Journey to Yeni: Dallas Dad Will Count an Additional Blessing this Father’s Day

By Susan Serrano
Dillon International

Sometimes Yeni’s a sassy, outgoing whirlwind eagerly drinking life in through a fire hose. But, like most 2 ½ -year-olds, she also has a gentler side, loving music, squirrels and walks in the park. She instantly captured the hearts of the Crowder family when she arrived from Ethiopia this spring, giving Dallas Dad Petey Crowder another blessing to count as he celebrates this Father’s Day.

“It has been fun to watch her blossom and become part of the family,” he beamed.

The journey that led to Yenenesh—nicknamed “Yeni” by her family—started in the heart of Crowder’s wife, Ashley.

[caption id="attachment_5299" align="alignright" width="200"] Emery and Yeni share a moment together as new sisters.[/caption]

“From an early age, I always knew that I wanted to adopt,” she recalled. “My mother died in a car accident when I was 6 and my younger sister was 4. I remember how several couples from our church surrounded my sister and me with so much love and attention and supported us while we grieved. I believe that prepared me to support Yeni as she grieves her losses, too.”

Early in their marriage, the couple agreed that someday they would adopt a child and they began to informally research their adoption choices shortly after the birth of their daughter Emery, 5.

Their interest intensified its focus after Ashley returned from a mission trip to Ethiopia in 2009. The mission was organized by Highland Park Presbyterian Church in Dallas, where Petey and Ashley direct the young adult ministry program. “I saw the great needs in Ethiopia and I also fell in love with the country and the people,” Ashley said.

The couple ultimately decided to adopt through Dallas-based Buckner Adoption and Maternity Services’ (BAMS) Ethiopia program. Through their affiliation, BAMS and Dillon International offer international adoption programs in Ethiopia, Russia, Honduras, China, Korea, Haiti, India, Hong Kong, Ghana and Colombia.

“There is a great need for adoptive families for children from Ethiopia—a country where UNICEF statistics indicate that more than one child in 10 is orphaned due to poverty and illness,” said Debbie Wynne, director of BAMS and Dillon International’s Texas office.

There is currently an urgent need for families interested in adopting children ages 4 and older, Wynne added.

Petey’s first experience of Ethiopia was on the couple’s journey to adopt Yeni. “There was so much beauty and yet so much sadness: the countryside was absolutely beautiful, but there was such great poverty,” he recalled. “It was good to see the orphanage and see how much the staff love and care for the children.”

Although she’s now happy and outgoing, Yeni was initially frightened when she met her parents and began adjusting to her new surroundings, Petey recalled.

Patience and support from friends and their church family—among them, Highland Park Presbyterian’s All Nations congregation which serves worshippers from different countries, including several African nations—has proven indispensable, Ashley said. “She’ll grow up surrounded by a community that loves her and looks like her.”

The adoption process and the adjustments after Yeni joined their family had some challenging moments, but was very rewarding, Ashley added. “Although we had plenty of preparation and training throughout the process, there was really no way to truly be prepared until we lived it out. Adoption is a beautiful thing and going through the process really brought us closer to the Lord. The experience really taught us to treasure the small moments.”

“The adoption process takes patience,” Petey added. “The wait is hard, but if you are really serious, the timing will be exactly as it should be.”

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