since we’ve been back from Japan with Kai, we’ve gotten a lot of questions from a number of people, mostly in the genre of “How did you do it? How did you get a baby so fast? What’s your agency’s name?” and other questions of that ilk. Christa has gotten the majority of these questions – i guess people ask her because she’s nicer than i am.
but i thought i’d take a moment to explain a couple of things about our process that will help you all understand the “how” of it.
first things first
i want to start out by saying that our process is what’s called a “private international adoption” – these are pretty rare. also, on July 13, 2013, new federal adoption laws now prohibit private international adoptions. because we had filed with USCIS before that date, we were grandfathered in to the new laws and could proceed with our plan instead of having to start over.
some may ask, “well, why were private international adoptions prohibited?” good question. the reason is that it’s too easy for someone trying to do a private international adoption to get taken advantage of. the new laws ensure agency accreditation on both the US side and the other country’s side to prevent abuse of the system. this means that US agencies must now be in a formal, legally-binding partnership with an overseas agency (orphanage, placement center, etc.) to help streamline the process so that information flows one direction instead of adoptive parents being stuck in the middle.
we knew the risks going into the process and decided to brave them. when we found our Japanese agency, we knew we wanted to go through them since they were a Christian agency (a rarity in Japan), but they had no formal partnership with any agency in the US, which meant that a private international adoption would be the only way we could go through them.
we knew the laws would be changing, so after some prayer and some pretty obvious confirmation from the Lord, we decided to race to beat the deadline so that we could be grandfathered in. so this means that we are actually one of the very last couples in the country who were legally allowed to do a private international adoption.
which brings me to my next point-
we disregarded our own advice
before the laws changed, if Christa and i were to sit down with a couple and they said to us, “we’re really thinking about doing a private international adoption,” chances are we would respond with, “yeah…you shouldn’t do that.” what we did is something we would almost never advise someone else to try – even if it was still possible. why?
because it was difficult, and honestly, there was no guarantee that we would ever get a baby – that’s the risk that was involved, which is another good reason it’s been prohibited. but it was something we approached with prayer and both Christa and i clearly felt that this was God’s call – as foolish as it seemed to do. but, of course, the Lord sometimes calls us to do things that – based on outward appearance – seem foolish. for evidence, see the Bible (just pick a spot).
we originally tried to find a different, more typical, less “crazy” route, one that was more like the advice we’ve given to others. but those doors were closed quickly and this was the one that remained open. so – for us, it was either trust God that He knew what we was doing or be disobedient. we chose obedience.
also, we both come from backgrounds in social work and adoption experience, so we were going into it with a “head start” that many people don’t get when they are starting out. we had done lots of research ahead of time and knew what to expect, so that helped ease our own anxiety in choosing private international adoption.
many, many options
so many people have asked us about our agency here in the States – Hope International in Dallas. but the thing you have to keep in mind is that they really had nothing to do with our placement, only with making sure we were in compliance with US law. in fact, the only international partnerships they have for placements are with the two nations of the Congo. now, they are looking to expand beyond that, but that will take time for them to get set up and approved.
there’s no magical agency that can get you a child faster than another. the main thing, if you are called to international adoption, is to pray for God to put a specific country on your heart. there will be multiple agencies that work with that country, and then it’s your job to call them, ask lots of detailed questions, and pray some more. even if the agency you pick is “slower” than another one, if you agree with their mission and their procedures more and they genuinely care about you as a person and not just as a case number, it will be well worth the wait.
side note: just because an agency is labelled as “Christian”:
1. that doesn’t mean they really are Christian
2. that doesn’t mean they are the best at what they do. our Dallas agency (Hope International) is not Christian-based and we love them and think they are awesome.
3. just because an agency isn’t Christian-based doesn’t mean they don’t have employees who are Christians
as with all important decisions in life, you should ask lots of good questions when selecting an agency, but that’s another blog for another time.
also, you can’t limit yourself to geography. don’t say, “well, this is the only agency in Texas that deals with this country.” it’s okay to go through an out-of-state agency. we considered one agency in California and another in Washington, but God closed those doors – and not because of their geography.
our second nation
now, in regards to picking a nation to adopt from, it gets very personal in terms of how you choose. maybe it’s home to an unreached people group, maybe it’s a place you once lived, maybe it’s a place you went to on a mission trip. when you adopt a child from another country, you don’t just adopt that kid – you also adopt that nation as your own.
Christa has had strong feelings for Japan for a long time. through learning about the people and now being there twice, i too have a deep, deep love for Japan. it’s even our goal for our tenth anniversary (2020) to go back there for the Olympics in Tokyo. if we can come up with some excuse to go back sooner, then that would be excellent. it is our “second nation” in some sense, especially since our son is legally a citizen of Japan and will be even after he becomes a citizen here. how can we not love that land? how can we not want to see them prosper? how can we not long for justice and salvation among them?
it’s not just a matter of throwing a dart at a map. now, there are people who have that kind of calling to just give a child a home no matter from where. and that’s a great calling. but if you don’t learn to love that country, it will certainly make some things more difficult, especially in terms of integrating that culture into your home life.
we did nothing
from the beginning, our prayer was that our adoption would point to the work of God alone, and nothing of us. He accomplished this through so many ways:
-our Japanese agency saying “yes” to us, when just a few months before they had said “no” to other couples
-financial provision through so many various supporters. we thought we were going to have so much more time to fundraise and save money. instead, God brought us the money when we needed it – and we never more than what we needed at that time, which forced us to rely on Him instead of becoming lazy and ungracious.
-He made us keep going. i can’t go into details here, but there were several times throughout this process that things looked so impossible, it would have been easier (and logical) to just throw in the towel, give up, and move on to some other country, some other process. but He did not let us do that. He knew and loved our son long before us and His plan would prevail despite (and in spite of) our weaknesses.
so, in the end, when we look back on this crazy past fifteen months, we can see that we really didn’t do anything, except fill out some paperwork and show up on time to appointments. God did everything that was actually important. i know there are some out there who would scoff at that, but He did. i can’t see any other explanation. and so we can’t take any credit for how quickly we got Kai. it was grace.
i know this information could be discouraging for some, especially those who are waiting. for those, the speed at which we got our son can seem like a dagger in a festering wound.
but take heart. adoption is a patience drill. and God loves patience in His children. He seeks the opportunity to grow it in us, and our reaction to that should be one of joy. i hate the expression, “be careful about praying for patience, because God will give you the opportunity.” i hate it because it makes it out as though patience is a bad thing, when instead it is a high virtue worthy of commendation and worthy for the saints to practice.
i can think of few other virtues that teach the heart of God towards us. He is so patient with our faults and gives grace after grace.
i know i’ve gone on longer than i normally do on here, but i think it’s important to end with hope. so take heart, hold fast – not to yourself, but to the Rock.