Monday, July 23, 2012

The Waitlist Explained

From many conversations, I've realized that it might be a good idea to explain how the waitlist works now that we're finally on it!  It was confusing to me at first so I hope a quick explanation might help y'all know more of the reality of where we are in this process.

First of all, each adoption agency has their own list.  Someone asked me why we didn't just get on all the lists so we would have better chances of getting a referral quicker . . . Oh how I wish that could happen!  To be on a list with an agency, you have to have an official contract with them, which also means you've given them a large amount of money.  Definitely can't do that with more than one agency! :)

Our agency, All God's Children International (AGCI) actually has three lists for those adopting from Ethiopia . . . the girls list, boys list, and siblings list.  A family can be on one, two, or all of the lists depending on how God is leading them.  We felt clearly that God has a son for us, which is why we are only on the boys list.

Each family on the list also chooses certain parameters regarding age and special needs.

Our agency is very strict about the age parameters.  You are not allowed to disrupt birth order so your adopted child must be younger than any other children in the home.  Not all agencies have this rule, but there are a lot of studies about the importance and impact of birth order so our agency feels strongly about it and has the right to require it.  AGCI also won't let you do "artificial twinning," which is adopting a child very close in age to a child in the home.  The adopted little one must be at least 9 months younger that your youngest child.

So because Grayson is only 19 months old, our parameters are for a boy anywhere from birth to 12 months old at the time of our referral (the call where we are matched with a baby).  There seem to be many families on the list who have young children so there are a lot of us who are only open to a child 0-12 or 0-18 months.  Praise God though that there are also plenty of families with older kids who are available to adopt the precious toddlers and elementary age kids who so desperately need and deserve a forever family!

The other parameter a family can choose is regarding special needs.  The homestudy completed by your social worker has to be very clear and detailed about what sort of special needs, if any, your family will consider . . . minor phyiscial deformities, major phyisical issues, diseases, surgeries required, and the list goes on.

While the homestudy is very specific, there is no separate list for those open to special needs.  This information also isn't made public by the agency, but is only known if a family chooses to share with others also on the list.

Confused yet?  :)

The reason I explain all this is that it dramatically impacts when families actually get their referral.  I'll give a pretend list to make it clear (hopefully!).

Boy List

1. Family A - 0-12 mo.-not open to special needs
2. Family B - 0-12 mo - open to major special needs
3. Family C - 0-4 years- open to minor special needs
4. Family D - 0-2 yrs - not open to special needs - also on the girls list
5. The Gilberts - 0-12 mo.-requesting HIV positive

Scenario 1 . . . So let's say that a little boy is connected with our agency who is 8 months old and has a major special need.  The AGCI caseworkers would start at the beginning of the list to see a family that has the right parameters and would be a good fit for this little one.  Even though Family A could get an 8 month old, they wouldn't be open to the special needs.  So even though they are #2 on the list, Family B would get the referral.  Family A would have to continue at #1 and everyone else on the list would move down one spot.

Scenario 2 . . . A 3 year old boy is available.  The caseworker would have to pass over Family A and B because of the age parameters and the referral could go to Family C.

Scenario 3 . . . Family D receives a referral for a 1 year old girl.  Because they were on both lists and since they now have a referral, they would be taken off the boy list.  This means that every family behind them would move down a spot even though there wasn't actually a boy referred.

Scenario 4 . . . An HIV positive little 3 month old boy needs a family (pick me, pick me!).  Even though we are #5 on the list, if no one else in front of us on the list is open to HIV, that precious little one would come to us!

Does your head hurt?  Just imagine the caseworkers who have to keep up with three really long lists like this!

Why am I telling you all this?  Because it makes a big impact on how long we could be waiting for our Easton!  We are officially #124 on the boy list (this has been an amazing month so there is a good chance we'll be #115 or below by the end of the month . . . hooray for God setting the lonely in families!).

Because of all the scenarios I described, we are not going to have to wait for 114 more boys to be referred before it is our turn.  As families who were on multiple lists get referrals, they will be taken off the boy list and our number will continue to drop.

The fact that we are requesting a boy with HIV is also a big factor.  I have absolutely no way of knowing how many families on the boy list in front of us are also open to a positive child because the list we can see only shows age parameters and not special needs parameters.  But if it isn't many and God sends several positive little ones, then it could definitely be sooner than later!!! We might have to wait until we get all the way to #1 on the list, but we might not . . . you know what I'm praying for!

So all this to say that we really have no idea when we could get that life-changing phone call and see pictures of our son for the first time!  I kind of like not knowing though. . . I am trusting completely that God is Sovereign, Good, and that He knows exactly who our Easton is and when will be the perfect timing to bring him into our family!

I'm not gonna lie . . . I had a dream last night that we were going to get a referral in October and I woke up seriously excited!  I'm not claiming it was a prophetic dream or a word from the Lord, but I'd sure be okay if it was! :)

Until that day comes, I just want to wait well.  

I want to pour into my two incredible kiddos that God has already entrusted to me. 
(They got up one morning and joined Chad reading their Bibles!  I love these kids and their crazy bedheads too!)

I want to soak up every moment I have to love Chad and invest in our marriage.  

I want to serve my faith family of Edgewater.  

I want to make disciples in New Orleans and all nations.  

I want to prepare my heart and mind for Easton.  

I want to learn more and educate others about HIV.  

I want to live each day radically to glorify Christ because my citizenship is in heaven and I'm awaiting my Savior's return!


  1. I love this, Cole! Do you mind if I share? This is a great explanation of a confusing system! So many people ask me about this!

  2. Share away Jenny! Glad to know that it was clear!