After we adopted Vonne Mei from China, we wanted to provide her with 1 or more siblings who are also non-Caucasian. When the rules changed in China (which we saw coming even back in 2004 on our adoption trip), we explored Taiwan (getting nowhere), then switching to Kyrgyzstan for a while (also nowhere), and then going through the whole application for a third time in Kazakhstan. When the last one finally started moving, we found ourselves facing the high probability of getting a Russian child, which wasn't our goal.
So over the summer we pulled the plug on Kazakhstan and went with the Option B we had long nurtured as the child-after-next approach--Ethiopia. We will hardly be the first to do China and then Ethiopia. In fact, there's a growing subculture of families in the U.S. who have made this choice for all the same reasons (wanted to adopt internationally again, and found themselves ruled out on China).
We spent August and September doing the whole laborious and invasive application effort for a fifth time (if you count the original effort on China). I'm talking criminal background checks for everybody teenage and above, the whole fingerprinting drill, the financials, etc. Frankly, you get checked out a whole lot more for international adoptions than you do for a security clearance--and arguably you should.
Well, the dossier is finally complete and we're in the queue as of 10/5. We went, after much investigation, with a very solid secular agency that performs a full range of humanitarian work throughout the country, to include things like helping unwed mothers keep their kids with job-training, etc. The normal case is an extended family putting children in Ethiopian orphanages after one or both parents perish (HIV is a big cause, creating as many as 50m orphans in sub-Saharan Africa today and upwards of 100m in coming years). Our agency only works with local orphanages approved by the state and only with kids who've been thoroughly cleared in terms of abandonment via the court system, which is obviously biased toward trying to keep kids with families wherever possible.
Vonne and I will make two trips to Ethiopia: one to meet any proposed child(ren) and accept the match, then, following the final court procedures in Ethiopia (where familial relinquishment is confirmed and our adoption is made legal), a second, longer trip to spend plenty of time with the child(ren) and hopefully meet the first family (a crucial bond if you can get it). Our little immigrant(s) would then become Americans upon hitting ground here. We'd then re-do the adoption in U.S. courts in order to get U.S. birth certificates (seems a small matter, but it ain't).
We put in for any female child up to 6 years old, as we can't break birth order (a rule of our local agency that will supervise us for years following the adoption, as we are required to maintain written contact with the Ethiopian government--and hopefully the first family) until the child reaches 18. That's a solid rule, as breaking birth order can be very destabilizing to the family structure.
We've also said we'd take a second younger sibling if that possibility existed.
Along those lines, our agency has two families in line before us. Odds are each will take 2-3 months to happen, so our far window is May-July 2010.
But it could happen much earlier.
It is a big step to add one-to-two African kids to a family with 3 European "biologicals" and 1 adopted Chinese, and we've already gone through a lot of sensitivity training and counseling from professionals on the subject, but we couldn't be more excited at the prospect of globalizing our family further.
No,it is not a noble endeavor, but the same sort of selfish desire that any parents have for additional children. Not everybody is cut out for the "rainbow" route, but it feels very much our family's destiny for reasons completely orthogonal to my professional work--and yet wonderfully in synch with it (e.g., an Old Core-New Core-Gap bond).
Me? I just see the opportunity to help one or two little immigrants make their way. Plus, I greatly prefer obsessing over my kids versus myself or my career. It just feels healthier for my thinking, and I wouldn't be me if I couldn't pursue the thinking.