Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Country Choice

Recently, one on of the adoption groups I'm a member of, the question "Why did you choose the country you choose in Africa?" has been asked. Also, the topic of traveling to your chosen country to identify your child in person vs. having an unknown child referred to you by an agency has come up (I'll write about that one next). These are two pretty personal subjects so rather than reply on a big message board I'd rather write about it on the relative safety of my little adoption blog! Yep--I'm not feeling too brave right now! ;-)

Why did we choose Ghana?

You know, it's been a while since I've asked myself this question. At the time that we chose to adopt from Ghana we thought that it seemed like a program that fit us better (and it did--it was better). We had been planning to adopt from Liberia up to that point but we saw so many signs that the law in Liberia might have holes that would allow for unethical practices to take place. Also, we grew weary of the secretive nature of the organization we had chosen to go through, and we were becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the lack of information we would have on our referred children (a name, estimated age, and maybe a picture).

When we stumbled onto Life's Vision International's Ghana program it seemed so much safer to us. The country was stable and safe. The program was through a licensed agency. And the program was presented to us as fairly setup with a 3-6 month time frame from referral to travel (but no promises). These things were all good, but the fees associated with the program were what really drew us in. It was a bit more expensive than Liberia, but I was so impressed that the agency would offer such a low cost program ($6500 total)--it seemed obvious that it wasn't about the money. AND we could afford it! AND the fees for our second referral were only going to be $1000! All of these things felt right to us, so we switched from Liberia to Ghana.

Do we regret choosing Ghana?

Eric and I might have different answers to this one. Remember, he (like most men) doesn't get attached with a child until the child is home. Eric has had a tough time with this program because nothing has happened as we hoped it would. Eric would not choose this program again. On the other hand, I absolutely WOULD choose this program again. I can say that because I look at the face of our beautiful Bright every day and his little face makes it all worth it. Has this program been what I expected? No. Would I sign up for it again? I don't know. Do I feel like LVI is doing everything it can to establish a good program? Yes. Do I feel like the program is 100% ethical? Yes. It's just not really a "program" quite yet in my opinion. It's still in the "pilot" phase and every family going through it right now is a guinea pig. We expected that to an extent, but not to the extent we have experienced it (with absolutely no timelines, etc.). But because of Bright I do not regret choosing this program. And I really feel like it will develop into something good in the future.

Why did you choose Ethiopia?

Hmm...let's see...we tried Liberia but couldn't hack it (too many concerns)...we went with Ghana for two children but the orphanage said no more referrals for young children AND there is a chance we won't get a final adoption decree. There aren't really many more choices for Africa, are there? The Lesotho program through Reaching Out doesn't fit because of the long in-country stay. And after our "new program" experience with Ghana Eric isn't willing to attempt an independant adoption from Zambia (although I am tempted). Domestic AA adoption is always in the back of our minds and we keep our eyes open, but don't want to "compete" for a baby.

That all makes it sound like we didn't have any choice but to go with Ethiopia and that isn't true. After the experiences of the past year the Ethiopia program (particularly through AAI) feels so good! It is established. There are many children in need. We know much more about what to expect. There is a large and supportive community of others who have gone before us. I ADORE the country and culture. All good things! The one big roadblock for us is the financial aspect. Ethiopia is certianly not an expensive place to adopt from, but it is much more expensive than we were anticipating when we started this journey a year ago. And much more expensive than we thought when we were planning to adopt two children from Ghana! But as far as we can tell this is a program that suits our family very well, and we have faith that God will help us to climb the financial mountain ahead.

Love, Anita