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.
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.