Monday, February 17, 2014

Adoption Is NOT For The Faint At Heart

I've heard it said before that adoption is not for the faint at heart. I've also been told to just be ready because once you start walking in God's calling for your life that Satan will do anything to try to throw you off course. So it should have been no surprise when I found out Tuesday that those sayings really do apply to me and not just everyone else.

Sitting at gymnastics waiting for Chloe to finish Tuesday night, I logged onto my Facebook account and saw a notification in my Ethiopian Adoptive Parent Group. I clicked on it and saw where my adoption agency was basically imploding on itself. I couldn't believe what all of these women were saying so I clicked the link that one of them so graciously provided and it took me to the Department of Justice's website. There it was : International Adoption Guide Director arrested with indictments of child trafficking. UGH!! My heart sank into my feet. The room started to spin a little and I just couldn't believe what I was reading. I think I read it 3-4 times.

So, what does this mean exactly? Well, the article basically said that the director and 3 others were involved in taking children from their mothers and posing them as orphans. Then the mothers were either paid off with a very small amount of money or threatened not to tell. Some of the children never even lived in the orphanage. They lived with their families until they were "matched" with a family in the US and then fake papers were made up.

Friends, you have NO IDEA how this has wrecked my heart this week. Not even for us as much as it has for those precious children. These are children we have met and loved on and held and believed were orphaned. These are children who may very well have a mommy and daddy who desperately want them back but are terrified to admit that this horrific crime took place. This is the ugly truth of child trafficking and THIS is not okay.

Now I see why our wait time for a matched child was going to only be 6-8 months instead of the average wait time of 15-24 months. Our agency was stealing babies! It all makes sense now. I asked the hard questions. I asked them how they got their referrals for the babies and all of their answers sounded so good and truthful. I feel very naive, broken, and jaded in this process and it's only just begun. I have shed more tears this week over these kids than I thought possible. I have been angry at the injustice of it all.

But one thing that I have done this week is find comfort from the Word of God. He led me back to a verse that he gave me exactly 5 years ago. EXACTLY... I wrote this note when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer. And just like He will care for Chloe and Brody, He will also care for the child that He has already birthed in our hearts.

I pray that every single one of those precious children and their mothers will find that joy.
For the ones that are truly orphans, He promises that He will take care of them and not leave them as such and that is where I feel like we come in. We still feel very strongly that adoption is what God still wants for us and that is what we are going to continue pursuing.

I have called our social worker (home study gal) and informed her of what happened. She gave me incredible tips on finding a new agency and praise Jesus I think we may have found one. I am not going to decide for sure though until we return from vacation. I have it narrowed down to 2 but am heavily leaning towards one over the other. We are moving forward and have our second home study tomorrow! Karen will do the BIG visit where she will interview our kids and spend time in our home all day long just talking with us.

This whole thing does not slow our process down as far as where we are right now. It will slow our process down as far as how long it will take our child to come home. Instead of our baby being here in about 15 months total, it will now be about 24-30 months total. I hate knowing it will take that long, HOWEVER, the wait is worth it knowing that it will be done ethically and for children who really do need forever families.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Adoption Update

We are in the full swing of things and life has been busy. I feel like most of my days are spent going over paperwork that has been sent to us by our adoption agency and home study agency. I read them, re-read them, and then begin making appointments for fingerprinting, background checks, doctor appointments, social worker visits, etc... There is always something to be done and it can seem quite overwhelming at times. But, when I think of the end result it is always worth the small hassle and puts things in perspective quite fast.

So, where are we at in the process? That is the big question that everyone is asking right now so let me explain it as best as I understand it knowing that we are newbies and I may have some of this wrong. Ha!

January 2014 -
** submitted application to adoption agency - International Adoption Guides - located in Georgia...David and I travel to their orphanage in Ethiopia which is why we chose this particular agency. They are a fast moving agency compared to others and the children there are well taken care of. Plus, we like knowing that if things move quickly enough (very doubtful at this late stage), we may get to meet our child in June when we go.

February 2014 -
** application was approved for Adoption Guides
** first home study was completed - a home study is where a social worker is assigned to your family to make sure that the child you are adopting will be coming into a safe and loving family. This is a LONG process that includes fingerprinting, background checks, doctor appointments, lab work, reference checks, copies of every form known to man, etc... plus actual visits to the home to meet the family and get to know us.
** second and third home study scheduled for February 17th - she is going to do 1 long visit with us to cut off some of the time. Yay!

After the home study is done, we can start applying for grants - PRAISE THE LORD!!!

So now we are in the process of raising money to pay our agency fee of $6000. If any of you have an extra $6000 laying around and want to donate it to our adoption fund, we won't say "no," but will humbly accept it. HA! I have a fantastic fundraiser planned starting March 1 that I cannot wait to announce...but I have to.
Once the agency fee is paid, we just wait and gather millions of documents for the dossier
(which is another $1000). And shell out more money for more fingerprints ($850) and other miscellaneous fees. This is a stack of papers that goes to the Ethiopian government. During this time though, our agency will call and say they have a child that fits our age and gender request. They will send over a medical report and pictures. We will have a chance to get the medical report reviewed by our pediatrician and pray about this decision. If we say "yes" then the child is ours.
At this point we will owe the Ethiopian government $13,000 for their fees. Ugh! This is where I am praying grants come in and help us out!!! Within 6 months (usually) of getting our referral we will be given a court date and be heading to Ethiopia. David and I will both go before a judge who will just verify that the baby truly is an orphan and that we truly do want her. If we pass court we will come back home and then travel again once the embassy has the baby's paperwork ready.
At this point I have the option to stay in country between court and embassy but it will just depend on many circumstances whether I do that or not. If I do, baby can stay with me in the guesthouse and not have to go back to the orphanage! If I don't, I will probably travel back to ET by myself to pick up our baby (to save on airfare) and then come back home a few days later.

As you can see, it is quite a process and quite an expense. HOWEVER, we know that God has put this in our hearts and called our family to this. It is worth every single hassle and headache and wait to know that there will be one less orphan in this world. To know that our family will be growing by one in about a year. We are excited about this and hope that our friends and family will rally around us and join us in this journey.

And...just a little note to let you all know. "Believe" is the word we chose for our family for 2014. We are choosing to believe for God's provision in this adoption process and his timing. We sold the "believe" bracelets as a way to hopefully raise enough money for our home study which at the time was going to be $1500. Things went a little awry and we had to find a new agency to do our home study and the new cost was $2250. GOD PROVIDED! We have sold enough bracelets to not only cover the cost of the home study, but also the adoption application fee of $300. Thank you to everyone who bought one or two or ten! We appreciate you and the fact that you have chosen to be a part of our child's coming home story. We will keep selling them so if you haven't gotten one yet and want one, just let me know.