We knew it before we started. Adoption is a roller coaster ride.
In domestic adoptions birth mothers can change their minds up to 48 hours after the baby is born. I know friends who have been called to the hospital the day the baby they've been matched with is born. They held him, took tons of pictures, emailed all the relatives, fell in love, only to find out the next day the birth mother changed her mind, she decided to parent her child rather than giving him up for adoption.
In international adoptions countries can change the rules partway through or even shut down their adoptions entirely.
We signed up anyway.
It was a huge step of faith and to look at the whole process seemed too overwhelming, so we decided to take it one step at a time and trust that God would lead us one phone call, one document, one check written at a time. And He has.
We've already had a couple of unexpected delays and we hoped they would be it. The bumpy spots on our adoption road that all adoptive families seem to experience somewhere along the way.
But today brought a bigger bump, actually a semi-hill, for us as well as anyone in the process of adopting from Ethiopia.
Ethiopia has been a one trip country for adoptions. You pass court and the child is legally yours before you ever travel. Then you'd go for 1 week to pick up your child and bring them home. This 1 trip policy was rather unique as many countries require multiple trips during an adoption process.
The word broke today that now Ethiopia will require adoptive parents to travel twice. One trip of around 5 days duration shortly after getting the referral (where you are matched with a specific child) to meet the child and testify that you are willing to adopt the child and then another trip 3 to 6 weeks later to finalize the adoption, have the embassy appointment and pick up the child's visa. The 2nd trip is around 1 week.
We don't have a lot of details around the change. Our agency sent out an email and is likely scrambling to figure out the ramifications themselves before communicating more via conference call. I belong to a few different Ethiopia adoption groups and can say the news has definitely rocked many people's worlds.
More expense for an extra trip, more time off work, leaving current children behind for now not only 1 trip but 2, the fact that both parents must travel for the court trip (before only 1 parent had to travel even to pick up the child), and leaving Ethiopia at the end of that 1st trip without our child are all huge issues facing adoptive parents.
But there are positives. For one, it seems we'll be able to see, meet, and hold our adoptive child sooner. (Although we will have the agony of leaving her behind when we return home for a few weeks without her.) Also, there is the fact that due to immigration rules, because we will meet our child before adopting them, when they set foot on U.S. soil they will automatically become citizens. Before they would have come over on a Visa which would have required us to re-adopt them here in the U.S. before they became citizens. Also, hopefully the new process will help solve the problems a few people have had where they traveled to pick up the child who was legally theirs by this point (but they'd never seen in real life) and they discovered their agency (have not heard of anyone experiencing this with the agency we're using) had misrepresented the child to them and the child was either a different age or had more medical & developmental issues than the agency let on.
We are thankful to have no doubt that God lead us to this journey and although we can't see the whole road, we are trusting Him with it. "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Rom. 8:28
Find more Thankful Thursday, Thursday Thirteen