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.


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: 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, 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.



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.


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.



For More Information, Call Olga Klatt at 727-674-1470 or email her at






Jumping in With Both Feet

Laughing with an adoptive family!

What do you say when you are completely overwhelmed by the grace and wonder and joy of Jesus Christ? I think all you can say is thank you, Lord,

Last night, An Open Door celebrated adoption. We went all out, pulled all the stops, blew up all the balloons, and brought possibly the most incredible person I have ever met to Thomasville. Over mashed potatoes and tomato bisque, we laughed, shared stories and heard families share about their adoption stories, from Georgia all the way to Ukraine. Bob Goff was our guest of honor, and if you have never heard of him, do yourself a huge favor and go buy his New York Times Bestselling book Love Does now. Bob Goff is full of life, full of power, full of joy and overflowing with Jesus, and he poured joy like a waterfall in our little town last night.


He asked tough questions about what was important in our life, what we were filling our bucket with and were we choosing to play it safe instead of jumping with both feet into the lifelong adventure of loving others, of loving kids who need love. He said we were all invited to live an incredible life, but even more than that, we were all welcome.

When we picked Bob up at the airport yesterday, he was carrying a long cylinder holding what looked like a poster (either that or he had stolen the Declaration of Independence). all afternoon I was curious about what was in the cylinder.

Later, while Bob was speaking, he started talking about castles. He pulled a huge sheet of paper out of the cylinder, revealing the blueprints for building a castle. He said if you want to learn how to build a castle, you could refer to the blueprints, but if you want to build a kingdom, you were  going to have to think differently. You see, castle are built to keep you safe, to keep the bad guys out with moats and guards, but kingdoms are structured to welcome people in with bridges instead of barriers, This is the kingdom of God, not that we play it safe and never jump into the adventure of loving with our whole hearts, but that we throw off the weights that so easily entangle us and run (with joy) the race set before us. We are building a kingdom that lasts, and this kingdom begins with children.

He pulled a small square mirror out of his bucket at one point and told us how when his kids were younger and feeling discouraged, he would get their mirror  put it front of them, an say, “Let me tell you about YOU.” to his sons, he would say, “You are a man of valor.” To his daughters, “You are a woman of virtue.”

Who will place the mirror in front of a child who has no one with whom they belong? Who will build them up like fathers do, and who will  hold them close, like mothers do?

I was so excited to meet my favorite author!!

Last night, we celebrated adoption, but we also were honest. There is much work to be done, there are many waiting children, and we at Open Door are jumping in with both feet. We are done thinking about it, waiting for it, or planning for it. We are following after Jesus and his heart for children with everything we’ve got.

Are you with us?

To find out more about supporting our agency, visit

To find out more about Bob Goff, visit

To find out more about adoption, visit

Sincerely, Sarah: Proud to be an American

sincerely sarah


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.

Doubly Blessed

You are going to love this incredible adoption story, written by one of our wonderful adoptive moms.


Infertility is the worst nightmare of people who want to be parents.

When you’ve had a desire for a family for most of your life, the harsh reality of not being able to produce a child is just about the cruelest thing that can happen.  Some people don’t want children; some don’t need to have children; some have children by accident and then wonder what happened.  Others plan their lives carefully: they plan their weddings, they buy their first homes, they pick out names for their yet-to-be children and they wait.  And nothing happens.

We were a part of that group.  It’s horrible.  Everyone else starts having babies and you just feel powerless.  Some people choose fertility treatments; we did not.  Being adopted myself, I grew up hearing how special it was to be adopted and that’s what I wanted. I couldn’t wait.

Then the reality of adoption in today’s world hit me in the face.  How much did you say it costs? We have to be chosen by the birthmother?  We have to maintain contact?  We have to do how much paperwork and training courses?  There’s no guarantee we will even get a baby?  Again, more harsh realities.  Other people get to call their parents and say, “We’re pregnant!” and have baby showers.  We got to do paperwork.

When I was adopted in 1975, adoption was a much different affair. My parents had one home visit, waited for less than a year, and paid a whopping $175 to adopt me.  It was only $150 for them to adopt my brother less than two years later, and about the same for my sister three years after that. There were no portfolios.  No contact with birthparents.  Very little information about biological families. They took us home, we became a family, and that was that.

Honestly, I never really thought about it until I was getting married and then wanted to know where I came from.  I did a search and uncovered a mother who looked like my twin and six funny, rather young siblings.  It was a whirlwind.  I found out I had yet another sister who had been adopted; her name is Kirsten and mine is Kristen. I saw people who looked like me for the very first time in life, heard a genetic history I never knew existed, and began to grieve for what I had missed out on.

Still, I didn’t belong with them.  I had been raised so differently, and the way I saw them being raised was nothing I would have wanted for myself.  I was OK with it, but it was hard.  And I began to realize that it’s nicer to know.  It’s nicer to know from childhood who you look like and where you came from and that you were not rejected than it is to always wonder.

I began to understand the “why” behind open adoption.

When our older son was eight years old, after many years of trying to adopt again and having no success, I decided to contact Open Door.  A friend had raved about them and I trusted her advice.  We had a difficult experience with my son’s adoption and I just could not go through that again.  I needed someone I could trust.

After my first conversation with Jane Gilbert, I thought, “This woman really seems to get adoption.  She’s smart.  She has all details ironed out, so there are no surprises later.  And most importantly, she does more adoptions in a month than some agencies do in a year!”

We were ready.  We did all the paperwork again and waited.

Finally, we were matched!  But it was not to be.  We went through the devastating experience of being connected with a birthmother for nearly two months and then having to return her child to her within 48 hours. It was a nightmare, because we realized she never intended to place that child for adoption and that she had been using us and the agency.  The reality that precious child had to return to was horrific, and we uncovered the knowledge that the mother had been under investigation by Child Protective Services for years.  We made phone call after phone call, with Jane’s support.  Not long after, the birthmother ended up in jail and the child was placed in foster care, thank God.  During this time, our case worker from Open Door was working around the clock, even going to meet with the judge, to try and help the child.  Her dedication astounded us.

It was then that I realized that Open Door truly cared about the children they serve.  As horrible as that experience was, it brought a high level of awareness to the failings of Georgia’s Department of Family and Child Services and hopefully saved some lives.

Going home after that ordeal was horrible.  We had to move on and just wait.  Those months are a blur, and I don’t like to recall them.  Then something wonderful happened.  We got another phone call from Open Door.

Twins!  I couldn’t believe it.  They were two weeks old, a boy and a girl.  I remembered that I had been telling people for years that one day I felt we would get boy and girl twins.  I had even bought blankets for them five years prior.  I knew they were ours, and their birthday was two days before the birthday of the precious little girl we had to relinquish.

We got in the car to pick them up and within an hour received a call from our case worker that the birthparents had changed their minds.  They just couldn’t do it. We had to turn around and go home again, and we were all in shock.  Why was this happening to us?

I wasn’t angry this time, just dazed.  I felt so sorry for that couple.  How can someone give up twins?  I couldn’t imagine.  And I knew they weren’t in an unsafe environment like the previous baby and that someone truly loved them.  I also knew that as difficult as it was, they would eventually come back to the same point and realize that it was too much to handle.

We went back home again, got back into our routine, and put the car seats in the nursery, closing the door.

“It’s not over yet,” I told my husband.  “Just wait.”

Just a few days before, we had been at church—the church where we were married—praying that the birthparents would choose us.  We saw my son’s kindergarten teacher, a very deeply spiritual woman, who told me, “When I saw you walk in tonight, God told me to ‘tell Kristi it’s not over yet.’”

I wasn’t sure what she meant at the time, but I remembered that.  It was not over.

We went back to life, humiliated and devastated.  We had lost three babies in a matter of weeks.  I couldn’t stand the pity and shock we saw in people’s faces.  We felt completely cursed and forgotten by God.

But it was not over.

About six weeks later, on a Thursday, my husband came home early and announced, “I’ve lost my job.”

I looked up to the sky, and said, “Really?  Anything else you want to do to us?”

It was unreal.  He had left his company of 20 years and taken a new job, only to be let go when they needed to cut costs.

So we had no income.  No baby.  And we didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

The real kicker was that it was my husband’s birthday weekend!  We went out to celebrate with our friends, feeling that we had very little to celebrate.

Our caseworker sent me the kindest message.  She told me that God was with us and it was no surprise to Him and that He loved me more than I could imagine.  She reached out to me in a time of great personal pain, as she did for the birthmother she was counseling.  Her kind heart shone through, and again I was impressed by the Open Door staff and their caring attitudes.

That following Monday, we got another call.  I nearly dropped the phone when I heard, “The birthparents have signed surrenders.  Come pick up your twins!”

So, we packed up, went to get our son from school and told  him we were going back to Georgia—for real, this time—to get his brother and sister. We were prepared to write a pretty big check, with no income, and bring home two babies—with no income!!pkm3

And it worked out perfectly.  It was perfect that my husband is such a good planner that we had a hefty emergency fund.  It was perfect that he had four months home to help me, because I would have not been able to handle twins on my own right off the bat.  It was perfect that he was called back to his previous company, who were thrilled to have him and gave him a slight raise.

God is good.  God is faithful. 

On the way to pick up our twins, the case worker texted me a picture. They were the cutest babies I had ever seen.  He was frowning—his signature look—and she had an adorable, coquettish look on her face.  They were snuggled up together, looking a little stunned, with expressions that said, “Well, when are you coming to get us?”  I couldn’t make my car go fast enough.

We were given these babies on my husband’s birthday!  It was if God was saying, “See?  I told you it would all work out.  Happy Birthday, to all of you.”

We pulled up to the home of the foster care family, the door opened, and there they were. The little girl looked just like me as a baby.  I couldn’t believe it. We named her Sydney, and her brother is William.

They are so much like us.  They are redheads, as are our niece and nephew.  They are Irish in background; so is my husband and his family.  Will has asthma like me and my older son; Sydney is allergic to amoxicillin like my husband and his entire family.  Will has what we call the “McCabe glare” when he looks serious.  Sydney is temperamental and loves books,just like her mama!  They’re ours, just like I always knew they would be.


After we got them home, I received an email from Jane.  I loved it.  It said that we had been through the darkest of times and had persevered, and God had rewarded us immensely. “Isn’t that how He always does things?” she said. How very true.  We have been doubly blessed.

I learned many things from these experiences, mainly that adoption is unpredictable because you are dealing with human hearts, and that Open Door is an agency that really does care.   Not only that, but also that they are true professionals. Our first adoption experience with our older son was horrible, mainly due to the inept manner in which it was facilitated by that agency.   I told myself that I never wanted to work with any other agency, and you know what?  I never will.


And we’ve decided to go back for another one.

The paperwork is done, and we are back in Open Door’s active pool.  People look at me when I tell them and ask, “Are you crazy?”

Well, maybe a little.  You see, they remember the devastation we experienced when we had to hand that precious baby girl over to a mother who could not care for her other eight children, much less a helpless newborn.  They remember the second phone call when we had to come home again without a baby.  They remember seeing us absolutely exhausted during those first months (with one baby, you get little sleep but with two babies, you get NO sleep).  They remember seeing me carrying a toddler on each hip while trying to get through a doorway and hand out crackers to avoid screaming meltdowns.

But I remember seeing those two little faces who needed a mother and realizing at that moment that should anyone ever try to harm them, well … it wouldn’t be pretty.  And I know that it’s all worth it.

Adoption is not about me any more.  It’s about giving a home to a child who needs love and stability and offering a helping hand to a woman in crisis.  That really hit me when we came back from Georgia that first time and I realized I had a nice, comfortable home to return to, plenty of food, friends and family; that baby went home to a trailer being heated by an open stove and a drug-crazed grandmother.  It was eye-opening.

It’s worth it.  Dear readers, it’s worth it.  When you are enduring mounds of paperwork and the agonizing wait, remember there is an innocent little face on the other end who needs you desperately, and just keep on going.

God will reward you for your patience and perseverance.  He always does.

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.

nova 1

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.


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.


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.


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!

All Moms Matter | Sincerely, Sarah.

sincerely sarah




No matter how many times she’s embarrassed you, annoyed you, grounded you or disagreed with you, she’s the first person you want when you’re sad, hurting or proud. She’s your biggest cheerleader, and the one who will love you long after every one else has lost faith in you.


Whether your mama brought you into this world, into this country or just recently into her home, she undoubtedly holds a special place in your heart.


Since Mother’s Day was Sunday, we thought this would be a good time to honor our adoptive moms and our birth moms, so ahem. Here goes:


 To our birthmothers:

Thank you for exemplifying what’s best about mothers: selflessness. You carried us for nine long months, often in difficult circumstances, surrounded by people who weren’t supportive of you. You missed out on baby showers and nursery decorations, and tried not to think about all the moments you’d one day miss. You chose life for us, you chose family for us. You put us before you. I cannot fathom this love. Happy Mother’s Day to the mom we will rarely think about but without whom we would not be here. You gave us everything.


To our adoptive mothers:

Thank you for choosing us! You loved someone else’s child and allowed us to call you mommy. You took responsibility for us, you embraced us, and you raised us. We may not look like you or even have the same color skin, but you have lovingly taught us that family is more than blood. You have prayed for us, walked us through the loss and abandonment that coincide with adoption, and you have supported us every step of the way. You have put up with us, trained us and snuggled us when all hope was lost. Because you stepped out in faith, we have a family. You wanted us. You’re the one we run to, the one we call not our “adopted mom,” but simply “Mom.” We are yours and you are ours and we honor you, on this day and always.


Mama’s of every kind—we love you!!


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