You guys, I have THE coolest family’s story to share with you. This is the Idehen family. Eric Idehen founded Cornerstone of Hope Orphanage in Nigeria as way to meet the needs of the neighborhood he grew up in. Eric and his wife Emily grew up in Nigeria, but now live in Iowa. I met him when I was covering an event for the Des Moines Register, and God totally orchestrated that moment. Eric frequently visits his home country of Nigeria, loving and serving the community, providing sustainable jobs and advocating for orphans and vulnerable children. Eric is family to us — he held and loved Joseph at the orphanage before we could, and worked passionately for Joseph to join our family.
Now it’s our turn to come alongside him: He and his wife are in the process of adopting two beautiful daughters, Devine and Destiny, from the same orphanage.
Eric is not only the founder and chief executive of the 501(c)3 Cornerstone of Hope, but he also is a field director with Boys and Girls Club in Des Moines. (And, fun fact, he speaks five languages! And once was awarded an honor by the FBI. Seriously.) They’ve been in the U.S. for more than 10 years now, and when they’re not working, their three teenage boys keep them busy.
This family quietly and humbly gives so much of themselves, financially and through service, to the orphanage and friends and family still in Nigeria. The adoption fees and plane tickets are going to be expensive and they’re praying they will be able to finalize the adoptions by 2015.
I’ll let Eric share a little bit about the two beauties that will be joining the Idehen family:
I (Eric) have known Devine and Destiny since the moment they each came to the orphanage. It has been my family’s plan to serve God and serve orphans through the founding of Cornerstone of Hope, and now God has led us to adopt these two precious children and add them to our family of three biological boys. You can learn more about our family here. We can not share some information, including photos of the girls, for security purposes.
A little about our future daughters: Devine just turned 8 years old. She’s in 2nd grade and loves to play sports, especially soccer. (We love soccer, too!) Her favorite colors are pink and purple, and she is a very smart and sweet little girl.
Last year, Devine’s hope of finding a family was crushed when her adoption heartbreakingly fell through due to a Nigerian law prohibiting non-Nigerian Americans from adopting her. Her hope was restored four months ago when we sat down with her and talked about our plans of adopting her.
I have known Devine for more than four years, and have spent a lot of time with her in the orphanage with each of my many visits back to Nigeria. If Devine wasn’t adopted, the trauma she experienced from her original abandonment coupled with her failed adoption would be incredibly painful.
She would get food and other necessities at the orphanage, of course, but life would never be the same as it would be growing up as part of a loving and safe family. In Nigeria, there is cultural stigma associated with the children that grow up at an orphanage. Once she joins our family, we pray that she will have many opportunities and know how special and wonderful God created her to be.
Destiny is almost 4 years old. She’s homeschooled and is a quick learner. Destiny is an actress (she’s never shy!) and loves to take the stage, dance, and perform. You may notice she looks a little different — she tells people she is a queen because of her albinism. Nigerian culture considers people with albinism as outcasts…or worse.
Being a girl born with albinism, Destiny would experience incredible discrimination throughout her life time in Nigeria or most other African countries. We know that Destiny is a gift from God and is incredibly special. We are excited to adopt her and are excited to give her a family and more opportunities in America, where she will be able to live like other girls and have a bright future.
Remember that big upcoming clothes + accessories sale I’m hosting? Every penny will be going directly toward the Idehen family’s adoption costs. This family is the real deal, and they have such a unique story. I’ve felt so helpless seeing the hearbreaking news from Northern Nigeria and all of the information behind the #bringbackourgirls. This is a very real and tangible way you can be a part of the redemptive story being written in two little Nigerian girls lives, little girls who have been waiting far too long without a family. Please visit their website and learn more here. (And stay tuned, we’ll be releasing some amazing t-shirts created by some very talented graphic designers soon!)