ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. -- They say parenthood requires love, not DNA. Katie and David Norton of St. Louis Park know that very well.
The Nortons, in their early 30s, are parents to three biological children and for the last four years, they've undergone a lengthy and, at times, emotionally exhausting journey to adopt two 4-year-old boys, Bo and Sebi, from Ethiopia.
"(Adoption) is a joy and a privilege. It's not something we felt obligated to do. It's not even something that feels out of the ordinary for us," said Katie Norton, a stay-at-home mom. "The journey of adopting has been long and hard. We knew that going in, but it's definitely been longer and harder than we anticipated."
In April, Katie Norton traveled to Ethiopia to appear before a court and finalize the adoption process. A judge signed a decree that certified the Nortons were the legal parents of Bo. Sebi was still one signature away from becoming a Norton.
Suddenly, the Ethiopian government made a stunning announcement.
"They issued an indefinite suspension on adoptions," recalled Katie. "They didn’t give us a reason and they haven’t given the American embassy a reason. They just stated that they aren’t working on adoptions right now."
The Nortons were forced to tell the boys that they would not be coming home to Minnesota with them.
'It's devastating. And to watch their faces, " Katie said. "They would both just cry and cry because they want to come home with us. They've seen other kids go home. They're ready."
When she returned to Minnesota, Katie Norton went straight to work. Her mission - find a way to bring the boys to the Twin Cities. She reached out to Minnesota lawmakers, including Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who is the co-chair of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption.
Klobuchar and Republican Sen. Todd Young of Indiana sent a bicameral letter to Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, urging the Ethiopian government to reconsider its decision to suspend international adoptions.
"It is just heartbreaking to think of a family like the Nortons," Klobuchar said. "They’ve been working on this (adoption) for years and suddenly, it's just taken away from them with just a mark of a pen."
"We understand that the (Ethiopian government) has a right to make their own rules. We just want to know why and if there are things that we can do to help solve any issues," Katie said.
Since the letter was sent, there's now word that the Ethiopian government is processing some adoptions.
On Thursday, the Nortons, all five of them, boarded a plane for Ethiopia, in another chance to bring the boys home.
"They're part of our family and we love them," Katie said.
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