Until They Say We Can't

When Jason and I began our Ethiopia adoption process in December of 2013, we had no clue what the next several years would bring. We were, admittedly, blindly optimistic. We thought it'd only take a few months to do our home study (try 7.5), be on the waiting list by summer (it was the end of September), and be booking flights to Ethiopia by Christmas 2015. Thankfully, even basking in our optimism, we'd heard that adoption is not for the faint of heart, so we had the foresight to set some "guidelines" - rules for ourselves if the going got tough. 

Well, the going did get tough. And then it got tougher. One of our main guidelines that we verbalized to each other is that we were sticking with Ethiopia unless there came a point where someone told us we could no longer do so. 

This has served us well and we've had to cling to this more than a couple of times throughout our journey. But today, it's with a broken heart that I come to say that the "someone," the ambiguous "they," has delivered the news that we can no longer pursue adoption in Ethiopia. 

If you would have told me even a month or two ago that I'd be writing this without streams of tears running down my face, I would not have believed you. But, I'm pretty positive I'm in shock, and this tragedy has not sunk in yet. I feel numb, and terrible, and just blah. 

To begin to tell you how this all happened would be to understand it myself. But I will give you what small backstory we know, and we will go from there. 

On April 21st we heard from the Department of State (DOS) that Ethiopia had temporarily suspended all international adoptions for at least 30 days. There really wasn't more information than that. At this point, it was my understanding that we were in the next few families who would get a referral (or match), so we thought we'd just wait out the 30 days and then hopefully things would get back to normal, or maybe even better. 

Right in the middle of that time period, the DOS released several other statements that were somewhat vague, but indicated that international adoptions in Ethiopia were going to get even harder. Basically, this announcement made it seem as if even matched families would have trouble bringing their kiddos home. 

After that, we started hearing directly from the DOS and Immigration, basically saying that we need to choose another country and withdraw from Ethiopia. But we were told by our agency and placing agency that they were confirming everything and just to wait. So we put the emails and letters aside and decided to wait and see what they said. 

Well, on Tuesday we received word that our placing agency no longer has the capacity to work with waiting list families. Because there are so many matched families who are having to work so hard to get their kids home and complete the process, the placing agency has to put all of their resources toward those efforts. 

I'll be honest, I'm devastated for these matched families. I've shed more tears over them than I have over our situation. Although we have a name, we don't have a face - there is no human child attached to the name Judah yet. A dream of a child, yes; an imagined child, definitely; but we are not matched, and we are not having to fight to bring home a child a that we have given our yes to. 

At this point we don't know what we are going to do next. We have been given several options to switch programs (countries) and we are inquiring about domestic adoptions as well. We are praying through where God is leading us. 

A few notes of transparency: 

Jason and I have been in this process for 3.5 years. That's the majority of our marriage. That's half of the time we've been together. We've been actively imagining and operating as if Judah is our little boy from Ethiopia for a long, long time, and letting go of that dream, that imagined child, is really hard right now. This journey has consumed many, if not most of our conversations, date nights, spending habits, job placements, neighborhood, home, prayers, and more for 75% of our marriage. There are conversations, images, and causes that we have centered our lives around because of this. There are things we've prepared for, books we've read, and so much more that were based on this journey coming to fruition. 

Letting go of that and walking into another program, even though there are children all over the world who needs homes, it's really hard. It feels like we are leaving a child behind, even though we aren't, at least not really. It feels like we are leaving behind this huge part of ourselves and our life as The Morales Family. I look around my home and see shapes of Africa, photos of Ethiopia with bible verses that we've prayed over thousands of times. I see globes perfectly placed on the part of the world we want to get to most, more than Paris, London, or Rome. There are bookmarks of blogs on my computer and books on our bookshelves. There are tears and love and hope. Our home and our life reflect this journey. 

But the journey is not over, and it's not in vain. 

You see, there's Brighten. The only way we got to Texas was through Ethiopia. It sounds so crazy but it's oh so true. Without our first placing agency closing back in 2015, we wouldn't have considered a domestic adoption, updated our home study, and been ready and waiting when we found out about our baby girl from Houston. So, we go forth with complete and utter sadness, but also with hope that God is leading us and guiding us. He loves these kids more than we ever could, and not only does He have a plan for our family, but He has a plan for each of their lives. We trust Him. His ways are better. They are beyond our understanding, but they are better. 

Please keep our little family in your prayers as we seek out where God is leading us. We believe that our #journeytojudah is not over, but rather has taken a different turn. We also know that there are other families, both matched and waiting list, who are walking through similar devastation. Please pray for them as well. Last, please pray for the children in Ethiopia who need families. There are thousands, millions even, and they desperately need our prayers because they are facing a reality in which they may never find a forever family. I fervently pray against that, I urge you to do the same. 

Thank you for walking through this with us. Whether we are friends in real life, online friends, or both, your love, prayers, and support mean the world to us. 

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