Monday, December 6, 2010

Pondering Big Decisions

It's been exactly two weeks since we received our referral, and ten days since we accepted it.  It feels like forever...already I think their faces are imprinted on my mind and in my heart!!

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??


  1. Hi Ruth,
    Thanks for the pros and cons...we haven't received a referral yet, so I was afraid to think that far, but we really should be. After your pros, I thought....yes, I will stay..but what got me on your cons is when I considered being alone with children without others for support...gulp! I know when you make decision in fear you forget your faith, but that makes me nervous. No right or wrong...I think you and your children will be provided for either way...Good luck with your decision!


  2. Ruth,
    It is a huge decision. You are lucky that you have a choice to stay in Ethiopia. I work outside of the home and wouldn't be able to do it, although I would love to. The only thing I could see as a negative is that it could be a lengthier (if that is a word) stay if you need a second or third court date as they are booking these dates so far apart! But the reality is once you see them you are not going to want to leave!

    Good luck with your decision!

  3. Hi Ruth,
    Great point on how it's actually cheaper to stay. I hadn't thought of that.

    Is there any way, someone can come for a few weeks and stay with you? Relative or friend? I think of Nicky on her own when we were there, but her Mum was with her for a few weeks. That had to have been a big help.
    You can hire help there though. A mum was there with her son and she had fallen and hurt her back. A wonderful young Ethiopian woman helped her a lot. The Weygoss arranged it all. You might never need it but it is good to know that it's possible.
    Ultimately, it's putting faith in our immigration system and Ethiopian courts. It's all about Faith, isn't it? No matter what part of the wait you are in.

    Good luck in your decision,

  4. We stayed in South Africa for a month during the whole process. Never been more homesick in my life!!! Nothing familiar - except my husband and son. I can't believe how much I missed home.

    That gave me incredible insight into how Petunia would feel moving to Canada. We did feel it was for the best to have Petunia in our custody immediately - made it real all around.

    All that being said, Ruth, we know who's written the story, and He will give you peace about the decision - He KNOWS the future, and you can trust Him with all the stuff that surrounds this decision. I'll be praying for you. We had so many offers of help beforehand, and finally said, OK, please help. And they were wonderful - came & helped us set up the beds, move stuff around, and do all the little things that just eat up your time. So when people offer to help, say yes! And allow God to bless them through blessing you.

  5. Could Geoff come and visit you at least once while you are there if you stayed? - Katie

  6. oh ruth, we are talking about the SAME stuff...biggie for us is going as a whole family means FIVE tickets instead of teh two for mark and i (we wre thinking me alone for court, then the two of us to pick up!! ) but we love the thought of all going..but wow, such a hard decision. i am THRILLED beyond words if this is the new visa situation! can you imagine? (as it should be really!). we'll wait and see. do you know your court date yet? darci

  7. I think the only real downside is the uncertainty of the length of time you would have to stay. If another court date is needed, if the visa takes forever, etc. That's the biggie. If you think it's likely that you are going to stay, then I would not travel for the first court date - assuming it is still an option to have them schedule the 2nd date just for the adoptive family. Knowing everything but your part is complete before you leave would both ease your mind and reduce the potential for a lengthier stay.

    Staying alone would make me pause as well - and I say that as someone who travelled alone. Everything went great for me until T got sick, then it was a bit of a nightmare, but I had other families for support. I think you would be ok if you knew there would be others around to lean on.

    In terms of the purchases, getting ready, etc - you know what? I would just start right in getting that stuff now. Forge ahead like these children will be yours. I know some people feel like that is tempting fate, but I look at the other way - if you build it, they will come. :)

  8. Ruth, I have thought about this too. Athough I have quite a wait still being single I am always planning far in advance - might just be me contantly worrying actually LOL.

    Unless I see something concrete (not likely) I will have to come home and go a second time. It sucks as that is possibly not the most cost efficient way but in the end I cant risk a really long stay.

    Hope you are able to feel comfortable with whatever decision you make!

  9. Ruth,
    We'll be praying for you as you make the tough decisions. I hope you can meet some people who have stayed and gone, so that you can find out how it worked for them. 4 weeks isn't very long, and I am sure you could get through it, but it is Africa and things do not always go as planned. Try to get the names and contact info of as many people as you can before you go, so that you have others to lean on. Ethiopians are so incredibly wonderful- people will help you. I have a friend who has family in Addis if that is at all helpful.
    Blessings and love,
    Kristal Heppner

  10. Thank you so much for all of the comments, for the additional thoughts to consider, for reminding me (Mrs. Ch) that God can be trusted, for praying for us...simply for everything.

    I'll keep you posted on how our thoughts develop on the decision-making front.



  11. We are in the same situation of you... My heart would like to stay in Ethiopia after court but my head say no. My biggest hesitation is the instability of the program. So much things change since two years. Unfortunately every 4-6 months something change in the process. I am very happy to see quick visa and I hope it will be the same for us in the spring but we never know. If I knew how long time I will need to stay I will choose to stay with my son but because we don't know I need to take the hardest decision in my life... come back in Canada and hoping for a quickly visa. I pray that you find the best decision for your family. xxx

  12. Totally off topic... but how do I sign up to get the comments on a blog without having to check back all the time? I pressed the follow button, but I am not sure what that means! lol

  13. What a hard choice, made harder I imagine by what was said on the boards today about people being discouraged from staying.

    I agree with what "Mrs. C." was saying. God has this all planned out, timed out, and has your children in His capable hands. BUT that does not necessarily mean that you are to stay there. Pray about it, ask for peace with your decision whatever it is, and then wait. Waiting to hear what God wants you to is the hardest!

    It's great to hear that visas seem to be processing faster, but I agree that you should plan for the unexpected and assume that things will not go as you think they will. As you well know, in this international adoption world, things can change in the blink of an eye.

    I'll be praying for you to have some direction and wisdom in your choice.

  14. I see you did just blog about this. ;)

    My thoughts are everything is too unpredictable for me to stay. If something happened to my sister, or husband, or nieces or anything horrible it would create an awful situation. Not to mention what if I became seriously ill? After my breast infection it occurred to me how horrible it would have been to go through that in Ethiopia and what if I'd had to do that for months! What if it had been cancer? I know this seems very doom and gloom but it really gives me pause for thought. Now if the visa was only one month then that would be different. But this program has changed so much and while I'm so excited about that while rethinking things today it occurred to me I can't bank on anything in this.

    In the long run for my family I think it's better to come home... Plus I worry if there was an emergency it would become a situation where the HC would have to become involved and I worry that could adversely affect the program.

    That is just my two cents. I've been thinking of this a lot today... Honestly after e-mailing Imagine I also take their advice to heart. I trust them with everything else in this process, I trust them with my families future, and I feel like I need to trust them in their opinion.

  15. We did stay (had no choice). It was hard. And I mean HARD. And we didn't have any other children to look after! I wouldn't say don't do it, but I would say that if you DO do it, don't plan to get much homeschooling done :)

    I blogged a bit about this when we were there: ( I know you won't have babies, so your issues will be different (language barrier rather than sleeplessness, probably!) but I suspect it might feel the same. My advicey bit is the middle paragraph.

    Good luck deciding - it's a big one!