It is the proudest moment of a mother's life when she presents her daughter to the world for the first time. And tonight I have had that honor.
Today, in the earliest morning hours, halfway across the world in a small court room in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia you were forever brought into our hearts and lives. As I prayed through the night, I knew that somewhere over there....there were clerks and couriers and judges and all manner of busy business taking place to ensure that we would become a family.
My little darling....how long we have waited for you. You are the answer to my prayers. We welcome you in to our lives with open hearts and open arms. You will receive so much love...so much that it will be pressed down, shaken together, and running over. It will be your purpose to give that love back to the world.
I will teach you to walk in the footsteps of our Father God and in those of His son Jesus. I have given God my promise that if He will simply answer my prayers for children that I, with the heart of Hannah, will teach them to love and to serve Him. My beautiful baby....if I can do nothing else for you as your mother, then it will be to show you how to do that.
You have been given a purpose. And it will be your life's journey to discover that purpose. And already, whether you realize it or not...you are already bringing glory to your Father God. Your story is being told to so many and they are hearing of God's mercy to two mothers. One who cried out for God's salvation of a child, and one who cried out for the filling of her empty arms. You and Savannah have filled my arms, and you and Savannah have been the answer to my longing and prayers. And you and Savannah both help to fulfill the beautiful portrait of adoption which reflects what Jesus has done for us. Because of His sacrifice, we have been adopted by our Heavenly Father....and it is our testimony as a family of the power of sacrifice and salvation that already has and will continue to speak to so many people. You have been chosen for our family to be of glory to God.
You were born to a beautiful Ethiopian woman who was unable to provide even the most basic necessities for you. She chose to relinquish you in order to give you a chance at a full life. You are one of only a 1/100th of a single percent of children from Ethiopia that was adopted this year. Your life is significant in that you have been given life. This year in your birth country 30,000 children will die every single day from malnutrition and preventable diseases. So it was the sacrifice of this beautiful Ethiopian woman who gave you life...not once...but twice.
Before she relinquished you to the care of your orphanage, she gave you a second gift. It was your name. Your Ethiopian name, Elshaday is the Amharic word that comes from the Hebrew El Shaddai. In Ethiopia, names are given and they carry tremendous significance. So when you were given that name it was because your birth mother was saying that she was "trusting in the Almighty God" to care for you. When we were first given your picture and told your name, we knew that we had been called to a very important task. She was trusting in the Almighty God to protect you, to care for you, and to see that you would live. And He has answered that prayer and given me the privilege to to do just that. You will be so loved, and cared for and more importantly you will know your Heavenly Father who has called you out of Ethiopia.
We have kept your African name, and we have joined it with a new name. Often times when God would make a significant change in a person's life in the Bible, He would begin by giving them a new name. Your name Juliet was chosen for you to signify that you have been brought into your forever family. While you share your name with your father...your name was uniquely chosen to be a name that is all your own. You are my little Juliet. And that name was laid on my heart many many months ago.
So even in your name, you will see the power and the beauty of your adoption story. We have given you the new and we have kept the old. We honor your beginnings and we give you new life.
You were born, as far as we can guess, on about January 1st, 2010. And while we may never know the exact date, we do know that you were born in 2010 and that you were only about a month old when you came to the orphanage on January 27th. How significant that you would be born at that time. On that morning, we turned our backs on a dark year and we ushered in a new year. How gracious is God that he renewed us with a beautiful new life to signify the beginning of a new start. I can't think of a more amazing way to ring in each and every new year from this day forward than to celebrate your life!
I long to hold you my sweet baby girl. It won't be much longer. And tonight.....it is my honor and privilege to call you for the very first time.......(and I can officially say this now)..... my daughter.