Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Unique Family

I've been thinking about this blog post for some time (and now I realize it is quite some time as I see how long it's been since I posted an update here- yikes)!  Some of you have wondered about Michael, our son, how did he become a part of our family?
Last year when we were submitting our adoption paperwork to Rwanda I shared with you the background story on our daughter Christine.  (Update:  our paperwork is still waiting in the processing office here.  I have heard that a dossier a few files back from ours was being handled recently, so someone should have ours in their hand.  Please pray for this to get finished & approved quickly as it's less than three months now until we head back to the US)!

Woven into Christine's story are the details about our son Michael as well.  By the time we were able to get the adoption process started for Michael he was already too old (16 years) to be considered eligible for adoption by the US government.  But, our history with Michael starts long before he was 16 years old.

My husband first met this young boy in Rwanda in 2004.  He was 10 years old and his given name was not Michael, but Melkiolo.  If you listen to someone in Rwanda pronounce that name, you might not have any idea what name they were actually trying to tell you.  (Have you ever met anyone named Melkiolo, especially when the k is prounounced "ch" and the l like "r"?)  Mike could not get his name after several attempts, but the name sounded similar enough to Michael that he just decided he would call this boy Michael.  All the kids loved Michael (McColm) so you can imagine that Melkiolo was proud to take on the name of Michael, and that is what he has been called ever since.

Now, let me fill in some of this with an excerpt from Christine's story: Our first desires to adopt Christine began when KaLia made her first trip to Rwanda in 2006 at the age of 8. She bonded with Christine & they loved each other enough to call each other "sister". When they returned and I heard the stores and saw the pictures, the thought began to enter my head, should we adopt Christine?
When Mike and I started to talk about this adoption, he shared with me that he had also thought about adopting Michael.  He told me how in all his trips there Michael was always helpful, pleasant, hard working, and smart.  An all around sweet boy.

Mike, KaLia, & Michael (he is next to them in the red & blue jacket) 2006

To continue: In 2007 the whole family went to Rwanda for 2 weeks. Again KaLia & Christine held fast to each other, and again we wondered, should we adopt her?  This was the first chance for myself and Nate to go to Rwanda.  From the moment we got to Kayonza (where Michael lived) Nate was surrounded by all the children there & completely overwhelmed (he was only 3 1/2 at the time).  He immediately found Michael to be his safe place: he was held by him, played with him, and stuck with him no matter what!  I felt like this was God's confirmation that Michael was meant to be a part of our family...  At the end of our two weeks I cried and cried about having to leave, and part of that was having to leave behind our kids: Christine & Michael.  When we got home we actually began to find out information about international adoption and were ready to begin, but then suddenly the door closed and we felt like we didn't have a clear "go ahead" from God. So we waited.

One year later:  In 2008 we spent 3 months in Rwanda. When Christine [and Michael] were on break from school they stayed with us in a rented home.  They called me mom, Mike dad, and KaLia and Nate were their sister and brother.

Our last day in Rwanda, 2008.

Six months later: we were back in Rwanda for another three months, but before we left [the US] I had filed applications to be approved by our government to adopt internationally.

While we were in Rwanda in early 2009 we worked on getting documents like the children's birth certificates (not an easy task when their births were never registered to begin with, which is common). While doing this we found out through Michael's extended family that, although he thought he was 15, he was actually 16. The US government will not let you adopt an international orphan who is over the age of 15. Suddenly, we would not be able to adopt Michael after all. My heart was broken, but it was during this trip that God had been teaching me to praise him in all circumstances and to trust in his goodness. Here was some real "field application" for those truths and although I had to cry through it, I surrendered it all to God and just asked him to use us to do His good will for Michael & Christine.
April 2009, Michael is on the far right.

Since we left Rwanda in May 2009, it has been our family prayer every night for God to help us with Christine's adoption and to somehow make a way for Michael to be a more permanent part of our family as well.  Not too long after we came back to Rwanda last August, Christine decided to leave her boarding school and begin to do online high school.  During a visit with us Michael found out about it and began to want to do the same thing.  Some other things you should know about Michael: he is very computer savy and has always been an excellent student.  In 2008 I gave him the name Kumaramaza (in the Kinyarwanda language this means "determination" or something close to that) because once he sets his mind to learning something (i.e. computers, music, swimming) he doesn't give up!  (He has shortened it to the nickname "Kumacs", pronounced "coo-max", fyi.)

Michael was able to receive permission to leave his boarding school and to come live with us so he can do online school full time.  Both Michael and Christine plan to use the accelerated study option in order to move forward in their grade levels beyond what they could do otherwise.  Both also hope to go to school in the US someday and this is a good preparation for that.  Having them both with us right now is a huge blessing and answer to prayer!

However, even as we pray for Christine's adoption to be finalized so she can go with us to the US on June 2nd, there is a prayer request for Michael as well.  We don't want to have to leave our son here when we go back to the US, even for a few months.  And he doesn't want us to leave him as well.  We are praying that God will make a way for Michael to come to the US with us this summer.  This will require miracles on two levels: getting the US to give him permission to come (they don't just hand out these kind of visas, I'm telling you it's difficult) and also being able to afford the cost of the plane ticket, visa applications, passport, etc.

Michael & Nate, 2011
Will you agree in prayer with our family for both Michael & Christine to be able to come to the US this summer?  God has done so much for us already, we know he can do anything!

God  Bless You,

and that's the way they became the McColm bunch....  :)

P.S.  still praying for that Suzuki to sell so we can get a more reliable vehicle & one that's big enough for a family of 6!


  1. I will be praying that as you return to the states ALL your children will be with you! God is an amazing God and can do ANYTHING!! Love you!

  2. @Truders- thank you, yes he is & he listens when his children pray!

  3. Lisa,
    Thank you for sending an email to me so I knew to read this. You have touched a place in my heart when you use the term "my son". I'm having a hard time even now holding back the tears. I would do any thing to keep my sons with me, I can't imagine leaving them behind. I am praying for you and asking God to move on your families behalf in all of this.
    I can't wait to meet the whole McColm Bunch
    Much love and admiration, Pam

  4. @Pam- thank you.... much love to you all too!