July 19, 2007

Local couple adopting from Ethiopia back home, ‘happy’ baby in tow

Amelie Helen Cudmore celebrated her very first birthday last Monday In Evergreen, away from the thatched grass huts and scorching desert climate she was born into.

Amelie, born into the Oromo Tribe in the East African nation of Ethiopia, also celebrated her birthday for the first time with loving parents at her side.

Danielle Marquis and Bryan Cudmore of Evergreen adopted the girl from her native country after she was found abandoned at a mosque as a newborn.

Marquis, a 27-year-old attorney and sports agent, decided along with her husband shortly after their marriage at the Evergreen Lake House two years ago that they would adopt their first child.

They chose to pursue a baby from Africa, partly for the couple’s love of world travel, but also because of the estimated 4 million poverty-stricken orphans in need of families there. It took more than a year of paperwork and close to $40,000 for Amelie to finally come to a family in the United States. But, Marquis said it was worth every penny.

“Ethiopia was even better than we thought it would be,” she said. “It was unbelievable. The people are so genuinely nice. Everyone asked us over to their house for dinner.”

One of the first places the couple visited upon arriving in their child’s birth country was the orphanage where Amelie lived. There, they held their daughter for the first time.

“She came right to both of us,” Marquis said. “She fell asleep on Bryan’s lap.”

While waiting for adoption papers to be finalized, the trio had their first bonding experience — at a hotel pool.

“That’s when she came out of her shell,” Marquis said. “That’s really when the three of us were able to bond — playing in the water.”

Later, the parents were able to visit Amelie’s birth city.

“It was in the middle of absolutely nowhere,” Marquis said. “We spent the evening with (Amelie’s tribe). It was the coolest thing I’ve ever done. They live in grass huts and herd goats. All the men had (assault rifles) on their backs, but they were the nicest people on the planet. The people are stunningly beautiful.”

The couple had also spent the year prior to picking up their child collecting school and medical supplies to donate to two local orphanages and hospitals.

They also brought along $5,000 in cash donations, which is about half of what was needed to construct a new orphanage there.

The new facility will be dedicated to Amelie. “She’s the happiest child I've ever met in my life,” Marquis said. “She’s always smiling and giggling. Other than the first day, she’s felt like our kid, and we must feel like her parents.

“I love being a mom, and she makes it easy.”


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