So I thought I'd get things started with this new facelift by answering questions that others have asked about our family pursuing adoption from Ethiopia. Let's roll...
"I thought you and Tony were finished having children. Didn't Michelle even go as far as having her tubes tied shortly after giving birth to your youngest son?"
Have you ever heard that saying that goes, "Man plans and God laughs"? I think that is so true in our case. I was never one to want a large family; in fact, in my high school/college years, my friends could tell you that a family was so not a part of my jet-setting plans! LOL. Although we had talked about adoption very early in our marriage, after finally getting the hang of our boy's schedules and also going through our share of marriage trials (as do all married couples), we decided two little boys were enough. (smile) In fact, I had my tubes tied "the day" my ob/gyn gave me the green light and Tony signed the consent form (a necessity since I was 26 and according to the doctors had many child-bearing years left in me--smile). After making that decision and over the life of our 12 years of marriage, my life has changed so much thanks to my relationship with God and the growth in my relationship with my husband. Both of them have had a major influence in my personality, focus, and priorities. I began to do a shift that I believe are clearly more in line with God's purpose for my life/our life together. (If you notice my language in the beginning of this paragraph, there is a lot of focus on what "I" wanted. "I" never considered what God wanted from us as a family.) Isaiah 55:8 (New Living Translation) says "My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts" says the Lord. "And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine." WHOA! When God began to plant this desire to pursue adoption again, the crazy thing is that although we have this longing for a little girl, NOTHING in me longs to have a 'biological' child. Nothing in me longs to go through pregnancy again....absolutely nothing. I have to attribute this desire to God because if I did have any of that longing, knowing how determined I am and how much I love research, I would be doing everything in my power to reverse the tubaligation and go through the fertility process. That's not my desire. It's not my husband's desire. We can only explain it as this has to be God's desire for our family.
"Why not adopt a child from the USA? There are so many children here who need to be adopted. Also, what made you choose Ethiopia as opposed to other countries? With the devastation in Haiti, why not Haiti?"
Hmmm....those are great questions. It's slightly similar to a man/woman who is going out to buy a car. Some choose to buy foreign cars whereas others feel that domestic is the absolute only way...support local families, jobs/workforce, and business in the U.S. Clearly, we're not buying a car, goods, or even 'buying' a child (although some like to use those words which are absolutely incorrect.....after all, aren't there expenses associated with the children that you give birth to...medical, hospital, childcare, education, etc.) Back to my point, what you choose still just comes down to a personal preference. For some, what I am going to say may be pushed away as being "super" spiritual and if so, that's okay too because my answer is just absolute truth. The only way to really explain this is to say that God has given us a burden for Ethiopia. It has started with me and Tony is in agreement. I have such a longing for Ethiopia. I've never been and in fact I've never enjoyed traveling. Even as I type this response, I'm holding back tears just thinking about Ethiopia. My heart longs. My heart aches. My heart is burdened for Ethiopia which I believe goes beyond my daughter. I can't explain it. I didn't see a video about suffering in Ethiopia that changed my heart. I didn't go on a missions trip that shifted my heart. All I know is that there is a nagging on my heart and in my very being for a nation that I have never known. Sure, there are many children in the USA and Haiti that need mommies, daddies, and families. I can't deny that. I also cannot deny what God has put in my heart for our family and my husband stands in agreement about it. We are at peace about it and really pray that our family and friends would be at peace with it too. At the same time, we understand that God has given the vision to us and not to them. With that said, peace abounds but we can't deny that sometimes the snide comments, and lack of support hurts.
"What about your boys, MJ and C, how do they feel about the adoption and having a little sister?
They are so excited! They just can't wait for us to finally get placed with a child and bring her home. We're confident that they will adjust really well. They even put their coins and sometimes dollars into our piggy bank.
"What would you say has been the greatest challenge with regard to foreign adoption?"
Honestly, being totally real with you, the cost of the adoption is the hugest challenge. No matter how many families you talk to that are in our position, you'll probably get this same answer. There seems to be more opportunities for financial breaks for domestic adoptions whereas international adoptions bring in their own set of additional costs.
"If you don't mind me asking, exactly how much will the adoption cost?"
The total cost is estimated at around $25,000 which includes our travel for me and Tony to pick-up our daughter. This cost includes fees to our agency to work on our behalf, childcare/medical and orphanage charges for our daughter while in Ethiopia, hours of required training for me and Tony, homestudy (thorough investigation of our family by a social worker), and TONS of paperwork that must be authenticated for the United States and Ethiopian governments. We truly don't mind this question because our desire is to share as much information as possible about our adoption journey and remain totally transparent as a way to educate others who hopefully would like to adopt (whether domestically or internationally). Our second desire is that our family, friends, and acquaintances will be prayerful about financially supporting our adoption once we have completed our homestudy.
"How do you keep the faith amidst setbacks?"
To be honest, sometimes it's tough. Just like anything else in life, sometimes we experience doubt that God would deem us worthy enough to be blessed with such an amazing opportunity to expand our family. We really believe that this little one will be more of a blessing to us than we will be to her. (Just as a side note, please, please, please, do not refer to our adoption as us saving her. We are not saving her. Yes, we believe that we can provide opportunities for her that she otherwise may not receive while in Ethiopia and in an orphanage but please understand, we are just so blessed to be a part of something so big that God will do in her life and in the lives of others in Ethiopia through extended missions work in Ethiopia after our adoption is completed.)
There are times when my faith is low in terms of the mountains that we must climb through the this journey. In fact, there are some times when I don't feel/see God's hand at work in our situation. There are times that I want to rush the process. Right now, as I type this I'm listening to a song that I discovered today by one of my favorite singers, Brooke Fraser. It's called "Faithful". The verses say:
There's a distance in the air and I cannot make it leave
I wave my arms 'round about me and blow with all my might
I cannot sense you close, though I know you're always here
But the comfort of You near is what I long for
When I can't feel You, I have learned to reach out just the same
When I can't hear You, I know You still hear every word I pray
And I want You more than I want to live another day
And as I wait for You maybe I'm made more faithful
WOW!!!! What if in this process, God is doing such a work in me that even the waiting, the heartache, and the disappointments cause me to willingly become more faithful, more hungry, more thirsty for my relationship and intimacy with God. For that alone, every heartache and disappointment is worth it if it makes me desperate for my Savior. It's so worth it!
Thanks so much for your interest and questions to get more clarity. We really appreciate it! If you have more questions, just leave them in the comments section of this blog post.