We received an email from our agency today that had lots of information in it that we wanted to share with you all.
First the good news:
A referral was handed out this week which means we are now number 98 (we were number 99 initially - sorry I forgot to post that!) on the waiting list. Movement is movement and that is a very good thing! One referral closer to our baby!
We also were informed that our agency is in talks with two additional orphanages to try to begin a relationship with those orphanages. If our agency were to partner with those additional orphanages, we would, in theory, see an increase in the rate of referrals because there would be more children made available to our agency. The partnership is still up in the air and even if it ends up working out, there's no way of knowing how long it would be before we would see a positive increase in referrals. We are hopeful, but trying not to put all of our hope in this possibility. It is encouraging, at the very least, that our agency is actively trying to increase the number of referrals they hand out.
Now the not-so-good news:
We were also informed that waiting families should now expect to wait at least two years before receiving a referral. When we started this process last summer, we were aware that the adoption climate in Ethiopia was a bit unpredictable. At the time we initially applied to our agency, we were told to anticipate a wait time of 7-10 months before receiving a referral. As we checked things off our list and got closer and closer to becoming a waiting family ourselves, we would get periodic emails from our agency informing us that the wait was creeping closer to a year, then 15 months, then 18 months. To be honest, we aren't all that rocked by the two-year wait because we have seen the trend of extending the wait and also seen the lack of referrals coming through. We knew that the fewer referrals we saw, the more clogged the list would become and therefore the longer our own wait would be. So the two years expectation is not a surprise, although it is a disappointment.
Let me be clear: we have no regrets. We do not regret starting the process when we did. We do not regret choosing Ethiopia. We do not regret anything about this process so far. We can mark the minute that we both felt the Lord say, "Go get your baby. He or she is in Ethiopia." And that knowledge arms us with an other-worldly confidence that the timing will be perfect. We believe that our child, chosen specifically for our family, is waiting for us at the end of those two years.
That being said, it is heartbreaking that Lila will be four years old before we even get our referral. And the thought of her being four and a half by the time her brother or sister is home makes me feel sick to my stomach. There's the thought that we might open our age request to include an older child - maybe a two or three year old - so that the age gap would be smaller between them. But even then, Lila would effectively be an only child for nearly five years and that makes me sad to think about. I think both parents and children really benefit from adding siblings in the mix. I know my tendency to make my world all about Lila and I just don't think that's good for her or me! A sibling would force both of us to spread the Mommy-wealth around a bit! (Of course, I am speaking only for my family, so no judgement here for those who choose to have one child and be done - that might be the very best choice for your family and I'm not here to make that call for you!)
Anyway, we definitely have a lot to think about, pray about and process! We covet your prayers as we discern what our next step should be.
I keep thinking about the verse in Isaiah, 'My thoughts are not like your thoughts,' says the Lord, 'and my ways are far beyond anything you can imagine.' We can't begin to imagine the Lord's long-term plan - he said so himself! But we trust that he called us and sent us. We trust him to build our family perfectly in perfect timing. So we ask the Lord the same question we have asked on each leg of this journey: What next, Lord? And we trust our Good Shepherd to walk ahead of us to show us the way.