We get tons of questions and many are the same ones over and over. Don't get me wrong- we love your questions! We are so grateful that people are interested in our adoption process or adoption in general. We just thought it would be helpful to answer some of those questions here.
"Where are you adopting from"?
"Why did you choose Ethiopia/ not choose foster adoption"?
After a LOT of research we just felt like God was putting Ethiopia on our hearts. At the time, the agency we were working with for our homestudy didn’t even do Ethiopian adoptions. We had several delays, including a job change. The day after Brian got his new job we were told that our agency had begun to do Ethiopia adoptions again. There were a lot of things that made it a good fit for our family- including the fact that we only have to spend 5-7 days at a time in country. That is a big deal when you have four other kids you are leaving behind to travel. Basically, over the last 3 years God has more than confirmed this is where He is leading us.
"Why not adopt from U.S. foster care"?
When we first started to think about adoption we were open to adopting from anywhere. We did make several calls to inquire about foster care adoption. We also spoke with an agency and gathered information about domestic (private) adoption as well as international adoption. We honestly felt discouraged by the foster care system and there are clearly some things that are broken. In the future, we would be very happy if God called us to somehow advocate for reform or even adopt from foster care. For now, that isn’t where he called us. We feel strongly that one type adoption is not necessarily better than another. It all matters, because each of these children matter to God!
"Are you adopting a boy or a girl? Will it be a baby or an older child"?
We had the ability to choose but we didn’t. We will be matched with a child age 0-3 of either gender. You have the ability to choose the age and gender that best fits your family. We felt like the best fit for our family would be a child that is younger than Gavin (who is now 4).
"Africa has an HIV epidemic. Are you worried about HIV"?
No. All of the kids are tested for HIV. There are two separate waiting lists- one for HIV positive children and one for “healthy” children, or with other special needs. We chose not to do an HIV positive adoption. However, we have learned a lot about HIV and encourage others to be educated as well. We now know that it can NOT be spread to others through casual contact, sharing drinks, etc. and HIV positive children do not pose any risk to others in their home.
"How much does it cost"?
When all is said and done, we will have spent about $30,000. I think this is the part most people struggle to comprehend. I think it depends on your perspective. In 2006 I was pregnant with our third child. I walked onto a car lot and purchased a brand new minivan (something I would probably not do again)! No one gave a second thought when I paid close to $30,000 for a vehicle. Yet, somehow we bristle at the idea of spending that to adopt a child. If a vehicle is worth $30,000, how much more is a life worth? Furthermore, Jesus said that where ever our treasure is, our heart will be also. If our heart is with the orphans of Ethiopia I reckon it’s safer there than it would be in any material thing. God’s economy is different, folks.
"Why does it cost so much? Who gets all that money"?
Understanding where the money goes helps. Part of it is paid to our agency for their services. They provide us with a homestudy which includes visits to our house and lots of paperwork. They walk us through the process step by step and make it possible to wade through all the red tape. They authenticate documents, run a transition home in Ethiopia, and do too much other stuff to list here. Lifeline is a non-profit and also runs a program called “unadopted” which helps children that will never be adopted.
Another large chunk of the money goes to a “referral fee” that is paid to Ethiopia. It is humanitarian aid. There are lots of “little cost” that add up as well. We needed two passports, certified copies of birth certificates and marriage licenses, a $890 fee to apply for immigration; there are visas, etc. etc.
The travel accounts for several thousand. Two trips are required, which means we (both) have to fly to Ethiopia twice. Then there is lodging and food while we are there. So as you can see, we aren’t paying $30,000 to an agency or to Ethiopia. It all just adds up. And we are fine with that. We consider it “ransom”. And frankly, I think God is all about high cost adoption- he didn’t spare a thing when He adopted us into His family. Why should we?
"Wow. You must be rollin in the dough to afford that"!
Negative. The costs are broken up into payments. So far we have paid about $8000 of that. We are about to make another payment of $3000, which God has already provided. We have applied for a grant with a Christian ministry that helps families adopt and are praying for some assistance there. We are also saving, stretching, and praying and God has provided every need, although often at the last minute! We believe that if God calls you He will fund it every time. There are plenty of families out there who can attest to this!
"Where are you in the process"?
- We have completed our homestudy. (Homestudy= social worker visits and mountains of paperwork, 18 hours of video education, 2 books to read, various other things).
- We have applied to USCIS (immigration) and will be getting our fingerprints done this week as part of that process.
- We are compiling our dossier (dossier = homestudy +immigration approval + 20 other documents). Once we get immigration approval back our dossier will be sent to our agency, authenticated in D.C. and sent to Ethiopia!!
- Once our dossier is in Ethiopia, we will be assigned a number on the wait list. The wait list exists not because there aren't enough children needing homes (there are over 5 million!) but because they can only process so many cases per day. There are a lot of families adopting, and for that we are grateful.
"But…. You’re white."
(Gasp). What?! Ugh, we hadn't thought of that!
People, clearly we thought of this. If we hadn't the interracial adoption exercises we had to complete for our homestudy would have brought it to light. If we didn't the 9 hours of training we had to go through with the international adoption clinic in Birmingham (including sessions on racial identity) would have. We get it. And here is the thing: black parents might be better equipped to raise a black child. That may very well be true. However, there is not an abundance of adoptive parents and a shortage of children. This isn’t a question of black parents vs. white parents. It is a question of white parents vs. NO parents. There is a desperate, desperate need for children to be adopted. It is estimated that 1 in 8 children die before their 5th birthday in Ethiopia. So, no, your concerns about my race don’t move me.
1 "Aren’t you worried about the child will deal with racism, persecution, or identity issues- especially since you live in the south"?
This is a legitimate question and I think it deserves a thoughtful response. Racism is very real and we are not blind to that. But the question always makes me smile a little because you have to understand- I am raising all of my kids to be persecuted. Is that not what the Bible says? That if we stand firm in our faith for Christ we will be laughed at, mocked, or even persecuted? Well, I still teach my children to stand firm in their faith anyway. I teach them that their identity is in Christ. They are valuable because GOD says they are valuable and no person, no status, no mistake, and nothing else can ever take that away from them. I am not minimizing the struggle many adopted kids feel or what we may need to handle as we raise a child of a different race. In the end though, the fact that something isn't easy doesn't mean it isn't right. I think everyone struggles in some way with identity if it isn't rooted in Christ. And two parents who love and adore him/her will give our child an advantage that so many children are missing today- black, white, or otherwise. Ultimately, racism is a sin and although we realize we can’t escape the fact that it exists, we won’t let it rule our lives or decisions either.
We sincerely appreciate everyone’s support and interest in our adoption process. We would love it if you would pray with us for the rest of the journey, and especially for our child!