This is a question almost everyone asks when they find out we're adopting from Ethiopia, and almost every time I struggle with the answer. For me at least, it's just where my heart was (and is). But that doesn't REALLY tell you much, so here's the story...
When we first decided to adopt, we initially thought we would adopt from China. We'd always heard there was a need, and it seemed a pretty popular place to adopt from, so we decided to find out more. We looked around at agencies and found out that Gladney had a China program, so we signed up for an International Adoption Information Session. The session, however, didn't cover the China program only, it covered all of their international programs. During the session we learned that China's process had become much more difficult, and would take MUCH longer than we thought we could handle - especially for our first child. But as we learned about the other programs, we became interested in Kazakhstan and Ethiopia. I don't much remember the reasons we were interested in Kazakhstan, but I do remember that we were initially interested in Ethiopia because it was cheaper, quicker and you could adopt infants.
As time went on, and we thought more about adoption, we began to lean more toward domestic adoption. At the time, we had a lot of fears about raising a child who wasn't white. Not at all because of any racial issues we have, but we were really afraid of others not being able to handle it, and that ultimately not being in the best interests of the child. So, we decided to look into domestic adoption, and attended a Domestic Adoption Workshop at Buckner. At that point, we decided to adopt domestically. I began reading books about open adoption, and became convinced that it was by far the healthiest option for all parties. So, for about a year we were set on domestic adoption. We wanted to pay off all our debt (except the house), save some money, and then adopt domestically through Buckner. That was the plan.
Then one day, I got an email. It was just Buckner's newsletter, no big deal. There were lots of interesting stories, but one story in particular caught my eye. There was a couple in Ethiopia meeting their adopted daughter for the first time, and they were blogging about it. I thought to myself, "At one point we talked about Ethiopia, this could be interesting." So I clicked the link to go to the blog. And that was it. I was captivated, in love, and just sat there and wept as I read through the blog entries. That night I told Rob about it, and told him I hadn't changed my mind about adopting domestically, but I was absolutely going to pray about the possibility of us adopting from Ethiopia.
I realize in retrospect that everything was different after that. I began to find all kinds of blogs of people who were in the process, or had already adopted from Ethiopia, and continued to fall harder and more in love each day. I think it really only took us a few months to decide that Ethiopia was it for us.
But it was really only after I fell so madly in love that I began to understand the tremedous NEED to adopt from Ethiopia. I kept seeing these statistics on blogs, and learning more about the HIV epidemic. One day we watched A Walk to Beautiful...
And, to be honest, I don't fully know how adopting from Ethiopia much changes the statistics or the HIV and fistula epidemics, but it DOES change the life of one child. It gives one child a chance that might otherwise not have had one. And it changes me. It has already changed me. It has opened my eyes and helped me to see that the world is so much bigger than the little bubble I live in. It's changed my view of missions, and my desire to feed the hungry, and clothe the naked, and care for the widows and orphans. It's changed ME. Falling in love with beautiful brown babies has changed ME. Who would have thought one little link to a blog in a newsletter would have so much of an impact?
When I started writing this post, I thought this was going to be a story about faith. I thought it was going to be about how what God calls you to do may not always be the most thought-through, rational choice, but something that requires you to step out in faith, not knowing where the road will lead. I still think that's true, and it does still apply to our situation, but I realize now that this really is a love story. And, I think, only the beginning of our love story with Ethiopia, and our future child or children.