Ani and her husband were gracious enough to share their adoption journey. Â I love how often couples consider adoption while dating and/or engaged! Â Many thanks to them for sharing their inspiring story.
Jeff and I just celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary!Â We adopted our son, Juan Pablo (age 3) from Ethiopia in July 2008.Â This past June, we brought home our daughter, Ana Luisa (18 months) from Ethiopia.
Both of us had always wanted to adopt.Â Even while we were dating and engaged, we talked adopting someday.Â About six months into our marriage,Â I was listening to our local Catholic radio station, and heard someone from anÂ adoption agencyÂ in the area talking about their programs.Â I made a point to remember the name of the adoption agency, thinking it would be a good thing to remember for the future.Â Later that day, I googled the adoption agency, just to check it out.Â I was immediately captivated by the faces of the children on the agency’s website, as well as the stories of the families who had adopted.Â The more I browsed, I realized this was something that we could actually do!Â Though we had been trying to get pregnant, we weren’t pregnant yet, so I began to think, “Why not?”Â I brought it up with Jeff, and he was completely on board from the beginning.Â We began to pray, read, research, request information packets from different agencies, and attend information meetings.Â The agency we chose had a one year marriage length requirement, so the day after our one year anniversary, we started our first adoption process!
We did not tell anybody that we were thinking about adoption until we had already started the process.Â We suspected that reactions from family and friends would be mixed, and we wanted to make sure that we were making the decision together and trying to discern God’s will for our family together, without being pressured or influenced by anyone else.Â In addition, all the research and reading and talking about adoption really prepared us for the responses that we received when we finally did share our news.Â Our situation is a little unique, in that we were 24 and 25 years old, and had been married for only a year when we started the adoption process.Â Many well-meaning people in our lives had a lot to say about us being too young, not married long enough, not having tried enough to have biological children,Â adopting a childoutside of our race, etc.Â Everybody had questions about the reasons behind our decisions.Â Thankfully, because we had spent so much time talking things through, picking everything apart, and learning as much as we could, we felt very comfortable responding to the negative comments and answering people’s questions.Â Though I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that everyone be as secretive as we were, I would say to make sure that you are able to make all the adoption-related decisions for yourselves.
We have foundÂ Adoptive Families magazineÂ to be very helpful.Â We also loveÂ Adoption Parenting, from EMK press, which was actually required reading by our agency.Â Another favorite is Attaching in Adoption byÂ Deborah Gray.Â Although they are not specifically adoption-related, we also found Parenting with Grace, by Greg and Lisa Popcak, and pretty much any book byÂ Dr. William SearsÂ to be particularly helpful, because of their focus on attachment.
I’m still not completely sure how we funded our first adoption!Â We had put all our combined savings into a down payment for our house just over a year beforeÂ we started the adoption process.Â Because I was in graduate school I wasn’t making much money with my part-time student job, and although Jeff has a good job, he was still at the bottom of the totem pole being just a couple years out of school.Â Â We came up with a very strict budget, and signed up for a line of credit for adoptive families throughÂ Bank of America.Â We weren’t sure how it was all going to work out, but God provided!Â A couple weeks after we started the adoption process, Jeff got a raise.Â We stuck to our budget, and although the process took less time than we had anticipated, we never actually had to use the line of credit!Â Jeff’s company also has an employee assistance program, and between this and theÂ adoption tax credit, we were able to get back most of the money we used to pay for the adoption once the process was complete.Â This is what helped us fund our second adoption, along with sticking to our budget.Â We’ve also signed up for several “0% APR for 12 months” credit card offers, knowing that we would be able to pay the whole balance off with our tax refund.Â Â I know the current financial crisis has everyone warning against buying on credit, but when you know you have a massive tax refund coming, as long as you keep track of how much you’re spending, it actually works out ok!
Both of us had done mission work in developing countries in high school and college.Â Â My mom is from Mexico, and most of my extended family lives there, so our family is already somewhat international to begin with.Â Â When Jeff and I started dating, I was pursuing a master’s degree in public health, in hopes of doing AIDS relief work in Africa after graduation.Â When things between us got more serious, and we went on to get engaged and then married, I had to change my plans, but the seed was already planted.Â At the time that we began the adoption process, my brother was heading off to Benin to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer for two years.Â I think the combination of all these things very naturally led us toÂ international adoption.
Pray.Â Â I don’t believe that everybody is called to adopt, but I do think that every married couple should at least pray about adopting.Â And if you feel theÂ Holy SpiritÂ is nudging you in that direction, seriously look into things.Â We have had several of our friends say things like, “We’ve talked about how we would love to adopt someday, but we know we would never be able to afford it.”Â I always encourage these people to pray about it and do some research- if God is calling you to it, He will make a way!
Of course!Â With our son, the biggest challenge has been sleep!Â When we brought him home, he had no concept of days or nights.Â At night he would sleep two hours, then be wide awake for the next two hours, then fall back asleep and repeat the cycle.Â It was like having a newborn at night and a very, very active toddler during the day!Â We co-sleep with him, and finally, after almost two years, he started sleeping through the night about six months ago.Â With our daughter, the biggest challenge has been nutrition.Â She was born with a cleft lip and palate, and as a result had difficulty using a bottle.Â The orphanage workers simply didn’t have the time to spend making sure she was eating enough, so she was extremely malnourished when we brought her home.Â Figuring out what to feed her, how often to feed her and how much to feed her has been a slow and sometimes frustrating process.Â She is doing great, and gained a lot of weight very quickly, but she still seems to be always hungry!
My biggest fear was that my children wouldn’t attach to me and accept me as their mother.Â I really had nothing to worry about!
Aside from the joy that our two beautiful children bring us, the greatest blessing of beingÂ adoptive parentsÂ has been how much God has shown us of his love for us throughout the adoption process, as well as these first few years of parenting our children.Â Being adoptive parents really has given us a unique and wonderful perspective on God as our adoptive Father, and the love that he has for us, his children.