I wanted to take the time to detail some of the process that we have gone through since we started on this adventure. Marta and I have collectively done a lot of reading – looking to ingest as much information as possible. Marta is consuming information that deals a lot of with the parenthood, expectations, experiences and the emotional side of the house. I have focused more on process, paperwork, timeline and difficulty of being a US citizen living abroad going through the process.
We are living in Germany, so there is a layer of complexity added. We educate ourselves and then we share with each other. We make a solid team.
There is a ton of information available about adoption, but we had a tough time figuring out a lot of the details and expectations of the process itself. We hope to thoroughly document our process to provide some clarification on the small details that may keep people wondering.
Here we go…
Once we gave each other the official “OK, let’s do this,” it was time for the next question. Where do we adopt from? Initially, we had a desire to adopt from India. We’ve been involved with Gospel for Asia for many years, sponsoring both children and missionaries from that region of the world. Naturally, our involvement with this organization had drawn our hearts to this area of the world, but it turns out that adopting from India wasn’t as easy as we hoped for. The Hague convention is “an international agreement to establish safeguards to ensure that inter-country adoptions take place in the best interests of the child.” The primary focus is to prevent the exploitation and trafficking of children throughout the word. The sad truth is that children are a lucrative business and there is an evil out there seeking to take advantage of them. Hague is an attempt to stop this threat. And, while it has certainly helped to reduce the threat in some of the partnering countries, it has added more complexity for those faithful and honest families looking to provide a safe, loving home for a child in need.
Adoption is full of decisions. Domestic vs international. Boy vs girl. Older child vs younger child. It would be easy to get stuck in a stage of “analysis paralysis” when trying to sort through all the potential options – we can get so lost in the process of examining and evaluating that we never end up actually making a decision and taking action. Sure, they are important decisions and they require quite a bit of soul searching. But we’re realizing that adoption needs to focus on the one child out there whose life will become drastically different. The importance isn’t found in the “who” or the “where.” It isn’t about adding a child to our family as much as it is about adding a family to a child. This is where we find our motivation, encouragement and our desire to take action. Many of the steps necessary to carry out the challenge ahead are unknown, but we’re OK with that. After all, the only thing we really know about the future is that we don’t know anything about it. We just seek to answer the call and take one step at a time. Settle on the decision and move forward.
Picking our country
Hague guidelines and many countries have stipulations for adoption. Much of the information can be found on the State Department adoption website. It was a fantastic resource for us when we were first starting off as it provides a country-by-country search that offers a wealth of information. As we looked into India, we realized it was very difficult for westerns of non-Indian decent to adopt children from that country. It was a closed door for us.
With India no longer and option, but our hearts still in Asia, I researched all the possible countries:
- Myanmar (Burma)
I have pages of research on these countries, but I won’t bore you with the details. Really though, it was a process of elimination. Some countries weren’t open for adoption while others didn’t adopt outside their country. Some had “time in country” requirements that we couldn’t meet or requirements to hold a citizenship from that country. Some were non-Hague countries (have not signed the treaty), and so we eliminated those. One by one, our options got narrower and narrower. And then God shined a spotlight…
Picking our Agency
It certainly felt like what would be considered a divine appointment. Our path to adoption seems to be filled with them. The church that we attend locally here in Germany had recently hired a new youth pastor from Alabama. We quickly became friends with them due to my wife and I have serving as youth group leaders. Through some conversations, we came to find out about a close friend of theirs that worked as an adoption case worker for China.
Don’t get me wrong…we did our research. We did talk to other agencies. In fact, during the beginning research phase, there were 27 different adopt agencies that I contacted. Some I didn’t hear back from, some didn’t work with US citizens living abroad, some I just didn’t feel “warm and fuzzy” about. There were a few that weren’t bad. But, when we talked with Lifeline Children’s Services, we just felt this is where we needed to be.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. ”
This path is entirely a walk of faith for us and we are excited to be in the service of our Lord. And while this is just the beginning, we lean on God because he gives us a peace that surpasses all understanding. We strive to know His will for our lives and then…we walk in it. How can someone know the will of God? I believe this verse answers that often asked question in three easy steps:
- Trust in the Lord with all your heart.
- Lean not to your own understanding.
- In all your ways acknowledge Him.
If we live our lives doing these things, what is the result?
He makes our paths straight.