Well there's no putting anything past you guys, is there?!?! I'm obviously used to playing "I Spy" with small children.
You spotted it! There was a small word, Uganda, inserted in the blog title. Like I said, small but big change. Today we sent off some paperwork to ask to be accepted into the Uganda Adoption Program. This has been a bittersweet decision. Bitter because I've longed to be back in Ethiopia, I had my heart set on Ethiopia, I had tunnel vision for Ethiopia. It's sweet because we see the Lord's hand in it, and that's always sweet.
When we started this adoption, I saw a young girl on a waiting child list. I inquired about her, I was told she lived in Uganda, so I moved on .... after all, we were adopting from Ethiopia. So we moved forward at lighting speed (compared to our last adoption); and just this past Friday, we were at the very end of the "paperchase" (the massive amount of paperwork that needs to be done for international adoption). We had everything in envelopes, got our international fingerprints done and were about to mail off our first payment for the Ethiopia program.
There's two things you need to know. 1) Once payment is submitted, there are no refunds if you choose to not complete an adoption in the current program. It can transfer to other programs within the same agency, but our agency does not have a program in Uganda, so we would have been facing losing any money paid. 2) We were waiting to hear back on the status of a grant we had applied for, a grant we were praying would provide much of the remainder of our adoption funds. This grant organization usually takes 2-3 weeks to decide. We were past 3 weeks. This grant foundation submits payment to your agency before officially notifying you of approval.
Okay, so for anyone who reads my blog or who is friends w/ me on Facebook, you know about the uproar in the Ethiopia program right now. It is heartbreaking! Children who shouldn't have to wait for families are facing years of unnecessary wait times. We knew the wait would be hard, but we knew adoption was hard - and that for sure there was nothing we could do about any of it. There was nothing WE could do. God, on the other hand, seems to be orchestrating something we didn't see coming.
Remember that girl? The one that I saw at the start of this adoption? She once again popped up on my computer screen last Thursday. I dug up the email I had sent months ago regarding her. I followed the link to the email address listed to have more information about this girl. What would it even look like to switch to a different country? Not to mention a different agency? I mean, we were done with everything .... Well, here is what it looked like.
Friday afternoon - I sent a message to this new agency asking about this girl. We soon received a reply email with a photo and a short description. Sure enough, she was still in need of a home.
Friday afternoon - We sent a message to check on the status of the grant we had applied for, as well as explaining our possible changes. For all we knew, monies had already been granted on our behalf to our agency. (So remember, we wouldn't get that money back if we left the program.)
Friday night - (WARNING: This one makes the hairs on your arm stand up, or at least it does for mine.) We received a reply email from the grant foundation telling us we had been approved, and that they had tried to submit payment to our agency that week. But for the second time in their history, there was a glitch, and the payment could not be made. They stated to us that God's timing is not our own, and that they would gladly hold on to the grant until we knew what we were doing, and submit the funds to whatever agency we chose to use.
Saturday night - I get a call from the adoption agency who has the file of this sweet girl in Uganda. What? Saturday night? Yes, Saturday night. The women took the time to explain what the program looked like, what was required of us, etc.
Monday morning - I email our current agency to see if they knew of any children that they were thinking would be good for us. They told us it would take a few days to check with their representative in Ethiopia. Within an hour, I had an email stating they had already heard back, and that there was no child on their radar for us.
Okay, at this point, we KNOW God is doing something, we just don't know what. Actually, after the grant foundation emailed us, we knew that. So we spent the weekend praying about all of this, researching Uganda and adopting from Uganda, and prayed some more. To be honest, I needed to seriously ask for clarity of thought AND heart. I needed to know that I wasn't making a rash decision because of the changes happening in Ethiopia. I needed to know that I wasn't making a decision out of my inability to be patient. I couldn't wrap my head around NOT going back to Ethiopia. But there was this girl - this sweet girl - staring through the computer screen who needs a home NOW. She's ready for a home NOW.
I read a blog last week in response to the uproar in Ethiopia. For the life of me, I cannot find it. But the blogger wrote something along these lines:
If we are serious about orphan care, we would be adopting children off the waiting child lists, rather than standing in line waiting for a child. Less corruption stemming from "supply/demand" would be the result.
Okay, so again, that's a huge paraphrase. Maybe that isn't even what she said, but that's what I read. And it's what I needed to read. That phrase is extreme and presumptuous, and I don't believe that to be true for everyone adopting. Millions of healthy infants need families too .... in fact, one of them is sleeping in the next room as I type now. That doesn't make that route any less worthy or effective. But reading that brought me back to the heart of why WE are adopting THIS TIME. I really believe that from the time God planted this seed in our hearts to adopt again (which happens to be when we were in Ethiopia getting our baby boy), we knew it was going to involve the children less sought after. The older child, the special needs child, the medically fragile child. Take your pick. Regardless, my heart was shifting. It was shifting to a girl not in Ethiopia, but in Uganda. Aaron and I both stated this weekend, that where our hearts are right now is with being the answer to a current Orphan in need. And an Orphan is an Orphan no matter where in the world they live. So should we be so committed to an Orphan in one country? We decided no. Not this time.
So today we sent off our official application to an entirely different agency with the intent to pursue adopting this little girl. We are needing to guard our hearts, as there is no guarantee that she will be ours just yet. We are holding all of this with very loose hands. For all we know, God is going to move us to Ghana next week. No ... maybe not .... but we do want to be certain that we remain open to whatever it is God has. And today, that appears to be Uganda.
More information to hopefully come soon on this girl!