Rocky and his wife, Suzanne, adopted from Ethiopia through Carolina Hope Christian Adoption Agency, which is now the South Carolina office of Nightlight Christian Adoptions.
When we decided that we wanted to grow our family, the possibility of adoption almost immediately entered the conversation. I was not the one bringing it up though, my wife was. She had almost always wanted to adopt. I liked the idea of adoption in the abstract, but the thought of doing it while I was still in school was not something that I saw us doing, and I told Suzanne that. She accepted my answer, but was not going to give up completely. She prayed that my heart would change on the issue and continued to bring it up occasionally. At the school that I attend, there are many professors and students who have adopted. Suzanne went to a talk on adoption at the school, and brought me the CD to listen to. I began to consider the possibility of starting the adoption process. This entire time we were hoping that Suzanne would become pregnant.
It did not take long before God changed my heart. I vividly remember the night that I told Suzanne that I was ready to begin the adoption process. We were 2 months into attempting to get Suzanne pregnant, and we went out to eat at one of our favorite restaurants. I asked a question or two about adoption, and she basically said that if I was going to bring it up, I better be seriously considering it. I told her that I was, but still did not let her know that I was ready. I was hesitant because I knew that once I told her, later changing my mind was not an option. After dinner, we were running an errand, and I spilled the beans. We cried together, prayed together, and officially began the process that brought home our son.
It was a difficult decision deciding whether to adopt domestically or internationally, and if internationally, where? There were several factors involved in our decision to adopt an Ethiopian child, but ultimately we were moved by the dire situation that exists in Ethiopia. The statistics are staggering. As we made known our decision to family and friends, it was not always met with the same excitement that we had, to put it mildly. We had several family member that were openly opposed to our Ethiopian adoption. This was a difficult time for us, but our belief that we were being obedient to the Lord kept us moving forward.
My wife went to work on the miles of paperwork needed for the adoption, as well as for grants to help us pay for it. Like everybody else considering adoption, we were intimidated by the cost, but trusted that God would provide. During the process, life and all the costs associated with it continued. My wife was in a car accident that totaled her car, and suddenly we had to buy another car. God provided what we needed through all of it though. We had several substantial gifts given to us before we ever sent out anything about the adoption. We also received a matching grant from Lifesong for Orphans that was greatly needed. Ultimately, we still had to pay a fair amount out of our own pocket, but not more than we could handle.
It took about a year, but Suzanne became pregnant. All of a sudden, we were looking at having two new children at about the same time. We briefly considered putting the adoption on hold until some time passed after the birth. However, we decided that this was the plan God had for us and to trust in his timing. We pushed forward in the adoption and continued working on it throughout the pregnancy. We are so glad that we did. There were several unexpected twists and turns that prolonged the process a bit. For one, Ethiopia quit giving out new permits to agencies so Carolina Hope was not able to get their license as planned. They had to find another agency to work through. Also, anytime that one is working with a developing country like Ethiopia, the legal process on their side is not always a smooth one.
Once we received our referral and a picture of our little boy, it made everything more real, and we could not wait to bring home our son. In January, my wife gave birth to a son. God was gracious to give us a couple months to adjust to having a newborn, and on April 7th, we finally passed court in Ethiopia. A little over a month later, I was able to travel to Ethiopia. My wife stayed home with our newborn, and a friend traveled with me to pick up our other son.
Ethiopia was an incredible experience. The level of poverty is shocking, but the people are wonderful. Actually getting to hold the little boy that we had been praying for, anxiously awaiting new pictures of, and waiting for the day that he would be home was surreal. I would not trade my experience for anything.
Our little Ethiopian has been home for just over a month and is doing great. He struggled at first, but with every passing week, we have seen great improvement. He's smart, extremely funny, and overall, a very happy child. We praise God for blessing us with such a wonderful little boy.