Lauren Casper »

A change in plans

You all have been so gloriously patient and encouraging over the last couple weeks! Knowing that I had fun news you didn’t harass me too much (well, some of you did by emailing me and begging me to tell you… and for a select few I obliged ๐Ÿ˜‰ .) I’m so excited that I can finally share our new adventure with you! As I’m typing this I’m realizing that while it’s super exciting for us… it might not be for you. Maybe I’ve hyped this up too much? :/ Oh well, if this is a massive disappointment I am so sorry. My friend Lara emailed me a couple days ago with the following gem…

Your news

Either :

1. You’ve chosen a waiting child.

2. You’re pregnant

3. You’re moving to Ethiopia now.

I know its one of those!!

She was wrong on all counts but sure did make me laugh. My response back to her…

1. nope not yet but I think we’re going to have a match sooner rather than later.

2. Trust me – you’d know!! I would have shouted it so loud from the bathroom the moment I saw those 2 lines that you would have heard it in Arizona!

3. Oh I wish!! Seriously, I was bawling in my bed last night because I miss Ethiopia so much!

So if you all were thinking along the same lines as Lara I am so sorry. This is going to be super anti-climatic for you. Okay, now that I’ve played it down for you…

There’s a longish story here and since you’re all probably wondering how we went from bringing Mareto home from Ethiopia, falling in love with the country, and then announcing we’re adopting from Ethiopia again to THIS… I’ll share the details so you don’t think we’re schizophrenic crazies.

It was in September that we had our couch conversation and made the decision to adopt again. We love Ethiopia so much and Mareto is Ethiopian, so it just seemed like a no-brainer that we would adopt from there again. We also adore our agency All God’s Children International and didn’t want to use anyone else. So we made a phone call and pre-applied and got started with the fundraising. It wasn’t too long before we felt a little uneasy. There’s a lot going on in Ethiopian adoptions right now. The process is no where near as “smooth” as it used to be. There are changes being made and an unfortunate amount bad press causing the government to make some changes in how things are done. Many of these changes are good and greatly benefit the birth families and especially the children. Some are just terrible. Some changes cause unnecessary delays in the process that harm the children that they claim to be helping. It’s not a favorable climate for adoptive families in Ethiopia right now. But you know what? That wouldn’t matter one iota if we felt 100% sure that God was calling us back to Ethiopia for this adoption. We would fight and fight and fight and wait and wait and wait if we felt certain that was the direction God was leading us in. But for some reason, within weeks of making our decision to adopt again we were uneasy.

So I began contacting other adoption agencies thinking that maybe we were supposed to use a different agency. One by one God said no to each new agency we contacted. I started scouring every waiting child list I could find thinking maybe our child was on one of those lists… still the answer was no. The only thing we felt absolutely certain about at the time was that God was calling us to Africa. That’s it. In pure frustration one day I said, “you know, I just wish AGCI had a program in another African country. That might get us somewhere!” Honestly I was just spouting off at the mouth. I was frustrated by this apparent lack of direction other than uneasiness and an inability to move forward in any area because there was no peace.

The next day I received an email from the New Program Director at our agency. It was an email that got sent out to everyone on their mailing list and was pretty general in content. Toward the bottom she mentioned that there were several new programs they were working on and that they were looking for families who had completed one adoption with AGCI and were looking to adopt again to pilot these programs. I thought, “what the heck” and sent her a response. I told her that we were planning to adopt again with our eye on Ethiopia but that we wanted to be open to whatever God had for our family. She responded with a list of the programs they are hoping to open in the near and distant future but said that she thought we would be a good match for, you guessed it, Ghana. I started doing some research and talked to John about it. He was shockingly at peace with the whole thing and he does not do well when plans change… that was my first clue that this might be exactly where God wanted us. As we prayed about it I said to John, “But we’re so in love with Ethiopia…” and his reply was, “yes, but you know the minute we step off the plane in Ghana we’re going to fall in love with Ghana too.” He knows me too well. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Within a few days we emailed her back and told her that we were interested in being a pilot family for Ghana and the ball started rolling!

So what does it mean that we’re a pilot family? Basically it means that we’re “test driving” the Ghana program for them. Once we (and 2 other families) complete the processย  – as in, bring home our children – they will have a good idea of how things run. Then they can give future families wait time estimates, travel info, and more based on our experiences. So that’s why I call this an adventure! There are a LOT of unknowns. Unknown wait times, unknown court and embassy processes, and so on. But one thing we are sure of is that God has called us to this adventure. Whatever happens – good or bad – He is right there with us. We are sure that there are trials coming, but those drive us further into the arms of our Father and it’s worth it. The future will hold a lot of emotional ups and downs and we might be particularly vulnerable at times (kinda like with Mareto’s adoption!) Prayers and extra grace will be so appreciated!

Some details. They just opened the Ghana program this week. It was crucial that we were able to immediately contract. Otherwise we would not have been allowed in the program as they are only allowing 3 families into the infant program and 7 families into the older child program (3yrs and up).ย  So, worst case scenario we will be #3 on the wait list. It’s funny to me that they’re even bothering with a wait list given there’s only 3 of us! haha Our parameters are boy or girl, 0-12 months old at time of referral, and we are open to a wide range of special needs (medical and mental). The estimated wait time for referral once we get on the list is 3-12 months… or sooner… or later… they basically have no idea! Team members are in Ghana as I type this setting up a Hannah’s Hope transition center (where our baby will live from referral until we can go get him or her.) Once we receive a referral we will wait 3-6 months to travel for court, then return home, and 3-6 months later we’ll travel back for embassy. Yes – those waits are the worst. Yes it’s terribly excruciating to leave your baby in another country and I am already praying for extreme mercy and that God would allow that wait to be 3 months or LESS. But he has a plan and I am choosing to rest in that (you may need to remind me of that several times in the near future!)

Where are we now? Well, we just signed and mailed off our contracts this morning. Once AGCI receives our contracts they will mail us our giant 3 ring binder full of all the paperwork we must complete – this is called a dossier. Once it’s finished we will submit our completed dossier with our second payment (to the tune of $6k+) and wait for approval. Once it’s approved (usually takes a week) we will receive our number on the wait list (#1, #2, or #3) and then we just wait for that phone call that says we have been matched with a little one!

How can you pray for us?

  • Grace as we swim in new waters…
  • Mercy once we get our referral… this mama is not going to handle long waits so well after she’s seen that face…
  • Fund-raising! We currently need to raise $6,300 to be able to submit our dossier. We would love to be able to do that by March or April… that’s 2-3 months away. Pray for success for our fund-raisers as that is the only way we are able to pay for this adoption!
  • Pray for our future child… I can’t type more on this or I’ll start bawling.
  • Pray for our future child’s birth mother… for peace, strength, mercy, grace, wisdom, and to know she is loved so much by a family a world away.

… and don’t forget to enter our humongous giveaway here!! *********

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