Choosing a Country for International Adoption

 

So you think you’d like to adopt, and international adoption sounds like the option you’d like to pursue. But how to pick a country? After all, there are so many options, the possibilities can sound overwhelming.

For some, this choice can be an easy one. Perhaps you’ve traveled to this country, and feel a connection to the culture or the people. Maybe you have family there. But for others, there are many other considerations. Here are some questions to ask yourself as you consider which country to pursue.

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What age child do I wish to adopt? We’ll start here as this is the most obvious question to consider. Each country will have available children of different ages. For instance, some countries have predominantly children of toddler or preschool age available while others have mostly school age children or even older available. Some countries have many sibling groups available while others do not. Start your adoption search by thinking about the age of the child you’d wish to bring into your family. Consider the age of other children already in your home and how they might respond to a child younger, the same age, or even older than they are. One thing you’ll note as you explore international adoption: fewer and fewer very young children (0-5) are available for international adoption and there might be a very long wait for these young children in the countries who have them available.

Am I open to children with special needs? Next tremendously important question! Have you considered adopting a child with some special needs? Many countries have younger children available but they often have some degree of special needs. China, for instance, has primarily quite young children, but the vast majority have some kind of special need. Many people hear the words “special needs” and think, “oh no, I don’t feel equipped for that”. But take a little time to do some research and exploration of the types of special needs which can occur and you might find that you’re more open to this possibility than you originally thought. There are many children who are considered to have special needs who might actually have a correctable health issue. Perhaps they have a condition which can be corrected with surgery, or maybe they have something else which is not correctable (missing or partially missing fingers or toes for instance) but would not significantly impact their overall health or quality of life. Some countries will distinguish between special needs, by which they typically mean more cognitive or emotional impairments, and health issues, which can range from milder in nature to more severe.

While you’re considering this option here are some other factors which should weigh in. First, consider your financial situation and health insurance coverage. Before requesting a child with special needs you’ll want to make sure that your health insurance will cover that child’s medical care. Now that pre-existing conditions are not allowed to be excluded from health coverage, you can have more confidence that your child would be covered. But you’ll also want to consider co-pays, deductibles, and percentages of the expenses covered. Next, how close do you live to medical or other resources which your child might need? If you live in a very rural area, are you comfortable driving an hour or more to get your child medical care? Would you be willing to do this for a brief period of time, for instance if your child needed a one-time surgery, or would you be comfortable doing this on a regular basis?

Children with special needs are most often overlooked for adoption. There are many beautiful, sweet children with a variety of milder issues who might be a wonderful addition to your family. They could blossom and flourish in a loving family given the opportunity.

How long do I want to wait for a child? Again, for more and more countries, waiting for a young healthy child can come with wait times of years. Carefully investigate how long you might wait in a particular country program before you commit. Are you comfortable with a long wait time, or do you want to add to your family more quickly? A few programs can be as fast as 6-12 months while most take at least a year to complete. Countries with younger, healthy children available are typically predicated to take several years, with some even longer.

Do I want my child to look like me?  You’ll want to do some soul searching for this question. Many adoptive families are comfortable with their child not resembling them physically. Are you comfortable parenting a child with a different skin color or ethnicity? How will your child be accepted into your community if they are from another race? Into your extended family? As difficult as these questions can be to ask, they are immensely important. When you parent a child from another ethnicity or country you are committing to honor and celebrate their heritage. You’ll want to try and prepare their birth country’s food, to celebrate their traditions or holidays. You will need to be comfortable talking about physical differences with your child, to answer hard questions, to defend or do your best to protect your child from any racism they might encounter.

What are the requirements to adopt from this country? Relatively speaking, this question is an easy one as it’s determined by the foreign country and you simply have to check to see if you meet their requirements. Remember, each country sets their own requirements for who may adopt. Different countries have different age parameters, allowances for health issues, income, or may take only married or both married or single parents. Make sure to talk this over with your adoption caseworker to ensure you meet the foreign country’s requirements. Also ask about the dossier (paperwork) requirements. Different countries will have different requirements to complete for a dossier.

What kind of travel is involved to the foreign country? One trip? Three trips? How long must you be away? Can one parent travel or must both? These kinds of factors can also impact your choice.

Don’t forget the less obvious details! The above issues are “the big ones”. Every family will consider those. But there are some other important factors to keep in mind when you decide on a country from which to adopt. First, how does the foreign country handle the termination of parental rights for orphaned children? Is this aspect handled by a government authority or by a private attorney or associate of the adoption agency? Make sure you feel comfortable with the ethics of the foreign country’s process, and with those of your adoption agency. While the United States and most adoption agencies work very hard to prevent corruption and unethical behavior, it can still happen. Stay alert to these details to make sure you don’t worry that corruption is involved. Choose a reputable Hague Accredited adoption agency and ask for references.

Next, how many adoptions occur from that country each year? The number can vary dramatically from one country to the next, with some having hundreds and other countries only having 1-2 or even 0 in a given year. You can find information about how many adoptions occur from a country on the Department of State’s website: adoption.state.gov. Go to Country Information on their main page, choose a country, and you can get a tremendous amount of information about the country, their requirements, and basic procedures. They also have a statistics chart showing the number of adoptions for each of the past several years. If you are considering a country with very few adoptions (say under 10) per year you may want to think carefully. In these cases it’s possible that the country does not have a well-established adoption process. Talk with your adoption agency about the certainty of getting matched with a child from a country like this and the stability of their program.

Open Door would love to help you explore your international adoption options. You can start with exploring our website, http://www.opendooradoption.org/. View each of our International Country pages to learn more and for some countries, to view waiting children. Then contact one of our fabulous caseworkers to talk about the programs you’re most interested in. Our goal is to help each family find the best adoption program suited to their situation. We love to help families just like you. Call us! 229-228-6339.

 

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We Have an Urgent Need

Dear Friends,

I come to you today with an urgent need. Today, I come to you on behalf of three very special children, who at this very moment, are on the other side of the world–waiting.  How does one go about waiting for a family? I wait for my mom to finish trying on clothes so we can go to lunch. I  wait for a friend in the coffee shop. But I’ve never had to wait to be loved. These siblings, a girl, 8 years old, and two boys, 7 and 11, are waiting for love. That is something  most of you reading this blog post will never have to do, but we CAN stand in the gap for those who are waiting.

In Proverbs 31:8-9, The Lord speaks to this very issue, saying:

Speak out on behalf of the voiceless, and for the rights of all who are vulnerable.Speak out in order to judge with righteousness and to defend the needy and the poor.”

 

So here  I am, thankful that 23 years ago, someone spoke up for me, and as a measure of my thankfulness, I’m speaking up for these kiddos.

From the information Open Door has received, these children are said to be very healthy and obedient. The eldest boy loves soccer and is in 4th grade. The middle child, the girl, is a sweet 8 year old who is described as  a very good student and friend. The youngest boy is a smart child who is said to be well adjusted.

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At this time we are not permitted to  release pictures of the children over social media, but if you express interest, I can give you a picture, and my oh my, they are beautiful. You can also find out where they are from and more information about them.

You may not feel called to adopt. We can discuss that later 😉 (hahaha) but you are called to SPEAK UP. So share this post. Social Media is powerful.

You may not think you are ready to take on three children from an unknown place, but someone out there is–I promise you that. SPEAK UP. Share this. Be a vehicle.

But maybe, maybe you do feel called to adopt. You’ve been praying about the timing, the country, and the number of children. Maybe you’ve been asking God for a sign that lets you know it’s time to move forward.  Maybe this is it!  Maybe you’ve had adoptions fall through and you made a deal with God: “You’re going to have to literally drop them in our lap if you  want us to go through with adoption  again.” Maybe this is the drop.

I have this crazy belief that all children deserve the love of a father and mother, and I will stop at nothing to speak  up for those that are pent up in  dusty orphanages, dependent on overworked, underpaid caregivers to meet their deepest desire for love and connection. I want  these children to be given every opportunity to grow and thrive and come to know the love of a Father so great He has this girl across the world sitting at a desk writing a blog post about children she will probably never meet because she is so  compelled by His love that she must find these children a family.

 

So, your job is to share this. Your job is to pray.  And for one of you families out there, your job is to bring these kids home.

Sincerely,

Sarah

For More Information, Call Olga Klatt at 727-674-1470 or email her at olga@opendooradoption.org.

 

 

 

 

 

Sincerely, Sarah: Proud to be an American

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Freedom.

It’s a word we toss around flippantly. I’m free to do whatever I want. I love free stuff. America, the land of the free. 

As I’ve been anticipating the 4th of July and all the festivities that surround this great American holiday, I’ve been thinking about how freedom and adoption are related. I love this country. I wasn’t born here, but I’m an American girl, through and through.  That’s what’s amazing about the USA. It’s a culmination of every nation, every language, every race and every culture. It was founded as a safe haven for persecuted christians, and to this day, people come here by the droves seeking opportunity, hope and solace. Many families go to another nations and adopt children and bring them here so they too can have possibilities they might not have in their place of birth.

I cannot imagine what my life would have been like if my parents had not adopted me from Russia. I would not have had the opportunities I’ve had here, the freedom to choose so many things, the hope of making a difference in the world. All of that has happened because I’m here, because someone went there and brought me here. I’ll be the first to tell you I don’t think the old US of A has it all figured out, and I’ve been to other nations that could teach us quite a bit, but especially in light of the deluge of bad news we are inundated with on a daily basis, I want to encourage you to think twice this 4th of July.

Think about how blessed you are to live in a nation where you are not persecuted for your faith.(No matter what you may think you are going through, a victim of the terror in the Middle East would likely tell you that you are NOT being truly persecuted). A nation where you can read your Bible without fearing for your safety. A nation where you can pursue education and receive medical care and feel safe walking down the street. I know this isn’t a perfect country and there is much corruption and evil, but if you live in the USA, it is where God has put you right now and He will protect you and provide for you–and the least we can do is be grateful. The news tells us we are doomed and that the world is’t what it used to be, and maybe that’s true, but take heart! This is a great nation, a nation where many people, including internationally adopted, children find hope and freedom and peace.

So, this year, as you’re firing up your barbeque and setting off your fireworks, thank God for your freedom, and maybe even think about what you could do to help a child enjoy that same liberty.

Bringing Super Nova Home

We are SO excited to share the Jones family’s adoption story on our blog! God has given this family such a beautiful testimony through adoption.

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Hi, we are the Joneses.

Spencer & I met on March 12, 2010 and that day truly changed our lives. He was my dream fella, and I was the girl he had always searched for. It was a match made in heaven & really a fairy tale story. We were engaged within a few months, and married one year later on March 12, 2011. We have never “waited around” to do, well really, anything.  After a little while of being married, we decided the time was right & we wanted a baby. I knew I had some female problems and it would most likely take a while to conceive. After about a year with no baby, I went to my doctor and he started me on fertility medication. When several rounds of that were unsuccessful, he sent us to a reproductive specialist.  Long, boring story short– on June 7, 2013, one of the top fertility doctors in the country looked at my husband & me in the eye and said, “If you want to have a family, you need to look into adoption.”  We literally went home that day, and started our research. Over the weekend we looked at everything we could about adoption: International, domestic, different agencies, different countries– everything. Monday morning, I called Open Door and everyone there was SO helpful. I knew from that one phone call that we had found our agency!  Olga was so kind and helpful, she helped us narrow down a country that we were eligible for & really gave us a realistic expectation of how the adoption process would go.   She also sent me a link where I could view waiting children from that country and… I sat and cried. I had been googling countries and waiting children for weeks, and granted, I had seen a lot of cute kids, but THESE kids– BROKE.OUR.HEART.  I guess, that’s what it means for a country to “speak to you”. I’ve always heard that there would just be one country that would call to you, and you would “just know”. That’s exactly how it worked for us.  We decided to immediately begin our Bulgarian adoption!

On Wednesday we received our information packet, application, and fee schedule from Open Door! After the initial shock of the staggering price tag wore off, we decided we needed to take a step back and pray. We knew there was NO way we could come up with that on our own, but also knew that God was calling us to do this. We asked the Lord for clear direction- specifically that HE would give us the exact amount of money needed for every step of the way! (Because, as much as we would’ve liked to have it, we don’t NEED all $32,000 RIGHT NOW!) All we needed right then was the $250 for our application fee. Which, looking back was not a lot- but we had prayed and felt like when the timing was right, God would send us the money and we would know it was time to get this ball rolling!  Friday morning rolls around, (*PAYDAY*) and after paying all of our bills, Spencer called to let me know that we had an extra $100 in our account, and he didn’t know where it came from! I just chalked it up to “God was working” and went on about my day, not knowing where the other $150 would come from. Well, I got home from work a few minutes before Spencer that day, and when I went to the mailbox (expecting doctor bills) I was surprised to see a weird looking envelope from our insurance company. We had overpaid, throughout the course of the year, and they sent us a reimbursement check! (How often does THAT happen?!) I was even more surprised when I looked down at the amount. $152.87! In the total of about 7 hours, the Lord had given us the EXACT amount of money needed for our application fee!! He even sent a couple of extra dollars for postage!! How good is HE?!?

From there, the miracles kept pouring in- jewelry fundraisers, special love offerings at church, one little girl selling bracelets she made, t-shirt fundraisers, bake sales, our youth group even sold snow cones at the Lowndes games! People were being the hands and feet of Christ & the outpouring of love we received was incredible. By October’s end we had our completed our home-study and were busy putting together our dossier!  The mountains of paperwork, the fingerprints, and doctor’s visits were so tedious and draining- at times we did grow weary of the “process”.  But, just knowing there was a child on the other side of the world waiting for us to come, provided encouragement to press on.

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving 2013, I opened my email to find an email from Olga. She sent me the photo of a beautiful young girl and said she thought we might be interested in receiving more information about her.  I mentioned it to Spencer, and we both thought she was adorable.  BUT, she was older than we had originally wanted & some of her needs we weren’t quite sure about. I messaged Olga back and told her that little girl “429” didn’t quite meet the parameters that we had specified, but thanked her for thinking of us. Olga replied by saying that she knew the girl was older than we had requested, but she decided to send us her file anyway. (Here I will add that I thank the Lord for the people He let us work with during this process!!) Olga encouraged us to really, REALLY pray about pursuing little girl “429” and making her a part of our family. Spencer & I couldn’t shake that sweet little face from our minds and after a couple of days, we both KNEW that THIS little girl needed to be ours!

So, off went an e-mail to our fabulous consultant and in return, we received our girl’s complete medical file along with more information about her. We also knew that we needed to work quickly, because there were more people who would want her if we didn’t.

In a whirlwind few weeks, we had completed and notarized the necessary application paperwork and sent pictures to Bulgaria of us and our home. And then we waited. And waited. And waited some more, for what seemed like an eternity we waited. In reality it wasn’t quite that long and in the meantime, we were able to take her file to a pediatrician in town that has dealt with other internationally adopted children. We got a good prognosis based on what he could tell by her report and then we waited some more.   If you’ve never experienced anything like this, you probably won’t understand the agony that comes with knowing that one person, a government official on the other side of the world (who doesn’t know a thing about you besides the few pages of information they have before them) is making a decision that will impact your life F O R E V E R.  The wait is exhausting. It’s draining. And nerve wrecking. Even though we had a peace that it was in the Lord’s hands, it still really does a toll on your emotions.

We went out of town for Christmas thinking that we wouldn’t hear any news from Bulgaria until after the New Year, and tried to put it out of our minds as much as we could. Finally, on December 26, 2013, we opened up the e-mail that we had waited to see for so many weeks!! It began with “I have wonderful news for your family!” and that was that! Our application for our little girl had been accepted and she was officially “put on hold” for us to adopt!!! PRAISE THE LORD!!!!

We did our best to hurry & get our completed dossier shipped to Bulgaria and waited for travel dates!! In March, our church hosted a huge benefit concert as a final fundraiser for our adoption costs! It was such a wonderful night and the Lord sent in $24,828.00 for our little girl! At this point our adoption was PAID IN FULL!! Never could we have dreamed how the Lord would provide for us & the little girl he called us to adopt. He is just so faithful!

In May we received our travel dates to go meet our princess. We could not WAIT to get our hands on that sweet little face!!! We hurriedly got everything together, suitcases packed, flights & hotels booked, and off we went!

On May 19th, Spencer & I woke up in the tiny town of Dobrich, Bulgaria. We headed to the hotel restaurant for breakfast at 8:30am. We could barely eat for our nerves. Spencer downed a cup of black coffee & I had some sort of mango juice, and some fruit. I can still remember sitting at our table, me facing the billboard clock on the sports complex building next door. 9:03, it said. And it was time to go. Our translator, called for the cab & Spencer and I went up to the room to grab the yellow “Billa” bag full of gifts we had brought for our daughter. A sock monkey, a purple blanket, chalk, coloring book & pencils, bubbles, and a photo book with photos of our family and home.  We met our translator upstairs at the road, just as the tiny grey car pulled up that would (not so) safely take us to our destination. The ride was no more than 5 minutes, but it seemed like eternity. The car bounced and jarred and screeched to a halt more than once on our short trip, all the while techno music blaring in the background.  We arrived at the orphanage a few minutes after 9, and slowly walked up the few porch steps that led into the compound. We donned our blue booties (they made you wear them inside) and were greeted by a lady, the social worker, who then led us straight down a window lined hallway, and up the stairs to the second floor. She opened the first door on the right and it was eerily quiet. Not exactly the sound you would expect from this wing where so many children were housed. She led us through another door where we sat in a tiny room with a plush red couch, a small round table, and two side chairs. There was a toy box and a large window over the couch near the ceiling. Spencer and I were seated on the couch and our attendant, to my right in one of the chairs. She explained to us that they were going to get Nova, and we would be able to play with her in the room for several minutes until she was comfortable with us, then we could take her outside to play on the “playground”.  We were to spend time with her until lunch, and then we must leave while she took a nap. We would return that afternoon at 3 pm and stay until time for dinner. The social worker left, and we waited.

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Not many minutes later, we heard the door to the children’s area open. In a split second, Nova rounded the corner and was in our arms. So nervous and unsure, she sat and let us inspect her. Spencer & I were a puddle of tears. We sat and held our daughter for the first time! Never had I felt such joy as the moment her tiny little hands wrapped around my neck and she looked up into my eyes. This was my daughter, and I was her Mommy. Even though she had no idea of how that moment changed her life (and ours), it was indeed, forever changed. She went back and forth several times between Mommy, Daddy & our translator (she knew her from previous visits!) and then we decided to venture outside! Spencer carried her down the stairs and out the door- she was so nervous and scared, she clung to him with all that she had.  She quickly loosened up, then we really got a glimpse into her larger than life personality! She absolutely soaked up every bit of affection we were so excited to give her. She was thrilled to be the center of our attention and affection. It was truly one of the best days of our lives & I venture to say, hers too. After our play time, we came back upstairs and they asked if we would like to feed Nova lunch- of course! We were able to sit with her while she ate and then it was time to leave. When we came back after her nap, they told her we were back & she was so excited- she bolted out the door and into our arms so fast! Nova changed our life that day, and we are so thankful this little girl gets to be ours.

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The rest of the week was more of the same, blissful moments with our daughter that passed too quickly, and on Thursday afternoon it was time for us to leave. It was heart wrenching. By Tuesday, she cried when she woke up & we were weren’t there yet– I could only imagine every day her waking up expecting us to be there- only to find out we weren’t.  Leaving Nova behind was the hardest thing I’d ever done.  We both cried until we were physically sick. The only comfort we had was knowing that God would keep her in His care until we could return to bring her home.

We came home & made ourselves busy. We decorated her room & got the house ready for our Princess’s arrival. At the end of October we passed court & on Thanksgiving Day we left to go get our girl! On December 5, we made the same trek, in a taxi not unlike the one from our first trip to Dobrich. We rode down the same gloomy road, we climbed the same steps, we donned the same blue booties, we climbed the stairs to the second floor visitation room and waited for our daughter to come around that corner like she had 7 months before. Hoping she would remember who we were and that her love for us had grown in those months of separation. Later, we found out that Nova slept with her blanket and photo book every single night. She would flip through the book and then fall asleep with her hand on the photos of us. The long wait was finally over and we were really here. I could hardly believe it. We sat on that same red couch, and waited- we could hear voices in the other room, I heard her name, then “mama & daddy” and then the sweetest little cry of joy you’ve ever heard. She took off to our little room & jumped onto her daddy. She wrapped her arms tight as if she couldn’t believe that we were really back! But we were. We were back for her. We changed her clothes, shoes, and hair bows because those sweet children don’t own a thing. We dressed our daughter in her own clothes, and took her down those stairs for the last time. We walked out the doors, and she walked into a world of freedom and family and love beyond belief. She can never be called orphan again- she is forever ours.

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We have been home now for 5 months and Nova has grown like you wouldn’t believe. She is thriving, because that’s what children do in families- because that’s where they were meant to be. She’s gained over 10 lbs. and an inch in height. She went from only pronouncing “Mama, Daddy, Da and Nay” to saying the whole alphabet, counting to 10 in English, recognizing letters, and from barely able to scribble to being able to write her name (with only a little help). She knows so many words & amazes us every single day with how much she is growing and learning. We have been so blessed in our adoption journey and we’re so thankful that God sent us to Open Door, I can’t imagine going through this process without them. And I definitely can’t imagine our life without our Little Super Nova.  It’s amazing to me what God can do with two willing people. People who are ordinary and plain, but willing to follow where HE leads. Even when it seems the task is too big, too hard, the road too long– HE is faithful!

His Perfect Timing | Sincerely, Sarah.

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Once upon a time…..

A sweet southern couple named Ken and Stacy had the desire to have children. In their own efforts, they were unsuccessful, and the beautiful wife Stacy began to feel hopeless, as she felt her dreams of being a mommy slip further and further away.

One January day, Ken and Stacy were at church and it happened to be Sanctity of Life Sunday. God gripped Stacy’s heart and she knew deep within her they were supposed to adopt. Ken had already been feeling this way, so he was in agreement with his wife to proceed.

They set out on the adventure to bring a baby into their family, but they met opposition very quickly when the agency they chose closed shortly after Ken and Stacy began the adoption process. Disheartened but not defeated, they sought the Lord for what was next, and He led them right down the street to an agency very close to their home. Suddenly, things were looking up! Maybe their dreams were within reach.

While they traversed through the adoption process, over mountains of paperwork and through forests of policies and procedures, they encountered many unforeseen circumstances. Even though their adoption dreams were coming true, they were experiencing unimaginable loss in their family. Throughout the year they lost three people whom they deeply loved. Stacy strongly believes that God timed their adoption perfectly to show them that He is a Redeemer and a Healer and only He can make something beautiful come out of something difficult and painful.

Ken and Stacy were blessed to be able to meet and grow to love the woman who helped their dreams come true by bringing baby Ward into the world, and in the first moments of Ward’s life, two women came together and shared their dreams and hopes for their son. Someday, Stacy wants Ward to know that he was so loved by his birthmother that she chose adoption for him, and he was so loved by Ken and Stacy they chose him to be their son. But most importantly, she wants him to know the love of Christ, who led them to adopt, led them to Open Door, and guided his birthmother to choose just the right family for him. “He is ours for a reason,” Stacy says, as she looks lovingly at her son, exactly one year after that Sanctity of Life Sunday.

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And they lived happily ever after (Ken, Stacy, Ward, and baby number 2, due in August.) God has a sense of humor! 🙂

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Are You Called to Adopt Internationally?

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We’ve all seen them. The pictures that  grab your heart and won’t let go. The faces of children who long to be loved as they deserve. How many of us have been moved by these pictures enough to adopt one of these precious children? We can continue to post these pictures in the hope to inspire and bring awareness to the orphan epidemic, but what is the use of awareness if action is not taken? If you feel called to adopt internationally, we want you to seriously pray about beginning this journey.

We are going to be honest with you. International adoption is not for the weary-hearted. Adopting internationally is full of highs and lows and at times the process can seem daunting, but the reward of bringing your child home far outweighs any trial. God’s Word constantly presents how precious children are to the Lord, and that we are mandated to look after orphans.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being.”

-James 1:27

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“If only 7 percent of the 2 billion Christians in the world would care for a single orphan in distress, there would effectively be no more orphans. If everybody would be willing to simply do something to care for one of these precious treasures, I think we would be amazed by just how much we could change the world.”

-Steven Curtis Chapman

To Learn more about our International Programs, click on the country of interest below:

Bulgaria
China
Latvia
Lithuania
Peru
Ukraine

 We are always available to discuss any questions you may have for the international adoption program. Call us today to begin your adoption journey.

229-228-6339 OR 1-800-868-6339

Home | Sincerely, Sarah.

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If anybody understands God’s ardor for his children, it’s someone who has rescued an orphan from despair, for that is what God has done for us. God has adopted you. God sought you, found you, signed the papers and took you home.

– Max Lucado

              Home is safe, home is familiar, home is where we bring our family and where we celebrate birthdays and mourn loss and where we rest. Home is what children who have been orphaned lack. So we go through mountains of paperwork and fund-raise to cover adoption fees through spaghetti dinners, car washes, t-shirts and bracelets. We encounter foreign and domestic governments and we pack up and travel halfway around the world to bring children home. We choose to respond to God’s heart and His earnest desire that every child have a home, a mom, a dad, a hope. Every relationship we see was originally created to be a reflection of Christ and his church: a father and his child, a husband and wife, a brother and sister, two friends. It’s all supposed to be a reflection of the unconditional love Jesus has for us. And so it is with adoption. We bring children home, just as God is always drawing us home, to His heart, to His intent for His children.

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              Last week I had the privilege to be at a homecoming for one of our adoptive families. Dozens of family and friends were gathered at the airport, and there was a palpable excitement in the air. After a year-long adoption process, 16 year old Jon was finally coming home to his family. The plane landed. The group rose and gathered their colorful “Welcome Home!” signs. Of course, Jon and his mom were the very last ones to come through the big glass doors, so everyone spent about ten minutes standing anxiously, expectantly until finally they burst through the door and into their family’s arms. After years of living in an orphanage, Jon has a home and his family has finally filled that empty spot at the table and in their hearts.

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         Now, he will always have someone. And they will always have him. He takes their name. They welcome him for life. Is anything more beautiful? 

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             After the hugs and tears had *somewhat* subsided, we gathered around and prayed and thanked God for this beautiful thing called family. Then we gathered our things and went home.