The husband and I started our adoption journey in September 2010.
Man-oh-man has it been a crazy ride!!!!!
The Pre Work
We are adopting from Ethiopia through Children’s Hope International. We started off requesting young siblings. We learned about the process. We spent months gathering paperwork, completing our homestudy, getting fingerprints, and even taking a baby class at a local hospital. After getting all the papers notarized and state certified, our paperwork was complete and on Valentine’s Day 2011 we were officially on The Wait List.
Less than a month later, we hit our first speed bump. Corruption had been found in Ethiopia. Awful things. Agencies enticing birth mothers to sell their children. Reports of children being abandoned and put up for adoption when biological relatives could be found with just a little research. The Ethiopian government cut their caseload by 90% so that they could better review cases.
A Change of Heart- Waiting Children
The husband and I searched our hearts and found comfort in our online community. We started praying about our family. And we both started feeling a little silly waiting for children when there were so many children waiting on us. We asked our agency about a 5 and 8-year-old sibling set that had been in an orphanage for quite some time. They made us do a TON of research into adopting older children. We complied. And we soon accepted the referral of these precious children.
We spent the next few months preparing to double the size of our family. Our loved ones helped us put on an adoption garage sale to raise the last of the money we needed. We rearranged our house to make room for these kids. We wrote them letters. Our friends threw us showers. We got our travel shots. For five months, we loved these kids and eagerly waited to meet them.
In July we got a phone call. I was so excited when I answered, thinking that it must be our court date. But it wasn’t. The agency told us that they had been told the biological father was dead. He wasn’t. In light of the corruption, this was especially worrisome. We didn’t know if we would be able to continue the adoption- if it would even be the right thing to do. We waited and worried and prayed.
Good News #1
And then we found out I was pregnant. The baby had been conceived almost exactly when we got the birth father news.
We were giddy with excitement and started preparing to go from zero to three! We put our house on the market and for nearly six weeks couldn’t believe our luck.
And then we told the agency. And then they told us we couldn’t continue with our adoption. That it was too much with a new baby. I told them it was bullshit. And then I cried and cried and cried and cried. We protested. It didn’t work. As excited as I was to finally be pregnant, I couldn’t help but feel a little resentment towards the innocent fetus.
Good News #2
In late July 2013, we found out I was expecting biological baby #2. Two days later we got a referral for Smiles, an 8-year-old boy, and Diva, a 4-year-old girl. After much soul-searching, prayer, and agency-convincing, we got the okay to proceed with the adoption. We traveled to Ethiopia in November to meet the kids and legally adopt them.
We planned to bring the kids home in January 2014. Before we could do that, the US Embassy had to issue them visas. Part of the visa process includes an interview with the birth parent. During that interview, our kids’ birth mom said some confusing things. This caused the Embassy to forward our case to another department, USCIS, for further review. We hired a private investigator to research our case. We used her results to put together a very large packet of evidence to allow our adoption to move forward.
Our kids got home in April 2014 and we are adjusting as a family of 6!
Why did you choose to adopt from Ethiopia when there are so many kids in America that need homes?
Check out this post.
Why are you still adopting after you got pregnant?
The desire to adopt and the desire to have biological children are very different. Although we started adoption after struggling with infertility, it was never a second choice for us….infertility just gave us the push to move ahead with adoption. Had we not gotten pregnant, adoption would not have taken away the desire to have a biobaby. Likewise, getting pregnant does not take away our desire to adopt. We are looking forward to having a blended family.
How do I support people I love that are adopting?
Support them in a similiar way as you would if they were pregnant. It was so meaningful to us when our loved ones threw us adoption showers. Welcome their adopted kid(s) the same way you would a biokid. Be excited! Ask questions. Learn about the foster care system or the international adoption system. Help in practical ways- paint a room, bring some meals, help put together a crib. If finances are a concern, help fundraise. Can you coordinate a garage sale? Organize a kickball tournement, sell shirts, put on a race? Above all, understand that adoption doesn’t have timelines like a normal pregnancy does. You can’t count on getting kids in 9 months. You can’t count on anything, really. Be understanding if things you thought were going to happen, don’t happen. Be willing to listen and comfort when things don’t work out as planned. Understand that the couple probably loves and looks forward to the adopted kid(s) arrival as much as they would a new baby’s arrival. After the kids get home, go over and play with them! Plan an activity or game that will entertain them for awhile. Bring meals. Come over after they’ve gone to sleep and let the couple go out to dinner.
Interested in Adopting?
- Give a lot of thought to what you want. International or Domestic? Private? Foster Care? Open? Closed? Don’t write off open adoptions. Your child can benefit from knowing his biological relatives love him and want to be in whatever small part of his life they can be. Think about what is best for the child, not just what is best for you (though that’s important too).
- Do a TON of research into agencies. Remember, you want an agency that looks out for the children’s best interests. This might mean longer wait times. Be very very weary of any agency that is promising significantly shorter wait times than others. Google research to find questions to ask about their ethics- where they get their children, what kind of research do they do to make sure the children are truly orphans, what kind of aid work do they do in that country, how they counsel birth mothers, etc. You cannot do too much research. There is a lot of corruption in adoption. Selecting a good agency is of utmost importance.
- Start with the Waiting Children. Ask agencies if they have waiting children. Look at sites like RainbowKids. Keep an open mind but be realistic about your limitations. If you see a child that touches your heart, note the agency they are listed with and then research them like crazy.
- Join Yahoo Groups (which are really outdated, but very active for the adoptive community). Search for adoption groups, like Adoption Agency Research. There are also groups specific to countries and domestic/foster care adoptions.
- Network like a crazy person. Find other people who have adopted in the way that you are interested in doing (international, domestic, foster, etc). Talk to them. Filter out the crazy ones and find the ones with loads of wisdom. Soak it up. They are invaluable resources.
- Lose any timeline or expectation or plan that you have. They won’t work out the way you think/hope they will.
- Research how to raise an adopted child. It’s not the same as a biological child. There are bazillons of good books. The Connected Child is one.
04.06.14- Welcome kids home; we’re a family of six!!!
04.01.14- Embassy appointment
03.29.14- The husband leaves to pick up the big kids
03.22.14- Hello baby #2!
03.12.14- Our adoption is approved by USCIS!
03.04.14- Paperwork received from investigation; formal RFE response mailed back to Nariobi
02.20.14- Investigation complete
02.10.14- Hire private investigator to help us respond to the RFE
02.07.14- Request for Evidence from USCIS
01.17.14- Case passed from Embassy to USCIS in Nairobi
01.14.14- Birth mom Embassy interview
11.21.13- Court date; officially parents of 3.5
11.19.13- Meet our big kids!
11.18.13- Meet birth mother
11.15.13- Left for court trip
07.29.13- Approved by agency to continue adoption
07.25.13- Tell our agency about our little predicament
07.24.13- Referral! #2
07.22.13- Pregnant! #2
10.04.12- Adoption is taken off hold
08.13.12- Updated Fingerprints
07.05.12- Updated home study
04.18.12- Welcomed our first son into the world
10.27.11- Decided on natural hospital birth with a midwife
09.22.11- Referral Lost due to pregnancy. Adoption on hold.
08.08.11- Pregnant! About 6 weeks along
07.22.11- Found out girl’s father is alive
07.19.11- Work adoption shower
07.17.11- Surprise adoption shower!
07.16.11- Ethnic hair care class
05.14.11- Fundraising Garage Sale
05.03.11- Returned referral acceptance documents
04.29.11- Received referral information!
04.26.11- Told agency we wanted a waiting sibling set!
04.15.11- Request information on waiting children
03.10.11- MOWCYA caseload cut by 90%
02.14.11- Dossier back from DC; officially on The List.
01.25.11- Dossier mailed to agency
01.24.11- All papers state certified
01.20.11- Received CIS approval
12.22.10- Walk In Fingerprints
12.21.10- Completed Online Classes
12.14.10- Received USCIS Fingerprint Appointment Date (for Jan 4th)
11.22.10- Began Online Classes
11.21.10- Mailed in Immigration Application (Form 1-600)
11.20.10- Home Study Complete
10.26.10- Baby Class at Hospital
10.18.10- Last Home Study Visit
10.12.10- First Home Study Visit
10.06.10- Sent in Home Study Papers
09.15.10- Started Gathering Home Study Papers from doctors, police, friends, vet, etc.
09.15.10- Returned Agreement Papers
09.07.10- Received Agreement Papers
08.31.10- Application Approved
08.23.10- Mailed Application