Thursday, October 29, 2009

Ethiopia Adoption Q&A

I first wrote this in the beginning of the adoption journey - and updated it three years in. My updates are in pink. 

So many of our family and friends have been asking questions about Ethiopia. I got another one today and thought, hey....I do have this thing called a blog...

Pretend we are at Starbucks...sipping some strong Ethiopian java.

Q: Why do you want to adopt?
A: The short answer: We want more children. There are children who want parents. Voila.

The long answer: God placed a love of adoption on both of our hearts before we ever met. Walker's favorite verse has always been Galatians 4:6-7 - it was one of the verses we chose to print in our wedding bulletin. Both of us feel that next to marriage, adoption is the closest earthly reproduction of God's love for us. We are blessed and honored and humbled to mimic our Father in this manner: to choose a child who is not of us, to call him or her our own, and make him or her our beloved heir - in the same way that the Lord did for us via the blood of our Savior Jesus Christ.

There are 147 million orphans in the world. That number makes me weep. I would mother all of them if I could. I can't. But I can mother at least one.

Q: What? Ethiopia? I thought you wanted a baby from China?
A: We did. I have dreamed of getting a little girl from China for years and years. Unfortunately, due to a variety of reasons, it is getting harder and harder to adopt from China and the wait is very long, as in 4-6 years minimum long. And personally, I just don't trust China not to shut down their program all of a sudden, leaving hundreds of parents and orphans stranded. We went with Ethiopia because we thought it would be quick and 'easy.' Can you say IRONY?

Q: So why Ethiopia?
A: The short answer: we don't have much choice. Most countries will not adopt out their orphans to homes with more than three previous kids. (Because an orphanage with hundreds of kids is better than a loving home with four kids? Don't get me started!!) Still true and still crazy.
Also, we can get a baby from Ethiopia, and I want as tiny a baby as possible that feeling passed. Ethiopia is also one of the cheaper countries from which to adopt, the timing is quicker (15-18 months, usually) HAHAHAHAHA, we only travel to Ethiopia one time and only stay about a week, they changed this to two trips and the process is pretty straightforward oh Lord I was naive. Not that we had much of a choice, because did I mention most countries think an orphanage with hundreds of children is better than a loving home with four children??

The long answer:
  • One in eight children die before their fifth birthday. (What? You need more reasons?)
  • There are FIVE MILLION orphans in Ethiopia
  • That is the same number of children under age 18 who reside in Massachusetts, New York State, and Washington DC combined. If every parent in those places died tonight - that would be similar to Ethiopia's orphan crisis.
  • More than half a million of these were orphaned as a result of AIDS.
  • Over 150,000 children live on the streets
  • life expectancy in Ethiopia 39 years for males and 42 years for females. The leading cause of death is communicable diseases such as malaria, typhoid, meningitis, cholera, AIDS, tuberculosis, yellow fever.
  • Woman have an average of 7 children and the maternal mortality rate is 1 in 14
  • Ethiopia's neonatal mortality rate is one of the highest in the world - 49/1000 births with tetanus infection being the second major cause of infant/neonatal death.
  • Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries in the world. Over half the population lives on less than a $1 a day. The average income in Ethiopia is US$100 a year. Almost 82% of the population lives on less than $1 a day.
  • Malnutrition levels are among the highest in the world.
  • Ethiopia is experiencing yet another drought now.
  • Only 42.7% age 15 and over can read and write. The literacy rate for women is 35%.
  • Only 18 percent of children reach grade five. That means 82% of children don't.
Added bonus: Ethiopia produces the cutest babies of pretty much anywhere on the planet. This still stands.

The other country we seriously considered was Rwanda, which has just begun adopting. And has since closed. I'm very glad we didn't go with Rwanda - many families had to stop mid-stream. Rwanda still has not re-opened adoptions and doesn't seem to be any time soon.

Q: There are plenty of kids who need homes here in America. Why aren't you adopting one of them?
A: There are plenty of kids who need homes here in America. Why aren't you adopting one of them?
We believe that God is calling us to Ethiopia this time. You either get that, or you don't. This question still ticks me off.

Q: Who is your agency?
A: Gladney in Ft. Worth.

Q: How does all this work?
A: We are just beginning the paperchase now, which is extensive and overwhelming. As soon as all that is completed and we turn in what is called a dossier, we will receive a referral - hopefully by this time next year. HAHAHAHAHA A referral is a photograph of our child and information about him or her. After we accept the referral, the child will be taken from an orphanage to a home run by Gladney, where he or she will be loved and fattened up, essentially. Bethie actually was in Gladney care for over a year before her referral. Then there are two court dates. If we pass both of them the first time, we will plan our trip to go get our baby. And finally post photos on the blog!! We are hoping to have a babe-in-arms sometime summer or fall 2011. HAHAHAHAHA

I am on a yahoo adoption board, and lots of families passed court this past week. It is thrilling to see the rejoicing emails. I left all those boards. People on adoption internet boards are typically ca-ra-zy.

Q: Are you getting a girl or a boy?
A: We are getting a girl this time. Hopefully our baby will be less than a year old HA HA Missy you're on a roll! when we get her. And we have already named her Bethlehem.

Q: What if the baby has AIDS?
A: The babies are tested at least twice before they are adopted. The chances are very low. We are requesting a healthy child. There are many special needs children who need to be adopted, but I simply don't have the bandwidth for that right now.  Maybe someday, when our children are older and more independent, that would be an option. As our kids got older, we opened up our special needs list considerably.

Q: Um, can I ask about how much this all costs?
A: Um, about 28,000 buckaroos.

Q: Oh, we could never afford to do that.
A: Most people can't. Most people can't afford a new car either, but when they want or need one, they seem to find the money somehow. {smile} {smile}

Q: Um, so, like, how are you getting that money?
A: Um, so, can we borrow about 28,000 buckaroos? We haven't figured all that out yet. But we know that God loves adoption and believe that He will provide. GOD PROVIDED EVERY STINKING PENNY.

(Please don't think that knowing that doesn't mean I don't have 12 count 'em 12 zits on my chin at the moment, my shoulders are hard as a rock, and my friend Nicole had to hug me today when I burst into tears. God is faithful - Missy is a stressbag.) GOD PROVIDED EVERY STINKING PENNY.

Oh, and, Uncle Sam gives you a $12,000 adoption tax credit. Cool, huh? Also, Walker's company gives an adoption benefit - many companies do. So we will get that back. We just have to come up with the money up front - that is the hard part. Small price to pay for another sugarlump. GOD PROVIDED EVERY STINKING PENNY.

(My fantasy is for our church to provide adoption grants to families as part of the missions budget. Maybe someday.) Still hasn't happened. Hello, new church.

Q: Will you put a little donation thingy on your blog like some people do?
A: Walker is not comfortable with that. But if I can figure out a way for people to donate miles to us for the trip over, I will. Forgot about that, need to research.

Q: So you will actually go to Ethiopia?
A: Yes, for about a week. Twice. I have always wanted to go to Africa so I am psyched. And I definitely want to see the land that is giving us our baby. And no, we don't intend to take our kids. Unless we get LOTS and LOTS of miles donated! We are hoping to take at least two kids now.

Update: Ethiopia has changed the law regarding this: now we must attend the first court date, leave her there (which will kill me), then return about two months later. This added around $5-6K to the cost of the adoption, so the new total is now about $28K.

Q: How do the kids feel about the adoption?
A: Thrilled. Every one of them adores babies. Still thrilled.

Q: How does your extended family feel about the adoption?
A: Some are more encouraging than others. God has changed hearts.

Q: Are you worried about being a white family adopting a black baby?
A: We know it will have its difficulties. We consider them minuscule in comparison to the difficulty of being an orphan in a devastated country like Ethiopia.

Q: Where can I get more information?
A: Oh, I am SO glad you asked. One of the best websites is There Is No Me Without You, by Melissa Fay Greene, who wrote a book of the same name that I have not yet read. It is a wealth of information, and this article says it all.

Orphan Sunday is coming up this Sunday. The website has lots of information.

You can google "Ethiopia adoption blogs" and be kept busy all night. Here is one of my personal faves. Just start clicking on her blogroll.

Gwen Oatsvall is one of my favorite people I have never met. I got to meet her! Twice now. She's hysterical. She is currently adopting from Uganda - her new website with cute shirts is here.

You can also go to YouTube and enter in "Ethiopia adoption" and be kept busy all night. Have your Kleenex close by.

Few of my faves: I got to meet Kristi too. Also hysterical. I think it's a requirement.





Our Journey to Elijah Mihretu - Ethiopia Adoption from Amy @ Filled With Praise on Vimeo.





See what I mean? I see these and I know, we'll find a way. We will find a way. GOD PROVIDED EVERY STINKING PENNY.

If I didn't answer any other questions, please leave me a comment.

And thanks for askin. ;)

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