Tuesday, December 31, 2013

"What can we do? How can we help?" Here is one way...

Governments shutting down their international adoption programs (or threatening to) for a variety of often politically charged reasons (ahem...Russia), is not new.  It has happened multiple times before, never resulting in a better situation for the most vulnerable section of our global society.  When there is corruption or unethical behavior in an adoption program should there be investigation, licenses revoked, perhaps even program slowdown while weeds are pulled?  Absolutely.  To throw the baby out with the bath water and simply shut down adoptions completely goes against exactly what is being professed - doing what is best to protect a country's children.  To quote Dave Thomas (adoptee), "Every child deserves a home and love.  Period."  I could go on and on with my rant about all the reasons why I view it a human rights violation to deny children the possibility of a family, and all the benefits that come with that...but let's move on to a couple of ways that something can be done about that:

Have you heard of CHIFF (Children in Families First Act)?

It is a congressional bill being sponsored with bipartisan support.  Here is a quote from their website:  

"The best protection for a child is a family. We protect children by preserving families, reunifying families or creating families through adoption.  And yet, no one in our foreign affairs agencies focuses on children in families."

CHIFF has several key goals, one of which is to establishe a bureau in the Department of State that will become the much needed foreign policy and diplomatic hub on international child welfare.  Also, "CHIFF brings the need for ethical, transparent and accountable child welfare systems to the forefront.  By ensuring systems are in place to help children remain in their family of birth, be reunited with family or be adopted locally or internationally, CHIFF promotes a holistic and preventative approach to strengthening child protections.  This strategy is critical to decreasing children’s exposure and vulnerability to trafficking, exploitation, violence and neglect.

So what can you do??  First, take just a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the bill.  Here is their website.  Take just 5 minutes to browse though it (I personally recommend taking a quick look at the FAQ tab, and if you are interested then the Stories tab), and then CONTACT YOUR ELECTED REPRESENTATIVE!

You can click here to see who are already sponsors and co-sponsors.  If your representative is already a sponsor please contact and thank them (let them know this is important to their constituents)!  If you don't see their names then call or email them (better yet both), even contact them via facebook or twitter to let them know it is important to you.  Surveys show it takes as little as 20 phone calls on an issue for an elected official to take notice of that issue.  Click here to even be provided with a sample script or template you can use when you contact them, as well as for a list of who your elected officials are!  Note to all my Utah friends...I don't see any of our Senators or Representatives sponsoring the bill yet!!

You do not have to have a soft spot in your heart for adoption or be an adoption advocate to see the wisdom in supporting this bill (although that's great if you do/are!)...this bill isn't solely about adoption.  This bill is about seeing children in families as a global priority.  If you believe in the important role of families, and their vital role for children and society then do something and stand up for what you believe!  Please.  It can help, and you will feel so good knowing you spoke up and helped make a difference.

That, my friends, is something you can do to help.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Heartbreak. Prayers needed.

I am extremely emotional as I write this post.  We received an email from our agency giving us a program update that we didn't want to hear.  Apparently on the day after Christmas the House Speaker & the directer of Women, Children & Youth Affairs (MOWA) in Ethiopia made a public statement stating their intent to put an end to all foreign adoptions from their country.  It went on to outline their desire to "give priority to use local means to raise orphaned children rather than giving them away to foreign families".

Now, let me say that in theory I think this is ideal.  I have always said that it is best to help families (in Ethiopia or elsewhere) stay intact when possible, and that the next best option is for the child to be cared for and raised by a family in their birth country. However, when neither of these options are possible (as so often is the case) foreign adoption is the best option for a child, not being raised in an institution or on the streets...or worse.

I am so upset that I'm having a hard time putting my thoughts and feelings in to words.  I am upset at what this could potentially mean for our family, but even more upset at what this will mean for so many children in Ethiopia.  With millions of orphaned children in their country and hardly the infrastructure to care for so many people suffering from disease and poverty already...how do they suppose that they will begin to be able to care for additional children - let alone that even if they can provide food and shelter for these children, that what they need is a home and family.  The studies are indisputable, children develop and thrive best in a family and home environment.  While the loss of country and culture is a real one, it is nothing compared to what a child loses by not being raised in a family.

This was an official and public statement, but there was no timeline given and no date outlined by when foreign adoptions will be cut off.  Rumors I am hearing online say possibly within one month.  Considering that we anticipate our adoption taking us another 3 years I can only assume that this will essentially put an end to our adoption from Ethiopia, but I don't know for sure yet.  We felt that this was the right avenue to pursue, so we will continue doing so until there is no possibility (not to mention that we are over $16,000 into things)...and if that happens I simply do not know what plan B is.  When it comes to your child there usually isn't simply a plan B in place.  I cannot picture anything else right now.  The one thing we do know from our past experiences (with both adoption and fertility treatments) is that things happen when and how they are supposed to.  I am trying to have faith in that and know that things will work out how they are meant to.

Right now though, I am simply indescribably saddened.  I have fallen in love with the beautiful country and culture of Ethiopia.  I know there are children there languishing in disease, poverty and who need homes and families - in a country without the infrastructure to care for them.

Please, please, please add your prayers to ours.  Of course we pray that we will be guided to make the decisions that will help us find our way to our daughter that we feel is out there...wherever and whenever that may be.  But more than that - please pray that government authorities in Ethiopia will find wisdom in keeping foreign adoptions open in their country (in some capacity) as they concurrently develop necessary programs to help care for children in their own country.  As broken as my heart is right now, it is nothing compared to the loss and heartbreak of so many children (who have already experienced trauma in their young little lives) as yet another country plans to close its doors to providing them permanent loving homes.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas gift.

Mark loves to make me cry.  In a good way.  He gauges how "good" a gift is that he gives me by if I cry (and how much).

One of my Christmas gifts was addressed to "My girls".  Right when I saw that I knew to prepare myself to fight tears (plus he had video rolling, and his family there while we opened gifts).  That was the first time he'd ever written that.  My girls.  I love the sound of that.

Inside the gift were two Barbie dolls to add to my baby girl stash.  One of the blond haired variety, and another (Princess Tiana) with beautiful dark hair and skin.  Just like this:

Even our boys were excited to see something for baby girl.  "One that looks like mommy, and one that looks like baby girl" Mark added.

I loved it.  I love how thoughtful Mark is, and I love stashing thing away for our precious baby girl someday.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Little updates

On December 17th we attended our assigned biometrics (fingerprinting) appointment at the Immigration office in Salt Lake City.  We had the first appointment of the day, so we were in and out pretty quickly.  It was kind of cool to watch the digital reading of our fingerprints (much more high-tech than the inked version we did at the police station for our local background checks).  These are transmitted electronically to pre-approve the immigration process for our child.

That day also happened to be my birthday, so after our appointment we picked up my birthday gift which was a signed print of Greg Olsen's painting Hand in Hand.  I've been so excited to put a copy of this up in our home.  First of all, I think it's beautiful...but also it reminds me that our Savior will watch over our daughter and guide her home to us.