Depending on what their beliefs are, this question could mean several different things to different people. For some, the question might be asking why choose adoption versus childbirth. For others, it might be asking why choose international adoption versus domestic. Some are curious whether a health issue such as infertility swayed the decision. And while Matt and I do have answers to some or most of these questions, those answers don’t really address the heart of the question, “Why adoption?”
As a Christian, the answer to this question lies in Ephesians 1:
Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.
John Piper sums this passage up beautifully in a sermon that is very close to our hearts. You can listen to the full sermon here but the main idea of the message is that we adopt, because God adopted us. In verses 4-5 it says that before the creation of the world, He chose us in all of our filth, rebellion, and sin, knowing that we would break His heart time and time again, and yet he chose us to be adopted eternally into his family even though it required the death of his only begotten and perfect son. If this doesn’t floor you than perhaps you haven’t yet allowed yourself to fully experience that unimaginable grace that He might take a broken and dirty rebel and claim it as His perfection for his glory. Matt and I are constantly floored by the fact that God called us and chose us as His own, and our response is a deep and profound desire to show a child that same profound grace by saying, “Whether you break my heart or reject me, I choose you and I will always love you because God first chose us.” This cannot be accomplished through our own strength alone, but we have faith in God’s promise that His graces are new every day. We know he will equip us for His good work through the adoption and throughout the child’s life by His grace and for His glory alone.
What led you to choose Korea?
The short answer to this question is that we did not in fact choose Korea. God chose it for us. I don’t know how else to explain it. Matt and I knew we would adopt internationally even before we were married, but through that time we envisioned children from Haiti, Africa, and the Philippines—never Korea. Matt and I have extensive knowledge of Haitian culture and by serving in various orphanages across Haiti, we came to the decision that we would one day adopt. I can point back to one child in particular that led us to this decision, and his name is Estanley. We met Estanley in an orphanage just outside of Mesailler, Haiti, and he became the face of our adoption plans for years. However, due to current policies, adoptive parents must be at least thirty years old to begin pursuing the process in Haiti. We certainly plan on pursuing adoption from Haiti in the future, but at this time the doors are closed to us.
This closed door turned our attention to Africa, which we quickly realized would be a closed door as well due to harsh political climates and uprisings across the north, and strict residency requirements across the south. While we did place a few phone calls to various agencies requesting information on adoption from Uganda and Ethiopia, we decided to begin researching the Philippines. However, due to a temporary moratorium in order to increase the processing speed of adoptions from the Philippines, this path proved to be a dead end as well. It was at the point when Matt and I decided we would perhaps pause in our adoption research to pray where the Lord would lead us when I happened to be connected to a social worker in Minnesota through the most unlikely phone call.
Her name is Deborah, and I cannot begin to express how grateful I was to have been put in contact with such a faithful and passionate woman. While she had nothing to gain from the conversation, she spoke with me for over two hours about adoption climates in various countries. I told her about the programs that we had pursued that had each reached a dead end when she brought up Korea. Up until this point, Matt and I had never considered Korea, mostly due to the fact that in 2012, Korea made several new policies that were meant to limit the number of adoptions outside the country with the intent of increasing domestic adoption. However, these policies backfired horribly and the number of children that were abandoned in the streets annually doubled between 2012 and 2015 alone. Due to the number of policies, the Korea program became much less appealing to adoptive parents, and Korea was soon overlooked by the international community regarding adoption.
While my initial reaction was doubt, further research led us to believe that we had in fact heard God’s answer. We fulfilled each of the requirements which were quite extensive including income, age, marriage, mental health records, lack of a long list of medical conditions, and even our BMIs (yes, this stands for body mass index, and yes, I was surprised by this one as well). Once we began exploring Korean culture I became immediately engrossed in their language, and Matt became engrossed with their food, which I have to admit, is pretty amazing. After weeks of prayer, research, phone calls, and kimchi, we decided to take our first step by applying to our selected adoption agency. By God’s grace we were approved a week later, which affirmed that we had moved in the right direction and that God had led us on a crazy path to find a child from a country we never dreamed of pursuing. And we are so grateful that He did.
North or South?
South. The political relations we have with the north would never allow for intercountry adoption at this time.
What is the expected timeline?
We are currently in the very early stages of the home study which will fulfill the USA requirements for adoption. This process can take anywhere from 1-3 months to complete depending on how fast we can squirrel through a mountain of paperwork and collect necessary documentation. Once the home study has been approved, we have been told that a child will be referred to us anywhere between 3-6 months pending approval from Korea. Once we receive our referral, we will have to wait about 12 months before we are able to go to Korea and bring the child home. Once we receive “the call,” we will fly immediately out to Korea for a week to meet the child and go to our court hearing which will finalize the adoption process. We will then have to fly home without the child (this part might in fact kill me) and wait 4-10 weeks before going back to Korea to bring the child home for good. So in total, if all runs smoothly there is a chance we might bring our child home by Christmas of next year, but if we are presented with hurtles it could potentially take six months to a year longer.
How old will the child be when he or she gets home?
The child will most likely be six months old at the time of referral, and 18-24 months old at the time the adoption is finalized.
What gender are you expecting?
The adoption program in Korea requires applicants to be open to gender as most domestic adoptions in Korea are girls. Therefore, there is an extremely high percentage chance that we will be matched with a boy, which we are more than excited to welcome home.
How much will the adoption cost and how do you plan on affording it?
Adoption costs often shock people who are unfamiliar with it or haven’t had friends pursue it. The adoption services required by the USA and Korea are close to $35,000 with additional expenses close to $10,000 in travel costs and other miscellaneous charges. Our humble teacher salaries will only get us so far, but the Lord always provides, and every single agency I spoke with assured me that money should not be a deterrent because adoption is a community effort and there are hundreds of resources to take advantage of. I have opened an Etsy shop called Ephesians 1 Designs where I will be selling jewelry to raise support and awareness for international adoption throughout the process. We have also opened a GoFundMe account which is where donations can be made to help fund the costs of adoption. We are also pursuing a number of grants from organizations that love funding adoptions. All in all, the Lord is good and we would not have gotten this far had it not been for His grace and His will. He will provide, and we will be amazed at how the money will work itself out.
How can I help?
If you would like to support our cause, please feel free to peruse through our Etsy shop to find something beautiful for yourself or a friend or follow this link to the GoFundMe site which will allow you to make a donation. Regardless of whether you are able to support us financially, the most helpful thing you can do for us is share these sites on your social media to help spread the word about this exciting opportunity. And of course, your prayers will be most appreciated and valued.