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For Sierra College trustee Aaron Klein global adoption issues are personal

Colfax resident, wife work to aid, educate orphans in Ethiopia
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - Through the eyes of Emma Klein, the youngest child there, Thursday’s citizenship ceremony at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services building in Sacramento was no big deal. Plenty of talk by grownups, lots of smiles and people raising their right hands at some point. For the adults and older children assembled – 138 in total, representing 19 different nationalities – the ceremony was the landmark moment in their lives where they received the official piece of paper showing that they are U.S. citizens. Emma’s ceremony was the latest chapter in the personal mission Emma’s parents, Colfax couple Aaron and Cacey Klein, have taken on to help in small and large ways to ease the plight of orphans. Aaron, well-known as a Sierra College board president, and Cacey, a blogger and decorator, have adopted two children over the past four years – a son, Spencer, now 4, in 2007, and Emma, now 2, early last year. Both U.S. citizens by right of their adoptions, Spencer and Emma now have the official papers the government is increasingly requiring for future international travel. Both children became naturalized citizens the minute they stepped on U.S. soil but the citizenship certificate is an important piece of paper to have, said Sharon Rummery, of the Immigration Department. “They’re citizens but they don’t have anything to show they are until they receive their certificate,” Rummery said. Spencer was born South Korea and Emma was an orphan living in Ethiopia. While Spencer was receiving his citizenship certificate, the Kleins were in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, preparing to bring Emma back. Aaron Klein said that the ceremony is a special one for his family. “I think adoption has been a huge blessing for us,” Klein said. Klein’s sister, Dora, is an adopted member of his family, having been born in Rumania. The Kleins decided to start their own adoption process in June 2006 and worked with Sacramento’s Holt International Office. Holt social worker Lusandra Vincent said that since Emma was adopted, politics have closed adoptions in Ethiopia. “There are a lot of politics in international adoptions but I think the nation will open again,” Vincent said. “But many other nations are looking for good families for their children.” While adoptions are now closed in Ethiopia, the Kleins have continued to help that country by assisting the village of Adami Tulu to fund and build new classrooms. The doors opened on one school in January 2010 serving 80 children. Fund-raising to construct another school should be completed in the coming year, Klein said. “There will be about 800 kids there in the fall,” Klein said. “They’ll get an education and be fed two meals a day – breakfast and lunch.” The Kleins visited the south of Ethiopia when they adopted Emma and seeing the poverty and the needs of the people was a life-changing experience, Aaron said. “There are 163 million orphans in the world,” Klein said. “It’s a huge problem and it’s growing.”