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Adoption: Phase 1 (and 2 and 3)

by | Jul 20, 2015 | Adoption | 0 comments

So here it is folks…the first official blog of our adoption journey. If you haven’t already, you can read our Adoption Story explaining how God first called us to international adoption. These blogs will be where we post updates, status reports, prayer requests, and all other things related to our adoption. You’ll probably notice there are other blogs too that don’t have to do with our adoption specifically. This website, Taking Up the Cause, is a place for us to talk about all our orphan care efforts, whether it be the adoption, my (Lindsay’s) work with World Orphans, or our ministry partners, Best Family Rwanda, in Africa. Since it was the ministry of global orphan care that brought us to adoption in the first place, we thought it’d be appropriate to have them all here together on this blog, as they are woven together for us. We hope that you will enjoy reading along as we share with you how Blake and I are “taking up the cause of the fatherless”. We hope that you will pray with us, laugh with us, cry with us, and maybe even be inspired yourselves to “take up the cause” in your own way. (And by the way, we certainly have plenty of ways you can partner with us if you feel called to do so. Just check out our Get Involved page for more info.)

Ok, enough with the preamble. Let’s get to the deets of this whole adoption thing. Adoption has been on our hearts for years now, but we were never quite ready due to job changes, multiple city changes and moves, and a general feeling that it was just not the right time for us to become parents yet. After buying our first house and moving into it in mid-December of 2014, we felt rooted for the first time in 5 years of marriage. We both are looking to stay in our current jobs, we won’t be moving anytime soon, and now we have this house with empty rooms. We have enjoyed having 5 years of just the two of us, but we both KNEW that we would adopt someday, and now just seemed like the perfect time. We prayed about it individually and together and definitely felt the same calling. Our child might already be out there somewhere, in need of a forever family. That’s a really overwhelming thing to think about. We were ready.

Adoption Pic 1
And so began Phase One: THE RESEARCH PHASE. This phase took about 2 months. Beginning in April, we started thinking about where we would adopt from and what agency we would use.  I spent a lot of time on the State Department website learning about various countries and their different adoption requirements. There are lots of different requirements for different countries: age (typically between 30 and 50), length of marriage, restrictions on parents with prior divorces, some even had religious restrictions. For example, Uganda requires you to sign a statement of faith that you are a Christian. Morocco requires you to be a lifelong practicing Muslim. I focused our search on East African countries and Haiti because we believe it’s important to have a connection and a love for the culture/country from which we’d be adopting. We thought it would be best to select a country or two that we loved for their culture AND in which we met all the requirements. Countries like Haiti and Ethiopia were ruled out because of EXTREMELY long wait times (like 4 years or more). Congo was ruled out because there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding new adoptions, and the US State Department has put a hold on agencies allowing new families to adopt from there. (If you’re wondering why Rwanda is not on this list, given that it’s mine and Blake’s second home, it’s because Rwanda is closed to international adoption.) So eventually we landed on two potential countries: Uganda and Burundi.
Burundi Pic

I also spent hours researching various agencies. Since agencies do not have programs available in every country, this decision would go hand in hand with the selection of a country. This part was much more difficult than selecting a country. We spoke to several of our friends who are adoptive parents (thankfully, we have a large network of people who have already gone through the process!) and asked for some tips on what to ask agencies. Blake and I are SUPER thorough. We are also not naive about the “dark side” of adoption, knowing that unfortunately children and birth parents are often exploited and manipulated. So we wanted to make sure we could find an agency we could trust completely to perform a totally ethical adoption. In addition, we knew we would be working with these people closely for the duration of our whole adoption process, so we wanted to feel comfortable with them, and we specifically desired a Christian agency that could provide spiritual support throughout the process as well. So we began compiling questions to ask potential agencies. We included financial questions, faith-based questions, procedural questions, country-specific questions, home study questions, and LOTS more. All in all our list was 62 questions long! Like I said, we are very, very thorough.

The good news about having so many questions is that we felt super prepared. It gave us GREAT insight into how the adoption would go, timelines, expectations, and so much more. We had phone interviews with several different agencies, and it gave us an opportunity to actually speak to the people we’d be working with so closely for the next couple years. The bad news about asking so many questions is that it’s impossible for an agency to answer all 62 of them exactly to our satisfaction. That would’ve made it super easy. But, after all of our interviews, learning about the different programs, and getting to know some of the people involved, we made a decision. We decided to go with All God’s Children International (AGCI), and we are confident that it’s the best agency for us!

AGCI has a pilot program in Burundi, but they do not have a program in Uganda. So the decision was made. We’d be adopting from Burundi! Now let’s talk a bit about what “pilot program” means. Basically, it means that the program is very new so there are a lot of unknowns, particularly regarding timelines. Burundi does not have many US agencies working there, and so since 2005, only 14 kids have been adopted from Burundi to the US (according to the State Dept). That’s very, very few. In other words, there is almost no history of previous adoptions to gather info from. When we interviewed AGCI, their pilot program had 13 families in the process of adopting from Burundi. But now they have 14!

That application was done on June 23, 2015. So that’s when we are officially beginning our timeline. There was just one final piece of the puzzle for Phase One: RESEARCH. And that was to find a home study agency. You see, AGCI is headquartered in Oregon, and they’re not licensed to do home studies in the state of Alabama. So we needed to find an agency to do our home study that was licensed here. We looked at a couple of different options available, which meant more interviews and more lists of questions. But we soon decided to go with Agape of Central Alabama. We are so excited to get to know our social worker and for her to get to know us!

So now that we’ve made these big three decisions: country, placing agency, and home study agency, we were ready to begin Phase Two: THE PAPERWORK PHASE. We wasted no time in filling out the pages upon pages of paperwork that both agencies began sending us. The picture below is JUST the AGCI Orientation Packet. We have lots and lots more to go.

Our goal is to have our dossier (all the paperwork about us that goes to Burundi and our agency) submitted on November 9th. The reason for such a specific date is that Burundi requires at least one parent to be 30, and November 9th is Blake’s 30th birthday! So our goal is to have our home study and all other paperwork done by that day to be translated and sent to Burundi. Then the estimated timeline is about 9-12 months until we are “matched” with a child. From that point, it’s another 9-12 months until we actually go to Burundi to get our child and bring him/her home. So we are looking at about 2 years from now. However, as I said before about pilot programs, timelines are pretty sketchy. So it could be more, it could be less.

As we are working on the paperwork phase, there is a third phase that will be occurring simultaneously…Phase Three: THE FUNDRAISING PHASE. You probably have heard that international adoptions are very expensive, and it’s true. Once we add up all our fees, we are looking at about $42,000! WHAT?! I know that’s a huge number, but the Lord will provide, just as He always has. We have set up a Pure Charity account which allows you to donate to our adoption in a tax-deductible way if you feel led to do so. We’d really appreciate it! Stay tuned here on the blog for more upcoming fundraisers that you can be a part of to help bring our little one home!

And of course, we would appreciate your prayers. Please pray for us as we begin this adoption journey. Please pray for patience as we settle in for a 2 year process. Pray for the Lord to prepare us for parenthood. And please pray for our faraway little one, that God would protect him and already begin molding him perfectly for our family. Thanks for following along with us!

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We certainly have plenty of ways you can partner with us if you feel called to do so.