Life is so unpredictable.
Two and a half years ago, we started the adoption process for a second time. It had been a year and a half since we'd brought our son and daughter home from Ethiopia, and our hope was to bring two more children into our family, this time from the Democratic Republic of Congo. We were thrilled to have found a Christian adoption agency called Lifeline Children's Services, whose integrity is above reproach. They were kind enough to allow us into their Congo pilot program, even though they had closed it to any more families. Congo was the only country they did adoptions in that would have allowed us to bring home two children that were both younger than our kids.
It was such a blessing to see up close the level of integrity that Lifeline operates with. Throughout our time in their Congo program, they kept us well informed of what was going on with adoption and their contacts in the country. We were so impressed with their concern for ethical adoptions and pleasing the Lord with their choices. Ultimately, they felt that the level of corruption in Congo was difficult to overcome, and they encouraged families to consider other country options. They graciously allowed us to transfer every penny we had paid them to any other country they did adoptions in. Ethiopia was the next closest country to what we were looking for, so in December 2012 we switched our application there. It was a hard decision, because if we wanted our oldest children to remain the oldest in our family, it meant we could only adopt one child through Lifeline instead of two. It also added a lot of waiting time, since the adoption process in Ethiopia had been slowing down.
The Lord used all these things to direct us to domestic adoption, and we're thankful that He did! While we were in the Congo program, we'd heard about a family that adopted domestically while they were in process with a long international adoption. We figured we had 2+ years left in the Ethiopia process, so we thought this sounded like a good option for us too.
Through some friends, we heard about a fantastic Christian crisis pregnancy center and adoption agency in Memphis called Life Choices. The more we talked to them, the more we loved them. The way they care for birth mothers is exemplary. And the opportunity for us to partner with them in life affirming work was exciting. We sent in an application in January 2013, and after completing our paperwork and family profile, we were selected by a birth mother in July to be the family for her daughter, due in August. We brought her home from the hospital, and have been loving every minute of being her forever family since.
After completing a domestic adoption, it looks like we still have 2+ years left before we'd be able to bring a child home from Ethiopia. We're currently #70 on the waiting list for a referral. And while I used to hope that maybe we'd be the exception, now it seems certain that if we adopted from Ethiopia and wanted our oldest kids to remain the oldest, we could only adopt one child. We couldn't take our three children with us when we travel (two one-week long trips are required). And the cost to adopt one child from Ethiopia would be about the same as it would have been to adopt two children from Congo.
The past number of months we've talked and prayed, comparing the cost between domestic and international adoption and thinking about the travel differences.
We eventually decided that it would be best to call Lifeline and ask them about our options if we wanted to pull out of the Ethiopia program, considering the fact that we had originally come from the Congo program. We hoped maybe they would refund us so we could use the money we'd paid so far toward a domestic adoption. Well, God has done more than we hoped for.
Although we do not live in one of the seven states that Lifeline normally does domestic adoptions in, they have decided to allow us to transfer most of the money we've paid so far to their domestic adoption program. We're so excited! Their domestic adoption program is absolutely wonderful and perfectly matches what we'd be looking for in an agency. They are very gospel centered, and the way they care for birth mothers reflects that. They have a neat birthmother section on their blog that's been an encouragement to read.
It's been awesome to see the Lord's hand in all this, beginning years ago on a path that we had no idea would eventually lead us to adopting a child domestically through an agency that we would not have normally been able to use.
I've been thinking about Acts 17:24-27: "The God who made the world and everything in it ... He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him. Yet He is actually not far from each one of us."
He has determined exactly when and where we would live. And He has determined that for the children that He will bring into our family too. Oh, may they seek God and find Him as a result!
So we'll slowly begin the process of updating our home study from Ethiopia to domestic and putting together a family profile and other paperwork. God has been very very kind to us!