Monday, March 10, 2014

2 Week's Worth of Prayers....What's been going on around here

Well, where do we even begin.  Ok, deep breath in, sit down because A LOT has been going on and as of today we feel that we have enough information that we can finally share the news as well as need your prayers more than ever!  Also I know this is long but please read it through because I know there will be a lot of questions and I want to answer them all but am so mentally exhausted right now and have been on the phone almost continuously since Feb 28th, so I need to get it out on paper and let my mouth and brain rest.

So around Feb 1st, we were a family in the process of adopting from Ethiopia through an agency called Adoption Advocates International (AAI).  An agency we felt great about because they had great reviews and a long history of good adoptions.  Every agency has their issues and that’s just a fact, just like our own DHS and foster system in the US is not always going to be right on top of things or always make the best decisions.  The fact is children need moms and dads but in order to attempt to be ethical about placing these children, a lot has to be done and many have to be paid.  Social workers, government agencies, case workers, anyone who is working must be paid and when you adopt out of country you also pay for the people who are caring for the children there.  Whether you adopt locally, from Africa, China, Haiti or anywhere there is never a guarantee.  The country may shut down, sadly the child you are adopting may pass away while you wait, the agency may shut down, the child’s situation may change and they may become unadoptable and many other complications may arise that are just plain and simply out of your control.  The thing of it is, this makes so many people turn away from adoption because of the unknowns, the money, and did I mention the unknowns?  Sadly, although we may be more comfortable sometimes and decide not to step out in faith, when it comes to saying yes to adoption, the children still wait if we back down.  Children, waiting, without a family, in an orphanage…BREAKS MY HEART and I will do whatever I can to help, even if it is helping one, that “one” matters and if we all could just help one there would be no more orphans!

Ok, so I digress a little…back to the news.  In the beginning of February we contacted our agency to see what our balance was so we would know exactly how much more we needed to send in for the next step.  That phone call basically ended in our family being faced with a heart-breaking decision of staying with Ethiopia after we had been told that it probably wouldn’t happen for us or switching to a more stable country within the agency, China.  I prayed and cried and prayed and cried and talked to the boys and a few friends and just felt awful but finally came to a conclusion. We were being told there was a need in China and kids waiting now and in their Ethiopia program, no kids waiting that would meet our approved parameters and likely wouldn’t be for a long time.  We decided that we started this process to be a family to a child in need and although our vision was that our child was in Ethiopia, we were kind of seeing doors close.  We didn’t even think we could adopt from China because of some of their requirements but we were being told we in fact could and we met those requirements.  So although we started preparing some papers, getting our homestay update ready, getting additional state background checks done and all the China needs in place, we never officially changed to China.  Our Ethiopian dossier still sat at AAI and our USCIS clearance was still for Ethiopia…the 2 big pieces to an international adoption.

On February 28th, our hearts started to feel some pain.  We got word from another AAI family that our agency was closing their Ethiopian program due to financial issues.  Since there has been slowing in the country, many agencies are feeling the burdens but many are open and running just fine with a few cut backs in place where some are having to close due to it not bringing in enough money to pay the bills.  I will leave out all the details for now but just know many people were and still are in shock, as some are still just finding out this news. Over the weekend there were many conversations on our private Facebook groups over what was going on and my stomach was in knots because there was talk that the whole agency was in financial troubles and that it may mean closures for all the programs.  Being that it was the weekend there was no definite answers and no way to have any peace about anything.  Then last week came and every day I spoke to many people, people from AAI, people from other agencies, more families through AAI, our social worker, our home study facilitating agency and I’m sure others.  I found out that if AAI closed completely, there would be a backup agency to direct the China families to and I spoke to that agency.  I also called the agency we worked through for Fetinet’s adoption and another reputable agency and found out that to all other agency standards we would not be approved to adopt from China due to the one requirement we didn’t meet that we knew we didn’t meet all along.  Our agency still said we’d be fine but I just didn’t have a good feeling about it all.  I decided that I needed to call the agency that the Ethiopian families were being referred to and just see what was going on there and that night was the first night that I actually felt a full peace about this adoption since early February.  This agency worked with orphanages all over in Ethiopia and currently they didn’t have 100 families waiting and a few kids ready to be referred, they had kids waiting and needed families willing to accept children who may be 4 or 5 years old but also that would be willing to accept younger too.  That night and in the day following I found out more about this agency and the people that worked for it here and in Ethiopia and felt like we needed to switch.  I knew the status of AAI was questionable and what I was hearing was unsettling in my heart.  Although a few of the people I was working with closely were being as honest as I feel like they could be with me and I really appreciate their efforts, ultimately I knew and they understood, I had to be at peace with this adoption. 

So with that, we were now back to where we were, where our hearts had always been and where we prayed our daughter was all along.  Where Fetinet’s homeland country is and where Jalen was sure his sister was, he did not ever give up on his sister having brown skin and living in Ethiopia!  We were back to Ethiopia and really nothing had changed but we had to figure out how to get our paperwork and fees transferred.  We were told AAI would mail our dossier right back to us so that was not a problem but the fees, what would happen with the fees?  In my mind I thought, well we only paid the first program fee and really nothing had been done with our adoption yet, everything was on our end so surely it would just all transfer over right?  Nope.  I will say that last week when we found out there were financial issues at AAI we had the 2 checks sitting there from our fundraising (Chosen Marathon and Ordinary hero), cancelled and spoke to both places about it so they will be transferred.  But here’s the punch in the stomach, what we did pay out of our own money back in August 2013, that we had saved and saved for, $5,500…that would be GONE! Oh and then there’s one more thing we found out this past weekend, the whole agency is shutting down so not only are the families in the midst of adopting from Ethiopia but also from China, Thailand, Burkina Faso and maybe other places and they are all dealing with the same news, they are losing money and having to figure out how to complete their adoptions, many with children already referred to them and almost ready to come home…Please keep these families in your prayers.  We are in a sense, one of the “lucky” ones in the fact we are “only” losing $5,500 and we haven’t seen our child’s face, we aren’t getting ready to bring her home next month, but any way you cut it, it still hurts.  On the bright side, our new agency is doing all they can to help and is going to cut back one of their fees which we are EVER so grateful!  It may not cover the $5,500 but it is something and more than anything it means a lot to us.

So, what does it look like from here?  We will submit our dossier (once we get it back) to our new agency, we are updating some papers to reflect the new agency and once they have all of our paperwork and fees we will be a waiting family again!  I want you all to know that every penny that we have fundraised, we still have or has been paid to have our initial home study done.  I want to be transparent here because we have fundraised and have some more fundraisers coming up and so many of you have helped us get this far so I want to make sure you all know where that money is going.  As of Saturday night we were funded until the time of a referral but due to the recent closure of our agency and loss of money paid, we now have the money to complete the homestudy updates and cover some of the beginning fees with our new agency but we are $4,900 away from being where we were.  Once we have $4,900 saved/raised we will be funded until we receive a referral for our daughter.  At that point we will have our next set of fees and then travel but that will be a little while. 

Thank you for reading through all of this, I feel like we have had to be so vague to everyone and you all have been so supportive of us, I want you all to know exactly what is going on.  Today while I was having everything swirl around in my head one of my new favorite songs came on and I heard the words more clearly than ever before, these words spoke to me and pretty much wrap up my feelings of peace with all that is going on:

Who brings our chaos back into order
Who makes the orphan a son and daughter
The King of Glory, the King of Glory
Who rules the nations with truth and justice
Shines like the sun in all of its brilliance
The King of Glory, the King above all kings
-Phil Wickham - This Is Amazing Grace