The Van Wert County Courthouse

Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022

Steyer talks about challenges of adoption

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Persistence is a word that personifies local style salon owner Val Steyer, as well as her attempts to adopt children from the African country of Ethiopia. Steyer told that story as this year’s guest speaker for the YMCA of Van Wert County’s annual Good Friday Prayer Breakfast.

“Adoption is not for everybody; it’s for us, it’s our calling,” Steyer said, noting, though, that she and her husband, Nick, a firefighter: “are not heroes; we are not rescuers.”

Steyer’s first association with adoption came early in life when her mother became the legal guardian of the four sons of her best friend, who was killed in a car accident, after the father of the boys was unable to care for them.

Val Steyer introduces her family during the YMCA’s Good Friday Prayer Breakfast. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

After her marriage, she and her husband decided to adopt children as part of their family, which also included their own three children. While adoption is costly, Steyer also said “it’s totally worth it.”

After adopting one child, Steyer then decided to adopt three children from Ethiopia. It was a process that led her to spend nine weeks in the country, to learn some of the language, and to finally succeed in her quest after a number of challenges.

The first challenge was getting on a plane for the long trip to Ethiopia, Steyer said, noting that her husband even has to do all of the driving when they go on vacation.

“I was scared to death,” she recalled, but noted she got through the flight with the help of someone she met on the way.

The first challenge after reaching Ethiopia was an announcement that all adoptions were suspended in the country, while the children she wanted to adopt were not available for adoption outside the country. It was a tough time, Steyer said, and led her to question her faith in God for a while.

But she stuck it out, eventually spending nine weeks in Ethiopia and having to deal with a number of government officials, even unknowingly insulting one official who had turned her down after Steyer literally got down on her knees to beg for the adoption to go through.

“Everybody knows that my mouth gets me in trouble sometimes, when it comes to my children,” she said to laughter from the audience.

Facing a possible jail term if she persisted, because she insulted the official, Steyer said she nevertheless decided to carry on with her quest to adopt the children. That included having to hit street kids who were trying to rob her with an umbrella.

An Ethiopian who was impressed with the persistence she showed throughout the process finally was able to help her adopt her children through the Ethiopian courts, although it took moving things through quickly at the last minute to beat a deadline that would have resulted in several more months of delay.

Through it all, Steyer said her faith that God would finally allow her to have the children helped her deal with a very lengthy and stressful process.

Currently, the Steyers are working on the adoption of a special needs African child.

POSTED: 03/31/18 at 8:03 am. FILED UNDER: News