x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

A little girl who brings constant joy

Dubai couple say their daughter Amelia, who they adopted in 2009, is a constant source of joy and happiness.

Amelia, a three-year-old Ethiopian, has thrived since Sophie and Simon Walsh brought her home from an Addis Ababa orphanage.
Amelia, a three-year-old Ethiopian, has thrived since Sophie and Simon Walsh brought her home from an Addis Ababa orphanage.

DUBAI // The moment Simon and Sophie Walsh met Amelia in an Addis Ababa orphanage they were overwhelmed by the need to care for the baby girl who looked so "incredibly sad".

The couple, who are in their forties, arrived in Dubai from London in 2006 and wanted to provide a stable and welcoming home for a child.

"We wanted to adopt a child to build a family and to be given the opportunity to be loving and responsible parents," said Mr Walsh, 47, the director for operations at a commodities trading company. "We were committed to educate and guide that child throughout her life."

They started a home study course at Synergy with a psychologist at the end of 2008 and decided they wanted to take care of a child who was under the age of two.

"We wanted a girl because I had so many brothers but we also didn't want to choose," said Mrs Walsh, who is originally from northern France and has five brothers.

But before they could meet their new daughter they needed to contend with paperwork, which needed many stamps from various ministries and embassies in Dubai.

In September 2009, they were matched with a 15-month-old girl in Ethiopia, and flew there to meet her the following month.

"We just felt overwhelmed with love and impatient to care for and cherish this little girl who looked so incredibly sad," said Mrs Walsh.

They spent five days in Ethiopia before returning to Dubai to wait for a court date.

In December, they flew back to Addis Ababa, where a judge approved the adoption. They returned to the orphanage to collect Amelia.

"We changed her into a little dress that we brought with us and left the orphanage as a family for the first time," Mrs Walsh said.

They had to wait 10 days for the paperwork to be processed, including Amelia's birth certificate and passport, before they flew back to Dubai.

Amelia, now 3, attends a nursery in Dubai and speaks English and French. She loves arts and crafts and ballet.

"Amelia is a constant source of joy and happiness in our lives," Mrs Walsh said. "She's got a lot of compassion."

Mr Walsh has been an active father, changing Amelia's nappies, bathing and feeding her and going to the park to play at weekends.

"Simon is such a good father," Mrs Walsh said. "You get so much happiness seeing the love of your husband for his child and seeing how complete he has become now that he is a father."

Now they are ready to do it all again. Last month, they started getting the papers ready for a second adoption.

"Amelia loves the idea of a little sister and could not wait to go to Ethiopia to bring her back," said Mrs Walsh.