I've been meaning to write for some time now. Truth is, I often transcribe blog posts in my head while riding the train back and forth from country to city, or while dragging boxes home to pack after work, or in those reflective moments before slipping off to sleep each night. It's so much easier for me to carry on conversations with myself than it is to search for just the right words to type. Tonight though, I'm ready to share the thoughts that have been bouncing around in my mind for the last few weeks.
As you may remember, Ryan and I recently decided to switch placement agencies. In early June we submitted our contract and fees to All God's Children International (AGCI), an agency based in Portland, Oregon that we have been in contact with since last July. It turns out that we signed on with AGCI just in time; we were one of the last families they accepted before closing their Ethiopia program to new applicants. I'm so grateful we were able to join when we did, since being with AGCI has already started to shift our adoption journey in a new and exciting direction.
You see, when you adopt, you have to decide early on what your "parameters" will be--essentially, what age, gender, and medical needs you are open to. Like many adoptive parents, Ryan and I started out with the desire to adopt a healthy infant. That seemed like enough of a challenge for us! However, as we've grown and learned more about the needs of orphans worldwide, we've felt something stirring in our hearts. Part of the reason we decided to join AGCI is because they advocate for waiting children-- those who are considered more difficult to place, whether because of their age, siblings, or medical needs.
We know these waiting children. We fell in love with many of them during our time in Kenya. They are children who are old enough to recognize loneliness, yet still yearn to be hugged tightly by safe arms. They are children who ran after us laughing, trying to grab onto our shirttails. Children who loved to say our names aloud, then giggled as we tried to pronounce theirs. Children who proudly shoved their workbooks in our faces after completing a math problem. Children who wanted nothing more than affirmation and love. Amazing little children who weren't used to feeling special.
During our final home study meeting, we shared some of our thoughts with our social worker. We half expected her to tell us that we're crazy, or to caution us against adopting a waiting child. Instead, she encouraged us and helped us sort through our new parameters. I am thrilled to say that we are now open to adopting a child or sibling pair aged 0-7 years old. We are also open to a range of what we consider manageable medical needs, including HIV.
We are still in the process of exploring these decisions and further educating ourselves. One website that we've found particularly helpful is Project Hopeful, which is full of great resources for families considering waiting children. It's important to note that just because these parameters are now approved in our home study does not mean that the child we adopt will necessarily be older or have a medical need. But, it does means that we want to consider these children-- not because we're saints, or because we're naive or idealistic, but simply because it feels right for our family.
We know that this update may be surprising to some of you. Rest assured that it's surprising to us too! But, it's also a very personal decision for us. Time and time again, Ryan and I go back to Lulu. If she were available for adoption, we would want the opportunity to parent her. We wouldn't care that she's "older," or what virus is in her blood. She is a child who needs a family, and our hearts are open to her.
I hope that your heart will be open to our child as well, whoever he or she turns out to be. One of my greatest hopes is that we will be able to surround our child with a loving community of friends and family - with people like you. Together, I believe we will be able to help all of our children heal, grow, and dream big dreams for a better tomorrow.
"We are all echoes of one another." - Vaddey Ratner