I never, ever thought I’d be writing a post with this title.
Today marks exactly 17 months that we have been on the Gladney list of families who await a referral for the child/children we will be matched to for adoption.
Given the date, it seems rather fitting that just this morning, a social worker from Gladney visited us in our home to perform the required update to our Home Study. Each 18 months the home study must be briefly updated to reflect any changes in the family/home. (Our changes by the way were rather boring overall: in the 18 months since our last home study, we have added two little rabbits to the household, and Jay and I have each turned 40.) I HOPE that our adoption process will not stretch out so much longer that we will need to have yet another update before our daughter is home, unless we, for some reason end up moving houses. But…I just don’t know.
When we began this process just a little over 2 years ago, the average wait time after all your paperwork was complete to referral was 9 months. The process has lengthened considerably now and there really is no “predictable” average wait time anymore. The best guess as to how much longer we will wait for our referral is, conservatively, a year from now. Even my 6 year-old can do the math on how many months of waiting that will be, but it is too sad to me to type that number out here. Perhaps (I HOPE!) it will be sooner than that, but realistically speaking, that’s what it looks like today.
Increased wait times are mostly due to increased scrutiny in Ethiopia into the adoption process. Much more information and paperwork are being required by the Ethiopian government to go along with each adoption case, particularly relating to investigation into each child’s background prior to them being cleared for adoption. All of this takes more time and manpower, and as a result, far fewer referrals can be given out each month.
After our referral, we wait for a court date, which is scheduled at about 3 months after referral. We make a first trip to Ethiopia for that court date, and that is when we will finally get to meet our daughter (we can’t wait!!). However, we are not cleared to bring her home till after waiting another couple of months for an Embassy date — basically, for her visa to be ready. Right now, the estimated time from referral till a family brings their new son or daughter home is about six months. It could be less, but it could be more.
If all this sounds incredibly long, well, that’s because it is incredibly long!! And yes, it is hard, hard, hard. But as hard as this wait is for us here, I know for certain that the increased wait times are much harder on the children and their caregivers in Ethiopia. And the sad fact is that the longer the wait times are overall, the fewer children who are in need of families will ultimately come home and be welcomed into a family, their family. That makes my heart hurt incredibly.
I have been horrible about updating this blog. Truly, life is full, things are busy, and the fact is that most of us find it simpler to type out a quick little status update on Facebook than to sit down and write a blog post that hardly anyone is going to read anyway. I hope to blog more in the future, if only because in the past, I have so appreciated the account here of our family’s growth and change. Perhaps in the coming months, I will have the joy of blogging about our newest family member, a little girl whom we do not yet know, but who is very real to each of us as we think of her and pray for her daily. She has a place in each of our hearts, and we feel so privileged to wait for her.
May God be with all of those who wait, the children and the families. May He comfort those who mourn, be close to those who are brokenhearted, and place the lonely in families.
Several folks have asked about adoption updates…thanks to all our family and friends who love us so much, and have shown such kind support to us throughout our adoption journey so far. I apologize for the amazing dearth of posts on our adoption in these last couple of months.
Part of the reason I haven’t posted much about our adoption recently is because things are currently changing in Ethiopia regarding the process and timelines, and there just isn’t much news to share. I wish that was not the case, but it is. At this point, we continue to wait with faith in God’s timing and with hopeful hearts. In reality, we do not know at this point what our timeline for a referral and court dates will look like anymore. Which is admittedly, hard. Really, really hard.
There have been a fair amount of tears, questions, and wonderings about what the future holds, not just for our family but for many other families in various stages of the process to adopt from Ethiopia. Our agency, Gladney is just one of several who work with the Ethiopian government to facilitate adoption and other forms of aid and support to the people of this country. As adoption processes appear to be growing more lengthy and possibly more complex, there is also the question about what is in store for the 5 million plus orphans that currently live in Ethiopia.
Today marks 7 months for our family on the wait list for a referral. I told our children about the date this morning, and Josiah asked excitedly, “Does that mean we get to bring Little Sister home today?” Yeah, so at 5 years of age, he still doesn’t truly comprehend the intricacies of the process, including the two trips we’ll ultimately be making to Ethiopia! But I love, love, love his enthusiasm!
While we continue to wait, there are little encouragements along the way. We enjoyed a very sweet encouragement this past Sunday at church. Every six weeks we serve as teachers in one of New St. Peter’s Worship Training Classes; the highlight for me of our class this past week was welcoming a new student: a beautiful little girl all the way from Ethiopia who was recently adopted by sweet friends. Oh it did my heart good to see her. She was precious: so eager and ready to participate in everything, an enthusiastic singer during worship, an attentive listener to everything that was said, and she has a smile that warms my heart. So glad she is finally home.
But even as I think of her being home with her family, I know that the road that brought her to them was full of hard, hard things. Because the sad truth is that for there to be a need for adoption to take place, it means that huge loss has already occurred. For every adoption, there is first pain, heartbreak, and loss. Loss beyond what many of us can probably fully comprehend. To see God taking such loss, redeeming a little one from a hopeless situation and bringing them into a family where they are loved so deeply is beautiful. It doesn’t remove the loss, but it redeems it, providing a future and a hope. A family.
The following is one of my favorite verses about adoption…I pretty much cannot even read it these days without tears filling my eyes as I think of those who are lonely, and who continue to wait. My heart hopes and prays for a day when there are no more orphans, no more lonely ones. Praise be to God for redemption, seen so beautifully in the miracle of adoption.
“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families.”
Recently a friend asked me what it was that prompted our family to choose International Adoption over Local or Domestic Adoption. Okay, actually….if I’m being anywhere near truthful, it wasn’t all that recently that our friend asked us this. It was back in uhhhhhhh, (clears throat) July. (Sorry, Melissa, for taking so ridiculously long to write the post I promised!)
Regardless of how long it has taken me to answer Melissa, I have to say GOOD QUESTION! And one I am happy to answer.
But first, I have to say that I love getting questions from people who are genuinely interested in why we are adopting, where we are in the process, how it is all going, etc. Thanks to everyone who checks in with us and for all the encouragement we have received already. We feel so very blessed by our family and friends and all the support we are surrounded with. If you ever have a question about adoption, whether in general or more specifically about our journey, I absolutely encourage you to ask it! I also encourage you to be patient like Melissa because with the pace of life around here lately, I may or may not be timely with my response!
So: the question about how we chose international adoption. It is a fact that there are orphans both here in the United States as well as all around the world. Children here and children abroad are in need of parents who love them. In need of family. Far be it from any of us to stand up and state that children here in the United States are more deserving of a family than the children who live across the world. Or vice versa.
Truthfully, deciding which type of adoption our family was going to pursue was both easy and hard. How did we do it? Why did we decide to go international?? Well, the short answer for our family is that so many doors opened in that direction and we honestly felt very led to pursue International adoption. We pondered, prayed, asked lots of questions, and researched a ton, and the people and events that were placed in our path all pointed toward going International. Most specifically, our school and church friends, Michael and Jana Funderburk, who were part of our church home group, adopted their own precious Ruthie from Ethiopia, and not too long after, moved their family to Ethiopia to work in country with Gladney Adoption Services. And so we have started on the journey that God appears to be leading us on.
That is not to say we didn’t wrestle with the fact that there are orphans right here in the United States who are in need of families. There are currently about 130,000 children in the American Foster Care System who have been cleared for adoption. These children need moms and dads every bit as much as the orphans who wait around the world for a family to call their own. We are thrilled that some of our very best friends in the world, Mark and Susan Peck, are even now in process to adopt a child or sibling set from their state’s foster care system. For over a year and a half now we have waited excitedly as they work with the folks in Missouri to prepare to adopt children out of foster care and into their family.
If you ask Mark and Susan what led them to adopt from CPS, they will tell you that it felt very natural to them because people who were put into their lives have themselves adopted from CPS and they have lived among these families and seen their adopted children thrive. These children go to church and school with them, they live in their neighborhood. They are friends with Mark and Susan’s four kiddos, and simply put: they are in a community where they have seen local adoption done well, and where they have a ton of support in place as they prepare to add two more children to their already large family.
I ramble on about the Pecks because their adoption journey is very similar to ours in that we have responded to what we have seen around us here, and when we see adoption, at least in our circle (admittedly a small sample size, but it is where we have been put!) it is almost always international. When you are stepping out into new territory, there is comfort in knowing you have families around you who have navigated that territory as well, and that you have some built-in support going into it all. (I know families who have been the first in their circle to adopt, and my hat is off to them for being the pioneers in their world as they see it.)
One of our younger boys’ best buddies from church is a beautiful little guy from Guatemala. Our families are in Home Group together. One of my daughter’s sweet friends from school is a hilarious little girl from China. Our beloved Kindergarten teacher and friend, Jami and her husband brought back gorgeous twin girls from Ethiopia. The list goes on…but after Michael and Jana moved to Ethiopia to work with Gladney, we learned a lot more about the plight of children in this particular country and the gigantic need for adoption. Our hearts were moved to welcome home one of these many little ones in need of a family. Here are just a few stats that tell some of the story in Ethiopia:
- Ethiopia has approximately 5 million orphans and the country is twice the size of Texas.
- 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.
- Half the children in Ethiopia will never attend school.
- 88% will never attend secondary school.
- Ethiopia’s doctor to children ratio is 1 to 24,000.
- Per capita, Ethiopia receives less aid than any country in Africa.
Did you read my first stat? 5 MILLION CHILDREN. When people ask us about where we are adopting from, and I tell them Ethiopia, and they then ask “Why Ethiopia?”, I often drop that number into the conversation because honestly it is just so staggering. It is so desperately sad that there are any orphans on this earth, but once we felt drawn to this particular country, the immense need that we saw there compelled us. Statistics tell the sad truth: that of the 5 million children in need of homes in Ethiopia, less than 1% will find their way into a family. The rest will never experience the miracle of adoption.
The future prospects for children in Ethiopia who age out of the system, much like orphans in Russia and elsewhere, are very, very grim.
One of my children asked me what good it would do to adopt just one little girl when 5 million children in one country alone need homes. Good question. In reality, the answer for most of Ethiopia’s orphans is probably not ultimately adoption. Or perhaps better said, not just adoption, but adoption as part of an overall plan. Organizations who give aid, and help families in country to be able to support the children are definitely needed. Gladney, our agency, in addition to facilitating adoptions, provides much-needed aid and support in country to children and adults of all ages, including many children who will never be adopted. In addition, I have seen a trend that families who adopt from Ethiopia have a heart for the people of their child’s birth country, and they often look for ways to give back. We are seeing wells built, schools and homes established, and other wonderful forms of support put into place. I hope and pray that such efforts and compassion poured out will indeed begin to make a huge difference in the plight of orphans in Ethiopia.
But back to adoption: there is no replacement for a family. Growing up in an institution, while admittedly much better than living on the street, or in slavery, does not in any way begin to equal the love and support of a family to call your own. As long as there are children who need families, there will be a need for adoption. So….as to the question of what good does it do to adopt “just one” out of millions? I leave you with what is an old, old story, but one which beautifully illustrates the “why”…
A young girl was walking along a beach upon which thousands of starfish had been washed up during a terrible storm. When she came to each starfish, she would pick it up, and throw it back into the ocean. People watched her with amusement.
She had been doing this for some time when a man approached her and said, “Little girl, why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!”
The girl seemed crushed, suddenly deflated. But after a few moments, she bent down, picked up another starfish, and hurled it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she looked up at the man and politely replied,
“Well, I made a difference to that one!”
- adapted from the Star Thrower by Loren C. Eiseley
Tomorrow marks four official months on the wait list in Ethiopia with Gladney. Four months closer to our referral for a little girl we haven’t yet met or even seen a picture of, but whom we are already in love with.
(Thanks to my adorable in-house models for their help in illustrating “FOUR”!)
Well, after saying in February that the months on the waitlist have been the quietest so far in our adoption journey, I am ready to eat my words!! It’s not that we have had a long list of “to-do’s” to accomplish like earlier in the process. But wow, this last month of waiting has seen some very interesting activity: some very wonderful, some not so wonderful. Here are some highlights:
* We have located 2 amazing doctors locally who have a wealth of experience and knowledge specific to children adopted from Ethiopia. The stories behind finding these doctors are encouraging and I look forward to sharing more with you in a future post. We are so thankful to know we have these women on our team as we bring our daughter home.
* A couple of weeks ago Jay and I were humbled to learn we have been awarded a Matching Funds Grant from a partnership between Lifesong and Irving Bible Church. We are blown away and grateful for this HUGE provision for our adoption and again, please stay tuned for more information in a future post.
* As you may already be aware from reading the news reports, there have been some significant changes these last couple of weeks in the country of Ethiopia which affect how court cases are processed for adoptions. We do not have full information yet as to what the ramifications may or may not be in the long term for the children who are waiting, and for prospective adoptive parents. For now we are praying and hoping that things may be resolved soon and that so many children who are in desperate need of families will be able to come home sooner rather than later.
When we started the adoption process almost a year ago, four months was often well inside your “window” of time for when you’d receive a referral if you were requesting a child of toddler age (as opposed to an infant). The last year has seen some increases in wait times and so we know we’ll most likely be waiting quite a few more months. As we wait, we pray for not only our tiny girl but for all the precious children who wait and hope for a family. We are so thankful to be on this journey.
My dear friend Susan (little sis to our “Uncle Greg”) sent me a video this week. Susan and I have been friends since we were in college together at Baylor, and I am so blessed to have her in my life. Sweet Greg took this photo of us:
Susan and her family are also on an adoption journey, but she thought of us when she saw this video since it was created by a family who brought home a little 11-month old girl, Violet, from Ethiopia last year. The Amaro family blogs here, (and I am so enjoying reading their blog b/c their daughter, Violet turns two years old soon, and as you know, we will likely receive a referral for a two year old girlie ourselves!). This video was the winning entry in a contest sponsored by Adoptive Family Circle. It documents their first week together as a family of four and is just beautiful. Absolutely warms my heart to watch it, and I think it will make you smile too. Thanks, Susan!!
An old college friend sent me the link to this video…I cannot watch it without tears filling my eyes. I love Stephen Curtis Chapman’s passion and heart for the orphans of this world, both here in the US and around the globe.
Before we made the decision to adopt earlier this year, videos like this haunted me. Knowledge of the incredibly huge amounts of children who live every day with no mom or dad or family just broke my heart. It still breaks my heart, and now when I am reminded of so many children whose greatest wish for Christmas is a family, I am spurred to pray that God will provide more and more of them with homes. And that he will be their strength and their comfort while they wait.
Note: I am slowly, slowly learning the ins and outs of adding video to a blog post. My much more techno-savvy husband isn’t here right now to patiently show me how to make the video box below a wee bit smaller. But, at least I managed to add it all by myself, wahoo! Baby steps, people…
Would you please consider adding an AdoptionTee button to your website? It is a handsome addition to most any site, with pleasantly rounded corners, soothing green borders, and legible text. Those corners use a transparency, so they should work on any background.
Pretty please? Here’s how you do it.
There are two options. If you don’t understand the difference between the two options, you probably want to go with option 2. They both basically have you point the image to http://www.adoptiontee.com.
Option 1: Copy the image to your own server (we’d prefer you use this one if you know how to do it)
Right click on the button image above and save it to your computer
Upload the image to your site
Add the image and link to your site using the following code (you’ll need to update the URL text for the image source
Yes, ok, well if you’ve been reading this ole blog for any amount of time, you already know that. What you may not know is that we now have a really cute tee shirt to tell everyone about it!
(And yes, what follows is a shameless advertisement for yet another cool tee which you yourself can get your hot little hands on. Exclusively at):
Jay and I have tried with each of our designs to create something we love enough to wear ourselves. So, a lot of thought and agonizing has gone into each of our logos that you see at AdoptionTee.
Well, a little while back we started working on a design that we were really excited about, but for a completely different purpose. Someone got a peek at it, and their comment was “Wow, that would make a REALLY cute tee shirt!” So…. my hubs, aka the Head Designer, quickly got to work translating the design into something that could be adapted for the Adoption Tee store.
And so it is with much enthusiasm that I give you “We’re Adding to our Nest”:
Wait, is the detail too hard to make out? Well, honestly: what can you expect from a tee shirt that stands only 3 inches tall?? In my opinion this would more appropriately be called a wee shirt, heheheheheh.
Ok, seriously, here’s a close-up (on pink this time)!
Isn’t it just perfect for someone who is adding a child to their family, whether by adoption or the biological route? Since families come in all different sizes we thought it would be fun to offer the tee in different versions…and it comes in kids’ sizes too, so you can pop one on your toddler and/or older kiddo(s) to surprise Grandma and Grandpa with the great news!
So, if you are expecting your first little bundle of joy? Try this on for size:
Or if you are maybe adding a second to your little brood:
Working on lucky #3?
Thinking that 3 isn’t quite an even enough number, so why not have a 4th?
Love bigger families and adding child #5? We’ve even got you covered!
Sooooooo we stopped at 5. However, if anyone is reading this who has more birds, I mean kids than are pictured on a shirt, and you just have to have one in your family’s size…please leave a comment either here or at
AdoptionTee (there is a place on the front page for feedback)
and let the head designer know. We are happy to fill custom orders.
And what if your family is complete and there is just no more “nesting” going on? But still…you just love birdies and gotta have you a shirt?
Or, maybe there are those of you like my tween-aged daughter who says yes she likes birds and desperately wants a birdie shirt, but maybe doesn’t want to personally wear one that advertises “adding to a nest” for various reasons….how does this one work for ya? (I like to call it “Birds but no Words”):
We have mugs, water bottles, and aprons and totes with the birdies also, sans words. Who wouldn’t want to drink their morning coffee in something this cute?
So, so many choices! I can’t say I envy any of you who are trying to pick out JUST ONE!
Well, thanks for indulging me. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I gotta run…and go pick me out a “Nest” shirt in my size!
Waitlisted means that all our paperwork for the application, homestudy, and dossier part of the adoption process is complete. We are on the list now in Ethiopia, and in line to eventually receive information about the little one that Gladney has for us. For the next several months, we will be waiting. Waiting, praying, learning all we can until our agency Gladney matches us with the child they feel best fits, based on her needs and what they know of our family. Jay and I will complete a good bit of required education and training as part of our preparation before we receive our referral.
Are you asking for a girl or a boy? How old?
Many friends have asked if we get to choose boy or girl. Yes, with Ethiopia you get to choose. Jay and I were truly open to either gender. Practically speaking a boy would be “simpler” with bedroom arrangements in our current house. However, our sweet daughter has prayed faithfully for a sister since she was about four years old. Part of the backstory to our adoption journey is that she began asking about adopting a sister several years ago. Though we laughed, and brushed her off in the past, when it came time to specify boy or girl, we felt for her sake that we had to ask for a little girl. And we are truly delighted at the thought of another girl in the family!
We have asked for a little toddler girl somewhere between 18 to 30 months of age, with the caveat that if Gladney has a little girl in care that is a bit out of that range on either side but who appears to be a solid match from their point of view, to please let us know. We have to set an age range based on our agency’s advice and what we feel is the best match for our family.
This was an agonizingly hard decision, but from the first moment Jay and I each began feeling pulled toward adoption, we have never envisioned a tiny baby. Separately, without ever talking about it to each other, we both felt pulled toward a toddler. We absolutely adore babies, but the reality is that we have been blessed to enjoy four tiny babies in our home. Once children hit toddler age the chances of them being adopted drop somewhat, though in actuality there are a lot of families on Gladney’s referral list who ask for toddlers, and many of the people we know who have adopted or are adopting here in Dallas bring home toddlers. We are very, very excited about our little girl, and finding out who she is, and how old she will be.
So, when will you get this referral?
These days, referrals are taking around 9 or 10 months on average. So we do not imagine we will receive a match for quite a while. At the time of referral, we are given every bit of information that Gladney has about our daughter. Medical history, family background, her story.
So….you will bring her home in about 9 or 10 months, after your referral?
No, not yet. :-) After we are given and accept a referral, there will be a first trip to Ethiopia several weeks later to meet our daughter and complete a court hearing, and then a second return visit another few weeks later where we will receive custody and bring our girlie home.
Then how long WILL it be till she is finally home with you?
Average wait times are just that: averages. We have no exact times, and things change in the adoption world depending on factors often out of the control of our agency’s workers, etc. Given current wait times, estimated time till court dates are issued, and then the two trips are completed, it will probably be about a year before we bring our girlie home. Again, that is the best estimate we have at this time, and could change.
Does Gladney already know who your daughter is?
No. At this time (based on the age we have asked for), our daughter is already alive but neither Gladney nor we know who she is. She may or may not still be with her birth family. At some point she will be processed through a government orphanage, spend a bit of time there, and shortly thereafter be brought into in Gladney’s foster care. Once in Gladney’s care, we know she will receive excellent treatment as they have plenty of people to love and care for these little ones as well as staff and resources to meet their medical and other needs compared to the resources in the government orphanages.
How can we pray for your ongoing adoption process?
* Please pray for our daughter: that the Lord will be protecting her and have His hand on her whatever her situation may be. That she might have precious time with her birth mother or other close family before whatever tragedy occurs which will ultimately separate them. The fact that this little one and so many millions of others in Ethiopia are in need of a family to adopt them and give them homes means that there has been great tragedy in their lives. Our hearts are heavy for her and for her birth family.
* Please pray for us: that God will be preparing our family to welcome a daughter, a little one who has known loss and hardship at such a young age that most of us cannot even begin to fathom. Pray that Jay and I will be given wisdom, patience, and the ability to meet her needs. Pray that our children will be equipped to be good siblings to this little girl. They are all so excited about their new baby sister.
* Pray for Gladney as they work with so many in the country of Ethiopia, both those who will be adopted, and those who will not. We are very thankful for the good work our agency is doing in Africa to help better the lives of people, and especially children there.
* Pray for God to provide the remainder of our adoption expenses. There are still costs we have not yet incurred which are due upon referral, and we also have the expenses for our travel to Ethiopia to account for. We are so thankful as God has provided beautifully to this point, and we trust that this will all work out.
We are thrilled about this step in the process, and feel it is a huge blessing to get this good news right before Thanksgiving. I had secretly been hoping and praying for waitlist status by the New Year, so this is a wonderful surprise!