We're ready now to announce that we are in the process of adopting again, this time from Ethiopia, and we're very excited! After Jenavieve's adoption was final, we started thinking about adopting again, and Ethiopia has been on our hearts for awhile. We want Jenavieve to have siblings close in age to her, and we feel led to Ethiopia as a place where our children are, as well as a place that we can minister to and help the people who live there. After a lot of prayer, we began the process in March, filling out more applications and paperwork. We are with Adoption Advocates, International, a great agency who really puts the children first. They also have sponsorships and other services that they provide to children in Ethiopia and other countries that may not be adopted.
This time we have been approved to adopt up to 2 children from Ethiopia, up to age 4.
It is very likely that Jenavieve will end up being the baby of the family (for now) since we are open to children up to 4 years, and the majority of people adopting from Ethiopia are only open to a baby or young toddler. She could also have a sibling the same age as her.
Here is the basic timeline for how an international adoption works.
We already did our homestudy with the same Michigan agency that did Vivi's post placement visits. The draft was sent to AAI in Washington last week to be approved. The homestudy is the first part of what is called the 'paper-chase' for international adoption. For the homestudy, we had to supply tax forms, bank statements, marriage, birth, and adoption certificates, and doctor's notes to prove that we are healthy and able to parent more children.
Next, we apply for approval from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and get our passports. All of the necessary documents get compiled and sent from the Secretary of State, to the U.S. Department of State, to Ethiopia’s Embassy in Washington, D.C before it finally goes to the Ethiopian Ministry of Women's and Children's affairs. There it will get translated and processed, and then we will wait for our referral.
A referral is information about a specific child or children that includes pictures and medical information. We will get to review the referral and take it to a pediatrician for review before we decide if we will accept or decline it. If we decline the referral, we wait for another one. If we choose to accept the referral, then we get a court date and make travel plans.
Ethiopia just changed their laws to require 2 visits to Ethiopia. It is a bit of a hassle and an extra expense, but the laws are about the children, and we respect that and are getting excited to travel! Because the law is new as of May, we are all waiting to see how it all works, but both parents are required to appear in court, then we will go home and wait for approval to go back and pick up our kids. It is possible that Eric will be able to go by himself to bring them home. Another benefit of traveling twice is that our agency uses traveling families to take needed supplies to the orphanage, so if we pack light, we can take a lot of stuff to help out!
As far as time frame, it is unknown, it can take up to 6 months (hopefully not more!) to complete all of the paperwork before we can wait for our referral, and the wait for a referral can be anything from a couple of months to a year. But there is a good chance that we will have our kids home next summer.
I tried to explain the process the best I can, but if something is confusing, please either email or leave your question in the comments and I'll be sure to explain it, and stay tuned for more updates! We appreciate the prayers as we go through this journey to find our children :)