Well we have some pretty BIG NEWS to share and it is bittersweet for all of us but we are excited for this new journey and have to keep remembering that God creates amazing stories when you listen and open your heart to His direction.
So I'll just spill it and then give you the back story later because it really is quite an emotional and "only God" type of story and I know there will be a lot of questions so I'm hoping to explain them here.
WE'RE ADOPTING FROM CHINA!!!!!
As I type this I have to admit my heart is excited, nervous and broken. Anyone that knows me knows how close Ethiopia and Africa are to my heart. This has been this way for a long time but then when you have a child from another country, that country becomes even more part of your heart and your life. Our son's father lives in Ethiopia, he has family there, he has friends there, his culture is there and we all can't wait to return to his homeland for a visit and to reunite with so many we miss. We WILL still go back to Ethiopia, that is a promise, it might not be as soon as we expected but we will return but for now we are seeing that God has another place for us in the adoption world.
First, I know many of you may want to know: How does Fetinet feel about the change from Ethiopia to China?
This was a big part of our decision, we couldn't even really entertain the idea until we talked to him and to be honest I was nervous to start that conversation but to my surprise after explaining why, he understood and although he is excited to return to Ethiopia he also understands what is going on there and that there are kids all over that need moms and dads and so in his words "Sure, let's go to China!" Jalen on the other hand was a little more upset, in his words "my sister is supposed to have brown skin like my brother (pouty, sad face)" I pulled up pictures of children in China so he could see what his future sister may look like and we had a talk about the needs there and of course like anything with Jalen, all was fine in a couple minutes.
So although there are so many details to how we came to this change and I can't wait to share those, I will leave that for another post. I want to answer the majority of the questions I think most will have, so here it goes.
Did Ethiopia shut down adoptions? No they didn't. There was talk about it and they definitely have slowed WAY down due to some changes in government decisions but there are still families waiting and brining kids home. Every agency is different and has a different amount of "waiting children", families waiting and orphanages they work with. I assure you, we didn't switch to China because we didn't want to wait. There is a lot to the story but basically God showed us some doors were closing and others were opening at the same time and we followed.
Are you still adopting a girl and what age? Yes, our parameters for a girl under 5 years old are still there. Since Jalen is so excited to be a big brother finally, we are respecting his wishes on this BUT something is changing......we will be adopting a "special needs child" but in the category of a minor correctable special need (ex: cleft lip and/or palate). In the adoption world you are given a long list of "special needs" checkboxes ranging from vision or hearing problems to cerebral palsy to physical irregularities to well, everything. It is the HARDEST part of the process for me, having to look down a list and choose what I could accept or handle. There are a lot of emotions when doing this from thinking as a physical therapist who has worked with all ranges of special needs children, I can handle it all to realizing, as a physical therapist I have a lot of student loans, I have to work full time, Jason has to work full time and how we just may not be the best family for many of those checkboxes. BUT there are many on there that we have checked and many that we have recently had our eyes opened to and hearts softened for. China is a special needs only adoption country unless you are adopting older than 8 or 9 years and thus long story short again, God has broken our hearts and opened the right doors and we are following.
How long will it take? How many trips? Who all will go? There's no guarantee on time as with any country or agency but once our dossier is submitted to China we can expect possibly 8-12 months before referral, although again it could be shorter too. China is a 1 trip process and although only 1 parent has to go we will be trying our hardest to find a way to get us all there. The boys are such a HUGE part of this adoption, they are excited about it, they pray about it, they plan out what life will be like once their sister is here and they really want to go. Side note, if you ask Jalen, he will tell you his sister is 4, named Ellapi and will go to his school and he will be helping her at school :)
Where are we at and what's the next step? Because China is part of the Hague Convention we will have to resubmit our USCIS info and this time will be working on an I-800A instead of an I-600A, this little change in form numbers equates to a $720 fee (boo) but our fingerprints are still valid until Feb 2015 so we don't have to make another OKC trip for fingerprints at least (yay). Also because of the Hague convention, our home study will be updated through our same social worker but through an agency that is Hague accredited. There will be some fees associated with this as well but we'll figure it all out. So we will be getting our home study updated, working on China dossier and once submitted we will be a waiting family again.
So we are asking for prayers to continue in this new journey as much will be new to us and as we still overcome the "loss" of what we planned. Do I think we heard God wrong when we started the process to adopt from Ethiopia again? NOPE not at all...we have seen so many times how God takes people down roads first because he knows that's how to get their attention. I can promise you if earlier this year I was being told "adopt from China" I wouldn't have listened, maybe because I'm stubborn, likely because I wouldn't understand. In the last few months being in the process to adopt from Ethiopia has led me to so many stories and people and ultimately has opened my heart and mind to be able to say with confidence "this is where we are supposed to be".