Six-year-old Chala Jones, a native of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, has a new home following approval of his parents’ adoption application heard recently by a judge in the East African capital.
By Jim Thomas |
Tim and Andrea Jones recently received the perfect pre-Christmas gift, a gift so perfect they couldn’t wait until Dec. 25 to break the good news.
And little wonder.
Six-year-old Chala Jones, a native of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, has a new home following approval of his parents’ adoption application heard recently by a judge in the East African capital. The three arrived back at Pearson International Airport Dec. 10 where they were joyously greeted by Andrea’s parents and a niece.
Tim and Andrea reside in Markham. Tim is a director at Stouffville’s O’Neill Funeral Home. Andrea is an ultra-sound technologist and clinic manager in Toronto.
It was five years ago, after taking up residence in Markham, that Tim and Andrea began thinking seriously about obtaining a child through adoption.
They first contacted the Children’s Aid Society, but found the process extremely long. Hoping to speed things up, they decided to go internationally. They discovered an adoption agency in Toronto that suited their purpose.
Since Andrea had traveled extensively in Africa, it was her desire to embrace a native child, boy or girl, from that continent. The agency recommended Ethiopia.
“Sounded like a great idea,” said Tim, “I was all for it.”
But neither had ever visited that particular country before. Within a year they made two trips.
After the very first flight, a time period of 14 hours, they came face to face with their future son. He was then residing in an Addis Ababa orphanage. Through a means of match-up, the agency endeavored to bring together those qualities exemplified by both the parents and the child.
“(The agency) simplified everything,” Andrea said. “We knew instantly Chala was the one.”
A court date was set for July.
Although the language of native Ethiopians is Amharic, Tim and Andrea encountered few barriers. To their relief, the adoption court judge spoke English.
“Within minutes Chala was ours,” said Andrea.
But the waiting period for a visa took four months. This caused the parents some concern, because the expiry deadline was fast approaching. The federal government’s refugee program further log-jammed the procedure.
That’s when the office of Health Minister Jane Philpott stepped in and speeded up the process. Both Tim and Andrea praised the Markham-Stouffville MP’s assistance.
Chala’s departure from the orphanage was unpretentious, Andrea recalled.
“Holding his teddy bear, a book and a laptop computer, he simply waved goodbye and left – a really brave little guy,” she said.
“Remarkable,” agreed Tim.
It was much the same during the long flight home. “He slept most of the way,” said Andrea.
While the new dad has already picked up a few words of Amharic, son Chala is similarly employed learning English. He’s been registered at Little Rouge Public School and will enter Grade 1 on Jan. 4. The school and an adjoining park are directly across the road from where he now lives.
“We reside in a very multi-cultured neighborhood,” says Andrea. “This is in our favor.”
“It’s also important that Chala maintain his roots,” adds Tim.
“The fact he was wearing a Blue Jays cap when we arrived indicates Chala has already accepted one area of Canadian life. He also has his own hockey stick. Pizza, his favorite food, is also popular in Ethiopia,” notes Tim.
Together, Tim and Andrea honestly feel the adoption “was meant to be”.
“Chala’s everything we could have wanted,” says Tim.
“The best Christmas gift ever,” agrees Angela.
One had to hear it to believe it — student choirs raising their voices in unison at the intersection of Millard Street and Glad Park Avenue.
It occurred Friday, as boys and girls left Glad Park Public School and St. Mark Catholic School to begin their Christmas vacations.
My crossing-guard stop sign served as a seasonal baton.
The children, aged five to 14, filled the air with beautiful music while parents and bus drivers looked on.
“Like nothing I’d ever heard before,” said one mother.
Jim Thomas is a Stouffville resident who has written for area newspapers for more than 60 years.
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