So a bit about how we chose our agency and orphanage. Once Mike and I decided that we would move forward with adopting I started researching agencies and country programs. I requested information from about a dozen different major US agencies. Some were secular, some were Christian. There was a huge difference in how some were presented in their marketing materials from others. When I opened a packet and the first thing I saw was a sheet listed "Polices and Procedures" I was not instantly drawn to that. On the other hand, when I see stories of how God is the author of adoption and protector of the orphan all over another packet it rings true.
Upon the advice of friends I initially looked into adopting from GLA, but we wanted to work though a major US agency. GLA works through Bethany Christian Services which I have been familiar with since I was a kid so I thought that might be a great option. Well the whole time we were praying that God would make the path to our child crystal clear to us, and that it would be His leading, not our logic, that directed our steps. Well God closed that door to us quite firmly when Bethany responded to us that they had recently adopted a new homestudy procedure and there were...get this...ZERO social workers in the entire state of Texas trained in their procedure. That meant they could not accept any new families until somebody got trained to do their homestudies.
So with some disappointment, we moved on. Very few major Hague accredited agencies in the US have Haiti programs yet. They are all working on laying the groundwork and establishing relationships in country. America World (AWAA) is the agency that our close friends the Cordes family are working through on their adoption from Ethiopia. Our friends the Arnolds are working with them as well, and they I learned my friends the McCrory family are waiting on a baby from China with AWAA and Jen and Brandon Hatmaker adopted through them too. That's some darn good endorsements.
Truth be told, I've been following AWAA's pilot program in Haiti since it opened back in September, and I knew we fit their requirements for adoption perfectly. Their program was on my brain for months as I was praying for God to move my husband towards this journey. I wasn't set on their program by any means, I just wanted to adopt and I didn't know if it was going to happen at all. One thing I refused to do was pressure Mike, so I never even mentioned this program to him. I just continued to pray and read AWAA's blog regularly, to see what news there was in general but also as it related to our other friends waiting for referrals from Ethiopia.
Before we decided for sure on Haiti we seriously considered Ethiopia and China's Waiting Child program. Just so you know, a healthy child from China is now a 5-7 year wait. The wait time for a referral from Ethiopia is also steadily increasing but is running around 2-3 years now. There are still tons of families applying for orphans from both those countries. Haiti's requirements are narrower and the path forward is less clear, so there are fewer applicants.
So one day I called AWAA with a few questions about the various programs and had a long conversation with a woman whose name I can't recall. She happened to answer the main phone line. She was amazing and warm and full of answers and assurances and she talked about prayer and the Lord's leading over and over. I seriously cried while talking to her because I just felt like she understood my feeling over being overwhelmed by the research and I felt the Holy Spirit pouring right through the phone from her to me.
Eventually we settled on Haiti. Then I found out the names of three orphanages AWAA was partnering with in Haiti. I decided to research those specifically and asked around a bit. My social network is huge, y'all, and I am an engineer and highly resourceful. I got some info that pointed me in the direction of H.I.S. Home for Children, which is run by American missionaries Chris and Hal Nungester. So with as much research as possible we decided to apply to AWAA and were accepted, and now we have formally applied through them to be matched with a child from HIS Home.
Here's a good video clip from CBS This Morning from January that talks a bit about adoption in Haiti in general and specifically about a little girl from HIS Home. This will give you a little glimpse at the place we believe (at least for now) that our daughter will be raised until we can bring her home.
Here's also a really wonderful video of another family in the process of adopting from HIS Home as well. Hopefully I'll get to meet them someday since they are not far from us in Austin.