite the mountains of paperwork you have to fill out?! For us, it had been a dream in my (Ebie) heart since I was a little girl. A lot of people assume we started the adoption process because we were not physically able to conceive a child, but that wasn’t the case. We simply decided adoption was something we wanted to do and figured, "Why not just jump into it?"
Zac and I have both always had a huge heart for Africa, so when we decided to actually move forward, we started with researching which countries we fit the requirements for. (Since we are both young and had only been married a few years, we didn’t qualify for a lot of countries.) After starting in Uganda then having the door close, we found ourselves filling out an application with a new program in Liberia West Africa. We NEVER in a million years thought we would be adopting two children; however, God made it evident from the beginning that his plan was going to be a wild adventure. You see, Zac and I work for a nonprofit that requires us to fundraise 100% of our income. And if you know about international adoption, it is NOT cheap. To get the journey started, we sold our couch so that we could pay the application fee! So how in the world were we going to pay to adopt a child!? However, the Lord told us to sprint after his heart and the rest would unfold, so that’s what we did.
We fundraised enough to cover the agency fees for one child, and then the unthinkable happened, and we got matched with TWO children, a two-year-old baby girl and a seven-month-old baby boy. And since our children were not related, the cost was going to be double. Our hearts were encouraged and beating out of our chest at the fact that we got matched with two children but we couldn’t help but wonder how in the world we were going to afford it. One week after we accepted our matches, an organization called Adoption Story Fund called us and gifted us a grant that covered the ENTIRE expenses of our second adoption. Never in our lives have we been more encouraged by the radical miracles of Jesus and his heart for orphans. Since starting the journey, we have received dozens of messages from other young people all around the world sharing that after watching our story unfold, they started the adoption process too. Every time we read these messages, we are encouraged! We always tell people, "If you want to adopt, don’t just talk about it; take a leap of faith and do it. The funds, the logistics, the details -- it will all unfold in one way or another and the end result will always be an increased level of faith.
Tell us about the moment you found out you would be parents.
People kept calling us “mama”and “dad" from the second we announced we were adopting. We thought it was sweet, but it didn’t really feel right until we saw the faces of our kids and realized they were actually OURS. The first time we saw their faces, we were both kind of in shock. Leading up to that day, we assumed we would break down in tears and weep for weeks, but when we saw their faces, we smiled, knew that we were going to love them forever and simply looked at each other and said “We are going to be parents. Guess we should celebrate with some Italian and wine.”
What was it like seeing your kids for the very first time?
The very first time we met our kids was not the way we “pictured” it would be. We had all these ideas of how we would try and record it and treasure the videos forever. However, as soon as we pulled up to the baby home, we jumped out of the car because we saw our sweet girl smiling and waving at the car! Despite there being 16 children, our sweet girl stood out like a sore thumb to us. We were instantly stormed by huge group of the kids at the home, but all we wanted to do was meet our two little ones! I (Ebie), kneeled down with a HUGE smile and said “Hi sweet girl. I’m your mama! Can I hold you?” And she nodded her head. I picked her up, and Zac came around behind me to look at her precious little face.
After a few minutes, one of the caretakers brought our baby boy. He handed him to Zac and we both were amazed at how different he looked in person than his photos! After we had them both in our arms, the tears set in and the reality that we were a family set in. . . . Even though the day was not how we imagined it would be, it was without a doubt one of the greatest days of our lives.
Your Husband shared in an Instagram post that one of the children you were adopting may have medical complications. How did you overcome this particular challenge?
Two months after being matched, we were informed that our baby boy tested positive for Hep B. He had spent a majority of his life in and out of the hospital with various things, but it got to the point where he was hospitalized for weeks at a time, so they finally decided to run some tests, and they didn’t look so good. Our adoption coordinator called us and informed us that he was very sick and that they didn’t know how bad the Hep B was so if we were not comfortable with adopting a child with special needs, she understood if we needed to withdraw our match. The thought never even crossed our minds. He was our son and that was all there was to it. From the moment we hung up the phone on the first initial phone call, we prayed for the Lord to bring healing into his body.
Long story short, his life is a miracle. Two months after the initial positive test, he tested negative for Hep B. We were told to take the results lightly because Liberia being the 4th poorest country on the planet, there were often false negatives. However, six weeks after that, another negative Hep B test! THEN after the Hep B, he got pneumonia, malaria a few times, and then measles. But like I said, his life is a miracle. Many people we have met since being here look at our son, remember how sick he was, and tell us they didn’t think he would make it. And yet here he is, smiling, giggling, and waking us up every day at 4:30 a.m.! As far as what got us through it, it was our faith. Whether he had Hep B chronically and served as special needs or not, we were faith-filled that we were hand-picked to be his parents. So we took that honor and ran with it!
Tell us a little more about your kids and their personalities.
Our children are hysterical! Seeing their photos for so long, you make up a personality in your head of what you think they will be like, and let us just tell you, BOY WERE WE WRONG. Our baby girl is independent, smart, SASSY. If you can’t find her, odds are she is eating quaker oatmeal on a walk. Her laugh makes the entire world stop, and she calls us “Ma” and “Pa.”
Our little boy is a cuddle bug, an early riser, and a little clumsy. He is obsessed with trying to win the affection of his sister and has random outbursts of laughter because he thinks someone is chasing him! ;) They couldn’t be more opposite, and it’s been the most wonderful journey watching their personalities develop right before our eyes.
To you, what aspects of the adoption process go most unoticed?
To us, I think the biggest part of adoption that goes unnoticed is the seriousness and the challenge of the transition for both the children AND the parents. For us, we have never been parents, so when we got these two children, we basically just canon-balled into this whole parenthood thing! We read the books on adoption and knew the transition was not to be taken lightly, but it has been SIGNIFICANTLY harder than anyone ever shared. The amount of trauma and cultural differences that you have to work through each day is exhausting. You can overload your mind with knowledge before adopting your child/children, but none of that info will stick if you don’t know the personality and traits your children carry.
Tell us about your work with @wipeeverytear & @fearlessgirlco in combating the sex trade.
Zac and I work for an organization called Wipe Every Tear. We have safe houses in the Philippines and help rescue and restore women who have been trafficked in the sex trade. Being in the field that we are in, we know the statistics of orphans that end up in the sex trade. Since adoption was something I had dreamed of my entire life and my husband was adopted by his father, it was just a matter of “when” for our family. (Side note: the thing with international adoption is that you want to make sure you have done your research on your agency because many agencies unfortunately are not always ethical.)
Something that is special about Wipe Every Tear that many nonprofits don’t do is that we ask EVERY SINGLE GIRL what her dream is, and then we do everything we can to watch that dream unfold. We have girls who want to be business owners, travel agents, and more (I could go all day). We are not intimidated by the cost or the length of time it takes for these girls to finish school; we are in it to watch their dreams come alive! Watching our girls graduate from college and seeing the cycle of poverty break for their family is truly remarkable. We also are co-owners of a business called Fearless Girl. We encourage young women to live a life full of adventure and passion. We create resources for young women to go through in hopes that they’ll kick fear in the butt and sprint after their purpose.
Lastly, we always like to ask: what is currently up on your letter board?
Hepworth tribe coming in hot. #HepworthPartyOfFour
If you or someone you know have a story you would like to be featured, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.