Ok...so you might have noticed that I made some changes to the blog...no longer do I have the current time in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on the blog (instead the time is for Accra, Ghana)...I have a new country flag on the blog....and today I just changed the title.
So, even though things aren't really "official" yet, I am making an announcement today. We have decided on a slight change of plans for our adoption. I'll explain, with some blackground information.
Last July, I spent some time doing some research on international adoption. At the time, Z and I assumed we could never afford it, but I had also heard that the rates for international adoption for countries in Africa were not on the same scale as the often quoted rates for places like Guatemala, China, and Russia. Z and I were not really interested in adopting from places like Guatemala, China, and Russia (not because the children there are not beautiful and not in need, but because we didn't feel a personal connection to those places). But we were definitely interested in Africa. So, I decided to do some checking. The continent of Africa is huge, and there are lots of countries; but very few have infrastructure in place to support international adoption. So, after some research, we realized that our choices were Liberia, Ethiopia, and Ghana. Several other countries in Africa allow international adoptions, but no agencies work in them so the adoption would have to be done independently (we definitely did not feel comfortable with that), or the country is open to adoption from some countries, but not the U.S.
For some reason, Liberia never really spoke to either Z or myself. I'm not sure why...there are great people working in Liberia and there are certainly lots of kids in need there, but it just wasn't where our kids were.
We immediately fell in love with Ghana. Western Africa, on the coast, English is the national language, a rich but dark history....There were lots of things to love there. In our location in central Iowa, there is a fairly large population of West African immigrants. Since the national language is English, perhaps we would feel more comfortable traveling there (and maybe our own parents would be willing to travel there someday as well). It is a place I can easily imagine myself wanting to travel to over and over (which we want to do, so that our kids continue to feel connected to their home country and culture). West Africa is well-known for fabric and fabric art...as a quilter that's heaven to me. But...at the time we were considering Ghana there was only one agency working there. For several reasons, this particular agency just didn't feel like the right place to us. We thought about it, but decided we needed to have a back-up plan in place in case we still didn't feel just right about it when we were actually ready to send in the application to get started.
The back-up plan was Ethiopia. There are a ton of reasons to love Ethiopia. Ethiopia has a rich history, beautiful people, an adoption-friendly culture, lots of agencies working in Ethiopia to facilitate adoptions, and because Ethiopian adoptions are gaining "popularity" there are a number of Ethiopian children in the U.S. (and several fairly large Ethiopian immigrant populations across the U.S.). I can honestly say that I love Ethiopia...and I would have been completely happy pursuing an adoption in Ethiopia. But, another opportunity arose that we just couldn't ignore.
We decided to work with AAI (Adoption Advocates International) for our adoption. We applied, signed a contract, finished our homestudy, and started putting together a dossier. Then, the news came. AAI was going to start a program in Ghana! What are the chances that the agency we settled with in Ethiopia was going to start a program in the country we had originally wanted to adopt from? We learned more about the program and decided we wanted to be a part of it. It is a brand new program...there are lots of unknowns...We don't know what our timeline will be...we no longer know whether hoping to have children home by Christmas 2007 is a reasonable goal or not (though for now we're still holding on to that goal)...we are learning about a new adoption system and what to expect the process to be like. We are breaking new ground here. Its exciting and a bit scary, but for us it feels right.
The decision for us to be a part of this new program came quite a while ago and there was a flurry of new information going back and forth between myself and AAI's Ghana program coordinator. I am learning a ton about Ghana...and about what AAI hopes for the future of their program in Ghana. But, for now, it seems like the adoption process is standing still. Not because the program coordinator isn't working like crazy, and not because the Ghanaian employee isn't working very hard to get things going. I think to me it feels stalled because everything that's going on is going on without me having to fill out more paperwork. We haven't completed our Ghanaian dossier yet because we are waiting on something from Ghana. We don't have official referrals yet because there is a specific process that needs to happen in Ghana first (a Ghanaian process that helps to protect children and is a very good thing).
From where I was in the process while we were still working toward an Ethiopian adoption, I am surprised about how okay I actually am about the current lack of paperwork and obvious activity in our adoption process. I know it will all happen when its supposed to. I know that the Ghana program coordinator will contact me when stuff does start happening. I know that the agency we chose to work with will do things the right way and that the program in Ghana will eventually be a great one. And, I'm totally ok with helping them to get to that point, even if it means some additional unknowns in our process.