Adoption. A Beautiful Exchange.

I have two beautiful nieces, Megan and Katie. Megan and her husband Scott live in Colorado. Katie and her husband, also Scott, live on Bainbridge Island, Washington.This story is about Megan’s family and confirms that God puts us here for a reason.

Megan and Scott met at Colorado College at a Young Life meeting. They married in 1995.
At the end of their wedding reception, as they were leaving to go to Belize, my sister asked Megan to leave her engagement ring at home, stating, “No one should wear expensive jewelry to a third world country.”

Megan handed over the ring, and off they went to their fancy all-inclusive. One night, shortly after arriving, as they were leaving the restaurant three men with sawed-off shotguns approached them. Putting a gun to Scott’s head, they insisted he hand over all his money. He had none.

The newlyweds were shoved back into the dining room where Megan, who majored in romance languages, was forced to tell all the diners to lie facedown on the floor. The three gunmen then stripped all the guests of both money and jewelry.

Suddenly Megan panicked and bolted for a door. Scott followed. Shots were fired. The two raced to the jungle where they hid out all night. They got eaten alive by mosquitos.

In the morning Megan and Scott warily crept from their jungle hideaway. Assured it was safe, they returned to the dining room. There they found the woodwork surrounding the door through which they had fled riddled with bullet holes.

They had survived violent death, but not for the last time. Years later, Megan and Scott were driving through the snowy mountains of Colorado. They had their two young children in the car when it slid out of control, flipping several times. Incredibly the whole family walked away uninjured.

Why twice so lucky? Here’s what I think. They were destined to adopt two Ethiopian children.

Which they did when their boy, Reese, and girl, Brynn were eleven and eight.

Megan and Scott are quite religious. They prayed long and hard about expanding their family. Ultimately they decided to adopt a brother and sister. Kelel and Senait. The kids have different father’s, both of whom had AIDS, as did their mother.  Kelel was seven and a half, Senait was five when they came to live in Colorado in December of 2011.

Scott and Megan traveled to meet the children, leaving Reese and Brynn in the care of my sister. I made up a “care package” for the kids so they’d have a little present to open each day during the two weeks mom and dad were gone. It was just a bunch of small things, wrapped like presents. No big deal but Marilyn said they enjoyed it.

When Scott and Megan returned to Ethiopia, Reese and Brynn went along. They saw the conditions in which their new siblings lived. Then it was a long flight back to the United States. Culture shock set in early. The children didn’t speak any English. Neither had seen an escalator and didn’t know how to navigate it. During a layover in Germany Kelel wandered the gift shops with Megan, squirting cologne all over himself while little Senait sat and nibbled the wrappers off of a pile of crayons.

When back in Colorado all hell broke loose. Both kids had routine meltdowns. Megan and Scott were reluctant to discipline them. Social workers said it was needed. They suggested the kids had to sit on a little rug for a small amount of time until they stopped screaming. If the howling continued, it was back to the mat again. I’ve forgotten how many hours it took Kelel to finally maintain a minute of silence.

Kelel had an abscessed tooth. That required a trip to an Ethiopian restaurant so the owner could explain what was going to happen at the dentist’s office.

Having been hungry, he hoarded food. His little sister had a tapeworm. At five years old she weighed only twenty-seven pounds.  The photos below were taken shortly after the two were adopted.  My other niece, Katie, took them. She is a gifted professional photographer.  If you know anyone in the Seattle area who needs photos taken, have them call Katie.  I took pictures of the photographs from my computer screen, that’s why they are a bit fuzzy.



Fast forward nearly six years and the two are happy and well adjusted. Kelel is sweet,  sensitive, and an excellent athlete. Senait is a charming firecracker. Megan calls daughter Brynn “the Senait whisperer” because when the tiny sprite gets on a rampage, only Brynn can simmer her down.  She is hilarious and talks a blue streak.


A recent photo of the kids.  Aren’t they all beautiful?

Megan wrote a book about the experience.  How impressive is that?  Four kids and she found time to put together and publish a memoir.  It’s very well written and can be found on


Marilyn and my brother-in-law Rob with all the children.


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