Friday, February 28, 2014

Changin it up

We have officially been working on our adoption for 2 years now, a year and a half of which we have been on the waitlist. I wish I could say there was an end in sight, a babies face to admire, travel plans to initiate, but that could not be further from our reality. In fact, we are officially back at the very start of our journey. Allow me to catch you up a bit…

As I have posted previously, Ethiopian adoptions have dramatically slowed. In fact, slowed is not quite the realistic term used to describe the current state of Ethiopian adoptions, it is nearly stagnant. Only 26 children were placed in 2013 and according to projections, a similar number is expected in 2014 and beyond. Most children being placed are older children (which is something to be very thankful for don’t get me wrong!). I used to think the problem was the process itself, but recently I have been enlightened to the real situation over in Ethiopia.

Recently, the United States government filed criminal charges against a U.S. adoption service provider operating in Ethiopia. Long story short, there are very corrupt people and agencies operating in a country that lacks resources to ensure proper ethical adoptive practices. Simply put, wherever there is a lot of $$$, there are a lot of people who will do anything to get a piece of the pie, without consideration for the helpless beings that the money was intended to protect. In the indictment served by the U.S. Government, several people were investigated for over 5 years and were believed to be involved in falsifying documents on children living with their OWN families, in order to fulfill a “need” for international adoptive parents. Poor orphanages were trying to make an easy buck and so when an agency would call saying this is the “type” of child we need for this family, if no child met those demands, they would basically find a child that did meet the criteria and rip them from their families. Lies were being told to families about their children leaving for a short period of time for education or various others claims, and the families were often unaware that their children were being permanently adopted and in simple terms, SOLD for a profit. The indictment also charges that the scheme involved paying bribes to corrupt Ethiopian government officials.

This news is heartbreaking, but unfortunately not a “new” finding. The southern region of Ethiopia has already shut down adoptions and the northern region, where our adoption would have taken place, is basically on the verge of this as well. The indictment is for U.S. agencies, but unfortunately, there are agencies and corrupt people from all over the world making this a huge problem. Our adoption agency has been very transparent with us about these issues, and they are committed to standing strong with Ethiopia in making things right.

So, over the past few months, Jay and I have been praying pretty hard for Ethiopia, and for our adoption. Here is the main cornerstone our adoption is founded upon:

We are NOT adopting so our family can have a child, we are adopting so a child may have a family, period.

We in no way want to be a part of a process that is unethical, not truthful, and potentially corrupt. I have spoken with a mother of an Ethiopian adoptee and while her story has and remains transparent and honest, she is aware of various others that have not been.

We have had various conversations with our case manager and here is our predicament. Our adoption agency recognizes that there is a very good chance that Ethiopia could close. They are giving all families the opportunity to change to a different country, with 100% of our agency fees (already paid) transferable, BUT only for a short while. We could choose to stick it out with Ethiopia keeping a few things in mind: 1.) Ethiopia could close, at which point our contract would be terminated and we would have to repay all agency fees over and start again at the very start of this whole journey and 2.) We could continue with Ethiopia understanding that currently we are very far down on the list and do not qualify for the children currently being placed, making a referral very unlikely in the foreseeable next couple of years. As you know, we now have a beautiful bouncing three year old, and according to our policy with our agency, we must maintain birth order. We do not have the ability to adopt any child over the age of 3. Additional options include choosing to change to a different country (our agencies domestic program is at maximum capacity currently and not allowing further families to join), or to terminate our contract and move on.

Jay and I have prayed a lot. I cannot say that we KNOW for certain we are making the right decision. God has not been real clear on the subject….yet. However, I recently had an international adoptive mommy speak some truth into our situation, and this is what she said: “I know you are afraid of making a mistake, but you need to understand that when you are seeking to glorify God and due His will, you can never make a “mistake”. He will make good out of your plans. An orphan is an orphan no matter what country they reside in.” and that was much needed TRUTH!

So, let me tell you about the last couple of months prior to getting to the meat and potatoes of our decision for our adoption. We have been receiving emails from our agency on waiting children. These are children that are special needs kiddos and Jay and I have fallen for a couple of them…when we started this journey we were set on an infant who was healthy. I believe that this criteria is what may continue to perpetuate the corruption in international adoption; I see that now. Couples generally want children who are healthy, but these are not the kiddos that are typically abandoned. Our hearts have begun to break for these children. Through these emails we have seen beautiful children, with often minor or correctable challenges who are labeled as “special needs” but who just need a family to love on them and offer them a chance.

A majority of these special needs children are from Asia. Our agency is gaining more and more ground and making more contacts with orphanages there and the need is great in these regions. With that said, and with the input of our opinionated three year old who just recently learned about China at school (and who’s favorite movie currently is Mulan) we have decided to change our country to China. We are opening up to either sex, up to the age of three and with special needs (pending the input of our social worker). We are excited and a bit nervous over this change, but ready to see where this crazy journey takes us and to whom! Thanks for continued prayers!