SBCC prof adopts Ethiopian sisters, one of 6 million orphans

Amanda Jacobs

Tucked away in the suburbs of Ventura, a white picket fence borders the home of a family that has come together in an atypical way. A professor, her husband and their adopted Ethiopian daughters live inside.

Professor and Adviser of Sigma Chi Eta, Sarah Hock, and her husband, a mechanical engineer named Davis, adopted a pair of sisters orphaned by the AIDS epidemic in Africa. The adoption process took 14 months, cost the couple more than $20,000, but gave them the family they always wanted.

They brought home three-year-old Junia and two-year-old Eden just a year ago.

“They’re 100 percent our kids,” Hock said. “They don’t look like us, but it’s love that makes a family.”

As a Westmont and Pepperdine graduate, 33-year-old Hock has lived in Spain, Hawaii, and traveled to nine different countries. Photographs from her travels are framed and displayed throughout her Home and Garden-style house.

However, the photos that make her Sigma Chi Eta students gather around the kitchen bulletin board are those from her most recent trip to Ethiopia.

Going to Africa was a “life-changing experience,” Hock said. She explained that the country is beautiful, but the poverty contrast between Ethiopia and America is hard to grasp.

“People there live on a dollar a day, and here we drop five bucks on a coffee,” she said.

The couple traveled to Ethiopia last March to pick up their girls and visit the country. Hock said the hardest part of the trip was coming home.

According to an article published by the UNICEF organization, there are an estimated 6 million orphans in Ethiopia today, and nearly 1 million of them have lost one or both of their parents due to AIDS.

“The orphan issue is so big we need everyone talking about it,” Hock said.

The couple decided to adopt after listening to an adoptive family’s story at their local church. After prayer and a lot of research, she said that they realized that it’s what they wanted to do.

“We were really moved by their story,” Hock said. “They weren’t rich but decided that caring for orphans is important.”

One misconception about adoption is that it’s only something you would do if you were infertile, Hock said. But that’s not the case here.

“Adoption can be Plan A for your family,” she said.

The couple’s family has been more than supportive. Hock explained that when she and her husband first told their friends and family about their plans to adopt, no one was surprised. The Hocks had become so cultured through extensive traveling, adopting children from another country didn’t seem far-fetched.

But people in the community haven’t been as accepting as the couple’s immediate family. Hock has had to grow into the role of being a mom of an interracial family, she said.

The questions people ask and the inappropriate remarks she receives in public can become overwhelming at times. She said that nothing is malicious, but strangers always wonder “if you’re the mom or if I’m going to tell them that they’re adopted,” she said.

“Every strange encounter like that is a way to educate people about the orphan crisis,” Hock said.

As the national award-winning communication honor society’s adviser and founder, Hock inspires City College students to be aware of the problems in developing countries.

“I’ve never met anyone in my life that has done anything else so noble,” said Alex Kanishev, business manager of the honor society. “It has really painted a picture of how desperate and desolate the situation is in Ethiopia.”

Not only has Hock spread the word to her students, she has also started the Gold Coast Orphan Alliance. The group’s goal is to inform churchgoers and the community of the crisis in Ethiopia.

“We provide support for pre-adoptive families,” Hock said. “We bring people together who care by connecting people across churches to get the word out.”

Her oldest daughter Junia goes to a pre-school, and Hock said that the girls love their new home and have adapted very well.

“They were speaking English within the second week of being here,” Hock said.

In their spare time, the couple takes the girls to local parks, brings them down to the stream behind their house to look for frogs, and plays Hungry Hungry Hippos with them in their playroom.

Hock said that her and Davis have been considering adopting again, but that maybe next time they will look into adopting older kids. But at this point, they really don’t know.

“It’s been really amazing to be like, ‘Wow, I’m a mom and those are my kids,'” she said. “It’s just a wonderful way to make a family.”

Hock is constantly busy, but manages to balance being a mom, wife, professor and club adviser.

“I think she’s really hard on herself, but she does a great job,” said her husband. “She never ceases to amaze me.”