Zenebech’s Story


Zenebech Capri (Nickname Zena) was born in the Tigre region of Ethiopia, Africa. The name Zenebech translates to mean “water pouring down” or “born under the rain.” As such, we believe that she was born during the rainy season in her native land. Knowing this helps, because her age is truly unknown. Her birth certificate states her date of birth is June 25, 2008, but we believe that she is at least six months younger. We have very little information about the beginning of her life, as she was abandoned. We do know that her birth mother deserted her shortly after her birth. Her birth father attempted to keep her with him for a short time, but brought her to an intake center in Ethiopia. Eventually, she ended up at an orphanage called Toukoul. This is where we met her for the first time. That was Mother’s Day-May 9, 2010.

The 2010 statistics show that there are just under 5 million orphans in Ethiopia. As hard it is a place to visit, we believed if we are able to help one child that we are making a footprint in this world. Zena made her footprint into our heart from the moment we heard that she was to be our daughter. She blended into our family. We have a fifteen year old and a six year old, both adopted domestically. The international adoption is a process that took two years from start to finish.

When we arrived home with Zena, we had some work ahead of us. We learned from a pediatrician that she had malnutrition and a parasite. Zena was not crawling, feeding herself or talking. She did not smile. She spent her time swaying back and forth and had no idea what to do when an object – a toy or anything was placed in her hand. We sought help from professionals. As such, we were given an assessment through the Regional Center.

Just about that time, something wonderful began to happen. Zena started to smile, she stopped swaying so frequently and began crawling. With love, affection and attention, she started to blossom. But it was only a start. We needed more help.

We received the gift of time with the professionals at ICEC. With the assistance of Roxanne, Julie and Erin, we began to see further development. Fast forward several months. Zena feeds herself and drinks from a cup. She is not just walking—she is running around the house. She plays at the park and has begun to interact with other children, including ours. She is slowly learning sign language and a few words. She plays, laughs and is thriving in ways that we never thought possible. Sometimes, she needs tough love and a little push during therapy. Thank goodness ICEC has been able to give the push when needed and a hug when that is needed too.

We believe that we owe so much to ICEC and the work that they have done with Zena. We are touched that ICEC has selected Zena for this honor. ICEC will be part of our extended family for many years to come. We believe that they have helped Zena in so many ways. We see it every time we come to the center for treatment. Now Zena not only runs into our house and outside to play. She also runs straight into the arms of Roxanne, Julie and Erin.