We witness a miracle each time a child enters a life. But those who must make their journey home across time and miles, growing in the hearts of those waiting to love them, are carried on the wings of destiny. And placed among us by God's own hands.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Why International Adoption?

My husband and I have been married for ten years in May. While we have faced our share of challenges and disagreements one thing we have always agreed on is how to parent our children and that we wanted to adopt even if we had biological children of our own. In the miraculous year of 2000 our eldest son was born, however we experienced the loss of multiple miscarriages in the years before and after. So we decided to put our adoption plan into place sooner rather then later. When we joyfully announced our plans to adopt a child from Ethiopia here is a sample of some of the questions that I received:

Are you sure you want to adopt? I am sure you can have another child of your own?
Why wouldn't you adopt a child in the US, there are plenty of orphans here?
Why Ethiopia, just because it is something different?
Are you sure the child will not have HIV?

Hmm, I answered these questions as nicely as I could, but now that I have some experience with this I probably would not be as nice. First of all, "Why the heck would anyone not want to adopt a child in need of a home?". There are millions of orphans in this world and EVERY child deserves a forever family. For some reason people seemed to get caught up on the idea that a adopted child is not the parent's "real child". I have to say that the amount of love I feel for my daughter is no less then what I feel for my son. She is in every way "my child". As far as the international versus domestic question, this is a very personal decision. For various reasons we felt drawn to international adoption. Again once we decided to adopt internationally the choice of which country is also a very personal one. Each country has differences in the amount of time that a family waits to receive a referral and travel to their child, differences in the paperwork required, the fees to be funded, and level of care that the children receive in country, and the requirements of the country for whether parents are even eligible or not to adopt from that country.

I did my research and we decided that Ethiopia was the best fit for our first adoption. Orphans come into care in Ethiopia for various reasons. Both of the child's parents may be deceased or one parent may be living and unable to provide for the basic needs of the child. What I know for sure from our experience in Ethiopia is that they love their children dearly and no child is handed over to a orphanage by his or her family without it being the last resort. Adoption from Ethiopia is no longer "unusual" as one person had asked me. In 2008 1,724 children were adopted from Ethiopia into the US and this does not include the number of children going into homes in European countries. Unfortunately international adoption is not perfect and as country programs grow the challenge of ensuring ethical practices will increase. This is probably a whole new topic for another day. What I do know is that there are no easy solutions on how to correct the situation that results in millions of orphans in the first place. I am the first to admit that adoption is not the answer to the world's "orphan crisis". Yet there continues to be a enormous need for willing adoptive parents, particularly those who would be open to a child with special needs, a sibling group or a older child.

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