Scott Family Adoption

The Scott family from Michigan recently brought home their son from Ethiopia. It is an incredible joy to be a small part of what God is doing in families like the Scotts through ABBA Fund. Here is their story:

When I share our adoption story, I tell people that Jenna and I started this process when we first got married almost ten years ago. At some point during that first year, she asked me if adoption would ever be something that I’d consider. I’m not sure exactly what I said, but I must have given the wrong answer; she never brought it up again. Adoption has always been on Jenna’s heart yet not on mine unless we couldn’t have kids. Thankfully, God worked on my heart, and all of that changed.

In 2006, I traveled to Tanzania to help a group of villages on Bumbire Island to tap into a fresh water spring. For the first time I saw the face of poverty and the extremes of life in third-world Africa. I also realized for the first time how wealthy we were, and that with that wealth comes a huge responsibility.

When I came home, my heart had softened. God put adoption on my radar so to speak. Jenna and I began really looking at our life and our financial priorities. We simplified and prepared our home for whatever God had planned. In 2008, God moved in our hearts, and we officially began our adoption journey.

This past July, we brought home Taye from Ethiopia. Ten years ago, I never would have even considered that he would be our fourth child. God knew long ago that we needed Taye in our lives as much as Taye needed us in his. While the process wasn’t always easy, every moment was worth while when we saw his face for the first time. He brings a joy to our family beyond words.

The transition has gone surprisingly well. Our first three children have given Taye all the rights of the youngest brother including everything from fights over toys to hugs over falls. We’ve been amazed at how well our family has bonded with each other. Of course, each day is an adventure, but we wouldn’t miss for the world.

Jenna heard about Abba Fund from friends of ours. We applied for a loan early in our adoption journey as we didn’t know how we were going to pay for the adoption. Thankfully, we were able to finance most of this adoption with cash. However, toward the end the adoption process began to speed up. After passing our court hearing, we had only three weeks to purchase tickets and gather money together for the last of our financial obligations for Taye.

At just the right time, we got a great call from Julie. She told us funds were available. The money was just the right amount we needed. Throughout the remainder of the process, everyone at Abba Fund was so encouraging! We knew they were praying for us each step of our trip to Ethiopia. We will be forever grateful for Abba Fund and their heart for children all over the world.

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Family Leaving for Ethiopia Today

It is a joy when we see families travel to pick up their adopted children! Today the Rush family from Desert Springs Church (one of our church adoption fund partners) leaves to pick up their new adopted daughter from Ethiopia. I love what one of their pastor’s wrote to them to encourage them:

Hey Guys,

Just wanted to write a quick note to say how proud of you I am today (I know that sounds dumb and paternal, but it’s really how I feel) as you embark on this journey to the other side of the world. You are helping our church see a picture of the Gospel that we need to see much more of. I praise God for this. You are laying down your lives for “the least of these” and this is one of our primary callings in this broken world. You have taken a great step of faith that will change her life, but also yours and those who watch you with eyes of faith. As you live out the promise that it is more blessed to give than receive, know that God’s Spirit goes with you and will never leave you nor forsake you. Always remember that God is holding your precious daughter with a much tighter grip than we ever could. I know we both share great comfort in this truth and may it give you rock solid confidence as you look into the future with your beautiful new family member. Know that we love you and will be praying for you earnestly in these next seven days.

We love you,

z

Adopting from Africa

DSC_1087Since my family is adopting from Uganda I have been talking to an increasing number of people about our experience and about adopting from Africa in general.

One question that has come up is what other African countries are open for adoption. Ethiopia is by far the most popular but what about the rest of Africa?

The best place to start is on the US State Department website. I also asked my good friends RJ and Rebecca Caswell from Weaving Families for their thoughts. They adopted twin boys from Ghana last year and as part of their adoption ministry they provide counseling and consulting to families adopting.

Rebecca writes:

The list of countries in Africa that are open for adoption is sort of a difficult one to compile because it seems like everyday an agency is announcing a new program somewhere in Africa and families have been successful in adopting from countries without “established programs.”  The best place to check the status of adoptions in a country is www.adoption.state.gov

You will have to search one country at a time but you can read what the adoption requirements are for each country and whether or not they are party to the Hague Convention (this dictates what agencies are allowed to work in country and if independent adoptions are possible.) I have listed countries below with the numbers of children adopted in parentheses.

The top African countries with completed adoptions to US citizens in 2008:

Ethiopia (1725)
Liberia (currently closed) (249)
Nigeria 148 (no agencies)
Ghana (101)

Rwanda has become popular recently with several agencies opening programs there (17 in 2008). I have just started seeing agencies announcing Uganda programs (55 in 2008.)

I have seen agencies touting programs in  Burkina Faso (2), Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi (2) and Sierra Leone (10)

Many countries have residency or fostering requirements that can be waived if the courts deem it appropriate or in the best interest of the child as in Uganda as you are aware.  There has been so much in the press about Madonna’s adoption but Malawi clearly states that you must be a resident but they choose not to define resident so it is up to the discretion of the judge.

If God has lead you or is leading you to adopt from an African country (other than Ethiopia) I’d love to hear.

Serrano Adoption Testimony

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This is the story of the Serrano family. It continues a wonderful story of God’s grace and provision in the lives of two families that are members of one of our church partners that have a church adoption fund (The first part of this story is found in our latest ABBA e-newsletter. Click here to subscribe)

In 2006, I became aware that several families I knew at church were adopting. I also knew that there were already a few children there who were adopted. My husband and I had decided that we were definitely finished having children. With four kids in the family, the house certainly felt full, and I had no desire to have another baby. Still, I felt drawn to the families that were adopting or had adopted already. I studied the moms with their new children. It was through watching them that I saw how adoption really “works” in a family. Adopting didn’t give these parents an “adopted child”. Adoption gave them a daughter or a son. I began to question why all of these families were adopting. What was it about the people I saw adopting that drew me to them? It became clearer and clearer to me. These families were demonstrating the love of God. I was adopted into God’s family, and there was a big price tag for my adoption…the blood of Christ. 

Galations 4:3-5 Even so, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world.4But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

I wanted to adopt! My husband, Julio, didn’t. I struggled quite a bit with this. I understood that for my husband, already having 4 children was a big responsibility. What I didn’t understand is why God would call me to adoption and not my husband. So I prayed about it. I even asked God to take this desire away from me if it was not His plan for our family. Weeks passed and nothing changed. I spoke with my friend, Holly, who told me that God would not call me to adopt and not call my husband.  I prayed and asked God why I felt so strongly about adoption and why it was such a focus in my heart. Still, I didn’t see any change or any answer. So I told God that I trusted him, and waited.

Holly was to speak at church Friday night. She and her husband had returned from Ethiopia weeks earlier with their 2 newly adopted babies. Before getting to her intended topic, she made an announcement. She told us that while in Ethiopia she and her husband, Pastor Tom, had met a little girl in the orphanage with type 1 diabetes. She explained that Tom and her had asked their adoption agency about children with type 1 diabetes at the beginning of their adoption process. They already had a teenage son, Tommy, with type 1 diabetes. They were told that children with type 1 diabetes did not survive in Ethiopia and that they had never seen one in the orphanage. When Tom and Holly arrived at Kibebetsehay orphanage months later, they met a 5 year old little girl with type 1 diabetes who had arrived at the orphanage only days earlier. Holly sat on the steps with her, sobbing, knowing all the care that she needed, not wanting to leave her there. They took many pictures of her. Her name was Rediet, meaning Grace, which also happened to be the name of our church! Tom and Holly spoke to the orphanage workers, explaining the dire need to get Rediet medical attention. Then they went back to their hotel room and prayed for God’s direction. God told them that Rediet was not their daughter, but that they were to advocate for her. Weeks later, Holly had kept tabs on Rediet and knew that she had been moved to an orphanage able to provide medical care. Now she had finally received permission from the adoption agency to advocate for Rediet and show her picture. Holly told us that night about Rediet. I asked Holly about how to finance an adoption. She told me about grants and interest free loans, fundraising and private donations.

That night I told Julio about Rediet and all of the financing options. “Really?” he asked. This was the first time he had responded positively to the idea of adoption. We agreed that we would pray about Rediet and the possibility of adopting her. I didn’t get much sleep the next couple of weeks. I felt God wake me up night after night to pray. The funny thing was, I wasn’t always praying for God to let me adopt Rediet. I was praying that God would sustain her body throughout the night, and that He would comfort her soul, as one of her parents had died and she had been taken to the orphanage only weeks earlier.  After 2 weeks of prayer, Julio and I agreed to send in our application to the adoption agency. We didn’t know how we would pay for this adoption. We did know that God would provide for His plan, but we were still nervous about it, and excited to see what God would do. The praying continued.  

Tom, Holly, and their son Tommy, their teen with type 1 diabetes, had told a lot of people about Rediet prior to us making our decision to adopt. As they gave the update on finding parents for Rediet, a grandmother of one of the girls in Tommy’s diabetic support group wanted to help. She gave us a check for $5,000.00!  We had never met this family. This gift gave us the confirmation we had desired that God would provide. I couldn’t help but see the connection to the $500.00 that we sent to Karen and her family. God had literally multiplied it ten times. Then we received another cash donation of $1,000.00 from the son-in law and daughter of the $5,000.00 donor. These were the parents of a type 1 diabetic child. The $1,000.00 arrived just as we were having our home study done. The donors gave the check to Holly to give to us. She drove straight to our house and was able to hand the check directly to our social worker! What an answer to prayer. Months later, our last payment to the adoption agency was due, several thousand dollars. We had a few hundred left with our Kingdom Kids Adoption Ministries account, but not enough to cover our final payment. We were to leave to get Rediet in only a few weeks. I had seen God provide again each time a payment was due and so I tried to relax and trust in God’s miraculous provision. We received a letter from Shaohannah’s Hope in the mail. I scanned the page and yelled, “We got the money!” I was crying. This was the last bit that we needed to be able to finalize our adoption. Our next financial hurdle was paying for travel expenses, which was going to cost over $5,000.00. We were overjoyed to receive an interest free loan from the Abba Fund, allowing us to bring Rediet home without financial worry.