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As you pray about growing your family…

IMG_5232 copyThe last couple of days/weeks, emails have begun to trickle in with general questions about adoption. How thankful I am to see and hear that God is stirring hearts to bring little ones home to a forever family!!! I remember in the beginning for us–we felt like adopting was something that had always been something we dreamed early on about…yet it continued to feel so far away and the process so unknown. In our busy world, we would stumble across here and there a story and watch it carefully—but day to day busy life always distracted us. Then one day…I stumbled across and you tube video and adoption in this video, grabbed my heart and all of the sudden had a face…this family had a bunch of biological kids–like us…so the thought of adopting and adding to our family didn’t seem quite as crazy any more. I decided to be even more personal and contact this mom to ask her questions—and low and behold, she emailed me back, was so encouraging and answered many of our questions.

I realize some of my readers may be in the same situation we were back in June…curious about adoption and even have a heart or dream for it in their future…but with so many unanswered questions and without the time to persue answers…day to day life also takes precident and your curiousness is quickly gone after leaving your seat. I wanted to answer a few questions I’ve gotten lately that in some small way may benefit some of you considering growing your family through the miracle of adoption. This is just my perspective, our story and the questions that were important to us—so please feel free to email me if you have questions I don’t answer. I want to always make myself available like my sweet friend Kristi Johnson did for me back when we were tiptoeing toward the idea of adoption too. Thank you Kristi for making yourself available!!! If you had not answered those questions, I may have once again gotten too busy with life! Your passion and joy through adoption was contagious…and now we are bringing home a baby boy in 2010!!!

A few answered questions from our experience as you consider adopting…

How do you choose an adoption agency? Do you have to use one?
Not everyone who adopts uses an adoption agency. Some families choose to go direct with an orphanage. This is a very popular route when adopting from Uganda right now. The cost is less expensive, but you will want to find a family or two who have been this route so you can locate a reputable orphanage and even use their recommended in country lawyer. There can be a lot of unknowns going this route–so for us, with 3 small children we chose to venture the more predictable route and use an agency. So…how did we chose ours?
To be honest, we scouted out several adoption blogs and emailed several families who had adopted. It was important to us to get REAL feedback and not just take the recommendations that were posted direct on different agencies websites. Most agencies offer orientation meetings/calls. It’s not necessary to use an agency in your city or even a state–the most important thing to us was to use a reputable, Christian agency. We interviewed a handful, prayed about it and felt led to use AGCI. We are more than thrilled with our decision. However, AGCI may not have the program for the country you feel led to. Every agency works with a handful of countries—so this is one thing you will want to know about every agency you interview. Interviewing is as simple as calling the agency and asking how they coordinate informational orientations. We attended 2 in person with different agencies and actually did AGCI’s over the phone on a conference call. Questions you will want to consider…

  • What programs do you have and what are the costs per program? Adoptions can range any where from $15,000-$40,000 depending on the program and country. (The how to pay for an adoption is another post entirely…but trust in the Lord our great provider! I stand amazed at how He has already provided for ours!!! Never let money hinder you from doing the Lord’s work and will! He will always provide when He calls you to do something for His name’s sake!)
  • How are payments broken up throughout the process? What is due when?
  • Can I chose a home study agency or do I have to use one recommended from your program? (We used a home study agency here in our city…and it was a GREAT experience!)
  • What are the programs with the greatest needs–what is the expectant wait per program? (This is something you may want to know NOW…even if you are planning to adopt in 3 years–for example China’s current wait is 4 years—so it’d be a good idea to start now if you were wanting to adopt in 4 years from this specific program)
  • What is the baby to caregiver ratio in the in-country orphanage? (For us this was very important to know once our baby was admitted that he/she was being nutured and held)

These were the basic questions that helped us begin to decide which program we wanted to persue and felt most led to, and every agency had different answers to these questions so that really helped us narrow down the best agency for our family. Some things we especially liked about our agency was that they use a portion of the fees to support unadopted children in the program on an on-going basis, they ask you to meet with the birth mother if she is still alive (HUGE for us because this is our chance to tell our baby his story one day!) and they also call often and update your numbers once a month as you progress (not many agencies do this one…and if I’m out of the loop with unknowns…I go nuts! I *need* to know where we are so I can RELAX and not wonder!)

While I realize this information may seem really overwhelming–and it did at first to us too–once we started making phone calls and asking questions, it really started to seem doable and not so unknown. The unknown can always feel overwhelming, but how THANKFUL I am that we began asking questions when we did!!! We got some really good advice from Jason Kovac from the ABBA Fund who said he suggests to many families in the inquiry stage to check out ACAF. The agencies here are more of a ministry than a business, so if costs is a huge barrier for your family—they are lower here. While they may be smaller, they come highly recommended and it’s worth giving a few of the agencies here a call if they happen to serve the country that your family is considering.

How do you choose a country?
Pray. Pray. Pray. There are approximately 145,000,000 orphans in the world—so no matter where you look, there is need in EVERY country. Yes—every country…including ours. The need in America is great for African American, biracial and special needs children to be adopted. In almost every country in the world, there is also great need. Many countries are closed to adoption–so I would encourage you to ask agencies as you interview what the needs are in each country–and even to ask in their opinion where is the greater need and why.
Not every family will feel comfortable adopting a child of a different color/race, and that is OKAY. Pray about the child the Lord has for your family…and I promise, you WILL feel at peace with his/her birth country. Richard and I have been involved with a ministry in Africa for 3 years now…so our family was well prepared and knew we would one day probably adopt from Africa. We first tried to persue Zambia where our ministry is, but it just didn’t work out for our family (there is a 3 month foster period and VERY few adoptions out of there–just 7 US adoptions last year…so the Young’s with already a bunch of kids weren’t game for being a pilot family…and that’s okay too. It’s just what we felt at peace with…and then came Ethiopia).
The biggest thing I would encourage you to do now as you pray about adopting is to PRAY about the country you should adopt from. God is faithful! And His heart is for the orphans and widows of the world. The Lord is all about children being connected to forever families! Can you believe we get to be blessed enough to get to be used in this way?!

How did you know the right time to begin?
When we started persuing adoption and asking questions, I had a 4 year old, 3 year old and 7 month old. Not a time when most would be saying, “Hmmm….honey, I think we should adopt!” Yes, some days I was surviving. Most days I already looked crazy. And my laundry is often undone and toys are every where. Our first 2 children are 14 months apart; and while the first couple of years with these first two being so close together was crazy, it’s SO FUN now!!! We have an automatic playdate every day.

Richard and I always said we would LOVE to do the same thing as far as timing with our 2nd set of kids:). I actually got pregnant with Laney when Parker was 4 months (planned by God…um…but a beautiful surprise which I could not have planned better!) Now seeing how ingenius that was of our Creator to give us babies so close together–it made sense for us to start persuing adoption when Frank was 7 months. In fact, we began to feel like we waited too long! (Yes, we look crazy…but that’s the way we roll people!) Because the Ethiopia program would take about a year, we felt like we needed to get on it! I’m so thankful we started when we did…and we just have that mentality to have all our babies close together and let them grow up being very close. If our 4th child was already going to possibly feel a bit different in appearance from our family, we wanted to at least give him the gift of growing up with his siblings while they were very young and where they could more naturally connect. My kids ARE SO excited by the way to bring home their baby!!! They ask me all the time when we get to go get our baby!!!!!!!! They are getting just as anxious and excited as me!!! And to hear my oldest son pray for his baby brother…MELT MY HEART!

Pray the Lord will direct your heart and prompt you when to begin. Once again, you will know! If you are reading this thinking, “Hmmm…I just feel like we should begin asking questions and dabbling. I mean, we ARE NOT going to do it right now. Things are SO crazy. I’m just wondering and feel like I should start asking questions.” Well, if this is you–just start there and pray about every step of the way. And email me (address on sidebar) and ask me to pray for you too. I would love NOTHING MORE than to pray for other families considering growing their families through the miracle of adoption!

And as when anything and everything–(especially when you have a big family!)—if you wait for things to be calm and quiet…you might be waiting forever! For us, we thought there was no better time than now…and so far…so good! We have been HUMBLED to watch how the Lord has provided for our family through this adoption and we have stood AMAZED at how He is changing our family and our hearts in the process. I know that we are in the Lord’s will…because I FEEL SO ALIVE in this process!!! It feels RIGHT, if feels EXCITING and although it isn’t easy and there are hard days…the Lord has continued to bless our obedience to what we felt was His path for us.We are thrilled to be on this road—and I have to admit, I now can’t imagine not growing our family through adoption again and again (Richard keeps warning me…NOW THIS IS *IT* ANDREA…oh honey, you say that every time I have a baby;). What greater joy than involving your family in this beautiful journey and watching their excitement every step of the way…I keep saying to myself, “AM I REALLY THIS BLESSED THAT *I* GET TO HAVE ANOTHER BABY IN THROUGH ADOPTION?!”  Can’t wait for this number to go down…but for now, we are rejoicing that we are once again another step closer to the baby God prompted us to walk towards just 4 short months ago.

Melissa DeBardeleben - November 20, 2009 - 10:22 pm

Great information! I feel like a learned some things, especially things to ask your agency.

Kristi J - November 20, 2009 - 11:26 pm

Awesome post…great info for people…Thanks for the sweet "shout out" Have a great weekend, kristi

Karee - November 23, 2009 - 6:28 pm

Thank you for your encouragement, Andrea! It was fun to "meet" you over the phone the other day. 🙂