This entry is something I feel the need to write because of how many times I have been asked the question, "Why Ethiopia?" Now, that is a perfectly valid question when phrased nicely. But a majority of the time that's not the end of the sentence. It usually morphes into something like, "Why not here?", or "Shouldn't Americans take care of their own first?", or - here's the kicker - "Are you trying to be like Brad and Angelina?". I mean, seriously? Please show me in the Bible where it says to only help orphans in your own particuar country. You can't. It's not in there. I would like to give an answer that everyone will understand and agree with, but there's no way that's going to happen. Everyone has their own opinion about what should and should not be done about orphans. I am not here to argue with anyone. All I can do is try to explain it the best I can. The only opinion that matters to Alan and I in the grand scheme of things is God's, and whether or not we are in His will. So here goes. Please overlook all my grammatical errors.
When we first felt led to adopt, we looked into local adoption. We didn't feel called to adopt a newborn infant, we felt like God wants us to adopt an older child. They are harder to place. So that ruled out private adoption and left adopting through foster care. We have a few friends who have been down that road and we counseled with them. It was unanimous that we should have the child in our home first for a long list of reasons that I will not go into now. We decided that we didn't want to have kids coming and going from the house, not because of us, but because of our children. They want more siblings and we didn't want to have them fall in love with the kids in our home and then have to see them leave, possibly multiple times. I understand that a lot of people will not agree with that logic, but that's where we stand.
OK, moving on. After we made those decisions, the obvious choice for our family was international adoption. Now, just to give you an idea of how God can change people's hearts, a few years ago Alan said we would NEVER adopt outside of our own country. Just like a few years before that I said I would NEVER homeschool. You see how that one turned out. It's all God, baby. He changes the hearts of people. I can't do that. You can't do that. Only God. This time Alan was the one who said we could go international as I sat there in astonishment. Was this the same husband God gave me almost 14 years ago? The answer is "No", because God has been working on Alan's heart (and mine) and doing a wonderful work.
I digress again. So once we made the decision to go outside of our country, we contacted America World Adoption Agency. They were recommended by Steven Curtis Chapman's adoption website, and we had heard nothing but good things about them. They sent us information on every country they work with. That's when some more major praying took place. Where should we go?
The next part is going to sound crazy to anyone who is not a believer. How do you explain the Holy Spirit to someone who has never had an experience with Him? You CAN'T. So if I sound crazy, you can skip this part. Because ultimately it comes down to the Holy Spirit speaking to us. We were praying about where to go. During that time every article, newsletter, email - you name it - screamed "Africa!" We would pray and another picture of Africa would come from somewhere. At that point we narrowed it down to three countries, two of which were in Africa.
The whole time we kept seeing things about Africa, every time I would finish praying, I would hear God whisper, "Ethiopia" to me. Alright, I realize some people are going to think that's absolutely crazy, but it's true. Then one day Alan came home and said, "How about Ethiopia, because it seems to have a slightly shorter wait time?" I calmly replied, "Yes, that sounds good", while my mind was screaming, "Yes! That's right, Father, it's been Ethiopia all along, hasn't it?"
I could give you many statistics about Ethiopia, like:
-The average income is $100/year in U.S. dollars. Almost 82% of the population lives on less than $1/day.
-Malnutrition levels are among the highest in the world.
-Ethiopia is home to 4 million orphans, or 12% of all children. More than half of these were orphaned because of AIDS. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website, there are approximately 115,000 children waiting for adoption from foster care in the U.S. Most of the ones in the U.S. live in a home and have food to eat, while the ones in Africa live in mud huts or orphanages where many have bloated bellies from malnourishment.
-Only 18% of children reach grade 5.
-Infant mortality is one of the highest in the world - 49/1000 births.
-Life expectancy is 43 years.
There are so many more facts like these. But ultimately it came down to following the Holy Spirit's leading. Hopefully that will answer some questions. Please tell all your friends not to refer to "Brad and Angelina" when speaking to adoptive families. It's not a compliment.
Hope this post wasn't too harsh.