Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve realized since we’ve gone “live” with this blog (which, by the way is still feeling like one huge over-share to me, equivalent at times to inviting my neighbors over to have a look in my underwear drawer) there are a few key details we’ve left out. Many of you are asking similar questions, so here’s our catch-all responses. I’m breaking my newly-discovered blog rule of appropriate length. Feel free to skim to the good stuff …

What is the age/gender of the children? We have requested 2 sibling girls under the age of three. Because many children in Ethiopia are orphaned to AIDS, agencies don’t always know the exact age of the children. It’s not too uncommon to hear of families who bring home a “9” year-old, only later to find out that they’re 11. So … this may, for us, mean 2 girls under the age of 4 or 5.

Why two? Since we first talked about adopting (even well before our struggles with having natural-born children), we’ve always thought we’d adopt 2. We’d like to have several kids — maybe not 13 like my grandmother — and only one adopted child could feel isolated. Plus, research has shown that children adopted with a sibling tend to fare the transition better.

Why Ethiopia? This story is a little more involved and personal for me to post to a blog for the world to see (although, knowing my husband I’ll go away next weekend to find he’s posted the play-by-play details). We don’t mind sharing this outside of the world wide web, but the summary for now is that we felt nudged by God towards adopting from Africa about 3 years ago. We did some research then and had a hard time locating an agency that would work with an African adoption. Since that point, there’ve been several pieces of confirmation from God that Ethiopia is the country He’s leading us to.

Will you travel to pick them up? Yes! Ethiopia requires about a 10 day stay, during which we will go through a formal adoption process with the Ethiopian government.

What’s the time-line? A dear friend said this to us about adoption: “Adoption is like a roller coaster. There are no hand breaks or controls available to the passengers once the process begins.” The long end of this answer is below for those who want to know exactly where we are in the process. In short, it could be as soon as June 2008 when we go to pick up the girls or as late as Winter 2008. Our specific move date to Kansas City may also impact this time-line.

So, you’re still moving? Will you get the girls while you’re in Virginia or Missouri? Yes – we are most definitely still moving to Kansas City. Given that our house hasn’t sold and we’re waiting on a sale to move, we don’t know which state we’ll be in when we pick up the girls. There are a dozen or more scenarios associated with this adoption and this move; too many to account for. We’ve done our best at preparing by studying up on the adoption requirements for Missouri and establishing a connection with a home-study agency there. As far as timing, details, etc … we are left to trusting God and His day-by-day guidance. This is good for us!

UPDATE: We’ve taken our house off the market and don’t have any immediate plans to move before our adoption is complete.

Do you know who they are yet? No — we have a few months of paperwork to get through before we get our “referral” (see time-line below).

How are you preparing? (Lengthier answer ahead) We’re required by our adoption agency to have 10 hours of educational classes on-line. We also have a quickly growing stack of books on trans-racial adoption, raising a bi-racial family, dealing with adopted toddlers, etc. God has opened awesome doors for us to connect with people who have adopted internationally, adopted from Ethiopia like us or who are Ethiopian. (Tonight we’re having coffee with an Ethiopian woman and her American husband …!). We’re not lacking resources, for sure, but the bigger issue for us is understanding that no book, no class, no conversation will be the golden nugget. All of them combined won’t be either. God will have to do what He does best and show us, walk with us, lead us, speak to us…. we’re really trusting Him to be our teacher in this.

You know, we aren’t the typical candidates for a trans-racial adoption. I almost forget, though, that that is what this is. I’m not blind to the magnitude of what we’re getting ourselves into (well, of course, I’m somewhat blind as we’re not yet “in it”). I guess I just think that when God so clearly calls you to something — no matter what it is — it all of a sudden begins to feel doable. If you had asked me as a college kid if I ever pictured myself having an anything-but-normal family I would have said “absolutely not.” But now, when I am so certain that this is what God is stirring in us to do — it just makes sense. It’s not that we’re ignorant of all of the ramifications; it’s just not our focus. You see, when I try and step into someone else’s life and calling it just doesn’t fit quite right. But when it’s mine, it fits like a glove.

Two summers ago we had dinner with two friends just before they left for a 3-year (at least) missionary stint in China. I kept asking them questions about what it was like to be leaving their family for that long? What if they had kids during that time? What about their safety? And, ugh, the food? They seemed so light-hearted about it…I didn’t understand. Now, I get it. The task fit them just perfect because they were the ones called to live it. What was so challenging for me to wrap my mind around had become their everyday dinner conversation.

This is Ethiopian adoption for us. I now can’t picture our family any other way. I can’t explain it, other than God is giving us a grace (what I would define as “unmerited favor”) to scale this wall. And the size of it, the time to the top, the cost (both financial and emotional), and the obstacles we’ll face once we get there aren’t things I ignore –they just aren’t central to my moment-by-moment thinking.

What may be obscure to you is normal for me. Just as particular callings/passions in your life that I can’t comprehend — are entirely feasible for you.

So, yes, we’re voraciously reading all we can get our hands on — but really the most important preparation we both have had has been sitting at the feet (figuratively speaking, of course) of the One who told us to go do this thing and asking Him … what next and …who are You, that You would take two people like us and collide our lives with two orphans halfway across the world?

Stages of Adoption/Timeline

  • Research and select country – COMPLETE
  • Select agency and send in detailed application – COMPLETE
  • Get approved by agency to adopt – COMPLETE
  • Begin “Paper-chase”- There are two parts to this process:
    • One is the home-study, which is the process of getting approved by your state, through a local agency, to adopt. For this we have to pull together about 20 different pieces of information (e.g. notarized health documents, birth certificates, fingerprints, background checks, etc) while at the same time we’ll set-up 3 different interviews/visits with a social worker. This will take us about six weeks and we’ve just begun. COMPLETE
    • The other is the “Dossier”, which is a packet of documents we need to supply — all of them notarized — to be approved by both the US and the Ethiopian government to adopt. We’ve also just begun this process and anticipate it will take a few weeks to complete. COMPLETE
  • Send paperwork to the agency to be state-authenticated and translated into Amharic for the Ethiopian government
  • WAIT – WAIT – WAIT (Once we send our paperwork in, which we’re hoping will be by mid-January at the latest, we will likely have to wait 2-3 months before the next step).
  • Receive the long anticipated “Referral” — we’ll get pictures and possibly a video of our girls. We’ll have about 10 days to decide whether or not to accept the referral (during this time they encourage that we have the photos analyzed for any information that the background testing on the children did not reveal).
  • Prepare to travel to pick up the girls. This is where it gets a little fuzzy for us. I’m sure that as we get closer to this stage in the game we’ll have a better idea of exactly what happens here. We expect that it will be another month or two after we receive our referral before we get assigned a court date and can travel to get them!!
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3 Responses to “Frequently Asked Questions”

  1. kim on


    our friend erin garcia sent me your blog earlier this morning. sara, i’m erin’s friend who has pcos. and as weird as this might sound coming from a stranger, i have been wondering how you’ve been doing! i’ve asked erin on & off over the last couple months and then today, she sent me your link! i was adopted from korea as a baby and have worked in adoption agencies on and off. my mom has worked in agencies for a LONG time and recently just traveled to ethiopia to bring a child home to his family. all that to say i am aware of all the ups and downs in the whole adoption process and wish you the very best. just from reading your blog, i know your girls will have incredible parents. i’ll be praying for you all as you go through this process and adjust to doubling as a family! 🙂

  2. michelle on

    Hi Nate and Sara,
    WOW!! Just read your blog today and all i could do was cry feeling the pleasure of the father over you.
    You guy’s are so special…I knew that the moment i met you. OOOH, i love you two!!!
    You are in my prayers..
    Can’t wait till you get here— to Kansas City!!!

  3. tommy myrick on

    Congratulations Sara and Nate!

    Sara, this is tommy myrick, one of the little guys you had at Rockbridge work crew in June of 2000. You two were on my mind several weeks ago and somehow I found Nate on Facebook and am just now finding this incredible blog. What an awesome FAQ page! Congratulations on the success thus far in the adoption. I’ll be praying for the two of you and for the other two soon-to-be Hargety’s. May God’s grace richly abound and satisfy your hearts in this gospel-endeavor!


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