The Garrisons

Follow our journey on adoption #3 for child #8!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Feeling Grateful

Elijah at referral - 5 months old
Today I'm feeling grateful that this little one was given to our family. In light of our 'loss' this week - or I guess, change of plans - it has struck me how if one thing had been different, Elijah may not have been referred to us. If his birth family had not let him go....if he had not been found....if he had not been taken to Kid's Care (one of the best orphanages in Addis and one with a relationship with our adoption agency).....if America World had not gotten the referral for him....and then passed it on to us. I am humbled and grateful that God saw fit to make all of these pieces fall into place at just the right time to bring us this boy. What an incredible gift we've been given and what an amazing God to give it.

I read on another mom's blog, who is in Ethiopia picking up her FOUR children, that she had the opportunity to visit with Aster, the director of Kid's Care this week. Aster expressed her sadness over the recent news stories that have cast Ethiopian adoption in a negative light. Most children who are abandoned are now being taken to government-run orphanages, which is not exactly the best chance for them to be matched with a family. Please pray for these sweet children. With different timing, this would have been our Elijah. I shudder to think of it.

While sad about our news this week, we are hopeful for our 'next Elijah', as a friend put it. And, it leaves us feeling grateful for what we've already been given!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Just For DADS.....

I went to an adoption conference last week and my favorite part was listening to a couple of dads answer questions and share their hearts for adoption. They were just normal everyday kind of guys - and I think that's what made their message so appealing.

Well, due to popular request, one of them has made a video sharing his thoughts on adoption....his fears and questions when he started...and how those have been put to rest.

DADS: Take five minutes of your time and listen to what this guy has to say.....definitely something to think about!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Disappointment and Trusting

We got some hard news today. I can't divulge all the details, but Nathan and I had been looking into pursuing the adoption of a certain little girl through our agency. We got the news today that this sweet girl is not adoptable at this point. We are so disappointed. We are selfishly disappointed for ourselves, because we were hoping to have her as part of our family; however, we are far more disappointed for her. We are hoping and praying that her circumstances will change and she will be matched with a forever family someday.

As for us, we will continue working on our paperwork and home study. We will plan to submit our dossier (code word for everything you never wanted to know about our life) in August when we've been home with Elijah for a year. We are leaving our approval and request for a child wide open at this point until we pray about what exactly that should be. We are open to whatever God thinks best for our family. (Did I just write that???:) Please pray with us that we will be able to discern where He's leading.

We are trusting that God has a plan - both for us and for this little girl. It's hard to make sense of things when they happen this way, but we know He knows best. He brought us the right child when He blessed us with Elijah, and we feel confident He will do it again.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord.
"Plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you a hope and a future."
Jeremiah 29:11

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Adoption Ethics

So, yesterday CBS had a negative story on about Ethiopian adoption. I would love to tell you that my commentary on the piece is going to be objective, but it's not. Stuff like this makes me so angry and the piece was so incomplete, you could hardly say it was unbiased itself. The story accused Ethiopia of child trafficking and unethical adoption. Before I go on, let me say this loud and clear: I am not defending any sort of unethical or immoral behavior in adoption, nor am I denying that it ever occurs. Adoption is no different than anything else - where people are involved, there are bound to be mistakes and sin and the process is bound to be imperfect. Fraud happens in adoption everywhere and I cannot say that it has never happened in Ethiopian adoption, so that is not my point.

This 'news' story highlights a family that has been in the news before with their story about their Ethiopian adoption of 3 older girls. The girls' mother had passed away, but the father was still alive and well. The problem is, the girls have said that their father was paid to give them up and that the girls thought they were coming to America for an education. Apparently, they thought they were returning to Ethiopia when the adoption was complete. So, CBS used this story to raise questions about Ethiopian adoption in general and imply that the entire system is full of corruption and adoption of children who "are not orphans." Let me also say that this post is not a commentary on whether or not this story is true or really happened. I am using it as a spring board to share my thoughts on some questions and concerns the piece raises. If you'd like to watch the whole story, go HERE.

There are a couple of points I'd like to make about this story and about adoption in general.

1. This story implies that "these are not children sitting around in orphanages." REALLY?? How can one even claim that? I have been there and seen them myself. They most certainly are children without homes and families to take care of them. They are sitting in orphanages and they ARE waiting for families. The idea that someone is paying someone - especially for older children who are hard to place - to make money from an adoption is crazy. There are skads of children sitting in orphanages waiting for homes already....there is no need to come up with children to meet the demand. It's ludicrous.

2. Ethiopian adoption is not big business. Last year, in 2009, there were 2277 Ethiopian adoptions in the US. There are 5 million orphans in Ethiopia. MOST children in need of a home in Ethiopia will not get one. Adoption is a blessing to those whose lives it touches, but it is a dream that will not happen for most of these children.

3. Another point made here, and one I've seen made elsewhere is that "these children are not really orphans." I suppose, in some cases, that depends on how you define orphan. If you mean that both of their parents are dead, then maybe some of them aren't. But if you mean that these children do not have families, a place to belong, or adults to take care of them then they most certainly are.
This is one thing that bugs me. Adoptive parents often beat themselves up because they wonder if their child would be better off with their biological family, or feel guilty because they perceive their child was given up due to poverty, treatable sickness, or hardship. The fact is, most of those are true. Most of these children probably were given up because of one of those factors and a smaller number probably have two deceased parents. Does it matter?
Here's the thing: We, as adoptive parents, did not create our children's situation. We did not twist anyone's arm to give up their child. By the time we came on the scene, the child was already in the orphanage....What are we to do then? Not respond because we don't like the reasons they were relinquished? Who are we, as Americans, who are warm and well-fed, to judge another for the decisions they make in situations we cannot begin to imagine?? Yes, of course it is sad that their parents and/or family had to make these heartbreaking decisions....I am not making light of that. But that is not the point here. The point is, we are called to respond to those in need, not to judge or decide if someone is in need because of worthy reasons.

4. In response to "most of these children are not true orphans", I also say this: If you adopted in the United States, most of those children also have a living parent. We don't think anything about that. Why are these children, who are born in a third world country, any less deserving of a family than these American children? The point is this: If these children do not have a loving family or a place to belong, they need us to step up and be that for them. Yes, it's sad that they were often given up due to desperate situations, but they were still given up and they still need us to love them and call them our own. If Christians would rise up and be the hands and feet of Jesus to the poverty stricken around the world in a real and tangible way, many of these families wouldn't be faced with the difficult decisions to give up their children.....but that's another post for another day. If you don't feel called to adopt, but want to fulfill the mandate to care for these children, then do just that. Find a way to connect with an organization or individuals making a difference for these poverty stricken them so they can keep their kids.

5. The last thing I want to say is that I found Ethiopia to be very conscious of doing right by these children and very careful in making sure that each child was an orphan and was in fact adoptable. During Elijah's referral and court period, there was actually a stop put on court dates for abandoned children because they were being sure that there was no corruption in the system. Many people do not pass thru court the first time because they want to see careful and complete documentation. Our agency, America World, is thorough and cautious in their process as well. I never had any doubts about the ethics or morality of our adoption.

It makes me sad that pieces like this come out and cast doubt in people's mind. There are so many children counting on us to make a difference for them, and some will be stopped because of one story on the evening news telling them the system is flawed. There were no highlights of the wonderful, honest agencies doing good, hard work on behalf of the children. There were no stories told of successful adoptions that had made a difference for families and for kids. I guess that doesn't make for interesting news.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Adoption Fears

In the last few weeks, Nathan and I have individually or together had the opportunity to talk to about 3 couples who are thinking about adoption. They've had many questions - some of the same ones we wrestled with ourselves - and it's caused me to think about some of them. I certainly don't have all the answers, but I wanted to put some of my thoughts down on paper. I figure if some are approaching us with questions, there might be others out there who are wondering the same things.

1. MONEY - How do you afford adoption?? This is probably concern #1 of many adoptive couples. I know it is what kept us from doing it sooner - How in the world do you come up with $25,000 (give or take)? Well, the answer is not the same for all of us. When we pursued adoption the first time, we literally had no idea where the money would come from. I mean, we had a little in savings, but that was spent at the beginning of the adoption and we had much more to come up with.....Our adoption was paid for in many ways. We used a tax refund, had a huge garage sale, sent out fundraising letters (we know some very generous people!), our kids sold coffee, and we worked a monthly payment into our budget that we sent to our agency each month to chip away at our fees. We also took out a home equity line of credit and did use some of that. We will be paying that off with part of our adoption tax credit that we will receive this year. So, that was us. Your plan may look very different......fundraisers, borrowing from family, applying for grants, cutting back in your spending, and taking advantage of the tax credit can all add up. Some may feel conflicted about going into debt for an adoption, but this is a child's life we are talking about. Would you borrow the same amount of money and make payments for a car?
If you have more questions about financial resources, I have a folder of resources from CHOSEN, our church's orphan care and adoption ministry, that I can send you. Just leave me a comment below. You can also go HERE to see a list of possible financial resources available.

2. Will I be able to love an adopted child like my own?? This was not ever a personal fear of mine because we had had children who were 'not our own' live with us for a time, and I can honestly say we loved those children as if they were our own. We had the benefit of experiencing this. It is a question I've heard more than once, though.
Adoption is a small example of the extravagant love God has for each of His children....the way he welcomes us into His family unconditionally and makes us His own. Adoption is God's idea. This is what I know: God will bless your adoption. Period. Now, that's not to say that you won't have problems with adjustment or bonding....that's not realistic. I certainly don't want to over simplify here, because families can and do struggle. But, over time (if not right at first), God will plant a love in your heart for that child....the same kind of love you have for your biological children, should you have them. We have four children, and I love no one of them any more than the rest. Elijah is as mine as Haley, Hayden, and Emma are. I feel that to my core. If this is your struggle, pray about it. And then I dare you to trust God and see if he doesn't do miraculous things in your heart. I dare you to love as extravagantly as He does. HERE is another post about the fear of loving a child as your own, from a dad's perspective.

3. How will my children be affected? You are right to consider your children, we certainly did. We talked and talked about the possible implications for them and what it might mean. What it came down to for us was this: We want our children to live out their faith, experience God's faithfulness, and not be afraid to do big things for God. We wanted to, as a family, not be afraid to step out and trust God to provide as we stepped out to do what we felt He was calling us to do. We wanted to pray about it as a family, experience the highs and lows together, and see God at work in our lives. We wanted to be in the middle of where He was moving, and be a part of it. We certainly didn't adopt for the reason of giving our children this experience, but I will tell you, it has been one of the greatest blessings. Our children know what it is to experience God's faithfulness and it has matured and grown them ten-fold.
You are right - your children will be affected, they will not be unchanged. All parts probably won't be easy, and a kid or two may get their nose bent out of joint. It's OK. Trust God to work it all for good in their lives....I know He certainly has in ours.
If you want to read another adoptive parent's point of view on how adoption has affected their children go HERE.

I know there are concerns here that I have not covered, but they seem to be the ones I am hearing right now. I may blog about another set of fears and questions another time....If you'd like me to address any other questions, or concerns, please leave a comment.
I will leave you with one last blog....she recently had two posts that really caught my eye. The first one is about excuses we all make as to why 'we could never adopt', and the second post is about the truth that our life really is not our own and how difficult that is to really grasp. I thought I would pass them on....thought provoking stuff.

Finally, if you are in the 'thinking' stage of adoption, or even just considering it, there is a great FREE conference you need to think about attending in Normal IL on Saturday, February 20. Looks like great info - go HERE to register!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Round Two

Well, it's official - we are in the process of adoption #2!! (I know this is old news for those closest to us, but we have yet to 'officially' announce it). We are so excited to be on this path again!

Even before we went to Ethiopia to bring Elijah home, we had talked about adopting again. In fact, we entertained and prayed about the possibility of bringing home 2 children at the same time when we adopted the first time. For whatever reason, we never felt a peace about doing that and those doors were not opened. Our decision to adopt again is a culmination of what is on our hearts and experiences we had in Ethiopia. We do not yet know exactly what our 'request' for a child will be....probably not an infant, and probably not a child too old. (is that vague enough for you??:) Ultimately, it doesn't matter what we think. We know God will bring us just the right child for our family.

So...we've applied to our agency again and be accepted to the Ethiopia program. We've started our home study and sent in our I-600a. (for those of you that don't speak adoptionese, this is a form you must file with immigration to bring an orphan into the country.) We know what we are in for this time, and I think that is mostly a good thing. We know better what to expect and a few things we can do to be proactive about our part of it. The funny thing, though, is that you really don't have any control in this process....but some of us like to pretend. :) We also have the benefit of looking at holding the result of an adoption every single day. We have a real, live reminder of the blessing that adoption is in the end....and that is a very good thing!