Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bringing Zoe Home

Over that past few weeks, I have been spending a lot of time reflecting on the way I approach life and people. I have always been a fairly private person, which I believe is okay to a point. Lately, however, I have had some things in my heart that I find myself not sharing or celebrating with others the way I want to and should be. It’s an interesting thing that is happening to me and it is part of my own personal journey of learning more about myself and continuing to become more like the me that God created me to be. That is, one who lives from his heart and not so much from his head.

Along the way, through our adoption process, (Kristy and I are currently adopting a baby girl – Zoe – from Ethiopia) I have not really expressed my heart for our adoption. So, today, I’d like to share what is and has been going on in my heart over the past few months and years.

Adoption is actually something that Kris and I started discussing at the time of our engagement. At that time, 8 years ago, we both had a heart to possibly one day adopt. For me personally though, it is something that I have had on my heart for most of my adult life. Honestly, I can't explain why except that I always felt blessed growing up, especially in high school, because I had such great parents and a great home life. Growing up, many of my friends did not have this same experience and I can remember thinking that if I could ever give another child who didn't have a family - a family, then I would.

Obviously, Kris and I both desire a large family (we currently have 4 boys) and when we (she) decided that we (she) were/was probably done having biological children, we (we) both still sensed that we weren't actually done 'having' children. I think that God gives us the grace to do the things he asks us to do. I don't think God asks everyone to adopt or have a big family, but I do sense that it is something that he has called us to do.

We chose Ethiopia because we both have a heart for Africa. It is hard to explain heart stuff, but if you’ve ever experienced ‘heart stuff’ then you know what that's like. Throughout our research, we came to realize that there are only a handful of African countries that currently participate in international adoption. We also learned that Ethiopia had become a major player in international adoptions and there were many U.S. adoption agencies working with Ethiopia. At the same time, Ethiopia is one of the few African countries that has infants that may be adopted. There are over 5 million orphans in Ethiopia and most of these are due to poverty.

One of, if not, the biggest hurdle that was standing in our way of actually pulling the trigger and deciding to fully jump in was money. An Ethiopian adoption cost between $25,000 and $28,000. Once we knew that this was God though, we committed to simply figuring it out. We had about $8,000 saved up in our emergency fund, so we knew we could start with that. Then I thought about jumping into my 401k. After more consideration, I decided that we would not jump into the 401k, but instead would pray and ask God to provide the money. Because we wholeheartedly felt God's leading in this endeavor, we believed that he would either provide the money by people giving towards bringing Zoe home or by us borrowing against the equity in our home. (Which is different than going creating new debt.) We determined that we were good with either way he decided to work it out or both ways.

To date we are $12,200 into the adoption. Awesomely enough (perhaps you have not heard the word awesomely used in a sentence before, but let’s face it….it really works here), God has already provided 1/3 of the money from the gifts of beautiful people around us who have simply desired to give financially towards Zoe coming home.

This journey (we are now officially 4 1/2 months into it) has been a lot of fun and pretty stress free so far. Most families take a minimum of 6 months to complete their dossier, but we have been cruising along (Kris is a stud) and we completed our dossier last weekend. As of this writing, our dossier is now in Virginia at our adoption agency, America World and will be sent to Ethiopia on Friday. Once our dossier is in Ethiopia, we will be put in line for receiving our little girl. From the time we are put in line, it should take between 7 and 12 months to bring Zoe home.

Things have been interesting around our home. We are regularly talking to the boys about their baby sister, Zoe. They are incredibly excited about having a brown sister and they love telling people that they’re getting a brown baby from Africa. (These are the words they have chosen on their own.) At the same time, Kristy is incredibly anxious to get started on Zoe's room and it's pretty cool for me too, because we've never had little girl stuff.

One thing that I have realized throughout this journey is that there are a lot of people who simply don't understand why we are adopting. I think this is in part because there is not much adopting going on around N.O. and secondly, because I have not done a good job of expressing myself. Some have thought that we just want another child. Others have thought we just want a girl. The truth is - we don't need any more kids (if you ever visit during dinner time, you’ll understand). Nor we don't need a girl. For us, these things are wonderful, but at the heart of the matter, our desire is to give a child who has everything stacked against them - a chance to live. I know that 1 in 5,000,000 doesn't seem like a lot, but it will mean a lot to that one, so we're starting there.

I write these things here and I invite you into this journey along with Kristy and me because, at the end of the day, I believe that we all play a part in this adoption. I honestly believe that anyone who prays for us and prays for Zoe, anyone who prays for the workers at the orphanage, anyone who gives money towards bringing Zoe home, anyone who educates themselves or asks questions, is playing a part in providing this child with a family and forever changing her life. To all of you, who have already played such an integral part, through your prayers and thoughts – THANK YOU!

I’d like to invite you over to our adoption blog also to check out Kristy’s heart for this adoption. You can check out her blog: Life and Heart Change here. (Warning: you might need Kleenex).

For those who are interested in keeping up with Zoe’s journey home, Kristy updates our adoption blog fairly regularly and you can reach that blog here.

If you have any questions about our adoption journey, please ask!


Pi Man said...

Good stuff, Brian. Thanks for that piece. And I checked out the other blogs - Wow! That dossier looks like a mini-library! Thanks. TA

Steven Scaffidi said...

I'm impressed. I've always followed my heart even though my brain usually tries to stop me. Isn't it amazing all of the wonderful things that happen in our lives when we finally let go and follow our heart because that is where God speaks to us. Keep it going Brian and I'll see you at Starbucks!
Steve - Ghost Rider

Laurie said...

I am single, and I never felt led to adopt as I feel a child deserves two committed parents. But a few times in my life I have had parents in other countries literally beg me to take their children because of their love for their children, not the lack of it. They could not provide for them, or they feared for their future, etc. It's great when someone answers that call because the need is there.