How'd You Get Here From There-Part VI
One of the most commonly asked questions in adoption (after "How much does it cost?") is "How long does it take?". I'd have to say the the question about cost is much easier to answer.
For those of you who have adopted children, you know that time lines can vary widely amongst different programs (ie-domestic or international) or even between the various country programs which exist. Unfortunately, even within a single country program, there is the risk that what was typical when you began your process is no longer the norm due to new regulations, country requirements or increased popularity for a certain program. Abundantly clear, however, is that the adoption process (as with all good things) is completely on God's timeline.
When we began our formal process, it was July 2005 and we were preparing our home study for the adoption of a baby girl from China. That very same month, our church ran a "Spiritual Adoption" program to pray for the lives of the unborn. Each family was given a prayer card containing a space to "name" the child for whom you would pray over the next nine months. Even then, as we prepared for our Chinese baby, God knew the outcome would be wildly different from what we were planning.
We proceeded quickly through the home study and by mid-September had completed all of the requisite paperwork, doctor appointments, fingerprinting, and home visits. We had selected Adoption Advocates International as our agency, after a referral from a beautiful family at church, who used AAI to adopt their baby boy from Ethiopia. As the home study process wound down, I confided in my sister-in-law that I wasn't sure if the China program was the right one for us. At the same time, our social worker quit. Feeling that the China program had so many families already willing to adopt children and so many children who languished in the American system, I felt convicted by Blessed Teresa of Calcutta's words to "not come to Calcutta, but look for Calcutta in your own backyard." I contacted our agency to tell them of our decision to switch to a domestic adoption program and filed their dossier paperwork away on a shelf. Uncertain where to begin, but trusting that God would lead us, we began to look into domestic adoption programs.
Discontented with the foster-to-adopt option, unqualified for many domestic programs based on our already *large* family, we were losing hope. Time felt as if it were running out. The process seemed to spin out of control as we watched with no end in sight-and at that point-no country (or child) identified. Attempting to soothe my frayed nerves, I tried to remind myself that God already knew which children would join our family and that His timing was perfect, even if it conflicted with mine.
In February 2006, we met yet another adoptive family at church, who had adopted from the Chicago area. At the time, we were unaware that they were in the process again, only this time, using AAI to adopt from Ethiopia. They shared the names of their domestic adoption agencies with us and we prioritized attending one agency's information session at the end of that month. While we sat in the meeting, with thirty other hopeful couples, we discovered that the particular session we were in addressed not only domestic but international programs as well. Assuming that we would sit patiently through the international spiel until the domestic talk began, I was shocked as I noticed my husband furiously writing nearly every word the international speaker said. As we drove home that day, in deep thought about what we had heard, we had a revelation--we needed a program that accommodated our current family size and that had a great need--and then we remembered Ethiopia.
The next Monday, I re-connected with AAI, who asked if we still had our dossier packet from before. Almost immediately, I was able to lay my hands on that folder I had safely tucked away six months earlier. We started the paperwork knowing that the remaining "Ethiopia specific" paperwork would arrive soon. We finally felt at peace with our decision and believed we had found our country program.
As if our decision needed any further affirmation, less than two weeks later, AAI stopped accepting new families into the Ethiopia program. The answer to our program quandry had been given just in the nick of time--God's time--not ours.
Coming next: The referral process!