Wednesday, February 7, 2007

What made us choose Ethiopia?

I had several people ask me this question recently. I’m more open and excited about our adoption now that we are paper ready. I’m talking about it more with folks that didn’t know we were adopting and this always seems to be the first question on everyone lips. I wish I had a quick, succinct reply but how do you compress 2 years worth of research, discussion, and thought?

When I knew I wanted to adopt, long before Z-man was on board with the idea, I began researching adoption. At the time, adoption seemed like a really foreign concept. I didn’t know any one who had adopted a child or anyone who’d been adopted. I had one child I loved more than life and was pregnant with number two. Big questions in my mind then were, can you love an adopted child as much as a bio and would an adopted child ever be “normal”.

The thing that really helped me the most in understanding the process of adoption was reading other people’s adoption stories. Following their journey, hearing their excitement, seeing their beautiful children, witnessing their endless joy, all helped me to realize that adoption is not different than childbirth in any lasting way. Sure there were tough adjustments, behavioral problems, and tears but I had all those when Princess joined our family. I finally could see that adoption was just another way to build a family rather than a consolation prize for those unable to get pregnant or a gold star on the forehead of the socially conscious.

When I was searching the internet for adoption stories, 99% of the ones I found were about China. Within months I knew everything someone not actually in the process could know about Chinese adoption. I joined the big yahoo message group, followed every link, book-marked every helpful resource. I did searches about other programs, but I was sure that we would adopt from China.

Around this time a mom I knew from a mothering board I frequented brought home her son from Ethiopia. I followed her story with interest. I didn’t even know there was an Ethiopian adoption program. In all of my internet searching I had never run across anything that talked about it or heard from anyone who had adopted from there. I was interested because of the novelty; I was very secure in our adoption plans. But her blog had links and I am an information junky so it didn’t take long for me to find more tidbits of information about Ethiopian adoption.

This is when I began to really think about adopting from Ethiopia. It simmered in the back of my mind and wouldn’t let me be. “We have already decided on China”, I would think but something would whisper Ethiopia.

“We can’t raise a black child. It would be too hard, too much.”…Ethiopia.

“We don’t have enough diversity here, it would never work.” …Ethiopia.

“What would our parents say? We have some real bigots in the gene pool.”…Ethiopia.

And that was how it went. I fought the urge for several months; I’m not sure why now. Maybe this was the journey I had to take to be sure I was ready, that I was good enough, to mother a child I now believe is destined to join our family.

When I finally talked to Z-man about Ethiopia he knew what I was going through. I had mentioned the program several months prior and he couldn’t get it out of his mind either. We both just knew that it was right. That it was meant to be. That Ethiopia was where we would find our child.

So, how do I explain this journey to people; to co-workers and grocery store clerks? How can I condense something that has been deeply personal and spiritual into a one liner? What do you say when someone asks you why?


Elle said...

I had this question a few times this weekend too. "How did you come to adopt internationally?" That particular question stunned me for a moment. Not one I really had answered before to a stranger. My answer, "We tried for a while, I did some research and felt Russia was the best program for us." If they wanted to know more they'd have asked more questions.

Anonymous said...

Okay, so I am as albino as they come and my biological daughter is my mini-me. We are adopting from Guatemala, and although it is not Ethiopia, our sweet baby girl is dark.

My answer to all the store clerks, neighbors, church-goers and well-meaning inquisitive friends?

"At the end of the day my husband and I have a lotta love left to give. We have room in our home and love in our hearts."

Enough said.

Your Secret Blog Pal

Maggie said...

I don't know what the right pat answer is. I just don't know if people outside of the adoption arena can understand that pull, that undeniable draw to a certain country. I can never adequately explain why I researched for so long and decided to adopt a baby girl -- it was so strong in my mind -- but then I abandoned it in a heartbeat to host an older child from Russia. All my research and planning went out the window in a matter of hours. I can't explain why, but it just felt right. And you know what? Even though my attempt to adopt Peanut failed, I know without a doubt meeting him and loving was the best thing that ever happened to me. And without even knowing it, he led me to the path that I'm now on.

Sig said...

Love this post, even though you EM me a similiar version earlier. :)
Guatemala was my DH's first choice for this first adoption and it took ME a few months to come around! Now Ethiopia is my first choice for my next and I will be the little bird singing it into my DH's head ;)

Starfish said...

I usually reply with some version of "It's a really long story, but when we were ready to adopt and started the process, everything pointed to Colombia and we believe we were always meant to adopt from there" And when they see the boy, they can hardly argue!

Solomon & Malachi said...

I can totally relate. We (and by "we", I mean "I")had completely decided on Ethiopia. I found y'all, Owlhaven, and Spirit of Adoption blogs - oooo I was hooked! Such cute kids! Well, we're now sending in our application for 2 babies in Vietnam. I just keep saying, "Huh. That was an interesting turn of events." It's amazing how quickly you can adapt to a new idea when it's just...right!