To start with, no, we are not adopting the baby in the picture. I just thought he was super cute (and green to boot!), and made for a nice segue into this post. Yes, we are adopting. And we are adopting from the Philippines. We've been going through the process for about six months. We have two agencies we are working with. One agency, based in Houston, is helping us complete our home study. The other agency is helping us coordinate with the State Department and the Philippine government. Why two agencies? Because there is no agency in Texas licensed to do Philippine adoptions, and the home study has to be completed by an agency in the state of prospective parents' residence. Hence, two agencies.
Locally, we've been working with Kim Cissell at International Family Services. She's been great, very helpful and very easy to deal with. The home study is a very thorough and time-consuming process, but she's made it a little easier for us by being so easy to work with. The international agency we've been working with is Welcome House (PSBI), and our contact has been Bethany Horstman. Welcome House, like IFS, has been very easy to work with and helpful (on an equally thorough process), and Bethany has been very understanding of my (many) questions along the way. WH has a sister office in Manila, and I was able to visit it on my last trip and meet the staff. I was very impressed.
Two weeks ago, we completed both of our applications. It's been a very rushed process with the impending relocation of Jake, but at the beginning of this week it looked like we were on track to have the home study done in November, the complete application sent to the State Department by year end, and a dossier to the Philippines by first quarter of next year. Then, I got a phone call...
From the beginning we knew that international adoption would mean some twists, turns, and challenges along the way. We went in with eyes wide open on that. Still, it doesn't really sink in until the twists actually come. On Monday morning, Bethany called to inform me that ICAB (the Philippine agency that oversees all adoptions) was changing its rules about the number of applications permitted from individual agencies. Apparently, ICAB decided that WH's 11 pending applications was too many, and that it would only be allowed two placements per year until the backlog was resolved. Since our application would have been number 13 (we are one of two families almost ready for submission next), that would mean probably seven years before we would be eligible for a match. My heart dropped. Bethany felt horrible--of course, not her fault in any way--and recommended that we find a different agency to help us finish our application. She said that WH would help us in any way they could to expedite the transition. It was a small comfort under the circumstances, but a comfort nonetheless.
So...I've spent all week calling agency after agency to see if anyone has spots in their programs. Mostly, I've gotten "no" answers. I have two programs that are verifying the number of spots they have in light of the ICAB changes, to see whether they can take us. Two maybe's out of dozens of phone calls. I have to admit it's a little discouraging. Jake and I have struggled with whether this is just a challenge along the way, or it's God's way of telling us this is not the right path for us. I don't think we know the answer yet. I think that the answers we receive from these "maybe" agencies may tell us one way or another.
This is definitely a week for prayers for wisdom in the Hicks household. And patience, too.