Now that Ryan and the kitties have moved to our house upstate, I am once again alone in my apartment. I'll admit that the first night "on my own" felt a little exciting. I left dirty dishes in the sink (because I could), watched two episodes of Law and Order, and fell asleep sprawled out in the middle of the bed. However, that excitement quickly gave way to boredom and restlessness. And so, I decided to put all my newfound spare time to good use by doing more adoption research. By "research" I mean scouring the internet for every article, blog post, video, and report I could find related to international adoption, and specifically to Ethiopian adoptions.
Well, this was a bit like opening a can of worms. You'd think that over the past year I would have pretty much covered all there is to cover, right? As my homestudy caseworker often tells me, I am a very "thorough" person. Well, I certainly thought I was well-informed. But of course as with all things in life, there's always more to learn, or at least a new perspective to consider. You see, lately the adoption community has been abuzz with the topic of ethics. This is a good thing - it means people are engaging in real conversations about the best interests of the children that are at the heart of this matter. But it's also a complicated issue. Children come into adoption only after the loss of their first family. Unfortunately, there are an increasing number of children in developing countries who are separated from these first families-- not because of a lack of love or want, but because of a lack of money, resources, and education which too often leads to fraud and corruption.
If you're interested in learning more, go here to read about an inspiring adoptive mother who is now advocating for birth mothers in Haiti. After reading that, go here to read a post by another adoptive mother who boldly reminded me that, "Adoption is the worst place to enter armed with nothing but good intentions." Finally, go here to see an exhaustive list of concerns surrounding Ethiopian adoptions. (*Note: I do not agree with everything posted on these blogs, but I do consider them a great place to start sifting through ideas.) After reading these posts, I reached out to adoptive parents who shared their experiences with me- the good, the bad, and the heartbreaking. I called several agencies and asked difficult questions and read every report and letter from the US Embassy in Ethiopia that I could find.
So, where does this leave Ryan and I? Well, the truth is, I'm not exactly sure. My initial response was to throw my hands up and say, "To hell with all of this!" The thought of simply going off birth control to have a biological child has certainly crossed my mind a few times this week. But, ultimately, that's not what we want. We want to provide a family for a child who needs one. Simple as that. And so, we've made a few BIG choices this week that we feel will bring us closer to that goal:
- We have decided to switch placement agencies. This was a very difficult decision, since we love the staff and families we have met through our first agency. It was also a costly decision, since it means walking away from $3,000 that we've already paid in nonrefundable fees and entering into a much longer wait time with our new agency. But it's what feels right.
- We've decided to get certified as foster parents. We're still not sure whether or not we'll pursue this route before or after international adoption, but we want to be ready just in case.
- We're opening our parameters. This means we are now interested in being matched with an older child and/or sibling group with minor and/or correctable special needs.
Am I a little scared by all of these new choices? Hell yes. But I also feel empowered. I've recommitted to the promises I made myself when I left Kenya last summer. Tonight, I can imagine little Lulu's fingers entwined in mine, reminding me that this process is about finding a child who needs us just as badly as we need them.