We've got a big decision ahead of us, assuming we pass court (because if we don't pass court, we're done): whether or not Matthew and I should stay in Ethiopia until the children's visas are processed. If we did this, I would be able to take custody of the children and 'simply' live with them there. There are so many variables to consider on both sides of the equation:
In favour of staying/taking custody:
- By taking custody of the children, we would reduce their stay in an institutional environment, as good as the care might be. That could only be advantageous for them. This is the single biggest factor in favour of staying.
- Recently, visas seem to have been processed much more quickly than in the recent past. In comparison to a wait of approx. 12 weeks, the last number of families have had visas processed for their children in 4-6 weeks following court. That seems doable.
- It would be an incredible experience, to stay in our children's country of birth, and to get to know them first in the context of their culture of origin.
- The cost of staying in Addis for a couple of months would be far less expensive than making two separate trips. A second trip to pick the children up would put a serious hole into our finances (to the tune of around $10,000).
- It would be a great opportunity to meet other families from Canada who travel during that time (for court, or to pick their children up).
- Given that I'm not working much outside of the house these days, and given that we're homeschoolers, we could make this kind of scenario work from a 'life' perspective.
- Talk about a great homeschool experience: living for a time in a foreign country! Matthew (and I) would never forget it. And we could always do some h/schooling there.
In favour of coming home after court, and traveling again to pick the children up after the visas are processed:
- There are so many things that will need doing at home to get ready for the new children, and we don't want to make a lot of purchases (especially the big ones like bunk beds and other furniture) until after we're through court. I want to have my hand in how things are accomplished.
- I'm scared at the thought of staying in Addis without Geoff (who will need to get back to work after our trip for court): in a country I've never even visited; with three children; with two children I've never met, and can't communicate with, and who will be traumatized and quite likely a handful; without support (and what happens if I get sick?).
- There's no guarantee that, despite the speed of visa processing these days, ours will happen that quickly; the process might elongate again, or ours might get flagged for a random investigation (which means additional months of wait time).
- Once we take custody of the children, there's no going back. This may sound obvious, but what if we're there for months and months; and what if some emergency happens back home in Canada and I cannot leave Ethiopia?
I'm sure I could think of other variables on both sides of the equation, but these are the primary ones that are sitting in our heads.
What else do we need to consider...and what would you do if you were in our shoes?? I'm looking for your thoughts and opinions...please??