Though our hearts had been broken, and our hopes had been dashed, our calling was not yet fulfilled: to help children in need. Almost as quickly as my world had fallen apart on April 21st, one month later, it was as if God picked us up, brushed us off, and set us back on our mission. Somewhere in the world, there were still children who needed parents and were waiting for us. Though our hearts were still healing, God’s leading that we needed to move on was clear.
But to where should we move on?
We had maintained contact over the months with Youth Villages, and during that time, we began to realize that they would not be able to offer the type of adoption situation we were looking for. As our hearts had opened to the prospect of having little ones in our home, we knew that was something that Youth Villages could not guarantee or even offer much hope for. In Tennessee, it takes so long to terminate birth parents’ rights that children who are legally free for adoption, especially through Youth Villages, are almost never younger than elementary age. Though it wasn’t the only reason to cease pursuing adoption through the foster care system, it was a primary concern. Our other concerns added up to our decision that we needed to pursue adoption elsewhere.
It seemed like we were back to square one.
And so just like I had done nine months earlier, I began to research international adoption. I looked at every.single.country. that had children available for international adoption to United States residents. I developed a spreadsheet of countries, positive and negative attributes of their programs, agencies that could provide services. I eliminated countries that we didn’t qualify for. I kept ones on the list that looked promising. In my research, I was surprised at how much adoption had changed over those months. Several new countries had opened up to intercountry adoption. A few more countries had stopped processing applications. The costs were still high.
Our hearts were especially drawn to Kenya, where members of our church had visited the Suvia Children’s Home, and plan to return next year. They had brought home stories and pictures of beautiful happy children, and sad stories of how many had been turned away from the home due to lack of space. I had stared at their lovely faces many times as I passed the display case at church, and prayed and longed for each of them to find a home. But as I have learned many times, I should not pray for God to work in a situation unless I am willing to be a part of God’s answer. What if? What if we could adopt two children from Suvia? What if Ken and I could go to Kenya next summer with the other members of the church, and bring two children home? We had to at least try!
After hours of searching, I found that there was one agency that was preparing to open an adoption program in Kenya. One of the reasons why no agency had been processing Kenyan adoptions was because of a residency requirement that was extended. Previously, adoptive parents had to move to Kenya for months to even start the adoption process. The opening of a program in Kenya almost certainly meant that something was about to change. What was that change? I had to find out!
I contacted our agency.