This will be my 2nd Mother's Day as a mom. Oh, how I love being a mom. I am so grateful to be able to spend this day with TWO precious girls this year! Our 2nd biological daughter, Hattie Rae, was born on March 24 at 6:52 PM. She weighed 6 lbs, 10 oz and was a whopping 22.5 inches long. We are adjusting to being a family of 4 and loving every minute of it.
Simultaneously, this will be my 3rd Mother's Day as a "waiting mom." As much as I will love spending the day with my girls, I long to spend it with a little boy as well. We long to be a family of FIVE. For over 3 years, we have prayed and worked and hoped and planned and dreamed of completing an international adoption from Ethiopia.
Mother's Day can be so difficult for so many women: those who have lost a mother, those struggling with infertility, those who have experienced miscarriage, those who have suffered the loss of a child on earth, those who have stared at a photo of a child but have not been able to bring him/her home yet, and (like me) those who are still waiting for a referral but are already in love with a child they've never seen. We may not be experiencing the exact same emotions or thoughts or feelings, but we all have some things in common: a child-sized hole in our hearts and a feeling that our family is not complete.
I can't pretend to know how each one of you feels. I can't promise you a miraculous pregnancy. I can't promise that your adoption will be completed. I can't bring back your loved one. What I can do, though, is offer hope- the hope I cling to in the midst of this ever-changing, unknown, difficult adoption journey:
The Bible says that God knows the desires of our hearts, and we know He works all things together for good for His purpose. While I can't promise that things will work out how we hope or want them to, I can promise that God has a plan for us. I can't promise that it will be easy, but I can promise that we can trust Him and lean into Him.
You see, it has been 3 years and 2 months since we began our adoption journey. Sometimes we don't feel any closer to completing our adoption than we did 3 years and 2 months ago. It seems like each month we wait, the estimated wait time to completion also jumps up another month. Current estimated wait times (for a healthy child between 0-3 through our agency) are now 48-60 months from the time your paperwork is submitted in Ethiopia. Our paperwork was submitted 30 months ago. This means that we could potentially be only halfway through our waiting process.
In the past several months, a lot has also changed in Ethiopia. There have been changes in leadership, changes in stability of the country, and proposed changes to the international adoption process. All of these things could impact our wait times even more.
Our biggest concerns at the moment are the proposed changes to international adoption requirements in Ethiopia. A draft was written and submitted to their government back in February. These proposed changes have to do with the requirements families have to meet in order to adopt a child from Ethiopia. Thankfully, we would still meet most of the proposed requirements to adopt from Ethiopia: age, income, health status, marriage requirements, etc. There are a few proposed changes that could impact our adoption process and our family, though.
One of the proposed changes states that a family cannot have any more than 2 children in the home before bringing an adopted child home. Currently, we meet this requirement. We have 2 beautiful daughters. That means, however, we cannot expand our family any more. We aren't sure of our family building plans other than having 2 daughters and adopting our son, but this change could make that decision for us. Another proposed change would require post-adoption reports to be submitted every 6 months until the child is 18. That is a LOT of paperwork to complete, but we would happily do that if it means bringing our son home. The most concerning change, however, would require adoptive parents to remain in country for 6 months prior to completing an adoption. If this proposed change passes, Marcus and I have no idea how we can stay in Ethiopia for 6 months with our jobs and our 2 kids. We are praying that this requirement, specifically, would not pass. If it does, we are praying for God's guidance and direction on how to proceed. Please pray with us.
These changes have been submitted and reviewed, but no decision has been made. We have no idea when to expect a ruling, but we do know things in Ethiopia move at a very slow pace. We also know that changes like these have been proposed several times over the last 10 years, and nothing has come to fruition. Our agency, however, does expect to see some changes in the adoption process. We just have to wait and see what those might be.
Due to the unknown and instability in the Ethiopian adoption program, our agency has offered its families a chance to switch to other country programs. However, we feel like God has led us to Ethiopia and that we have a son there. We will continue waiting and working to bring him home until God completes this adoption or completely closes that door. Thank you for your continued prayers and support.
(Photo credit: Jessie Ann Photography)