Hello everyone, this is John. Just want to thank everyone for their prayers and support.
As most of you know our hearts were broken not to long ago by news none of us expected. One moment we were at a high point in our lives as we prepared to travel to bring our little girl Bontu home and the next minute we were crushed by the unbelievable news that she had become ill and had passed away during the night.
I am sure many of you have questions about what has happened; so do we. Unfortunately we still don’t know much, only that Bontu had began having vomiting and diarrhea and was brought to the government hospital by the woman who we have been working with from the adoption agency. Apparently Bontu appeared a little dehydrated and was to be kept overnight for IV fluids and unexpectedly died during the night. As is the case with all the children in the orphanages in Ethiopia she did have a medical exam several months earlier which included negative blood work for hepatitis and HIV; i.e. to the best of our knowledge she was healthy. We may never know the exact diagnosis or details; did she succumb to an overwhelming infection, did she have some other underlying problem such as a congenital heart defect? Although we may never know, we do know that things that we take for granted everyday here in the United States don’t exist in the world of the 4 million plus orphans all across Ethiopia. In this 3rd world country children are often malnourished, not vaccinated, and many live in crowded orphanages with scores of other children who serve as reservoirs for infectious diseases. Medical care is limited at best and not routinely available. In fact, Ethiopia not only has a very high maternal mortality rate with 1 in 14 mothers dying during child birth; it ranks number 15 in the world in regards to its infant mortality rate with an average of 90 children per every 1000 not surviving beyond 1 year. To give you a reference in the US the rate is 6 per 1000, Iraq 45 per 1000, and Haiti 62 per 1000. In fact most of the countries listed higher than Ethiopia are on the same continent and I never heard of most of them. I guess the reason I am writing all of this is because as we grieve the loss of our Bontu, we realize that her tragic story is what drew us to Ethiopia in the first place. We choose Ethiopia because that is where we felt the greatest need was, and unfortunately this is a place where the story of Bontu is not an unfamiliar one.
So with heavy hearts we need to acknowledge that our journey to Kennedy has ended in tragedy; but we need to push on, we need to not let this stop us; to do so would be an insult in our minds to Bontu and to her mother who made an unbelievably selfless decision to relinquish her daughter out of love and hope for a better future; only to loose her in the end. So we lost our Bontu; our Kennedy, but we will move on to make a difference in the life of another child, in doing so we are not “replacing” Bontu; but we will never forget Kennedy Bontu - our daughter that we have seen only in photos but who’s face is forever imprinted on our hearts.
We do not know what the timeline will be as our adoption journey continues. It may take a few weeks or 6 months, we don’t know. We don’t know what name we will choose for this child. We do know we will be blessed with a child, and we will not forget the struggles of those we can’t bring home. I personally will not forget that my daughter died most likely due to some physical challenge that her body faced that would have been manageable here in the US. With that knowledge I will be dedicating myself to helping out in some way utilizing the gifts God has provided me. I may in the future ask you all for your support as we work with our adoption agency to improve the medical resources available to the children in their care and do what we can to try to prevent the tragedy of Bontu’s story from becoming there own.
We thank you all for your support, and God Bless.