Thursday, October 30, 2008

Why Holt?

One of the concerns we had in regards to adopting from Ethiopia was the number of children placed for adoption by their parents, simply because they could not afford to care for them. This was heartbreaking for us, even though it is the reality many face living in a country of extreme impoverishment. We felt that in those situations, where poverty is the only thing preventing the birth family from remaining together, why not just give the money to the birth family that we would otherwise spend to adopt their child? We wrestled with this issue for quite some time, because once you are far enough into the process to receive the referral of your child, you don't have much control over how that child became available for adoption or what the situation was that led to that decision.

In the midst of that struggle, we came across Holt International and it was as if they were speaking directly to our concerns when we read this, "Holt never considers poverty alone to justify international adoption." Whenever possible, Holt actually assists birth families in remaining together, which Micah and I believe is always going to be the best situation for the child when it is possible. Holt judges each child's situation individually to determine if international adoption is really the best option for that particular child. If the birth family is unable to remain together, Holt also looks to the possibility of adopting the child to another family within the child's birth country so that at least he/she can remain within their home culture.

For many children in Ethiopia, international adoption does become the best option because adoption "within" the country does not occur very often, and the child was orphaned due to parents deaths, they were abandoned and nobody knows the whereabouts of the parents, or maybe they only have one living parent who is extremely ill or on the verge of dying. When these things happen, children in Ethiopia either end up living on the streets or they end up in orphanages... either way, they are left without a loving, forever family. Those are the situations where a family like ours is able to open our home and invite a child to join our family and thrive in a loving, nurturing, environment. "Holt International Children's Services is dedicated to carrying out God's plan for every child to have a permanent, loving family."

Holt has been around for over 50 years, and the story of how they began is truly an amazing one. It all began with a couple named Harry and Bertha Holt who in the 1950's saw a movie about children in Korean orphanages who desperately needed help, and they decided they wanted to adopt EIGHT of them! In the 1950's this decision would not have been a very popular one with most Americans, because at the time adoption was regarded as something that should be kept secret - something that would be impossible when a child is clearly of another race/culture than the parents! But Harry and Bertha had deeply rooted Christian faith and pushed through the barriers of race and nationality to show the world that "adoption is a banner of love, not a badge of shame." In order to bring their eight children home from Korea, they actually had to get both houses of Congress to pass a special law - and they did!! Talk about determination, right? Anyway, their story is truly amazing and after Harry died in 1964, Bertha Holt's legacy continued as she became known as "Grandma Holt" to many adoptive families and thousands of children around the world. "She worked tirelessly on behalf of children in need until her death at age 96." If you are interested to learn more about Harry and Bertha, CLICK HERE to go to the Holt website has some great information as well as videos that were created in tribute to the work they began 50+ years ago.

Harry Holt on the floor feeding one of his adopted children from Korea.

Bertha "Grandma" Holt at 80 years old.

Harry and Bertha Holt arriving home from Korea in 1956 with their eight adopted children



We are very excited to be working with Holt during this process, and if you found this blog randomly because you are searching for information about adopting from Ethiopia and want to hear more about our experience, please feel free to leave a comment with your email address and I would be happy to share more with you! :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Why Ethiopia?

I could talk your ear off with the "long version" about how we finally decided to adopt from Ethiopia, but in a nutshell, here it is...

We initially looked into adopting a child through the AZ foster care system, but realized from the orientation meeting that we attended, that most of the children in the system are older children. If you know us, you know we don't have any opposition to older children, after all... you have a former middle school teacher and youth pastor here! But, we did feel that we wanted Eli to have siblings close in age to him, while maintaining the birth order with him being the oldest child. We also felt that it would be very tough on a young child to experience the "loss" that can occur with fostering children and have the children leave your home. We believe that foster care does have a place in our lives though, and might be something we explore again down the road...

So, in order to adopt a young child (we are thinking 0-24 months) that pretty much left us looking toward the international arena. We soon felt a peace that although this route was filled with uncertainty, this is what God had called us to. We also felt that He was calling us to go to the place of greatest need. Not all countries are even open for international adoption, but after doing some research of ones that are, here are some statistics we learned about:
  • There are close to 133 million orphans in the world today (some studies put that number as high as 200 million)
  • Approximately 1/3 of the world's orphans live in Africa
  • 15.2 million children in the world have lost one or both parents to AIDS (12 million of those children are in Africa - estimates predict this number will rise to 20 million in Africa by 2010)
  • 4.3 million orphans reside in Ethiopia alone.
The bottom line is that there is a need for adoptive parents in all countries, but Ethiopia is somewhat unique in that there are more orphaned children there, than there are people willing/able to adopt them.

We know that our God is a God of the world, and although adopting from Ethiopia would require us to cross country, cultural, and racial lines, the children there belong to God - they are orphans that he loves and cares about, and they need forever families. International adoption is not the best answer for all of those children, but for many it is, and we want to be available to provide a loving home and family for a child who needs one. We also know, that this child will bless and enrich our lives in more ways than we can possibly imagine right now.

If you'd like, click here to watch a video from our agency to learn a little bit more about their program in Ethiopia.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Accepted!

Yesterday we received our official "welcome email" from Stephanie, the Ethiopia program assistant for Holt International. Yeah! We're still waiting on the welcome packet to arrive in the mail, but in the meantime she emailed us information about the things we need to start collecting for our dossier. "Dossier" is a new vocabulary word I have acquired in the last few months, and every international adoptive parent knows this word :) It's basically your life on paper... to put it simply. It's pretty overwhelming the number of documents that need to be collected, certified, notarized, etc. for the dossier. The process of collecting all of these documents generally takes people 3-5 months. The dossier is what eventually gets translated and submitted to the courts in Ethiopia to approve us for adopting a child from there. Anyway, more on the process later, but in the meantime we are glad to be approved :)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Divine Intervention


It's funny how God works sometimes. We have already seen His hand at work in so many ways, leading and guiding us in these initial stages of adopting. When we first began talking about adopting, we were strongly leaning toward foster care and domestic adoption. But, as we continued to pray and seek the Lord, we found ourselves drawn to international adoption... an idea we had initially tossed out because it seemed unattainable.

Soon after making the decision to adopt internationally, we prayed about what country and although we first looked into China, the Lord closed some doors and led us to Ethiopia... again, an idea we had initially dismissed.

Following this, we thought we had chosen the agency we wanted to use. Everything seemed right about it and we filled out the application. However, I left it sitting out and to my dismay Eli colored all over the entire thing, so I had to request a new one. Upon receipt of the new one, I noticed something I hadn't really noticed before when filling it out... and God closed another door.

As we began searching again for a new agency, I started battling some health problems. Well, the problems could possibly have been "major," and so this pretty much halted the process of applying because a clean bill of health is ultimately required when adopting internationally. I went through a series of tests that created long periods of "waiting"... waiting for results, waiting for the next test, waiting for results, etc. But, the waiting period, although very hard at the time, proved to be all a part of God's plan because it allowed us more time to research agencies and find one that appears to be a perfect fit for us (more on why later). In the end, everything with my health turned out to be okay (Praise God!), but we are now a couple months later in submitting the application than we initially planned. Are we truly "late" though? I'm sure not. We know God has already chosen the child that will be joining our family, and we trust that the date we sent in our application was done in God's perfect timing.

We are reminded that when God calls us to do something, we have to trust the HE will make a way. Right now we look at the process ahead of us and know that if we factor God out of the equation, we will not be able to complete what we've started. Our pastor posed a question during one of his sermons, asking something along the lines of... Are you currently doing anything in your life right now that requires you to fully trust in God for it to succeed? As I thought about that, I could honestly say that I wasn't. I mean, I trust God from day to day, but if I weren't trusting him, I could probably make it through my day to day tasks relying on myself. I realized that for us, adoption was that thing... that thing that we would not work out for us without the hand of God coming through in a major way. It was also what God has called us to do, and to walk away from it would be to miss out on His blessing and allowing Him to use our family in ways that we can't even begin to imagine yet.

There were many reasons to waver back and forth about whether or not to pursue this, and still many doubts that creep up about how this will possibly all work out, but ultimately we serve a God that is bigger than all of that. We serve a God whom we believe has called us to trust him and take a leap of faith to make a difference in the life of a child. Not saying it will be easy, but we know that He will make a way.

So what are YOU doing that truly requires you to be trusting in God for it to succeed? What would you do if you knew you could trust God with anything and it would not fail? How BIG is your God? Interesting questions to ponder... right? :)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Step 1: Send Application.... Check!

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and blameless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27

For those of you who have kept up with my other blog (Hutchison Happenings), you may remember a couple of posts within the last six months (Beginning a Journey and Adoption Update) where I discussed our family's thoughts on beginning the adoption journey. Well, we're happy to announce that it's now "official" and we have taken the first step toward bringing home our child by sending in our application to the Holt International Ethiopia program (Eli assisted by holding the important document in his car seat on the way to the UPS store). :) We eagerly await our "acceptance" call/letter from Holt so that we can take the next steps and continue moving forward. I have spoken with other adoptive parents, read many blogs, joined online adoption groups, etc., etc., to start learning as much as possible about what is to come. The scary thing about international adoption is that you never can predict what might happen... every situation is unique, multiple government agencies are involved in both countries, timelines are always changing, and basically there are just a lot of unknowns throughout the process. We anticipate many emotional ups and downs throughout the process, and covet your prayers. We hope you'll bookmark our blog to your favorites and check back often for updates... we invite you to come along on our journey!