As a friend or family member, you may have many questions about our process, or just simply the favorite, “Why?” – Hopefully we can answer a few of those for you!
Q: Why adopt? You have three great biological children!
A: We do have three wonderful children, whom we love dearly, and while we are physically able to have more biological children, we don’t feel led to grow our family that way. We have talked for years about the possibility of adoption in our family’s future, and over the past few years, the desire has grown immensely. We have three children now who have a physical home that is safe, a school 10 blocks away where they learn the academic foundation for life, they eat three (sometimes six! they’re growing!) full meals a day and have clean water at the turn of a knob; our children have countless friends whom they love and who love them in return, they have two parents who love them unconditionally and spend countless hours teaching, coaching, laughing, listening, feeding, challenging, snuggling, and LOVING them; 90% of their immediate (extended) family lives close by – cousins, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.; we have a church home that supplements our Christ-centered family life. We feel strongly that we have been blessed as a family, and that there is a small child out there who has none of these things. He has unsatisfactory education, little to eat, contaminated water, inconsistent relationship, little spiritual guidance; there is no one to teach him to love, and he has no family. There is no video of his first-birthday, no one cheering for him on the sideline of a soccer game, no one to snuggle and read a story with at bedtime. We desire as a family to use what we’ve been given to love another. We feel the best way for our family to do this is by opening our arms to a child in need.
Q: How long will this take?
A: Way too long, that’s for sure! The estimate we’ve been given is 18-24 months. The time could be shortened or extended, based on an infinite number of variables. I’ve seen some timelines of other’s adoptions happen within one year of initial application, and I spoke with the Haiti coordinator a few days ago, who said they have dossiers in progress that have been “in progress” for years and still not submitted. We are praying for ASAP, and would love your prayers as well that the process would move quickly with as few hiccups as possible! But, we are prepared for a long journey. UPDATE: So far our process is moving very quickly, and it would be safe to assume we will be able to bring our Little Man home within 12-18 months! 3/17/14 UPDATE: while we moved quickly early-on, we are now slogging through a long wait to receive our formal referral, which needs to happen before anything else moves forward. As soon as we receive & accept our referral, we will be able to schedule our first 2-week bonding trip to Haiti to spend time with our new son/little brother at the orphanage. Once this trip is complete, we will be waiting to “exit” the IBESR organization with a signature on our dossier & child match from the Director. We are still praying to be home with him before Christmas 2014, but are quickly finding out that unavoidable and unexplainable delays are commonplace in third world countries! “Expedite” has a completely different definition over there! I’m pretty sure they translate it as “pay me lots of extra money, and then if I feel like it, I’ll look at your stuff a few days earlier than planned” 🙂
9/19/14 UPDATE: We are hoping/prayerfully expecting to hear something more definitive on our official referral within the next month! Today marks just over 9 months of waiting for an official referral from Haiti’s social services organization (IBESR).
9/7/16 UPDATE: We received our official referral in May of 2016, and traveled to meet “W” in June! We are currently waiting for an Exit Letter to be issued by the IBESR so that (#1) we can travel to go visit him again with our bio kids, and (#2) so that we can move along in this process to the legal courts and then to HOME!
Q: Why Haiti?
A: Good question. I don’t feel like I have a great answer, other than this: We originally were thinking we’d adopt from Ethiopia, simply because we have several friends and acquaintances who have adopted from there, and the country was familiar to us in that way. However, adoptions and referral process has been at a standstill for several months over there, and the wait time for a referral and completed adoption is extending beyond three years. Haiti was recommended by the agency, as it’s a fairly new country that has opened up for adoption through our agency. The average wait time is significantly shorter, and the need there is overwhelming. Haiti is currently one of the poorest countries in the world – a disastrous change historically, as it used to be one of the wealthiest. An interesting history lesson! Check the Facts about Haiti page for some great information.
Q: Don’t you want to start with a baby? Why an older child?
A: We love babies. We love everything about babies. Okay, correction, LAURA loves everything about babies…but, we acknowledge that the baby-season of our life is most likely over. Our kids are 8-12 years old and adding a baby to our family dynamics – while incredibly fun and oh-so-adorable – would cause us to need to revert back to the beginning of life-stages again. We wouldn’t be able to do as much of the big-kid stuff like coaching, and traveling, hiking, bike riding, sports, etc. that we do now. Our kids would love a baby, but we feel that a new sibling closer to their age would allow for a greater bond to form between the four siblings, while providing a home environment that is much needed. A great number of families want to adopt babies for a great number of reasons. There are consistently waiting lists for families that are waiting for babies. The downside to this is that there is a growing number of children over age 2 that are “passed over” for adoption because they are NOT babies. Perfect fit for us, perfect fit for an older child in need.
Q: Three kids is a lot…and now four? How will you guys handle it??
A: Thanks so much for thinking of us! We’ll be calling you to babysit for Date Night! 🙂 Three’s a crowd, for sure, but with four, at least we can split 2 & 2 and not have an odd one out! It will be crazy at times, but the fullness of our lives and our kids’ lives will be well worth it. When we finally bring him home, we know it will be an adjustment – especially jumping right into life with another older child who will speak virtually zero English. We will most likely have to do some homeschooling to teach basics and get him caught up to wherever he needs to be academically based on his age. We have lots to learn still – and we will appreciate the physical, emotional and spiritual support from our friends and family. If you are a family member or friend who would like resources on adoption and transitional times please send us a note! We’d be happy to pass on any information we have.
Q: Are you sure you want to be parents to a child who looks so drastically different from you and your other children?
A: ABSOLUTELY. The color of skin, or shape of features, sound of a voice, or country of origin does not determine who our hearts may belong to. Our hearts beat in tune with the heart of our Father, who loves unconditionally regardless of what the eyes see. A difference in appearance among our children will just become a normal part of life and love, growth and change. Besides, it will prepare us for the days of angst-ridden teens who want to pierce every inch of their bodies and wear black lipstick & layers of shredded clothing held together by safety pins! Unconditional love. Unfortunately, we also realize that not everyone in our small world (or big world) will operate this way. We anticipate awkward comments, frustrating ignorance, and multitudes of teachable moments. Wondering what questions NOT to ask? or what comments NOT to say? There are some great (and super funny) resources out there for you! Some of the videos made me cry laughing, but also set a very real expectation for what we may be confronted with.
To clarify even further, unconditional love to us in no way equals a blindness to the differences we will be faced with daily. There are hours upon hours of required education that our family goes through regarding becoming a transracial family, as well as umpteen books and classes and webinars available to us. Interested in some stuff we are reading? Come check out our library any time! We are fully prepared to learn and grow throughout this process, and keep open minds on changes we need to make. The great part about this whole thing is that we aren’t afraid to fail, or to say “I’m sorry”, or to just sit down and look him in the eye and say “what can we do better?” Just because we have decided to adopt does NOT mean we have this all figured out, or even that we have all the answers. It does mean we are prepared to love with open arms and to learn with open minds.
Q: Adoption is very expensive. How will you pay for it?
A: We started with a chunk of personal savings, and then we shared our story with friends, family, and complete strangers. It’s been amazing to us the myriad of people all over who have extended their hand to us and joined our journey financially and just simply in spirit of standing with us and surrounding us with their love and support. Currently we have almost our entire adoption paid for. It is expensive, but we know that God asked us to step out in faith – we trust that He will provide with added income, hard work on our parts, or with donated funds and fundraising from friends, family and strangers who want to be a part of what we are doing. We have made a commitment to not go into debt for this adoption.
Q: Was this a decision you made as a couple? Are your kids really supportive?
A: We talked about it first as a couple, making sure this was something we both felt led to do – we actually talked repeatedly about it every couple months for about a year, checking in to see if the bug/idea and heart’s desire/passion was still present before deciding together “yeah! This is really something that we feel led to do! It’s time!” – however we both felt sure that we needed it to be a family decision. When we approached the discussion with our three kids all together, the immediate response from all three was not a “yes/no” answer. Their actual immediate response was ear-splitting screeching and screaming and jumping up and down, pretty much freaking out in excitement! We let it settle down and then talked very seriously about what this decision would mean for our family, and then asked each of them what they thought and if they felt like it would be a good fit for our family. The CALM answers were definite yes’s from all three – and ever since that day, they have been in full support and had a child-like faith in the whole process that amazes us daily!
More Questions? Just ask! We’re happy to answer the best way we can!