Meet Austin and Erin. In his words …
Our adoption journey began in 2010, when we applied to adopt from Ethiopia. Early on, Erin and I knew we wanted to adopt. In pre-marital counseling, when discussing children, we realized we were both interested in international adoption. Our desire grew further in our young marriage, so we decided we would pursue an adoption before trying to have biological children. This leads to the first lesson we learned (as it seems all do): adoptions do not go in straight lines. We were blessed with two biological children while waiting for our adoption in Ethiopia to come to fruition.
About four years into the process our agency, Gladney Center for Adoption, informed us they were having to close their operation in Ethiopia. Despite this grave disappointment, we were so thankful to have Gladney walking with us every step of the way. Their professionalism and compassion through the process has been exemplary. When we began the adoption process, Ethiopia found us. Erin had spent significant time in Latin America, especially Guatemala, but of course this was not an option. As far as other countries were concerned, our income or length of marriage disqualified us. We became passionate about Ethiopia. Erin even began working for Food for the Hungry on East Africa projects. On one trip to Ethiopia she was able to visit an orphanage with whom Gladney partnered. It was difficult to say goodbye to adopting from Ethiopia.
However, we did learn a lot through the closure. First, we mourned the brokenness that leads to countries becoming more difficult or closing. But this experience also reminded us that no country is more in need when it comes to an individual child. There are children everywhere who need parents and we were able to be a parent to some child, from some place. When Ethiopia closed, we spoke with Gladney about switching to China or possibly a domestic adoption, but then Colombia became an option.
We celebrated! Part of our desire to adopt internationally related to Erin’s work. She works in global public health in developing nations and we were excited to be a family that would really prioritize acquainting a child with their home culture. We latched on to Ethiopia, but now we knew we were adopting from another country we could potentially visit with some frequency and we have a surprising number of Colombian friends. Switching to Colombia was difficult at first, but we have absolutely loved immersing ourselves in Colombia’s culture and history.
In July 2016, we found out we were adopting Juan Jose Ricardo Garcia.
He was seven months at referral. We were shocked to be placed with such a young child, but thrilled that we would adopt him at such an early age. He had many respiratory issues, including months of hospitalizations and mechanical ventilation, in his short little life.
His orphanage provided excellent care, but he had to be quarantined because of his various health problems and the potential to infect others. When we were able to take him back to our apartment in Bogota, it was amazing to watch him thrive. Marco was able to move off several medications and even stop being attached to an oxygen tank after just a few weeks.
This is not to our credit or the discredit of the orphanage. We simply observed how much a family is part of the human design, even if a child comes from an amazing care system at a wonderful orphanage.
The adoption process for Colombia includes a full month stay in-country. Spending a significant season in Colombia, bonding with Marco as a new family of five, has been amazing. We could not imagine picking him up and rushing back to the States. We have loved learning about his birth city, his country-people, and we have been able to focus so much on bonding without the distractions of home life.
Lifesong played a major role in our adoption. First, the length of our process led to extra fees for medical and legal updates. It was an incredible relief to have a organization through which grants could be made and a grant from our church given. In addition, knowing you all believed in our adoption by promising to fund a portion, gave us hope. It was a challenge to stay excited over six and a half years. We always wanted to adopt, but we wondered if it would ever happen!
Lifesong was a tangible sign that our adoption was not just in our minds, it was confirmation out there that God would provide for us and see our adoption through. We are very grateful for your work and your loving support of our family.
Every experience is part of God’s plan. Nothing happens by mistake.
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