Adoption has been something tossed around in our conversations from time to time, but we had not felt the Lord leading us in this direction before now. This all started last month when our good friends mentioned their sister who has recently adopted from Ethiopia. After we read their blog on adoption, God began to do His work. This same friend asked us, "Have you ever considered that God has ordained this age gap so that you could adopt?" The answer was "no", but we felt that maybe God was trying to get our attention. Over the course of a month, Sean and I went from "waiting" for more biological children, to deciding that international adoption is in our immediate future. We simply thought, with all of the children needing families, why not us? We still trust that God will give us more biological children, but that this is the way He wants to add to our family right now.
Why international adoption when there are so many children in our own country who need a good home?
Just as in anything in life, God places unique desires and callings in His servants. While we are certainly open to whatever God has called us to, God has given us a particular burden for the children in Ethiopia. We are thankful that God calls us all to different tasks and ministries so that we can, as the Body of Christ, be an effective force for His kingdom. We don’t believe it is our place to judge the callings and burdens He has placed on others. What we DO know is that God has called us ALL to take care of the poor and the orphaned, so for us it is an act of obedience to Him. Finally, we echo one's sentiment when she was asked this very same question. She responded simply, “Well, I don’t see borders in the world.” We don’t believe that American children are more deserving of a family simply because they are American. We believe that all children in all countries are deserving simply because they are created by God.
At this time, Ethiopia and Kenya are the only two African countries open to international adoption by U.S. citizens which do not also have residency requirements. You are able to adopt from other African countries, but the adoptions are independent adoptions and not through accredited agencies here in the States. As an added bonus, Ethiopia adoptions are fairly quick and efficient and lower in cost when compared to adoptions from East Asia and Russia. The caretakers in their orphanages are primarily Christian and Christian Orthdox, so the children are receiveing hands-on, Christian love and attention. Finally, Ethiopia is an extremely poverty-stricken and disease-ridden country, factors which have contributed to an orphan population of 4.5 million in this country of 65 million. The number of orphans there boggles our minds. If we can make even a miniscule dent, we will do that.
What is the age/gender of the child you have requested?
We have requested an infant girl, and she will be anywhere from 3-12 months old. We believe that whatever God has designed for our family will be a blessing and not a burden. Of all of the callings God gives us grace for, caring for orphans is up there at the top!
Are you concerned about a transracial adoption?
Bringing a child of a completely different race into our “white” family has never been a reason for us to consider not adopting from Africa. However, that being said, while we do believe that the love of a family is more important than color, we are not ignorant of the reality we live in. Our new daughter will no doubt be quite aware of her differences. We all have a keen interest in other cultures, so we will incorporate our children’s heritage into our family and home as much as possible. We will not pretend that our African child is white. We will celebrate the diversity of us all.
Are you concerned about loving your adopted child the same as your biological children?
This is always a slight and initial concern in the mind of anyone who is choosing to adopt who already has biological children. From the testimony of others we have heard from, you end up loving your adopted child to the same degree as your biological children. (This is amazing to us!) When we first decided to adopt, we spent some time asking God to give us a strong sense of peace about this and to settle this love in our minds from the start. In the same way that a pregnant woman longs to cradle her child, we long to hold ours! Having had biological children already, we can already tell you that the love is the same. This is testimony to me to the fact that adoption is designed by God and brings glory to Him.
What agency are you using?
We are adopting through Gladney (www.adoptionsbygladney.com). We have had a very smooth process with them so far. The staff persons are so helpful and encouraging. They are very supportive of our process and of the adoption of our child. They are located in Fort Worth, TX, and we grew up hearing amazing stories about what God was doing through their organization. This caused us to look into their organization more fully and when doing so, we realized their wait time is much shorter than some of the other agencies. This is primarily due to the number of care centers and employees they have in Ethiopia.
How much will it cost?
International adoption is very costly. Frankly, this is not a factor in determining whether or not we are to adopt. We firmly believe that God provides in full for whatever He has called His people to do. We are a typical middle-class family, so we obviously do not have tens of thousands of dollars lying around looking for a “good cause” to be spent on. In fact, were the adoption to cost us even just a small amount, we would be trusting God for that, too. Every penny of this adoption is coming from Him. That makes this all the more exciting!
Will your adopted child be healthy?
Babies in Ethiopian orphanages are tested immediately for AIDS and other diseases such as Hepatitis and TB. Children that test positive for AIDS are placed in an AIDS-specific orphanage (though there are certainly not enough facilities for them all). They typically spend the rest of their days there, though many of these children are available for adoption through other avenues. Bloodwork on the children is repeated a few months later to verify the results. When we are given a referral for our child, we will also receive a known medical history and related information. Sometimes an illness or condition is not discovered until the child is home in the States, but we are not concerned about this. Should our child have a medical issue, we will seek the appropriate medical care. Most medical issues that arise are easily treatable stateside. Also, we are given the freedom to turn down a referral if we choose. We personally don’t anticipate doing so, but that is an option given to prospective adoptive parents.
Have your extended family and friends been supportive?
Yes! However, we do know that adding any child to a family is somewhat of an adjustment for everyone. While adoption has been brewing in our hearts, this was sprung upon the hearts of our relatives, so we don’t expect everyone to jump for joy the way we are. However, both of us have extremely godly and very loving extended families, so we know that this child will be welcomed with open arms and loved no differently than the other grandchildren. Our friends have been extremely supportive from the get-go and are helping us as we pray for and provide for our child's way home! We are blessed beyond measure by our friends and the ways that God is raising them up to be used in the process.
What do your other kids think about it all?
Our other two children could not be more excited. In fact, Grace offered her piggy bank money to help bring a baby home from Ethiopia. They can’t wait to meet their new sister. They look at pictures with us on the computer and say, "oh, can that one be our baby?" We have told them that we believe God will give us a baby this year, either from Mommy's tummy or from Ethiopia.
What happens if you get pregnant?
Most adoption agencies, ours included, like to put the adoption process on hold if the adoptive mother becomes pregnant. They prefer a 12 month age difference between the adopted child, and your children. We have signed a statement saying that we will declare a pregnancy if that were to happen. This being said, there comes a time in the process that this rule is revoked. If you have received a referral and decided upon a child, you can follow through with your adoption. The entire process should take 10-12 months, but our referral could be here in as little as 6 months. We trust that God will do what is best. We are aware that we could be pregnant as we bring home a new child, but this is a risk we're willing to take. Children are a blessing from the Lord!
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
We are already rejoicing about the way God has provided for our needs. When we made some phone calls last week regarding the physicals and bloodwork that each member of our family has to have done, we realized that this was going to cost us roughly $700 per person. We prayed and researched all last week. Sean made some phone calls at Blackwater and found out we could have all of it done for free! They have a physician on hand, and he signed all the documents with a notary present. He made a very stressful situation seem like a breeze. Grace and Thatcher did pretty well for their TB test, a little poke just under the skin, but when it came time for them to have blood drawn, Grace was screaming and being held down. A few minutes later, we realized, it didn't take! The doctor wrote us bloodwork orders and sent us to Labcorp. This would be the 3rd time Grace got poked, and the 2nd time for Thatcher. This nurse had a lot of experience with children and was FIRM. I don't think Grace has ever looked more afraid in her life. Long story short, they both sat still and screamed their heads off. BUT IT'S OVER!
Saturday, March 8, 2008
This is the beginning of our adoption journey. We are excited to see what God is going to do! We hope and believe that the Lord is going to give us a baby girl from Ethiopia. The entire process will take 10-12 months. I just wanted to get this blog up and going. There will be more details to come.