|Read parts 1-8 here.|
Kim and Todd had used to adopt their daughter from China after following a link there from another blog I was reading. I recognized the name - Children's Hope International - since Kim had shared it with me and I thought, "Why not get some more information?" Within 15 minutes of submitting the form online, I had an email in my inbox from the Kansas City area representative offering to get together with us to process our possible adoption. The next day I received another email with information about an informational meeting a local family was hosting. I signed us up for both since, after all, our plan was to simply hear more people's stories to hopefully help find/confirm our own.
So the following Saturday (the conversation between Genny and I happened on Thursday), we met the adoptive family at Starbucks. They shared their story of adopting a brother and a sister from Colombia. As we drove home, I let Eric process what we had heard (still determined not to influence him by my verbal processing). He surprised me by offering up that Colombia was a greater consideration now that he's heard someone's personal story (when I had mentioned Colombia before, he had said he would think about it, but that he felt a deeper tie to Ethiopia having been there). He shocked me by saying he would even think about adopting siblings. I hadn't even considered adopting siblings! Adding one child to our family seemed change enough for me! Who was this man driving my car?
Then, on Monday, we met with the agency's local rep, Nikki. The first thing she said when we sat down was, "So, tell me your story. Why are we here?" Immediately, we felt like we had found that missing piece. The local agency we had met with back in March had been professional, knowledgeable, polite. But it felt like she had simply said, "Here's what we offer and how we operate. Let us know when you're ready for the next step." I remember saying to Eric when we left there, "I was kind of hoping she would have asked us a little more about us." This was what we needed. Someone to take the time to hear our story, our process and then use their knowledge and insight to help us make some really important decisions.
I told Nikki our story (the long version, of course - do you know me at all?) and ended by saying that we had narrowed our country options down to Ethiopia and Colombia for these reasons. She listened and then said, "I'm working on not being too honest with people." I think what she probably meant was she has a pretty strong ability to discern what people should do, but sometimes they're not ready to hear it. We told her to please, be honest! So she proceeded to tell us that Colombia is just not a good fit for us. The Colombia program is designed primarily for the adoption of sibling groups and is a best fit for an older couple with no children or older children. She said we could still go with Colombia if that's what we really wanted, but with the age of child we were looking for (because of Lila's age) we may have to wait 4-5 years and there was just no reason for us to have to do that.
She gave us a few other reasons (for example, Colombia is very strict about adoptive mothers getting pregnant, so if I were to get pregnant on accident we wouldn't be able to proceed with the adoption) and as she spoke Eric and I just kept exchanging grins. Here was the clear closed door we had been praying for. I was already feeling really confident that Ethiopia would be the best fit for us - if only because Colombia wasn't a good fit. But then Nikki started to tell us about the Ethiopia program.
She told us how well the kids were cared for.
She told us that the Ethiopian government has been really intentional about showing that they value the adoption exchange.
She told us that we would most likely have the opportunity to meet our child's birth family.
She told us that Ethiopia tends to be more flexible with things like the age of current kids and moms getting pregnant.
She told us that Ethiopia has many young infants available for adoption.
She told us that the process is predictable and stable.
And with each bit of information she added, I felt the whisper in my heart grow louder and stronger: "my child is in ethiopia. My child is in Ethiopia. My Child Is In Ethiopia. MY CHILD IS IN ETHIOPIA!" But in my mind I kept reminding myself, "Kelsey, it has to come from Eric. This is his pregnancy. You can't say anything!"
To be continued in part ten!