I am long overdue in writing about our adoption plans. It was sometime last month that I gave the teaser about some big plans ahead for the Johnson family and then never quite made good on explaining myself. So here goes...
Allow me to begin with a little background information. Ever since February 2005, when we discovered that conceiving a child on our own would be nearly impossible, God started working HIS plan out in our lives. We grieved and prayed and shed some tears, but ultimately gave it to God. We knew without a shadow of a doubt that God had put the desire in our hearts to be parents, so He would provide the way. Through our grief, God was leading us in a new direction - Adoption.
This was an idea that came quite naturally to me. My younger brother Jonathan had been adopted into our family as an infant, so I was very comfortable with this path. I began to research everything I could on the subject - Internet, books, magazines, seminars, etc. I sent for over a dozen informational packets from various adoption agencies - public, private, international, domestic - and devoured the details provided in each one. But all the time I was praying.
Eric was less sure about the whole adoption thing. He had had less personal familiarity with adoptive families and was still grieving the loss of a potential biological child. I was tempted to push (and probably did sometimes), but God kept reminding me that all was better in HIS time. Ultimately God brought Eric around. He planted a seed in Eric's heart that over several months grew into a strong conviction that we should adopt. That was the time to move ahead. And that is how God brought us to our first child, our daughter Noelle.
Now we are praying and researching and planning for our second child - the passion for adoption stronger than ever in our hearts. We had originally wanted to adopt another little girl from China so Noelle could have a sister of the same ethnicity and heritage. We believe this would have been a great support system for 2 sisters growing up together in our home. Unfortunately we are unable to pursue this avenue due to the adoption policy changes that China made in 2007. So we began looking into Taiwan. Taiwan, also known as the Republic of China, is a beautiful and friendly country. It is making great strides in its young democracy and has an entrepreneurial spirit and growing economy.
One thing about Taiwan adoption that is very attractive is that you can adopt young babies (often 10 months or younger at time of travel). These infants live in foster homes or orphanages. Adoption organizations in Taiwan or adoption agencies here will match a child with a family, but in many cases, the birth mothers are involved in selecting parents for their child (similar to our US system of infant adoption). We love the idea of being able to meet our child's birth parents and keeping in touch over the years. Even though this idea may sound "scary" or "risky" to some people, studies have shown time and time again that this is by far the healthiest situation for the adopted child (not to mention, giving the birth family reassurance that their child is well loved). There are fewer unanswered questions and a relationship with the birth family can ease feelings of abandonment that adopted children often struggle with.
So Taiwan infant adoption is one option we are considering. If we signed with an agency, we are looking at a 1-2 year wait for a referral (match) and then another 6-8 months waiting to travel to pick up our child. We are also looking into adopting independently - i.e. locating our own birth mother and hiring a lawyer to process the paperwork. This can be a very challenging route to pursue, but would be significantly less expensive. If we went independent, we would contact Nazarene (our church denomination) pastors and missionaries in Taiwan and pray for God to orchestrate a match for us.
Some other countries we have looked into are Ethiopia, Rwanda and Uganda. The agency we used for Noelle, America World, has a great Rwanda program that looks very promising and so far is very stable. There are healthy and very young babies available, the time in country is short and the costs are extremely reasonable ("reasonable", as far as adoptions go).
We are also thinking about US infant adoption. We would not, however, go through an agency. We would hire a lawyer and network with family and friends to locate a birth mother ourselves. Again, with Independent adoption, God is the one making the match for us. And how can we go wrong with God in charge? The answer is, we can't!
So basically, we are open to whomever and whatever God wants. We feel honored, amazed and blessed to be people God has chosen to call "an adoptive family". Personal biology is unimportant to us - FAMILY is what is important. We trust God to bring the right child(ren) into our family - Caucasian, African-American, Hispanic, Asian, Indian, African, etc. Each and every child on this planet has been made in the image of God, so whomever God brings to our home will be a wonderful blessing. How cool is that!?!?
Okay. Now for the bigger news. Which route are we choosing? Taiwan? Rwanda? US? Agency directed? Independent?
Well check back soon and I'll spill the beans.
Yes, FOR REAL this time...