Nine Months! Nine months ago we decided to start this adoption journey (grant it, it's been 8 years since our first thought about it). So many friends and family members have helped us emotionally and financially. Speaking of financially, we have some huge news: As of the last update we still had $11,000 to raise, but thanks to the generous donation of one family, we have now raised 100% of all the monies needed for the adoption! For that, we thank you!
Progress Update: We wrote this blog to update you as to where we are in the process and to finally give a bit of our story as to the "why" behind our adoption. First the progress update: Essentially everything on our end is complete, even the fund raising! All of our documents (the dreaded dossier) have arrived in Nicaragua and send to Nicaraguan government and Mi Familia for approval. From there we should receive our referral (the child that the government believes best fits your family criteria). Once we receive our referral, we will then be off to Nicaragua for 3-6 months. While there are very few steps left in the process, we are probably still anywhere between 8-12 months away from our departure to Nicaragua. Which, truth be known, we kind of need that time to get all our ducks in a row.
Why are we adopting: Publicly we kept the adoption under wraps until we had to go public enough to fundraise, we did not want to make it a big platform thing or promotion gimick. We've also been pretty silent as to "why" we are adopting, which we understand leaves much room for assumption. So we wanted to take this space and attempt to tell the "why"? We didn't jump on a fad-band-wagon - we know adoption is "hot" in many of the circles we run in, and has thus been reduced to a fad, or something of the sort. Another reason we have been a bit hush about it, is that due to this fad "movement" God appears to be one who changes his mind often. There have been many stories of people being "called" to adopt and then for whatever reason, often good ones, press pause or abandon the idea all together. These are not cases of God changing his mind, these are cases of us using God to justify us following a fad blindly and being pulled into that fad, then realizing we haven't counted the cost (by cost, I don't necessarily mean money). No one is above this, so we wanted to wait a while to see if we had also been caught-up in this whole fad thing or if it was real. The truth is, Sarah and I don't do fads, especially one this costly. We usually shy away from the popular and in crowds, they often time seem to lack depth. So, as we stated above, this is a decision that is 8 years in the making. Many have thanked us for answering some "call" - maybe we are, but a "call" is not how we would define it. In fact, "desire" is about as esoteric as we can get on this one. For us it was simply the next-best-steps for our family and an evolution in our journey. In a world where making things as mystical as possible is very en vogue, sometimes getting practical is just boring. Usually the Christian story has to do something with some felt-call or emotional experience and then some theological backing - something that has to do with this adoption being a human and tangible vision of God’s adoption of his children. I’m not denying this happens or has happened for others, but it’s not how our decision was made. In fact, the only biblical backing we feel we have is not so much for the adoption itself, but simply for the fact that all Christians are called to care for the orphan - scripture gives us no explicit direction on how we are to do that. However with modern technology and creative avenues one's involvement in the continuum of orphan care is almost limitless. What we know is that as Christians we are to care for the orphan. In other words the "how" of orphan care is up to us, as long as it is ethical, justice oriented, and truly for the good of the orphan and his/her family, and I would add, home country. As appealing and mesmerizing as many of these "gospel", "called", and "burning bush" stories are, it’s not our story. As we said above, our story is pretty practical and simply an evolution of our life.
At the end of the day - we love family. Our family is our peace, its our abode, and we feel we do family well. Be it God's grace, personal disciplines or a hybrid of both, we love being family. And we like big families - between my wife and her sister and her brother there are a total of 13 cousins, all twelve years old and younger. When we go to a theater we take up an entire row, and we love it! Back to our story: The idea of adoption really began to intrigue us about 8 or 9 years ago. Add that to the fact that we have four children, wanted one more, yet medically and physically four biological children were our limit. That left us with the choice between our domestic foster system or transnational adoption. Without going into any detail, transnational adoption, for us, was the easy choice.
So, how does one get from deciding to adopt transnationally to Nicaragua specifically? That's a good question, and once again, we don't have a very "calling" centric answer. It was very much a process of elimination. For the past eight years, I have leaned hard into Russia and Eastern Europe. Sarah has always been fascinated with South America. One cannot explain their attraction and desire for certain parts of the world, maybe it is simply calling disguised in the form of desire and attraction. Anyway, those were the two directions our adoption radars had been pointing. Due to the political issues and adoption issues in Russia and Eastern Europe, we opted out of that part of the world, and turned our attention to South America. At that time, we had some great friends adopt from Nicaragua (the boy they adopted is Ashton's best friend now). So, from the beginning of narrowing countries down in South/Central America, Nicaragua already had a bit of a foothold on us. Then as we began to narrow the options by looking into in-country orphan care; pre and post adoption experiences in the country for the child and our biological family; and how different governments handled transnational adoption. We decided to visit Nicaragua, and our hearts were stuck. As we began to study the orphan and adoption issues, we liked that Nicaragua actually cares for their orphans. We liked that the Nicaraguan government aims for family-reunification first, then for in-country adoption, and uses transnational adoption as a last resort. We love that the Nicaraguan government protects their children, and the chance of us being involved in an adoption-for-cash or child-trafficking situation was lower than any other place we looked into due to the process involved. These were all ethical issues that mattered deeply to us. Thus we landed on Nicaragua.
Now, maybe all this is a divine calling, but if it is, we have no "burning bush" moments; no "scripture fell open before us" incidents; no prophecy given; rather it was calling disguised in desire. In fact, I think that is how most calling happens (I wish we would quit using that word. We use it to sensationalize and justify too much. Our "calling(s)" are much more practical and 'mundane' as well as desire and personality aligned than we think they are, that's for another blog).
Anyway, that's how we landed on Nicaragua.
Finishing Strong: As a way to finish strong together, we have formed a running team for the Chosen Marathon on October 25th. Team, “Amor Nicaragua”. If you live in Central Texas, we would love you to join us by signing-up to run and be on our team, HERE, and make sure you sign-up for team “Amor Nicaragua” (you can sign-up for the full or half marathon). Also, know this, all of of your entry fees will be donated to our adoption account. The obvious question is, "but, I thought all of your monies were raised?" Good questions. We formed the team before the monies were raised, so from here on out, all donations, that are not used for our adoption due to meeting our fund raising goal, will be put in a new fund to help fund another adoption for another family! Anyway, there are a few significant things about this race:
- It is on October 25th, our oldest daughters 13th birthday, and she has decided to run with us - so our oldest daughter is going to run 13 miles on her 13th birthday for our youngest son!
- By this time we should be nearing the figurative finish-line of the waiting period, and we thought it would be a very surreal moment to have our supporters finish with us figuratively and literally as we cross the finish line!
- Sarah and I along with a couple other friends created a team for the first ever Chosen Marathon to raise money for friends of ours, so this year it will be great to run using our own adoption to pay it forward again!
No matter how you choose to support us we invite you to finish this long journey with us and help us bring this little Nicaraguan boy (whoever he may be) home. As you can see, it hasn’t been cheap to adopt. But thanks to our supporters, you have made this dream become a reality and in the end it will have been worth it, and for that we are forever grateful to those who have helped thus far and will continue to stay apart of our journey.
Matthew, Sarah, Serena, Ashton, Eden, & Elie