Friday, March 18, 2011

International Adoption Is Not A Roller Coaster

When we started down the road toward our Ethiopian adoption, we read that it's like a roller coaster. I've probably even called it that myself, but now I beg to differ. Roller coasters are exciting, fun, thrilling, short, and sometimes scary, but only in a you-know-everything-is-OK kind of way. Not international adoption. At least not ours. I have found the process so far to be frustrating, exhausting, challenging, costly, disappointing, daunting, surprising, eye-opening, mind-blowing, confusing, encouraging and heartbreaking. There is no map to preview, no firm script for how it will go, no promise of the timing down to the minute. There is a lot of waiting though, so if you've ever been to Carowinds in July, that might be one similarity. While this process has been punctuated by the occasional thrill, I still find the roller coaster analogy unwarranted.

So much has happened with our own adoption process and with international adoptions (IA) in Ethiopia over the last two weeks, I hardly know where to start. We knew a month ago that we were a long way out from getting a referral (which means being matched with a child or children who need a family). But we did not expect a maelstrom of blockades to the process which frankly threatened our future, at least in the short-term, of continuing with our Ethiopian adoption.

On the very day that we received in the mail the last document I was waiting for before we write that BIG check and send in lots of paperwork, we learned of significant changes announced by the Ethiopian government agency responsible for Ethiopian international adoptions. The announcement appeared to mean that IF we could continue with our adoption process, it could be several years before we could bring home our child or children. The particular government agency involved is one with a very small staff that bears the weighty task of processing, investigating and approving thousands of international adoptions per year. Given the number of pending adoptions (small compared to the number of orphans waiting) relative to the tiny staff (even smaller still), something had to give. So a bit of shifting around has occurred at the agency, and what that means in the short term for adopting families and waiting children at any point of the process is the matter of a great deal of speculation, discussion and angst among international adoption circles.

Since I cannot begin to piece together and articulate the political, historical, cultural, ethical, financial, and myriad other forces involved in this turn of events, suffice it to say that it is complex.

So, on the great adoption river, if I may apply a new analogy, we've been in a bit of an eddy for the past couple of weeks. This was not our first eddy, incidentally. In any case, we were swirling and not going anywhere, considering our best next move, and praying praying praying for the orphans who wait in the balance.

As we wait, we are not wringing our hands, but remembering that our God is bigger than any human institution, that He has gone before us and is laying out our path before us, that He has created in us a burden for not just orphans, but the orphans and people of Ethiopia, that He will hear and consider our prayers and petitions, and that His promises are unwavering and independent of human circumstances, hallelujah.

Curt and I have decided that we should continue on with our Ethiopian adoption, and we'll do so unless and until other roadblocks appear in the coming days or weeks and we must change course. Throughout this process, I'm grateful for a husband who has not been affected by the fluctuations in the international adoption climate as I have. I'm grateful for friends who have pointed me to Truth. I'm grateful for other families who are walking this road with courage. And I'm grateful for the amazing advocates who work with and for Ethiopian orphans in country and abroad.

We are asking for your prayers for Ethiopia, which is experiencing a substantial amount of tumult in the past weeks. We also would appreciate your prayers that our family would officially be approved by our adoption agency to move forward with our Ethiopian adoption. We ask you to pray for peace in Ethiopia, for Truth to be spread there in every last village, for children to be rescued from economic and spiritual poverty. Please pray for our family as we cling only to our Father's promises and what He has already done for us, since as it would happen, we have little else to hold.

And finally, for your viewing pleasure, a gotcha video reminding us that Our Father makes all things new:

Home At Last from dan owens on Vimeo.

Thanks for coming back, and thanks for praying for us!


  1. Hi Katie,
    We are in the very same position. We are about to pay the remainder money to the agency. Yikes. But we too have decided to go forward. We decided, too, that it's not a closed door. And are praying that the Lord would make it extremely clear if it is or when there is one. It's a crazy ride.

    We have a blog called A Daughter for the Deans on blogspot.
    I enjoyed reading your blog and will be praying for your journey.

  2. amen sister! glad we're all in this together!

  3. You're something else KT. So glad to call you my friend. I'm praying for you guys. and for your little girl(s) (:

  4. Thanks, girls, for your encouragement!