Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Why did we choose Ethiopia??

We get asked that question so often now that I want to post a response here. Be forewarned. This could get lengthy and philosophical.

Truthfully, we entered the adoption arena with the intention of adopting a little Asian girl - with a focus on China, Korea, and Phillipines. We did not even know there was an Ethiopia program. But as we learned more about the requirements of different countries, and as we become more convinced we should take a sibling pair, we began to think in different ways.

For example:
  • We scratched China because we cannot get siblings there.
  • Phillipines scratched us because Colleen is not Catholic
  • We scratched Russia because we think its unreasonable to be required to travel to meet your children, then not be able to take them home.
  • India scratched us because we had never been to a fertility clinic.

We finally narrowed our countries down to Ethiopia and Guatemala. Then we considered the behavior of officials in the host country, our future life stories, and our friends.

We thought about how we would answer our children when they ask inevitable questions around "Why my country? Why me?" We have a good story for Ethiopia. We have travelled to Africa three times already and we sponsor an orphanage in Tanzania ( We demonstrated that we cared for Africa before contemplating adoption there. We believe we have a great answer to our childrens question when it is asked.

While living in Pennsylvania and Connecticut, we befriended many blacks. They welcomed us, invited us to their churches, their community events, their family gatherings, their celebrations, and their grievings. Some of them are still among our very best friends and we believe they always will be. On the other hand, we have little exposure to the Hispanic community.

We considered the behavior of officials in the host countries. For example, we saw two beautiful Guatemalan twins, about 3 years old, come available. We immediately called to inquire. We were told to 'get in line' and the cost was about $47,000. I asked why so much, when an Ethiopian sibling pair costs about $16,000. The explanation I was given is there are more layers of lawyers and bureacrats to be satisfied in Guatemala. I interpret this as corruption and feather bedding.

We are obligated to take a stand against such obviously self serving behavior. It is even more outrageous when I consider the fact that Hanley Denning, a woman who graduated from the same college as me, is breaking her neck in Guatemala to save the kids that live off pickings in the Guatemala City municipal dump ( . Meanwhile, the educated class, who ought to know better, is treating a humanitarian crisis as its personal Fort Knox. I have no tolerance for such injustice, and will take opportunities to put a spotlight on it when I see it.

This incident convinced us that the Ethiopians are in the game to save their children. They do not view adoption as a currency generator. They do not impose unreasonable demands on adoptive families. They are making a very painful decision to do the right thing for the right reason. Our values are fully aligned with the Ethiopian way of thinking.

As we got more serious about Ethiopia, we became even more pleased with warmth and closenes of the program. For example, the families all adopt from the same orphanage. So it is a really close knit group back in the US. People who traveled before us sent photos. And we will take photos for families traveling behind us. Our kids will get to see the kids they grew up with in the orphanage. That is pretty unusual in international adoptions.

So, as you can see, I can get on a rant when I believe the priveleged are taking outrageous advantage of the misfortune of others.

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