Making us ready (Part One)…

In mid-2009, we decided to pursue an international adoption.  Since that time, more than anything else, we have waited and waited and waited.  At times it was maddening, because there are 140 something million orphans in the world and we want to provide a home for one but we have to wait and wait and wait.  Every time we got frustrated at the wait, we came back to the sense that God was using the time to make us ready.  In the last two years while we waited, almost everything has changed and each change made us more ready.

The Move

Marissa and I build a beautiful home in 2000.  I was working with my parents at McGlothlin Carpets while the floorcovering business was really good.  I was making good money, and the house fit our lifestyle.  Gated, granite, travertine… it was not perfect or huge but it was way more than ample, and it cost a big portion of my salary to keep living there.  By the time, we paid the mortgage, the taxes, the utilities and the insurance, we paid almost 40% of our take-home pay on the house.  Not to mention, our house equity was our largest asset but it was not liquid or spendable in the least.  So I felt the house owned us more than we owned it.  If I wanted to leave my firm (foreshadowing), I couldn’t because we had that big monthly payment.  If we needed some free cash to pay the big cost of international adoption, we didn’t really know where to look.

The Old House

We tried to sell the house before we even considered adoption, because we wanted to move closer to my office in San Antonio.  The real estate market was fine, but something got in the way of the house selling.  Then after we were deep in the adoption process, we decided to try again.  By this time the real estate market was terrible, but selling the house would free us financially and would give us the cash to make sure money didn’t stand in the way of the adoption.  The first week on the market, the eventual buyer found the house and made us a pretty lame offer.  As time passed, our house stood out to him among the options in town — something drew him back to our home.  Eventually, we agreed on a price that gave us the freedom we needed, and we sold the house in a tough real estate market.

By the time the house sold, we didn’t want to make our long-planned move closer to San Antonio.  My office was the only thing in San Antonio, and everything else — our church, our friends, our kids’ school and our family — was in San Marcos.  And now, we had the financial breathing room to not putthat paycheck first (foreshadowing).  We found a rental home in San Marcos which is a bigger house in a better neighborhood.  The rental housing market in San Marcos is awful with the limited supply and the university faculty, staff and students pursuing every open home.  The home we ended up with wasn’t even on the market and wasn’t in a condition to rent, but a local friend in the real estate market thought it would be right for us and moved mountains to get us in.  Sure, it doesn’t have granite and hasn’t changed much since 1975, but it is ample and our monthly obligations were reduced by $900 with the move.  Plus, the equity from our home stayed in the form of cash instead of another down payment.

The house sells in a down market, we get a great rental in an impossible rental market… something bigger was definitely at work as we were being made ready.

Not everyone was excited to hear our news…

We have been pretty excited about our referral and our progress in the adoption process every since August 17th.  Unfortunately, our health insurance company was not as excited.  By way of context, due to my (John) change in jobs, we applied for new health insurance for the family on August 15th when our old plan expired.  A few days after we applied, we received news from Humana:

Thank you for choosing HumanaOne. Your application/enrollment form process is complete and you will be issued a HumanaOne individual health plan.Within the next 10 business days, you’ll receive your new policy/certificate holder welcome packet either by mail or online, if you elected to receive your information electronically. The welcome packet includes:

*  ID Card(s), health and/or dental only
*  Your insurance policy/certificate
*  Payment information
*  A copy of your signed application/enrollment form
(Please note that you may receive the above information in two separate mailings)

This was welcome news because health insurance for the new baby is one requirement placed upon us to complete the adoption.  Since we were approved, we sought a letter from our agent clarifying that the new baby would be covered when our adoption was finalized.  A letter like the one I told the agent I would need once we were approved.  A few days later, I received the following notice in the mail instead of the letter I requested:

Humana.ltr

I guess adopting is a health condition now.  We will just have to hope and pray not every company is as cynical as Humana.

Baby A

We received a referral from our agency for a little girl from Gondar, Ethiopia. She is generally healthy, considering she was born prematurely and suffered some early malnourishment. She has a beautiful smile and some beautiful, big eyes. Marissa and I accepted the referral.

Baby A is currently in a private home run by our adoption agency in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She was moved there from an orphanage in Gondar at the end of last year. While we have pictures and the name she goes by, we are not sharing that information online until the court grants us custody.  A referral means that our agency has matched our family with Baby A, and by accepting the referral, we are moving forward to seek custody under Ethiopian and American law. Our agency will request a court date from the court in Addis. Unfortunately the court is closed until October 3rd because it is rainy season, and the infrastructure is not developed well enough to get workers to and from court in the mud. When the court reopens, our agency will request a court date, and odds are the court will give us a date in November. Marissa and I (and hopefully Owen) will travel to that court date where we will meet with the judge. The judge will review an opinion on Baby A from the Ethiopian Ministry of Women’s Affairs and talk to us. If both meet with approval, the court will issue an opinion shortly thereafter granting us custody and Baby A will become a McGlothlin forever. We will also travel to Gondar to see the region where Baby A is from and hopefully meet her on this first trip.

When all of this transpires, we will seek an appointment with the US Embassy. The State Department will conduct its own investigation into Baby A’s background to make sure everything is legitimate, and then we will be given an appointment at the embassy in Addis. At least one of us will travel back to Ethiopia for that appointment, after which Baby A will be allowed to accompany us back to the United States as a citizen and child of Marissa and I. This appointment will likely occur 6 to 8 weeks after the court opinion is issued.

All to say, there is a lot of road ahead of our family to complete our adoption. There are many challenges which remain, and we will need God to clear some obstacles. Yet, yesterday was awesome. We had almost run out of patience, and I had been ignoring the passing time for the last five months. Now, it is time to rejoice and enjoy having a face and name to pursue — our child who God has brought us. An orphan who will soon be a co-heir with Owen, Roni and Connor. The kids are stoked, and Marissa and I are pinching ourselves. We want to stay in this moment and enjoy it thoroughly, before we face down the remaining challenges.

From now on, I hope we do a better job of sharing the experience. I guess we took one step in that direction if you made it to our blog. We will keep everyone updated as things happen and hope you will share the journey with us and pray for us. For the moment, we are still celebrating. Baby A’s first birthday is soon, and we want to have a party for her even though she remains in Addis.

JWM