For whatever reason today has been a rough day for me personally. As most of you know, our paperwork (called our dossier) has been in Ethiopia for 4 months now. At that time our agency said to expect a referral anywhere from 5-8 months after sending your paperwork to ethiopia. In my heart I dreamed that since we are open to a special needs child that our referral would come even quicker than that. It was a silly dream and in my head I knew that in reality it was not going to happen like that. As I look at our number in line I don't see us moving up the list very quickly. Last week we were family #21 and now we have moved backward to family #22 again! Grrr! I know there are families ahead of us in line that make changes and that can affect our ranking. With Zamara's adoption we were family #5 for over 3 months! In my head I understand all this, but my heart doesn't seem to want to listen. Looking over our agencies statistics over the last year, it seemed that referrals were coming quickly! Some months there were over 15 referrals! That would mean being number #22 would only last a couple of months...in theory! But since January, the referrals have barely trickled in a few per month.
Since we started our adoption 15 months ago, we have had a couple large hits...
Last March (after being in the adoption program for 4 months) Ethiopia changed their adoption laws so that families now have to travel to Ethiopia twice. It was a huge blow to all of us. Financially the cost of adoption would raise another $6000+ for the extra travel and in country costs. In addition, we would now travel to Ethiopia meet our child and then have to come home to USA and leave him/her for several months before heading back to pick him up. One of the reasons we chose Ethiopia over other countries was because we didn't have to do this. I could not imagine leaving my child in a foreign country for any reason!! Because of the new law, that was exactly what we were going to have to do. It was heartbreaking!
When I look back at our adoption of Zamara I cannot even fathom letting her go for even 5 minutes, let alone having to leave her for potentially several months. But I think Craig and I took it in stride and tried our hardest to trust in God's provision to carry us through, both financially and emotionally. We understand that international adoption is full of unknowns and this is just part of what we signed up for.
Fast forward to the first week of March 2011. Our agency emails us another bombshell. The Ethiopian agency who handles the adoptions, MOWA (Ministry of Women's Affairs) had it's budget cut by 80%. What this would mean for us is a HUGE backup of children going through the system: i.e. fewer referrals, longer wait time between travel, more children left in the orphanages for longer times, etc... Potentially we would have to wait another 12-18 months between getting our referral and traveling to meet them for the first time. It was almost too much for us to even fathom!
Over the last few weeks adoption agencies in Ethiopia have been meeting with various government officials and agencies in Addis trying to find out what is really happening and how we can reverse this problem. At this point, we have no idea what the exact fall-out will be. We do know that this will slow down the program significantly, but since it has only been a few weeks, there has not been enough time for families to see how it will all play out.
As some of you may recall, we had a similar situation when we tried to adopt from China. When we first began the process in 2005 the China program was running along quite smoothly. By the time we had sent our dossier to China the program had slowed down from a 9 month wait for a referral to over 2 years! It was heartbreaking for us to leave this program and start over again with Ethiopia. My heart still grieves over that chinese baby that was never ours. And now it feels as though it is happening all over again.
Up to this point I have held it together fairly well. When Craig would freak out I would say, "Well, it sucks, but there is nothing we can do about it so let's not get upset. And besides, things may change again in a few months" I have been saying this for 2 weeks now, and I almost think I just might believe it. If only my heart could seem to hear it too! For some reason, my brain and heart are not communicating very well. Today I have really struggled with everything that has happened. It is a frustrating feeling to feel completely helpless to change the situation. Of course I know all the right answers, "God is in control", "God wouldn't have put this on your heart if He didn't intend to carry you through it", "God has blessed us in so many ways, of course He will bless us through this situation", etc...etc...if only my heart could hear all of this. All I know at this point is that there are hurting children in Ethiopia who need Mommy's and Daddy's. God does not intend children to grow up in over-crowded, understaffed orphanages. My child may already be born and is waiting for us to come and get her. I cannot bear to be apart from my baby for as long as I may be required to be...and all because a corrupt government is trying to make power play.
In my brain I know we are on the right path. I KNOW we have been called to adopt internationally. When I look at Zamara I know we made the right choices in the past and I know the same thing will happen once we are on the other side of this process.
Perhaps tomorrow my heart will finally listen to my brain...