Adoption: Our older girls (part 2)

Our older girls (part 1)

Although John and I were in immediate agreement when considering adopting these 9 and 11 year old girls, the journey had its share of obstacles. Money, amazingly, was not one of them.  Between a tax refund and the sale of my first book, God had that covered.

The first big question was whether or not a social worker would approve our moderate home and our moderate income for two more children.  At that point we had 5 bedrooms. Since then we’ve added another bedroom.  But our initial plan was to have the new girls share a room with their almost-5-year-old sister. The 2-year-old was still sleeping with us at the time.  We figured that when the time came, we’d add more bunk beds and put all 4 girls in one room.  Question was, would a social worker see that as reasonable?  Adding to our concern was the fact that we were going to need to switch homestudy agencies, and get a social worker we’d never worked with.

Next concern:  we knew that at least one other family was interested in adopting ‘our’ girls.  We’d need to get our paperwork done first if we wanted to be given first consideration of the girls.  Our old homestudy agency had been fabulous about doing rapid homestudies.  All four of our previous homestudies had been completed in 2-4 weeks, which is practically unheard of in adoption circles.  We had no idea if this new agency could get our homestudy done quickly.

Final, biggest, hugest concern:  the Ethiopian government was becoming unhappy with large families adopting multiple children.  The rule was on the brink of being changed, and we didn’t know if we could get our fingerprints and homestudy and all the other portions of our dossier done in time to be approved under the old laws. But we did know one thing:  God was in charge, and He’d already opened crucial doors by blessing us with agreement and money.

And so in April, as soon as we got some basic information from our agency about the girls, we hit the ground running with adoption paperwork.  Anyone who’s put together a dossier for an international adoption knows what a daunting prospect it is.  Fingerprints and references and doctor’s letters and financial statements, and on and on, all needing to be properly stamped by notaries, the whole thing full of nitpicky details.  We jumped into it all, feet first.

We were hoping against hope that our new homestudy agency would be first of all, willing to approve us as an adoptive family, and second, be able to pull together a good homestudy quickly.  The answer was a yes on both accounts.  We got a wonderful social worker who understood our family, appreciated our strengths, and blessed us with her approval of our dreams.  And then she plowed right into the writing of the study.  She was so quick and efficient that by early May we had all of our paperwork pulled together, ready to submit to the agency.

We later found out that our paperwork arrived at the agency literally a couple days before the Ethiopian law was changed.  If we’d gotten things pulled together even a week later, we would not have been allowed to move forward.  But because our paperwork was already complete, our agency was able to count us as an already-in-process family.  And we were approved to adopt the girls.

Traveling families blessed us with more pictures of the girls.  We sent pictures of our own to them.  I was touched to get letters from them as well, one containing a sweet beaded necklace from the older of our new daughters.  Always in previous adoptions we’d been expecting babies or toddlers, children too young to understand the way that their life was about to change.  But here we were, with these precious kids on the other side of the world, waiting for us, wondering about us just as much as we were wondering about them.


  1. WOW, not many people consider older children. Lucky you for getting things through so fast, as you said, God was on your side, you are truely blessed

  2. I just love reading your story and feel so blessed by you and the light you shine, Mary.


  3. Thanks for sharing your story Mary. I literally got goosebumps when I read that part that had it happened a week later, you might not have got the girls. God is amazing.

  4. How wonderful and amazing that God went ahead of you paving the way. I have to ask…how did you find peace in putting two older girls in a room with a littler girl right away? Please know I speak this in love and with a sincere heart of wondering about this in older adoptions. I am very fearful of older adoptions, or with putting kids in older than our youngest because of never really knowing all that has happened to children who are being adopted. We’ve walked this very difficult road already and don’t want to do it again.

  5. Our story also is woven together with God’s providence. The difference being that we didn’t know who our children would be till we arrived to take them home.

    You mentioned that the girls were old enough to wonder. To wonder about you and, no doubt, to wonder what it would be like to leave EVERYTHING that they knew. It made me pause and remember our first meeting with our oldest boy:

    At his age he had to approve his adoption. Having never met or spoken to us, he agreed to leave Ukraine and come to America with us. He was to leave everything behind but he was ready. When that first meeting was over, he put on his coat and hat, grabbed my hand and was ready to leave it all! He didn’t know it would still be several weeks.

  6. I love this story and can’t wait to read the rest.

  7. Thanks for sharing your older girls’ story. What a blessing it is to see God at work. So far we’ve adopted younger kids (7) via foster care. As our children get older, we are hoping to adopt older children. I will admit to some fear and trepidation, especially in light of various friends (3 adoptive, home schooling, God honoring families) whose kids are currently in state custody due to alleged abuse. Satan is using RAD to try to destroy their families. I’m thankful that God does not give us a spirit of fear and that the victory is already His.

  8. Hi,
    Mary, in a way I feel like I’ve already met you, as I found myself reading your blog a couple of years ago but only knew you as the anonymous owl haven. Then, earlier this year I picked up a terrific cook book that piqued my interest because there were Ethiopian recipes in it…and you had written it! So, I hope my $20 went straight to help pay for your latest dossier 🙂 I am writing now because 18 months ago my husband and I adopted two sisters (about 10 & 11) from Ethiopia. They have retained their Amharic, so if your sweet girls speak this language and want to chat with some girls who are true peers, please feel free to contact us. I will send you my cell # if you want it…all the best to you!


  1. […] who came home in 2007 at the ages of 11 and 9.  (Here’s the start of the story:  Part One | Part Two | Part […]