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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Why Adoption? Why Ethiopia?

People want to know Why we chose Ethiopia.

......Truth is we didn't, at first.

The story, which could possibly be classified as an ordeal, is one marked with the fingerprints of God. There's really no short answer but I have been working on refining my responses for general consumption. Because people - like the person I just met at church - don't usually have time to sit down for an hour and hear ALL about it, here's my short(er) version of the story.

I want to highlight that there are many more well informed families who investigate for long periods of time, who pray and fast and meditate and who KNOW with certainty that this is the program for them when they sign up. I'm always amazed at their stories filed with certainty that they were headed in the right direction before they even took one step.

I'm here to tell ya that just wasn't our adoption experience at first.

Some of our best friends had adopted. We knew it was a blessed and beautiful thing. Dustin and I had discussed adoption and felt is was something we should do. Then life happened. We got pregnant easily and in quick succession gave birth to three precious daughters. Adoption was still something we discussed but only as something that we'd try to get around to sooner or later.
We'd always said we wanted 5 kids. Crazy, I know. But crazy is how we roll in this family. Of course, after having the three girls so close in age we considered calling it quits. Then, the baby got older and the desire to have more kids came back with a vengeance. Dustin and I were in agreement. It was baby making time ( a favorite pass time of ours ;-)

Then, the miscarriages happened. Two of them. Christmas '06 and Easter '07.

I am not saying I am happy to trade the lives of those to babies for the wake up call to get off my booty and adopt our boys, BUT the redemptive power of God totally used the loss of those children to awaken us to the suffering and losses of orphans around the world.

We were parents missing two children. We could choose to conceive and give birth to more kids (the docs all said my miscarriages were a "fluke") or we could be parents to kids who were already here in this world.

We simply felt God impress upon our hearts, through the loss of those pregnancies, that the adoption seeds He had planted over our lifetime had grown. It was the time for the plant to bear some fruitful action. Our desires turned from conception to adoption and the child/ren it would bring us.

God impressed adoption upon our hearts in a very NOW fashion as opposed to a 'later' or a 'wait and see fashion'. So we DID........ But we had NO clue where we were going or any real concept of how we would get there.

Actually, we kinda sorta ran from Ethiopia. Not because we didn't like the country or the people, rather we had some insecurities to deal with. Despite the fact that I woke up one morning with a pressing urgency placed in my heart that we were to adopt from Africa, and despite the fact that we began our search for agencies by googling "Africa adoption agency" we still felt unsure about taking steps in that direction.

I remember the feeling of staring at web pages filled with agencies facilitating adoptions in countries I couldn't find on a map. I remember the vulnerability. No one we knew had adopted internationally. All our friends were domestic adoptive/foster families. This was uncharted territory. How would we narrow the choices down? What did we really know about Africa anyway? What qualified us to adopt from there?

We simply decided not to chose a country first. We chose an agency. We investigated who we wanted to facilitate our adoption and that narrowed down our options considerably. The agency we chose was America World Adoption Association. They offered 5 programs at the time; Ethiopia, Russia, El Salvador, Ukraine, Kazakhstan.

You'd think we would've headed straight for the Ethiopia program since it was the only African option available to us, but I'll be honest once more: The whole white parents raising a black child thing was scary. It wasn't a decision to be made lightly. We knew a black child would have specific needs and we needed to honestly access whether or not we could meet those needs.

Even though we had both felt God was initially leading us to Africa we reasoned that Ethiopia is far away and it would be harder to take trips over there to maintain the connection with the country of our child's birth, something that was so important to us. Yadda, yadda, yadda the excuses flew. So, faith filled people that we are, we pulled a Jonah and headed for our agency's El Salvador program.

Then, we were rejected. The El Salvador program was a no-go.

God is sooo good!! For various reasons we really had no other alternative but to go to the Ethiopia program. From there we learned more specifically about the needs there, other than just the raw stats of orphans. We soaked up all we could. We became educated the backwards way, I guess you could say.

Now, I know this story really highlights our human weaknesses. I takes all the glamour out of the heroic adoptive parent fantasy. It's so uncertain, so learn as you go. And that would be the perfect description for our experience. That is the way God chose to work with us.

I love to highlight that God is faithful and able to keep us on the right path. If there's a heart willing to obey him He will make a way. He will even redirect his little chicks if (or in our case should I say WHEN) they start wandering off in the wrong direction.

In the space between signing up for the Ethiopia program and today Lord has confirmed our decision in a million ways. He relieved our fears and has equipped us for parenting our adopted son in amazing ways (and the equipping continues still) We have been blessed to have a large support network of families who've adopted from Ethiopia that we didn't even know existed before we signed up; some of whom have become VERY close friends. God has even provided a connection to a local immigrant Ethiopian church for us to link up with and preserve our son's culture and heritage. He continues to make connections IN Ethiopia for us as well. We hope to take missions trips in the future and develop lasting relationships there.

When people ask how we ended up adopting from Ethiopia my super short answer is, "That's where the Lord led us." and it isn't a lie. Of course I have to follow it up with, "He took us there the back way." ;)

13 comments:

Renee' said...

That is AWESOME! I love it. And I can so relate... we kind of ended up with Ethiopia through the process of elimination... real spiritual huh? Truth is, just because we used human reasoning and rationale in making our choice doesn't mean that God wasn't in it!

Carpenters said...

Jen, I love your story! Praise God that He continued to lead you in the direction that He wanted you to go. When asked why we choose Ethiopia, our answer too is "That's where God led us." Isn't it so true though? God knows who our children will be before we do and He will faithfully lead. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

With Love,
Penelope

Pam and Brian said...

Hello. I wanted to introduce myself... I am a fellow blogger and have adopted through AWAA and live in AZ. I am always anxious to meet other adoptive parents and would love to get to know you since you are here in AZ.
Pam

Jen said...

Hi Pam!!! It's nice to e-meet you! I ran over to your blog to say hello..... thought I would leave it here too just in case!

Do you have a support network you are already a part of? Looking for more friends? You can read about the one I am a part of by looking at the bottom of my blog at the labels under Grafted Tree. It's just a budding group but it's a good one ;)

Karen said...

Jen, what a great story - it really is that simple, the Lord led us here. Maybe we didn't see the end location at our first step, but He had Ethiopia in mind for us all along.
We, too, applied for the El Salvador program last fall and got accepted but within a week switched to Ethiopia! And we instantly knew that this was the right place to go.
*karen

Suz... said...

I loved reading your story, Jen, and also the comments left on this post. I personally have not felt a calling to adopt--state-side or international--but I am so grateful that this world has been opened up to me through all of you guys. God has revealed so much through your personal stories. I don't know if there will be more in His plans for me but I admire your courage to live the plan He has set out for your life--PRAISE GOD!!

shawn and tisha said...

Jen,
It's neat to hear the story of how you came to adopt from Ethiopia! I've been reading your blog lately and wanting to comment, but haven't been able to come up with words for some reason? But, Yay! I found a few words tonight! :)
Tisha

Stacey said...

I don't think it matters how the Lord got you there but that you are there! It doesn't take much to see that your hearts are in His hands.

Brooke said...

I am so excited to see what more the Lord has in store for you and your family through this adoption process. Your son is so blessed to have you and you are SO BLESSED to have him. I know it is really intangible right now, but I pray for your WHOLE family all the time and am just so amazed at how the Lord is bringing this adoption full circle! God BLESS, huh?? And atleast if the Lord didn't call you into the belly of a whale!

Daiquiri said...

Hi Jen! I haven't been to see you in a while. What an awesome story! God is so incredible :)

Hey...I'm so happy to have you as a member of the Christian Moms Blog Ring. Thanks for joining :)

Daiquiri

jamie in rose cottage said...

Thanks for sharing your story! We're working on adoption, too, so I'm interested in reading other folks' stories!

God bless!

Danielle said...

Hi Jen! It's been way too long since I've visited you, but with work calling my name...I just didn't want to wait any longer. Sounds like all is well and God is doing things. My adoption story, by the way, is even less glamorous then yours. Maybe someday I can tell it to you...

On a different note: you already sent for a fingerprint update? I thought I had a couple of more months before I'd need to do that. How did you decide on now? I think the thought of another process has put me in avoidance mode :)

Love,
Danielle

Amber said...

It's my fist time on your blog. I'm a fellow red letter campaign blogger so I wanted to say Hi!