Family looking to spread love, faith to new pair of youngsters

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By Stephen Thomas

 CEDAR GROVE - A local family hopes to expand while offering the experience of freedom and love to two Ethiopian orphans.

Greg and Vickie Cochran plan to adopt two boys, ages two years and five months, respectively. They currently live at a parsonage in the region of Harrar, an eastern Ethiopian city.

The couple has five biological children, all home schooled, ranging in age from 12 to 20. Vickie said the entire family had a say in the decision to adopt.

Greg, pastor of Cedar Grove Baptist Church, said the couple considered adoption for more than 15 years but remained busy with their own children.

“We heard testimony of adoptive parents and we wanted to get involved,” said Greg. “It’s Biblical, to help care for widows and orphans.”

“We had a good time raising our children in all aspect,” Vickie said. “We feel we have so much love to give. We finally thought if we’re doing it, then now is the time.”

The couple first looked to adopt within Kentucky but faced several roadblocks in the process. Overseas adoptions can be difficult and costly, and Greg said the family did not qualify to adopt in all countries based on age and income.

“We asked the kids about it and they all wanted to go international,” said Greg. “That was really our hearts’ desire.”

The family originally looked toward Asia until Vickie learned there were more than four million orphans in Africa. Ethiopian adoptions were still open to the United States.

The couple first completed a 13-month preparation process including a home study to see if there house was an acceptable place for the children. The marriage license and birth certificates had to be re-issues.

Each family member had to complete a medical physical. Financial documents were turned in for review.

“You basically are opened to an outside authority,” Greg said. “You pretty much throw your life out as an open book.”

Once approved by both countries, adoption agencies search orphanages for children to match with the family. The search took another two to three months.

“We asked for children ages zero to six,” said Vickie. “These two were the first two they showed us.”

“We fell in love with them immediately,” Greg added. “How would you say no?”

Rebekah, the youngest of the Cochran siblings, saw the boys online first.

“I was excited,” she said. “When I first saw the baby it was really exciting. I always wanted to take care of someone looking up to me, to be responsible.”

Polly, 14, and Rebekah, 12, would likely share rooms with the children when they first arrive. Both were excited to help out with family duties.

The two boys, Andrew, 20, and Johnny, 16, were every bit as happy for their future siblings.

“We were super excited when we were coming home and Dad said there was a surprise,” said Johnny. “I couldn’t believe it because it had been so long since we had heard any news.”

A soccer fan, Johnny knew the people of the Harrar region liked to play the sport. Andrew knew the region was famous for its brand of coffee bean.

Greg said Cedar Grove Baptist was “ready to welcome and enjoy” the Cochrans’ new family additions. With another adoptive family in the church and a third starting the process, he hoped the family’s examples would have an impact.

“Adoption is a picture of the Gospel,” he said. “How we’re brought into the family of God, offering covenant and love, I think people see the beauty of that.”

Church members have decided to help with adoption costs by hosting an old fashion fall festival. Event coordinator Sherry Hurt, who works with the annual Shepherdsfest music festival, said everyone in the community was welcome.

“It’s a free event and it’s all donations,” said Hurt. “Basically you can give whatever you want to help.”

The event will feature a bonfire, hayride, kids’ games and a hoedown with line dancing included.

Food at the event will include hot dogs and burgers, Kentucky Burgoo and Smores.

“Our church sort of has a heart for these things,” said Hurt. “Our outreach with Shepherdsfest is fundraising for disaster relief in foreign countries. This is the way the church has responded (to the adoptions).”

The fall fest is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 5, 5-8 p.m. For more information call Cedar Grove Baptist, 543-4101.

Donations to the Cochran Family may be sent to Cedar Grove Baptist with checks made payable to “adoption fund.” The address is 4900 Cedar Grove Rd., Shepherdsville KY 40165.