Thursday, February 19, 2009

Why Ethiopia

We began the process of adoption last fall by looking into North Caronlina's foster-to- adopt program. When we told the social worker on our case that we wanted to adopt an infant, she closed the file and said that would highly unlikely, if not impossible. If we wanted to pursue the foster-to-adopt, she suggested that we decided whether or not we would feel capable of adopting a child most likely four to six. While we left the meeting disheartened, we also had a lot to think about, particularly, what kind of child did we feel capable of adopting and caring for at this stage in our life.

Answering that question was humbling process, but necessary for anyone thinking of adopting a child. As we talked, prayed, and talked some more, Sarah and I came to the realization that we did not feel prepared to adopt a child older than Emma. We are relatively new parents and we have no experience with older children. Next, we had to decide if we felt capable of adopting a child with special needs or a serious illness. This was a humbling and heartbreaking decision - we took a long look in the mirror and came to the decision that at this point in our lives we want to adopt a healthy infant, but there is not a day that goes by that we don't pray that our hearts will be enlarged and some day when confronted with these questions we will be able to say - we will love any child in need of a home regardless of age or health. 

The decision to adopt an infant limited our options. Since we could not adopt an infant through the foster-to-adopt program, we looked into other means of domestic adoption, but soon realized that the process was not only long but also expensive. Therefore, we turned our attention to international adoption. As we researched the countries open to adoption for American parents, we found that many countries had extensive residency requirements, and the expectation for some countries was that you would relocate and live for up to two years. 

After exhausting all of our connections, and realizing we would not be able to find employment in any of the countries that had extended residency requirements, we changed our focus and began looking at those countries open to American parents with limited residency expectations. Once we limited our search to those countries the next step was to find which countries had the most successful placement rates with American agencies. Of all of the countries we researched Ethiopia not only had a high success rate in terms of placement, but there were also a number agencies with favorable relationships with the Ethiopian government. These relationships between adopting agencies and government are crucial to the adoption process and once we saw how well Ethiopia worked with American agencies we decided to pursue in adoption in that country. In brief, Ethiopia requires that parents stay in country for 5-7 days. Once families return to the United States the Ethiopian government requires that they provide yearly reports of the child's development.

We have learned through this decision making process that it is easy to be overwhelmed with the numbers of children that need homes, but as we have discovered, every child is important and deserving of love, and any child a family chooses to bring into their life through adoption is a the "right" child for that family. Adopting a child from Ethiopia will come with a unique set of challenges, and as we prepare to become a transracial family, we will continue to speak openly and candidly about the process so others on this journey of adoption will have a place to come and connect with others faced with the heart-breaking and life-affirming decision of choosing a child from amongst the thousands of faces looking for a family.

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