Ok, so, the agency we've decided we'd like to work with if we decide to adopt in Ethiopia has accepted our pre-application pending me sending one of the ladies in the main office a detailed description of everything me and my husband have done wrong in the past. I'm not going to lie. We don't look good on paper. We've already been told that because we don't have a squeaky clean past, we could not adopt from most countries especially Hague Convention countries (which is almost all of them by the way!). FYI, the Convention is designed to protect the best interests of children and prevent the abduction, sale, and trafficking of children. The Convention has very specific rules that are great and help the children so don't get me wrong: I'm all for the Hague convention. The problem lies in the fact that the rules would make our family most likely unable to adopt. We've known for a while that we'd most likely be told that Ethiopia was our best bet (and still no guarantees there either). The Lord has prepared my heart for African adoption and I've even fallen in love with the idea and almost wouldn't want it any other way (of course we'd be happy with any country really).
An agency wants to work with us for goodness sake!!! So why don't I sound more excited?
Well, in preparing my heart, the Lord has also lead me to find out more about other countries in Africa, particularly Uganda. Uganda is, just like Ethiopia, NOT a Hague Convention country however, Uganda don't have a legitimate adoption program outside of the fact that they will adopt to citizens with a minimum of 3 years living in Uganda. That clearly rules us out. With that said, the government has found a "loop hole" that says non-residents can take legal guardianship of orphans and then adopt them once they get to the US. Although I've seen adoption agencies that say they will work with Uganda, most of the families that I've gotten in contact with that do adopt in Uganda suggest doing an independent adoption instead of having the umbrella (and the high costs) of an agency. This would involve the actual orphanages, lawyers and Ugandan judges as opposed to the agency being all-inclusive. Here's the breakdown of pros and cons from both countries. Note: I have not found an agency that works in both countries so that option is out!
Ethiopia: We would get to work with a large agency with a great track record. They have affiliates all over the US so we may still be able to work with them if we move in the middle of the process. Lots of Americans adopt from Ethiopia and it has a great adoption program set up. I would know before I even got involved with the country's courts if our background history would hinder us and I believe our agency would indeed fight for us. Also, using an agency is great for making sure it's done RIGHT.
Uganda: I've talked to adoptive mommies of Ugandan kids who say the process was faster and cheaper and since they don't use an agency, moving would just mean a home study update (I should note that the same goes for Ethiopia except that if there isn't an affiliated agency near by, they told me I may end up paying two separate agencies for one adoption). A con about this country is that I probably won't know what the judge is looking for until I meet the judge (and all our money is gone). We could make it all the way there, fall in love with a child and then get turned away. Also, in country stay is super long (4-8 weeks for some).
Ok, so it looks like I only listed good things for Ethiopia and bad things for Uganda. So why am I still even talking about Uganda? I believe the Lord has given me a soft spot for the little ones there and even though all the stories I hear about orphans in Africa break my heart, Uganda seems to be calling out to me over and over again.
Truth be told, I'd love a child from either BUT we have to choose now between an agency that's waiting for our reply on moving forward and adopting from Ethiopia OR taking the "pioneer" route of trying to adopt by ourselves from a country that doesn't really have anything set up for that (and is still in a civil war for goodness sake!).
I am currently waiting for replies to a few emails sent out to a couple of Ugandan lawyers as well as a mother who just went though it and is helping others do the same. I probably won't have much of an update on which way we are going until I get more answers. Please pray for us to decide on which way to go. I know the Lord already knows which way we'll go, now we just need to know too.
To all things be His glory no matter which way we choose to go.