After Jay and I decided that adoption was something we wanted to do, the research began! Finding people who had adopted or at least who knew people who had adopted was actually the easy part. When you put your feelers out, people are always pointing you in the right direction to find great resources. We began talking to people at work and church and plenty of informational materials were thrown our way. In fact, our church held a two-day conference shortly after we started really “talking” about the idea. The conference was great! We were able to hear amazing speakers and talk to infectious disease doctors who specialize in treating international adoptees and the various conditions that they may come home with. In fact, we had no idea, but there is actually an international adoption clinic out of Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Prospective parents can bring in photos and videos of their children and the doctors can even begin the assessment process through those! This is very helpful because so many kids have genetic abnormalities, fetal alcohol syndrome, learning disabilities, and the like and they are able to pick up a lot of the conditions prior to the adoption being finalized. By the way, the agencies we researched are very good about giving all available health information and special needs that children may have prior to the “adoption” part.
Once we narrowed down the agencies that were near us that specialized in international adoption, we filled out preliminary applications to find out which country would suit us best and which ones we “qualified” for. I had done a mission trip years go to Haiti, and saw the devastating poverty that affects the entire country. I had always hoped to adopt from there some day. However, Haiti has some pretty strict guidelines of who can adopt. The couple must married 10 years! and yet be under the age of 50. While we meet one of those requirements, we did not meet the other, so Haiti was out. Various other countries had rules that were similar. Others were well known for having children from drug addicted mothers that create life long disabilities and behavioral problems. When we narrowed down the countries that interested us, we once again just prayed about where we felt the most calling to. Turns out, that country is Ethiopia. This country has nearly 13% of their child population orphaned, 6 million kids without parents! While the process from adopting from Ethiopia is long in comparison to other countries, we believe it will be well worth the wait.
After we decided on a country, the agency interrogation began. I asked a lot of questions, many directly from the book I was reading at the time. One agency in particular stuck out to us. They emailed us daily, answered all our questions, and even gave us a list of references we could contact who had adopted from Ethiopia. After emailing several and hearing nothing but wonderful things, we decided to work with All God’s Children International (You can find their website to the right). They have a wonderful program in Ethiopia that helps children unite with their “forever families” and the caregivers take wonderful care of the orphans until they are united with mom and dad. They are funded through generous donations from people who want to help the orphan crisis, but perhaps do not feel the calling to adopt (What a wonderful idea!). So, the journey has begun. It may take years, but we are on our way. The official application (and associated fees) has been accepted, and we begin the “real” paperwork and conference call within the next two weeks.