The adoption agency I have chosen is Adoption Advocates International, based here in Washington. I was drawn to this particular nonprofit because it seems to have good ethics, does not have a bunch of angels and crosses all over their website, and they have a good track record. You can read more about the efforts of this agency in the book by Melissa Faye Greene, There is No Me Without You: One Woman's Odyssey to Rescue Africa's Children (2006). Her website (www.thereisnomewithoutyou.com) has a nice link to information about Ethiopian adoption. Obviously, I adapted this blog's title from her book's title. AAI also works to keep HIV+ children healthy and has pioneered adoption work of HIV+children to the US. AHOPE for Children, (www.ahopeforchildren.org) is a partner agency that houses and schools HIV+ children, and even more importantly, provides them access to the lifesaving drugs that has turned AIDS into a manageable chronic illness for most Americans. I support AHOPE and during this time of economic depression in Ethiopia, I encourage you to consider doing so as well.
When I was participating in a public health residency in South Africa, I visited a hospital program for adults who were dying of AIDS. It was like a converted warehouse with rows upon rows of human beings, sharing bedspace and the heavy expectation of death. It reminded me of a slave ship galley. On the other end of the spectrum, I also saw grassroots efforts to create acceptance and community around living with HIV. Mothers to Mothers to Be (M2M2B) is a mentorship program where women birthing babies are tested for HIV, offered treatment for their babies, and provided a combination of training and skillbuilding to help support the next cohort of mothers through their childbirth preparation and postpartum. It is a perfect example how people can support each other through discrimination to care for their children. Visit www.mothersprograms.org to learn more about this group. Also, Nkosi's Haven (www.nkosi.iafrica.com) is a nonprofit founded in the memory of a special little boy that creates a home for HIV+ mothers and children. South Africa is not currently allowing adoption. With the staggering numbers of children orphaned by AIDS, I began to investigate community based nonprofits like those mentioned above, with the idea of adoption in the back of my mind.
In 2006 I was contacted by a local childbirth education agency to help a Muslim woman who was 8 1/2 months pregnant and hoping to find a Muslim adoptive family for her child. Her circumstances were indeed challenging and while adopting out children is unusual in Muslim societies, she felt it was the best way to serve this child. I put her in contact with a local open adoption agency, but unfortunately, there were no Muslim waiting families. I began to send out emails, asking Muslims I knew to spread the word to prospective adoptive families. I would have been open to adopting the baby myself, though I was married at the time and my husband did not approve. The baby was born before a family could be located. I served as the doula for the mother, who would continue to receive counseling from the adoption agency. I began receiving calls from all over the US and Canada... and thanks to God, a local Muslim family who had been interested in foreign adoption stepped forward and became the baby's new family. By witnessing the events, I became more thoughtful about adoption in my future, somehow. In my divorce process, I realized that in giving up my chance to have more biological children, I would be opening myself to the prospect of an adoption.
And that's how I arrived here, with a giant pile of paperwork, dreaming of another child in my home... praying for the family that has made the terrible decision to give her up.