Sarah and I have both wanted to adopt a child for many years. Before Sarah and I met, she had this dream of parenting an Asian or Latino child. After I went to Papua New Guinea with a Youth In Mission trip, I felt God specifically leading me to adopt a child. That was in 1998.
When Sarah and I got married, we were not sure we would ever have children the old fashioned way. Emma was a beautiful surprise, and we have been blessed to have her. After Emma, we made a permanent decision not to have any more children with our own genes, and we have been looking forward to adopting a child ever since.
We have spent the last several years trying to pay down off our student loans. We are now within striking distance of paying off our student loans, and we are beginning the adoption process.
We were afraid that it would be very difficult for us to adopt here in Korea. We have friends who have run into dead-end after dead-end trying to adopt here, and we also hit some dead-ends on our first tries. However, (interestingly, after we asked our prayer team at church to pray for us to find some openings), our friend Elena referred us to another US family who had adopted here in Korea. That opened the floodgates for us. That family sent us a list of adoption agencies recommended for US citizens living abroad.
We are now officially applying for adoption through Christian World Adoptions. We are also tackling one of the major obstacles for US citizens adopting while living abroad: the home study. This is where a social worker visits your home and makes sure you are fit parents. Another adoption agency, Adopt Abroad, has a social worker based here in Korea who is licensed in the USA. (This social worker is a graduate of Point Loma Nazarene University.) This social worker will come to our house in February. We are really excited about this because this seemed to be the impassible hurdle for us.
At this point we are thinking that we will try to adopt a child from Russia. That is exciting for us because it means we might finally be able to visit our good friends Davide and Tanya Cantarella who live in Moscow. Through a series of student exchanges I went to school with each of them for a year at MidAmerica Nazarene University and European Nazarene College.
This whole adoption process requires an amazing amount of work and money. Sarah (mostly) and I (a little) have been spending many hours gathering the required documents, doing research, and working through the required online training courses. This month, for our official application and home study fee, we will spend almost $5,000. That hits us like a Mac truck. That's $5,000 that won't go to paying off our school loans, but it also puts us one big step closer to holding a little baby boy in our arms who needs us as his Mom and Dad and big sister.
By the way, the name that currently ranks highest on our list is Noah Jetton. That would have been Emma's name if she were a boy. The Noah part works really well here in Korea, where 99% of all first names have 2 syllables. The Jetton part is in honor of my maternal grandparents, Bill and Myrtle Lee Jetton, who have been married for 67 years, and were Nazarene pastors for 30+ years.
Anyway, we're excited about beginning this process, even if we aren't exactly sure where all the money is going to come from yet. (We'll be applying for some grants once our application is officially approved.) The total cost for everything will probably be between $35,000 and $45,000! That seems like a lot, but there's a kid out there waiting for us to be his family. A few days ago, I realized that if it takes us about 12-18 months to complete this adoption process, then there is a good chance that the little boy we will adopt has already been conceived. That little boy in his mommy's womb out there somewhere in Russia is developing and growing even as I type this, even as we send out the checks to pay for this process, even as we do the almost endless paperwork. He is out there and growing and eventually waiting for us. That is exciting. That is why we're doing this. He's waiting.