It’s a fair question and one that people ask frequently. It goes hand in hand with “Why didn’t you guys choose to adopt domestically?” Let me explain…
Ethiopia is deep in the midst of ongoing poverty, disease and famine. Ethiopia is the fourth poorest nation in the world with nearly 5 million orphans struggling every day to survive. Nearly 2 million people are infected with HIV and many children will watch their parents die of the disease. One in every ten children do not make it to their first birthday and one in six die before their fifth birthday. Obviously such statistics are staggering and there is no doubt that the country of Ethiopia has a great need to allow families in who are eligible and willing to rescue and adopt their orphaned children.
This journey for us has taken many winding turns. It is the true nature of adoption and in all honesty it is just something you just get used to. For us adoption began as a two fold feeling of wanting to add another child to our family and also feeling God nudging us to help where the need was the greatest. We began researching the high need category right here in the USA. There are numerous differences between a first world (so to speak) and a third world country. Here in the US we have a foster care system in place where children can be placed until adopted. We do not have the same institutionalized orphanages which are often developmentally detrimental to many children. In many countries there is nothing in place to help the orphaned child but the orphanages. Thank God they exist or children would have absolutely nowhere to survive. It also became increasingly obvious that a birthmother in this country would have to select us and we would have to become increasingly more comfortable with an “open adoption.” We were not certain that was the right path for our family so we began the lengthy research into high needs countries where we fit the criteria to adopt a female. Believe it or not with three bio boys we did not fit every countries criteria. This adoption stuff is a bit crazy but you have to follow the laws.Nepal and Ethiopia both immediately began to tug at our hearts. We knew that adopting from either country felt right. We began with Nepal but soon realized the it was Ethiopia where we belonged all along. We made a country switch-a-roo and here we are today.
A couple of other tidbits about Ethiopia that made us feel such a strong connection. Ethiopians value and love their children and their families. That is not always the case. Many countries throughout the world place little or no value in children. In fact many countries are totally unwilling to deal with the orphan crisis at all. Ethiopia is one of just a handful of African nations currently to allow the adoption of children. Ethiopia has followed the Hague Adoption Convention and places great importance on the welfare of their children. Ethiopia’s government has also acted with integrity so far in complying with timelines and requirements that are reasonable for all parties, agency, adoptive family and the child. This is a good thing as many countries have lengthening timelines or have closed their doors to international adoption altogether.
So Ethiopia has stolen our hearts. Their needs are so great but the passion to live appears to be greater. I am beginning to understand what some say when they say, I need Africa more than Africa needs me. I am feeling that and sometimes I cannot even verbalize why. We need Ethiopia. We need to be stretched and have our hearts broken for the orphan, the widow and the least, lost and lonely. With two trips now ahead we continue to prayerfully ask God to make us vessels. Use us to be the hands and feet of Jesus in places where people and children need us most.
I want to also say that there is no right or wrong when it comes to following you heart into the land of adoption. It’s just like anything we do in life. We have all been given the powerful gifts of choices and free will. Adopting a child no matter where he or she is from is a very personal and spiritual journey. If you are being lead to seek adoption for you and or your family- just do it! How can one human being ever regret such an endeavor!