Yes it is True... We are Adopting.
We have decided (quite awhile ago) to adopt from Ethiopia and we are requesting a healthy male child from 0-3 years old. Although, we have been told we most likely will be referred an infant b/c many children do not make it through infancy in Ethiopia.
We understand that to many this decision seems sudden, however Hubby and I have talked about adoption for years. We have looked into domestic, fost-to-adopt, and international. We have researched, read many books, watched webinars, joined adoption groups and spoken to many families who have already gone through the process. After much thought and some tiny events we feel that Ethiopia is where we have been lead.
The decision to adopt internationally and become a trans racial family is not for everyone and we understand that many people will question our sanity.
However, it is our belief that EVERY child deserves a loving family. And, we feel that although this may bring great challenges into our daily lives, it will be a rewarding experience in the end.
We understand that many of you will have questions for us in regards to our decision, and to help we have compiled a list of what we think would be FAQ:
This will be a starter and there will be more posts in the future with more detail for those interested.
1.) Why adopt from Africa when there are kids in the U.S. that need homes?
Hubby and I looked into all of the options. Every child deserves a loving family. We decided on a black male child first b/c in any scenario they were the least likely (healthy child) to be adopted. We looked into domestic, fost to adopt, and international. After learning about the pros and cons of each one we decided on international. And we felt led to adopt from Africa after reading about the AIDS crisis and working with the non-profit we teamed our business up with. There were some little events that also drew us to Africa and specifically Ethiopia.
2.) Why Ethiopia?
In Ethiopia one in ten children die before their first birthday• One in six children die before their fifth birthday• 44% of the population of Ethiopia is under 15 years old• 60% of children in Ethiopia are stunted because of malnutrition• 1.5 million people are infected with AIDS (6th highest in the world)• There are 4.6 million orphans in Ethiopia.• Per capita, Ethiopia receives less aid than any country in Africa• Need I say more?
Plus, Ethiopians have a great LOVE for their children. Many families who come back from ET talk about how loved each of the children are in the orphanages. After, a lot of research I have learned that one of the things that really makes a difference in an orphaned child's well being is the amount of love and attention they are given. They are poor but not unloved, and this also helped us in our decision. It is a very different scenario than the Russian institutions.
Also, after some research I learned a little fun fact... that Ethiopia and Armenia (Hubby's half Armenian) were both labeled heretics at one of Constantine' s Councils (I believe the Council of Nicea) and to this day they are the only two left that still hold the same values...so I feel like the Ethiopian people almost culturally would be similar to our family's Armenian side. (ex. both celebrate Little Christmas-- so guess what from now on we will be celebrating a Armenian/ Ethiopian Dinner every Little Christmas to celebrate the two cultures for anyone interested in joining)
3.) Why adopt, at all?
From the beginning of our relationship Hubby and I have discussed the desire for a large family. In these discussions we always talked about adoption as an option knowing that there are so many children in need of loving families. We wanted to try and have a boy and a girl biologically and once we had Belle and the doctors told us another pregnancy would be risky we decided it was now time to adopt.
4.) They have AIDS in Africa, aren't you concerned your child will have AIDS?
In the paperwork process you are able to define what health concerns you are willing to consider. We have chosen NOT to adopt a child that is HIV+. We will receive what is called a "referral" for a child. And, the referral will have the child's medical records and test results for HIV, Hepetitis, TB, Venereal diseases, etc... The child will be re-tested for HIV upon exiting the country. Although, we are very happy that our agency is one of the few agencies that assists in placing HIV+ children with families that are capable of giving them everything that they need. AHOPE is a home to many of these innocent victims and we hope to be able to sponsor one of these children in the future.
5.) Aren't you worried about the risks involved?
Hubby and I have researched the world of adoption like I mentioned. We joined PEAR (Parents for Ethical Adoption Reform), have read countless books, joined adoption support groups and spoken to many families that have already have or are in the process of adopting from Ethiopia. We have learned about the risks involved as well as our rights as adoptive parents. From the knowledge we gained we have chosen a highly recommended agency who has been in Ethiopia for years and we feel confident in our understanding of the process... its ups and downs and the fact that anything can change at any given moment. So, yes the risks are scary, but we feel that this is something we were led to do and we feel like the end result will be fulfilling... and we are preparing ourselves for the hardships.
6.) Where are you in the process, and what is the process?
We have applied and have been approved by our adoption placement agency, they work with us both here in the U.S. and in Ethiopia. They will refer us our child and help us through the court process. We have also applied and been approved by our home study agency, they will prepare our home study report, match us with a social worker and do our background checks and interviews. And, we have started on our home study paperwork, medical checks, fingerprints & background checks. We are also starting our petition to parent an orphan child with Immigration.
Step 1- Paperwork
The paperwork process begins with both our home study agency preparing our home study report. And, our placement agency preparing our dossier which is a bunch of paperwork compiled for the Ethiopian court authenticated and notarized stating that we are fit and legally allowed to bring home an orphaned child. This process will take between 2-6 months. We also have to apply to USCIS (immigration) to be approved to bring an orphan child into the US.
Step 2- Wait...Wait...Wait!
After sending in our life on paper we will be placed on a waiting list with our placement agency. Our agency has told us that once our dossier is in ET we can expect a 4-6 month wait for a referral of a child that matches our desires.
Step 3- The Referral
We will receive a phone call from our agency and they will inform us about the child they have in mind for us. We will be given the child's medical reports a few photos and the reason they came into care. We will have the medical reports read by several different physicians including a renowned pediatrician in NY (Dr. Aronson) that specializes in international adoption and has herself adopted from Ethiopia.
Based on the physicians reports we will accept or decline the referral.
Step 4- Court
After accepting the referral the placement agency will schedule a court date. This usually occurs anywhere from 2-4 months after the referral. And, the courts in ET are closed from Aug.- Oct. every year due to rain. It is very common to not make it through court the first time. If you do not you have to wait again until your next court date. Once you finally pass court the child is legally yours in the eyes of ET.
Step 5- Travel
After we pass court we will be given our Embassy appointment and travel dates. These are usually 2-8 weeks after passing court. Hubby and I would love to travel together but have not made our final decision. We are looking into going together, having Hubby travel alone, or having the child escorted to the U.S. by our Agency's Staff.
7.) What types of problems do the children commonly come home with?
Children are healthy in 3rd world standards which means they often come home with minor to severe infections, parasites and/or lice. They also will be suffering from grief and loss and will have some sort of attachment issues that we will have to tend to. If they are older there will be a language barrier... although they do learn basic English at the orphanage. We will have the support of our local pediatrician (who has experience with international adopted children), our social worker, our adoption support groups and a specialist at our placement agency.
8.) You cannot adopt/ save every orphan child, why not just sponsor one?
Although, you cannot save every child in the world you can significantly make a difference in the world of one child. We always wanted four children and this is our way of adding that missing piece in our lives. We have always felt that this was something we were meant to do. And, we have already begun sponsoring many children through our work with Water 1st we are helping children receive the most basic need of water. Water 1st has projects in Honduras, India, Bangladesh and Ethiopia. And, we also plan to advocate for orphan children and support them for the rest of our lives.
9.) How much does it cost?
Our adoption will probably cost about $20,000 after all our agency fees, paperwork, notaries, foreign fees, travel or escort fees, etc... We will be saving money, selling items etc... to cover our upfront costs and expenses.
10.) Are you crazy???
The best answer is probably yes.
From the book of James...
"Pure and lasting religion in the sight of God our Father means that we must care for orphans, and widows in their troubles, and refuse to let the world corrupt us."