African adoption trip changes Missouri family's outlook

Monday, December 7, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CST
Jamie and Michelle Outman of Cape Girardeau, relax in their home with their family on Nov. 21, from clockwise left: Jamie, Paeton, Michelle, Phelix, Parker, and Phisher.

CAPE GIRARDEAU — With two children already, Jamie and Michelle Outman of Cape Girardeau thought their family was complete. That is, until Michelle began to feel as though God had more in mind for their family. Michelle brought it up to Jamie, and after praying about it, he agreed.

"I thought it would be too hard until attending a church service about the orphans in Africa," Jamie said. The Outmans attend La Croix United Methodist Church in Cape Girardeau, which has a "Room For One More" ministry that supports families in the adoption process.

"We started feeling comfortable, but we aren't supposed to be comfortable in life," Michelle said.

The adoption process took about 10 months before the Outmans were able to bring the twins, named Phelix and Phisher, home from Ethiopia at the age of 5 months.

Phelix had been hospitalized in Ethiopia for two months with pneumonia. When the Outmans arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Phelix weighed 8 pounds and Phisher weighed 10 pounds.

Now the boys are 9 months old and weigh 18 and 21 pounds, respectively. The Outmans were open to adopting more than one child but were not expecting twins because they were not on the list requesting siblings.

In the months before the trip to pick up the twins, the couple's children, Parker, 12, and Paeton, 10, held a Build-A-Bear sale in which they sold bears out of their collection. The children raised $1,000 for the orphanage in Ethiopia. Parker and Paeton made the journey to Ethiopia to hand-deliver the donation, something they say they will never forget.

During their 10-day stay in Africa, the family saw many things they said changed their views on life. The daily drive to the orphanage took them past a trash dump where mud and rock huts housed children who lived together. Every day when the garbage was dumped, the children would run out and begin rummaging for food alongside the goats and dogs.

"After seeing the country (the twins) are from, there is so much to be grateful for," Michelle said. "Some family members asked why we would go all the way to Africa to adopt a child, but look what we would have missed."

Jaime said he is happy with their decision.

"There were a lot of times I thought, 'Should we do this?'" he said. "It would be easier to say no, but now it's hard to imagine what it would have been like if we didn't adopt Phelix and Phisher."

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