Well, we're really doing it! We're sending in our application tomorrow to begin the process to adopt a child from Ethiopia through Adoption Advocates International!
I really feel like we've chosen the best agency for us (even though there are several great ones working in Ethiopia). I would decide on AAI, then hear yet another agency name that I hadn't checked out. I would check them out, then come back to AAI. This has gone on for the past two weeks, but in the end...it comes back to AAI.
I mentioned that I've been reading a blog by Denise Baker and her time as a volunteer at AAI in Ethiopia. I've been reading it like a novel the past few weeks and that one little blog (okay, it's not so little!) has really helped me to learn a lot not only about Ethiopia, but about how AAI works in Ethiopia...how loved the children are...how "down pat" the process seems to be in the program. I want our family to be a part of that. And I'm so happy as well because my friend Chanda (whose blog is already amazing!) is also sending her application in to AAI tomorrow! It will be great to have someone to go through the process with (even though we are requesting very different children and our timelines probably won't match up perfectly).
Having said all of these good and positive things, I must say...I've had a hard time filling out the application and getting it ready to go. There's no reason I couldn't have sent it at least a week ago, but I didn't. I think there are a few reasons for this.
First--We've had so many twists and turns and false starts the past 11 months that I am gunshy. I think I've been waiting for God to throw a great big "STOP!" sign at me before I sent in the application--but there haven't been any. Everything keeps pointing to this agency and this program. At this point, does that mean that I truly believe with all of my heart that we're going to bring a child home from Ethiopia? Nope. I just can't yet. Too many things can change in the next 12-18 months to keep us from bringing a baby home from there. I just have hope...
Second--I have a history of going with "new" and "quick." It's just a weakness I have! I'm always ready to jump out on a ledge and be the first to try adoption programs. When we adopted Taevy we were the 9th family contracted for Cambodia (and no children had come home yet). When we adopted Samren from Vietnam it was through a facilitator that the agency has never worked with before (and the whole program was new--no children home yet). And now with Bright--where once again no children have come home yet and we are one of the first to TRY it. In looking back I can see that, although we have 2 of the 3 children home, this hasn't exactly been the best way to go about things! Taevy's adoption was full of fear that she would never come home (because we accepted her referral during a moratorium in which laws were changing!), and once home we found out that there is a good chance the facilitator "acquired" her through highly unethical acts. Samren's adoption (although a very short TWO months long) was terrifying too--as the US Embassy threatened to deny his visa (until they received payment from our facilitator)! At one point they told us to go home without him--yeah right. And now Bright's adoption--I have seen absolutely NO indication of anything unethical (thank you Lord!) but the process is full of unknowns and the possibility of a 2 year interim adoption looms heavy on my heart.
So...going with arguably the most established agency in Ethiopia, with arguably the largest functioning program, is quite a change of pace for me! THIS seems scary! I'm scared that we'll feel like a number (even though everybody who has worked with AAI only has good things to say). I'm scared that since it's such a long process we won't get through it before a moratorium, or law changes, or something else. But, as always, we'll just keep walking where we think the Lord is leading and hope for the best.