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An Extraordinary Meeting, in a Babies R’ Us

Two adoptive mothers walked into a Knoxville Babies R’ Us as strangers. They left as friends, with an incredible story to tell.

I read a great story from City View Magazine in Knoxville, Tennessee.

It was supposed to be a quick errand: run in to Babies R’ Us, pick up a child’s travel container and get home. But there was a long line at the checkout. Meghan Dempster looked at the people directly in front of her. A blonde Caucasian woman, with a chubby, smiling baby, seemingly of African descent.

That woman could easily be Meghan herself soon. She and her husband Michael had felt led to adopt, even though they already had three biological children. A few years ago, they adopted a girl from Guatemala. And now, they were about to give a home to another child, this time from Africa.

The first child that the adoption agency brought to their attention was a boy named Mitku, who’d been abandoned in the African bush, and who had contracted neonatal tetanus, most likely from a rusty implement used to cut his umbilical cord. Meghan and Michael were told the child could have severe brain damage.

Meghan and Michael didn’t know what to do. With four kids, they didn’t think they could handle a child with special needs. But could they really turn down a child that needed a family so badly?

Meghan had struggled with the decision. If she didn’t care for Mitku, who would?

Then they flew to Ethiopia and met Terefe. His name, the boy’s birth mother had told them, means “he saves.” The Dempsters decided that he was the one for them. But the other child never left Meghan’s mind. Even now, buying a child’s travel container for Terefe, who she and her husband would soon fly to pick up.

“Your baby is beautiful,” Meghan told the woman in line in front of her.

The woman, Mandy Watson, replied that she had just adopted Silas from Ethiopia. She was buying his first solid food. They kept talking as the line slowly moved. Turned out they had both used the same adoption agency. Mandy began to tell about Silas’s history back in Africa. “He had neonatal tetanus. They didn’t think he would make it.”

“Wait a second,” Meghan interrupted. “What’s his name, what’s his Ethiopian name?’”

“Mitku,” Mandy said.

Meghan didn’t have to wonder any more about the fate of that other child. He was healthy and happy, being raised by a family in the same town as her.

“In my mind, it was God-ordained, because had I gotten out the door when I wanted to, I would have never met [Mandy],” Meghan told City View Magazine. “To see her and see this baby, to see that here he is, in this perfect family, right here in Knoxville, and he’s thriving…what are the chances of that happening?”

Mandy told the magazine that her family and Meghan’s are now bonded for life. They plan on bringing the boys together to Africa when they’re older to reconnect with their roots. “Suddenly, our eyes were open to something that’s so much bigger than us.”

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