Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Meet Mandie Doak and family

Meet the Doaks, an AAI family living in Germany. Mandie has been a tireless volunteer for AAI. In particular, she has taken on the very demanding job of organizing the “Holiday Project” that supplies special gifts to all the children and staff for our programs in Ethiopia and Ghana. It is the truth that we couldn’t do it without her!

Here’s their story:

We are Jon and Mandie Doak, a military family, stationed in Germany. We have three beautiful girls adopted from Ethiopia with the help of AAI and one biological son.

We began our adoption journey to add a daughter to our family in 2005. While we were pouring over brochures and pamphlets sent by agencies all across America, we saw that one had an adoption program in Ethiopia. In all honesty, we had never considered Ethiopia as an option. Something about the child they had photographed spoke to me. I googled “Adoption in Ethiopia”, and started sending away for information. AAI stood out to us as an agency-- they were the only one we saw requiring families to make some sort of commitment to the orphans left behind. We loved what we heard about Layla house, the sponsorship programs, and the other humanitarian efforts that AAI supports.

We sent in our application to AAI in February '06, and after collecting and sending in our dossier, we received our referral for Ava Sidisse (then 8 months) in February '07. Five days later, we flew to Ethiopia with our then 4 year old son, Leyton, to visit our sweet girl. While we were at Layla House, we saw so many older children (6+) that needed families. I was struck by the fact that the average 10 year old boy or girl and sibling groups with older children could wait for years.

On this trip I knew we would be back for an older child (or two!). Jon, however, had his doubts at first. We talked and thought about it for a year, before sending in a second application to AAI. We had our home study worked up for 2 children, either gender, age 13 and under. In June, by the time our dossier was complete, we had settled on a girl named Tensaye, then 12. In September, while the courts were closed we all traveled to Addis Ababa to visit her. By the end of our trip, we couldn’t imagine not also bringing home her best friend, Kalkidan, also 12. As soon as we returned to Germany, we contacted the AAI office and arranged to add Kalkidan to the adoption.

It’s really hard to believe that I have been home nearly two months with the girls! Every day, they learn something new, and I am truly amazed at how courageous they both are. The girls are both 13 now, and of course, there are a lot of emotions that come with just being a teenager. Compound that with the fact that they have been taken away from everything they know and love, and there have been moments of hurt and sadness along with happiness and joy.

The girls are getting along well with their new siblings Leyton (6.5) and Ava Sidisse (3), and have really been a great addition to our family. It is so much fun to see them experience all their ‘firsts’ here in Germany! I am thankful that the girls had time at Layla house, to get ready for life in America. We are so lucky to have Ivy Dash, the compound coordinator, there showing them the ropes. I hear often “Ivy told me that” or “Ivy teach me”. Though we love their Ethiopian names, both girls have decided to go by their American middle names. It’s been interesting, trying to keep them straight! We now have a Selina Kalkidan, and a Liya Tensaye.

We haven’t been without our ups and downs… pouting and a tantrum or two, and I have no doubt that we will see some more where those came from! But overall, the girls are adjusting well. They laugh and smile easily; they are helpful and kind, and are full of hope and dreams---(however High School Musical-like they can be at times). Both girls look forward to starting 7th grade in the fall.

We are so grateful that we have the opportunity to parent these girls.

Jon & Mandie Doak

1 comment:

  1. Wow, what a beautiful story. I love that you adopted these two friends. I am sure that at times when they feel lonely or confused, it is such a relief to them to be going through these feelings and emotions together...

    Thanks for sharing your inspiring story....

    mom to Kyle (9), Catey (6) Selina (3- home 6/08 from Ghana)
    adopting Godfred (6) from Ghana