On the first day of every month our adoption agency let’s us know if we’ve moved any spots on the waiting list. Some of you may remember that when we got that email in August, we had moved 16 spots in one month! It was amazing. Since then, we have only moved one spot on the waiting list. There has been a major lag in referrals these past five months. One reason for this is because the courts in Ethiopia close for the “rainy season” which spans from August to October. Many families in the adoption process are getting discouraged, antsy, frustrated and wondering if this long period of “silence” is a sign that yet another country is closing it’s door to international adoption. It’s hard to wait. I get asked all the time why the wait is so long, how much longer will we be waiting, if there are so many children needing families, why does the process have to be so hard and take so long?
To answer some of these questions and bring encouragement to families in process, our adoption agency posted this explanation on their facebook page today. It’s very informative and clear so I decided to repost it here instead of trying to explain everything in my own words.
There are lots of questions about why infant referrals have lagged, and if it has any relation to the recent rumors of a closure in Ethiopia. I figured I would address these questions in a new post in order to reach more of you. Not all referrals have stopped or slowed down, but since the majority of our families are requesting infants it sure feels that way! Most orphaned infants come from rural areas, we don’t see a lot of abandoned or relinquished infants in the larger, or more developed areas of Ethiopia. When a child is abandoned or relinquished the process for adoption starts at the local level. Adoption Agencies do not receive documents for a child until the child’s documents are approved, and the child has been deemed eligible for adoption (which also means that the child has no other options). Rural areas in Ethiopia do not have Regional Authority, which means that once the child has completed the local process, the Regional Government then needs to verify the process. This is an extra step when a child comes from a rural area, versus a child from an area where the local government has regional authority. Since the majority of orphaned infants come from these rural areas, the process before referral is slightly longer. Referrals slowed from these areas when court and government offices closed for the rainy season. Once these Government agencies reopened in mid-late October, Federal MOWCYA had imposed new requirements for the local process. Anytime we see new requirements in the process, we experience delays. Meetings, training, and other adjustments are made, and there is a lag in the process for those children who are in process. We have experienced these adjustments to the process, and delays many times. However, when you add rumors of a closure it adds stress and panic to the process. What always gives us comfort in the Ethiopia Adoption process is the Ethiopian Government’s constant improvement to the adoption process. Although we tend to view delays as problematic, or threatening to the adoption process, it is very much the contrary. Why would the Ethiopian Authorities make appropriate and necessary changes to a naturally imperfect system if they planned on shutting it down? Why would they impose extra checks and verification to a child’s orphan status unless they were striving to improve the ethics of adoption in Ethiopia? Referrals always ebb and flow. Some months we see many referrals, while other months are slow. This has been a long stretch for infant referrals, and we understand the concerns some of you may have. The new step in the process imposed by MOWCYA, is an additional verification to ensure that the child has no other options for support. Previously this was verified by one of the Government agencies in the local process, either the local Court, or the local MOWCYA. Now MOWCYA has organized a committee of five Government workers from the local Government to verify cases. This committee will review the child’s circumstances, and determine if the child has any other options for support before being approved for international adoption. This is a great improvement in the adoption process, and further assurance that the Ethiopian Government’s concern is that adoptions are completed ethically. Unfortunately, this can result in a delay or hiccup in the process, as it is viewed by the many waiting families. What we do know is that there are many children in process. Their document process has been returned back to the local Government for committee approval, and it will then go back to the Oromia Regional Office for final approval. After which, we should see many referrals again. We are working closely with the Orphanages that we partner with to provide them the extra support that they need during this time. They have many children in their care, and are working diligently with the local Government to get their documents completed. The local Authorities are receiving pressure from the Orphanages to get the process moving, as facilities are filling up with children in need. Prayers are needed! Especially for those who are caring for these children, and those who are responsible for verifying each child’s circumstances and determining what is best for the child’s future.
We have made numerous attempts in Ethiopia to verify information concerning the meeting with Parliament, and we have not been able to confirm that there has been a meeting since the last meeting which was reported by Allafrica.com. We will continue to check on this, and keep you all informed. We have communicated the rumors of a closure with several Officials in Ethiopia, and have found no reason for concern. We certainly do not dismiss how hard the wait for a child is on a family, and understand how situations like this add stress and uncertainty to an already stressful process. We are praying for you all daily! We stand behind, and support the Ethiopian Government in their efforts to provide ethical adoptions. We love each of you, and appreciate your support to each other during the adoption process.
My sister and I are collaborating on an AWESOME adoption fundraiser — an Online Auction on Facebook. This is your official invitation! Come one, come all. Invite all your friends, neighbors and family. We’ve got over 175 items and there’s a little something for everyone. You can check it out here:
My sister and brother-in-law are also in the adoption process and have already been matched with two precious girls from the DRC. We are hoping to raise enough through this auction to pay for her court costs and our immigration fees for renewing our fingerprints with USCIS.
There’s a huge variety of items and more will be added in the coming week. All items are represented by a photo on our auction facebook page. To bid, simply comment on the item’s picture how much you want to bid. The auction page is public and open to anyone. All items will be mailed to the winning bidders so it doesn’t matter where you live! Feel free to invite your friends and family if you see things they might like.
Because it has been a trillion years since I’ve written consistently and we have been in this adoption process for SO FREAKING LONG (2 yrs and 9 months, baby), I thought it might be helpful to do a little recap of our timeline. Here is a concise report of what has conspired over the past three years of our adoption journey…
Jan 2011 — Josh and Anna start researching adoption agencies and international adoption programs.
Feb 2011 — An agency is chosen (Children’s House International) and our first email is sent to our Social Worker.
March 2011 — First home study meeting and decision made to adopt from Uganda.
July 2011 — Home Study Complete
Aug 2011 — Immigration approval received from the Dept. of Homeland Security (USCIS).
Sept 2011 — Dossier sent to Uganda
Nov 2011 — We left our agency (CHI) and started working with Lifeline Children’s Services.
Feb 2012 — Referral recieved for a 10 month old girl from Uganda!
April 2012 — Lost the referral. Due to some big policy changes in the Uganda adoption program, Josh and I decided God was closing that door for our family and switched to the Ethiopia program.
May 2012 — We start redoing all our paperwork and our dossier for Ethiopia.
Mother’s Day 2012 — After much thought and prayer we decided to try and get pregnant while in the adoption process. We knew we had a long wait ahead of us and wanted to start our family.
Summer of 2012 — Garage sale adoption fundraisers and lots of paperwork to get our dossier ready for Ethiopia.
August 2012 — Ethiopian Dossier completed and sent for authentication. AND we find out we’re pregnant (exactly 3 months after going off birth control)!
Sept 2012 — Dossier arrives in Ethiopia and we are officially added to the waiting list. We’re #84 and are told it will be an 11-12 month wait.
Sept 2012 and following — Waiting, waiting, waiting and slowly moving up on the waiting list. Each month is different and we have no idea how things will progress. Some months we move zero spots, others as many as 16.
May 2013 — Giselle Rose is born!!!!!!!!! We are completely in love! Still aching for and anticipating the addition of our adopted children.
June 2013 — Ethiopia announces another change in policy and the institution of the new PAIR process (Pre-Adoption Immigration Review). This new procedure will lengthen the time between receiving a referral and taking your first trip to Ethiopia. After being matched with a child, instead of bringing them home in 3-6 months, it will now take 6-8 months.
July 2013 — Home study expires and has to be redone, along with FIB fingerprints (the fingerprints are only good for 18 months, HS for two years). More money paid out for these services simply because of the fact the the adoption process is taking so long.
Sept 2013 — a year has passed and we are still on the waiting list, not even close to the top.
Dec 2013 — Still waiting….. we’ve moved to #28 on the waiting list and things are moving slowly. I expect it will be at least 6 months before we receive a referral, then an additional 6-8 months before we bring our child(ren) home. Also we’re notified that our fingerprints for Immigration will be expiring in March 2014 and we need to start the process of getting them renewed…..this will cost another $900. :o(
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! That’s kind of how I feel about this long long long loooong process. More on that later….
Hi, remember me? You know, the person who used to write on this blog? No? Well that’s because I haven’t written in OVER A YEAR. It’s shameful, really, and quite embarrassing as well.
Where has the time gone, anyway? Oh yeah…. I got pregnant, was teaching full time, growing a human being, then giving birth to that human being, then keeping said human alive with milk made from scratch by my own body (which is harder than it sounds).
…you know, no biggie.
Really, though — all joking aside, I am truly ashamed of how long it has been since I’ve updated this blog! It is not because things haven’t been happening with our adoption or because I don’t have things to share. Quite the opposite actually. In this busy season of becoming a new mom I have had SOOOOO many thoughts on this adoption and learned so much.
NO, I did not forget about my future children overseas because I have a bio babe in arms now.
NO, we have not lost interest in adopting or changed our minds because we now have a child “of our own”.
Having Giselle has actually burdened our hearts even more for adoption. Becoming a mom has shown me first hand how precious and helpless a new baby is, how much they depend on their parents (or caregiver) to meet their every physical need, and how they crave the emotional bond created through our gentle touch, constant love and faithful care. It breaks my heart to think of all the children Giselle’s age who are denied those things – which are so vital to their existence – and the deep impact that will have on their lives.
I have shed tears over this reality many times in the past year, especially when Giselle was brand new and we rushed to her rescue every time we heard that pitiful, helpless newborn cry. There are so many children who cry and no one comes for them.
All that to say, I’M BACK. Giselle is almost 7 months old and I’m feeling kind of normal again. Time to get back to this blog and continue to share this journey with anyone who wants to come along!
I have two pieces of very happy and exciting news.
Good News #1. (I can’t believe I haven’t shared this yet, I guess I’ve just been busy and overwhelmed with work and life) — Our dossier arrived in Ethiopia on September 13th and we were officially put on the waiting list to be matched with a child. At the beginning of October we found out that we were number 84 on the waiting list. Yes, that’s right — 84. Try not to get depressed when you think about it, okay? At the beginning of each month our agency will email us and let us know what number we are on the waiting list and how many referrals they received the previous month. On November 1st I received an email notifying that we are now number 77 on the waiting list. Baby steps, people. Baby steps.
It is hard to know if things will slow down or speed up or stay the same in Ethiopia adoptions Since we decided to switch to Ethiopia about 6 months ago, the wait time for a referral has slown down considerably. We will just have to wait and see and keep trusting God for enough light to take the next step in the journey.
Good News #2 — Notice the title of this blog is “Waiting for BabIES” as in, more than one. Well that’s because WE’RE PREGNANT and expecting a baby on May 9th, 2013. I know this may come as a shock because we’re in the middle of the adoption process so let me answer the burning FAQs…
Q: So are you having a baby or adopting a baby? A: Yes
Yes, we are still adopting.
Yes, this pregnancy was carefully thought out, planned, and on purpose.
No, this was not a surprise or accident or one of those miracle pregnancies that happen to people who decide to adopt because they are infertile. This is a miracle, but its the kind you’ve probably never heard of. It’s the kind of miracle where a young, healthy couple who is capable of conceiving chooses first to adopt. Then, after one failed adoption attempt they still chose to pursue adoption — in all its wild and painful and beautiful uncertainty — because God has burned it in their hearts. In the face of another 2 year wait for a child they’ve already been waiting almost 18 months for, they realize that God is creating the perfect circumstances for them to start a family through pregnancy while still walking on this adoption journey. It’s that kind of miracle.
I think it’s awesome when couples who struggled through infertility become pregnant during the adoption process. God is giving them the desire of their hearts. And it’s wonderful when couples have biological children and still feel that their family is incomplete without adoption. Being in the early stages of both, I can say with complete awe that I have found so much joy in both these journeys. The child in my womb is not a replacement for the one in Ethiopia. How could it be? We’re talking about two different human beings here. Being pregnant has not taken away the ache for that child we’re going to adopt. When I wrote this post, I knew that I was pregnant. The baby I wrote about missing was one I had been preparing almost 2 yrs for. The one in my womb had only been on my mind for about two months. It’s hard to explain, but all I can say is my heart sees each as a completely different child. I’m so excited to meet the baby in my womb and I feel myself bonding to him/her more each day…..but it does not replace my love and longing to meet our other child in Ethiopia. My love and desire for them is not different. It’s the same love, reaching in two different directions.
Needless to say, I do welcome this GIANT distraction from the painful wait we have to endure for our African child.
When Josh and I decided to leave the Uganda adoption program and pursue an adoption in Ethiopia, we knew we were in for a much longer wait. Between re-doing all the paperwork, home study updates, re-fingerprinting, authenticating the dossier, the 12-month long waiting list, and two trips to Ethiopia, we were looking at another 2 yrs before being home with our baby. I wanted to die. Okay, that’s a little dramatic, but seriously. I was so grieved. We started to think about pregnancy. The big question was whether or not our agency would be okay with us getting pregnant and having a baby during the adoption process. When I called and talked with them, their answer gave me so much peace that God was opening the door for us to have a baby while in the process. Not only were they totally supportive of the idea, they said that if we get pregnant and we are on the waiting list, we can actually put ourselves “on hold” and we won’t lose our spot on the waiting list or have to re-submit our paperwork or anything like that. Then, when we are ready to accept a referral, we simply take ourselves off hold. With how the timing has worked out, we will probably only need to put ourselves on hold for 3 or 4 months. This will take place BEFORE we are matched with a child, of course. So essentially, we can wait until we’re close to the top of the waiting list — and lets say our bio baby is 8 or 9 months old at this point — then we can notify our agency that we want to put ourselves on hold for 3 or 4 months. When children become available for adoption, they will simply skip over us and refer them to the families below us on the waiting list. Then, when bio baby is 1 yr, we can take ourselves off hold and be matched with a child shortly after that. When we bring Eth baby home, bio baby will be about 18 months old and probably very close in age to our Eth baby.
Tonight I am thinking about our baby and how much longer we have to wait until we can see his/her face. At times my heart is so heavy it feels like it might fall through my chest, onto the floor, and break into a million pieces. I so badly want to prepare the baby’s room, but I know that would be like torturing myself. The furniture that was graciously passed down to me by my sister is in the baby’s room, but it’s not arranged. I won’t arrange it. I’m fortunate that it is upstairs in a part of the house that we don’t use very much. I don’t have to walk past it every day.
I came across the perfect curtains for the baby’s room while I was shopping with my mom this summer. There were on sale…..and perfect. So I bought them. But I didn’t hang them up. They’re still packaged and in the shopping bag, laying on top of the partially assembled crib, alongside a few unopened boxes of diapers.
Our baby is SO.FAR.AWAY. Is it possible to miss someone you’ve never met? That is how I feel about this child. I have been thinking, praying, planning, and expecting them for so long. Since we decided to switch to Eth in April, the wait time to be matched with a child has gone from 6-9 months to 11-12 months. I wonder how many more months will be added to that number? When I realize that the amount of time we’ve been in the adoption process is the same amount of time we have left until we’re done, I just want to cry. All I can do is RUN TO JESUS. He comforts me.
As far away as it is, we wait expectantly for the day that we get THE phone call from our agency, notifying us that we’ve been matched with a child. But the truth is, we’ve already been matched. Before Josh and I were even conceived, God planned for us to marry each other and planned this adoption (and a few more adoptions in the future, I hope). God has already picked the child(ren) that will make us a family. We’ve already been matched. By God. And although what was planned in heaven has not come to pass yet on earth, I already belong to this child and he belongs to me.
I hope that wasn’t too depressing for you. Just keeping it real over here. Let’s end this post on a happy note, shall we? Although I’m not setting up the baby’s room yet, I did have one project I wanted to get done while I was on summer break. I knew that once I started teaching again I would lose every shred of spare time, so I went ahead and indulged my nesting instincts It’s not completely finished, but close enough for you to see how cutie-patootie it is!
I still need to get new drawer handles and there is one little spot on the second drawer down where I chipped off the paint so I need to fix that when I have some extra time (Christmas break?). I bought this dresser on Craigslist for $25 then redid it with some leftover paint I have from when we painted our kitchen.
And lastly, I have a beautiful song to share with you. Today my friend, Emily, sent me this song and I am so glad she did. Wow. New anthem of my heart. The lyrics make me think of Jesus wrapping his arms around my child before I can. It reminds me that no matter what my child may experience before they come home, God is WITH him/her. Check it out with this link: Sing Along by Christy Nockels