adopting from ethiopia

If you follow me here on the site then you may already know that our family is in the process of adopting a little girl from Ethiopia, you can read more about it HERE. I shared the news earlier this year and was so touched by the outpouring of love, support and prayers from you readers. And so, as we move into a new year I thought I’d share an update on where we are with the process.

We started the adoption process a little over two years ago. At the time we weren’t really sure where she would come from or how we would get her we only knew that she, was a she. I love my boys… every rough and tumble, lizard chasing, constantly wrestling, puppy dog smelling piece of them but I have always, always wanted a daughter. When I found out I was pregnant with Ford (that would be boy #3) Dave and I agreed that if it wasn’t a girl we would look into adoption. When I started to ask around the first person I spoke with was someone who had adopted a daughter from Ethiopia. People ask us all the time why we picked that country, or why we went international over domestic. This might sound ridiculous but after speaking with that first mom about her beautiful baby girl, I started imagining that my daughter would be from Ethiopia too. I guess my heart sort of made up my mind and when the agency suggested various country options I couldn’t even consider them… I believed in my heart my daughter was from Ethiopia.

So we started the adoption process which is, in a word, long. Unless you’ve gone through it yourself it’s hard to comprehend the level of paperwork, blood tests, medical test, in-home visits, social workers reports, etc, etc, etc you have to turn in just to get your paperwork into the government you’re trying from adopt from. It took us nearly a year to jump through every hoop and finally get our dossier on file in Africa. From there we anticipated a year before we’d be matched with our little girl. For the most part, beyond my prayers for her (who I recognize might not even be born yet) I tried not to think about it. When I thought about it I got excited and excitement eventually led to sadness when I recognized how far away we were. But as more time passed I allowed myself to dwell on it more because the two year mark was getting closer and surely that meant we’d get matched. I remember last Christmas thinking, next year I’ll spend this holiday with my daughter. It makes me tear up to write that out now because it feels further away than it ever has.

A few months ago we started getting reports from our adoption agency that adoptions in Ethiopia had slowed to a crawl, and the agency was getting fewer and fewer child referrals. A month later they informed everyone in the program that they estimated they’d get 10-15 children a year versus the 30-40 they’d gotten in year’s past. This meant for a family like us who is something like 27 on the list we were looking at 2, maybe 3 more years before we were paired with a child.

Readers, that news felt like a kick to the stomach. And along with it came a whole new slew of things to consider. Instead of a few years of separation she could potentially be five years younger than our youngest and ten years younger than our oldest. What would that mean for their relationship and how close they would all be? Also, what happens if we decide to wait the three years and the Ethiopia adoption program closes completely or our agency pulls out of the country because of the instability? Our agency asked everyone in the program to consider switching to a different country if they’d like to, but as crazy it might sound that idea devastates me. If we pulled out of the program I think I’d always feel like I’d given up on my daughter. I don’t know what the right answer is, both Dave and I are saddened by the process and utterly devastated when we think of the other families on the list with us who don’t have any children. Can you imagine? A potential three year extension to becoming first-time parents would be so hard to come to terms with. 

And so that’s where we’re at and where we find ourselves as we head into a new year. In life, you can’t walk away when it gets tough or when it doesn’t turn out how you expect it will. So we’ll continue to hope and pray and have faith in something larger than ourselves and a master plan that it will all work out exactly when it’s supposed to. I’ll pray for her and her family. I’ll pray for a miracle. I’ll pray that next year, I’ll spend Christmas with my daughter.  xo, Rachel